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INT: Ricci/Eisenberg

02.25.2005

With their extremely lucrative collaboration on the SCREAM films, it was thought by many to be a sure thing when director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson united again for CURSED (read JoBlo's review here). This sentiment was quickly proved wrong early in the shoot, when production problems arose and script issues became painfully apparent. Production was eventually halted completely as Williamson opted for a complete re-write of the problematic script. Craven eventually re-shot most of the film with a radically altered storyline and cast. Was it all worth it? We’ll find out on Monday when the box office numbers are in.

The CURSED “junket” last week consisted of one interview: stars Jesse Eisenberg and Christina Ricci. To their credit, they were pretty candid about the problems that CURSED faced. Here are some excerpts from their interview.

Christina Ricci Jesse Eisenberg

What was it like working with Wes Craven?

Christina Ricci (CR): He’s great. I mean, he’s Wes Craven. He’s incredibly experienced and this is like his thing and what he does best, and he’s just very laid back and smart and sarcastic and dry. He doesn’t let anything really upset him too much. We’re there to make a movie, but it’s going to be fun.

Jesse Eisenberg (JE): I think also because he’s been doing it so long and has such a command of the genre that everybody on the set has a great amount of respect for him and patience, not that he takes a long time, but there’s a general understanding that the outcome is going to be that much better, or there’s a general understanding that the outcome, there’s a confidence that what we were doing was worthwhile.

We know that Wes re-shot much of the film. How did the story change?

CR: It changed quite a bit. We weren’t related in the original version. We just both happened to be involved in this crash, and then when we came back we were brother and sister, and Josh wasn’t in the original one. He wasn’t. No, and there was no club that anybody was opening.

JE: No. There was a wax museum. They were able to keep some of the great effects, but the story, I think, is improved, but I mean I think the final product is now better, but I think they were able to keep some of the great effects or some of the more expensive things that still fit into the story.

At the time, did you agree with the decision to re-shoot the movie?

CR: Well, we weren’t seeing dailies, and I think it was everyone who was watching the dailies that they were the ones who could see that it wasn’t really working. When you’re not seeing what’s actually on camera, sometimes it’s hard... I mean, the final product of any movie usually feels like a totally alien thing than what you’ve been shooting anyway, so we wouldn’t really be able to have that perspective or the objectivity to know that it wasn’t really going quite right.

When did you begin shooting the film?

CR: Oh a year, two years ago. Yeah, it will be two years this March.

How difficult was it to maintain continuity for your performance when there was a possibility that footage from both versions might be used?

JE: Very little of it was kept, so there wasn’t really...

So none of the original scenes were used for the final film?

CR: There were some. And if the case was you’ve exited the door in a scene that we shot five months ago and now it’s the scene that happens right after you come through the door, then I would watch; he would show us what we were following so we could
kind of get back into that.

Were there any collaborations with people that didn’t make it, or scenes you got right the first time that you were disappointed to lose?

CR: Yeah, I mean, originally, when we first were shooting, Skeet Ulrich was in the movie. And by the time they had reworked the script and everything, he didn’t like the way his character had been changed. And so he didn’t want to be involved anymore. And that was sort of sad. He was a love interest of my character. He was involved in the crash. It was the three of us involved in a crash, and then he and I start…we become attracted to each other. But the way it was rewritten, he just didn’t feel like there was enough to make him really want to be in the second version.

JE: I think the part that he was originally doing was eliminated essentially. So I think the interest for him, whatever that was at the time, may have not carried over to that new character.

Any scenes you thought you nailed the first time?

JE: No, I mean, I never feel that way, so I was kind of excited to get another shot at it.

CR: All that stuff, all the school stuff, that’s in the first one, right?

JE: Yeah, actually, I think a lot of the stuff that I did in the first version, if anything was kind of retained. I think most of the stuff I had done, because it was out of the context of the old story, so yes, so there’s the stuff in the beginning. The stuff on Hollywood Boulevard in the beginning I think was there, and I think a more significant scene, the fight with the golden retriever, that was also retained and I know that was important to keep because it’s really exciting and also probably an expensive venture.

When they made you related, what layer did that add to the story?

JE: It kind of grounded it emotionally. The first story was about strangers who meet and have to join together and stuff – which seemed to work, because I read the script and really liked the first one – but I guess whoever’s decision it was to change it didn’t think it worked as well. But having a family as the focus of the movie, and the family suffered a loss. Our parents had been killed prior to the movie, so it certainly grounds it emotionally.

Christina, how long after Monster did you begin work on Cursed?

CR: Two weeks.

What was it like moving from material that was more reality-based and serious to a supernatural story like this one?

CR: Well, that’s one of the reasons that I took this movie, was that monster was so heavy and sort of an emotional journey. I mean, Monster was a great experience because I loved working with Charlize and I loved the director, Patty . But at the same time, when you’re working with material that is that dark, eventually you’re just going to feel a little bit heavy. So I literally landed in LA after filming that, coming back from Orlando, and my agent’s like “Okay, you need to go tomorrow to meet on the Wes Craven movie that you can do starting in two weeks if you want to.” I was like, “Yeah, that sounds good. Something lighter, like playing a normal person who’s running around and screaming. That sounds good, okay.”

Has the critical acclaim of Monster changed the scripts that you’re getting offered?

CR: Um, no, not really. I think it’s always a great thing to be in a movie that was so good and that affected so many people. I think that’s always a good thing. I can’t say that it changed my career that much, but I’m happy to have done it.

Can you tell us anything about The White Rose?

CR: That’s a project that’s just still in the early stages of development. It’s based on a graphic novel. It’s sort of a young girl who’s taken under the wing of a cat burglar, and then she’s raised to be a cat burglar and her signature is a white rose. And then something goes wrong and then there’s a movie.

What’s happening with Prozac Nation?

CR: Now, they’ve sold it to Starz On Demand.

What has that experience been like for you?

CR: It’s extremely disappointing. Extremely disappointing.

How do you approach your roles?

CR: I think it really does depend on what you’re going to be playing, who you’re going to be playing. A lot of times, if a character has a lot of…if there’s a lot of technical truths that you need to learn, any kind of training, then you might start there. And that will sort of influence the character and you’ll see how that would change a personality. And then trying to just do whatever the director wants. If he likes to rehearse for three weeks, then that’s how you find it. I think for me it really depends.

What about this movie?

CR: Nothing. I was hired literally two weeks before we started shooting. And we did a lot of fittings.

JE: Yeah, the nature of the movie is not necessarily performance driven. But that’s not to say that it detracts from the quality of the movie. It focuses on other things and we’re doing our jobs and do it as well as we are required to do it. But also, it’s a more whimsical movie. It’s not as heavy as a movie. It is in the sense that awful things are happening, but in terms of overall tone, it’s not taken as seriously as something like…

CR: It’s not a drama.

What are the differences between working on an indie film, like Rodger Dodger, and a big budget one?

JE: It’s different in almost every way in terms of the production of it. This I think was schedule for 60 something days and that movie (Roger Dodger) was 20 days and I just did a movie that was 23 days, also similar. It took place in New York . This was really an interesting experience for me and one of the reasons I really was interested in pursuing it is because it was so unique to me in terms of what I’d done before. But it’s very similar in an important way in terms of there was a genuine respect for- - I mean, I can speak for myself, for what I was doing.

CR: Yeah, I had no respect at all.

JE: Oh, really? But no, I didn’t realize the set is quieter in a more emotional scene. I didn’t realize there would be a respect for it because to me it just looks like a horror movie. It seems like they wouldn’t take what I was doing as seriously. But I found it to be the opposite, so it was nice.

Jesse, what do you play in Squid and the Whale and when will we see it?

JE: I think it’s coming out in October. I play…it’s about a family going through a divorce in 1986 in Brooklyn . So it’s kind of semi-autobiographical. The guy who made it, I’m kind of playing him going through that experience. It’s a great movie and it was just picked up this week, so there was a commitment I think to put it out in October.

You’re playing him and he’s watching your performance?

JE: Yeah, I think it was more…well, I had auditioned for it like eight times over the course of two years, so I felt that I had…I felt comfortable being there. The people who played my parents were also being scrutinized in kind of a different way, I think. And I think for them, it was more being scrutinized by an outsider so it was more of a biased approach. But for me, I felt pretty confident being there. There was a really time-consuming and rigorous rehearsal process because it was such a personal story for the filmmaker.

Christina, did you meet the person you played in Monster?

CR: No, she wanted to have nothing to do with the movie. She had already sold her rights off to somebody else, so they changed…you know, my character’s name is changed. It’s not her real name. And we really had to make sure, I think Patty in writing the screenplay made sure that my character did not too clearly represent the girl that I was supposed to be representing.

Christina, what will we see you in next?

CR: The next thing I’m in that’s coming out is a movie called I Love Your Work with Giovanni Ribisi and Franke Potente that Adam (Goldberg) wrote and directed. It’s sort of a Faustian tale about this actor who wants to be famous so badly and when he does get the life he thought he wanted, all of a sudden, he realized he sold his soul to the devil really. So I’m…he has flashbacks of his ex-girlfriends, the girl he sold out to get where he is, the girl he betrayed and that’s me.

Ever feel as if you sold your soul for success?

CR: Oh yeah, long, long time ago.

Would you be interested in a Cursed sequel, or did the extensive re-shoots sour you?

JE: We start on the sequel next week, so we don’t have a choice.

CR: No, these kinds of movies are really fun to make. I think as an actor sometimes you’re in the mood to be really serious and do something really hard and thought-provoking. But then the other side of it is, Oh, but I could just have a great time running around doing action-y types of things and being chased by something. Or I could do that in my spare time.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at thomasleupp@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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