INT: Ving Rhames
Always the tough guy, actor Ving Rhames is has made a career out of playing the baddest of the bad. From PULP FICTIONs Marsellus Wallace, to playing a kick ass cop in the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD, Rhames has always left a lasting impression on screen no matter what the role. Hes back again in the summer box-office hot seat, returning a third time as Tom Cruises feisty and comical teammate Luther Strickell in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III and he recently spoke to us about playing Luther for the third time, working with new Director J.J. Abrams, and future sequels.
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Well I think what we did with this one I think first of all it is closer to the television series, and I quote J.J. Abrams he said, Look if you have Ving Rhames, use him. So I think what we see this one is it is a little bit more team oriented, a little more ensemble oriented of course Tom is the lead, but I really thing we really take full use of the skills of the other members of the team. So I think this one is closer to the television series, and I think what J.J. Abrams brought to it as a I think before this, I think he has only done television, but I think he just brings a freshness, and an enthusiasm with it, and also more than ensemble feel, and I think some of that is with his television background with the series Lost, and Alias you know of course there is always a lead character, but the lead character becomes you get to know who the lead character is by the way the other characters react to him, and I think we capture that with Mission III.
Are you surprised that they have kept your character through the whole series?
No, I am quite an actor so yes I am not surprised at all. I said that jokingly, but I will say I think Tom and I have very good natural chemistry, and I think you even get to even see more of that in this film. As a matter of fact some of the conversations that we have in this one, it could be two friends at bar having these conversations. We have them in the middle of a dangerous situation, but I think it is truer to how men, and friends relate to one another, and I think through that you learn more about who Ethan is, you learn more about his past, his present with the Love Interest Story Line in this one, and I think the audience will now invest more in his character because you know more of his personal life as opposed to the other two. It dealt more with even as the Impossible: Mission force leader, and you know you very rarely did you get to see him in a situation outside of the action hero.
Since this is your third outing with Tom do you feel that your relationship with him has kind of developed along with your on screen character?
Yes, and I think that of course I have known Tom now ten years, and I think sometimes what happens is you can have two Good Actors and they could not be necessarily the best chemistry between them in the relationship on screen could not work. I think Tom and I have very good chemistry off camera, and I think we were able to utilize that on camera. Myself watching it, and from other reviewers watching they have said to me that him and I have it just seems like we go back a long ways, and that is true we do go back like ten years.
How did J.J. Abrams as a director get the most out of you as an actor?
Well, I would say first of all one thing he did with the script he decided to utilize the team more, and I think second of all J.J. being an actor he speaks of Act of Language I call it. So I think he connects with actors in a different way then many directors who were not former actors relate to actors.
Did you feel that the fact that J.J. added a little bit more humor to this film that, that kind of made it more human in some ways?
Well I think that, and I think also you know J.J. is a former actor. J.J. is a writer, and a director, and J.J. is also younger than their previous two directors, so I think that his hand is a little closer to the pulse of mainstream America especially you know I think J.J. is in his 30s like mid 30s so I think he is a little more in touch, so I think the elements of humor, the love story line I think this one is just a little fresher, and honestly think he put things in it that will appeal more to women having a whole love story, and I am stressing love story verses a sex story. I think in the other two it was more there might have been a woman who was a sexual interest more so than love. So I think what J.J. brought to any other to writers was just something extremely fresh, and authentic that an audience will grasp.
Which was the most challenging location to film at?
Maybe Shanghai because what I feel with Shanghai we were filming it like it seemed like 5:00 a.m. in the morning, and it was cold. Shanghai, I do not know if you ever been there, but you know there is quite a bit of smog in Shanghai, so it was really it for me I flew in, and lets say I got in at 10:00 a.m. at night, and then I had to be on the set at like 4 or 5:00 a.m. in the morning so that was probably the most challenging for me.
How is suspense in this movie compared to the other two?
I will sum it up by saying this; I prefer this, but I hate using the word best, but I think this one stands out over above the other two due to it is a human story with tons of action, and the other ones I think might be action might have come before the story.
Since you are definitely the comic relief in this film, do you find it more difficult to do comedy than drama?
No, I basically try to play the truth of the moment, the truth of the situation, and nine times out of ten when you watch the film I am not trying to be funny. I am trying to be as honest, if anything I look at me more as a straight man. I guess I have been amused with the audience response to my character, my characters relationship to Ethan. I have always been taught to just play the truth of the situation, and if comedy comes out of that or drama, whatever comes out of it at least I am playing the truth of the moment to moment reality, and so that is what I try to do as an actor.
How was is working with a new team in this one in comparison with the other films?
I think having the new actors come along; I think they added something that we did not have in the first two. One is a couple of I want to say women who could do stunts very well, and play action well, and we did not have that in the first one, and I also think with Jonathan Rhys Myers we got a very talented young actor who has won a golden globe, and I think the first day of filming we filmed on the Tiber River, and we spent 12 hours of just Toms character driving us on a speed boat up and down the river so we got a chance to bond, and for Tom and I get to know the other two actors in this case that was Maggie and Jonathan, so I really thing we were very fortunate in this film that the new members that we brought on we all get along. I have known Laurence Fishburne for like 20 years, and I just met Philip Seymour Hoffman, but you know he is a fine actor. I think this one sometimes during a film where all of the pieces of the puzzle fit, and I think we must have that on this one.
What kind of advice would you give a friend doing a dangerous job about getting married?
I always say I do not think men should get married before 35.
Why is that?
One, I think women mature quicker. Two, I think a man is focused on his career sometimes even with women, so maybe I would say with woman 32ish, but I think that a lot of times now both partners in a relationship have to work. Things are very expensive especially depending on if you live in the big cities, and two, I think by the time you are for a male 35 if your career in whatever it is you do it is not fully firm, and financially secure you are probably on the way. So that is why I stress and I think also at 35 a man has been through and I am generalizing, but lets just say you have been through college, you have probably been through several relationships, and you have probably have done enough running around where it is like, You know what? I would really like to settle down, and meet a quality woman and raise a family. So that is why I give men 35, and I probably say with women somewhere between 30 and 32.
This particular mission went through kind of a rough development, was there any point were you worried that it might not come together?
No, actually the development of it I think for discussion sake lets say I do not know if it was six months or a year apart, but there was another Director originally, and once they brought on board the new Director, I mean even locations changed, and sometimes you have artistic or creative differences. I also say no I never really put much energy into things that I cannot control. So I do not even worry about it. I do not really think about it heavily. No, I was like look the first two made quite a bit of money, so just from a business point of view I realize that most likely number three would happen, but there was no guarantee, but I honestly felt in my heart and soul it would happen.
With all these exotic locales and stuff, did you have time to explore?
Oh yes, I think I only worked maybe one or two days in Rome, and I was there for about ten, and I think also we did the Pope, and all the historical sites, and what have you, and a lot of nice restaurants, and in China Shanghai Shanghai I think because of the Olympics it was going through a lot of building, and what have you. Shanghai was a little more hectic because they were construction all over the place, but we got to see all of the historical sites there, so every place I go I always try to get a sense of the cultural, and especially the architecture buildings, and what have you so it was quite enjoyable.
What your favorite scene was to shoot?
I would probably say when Tom jumps off of that 100 Story Building. I think it was I was on the roof with him so seeing him do that I mean, and he did it about I do not know anywhere between six to ten times. I was pretty amazed with him, and he wanted to do it even more. So that to me just watching J.J. shoot that was probably the one that touched me the most, but I think really the editing of the whole sequence in Rome the Vatican is probably my favorite.
So were you really nervous for him when you watched that scene?
Yes, with Tom jumping off the roof I was a little more nervous then the other so, and since I was there just brought up feelings of you know people do not like to have a talk like this, but what happens if a stunt goes wrong? Maybe not the first time, second time, third time, but the more you do a stunt the more you increase the risk of something happening. So the great thing was the stunt guy, Vic Armstrong, and then his whole team was excellent, but we were very fortunate that nothing went wrong, but people do not realize there is that possibility that something could happen.
How would you like to see your character expanded in the future if there are sequels?
There will be a sequel, but I would probably say, I think we are on the right path, and I did not give them any notes on how to expand my character in this one, but I think what the writers knew, and I really applaud J.J. for this is that the more you see the main character interact with people around him the more you learn about him. I learned more about you with your mother, your father, your daughter, your brothers, your cousin then I am learning about who you are by how you relate to people close to you, and then how you relate to strangers. I think J.J. knew that as a writer, so I think that is why we tapped into some things that I think is a bit more human than the other two, but I think we will continue to go into the path. I was talking to Tom last night, and Tom realized that in Mission one we had a element of that my character, and his, and they decided after watching one and two, that in two we were lacking that element.
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