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Set Visit: Elektra (3/3)

Jul. 16, 2004by: JoBlo

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This interview session on the set of the upcoming ELEKTRA is continued from this part in which we interviewed and filmmakers from the film including Jennifer Garner (Elektra), Terence Stamp (Stick), Goran Visnjic (Mark Miller), producer Gary Foster (DAREDEVIL, GHOST RIDER) and director Rob Bowman (X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE, REIGN OF FIRE).

This is when Jennifer Garner joins everyone at the table

Goran Visnjic
Terence Stamp
Rob Bowman Gary Foster


Q: Jennifer, can you talk a little about your physical training?

JG: Physically, I got strong before the movie. I stayed in fairly good shape. I added Pilates into whatever I was doing everyday, I would come home from Alias and add in an hour of Pilates, and Im so grateful for that because it added my flexibility back in, which you lose after a while if you dont specifically do something for that, Im sure you guys are all very aware of this. (laughter)

And it strengthened my whole core but it wasnt until I got here and I completely focused on the movie that I felt like it all came together. That just came from training in the morning, training after work, training at suppertime and training in the weekends; its been the same trainer Ive had all through Alias and through Daredevil, Valerie Waters is her name. She does a variety of things; shes incredibly good at what she does, but the thing that sets her apart as far as Im concerned is she does so much to protect. For instance, shes constantly worrying about protecting my rotator cuffs, protecting my knees, you knowToday we were doing something so hateful, at four-something this morning and I said: What is this, what is the purpose of this? I dont usually ask; I usually just do what Im told. And she said: Well, if you must know, its to protect your hip and it makes your side kicks stronger.

Other than that though, as far as the fight training has been concerned, I lo-loved picking up a couple of new weapons, Ive learned to work with the bow stick, and Ive never claimed to be a martial artist but I do love, love, love getting to train with the best and that is what these movies afford me. So Im really excited about a bow stick fight that I have coming up against five ninjas and every time we finish one run-through of it its as though Ive just done a 3-minute sprint interval uphill where I can tell my face is red and (she makes exaggerated gasping and breathing sounds to illustrate how taxing it is). Ive been working on the sais intermittently, most of the sai work is coming up at the end of the shooting. Ive been doing a lot of punching because Ive always had a strong kick, weak punch. We ballet dancers dont grow up punching, we grow up kicking so Ive been doing a lot of boxing. So that is more than you ever wanted to know about my training but thats all I do so there it is.

Q: The character is the darkest one youve played so far even though Sydney has her issues. Can you talk about that, finding the core of the character?

JG: Well, Elektra is lethal and in Daredevil it was somebody who was on the verge of being lethal who was surprised to find herself vulnerable to someone. Once her father is killed, and this is true in the comic books, and it is in the films as well, there is no light for her in the world anymore, I think when shes younger and in college, she kind of has an ideology similar to Matt Murdocks, she kind of feels like she wants to make the world better and the second her father is killed everything changes for her at least this is my, you know, Frank Miller understanding of it, Im sure you guys know more than I do.

So, everything changes for her and she goes to such an incredibly dark place, clearly almost dies, is resurrected and when Stick kicks her out of the only home that she believes she has left in the world, she uses her skills to become an assassin. And that is what she is. Shes a mercenary, shes out for blood, she could care less who you are, what you do, where you come from and I have to say I love that about her because I feel like she has been driven to it and shes hiding behind her own soulless-less. She uses it to isolate her completely and emotionally from the world, and physically from the world.

And because she is so bad, I think she doesnt get off on it in like a cool serial killer way, I think its all she has to survive. This is something that can define her and shes indefinable. She doesnt have her father, she doesnt have her sensei, she doesnt have Matt, so, to me, this particular story is about her not being able to deny her need for her own redemption. And it comes up and smacks her on the face much like falling for Matt Murdock did, except I think this is much more of a surprise and its much more of a twist and its something that she fights a lot harder than she fought falling for Matt.

Q: Kind of like Jenna Rink (her character in 13 Going On 30), right? (laughter)

JG: Yes, this character is actually very similar to Jenna Rink.

Q: So, the transition from taking her from a supporting character to a lead character, is that an easy one for you in your head?

JG: Its been a scary one, to be honest. Ive really missed hiding behind a big red devil. Because I could be his antithesis and how do you play somebody whos only mission is to kill and how do you love her for yourself? I wanted to do this movie because I so love this character and I so love that as much as she fights against her own re-entry into the world, her heart opening up after years and years of just being completely closed off, she loses the battle with herself. And she basically falls for a younger version of herself - Abby. And ultimately opens herself, at least in part, although I think the love of her life is Matt Murdock (laughter), that wasnt nice to say, to Mark.

But just for that shift to take place at all is so huge. Rob has been the guiding force for me, finding a way to make her whole and make her hold up scene after scene after scene. And believe me weve spent a lot of time wondering if shes lethal enough because my propensity is to, you say cut and I kind of giggle between takes and I can carry that into what Im doing. And we say, no, wait, stop, go back and I say: Rob, did I look nice at all? Yeah, you know, do it one more time. And so, I feel really lucky to have a partner in Rob.

Q: You and Goran both have TV shows and youre both squeezing this into your hiatus. Do you talk about that at all, compare notes about what its like?

JG: Yeah, of course we do. Its funny because we both refer to our shows as work. We go: So, when are you going back to work? As though were just kind of all hanging out at camp.

RB: Cause thats what it feels like. I think one of the distinctions, if I could make an observation, outside, as a viewer, is the distinction between Matt Murdock and Gorans Mark is that Matt Murdock exists within the world that Elektra operates. Sort of a comrade, whereas the scary thing and the interesting thing about Mark is hes very ordinary and setting Elektra into these ordinary circumstances ironically is a very unnerving, scary thing for her. She has no normal. And the contrast between Elektra and Mark could not make Elektra more uncomfortable. So Goran playing the good guy down the beach, I dont know, in some ways to me, maybe because Im directing this movie and I didnt direct Daredevil, is that Mark is a much more scary

JG: Oh, without a doubt.

RB: Its a scarier journey for her. Murdocks sympathetic, I understand how you feel, were both outcasts, you know partners in crime. Mark and Elektra from opposites ends of the spectrum. Put those together, how does it make her feel?

JG: Yeah, weve played it that way but shes terrified, its not that its not there, shes just so freaked out!

RB: Yeah.

Q: Jennifer, can you describe your experience with the comic book fans of Daredevil and Elektra? Have they been positive or?

JG: Im lucky in that if people dont like whats going on, the color of my costume maybe is as tough as I ever got. People didnt come up and say: You sucked as Elektra, you shouldve been Greek- I hate you! They might say that behind my back but my experiences have been really, really positive which of course has made me enjoy the world more.

Q: If you could have one superhero power, what would you choose and why?

JG: The same one Ive always said, have you guys heard me say it? Metabolism.

Q: Do you have a favorite Elektra story and are there any elements from that story in the film?

JG: I love when shes at Sticks camp and, shes bald in the comic book, and she has this huge smile on her face, he calls her over to him and she says what can I do, Im ready, Im ready send me on a mission and he says just get out, we dont want you here. And she is so unaware of the fact that he sees evil in what she does or harshness or lack of good. She is so crest fallen, you can see the change of character as she walks away, and for me that is such a huge turn in her character and we actually have that exact moment in the movie; although I wont be bald, too hard to achieve. I also love in Wolverine, Elektra and Wolverine, where Garrett comes in and it ends up being Mark Miller and

GF: And you kill him!

JG: (laughing) And I kill him right away.

Q: Any update on an Elektra and Wolverine movie?

GF: (laughing) I dont think these universes - I dont think Avi (the other producer Avi Arad) would allow these universes to intersect.

JG: (laughing) Can we just please, Im only half-way done, lets not

Q: Did you like the experience of doing a romantic comedy, seeing as you often play these tough and disturbed characters?

JG: Yeah, I think the whole point of being an actor is to do different things and so far Ive been lucky that I havent been stuck somewhere. I think probably because thats more how you would see me but this is more what I became known for originally thanks to Alias. So its let me bop around at least so far, a little bit more. I loved that experience but I have to admit there was a moment last summer where I felt like, um

Q: Kicking someones ass?

JG: Yeah, I did. I was kind of likeand? (laughter)

Q: Gary mentioned earlier how important it was to get the red costume right, is that because of fans coming up to you and mentioning the costume?

JG: Well, its also that, I mean Ive read the comic books, most of the time shes in red. She does wear the black and the black is faithful to the comic books, but you know, she is known for the color red. So yeah, it was important to me and it has been mentioned to me enough that I knew it was important to the Elektra fans. Ive never understood how you could physically have those little flowing sashes that never seem to have even a g-string on the side and I wasnt raised that way. (laughter) I am a comic book hero that wears panties, so I didnt know how to accomplish that. It is a pretty cool wardrobe. I hope youll be happy.

GF: With Terence, I mean he could tell you better, he fought very hard for that traditional, um, you should tell the story Terence, its something I know you cared a lot about.

TS: Yeah, they didnt want me to wear the hat! You cant be Stick and not have the hat, you know? So, I got to wear it in some scenes

Q: Goran and Terence, do have any stories about Jennifer, something that surprised you about working with her?

GV: The amount of work she does, Im like so jealous that she can do all those things in a 24-hour day. I would need like a 48-hour day to do everything she does 24 hours. You know working out and working on the set, its really nice

JG: Thanks, Goran.

Q: Question for Mr. Foster, seeing as the popularity of comic book movies are at their peak now, do you follow the progress of all these films coming out every month and sort of hope the wave strides into next February for Elektra?

GF: Heck yeah. Heck yeah, every day. I mean whether its following the storylines of whos in, whos out, whos directing, whos not, tracking the movies, I mean its important. Its certainly important for us in that this genre has done well we want it to continue to do well, we care so much and its going to help our films.

Q: What about a movie like Kill Bill, its another tortured female heroine, or anti-heroine I guess, I mean, just as important?

GF: Sure, I think its healthy that our business is healthy, that people got to movies, whether its comic book movies, or dramas or romantic comedies

JG: That they will pay to see a woman headline an action film, whoever it is and whatever style it is, thats an amazing thing and they should be celebrated, all of them.

Q: Do you worry though that people will compare this film to Kill Bill or other comic book movies?

JG: Im sure they will. I welcome it. I think its fascinating and interesting and theyll have things and well have things.

Q: Goran, were there any changes to your diet or exercise regime for the movie?

GV: Nope. I mean I didnt have a beer in a couple of days. No, no, Im joking, I dont have a lot, just a couple of scenes, like I told you, throwing garbage cans at bad guys. Jenny is doing more

JG: I keep waiting for the man to show up and rescue me and they finally did today.

Q: Okay, now you guys can talk about Rob, now that hes left. You can tell us what its like working for him?

JG: Well, the great thing for me is that we both know both worlds. He can shoot as quickly as a TV director and know what he needs and see in his mind: Okay, here is the canvas of the day, this is what I need to get, what is the fastest, most expedient way to move the camera and get the performances that I want to get and protect what I need to protect. At the same time, his mind thinks like the biggest movie director youve ever seen, he sees shots as though there is nothing involved, no cameras involved and then finds a way to make it happen. His facility of language between dealing with the cameras, the DP (Director of Photography) the action is absolutely met with his ability to talk to me, one-on-one, take to take. Sometimes Ill say: How was that, Rob? between takes and hell be like: Well, if I dont say anything then its fine. And Ill say: No, its more fun if you come and mess with me about it, you know, lets fight about it a little bit. And then he will come up with something that I so subtle and genius and on the mark and different from what I was doing and Ill say: Ah, way to go, director! (laughter)

And then I can see him get jazzed. So, we have had a really, really good time and now were at that magical point in the movie where he kind of looks at me and I go: Oh, I know, I know, dont even say it, I got it. And that is what you wish for with every director and luckily we have it.

GF: I would only interject that Rob has probably one of the great eyes Ive ever seen from a director. He knows how to take a shot that can be done very nicely and exactly how you expect it and make it into something fresh and original. He probably knows a camera and a lens better than anybody I have ever seen.

JG: Uh-huh.

GF: And he can move across that line without making it look like hes moved across the line and he covers scenes better than anybody I have ever seen either. Its a beautiful film and hes giving all of us these different angles and options and opportunities to kind of take moments rather than have to play it all in one big frame and get it right, you know, on take 20. Hes quite an amazing visualist. And compassionate, thats the other thing that sort of surprised me. Not surprising, but its so much deeper than you would see on the surface.

JG: Hes constantly found heart, or why theres lack of heart in a scene almost every day and a lot of the time were on the same page but every now and then he completely takes me by surprise and it makes what I do so, so, so much more fun and it makes me so much more willing to jump off a tree for the guy.

Q: Gary, Jennifer, like any film, you have a script that evolves over when you were first developing it to what you have now, can you talk about the difference from when you were first developing it with the first writers and you were presenting it Jennifer to where its evolved from that?

GF: Its evolved fast, to be totally honest its been a wild race. We went off to one direction and some of it worked and some of it didnt, we changed directions close to the finish line and were racing to try and get ourselves to a place to see if we were all willing to jump off. We had our moments, but, you know, we just all out put our heads to it and worked hard, we had great writersJennifer, Rob, everybodys contribution to this movie has been essential to get it to this place and

JG: But the amazing thing is as crazy as it was figuring out the direction of it initially, which it was, my fear about it was that we would spend the whole movie directionless and floating and making less of this character than I think she deserves. And it has never for a moment felt that way, once we set our course, we have followed it and all weve done is streamline and found how to make it more clean, and more colorful and more about what its about. And that has been a really wonderful surprise for me.

GF: Yeah, we always, from the beginning, knew we were going to do this story about her

JG: Two years ago we talked about her with the little girl from Wolverine and thats always been how we were going to find our way in to Elektra.

GF: Exactly.

Q: Can you talk briefly about the other actors and their characters and how they were cast?

GF: Absolutely, well the little girl, Kirsten Prout, who is an amazing actress and has just been a joy. We did a big search actually, we were all over the states and Canada and frankly, L.A. or New York, we thought wed find somebody there and Kirstens from here. She came in and auditioned and we were blown away. We took the tape to Los Angeles to show it to Jennifer

JG: There I am in my hair and make-up chair for Alias and they said we have a tape to show you and they showed me this girl and I was frankly intimidated, she was so good in her audition. I mean it is something to pull off an audition like that at 13! She was amazing and she is amazing.

GF: And then we have the elite team, led by Kirigi, who is played by Will Yun Lee, who you might now from Die Another Day, he played one of the North Korean villains, he was in Torque. Natassia Malthe plays Typhoid Mary, we auditioned a lot of people for that part too and shes crazy, sexy and fun. Bob Sapp plays Stone. Bob is known as The Beast, hes one of the great K-1 fighters in the world right now and he cant walk down the streets in Tokyo without getting mobbed. Hes got 360 pounds, a former college football/NFL player whos just built an amazing career with himself. Jason Isaacs has a featured part in the beginning of the movie, he came up and worked the first few days with us. Also Cary Tagawa, who plays Roshii, the head of The Hand.

Q: Jennifer, this morning we were watching a scene, I guess it was the aftermath of the scene where Elektra gets

JG: Kissed.

Q: kissed by Typhoid Mary. Im wondering what that was like and when you first read that for the first time what was it about that scene that hit you?

JG: I love the character of Typhoid Mary. And Rob made it so amazingly visual, as she walks by, everything dies around her and theres no question that she has some evil breath. But, Natassia does not. I have to say its the first time Ive ever kissed a girl. I didnt object to it, I didnt really think about it that much either way and when the time came it was just a kiss. Yeah, it was totally, completely fine. We would just talk about our sisters or talk about, you know: Oh wait, youve got a hair stuck her. I think its the only person on screen Ive ever kissed where Im making sure her lipstick is straight. And then, they would say action, we would kiss, they would say cut and we would laugh and wed get on with it, it was nothing

Q: You were on the ground for what seemed like hours. That had to be difficult.

JG: You know it was such a welcome change, if I had spent the whole movie like that Id lose my mind obviously but, trust me, you saw, that was it.

Q: You werent bored at all?

JG: No, it was such a gorgeous day, and the trees looked beautiful. No, no, I was ready for a little taste of boredom.

Q: Terence, you were talking about the blindness and the shooting of certain scenes. Can you talk about that?

TS: So far so good. I mean I did a scene with Jennifer and I was doing it with my eyes closed and I was worried about whacking her, you know. Ive had bad scenes with actresses where Ive hit them with swords and stuff, so I was very happy that was over, however, Ive heard rumors there may be re-shoots. Its not sleepless nights, you know, its just something you deal with everyday as it comes up.

GF: I just want to say that when we realized we were going to make this movie, Terence was the image that we all had for Stick; and Avi and I were relentless. We flew into L.A. for some meetings and we begged for him to stop at our casting office for a half hour and he did. We were charmed and our passion for having him do this movie went up 100%. You know, Terence is a legend, Terence is an amazing actor, but hopefully our passion for him and Robs passion for the movie and the character was what turned the tide. Personally for me, its been a pleasure just getting to know the man. He brings an amazing presence to our film and were grateful.



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