Set Visit: Elektra (3/3)
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 tableÖ
|Rob Bowman||Gary Foster|
Q: Jennifer, can you talk a little about your physical
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 Iím so grateful for that because it added my flexibility back
in, which you lose after a while if you donít specifically do
something for that, Iím sure you guys are all very aware of this. (laughter)
And it strengthened my whole core but it wasnít 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;
itís been the same trainer Iíve had all through Alias and
through Daredevil, Valerie Waters is her name. She does a variety of
things; sheís incredibly good at what she does, but the thing that
sets her apart as far as Iím concerned is she does so much to
protect. For instance, sheís constantly worrying about protecting
my rotator cuffs, protecting my knees, you knowÖToday we were
doing something so hateful, at four-something this morning and I
said: ďWhat is this, what is the purpose of this?Ē†
I donít usually ask; I usually just do what Iím told. And
she said: ďWell, if you must know, itís 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, Iíve
learned to work with the bow stick, and Iíve 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 Iím 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 itís as
though Iíve 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). Iíve been
working on the sais intermittently, most of the sai work is coming
up at the end of the shooting. Iíve been doing a lot of punching
because Iíve always had a strong kick, weak punch. We ballet
dancers donít grow up punching, we grow up kicking so Iíve been
doing a lot of boxing. So that is more than you ever wanted
to know about my training but thatís all I do so there it is.
Q: The character is the darkest one youíve 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 sheís younger and in college, she kind of has an ideology similar to Matt Murdockís, 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, Iím 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. Sheís a mercenary, sheís 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 sheís 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 doesnít get off on it in like a cool serial killer way, I think itís all she has to survive. This is something that can define her and sheís indefinable. She doesnít have her father, she doesnít have her sensei, she doesnít 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 itís much more of a twist and itís 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
JG: Yes, this character is actually very similar to Jenna
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: Itís been a scary one, to be honest. Iíve really missed hiding behind a big red devil. Because I could be his antithesis and how do you play somebody whoís 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 wasnít 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
weíve spent a lot of time wondering if sheís lethal enough
because my propensity is to, you say ďcutĒ and I kind of giggle
between takes and I can carry that into what Iím doing. And we
say, no, wait, stop, go back and I say: ĒRob, did I look nice
at all?Ē† 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 youíre both
squeezing this into your hiatusí. Do you talk about that at all,
compare notes about what itís like?
JG: Yeah, of course we do. Itís funny because we both refer to our shows as work. We go: ďSo, when are you going back to work?Ē †As though weíre just kind of all hanging out at camp.
RB: Cause thatís 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 Goranís 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 heís 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 donít know, in some ways to me,
maybe because Iím directing this movie and I didnít direct
Daredevil, is that Mark is a much more scary Ė
JG: Oh, without a doubt.
RB: Itís a scarier journey for her. Murdockís
sympathetic, I understand how you feel, weíre both outcasts, you
know Ė partners in crime. †Mark
and Elektra Ė from opposites ends of the spectrum. Put those
together, how does it make her feel?
JG: Yeah, weíve played it that way but sheís terrified, itís not that itís not there, sheís just so freaked out!
Q: Jennifer, can you describe your experience with the
comic book fans of Daredevil and Elektra? Have they been positive
JG: Iím lucky in that if people donít like whatís going on, the color of my costume maybe is as tough as I ever got. People didnít come up and say: ďYou sucked as Elektra, you shouldíve been Greek- I hate you!Ē 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 Iíve 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 sheís at Stickís camp and, sheís 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, Iím ready, Iím ready send me on a mission and he says just get out, we donít 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 wonít 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 andÖ
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 donít think these universes - I
donít think Avi (the other producer Avi Arad) would allow these
universes to intersect.
JG: (laughing) Can we just please, Iím only half-way
done, letís not Ė
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 Iíve been lucky that I havenít been stuck somewhere. I think probably because thatís more how you would see me but this is more what I became known for originally thanks to Alias. So itís 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 Ė
Q: Kicking someoneís ass?
JG: Yeah, I did. I was kind of likeÖand?
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, itís also that, I mean Iíve read the comic books, most of the time sheís 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. Iíve never understood how you could physically have those little flowing sashes that never seem to have even a g-string on the side and Ė I wasnít raised that way. (laughter) I am a comic book hero that wears panties, so I didnít know how to accomplish that. It is a pretty cool wardrobe. I hope youíll 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, itís something I know you cared a lot about.
TS: Yeah, they didnít want me to wear the hat! You canít
be Stick and not have the hat, you know? So, I got to wear it in
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, Iím 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, itís really niceÖ
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 itís following the storylines of whoís in, whoís out, whoís directing, whoís not, tracking the movies, I mean itís important. Itís certainly important for us in that this genre has done well we want it to continue to do well, we care so much and itís going to help our films.
Q: What about a movie like Kill Bill, itís another
tortured female heroine, or anti-heroine I guess, I mean, just as
GF: Sure, I think itís healthy that our business is
healthy, that people got to movies, whether itís comic book
movies, or dramas or romantic comedies Ė
JG: That they will pay to see a woman headline an action film, whoever it is and whatever style it is, thatís 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: Iím sure they will. I welcome it. I think itís
fascinating and interesting and theyíll have things and weíll
Q: Goran, were there any changes to your diet or exercise regime for the movie?
GV: Nope. I mean I didnít have a beer in a couple of days.
No, no, Iím joking, I donít have a lot, just a couple of scenes,
like I told you, throwing garbage cans at bad guys. Jenny is doing
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 heís
left. You can tell us what itís 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: ďOkay, 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.Ē At the same time, his
mind thinks like the biggest movie director youíve 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 Iíll say: ďHow was that,
Rob?Ē between takes and heíll be like: ďWell, if I
donít say anything then itís fine.Ē And Iíll say: ďNo,
itís more fun if you come and mess with me about it, you know,
letís fight about it a little bit.Ē †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 Iíll say: ďAh,
way to go, director!Ē (laughter)
And then I can see him get jazzed. So, we have had a really,
really good time and now weíre at that magical point in the movie
where he kind of looks at me and I go: ďOh, I know, I know,
donít even say it, I got it.Ē 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 Iíve 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.
GF:† And he can
move across that line without making it look like heís moved
across the line and he covers scenes better than anybody I have ever
seen either. Itís a beautiful film and heís 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. Heís quite an amazing visualist. And
compassionate, thatís the other thing that sort of surprised me.
Not surprising, but itís so much deeper than you would see on the
JG: Heís constantly found heart, or why thereís lack of
heart in a scene almost every day and a lot of the time weíre 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 itís evolved from that?
GF: Itís evolved fast, to be totally honest itís been a wild race. We went off to one direction and some of it worked and some of it didnít, 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 writersÖJennifer, Rob, everybodyís contribution to this movie has been essential to get it to this place and Ė
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 weíve done is streamline and found how to make
it more clean, and more colorful and more about what itís 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 Ė
JG: Two years ago we
talked about her with the little girl from Wolverine and thatís
always been how we were going to find our way in to Elektra.
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 weíd find somebody there and Kirstenís
from here. She came in and auditioned and we were blown away. We
took the tape to Los Angeles to show it to Jennifer Ė
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 Ė 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 sheís crazy, sexy and fun. Bob Sapp plays
Stone. Bob is known as The Beast, heís one of the great K-1
fighters in the world right now and he canít walk down the streets
in Tokyo without getting mobbed. Heís got 360 pounds, a former
college football/NFL player whoís 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 Ė
Q: Ökissed by Typhoid Mary. Iím 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
thereís no question that she has some evil breath. But, Natassia
does not. I have to say itís the first time Iíve ever kissed a
girl. I didnít object to it, I didnít 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: ĒOh wait, youíve got a hair stuck
her.Ē I think itís the only person on screen Iíve ever
kissed where Iím making sure her lipstick is straight. And then,
they would say action, we would kiss, they would say cut and we
would laugh and weíd get on with it, it was nothing Ė
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 Iíd lose my mind obviously but, trust me, you saw, that was it.
Q: You werenít 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. Iíve had bad scenes with actresses where Iíve hit them with swords and stuff, so I was very happy that was over, however, Iíve heard rumors there may be re-shoots. Itís not sleepless nights, you know, itís 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 Robís passion for the movie and the character was what turned the tide. Personally for me, itís been a pleasure just getting to know the man. He brings an amazing presence to our film and weíre grateful.