Set Visit: Red Interview with John Malkovich
While visiting the set of RED, one person I was very interested in talking to was John Malkovich. I think after most people have seen BEING JOHN MALKOVICH they want to know the guy who came up with that world that was beyond weird, and maybe slightly narcissistic.
What's interesting about his role as Marvin in this film is that it is a different sort of character for Malkovich. Marvin is this crazed guy carrying a pink stuffed pig, living in a shack that doubles as an armory, and took massive amounts of LSD. Of course we had to ask if he had ever come in contact with the drug maybe as a teenager. To my complete surprise, Malkovich was pretty straight laced.
Malkovich is Malkovich, and a guy I could talk all day long to.
Can you talk a little bit about your character and how much fun youre having with Bruce?
The character as all four of us, Bruce and Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman is a retired CIA assassin and mines a kind of survivalist type that lives in a swamp and its a little bit whacked Ive loved it. its really been fun. Like, the cast, the actor very much get along with the director and the cinematographer, whose father Ive worked with for a couple of times, Ive known her since she was quite young.
Describe how well you and Bruce knew each other going into
Weve met a couple of times over the years, but never worked together before. We sort of started out about exactly the same time in New York in the early 80s, so I met him once or twice then and, oh, a couple times passing through.
This is kind of a road movie, a buddy movie. Was there any male bonding while you prepared?
There was a lot of drinking. But Im not in the starting five of that group
Does your character get a lot of backstory in the film?
They dont not anyone has tons of back-story in the film, except for Bruces character. Franks a little more but but not sort of scads about his past life.
Can you talk about the pig? The stuffed animal?
Im not really clear why its a pig and not, like, a duffel bag. He carries weapons and at some point, when they find out that theyre being followed -- that they are targets for something that happened many, many years ago -- my character says, Im gettin the pig. Im not really sure why, but thats a really good idea. A sort of call to arms.
Did the script change or grow as the different actors were cast?
Anybody doing something brings something to it. Its not for me to say if its growth. Just by the nature of everyone has a different take on the material. Some people would weve all done films where you have major questions about the material or perhaps about the structure or about how that character is manifested within a structure. Or how that character or the dialogue used. But this, I really havent changed much of anything, unless I was asked to. This is the script I pretty much got verbatim, for me.
Have you read the comic book?
Ive looked at it. But no, Ive just looked at the script.
What did you think of your character?
I thought my character was pretty clear in the script. Maybe sort of, where was he from originally? I maybe had a slightly different not a different idea a first impression from the script.
Were all looking forward to seeing Helen Mirren fire very large guns.
As opposed to having them. Yeah, no kidding that kind of touches all the bases.
Were you on set for any of that stuff?
Shes fantastic Helen, very pro, very funny, a lot of fun to be around. I mean she probably secretly enjoyed squeezing off a few rounds.
Had you had much hand to hand combat training, impressions?
No, not really.
Your character apparently had some LSD experiments done on him. Did you do any research into your role with LSD?
I was around in those days, but no. Every kid on the floor of my dorm did. I was never much of a drug-taker.
Can you talk about your work in fashion and costumes?
I design costumes, I started with the theater in Chicago, but somehow a few lines just sort of fell to me to do it. And I studied it in school and I always liked it. Around 2001 somebody asked me to do a line in Milan. I did that for five years and stopped it for the old artistic differences. Then some other Italians asked me a year, year and a half ago. Can you talk about the scene you were shooting earlier today? In the script, theres a New York times reporter whos been killed and I get a list of names that she has and theyre trying to find the link between Frank and Marvin, who are the only two people on the list, while the other people have been killed. So we go to meet this air cargo pilot, whos on the list. And at that point I think were the only people still alive. Id seen this woman at the bus station, who was firing at us. I tell Frank Im gonna blow her head off and she says that shes works for Caldwell Banker and has nothing to do with it. and here she shows up a little bit later with the whole RPG thing.
Sometimes these instances where people think youre crazy in the film, but at least by the end of the film youre reprieved.
Sometimes it happens quite quickly. Hes a little bit whacked out, but often correct about his peers and his statements often prove accurate.
Why dont the other people take you seriously when you say stuff like someones following you?
Because I carry a pig around. And he lives in a car.
What was your reaction to that? The set with the car?
Its fantastic. Weapons and cans of beans? What else could you want?
Your character is kind of paranoid, a conspiracy theorist. Do you believe in conspiracy theories?
Not so much. I have never met that many people so clever to be able to pull off the various conspiracies in the world. I think the world is a lot more chaotic than that. More accidental.
As a kid did you always want to be an actor, or more like want to work in the CIA?
No, and it never occurred to me to be an actor.
What did you want to be when you were kid?
I was pretty heavy, I guess I always wanted to do eating contests.
You let go of that dream?
Yes. But of course I thought too I could be a baseball pitcher or a football player.
Were you given a lot of creative freedom with your lines?
I dont think Robert would mind so much. But I like the script. Unless there were changes that call for different phraseology, or different dialogue I didnt really see the need. I like the way it is.
How did you get involved with the new Transformers movie?
I spoke with him last week. Lorenzo and Mark and Summit are producing. They approached me about it. Id see the first one, which I liked and thought it was funny. I like working with them very much. Theyre very good producers, theyre very hands-on, always around, really get their hands dirty which is not so normal.
Are you fan of popcorn type movies?
I was never a fanatical movie person. There are many popular films I love like anyone else. Having said that, Im not someone I dont have time to go to the movies very much. I work a lot of different things, Im always busy. But Im always happy to see a popular movie.
Were you disappointed about the whole SPIDER-MAN thing?
Yeah. Because I like Sam and I like Tobey and all that stuff and the producers -- two of whom who Ive met before -- and because I got offered I came to like them all.
Was the part for the Vulture?
Yes. But I think a lot of the people who follow that genre Im not sure , I never really spoke with him about it, Im not sure if they made him if the fanboy base that the fanboys approved of that character as an adversary for him, or maybe the studio, or maybe that was unrelated as to why it fell apart.
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