Set Visit: Southland Tales featuring interview with The Rock
Last Friday I visited the set of SOUTHLAND TALES with one simple goal: to find out just exactly what the film is about. Few projects are shrouded in more secrecy (and confusion) than Richard Kelly's much-anticipated follow-up to his cult hit DONNIE DARKO. Despite its ambiguity, the project has attracted an all-star cast, including The Rock, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Seann William Scott. All three of them were on hand to give their own unique interpretations of Richard Kelly's script.
Unfortunately, I left the set at the end of the day more confused than ever. I do know that it isn't a musical. And I'm pretty sure that there aren't any bunnies in this one. Check out what The Rock had to say about SOUTHLAND TALES.
Can you tell us what this movie is about?
Yes, I can. Why do you ask? (laughs) You guys havent had a chance to read the script?
Its very secretive and kept under wraps. My interpretation of Southland Tales is this: number one, I should preface it by saying that after reading it Ive been close to this now for over a year now. Before I went to shoot Doom last year was the first time I read the script. And read it and then re-read it and read it again and then re-read it again. And then I came to the conclusion that the best thing for me to do was stop trying to piece everything together and get extremely close to (director) Richard Kelly. Because there are so many things in that script that only he can answer and only he can piece together. And a lot of it is left up to ones interpretation. So thats what I did. I stopped trying to piece everything together, got extremely close to Richard and made sure I understood what my interpretation of Boxer was. Were on the same page together with Richard. And then I realized that Southland Tales is about myself. (laughs) Thats exactly what it is. I came to that conclusion.
You and Seann have the luxury of getting close to Richard Kelly personally. So what will audiences who cant get to know him be able to surmise when they see it?
Number one, theyll be challenged. I think theyll be challenged in many, many ways. You dont have to get close to Richard Kelly to understand what Southland Tales is. By the way, thats the beauty of what I believe were filming, which is left up to interpretation. There are a lot of things that are going to be left up to ones interpretation. And it will make sense. Im sorry to be cryptic, if it seems like that.
Do you sing?
Umm, no. I was going to and then no.
Is it a musical?
No no no. Its not a musical at all. I think earlier comments were, its a musical, sci-fi and thriller mixed in with dark comedy. But no, I can honestly tell you its not a musical.
There are no musical elements?
Other than a great soundtrack, no.
No actors break out in song?
No. But we do dance, though. Theres a great dance number at the end, with my wife and my girlfriend. (laughs)
Can you tell us who Boxer Santaros is?
Sure. Boxer Santaros is a movie star who gets kidnapped, who has amnesia, doesnt know hes a movie star, who becomes a paranoid schizophrenic and also extremely neurotic. Of course, thats the movie star part of it, which I based on a lot of people I know. That, and constantly searching for the truth. And the one very important element that I forgot to tell you is Boxer has a supernatural gift. He can see things and he can foresee the future. Thats about all I can tell you. He knows things are going to happen and he foresees the apocalypse.
And whats his relationship with Seann William Scotts and Sarah Michelle Gellars characters?
His relationship with Seann is doing research for a role. So theres a this is where I start getting into details but theres a screenplay that Boxer writes, which he wants to direct as well, and hes doing some film research. And Sean is a Los Angeles cop. And I go on a ride-along, essentially, with him. And then its easier from that point on, instead of talking about Seann and his character, for him to tell you how things start to develop. And my relationship with Sarah is, when I come through, Sarah is the one person in my life who I feel like I can trust. And when I come through out of my amnesia state, shes there. And we develop this relationship. Sarah is my girlfriend and Mandy Moore is my wife.
What appealed to you about this project to begin with that got you to sign on?
Well, when I first read the script actually before I read the script I was speaking to my agent and we talked about Richard Kelly. I was familiar Donnie Darko and I really liked Donnie Darko, actually. And he said what do you think about working with Richard Kelly? And I said I would love to, sure. And he said theres this project and its called Southland Tales. And I said great, Id love to see it, send me the script. He said before that Richard had asked that he just meet with you first. So I met with Richard, I loved his ideas for Southland Tales, I loved his visuals. He had a couple of mockups of what we would look like and what he saw and this is what the mega-zeppelin looked like. And I was really really really impressed with his creative process and his urgency not only to be different and to be creative and to be edgy but have it make sense. The meeting went great and then he sent over the script. He said, Now you can read the script. I read the script and I loved the script and I loved the character. There are a lot of different levels.
Do you share this sort of pessimistic view of the future?
Well, the truth of the matter is the movies set in 2008.
Not too far.
No, not too far at all. And I think its a very feasible setting in 2008. Three years from now, this could very well be the case, where were at now. My interpretation is that its realistic and its a love letter to Los Angeles and it could be a bitch-slap as well. Because culturally the entertainment industry and what we mean to the entertainment culture here in Los Angeles is very, very strong. And I think thats putting it mildly. Then at the same time there is, as we all know, a very seedy underbelly side to Los Angeles as well. So I like to look at it, again, as a love letter to L.A. And theres no greater place than L.A.
Do your new tattoos mean anything?
Yeah. Well, Boxer is half black and half Samoan, and he when hes asked, he makes sure that people know, Im Blamoan. Black and Samoan. (points to his shoulder) These are my real tattoos, which fit for Boxer. What happened was, before he was stricken with amnesia, Boxer when we pick the story up, by the way, hes been missing for two weeks and nobody knows where Boxer is, and he went off and hes traveled the world on his own in this state of amnesia. And he discovered - or tried to discover - God or a higher being in many, many different ways, in many religions. He thought hed try out being Jewish (points to Star of David on belly button) to Buddhist, which is the most meaningful tattoo.
This one and one that Ill show you guys. And what this means in Chinese is: There is a path to end all suffering. You should take it. And I do tell my wife that, Mandy, in this. Before I leave Ill show you guys, theres this beautiful picture of Jesus Christ on my back. Theres some Muslim her somewhere. So its all very meaningful. There was a lot of work and a lot of detail put into it. Even a year I was talking to Richard about Boxer having tattoos and the idea like he would try many, many different things. Always searching for the truth, again. I mean I could always go back to that. Hes rooted in that reality. Its funny because when you guys see the movie, when you talk to some of the characters, theres a lot of absurdity going on, where you go, What the fuck? But for me, its nice that for Boxer theres still a rooted reality, where hes just always searching for the truth amidst some of the absurdity thats going on.
Can you talk about working with Seann again? You have really different roles this time.
Seanns great. I loved working with Seann in The Rundown. And you guys will be really surprised at what hes doing and the work weve done so far Ive really enjoyed with him, seeing this different side of Seann. Hell tell you theyre twins. So hes got two people to play. Im sure hell tell you more.
Do you have any scenes with him being both people?
His character theres a present self and then theres a future self. With Boxer, theres I cant give that away - Boxer legitimately knows the apocalypse is happening. The interesting thing is, can he stop it? Yes. Does he stop it? Well see. And why doesnt he, or does he?
What scene are you working on today?
Today is with Seann and Will Sasso and Sarah Michelle Gellar and Im trying to explain to them Boxers written a screenplay, its called The Power and this is what its about. And interestingly enough, the screenplay that Boxer has written basically unfolds. And hes trying to explain to Seann before we go on the ride-along what this is. Its about a crime saga in L.A. I play a cop who (is) paranoid schizophrenic and he has a supernatural gift and he can do this and he can do that. So to Seanns character, its too much for Seann. Hes like, Oh neat. Cool.
He has amnesia but he remembers having written the script?
Ok. Well its almost like he knows hes written a script because the script has been so close to him. But there are some things, its like selective amnesia. There are a lot of things that he doesnt remember. He doesnt remember and I will try to be as clear with you guys as I possibly can so it all makes sense when you write it but hes forgotten the past two year. The screenplay has been with him for many many many years. Thats how hes able to remember that. He doesnt remember that hes married to the Senators wife. He doesnt know that he is who he is, this big movie star.
So is Doom a horror movie?
Buddy, Doom is
People are nervous; no one knows.
No, Doom Ive seen it. It is an unapologetic, straight-up horror movie that is its as violent as they come.
And have you finished Gridiron Gang?
Wrapped Gridiron Gang, yeah. Thatll be out September 15th of next year.
Do you get to take a break after this or what?
After this Im gonna go promote Doom. After seeing it I saw it a couple of times Ill see it one time, the finished cut. And then Ill go out in a big campaign and promote it.
What about this one?
Well, it was important to me to get really close to Richard and to understand his way of thinking and that process. Because I think the character is so complex with Boxer, its important to stay close to him and to continue to say ok, well, this is my interpretation. Every day, by the way, its something new, something different. Theres an alter-ego, by the way, I forgot to tell you guys, to Boxer. In the screenplay his name is Jericho Kane. And there are moments that Jericho Kane comes out in Boxer. And on the day, with Richard, I think this would be a good moment here. Weve already talked about it. We thought maybe not, but I think maybe so. And its yay or nay, a constant creative process. Especially when you have a script like this, you have to be. You have no choice.
Questions? Comments? Manifesto? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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