INT: James Foley

Slowly but surely, James Foley is adding up a pretty interesting roster of films. His most noteworthy picture is the ensemble piece GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, with Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, and a whole other slew of big name stars. He also directed Marky Mark as the psychopath boyfriend in FEAR, the badass Chow Yun-Fat in THE CORRUPTOR, and Rachel Weisz and Edward Burns in the crime drama CONFIDENCE. His next crime-filled picture is PERFECT STRANGER, and it features the lovely Halle Berry , the tough-as-nails Bruce Willis, and the quirkily charming Giovanni Ribisi. You can check it out this Friday, April 13, 2007, or better yet, read our interview with the man below, right now!

James Foley

Did it feel good, finishing the movie?

I went out and splurged right when I got back, because when you direct a movie you feel rich for like one day. Because, you know, you've gotten all your money, but then you realize that you get your monthly statement from your business manager and every month it goes down and down. And you're unemployed and you have no idea if you'll ever get a job again. So you don't know if you're rich or not, because if you get paid a million bucks and you do your next movie right away – the next year – then you're making a million bucks a year. But if you wait three years, you're only getting $300,000 a year.

So does that make you less selective about your movie choices?

I'm extremely selective. I learned early on that if I didn't find myself in the project, I didn't want to do it. And by that I mean, 'Where is myself?' And it's in Halle 's character. I feel in many ways – I can be psychoanalyzed why – I just feel a kinship with her character. And I love her. And I don't care what she does, and I understand her behavior no matter what she does. I understand the twisted logic of why she takes a certain action. And it's the best performance of any movie I've ever made. There's a layer that's so interesting because Halle Berry is playing a character, [and] that character is acting she's a different character, so you have to [make] people believe this new character she invented – that the character is acting – but you can't let the audience see that this character is acting. But she has to be. And that was a real magic trick.

And when you see it, there are – people say this too often sometimes – but I really think there's reason to see this movie a second time, because there are millions of little moments that could be interpreted one way or another. I purposely left things ambiguous. Something as simple as Halle coming in with Giovanni to Halle's kitchen and Halle's in one room and Giovanni's in another, and Halle's taking off her hat and she stops, and she starts thinking about something. And we have no idea what she's thinking about. But it's a long pause. And then she blurts out a question to Giovanni, and then Halle can't see Giovanni, but Giovanni's reaction is like, 'Uh oh. This is complicated.' And you have no idea at the point why it's complicated, but you know that something more is at hand and what the first level of reality is. There are secrets.

You say Halle gives the best performance in anything you've done. How do you think your 'Glengarry' cast would feel about that?

They'd have to accept it. [Laughs] You know, you have to have the material, and for some reason Halle Berry was meant to play this part, and I really can't imagine anyone else, because she has an incandescent– and I hate the publicity where the director says, 'Ohhh, I love the actor.' I don't love every actor I've ever worked with. But I sure as hell love her. No matter what she does – the audience in our screening and research, her scores are always like 98% likable. And she does things in the film that another actor may not get away with and still be likable. And she's got that factor, whatever it is, I've never encountered before. She has it in person. She's the same as Halle as when you talk to when you're hanging around on a movie set. There's nothing calculated about her. What you see is what you get.

As a director, how do you prep the actors for their scenes?

My method of rehearsing is to not do scenes – act out scenes – but to clarify the character and how the dots are connected. But to do it in an off-handed social way, like go to dinner and talk about something else for half the time, and then get an idea about her character – or she gets an idea. And over a period of time, I always like when the actors can come early. And rehearsal is sometimes going to lunch, or just hanging out and walking the streets. So by the time you go to shoot it, first of all you have a relationship that's just a little bit personal – you're very comfortable with each other.

In Bruce Willis' big scene, where he throws down the guy from his office. Did you just let him go?

No, you can't let him go, because practical reasons – people's bones get broken. That came about very simply, it was written in the script that he kicked him out of his office, it wasn't specific how exactly. But me and the stunt guy and Bruce just looked around at the set and what he had to do and how he could use the objects on the set to make the stunt believable and organic to the story – as if all of a sudden we're not changing the story to have this sudden outburst from Bruce.

How many takes for that scene?

Two. It's funny, people talk about violence in movies and stuff like that. But on the day we did that, the whole crew and all the other actors crowded around – they all wanted to watch. Wanted to watch the action, and wanted to see Bruce Willis do a little bit of his thing.

What made you want Bruce in the film?

I liked him personally. I met him – he actually read for a part in 'At Close Range', and was rejected. And he was from Jersey and at that time he hadn't even gotten the show yet.


Yeah. And we had a long conversation at the party, and saw each other a bunch of times socially. So when we got together now, we had that little history that made it easier to communicate stuff. He's certainly different in certain ways since being rejected for 'At Close Range' to the position he wound up being in. He's a supporting player, and he was absolutely comfortable with that. He made no attempt to add to his character, or add more scenes, or this or that.

Do you know what you're going to be doing next?

No I don't, but I really wanna do it now. This movie turned me on to wanting to make movies, and kind of rejuvenated a – not a mid-life crisis – but a kind of rebirth, that all of a sudden I'm excited. Like you felt in film school. 'I wanna grow up and be a movie director.' And I kind of feel that way now.

You weren't before?

I was excited in the beginning, and then you make five or six films and the glamour of it fades away. But something about making this movie – the process it went through – was so different than anything else I had done, that it opened doors in my head of doing all sorts of things. And I think a director should be open, and it should be a natural process that he get better with each film – that he learns something. And nobody would ever admit to that or talk about that, because a studio doesn't want to hear, 'Well he want to do it because he wants to learn.' But you really do learn. And you learn the most in the editing room, when you see the consequences.

Would you do a sequel to this?

If Halle Berry was in it I would.

Are there any particular genres of film you're eager to explore?

This is in the direction – my favorite film of all time is 'A Place in the Sun'. And my favorite film moment is the close-ups of Liz Taylor in 'Monty Clift' [i.e., 'Montgomery Clift'] when they're about to kiss. And 'A Place in the Sun' is such a great movie, because – I think that there's actually a genre which is the 'Hollywood film.' And it's known around the world, and it's popular. So, there's something about it – about the production value of it – and the aesthetic, you know, beauty of it. I think the worst thing that happened to films is when studios started art divisions. So if a movie came in and it was about a drama – about characters – well, put it in classics or something. And this is a movie I think is really outside the mainstream – or, is in the mainstream but has a sort of stealth, that I call 'stealth art film,' weaved into it. And it makes an interesting combination.

There was a lot of advertising in the film, with Victoria's Secret and such...

The movie is about an advertising agency. So when you show that, they're doing their work, what are they selling? Brand X of something? So we went around, and it was very hard to get permission – you ask permission for the real thing. For Adidas and for Victoria Secret, and we didn't get paid a cent, and in some cases we had to pay. So there's no product placement. It's just real. It would be ridiculous if you saw the ad agency and they were selling something anonymous. It wouldn't have the kind of veracity I think it does.

How was it to shoot at Ground Zero (the site of the former New York World Trade Centre)?

That was an experience I'll never forget, because you go on location scouts and you're going to find Bruce's company and there's this building that's just being finished, they tell me. So I just get in the van, and I don't pay attention to where we're going, and I go in the building. And it's great space and I really like it, and then I walk to one side of the building and I look down, and [gasps]. Because the pit was right there! And it just so shocked me, for half a second I thought, 'We can't shoot here. The presence of 9/11 will just be in our face.' But that wasn't true at all. After people had their initial reaction, it didn't affect anything... except making me mad that they haven't started the new structure. But that's a different subject.

Got questions? Got comments? Send me a line at: [email protected]


Source: JoBlo.com



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