INT: Jim Caviezel

You’d think two years of Jesus jokes would make Jim Caviezel jaded, but it actually seems to have opened him up. The usually solemn actor charmed the press with his performance of TOP GUN, playing all the characters in a scene. That’s not an artiste taking himself seriously.

In DEJA VU, Caviezel plays Oerstadt, a terrorist who bombs a ferry full of soldiers and their families in New Orleans . He’s so good, the only way the authorities can find him is by looking into the past.

While a terrorist may be a step down from the messiah, Jim Caviezel gave his all to the role. Oerstadt is scarily confident in himself and his mission, prepared enough to be a threat and charismatic enough to blend in.

Jim Caviezel

Do you feel that your character in this film is based on Tim McVeigh?

I wasn’t very specific. I picked up several, probably about fifteen different cases that I watched and read and what I’ve found though, is there was a difference between the serial killer and the Unibomber type. One is more sexual and the other is more destiny-oriented. The [serial killer] has sexual power of some type but both are narcissistic none-the-less.

Are you a methody actor? Do you stay in that dark place?

Absolutely. Oh, I see what you are saying. Well, we were in a dark place and we couldn’t help it. When you are going down to the 9th Ward and they are pulling bodies out. I was down there five days after it hit with the 82nd Airborne and I never smelled that kind of smell in my life, like death. I was just blown away by the heroes I saw, the firemen coming down. I remember one particular occasion these guys were really in a bad situation and these L.A. firemen grabbed boats. No one asked them. They drove four or five days and by the time we got there, they were just coming in. “Hey, we’re from L.A. We’re here to help.” They pulled a fireman out. It was amazing.

Why were you there?

I wanted to help.

How do you personally feel about shooting off guns and blowing stuff up?

Personally? I look at it this way. I look at a script. You have to have a good guy and you have to have a bad guy. So, if you have no bad guy, you have a good guy who becomes ‘gooder’ and ends up goodest. Excuse my grammar.

So, when you are called upon to do violent stuff is it taxing or fun at all?

You just stick to the character and play the role. It’s about playing the role and playing it well.

I enjoyed another time travel movie you did Frequency. Did you think about the time travel elements of that when doing this?

You stay with the character. You do the research. You have to be honest and tell the truth of what those kind of guys are like. I think playing the bad guy badly is playing him saying [Dr. Evil pinkie up to his lip] “Oooo, I’m Dr. Evil. I enjoy evil” versus saying “I’m the good guy here. Denzel is the bad guy working for the government and they let us down here.” But, at the same time you have to see through that because this guy isn’t part of that. He was using it.

Did doing Frequency help you understand time travel any better?

I didn’t even think of it. It’s just a whole other piece.

There is a powerful interrogation scene between you and Denzel. Are your acting styles different?

Yeah, he doesn’t rehearse. We actually began a rehearsal and Tony said it was against Denzel’s nature to do that and felt like we shouldn’t have done it. I thought maybe it was significant to go through it but it ended up working wonderfully. We kind of got an idea where we might want to go with it. Originally, the scene was at the beginning of the film. Then, it got moved to the end, thank goodness. A film should have a feeling of grapes that have been around for fifty years. If you can do that, the better you get in this business you can grab a role and quickly become that character. It’s very, very difficult when you don’t have that much time. You go from one film to the next and, all of a sudden, you go into this critical scene and don’t have time to explore all the possibilities.

There were a lot of physical scenes in the film. Were you injured, like on the air boat?

Yeah, I got hurt on that pretty good. I had about three wrecks on it. It was hysterical. The first time I got on that airboat machine, it was on land and I said “Do we need a tow truck here?” I’d never seen anything like it. But you get out there and you’re in the water and there’s a island there and you go over the island and you’re back in the water and they work. But, where they’re weak is if you have to turn. You need about ten percent to turn it. You’re blowing air. If you are at full maximum, you have no excess air to turn it. You want to go about ninety percent and always keep a reserve there in case you have to turn it. There’s just a handle here. There’s nothing holding you down so if you get hit, “Hello.. goodbye.” You just fly.

Did you fly off of it?

Yeah. A couple of times I did and I got some bad wrecks on my knee. They said my shoulder wasn’t dislocated.

Was it important, after The Passion to show that you could do some bad guys also?

It’s really about the great role. I look for great roles and great stories. First of all, it’s the script, then the role and where it fits in. I remember, I did a film with Ang Lee one time and I was talking about all these things, about the character and what it might do. The star of the film was Tobey Maguire and he said, “Jim, I don’t have time to go into all the things about your character. Those moments are great if you were the main guy but you are the color red and that’s it. Find me red. I need red on this.” So, that’s the art. That’s the piece.

When you are the main guy, you can be more introspective. This guy, what is interesting is I kept thinking he was like the hurricane but the eye of the storm which is absolutely calm. In him is a massive storm but everything had to be against the norm which is yelling, screaming, putting all that out there. Denzel, who obviously is an unbelievable actor, one of the rare ones that can be both character and leading man, he elevated my work. We got down to the end of that scene where [he says], “There’s a difference between you and I” and my character is like, “Okay, fine. You figured all that out but I’m willing to exchange my life. Are you?” There you go.

Have you spoken to Mel Gibson since all this controversy?

I had one contact from him and I have not heard from him.

But you wanted to talk to him?

My thing, I think he’s a brilliant director and no question he’s a great actor but I don’t agree with his comments or his statements. Let’s just say it’s as simple as that.

Does your character in this feel that he’s a misunderstood patriot?

I felt like he had a sense that there was a time window, a destiny and where there’s just this much time left and it had to be accomplished and he had a sixth sense to him. So, if Denzel was the good guy, this guy was the reverse but still had that gift, a sense. And, a guy like him is not just a bomber. I thought he was more than that. He had that gift of understanding, not just the criminal mind but how cops think and, to have that gift, and when they came up with this Déjà Vu technology, it kind of backfired on him. I think, in a way, he was aware of something going on and so that scene plays out in some form where he let’s [Denzel] know. “I’m ahead of you. I know what you’re up to. I don’t really know what it is but I know there’s something there.”

What do you think of the whole string theory of time or parallel universes? Does that sort of thing intrigue you?

Sure it does. Tony Scott came to me and said, “It’s not science fiction, Jim. It’s science fact.” Then he gave me this cornucopia of magazines and said, “Here you go.” Wow! I started going through it thinking, “How are they going to figure this out?” Then I thought, “20 years ago, who would have ever thought of the internet?” They’d think the guy was crazy. Technology should be used for good but sometimes we don’t think about where it could be used for bad. Should you stop it? I don’t think so but I think we have to be responsible and understand that, even without technology, if a man had a gift of understanding and having a sixth sense like Denzel’s and abusing it, what could he get away with how many people could he kill? In his mind it’s all good. In his mind, it’s all good and Denzel is the evil, the bad guy, the government.

Have you had a Déjà vu moment?

Yes I did. I remember the first one I had in my whole life. I was eight years old and I was coming home from school and I remember this vividly because Fridays were my favorite moment after school because it was the beginning of free time and, after cartoons on Saturday morning, I hated that. I remember walking outside, slamming down my foot and saying “Cartoons is over.” That was back in the days when you got up early and never slept in because you wanted your Saturday morning cartoons. That was before VCR and what not. We were out playing this game called snake in the grass. I didn’t have to do my homework that night and we were out playing for hours. I walked up this hill and it hit me and I knew that moment I would never forget. I didn’t know what it was but, later on the phenomenon kept coming up. Other people have experience it so I think Jerry Bruckheimer made a great call putting that on his film.

But what did you get a flash of in your déjà vu moment?

I was going up the hill and I knew that night we were going to have popcorn and Brady Bunch and Partridge Family back before VCR, another technology, right. Those were the days of Magnavox and Pong. We had that game but I was walking up the hill thinking I’m going to go home and watch Brady Bunch and all of a sudden it hit and bam, “I’ve been here before, I’ve been walking up this hill before.” Like all this had happened before even though it never had.

Can you tell us a little bit about Outlander and Unknown?

Just go see them both. The Outlander one is gonna be big. Unknown is great. It’s done incredible in Japan and Spain and several countries in the film festivals, a smaller film. Outlander a lot bigger, kind of like Braveheart and Highlander mixed and really not.

Do the Top Gun impression for us.

Mitchell, I’m sorry about Goose. Everyone liked him. I’m sorry. What’s your problem, Kozanski? You’re everyone’s problem. That’s because you’re unsafe. I don’t like you because you’re dangerous.

Source: JoBlo.com



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