Hal B. Klein

Hal B. Klein talks about his working relationship with filmmaker Randall Miller, his other new film Killer Movie and future projects.

Hal B. Klein is a relatively new face in the movie game, but his stock is certainly on the rise. After making his film debut in writer-director Randall Miller's Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, he's also appeared in his two subsequent films, Nobel Son and Bottle Shock, which is coming to DVD on February 3. I had the chance to speak with Klein over the phone about this film, and here's what he had to say.

This is your third film with writer-director Randall Miller so did he come to you for this role right away, or were you discussing it while you were doing other films, or how did this all come about?

Hal B. Klein: Yeah. The first time we spoke about it was probably right after shooting Nobel Son, which we did before Bottle Shock, but it came out after. He said, 'Yeah, I've got this movie that I've been working on and there's a cool little role in it for you so, more information soon.' It all happened pretty quickly, once we got the script done.

So he wrote this specifically for you then?

Hal B. Klein: No, not at all, but I think he knew, when he wrote the script, which role he wanted me to play.

So what is it about his work that either keeps drawing you to him, or him to you?

Hal B. Klein: I just think he's such a great actor's director. He used to be an actor himself, so he kind of gets how actors work. First of all, he makes great movies, so no matter what, there's that right there. He always has really cool scripts and they're always really different too so as an actor it's always fun to work on different things with him.

Since Bottle Shock revolves around the wine role, had you been a wine connoisseur at all, or had you heard about this story before you started filming it?

Hal B. Klein: I actually have learned more about wine since I did the movie than I did before I shot the movie. The part I play in the movie, Shakey, is what they call a cellar rat and they were the guys that moved the barrels around and hosed stuff down so Shakey didn't know much about making wine. But since I've done Bottle Shock, I've had all these opportunities to drink all these amazing wines from all these great vineyards. But now it's sort of a mixed blessing because now the only wine I really know is amazing wine and now I drink other wine and it's like, 'This isn't as good as the stuff that they gave me.'

You worked with Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman on Nobel Son before but you this has quite a huge cast with Chris Pine and Racheal Taylor, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina, Eliza Dushku. What kinds of things did you learn from just being on that set and being around all these guys?

Hal B. Klein: It's pretty amazing. I've spoke with Alan Rickman a couple of times, but I actually haven't gotten to do a scene with him yet. Just talking to him, he was actually kind of my idol growing up, so suddenly I find myself in movies with him and I come from a classical theater background, which is where he comes from too. I said, 'It's such a different thing. What's the biggest difference? He said, 'I never look the same in any of my movies.' I kind of looked back and looked at his movies and went, 'Oh my God. He doesn't look the same in any of his movies.' What a genius idea. He never does, and film is such a visual medium that how the character physically looks, says a lot. That's the thing that I really took away from him that I've actually been using. I actually just did a movie in New York and I played a parole officer and I thought, parole officer, he should have a moustache (Laughs). I saw some of the dailies and it does look like a parole officer with the moustache. Then, with Bill (Pullman), your feel is just so relaxed and nice and cool and it just sets you at ease on the set. It shows kind of the mark of confidence and coolness that you have to have, to be that relaxed and that giving. Actually, my favorite scene in Bottle Shock is at the end when he gets the phone call from Time Magazine and Shakey is like, 'Time Magazine? Oh my God.' It actually was supposed to be Bill Pullman's line and he goes, 'I just think that Shakey should say it. Shakey should just go crazy.'

I read you shot this in Northern California and I heard it was kind of difficult to create that 1976 period because it's not too long ago, but long enough ago. Was that one of the main difficulties and was the production pretty smooth aside from that?

Hal B. Klein: It was pretty smooth. The people that did the production design were pretty amazing. They used downtown Sonoma for downtown Napa. It's a little bit more rustic still. It's not quite the same, but they did their best. Another thing they did was they built this boxing ring in the vineyards that, when you walked up to it, looked like it's a boxing ring in 1976. I think they actually kept it. They're like, 'Yeah, we're just going to keep this here.' For a movie with a smaller budget, they did a really amazing job.

So you have another film coming out on DVD the same day as Bottle Shock with Killer Movie. What can you tell us about that film? I believe that was your first horror film, so how was that whole experience?

Hal B. Klein: Yeah. It was so much fun. I got a fake head made for the movie, and the day I saw my fake head was pretty amazing. It was great. We spent a month in Minneapolis, shooting it and it was so much fun.

Oh really? I'm originally from that area.

Hal B. Klein: Oh cool. Yeah, we shot all around Minneapolis, St. Paul, we shot out in Stillwater a couple of days. It was great. The people there were just so cool.

Oh yeah. Stillwater is about 10 minutes from my hometown. They were one of our rivals.

Hal B. Klein: Oh yeah. Stillwater was pretty awesome... but I hate them, if they're your rivals.

(Laughs) No, the town is actually pretty cool.

Hal B. Klein: Yeah, it's really cool, with the bridge and everything. It was great. It was about a reality TV crew that goes up to North Dakota and they say they're there for this high school hockey team with this whiz-kid phenomenon, but they're really there to exploit the town. That's what they're really there for but then people start dying, the townspeople and then it moves on to the crew, so it's fun. I play the production manager of the crew and he's this kind of happy-go-lucky stoner guy. It was fun. I got to spend a month wearing a velvet track suit. It was great, a great cast and lots of young, awesome people. Jason London, Leighton Meester, Nestor Carbonell, Kaley Cuoco. It was really cool. We just had an amazing time out there. It's both like a satire on reality TV and the guy the wrote and directed it, directed a lot of the guilty-pleasure reality shows like The Simple Life and The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, things like that. So that kind of comes from his experience.

I also read you have the lead in an indie film called Stuck. Is there anything you can tell us about that?

Hal B. Klein: Yeah. I just got back from New York and finished shooting that. It's great. It's set in the blackout in 2002 and these four guys are trapped in an elevator and there's a lot of tension and you find out that two of the characters might have a history with each other. The tension between them building and being trapped in this elevator for hours, so it's cool. It's a really cool script, like a low-budget indie, psychological thriller.

So how long were you shooting that for?

Hal B. Klein: We shot that in three weeks. Pretty amazing, yeah. I'm still not sure how we got it done, but we did. It was great for me because the parts I normally play, which I love playing, are more the happy-go-lucky guy and this one it ends up me being the one that takes the turn.

Is there anything you can tell us about Jack and the Beanstalk or anything else you're eyeing up right now?

Hal B. Klein: Yeah. Jack and the Beanstalk I actually just saw it a couple of days ago. They just finished cutting it and they're going to look at distribution right now. It's amazing. It's a live-action version of Jack and the Beanstalk with a cast of all these fantastic comedians and the voice of James Earl Jones. It's just so good and so light-hearted and enjoyable and fantastic for kids. I can see it in the back of everyone's minivan on the DVD player. It has a really good message and it's fun. It's someone that I met, actually, through working on Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School like years ago. I just ended up meeting someone through him who's producing this and he wants to make a whole series out of these. I came in and did a day on that and played this bumbling police officer guy and it's really funny. Hopefully there will be more of them on the future.

So, finally, both Bottle Shock and Killer Movie come out on DVD soon, so for those who didn't catch these in the theaters, what would like to say to entice those to pick them up on DVD?

Hal B. Klein: Oh man, they're both just great movies and they're both so different too. Bottle Shock is just such a beautiful movie. I mean, it really does take you into Napa Valley and take a bottle of wine and watch it and celebrate this, it's almost, in a way, a sports movie. It's this underdog story that you're cheering at the end. I knew what happened and I was cheering at the end when I saw it. Then Killer Movie is just so much fun. Parts of it you'll be laughing, parts of it you'll be screaming. It's just such a cool movie with great young actors and everyone in the movie are people you're going to be seeing for the next 20 years.

Cool. Well, that's about all I have for you, Hal. Thanks so much for your time today and I'm looking forward to your other projects as well.

Hal B. Klein: Thanks man. Awesome. Great talking to you.

You can catch Hal B. Klein in the decidedly different flicks Bottle Shock and Killer Movie when they both hit the shelves on DVD on February 3.