The respected veteran actor talks about his role as a mobster, future projects and more
Miguel Ferrer is one of those actors whose name might not ring a bell but someone you'd definitely recognize. While most of his most notable work was done on the small screen, with roles as FBI Agent Albert Rosenfeld on David Lynch's cult classic series Twin Peaks and his long-running turn as Dr. Garret Macy on Crossing Jordan, Ferrer has also appeared in such films as The Manchurian Candidate and the John Sayles films Sunshine State and Silver City. Ferrer's latest film is Wrong Turn at Tahoe, which also stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Harvey Keitel, which will be released for sale on DVD on January 12, after its exclusive rental window. I had the chance to speak with Ferrer over the phone about his new film, and here's what he had to say.
I was curious how you first heard about this project and what your first reaction to this character of yours, Vincent, was?
Miguel Ferrer: Well, I got the script over Christmas, right before the break when I was going on vacation and I read it sometime over that time. I absolutely loved the script. I thought it was colorful and unusual and traditional, in the best sense of the word. As soon as everyone was back in the office, after the first of the year, we made sure to call my representatives. I said, 'Are you sure they want me for this part? Because if they don't, if they want me for something else, I'm going to be pissed off, so let me make sure that this is the one you have me in mind for.' They said yeah, it was and, sure enough, at that point, I just said, 'I'm in.'
It's really kind of a fascinating and complex tale but, as you said, very traditional and simple in some ways. Was that part of the appeal as well? It was nice to see this one, seemingly miniscule event throw everything into a tailspin.
Miguel Ferrer: Yeah. That's something that I loved about it. It was much like a Humphrey Bogart, Richie Robinson noir feel to it, but it really had it's own voice at the same time. You read so many scripts that are formulaic and just boring and poorly written. This one was a real page-turner, very sparse and boned-down. It really just appealed to me from the first page.
Can you talk about the kinds of things you had to do to prepare to play Vincent and take on this character?
Miguel Ferrer: People ask me all the time how I prepare and, to tell you the truth, I think if what's on the page is rich and compelling, as far as I'm concerned, if it's beautifully presented on the page, all you have to do is put yourself there and pretend, and the rest takes care of itself. That is, unless it's a real stretch with an accent or if history matters where research has to be done.
You're alongside a pretty wonderful cast here with Cuba Gooding Jr., Havey Keitel, Leonor Varela, Johnny Messner. What was it like just getting on set with all of these guys and how did you all gel on the set?
Miguel Ferrer: Beautifully. Everyone got along really well and it was a pleasure to be around those guys. We had a lot of fun, except for the part that it was mostly shot at night, which I don't do very well. I'm kind of a day guy. With the exception of that, it was a lot of fun. Everyone got along well. We were trying to make the best picture we could, and no one was walking through it.
So where did you guys actually film this? It has a very distinct look to it.
Miguel Ferrer: We actually filmed it in Spokane, Washington. It's kind of an industrial town, largely without charm, but with the nicest people you could imagine. They're very welcoming and in a town like that, when you're making a movie, word spreads quickly. Anytime we went to a restaurant or anything like that, everybody knew more about the movie than I did.
Your director, Franck Khalfoun, comes from this horror background. What was it like to work with him on this dramatic project?
Miguel Ferrer: To be perfectly honest with you, we kind of got off to a rocky start, just in terms of approach and style and the way we worked individually. Somewhere along the line, we pretty quickly got on the same page and by the end of it, we were best friends.
You actually did some directing yourself when you were on Crossing Jordan. Is there any chance that you'd be looking to direct a feature anytime soon?
Miguel Ferrer: You know, it's something I'd like to do. I'd love to find a small movie that someone would sign off on me to do. I have no aspirations to do a big studio film because I don't think anyone would let me (Laughs). The other aspect of that is that it just takes so long. It just takes so much time to find someone to finance it, to find a studio to trust you and the distribution. It's a long, long arduous process which is fraught with peril. At this point in my life, with a lot of children and considerable overhead, I just don't have the time to take, but it's something that I love to do. It was a lot of fun directing television because largely, the machinery is in place, so all you have to do is step in, grab a camera, ask for a crane every so often and just have some fun.
So are there any films or TV projects that you're looking to hop on in the near future, as far as acting projects?
Miguel Ferrer: At this point, I really want to stay working in television, for the next few years, at least until my children are through high school. I have teenage boys and I think teenage boys require a father to have eyeballs on them at all times. It's a treacherous time so I'd love to stay in the TV business for the next few years and then return to features, because they're generally more fun. You have the luxury of more time and you generally get to curse. I always act better when I'm able to curse.
(Laughs) That's very true. It adds the realism there.
Miguel Ferrer: And there's plenty of it in this movie.
Yes, yes there is. I was also curious if you perhaps had a favorite scene from this film, or maybe a favorite memory from the set?
Miguel Ferrer: You know, my favorite moments on the set were not necessarily my favorite scenes. I loved the confrontation between the heroin addict and Cuba Gooding Jr. I thought that scene worked really well. The confrontation, the first meeting we had with Keitel went really well. I thought it came out well.
Finally, what would you like to say to maybe your fans or fans of this kind of film about what they can expect from Wrong Turn at Tahoe when it comes out on DVD?
Miguel Ferrer: You know, I think it's, in the best sense of the word, a traditional gangster picture, but with a very unique voice. I think it's wonderful. It's not just another idiotic, shoot-em-up kind of thing. It has some very unique performances and everyone brings their A-game and if you don't like it, find me and I'll give you your money back.
(Laughs) Well, I enjoyed the film, so I won't be asking.
Miguel Ferrer: OK, you will not be among those few. OK, good.
Well, that's about all I have for you, Miguel. Thanks so much for your time and best of luck with your future projects.
Miguel Ferrer: Thanks so much.
You can watch the wonderful Miguel Ferrer alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and Harvey Keitel in Wrong Turn at Tahoe when it hits DVD shelves on January 12.