B. Alan Orange goes one-on-one with Paul Walker to talk about Running Scared, Eight Below, and working with Clint Eastwood!
This is MOUTH TRAFFIC with B. Alan Orange: "Mundverkehr mit den Sternan!"
Hey, this is B. Alan Orange. And I want to tell you about my favorite film of 2006. Huh? What? Yeah, you heard me right. I know the year hasn't even learned to walk yet, but its going to take something mighty special to top what I saw last Tuesday. It's called Running Scared. And it shocked the shiz-bamm out of my fingertips. I know it has the same title as some thrift store Gregory Hines/Billy Crystal crime caper, but trust me, you'll forget all about that mediocre 80s flick after you see this tight, mean kick in the lungs.
Running Scared was directed by Wayne Kramer, the guy that made The Cooler with William H. Macy. And it stars Paul Walker, perennial pretty boy and also the lead in this month's Disney snow epic Eight Below (is it just me or does the poster look exactly like the one used for Disney's Snow Dogs with Cuba Gooding Jr. from a few years back?). Trust me; I wasn't expecting much when I walked into the theater. The synopsis did little to stir my interest. I read it with a sigh, expecting something along the lines of "The Knock Around Guys", also a New Line film. Walker plays a low level gangster in charge of clean-up. He's supposed to get rid of evidence, but he keeps a few guns used in a killing spree just incase the FBI get a hold of him. Well, the neighbor kid sees Paul stashing one of the guns in the wall of his basement. This much abused eight-year-old decides to "borrow" the gun and shoot his father in the John Wayne. The boy then runs away with said gun in hand. Walker has to hurry and find the kid before the mob or the cops can get their hands on the gun. Sounds like pretty standard noir fare. But that's just the set up for one Hell of an unpredictable ride. This poor little eight year old runs into one nightmare after the next. I sat there thinking, "This possibly couldn't get any worse." And then boom, I was slapped upside the head with some other unforeseen sidestep. And the ending is just brutal.
I hadn't seen nor heard anything about this film before stepping into the screening room. It's one of the few times I've been surprised upon sight of what appeared to be nothing more than a pedestrian attempt at making money. I walked out of the theater elated. Jazzed. Excited. I wanted to watch the film again, and I don't say that too often. This is going to go down as one of my favorite film experiences of the last five years.
As luck would have it, I was allowed the opportunity to tell both Paul Walker and Wayne Kramer how much I loved their latest film. I sounded like a real kiss ass, but its not too often I actually want to tell a star or a director what I thought about their work. They both seemed genuinely appreciative of my comments. And then I found out later that a majority of the press did not like this film. Well, I don't have to tell you they're a bunch of turd-talking piss washers that wouldn't know a good film if it ripped off their collective jaw and beat tooth marks into their flesh. Which is proven a fact, because that's exactly what this Urban Fairytale did. And it will do the same thing to you!
If you go visit www.runningscaredmovie.com right now, you can see the first six minutes of the film. Warning, though. You watch it and you're going to want to see the film really bad. That's not a lie. There's also a video game on there that you can play. Don't ask me if it's any good or not. I hate video games and refused to play it. I told you it was there, though. So, if you like Grand Theft Auto, go take a look. Apparently, you can go down on Paul Walker's on-screen wife.
Now, for your reading enjoyment, here is my interview with Paul Walker. I actually like the guy, so if you don't, take a walk you Mormon hating banshees…
Paul Walker: Is it cool if I sit here?
B. Alan: You can sit where ever you want. So, I like this movie a lot.
Paul Walker: Me too.
B. Alan: I haven't seen a movie I liked this much in a long time. I don't usually tell people that.
Paul Walker: I love hearing that. I appreciate it. This is the kind of movie I want to see in the theater. When I'm in it, I kind of screw it up for myself a little bit. I'm pretty proud of it. I busted my ass on this. I did a lot of stuff I didn't know I could do.
B. Alan: I guess a lot of people are surprised because you usually appear in only one type of role. Here you're playing a really gritty type of tough guy. And you're believable as this character. Just awesome.
Paul Walker: I mean, my background is what? Come on, it's no secret. I talk about it. I surf, I skateboard. I'm from Southern California. I never thought I was going to be an actor. And to be honest with you, I never really thought of myself as one. Even though I keep working. I thought I'd just do a wave of movies, and then I'd burn out. They just kept coming together. Then I did this movie called Noel. It was a small movie. Nobody saw it. I did it with Chazz Palimentari. It was a Christmas movie, if you can believe it. It was actually pretty cool. And then this came around shortly after. And I told everybody that this was the type of movie that I wanted to make. I don't think anybody thought I could do it. They thought I was a golden boy. I was told it wasn't for me. I'm just supposed to go swimming under water, and be running around with sharks. But this was exactly the type of script I was talking about. I read it while working on Into the Blue. For whatever reason, Wayne Kramer gave it to me. I don't think he had anything to go off of. If I was Wayne, and I was as passionate and as crazy about making movies as he is, to be honest with you, going on the things that I'd done in the past, I was really surprised that he gave me a shot. I saw the Cooler. I was like, "Oh, man. This guy is the real deal." I look at him now and think, "If I can keep a relationship with this guy, he'll be my David Fincher." I called up Chazz and told him that I heard he was considering doing a role in Running Scared. He said, "Yeah." I said, "Do you think I can do it?" And he said, "Yeah. I think you should go do it. Because you're the type of guy that if you can cruise, you'll just cruise. But you're so competitive, that if they throw something heavy at you, you're going to go for it. You're not going to make an ass of yourself." And I was like, "If that's what you think." And he goes, "That's what I know." So I went for it, dude. I had so much fun. And I got to tell you, I don't want to make it any other way now. I'm so glad you said that, dude.
B. Alan: Was that a rude statement?
Paul Walker: No, I'm glad that you said that. It just feels good.
B. Alan: What's some of the stuff you learned while making this? Some of the stuff you hadn't done before.
Paul Walker: One thing I learned was; I thought actors were freaks. Especially this method stuff. Bringing the character home with you. A good friend of mine, Giovanni Ribisi is a freaking whack job. When he's working on a movie, I don't even want to talk to his ass. He's taking it home with him every day. Even on a movie like Gone in Sixty Seconds. He became this quirky weirdo. He went out and put together a car. The whole bit. I thought the guy was nuts. Then I come to this. You know what I found out I was doing? I was going home with this character every day. A girlfriend of mine came out to spend two weeks with me. She left four days into it. She was like, "No way. I can't spend anymore time with you." I was all like, "What?" And she goes, "I see you on set, you come home. You can't relax. You're all twitchy and jacked up on adrenaline." I'm like, "Shit, I've been running around smacking dudes upside the head." And she's like, "Yeah. Listen to the way you're talking." That was it. She split.
B. Alan: You brought home the Jersey accent?
Paul Walker: You gotta do it that way. I think people that live it, have to. There's no other way. That's how they do the job. I don't think there's any other way to do it.
B. Alan: I want to know how they did the puck scene.
Paul Walker: They had a foam puck that they fired at me a couple of times.
B. Alan: So it wasn't a CGI puck?
Paul Walker: No, the foam one they ended up using was so light and fluffy that the flight wasn't true to a real puck. So, actually, they did end up CGIing it. But when it first comes off the face of the stick, it's the foam puck. And then, smack! The continuation is CGI. You'll see it just get loft.
B. Alan: I couldn't tell. It looked like you were actually getting hit with something pretty hefty.
Paul Walker: You know what it was? The prosthetics they made were really good. And I had to sell the pain. I had to imagine seeing it. I had to imagine it flying through the air. I didn't have anything to track. But since it was so tight, creating a realistic eye-line where it came sailing in took a few cracks. Once we got it, the prosthetic pieces worked really good. Blood would come bursting out. Yeah, they CGI'd it in. It's crazy when they put that stuff together. I can't even tell that it's CGI. That shit looks real. People are asking, "Did you really take those pucks to the face." I'm like, "Come on, use your head."
B. Alan: I didn't really think you were taking pukes. It's just that they did it so well…
Paul Walker: I know you know. This is what you do for a living. But a lot of the people you run into in the streets have seen the trailer and they go, "Shit! They hit you in the face with pucks?" I'm like, "No, man. That stuff is fake."
B. Alan: What did you think about that scene where you battle the pimp at the end?
Paul Walker: I liked it. I think, originally, they were talking about Michael Rappaport for the character. They thought he was perfect. But then he ended up being a real pain in the neck and pissed Wayne off. I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe I shouldn't open my mouth. But something happened. So, this other guy shows up. I'm like, "This guy doesn't look like a pimp." Then Wayne dressed him up. He made him like a cartoon character. That's all I kept saying, "Are you a fucking cartoon?" That's a perfect line. Wayne said, "I want this guy to be larger than life. I want him to be this quirky character." He is the Mad Hatter. You know; all those Fairy Tale references?
B. Alan: The thing I noticed was that everybody at my screening got up and left, and then the end credit sequence comes on. And the end credits set up and retell the movie as if it were a Fairy Tale.
Paul Walker: Mm-hmm.
B. Alan: So, this is supposed to be like an Urban Fairytale?
Paul Walker: Mm-hmm.
B. Alan: So much stuff is going on in the movie that I didn't initially catch that idealism. I didn't have time to think about it and put two and two together.
Paul Walker: I think it was more of an afterthought on his part. I think as things were going, and as characters were coming in, and they were so much larger than life, Wayne recognized it. Something just hit him. He's like, "This guy's the Big Bad Wolf." And then certain characters became bigger. And he started throwing out these different elements as time went on. Even in the Dinner. We're sitting in the Dinner. And my wife comes up to me. She says, "I know I didn't marry a bad man." That Dinner…If you look on the wall, the Cheshire Cat is all over the wallpaper. He's sort of throwing it in everywhere. And I didn't even hear about it until about three or four weeks into production. He built up the pimp character and made it even bigger. That guy's insane. Have you interviewed him yet?
B. Alan: The pimp?
Paul Walker: No. Wayne.
B. Alan: Not yet. He hasn't come in here.
Paul Walker: I call him the Mad Scientist. That guy is out of his mind.
B. Alan: Where did the idea for the abducted kids come from?
Paul Walker: Wayne's crazy ass mind.
B. Alan: Your wife in the movie steals the show.
Paul Walker: I love it. She says something to the effect that she saw evil. "That's true evil."
B. Alan: I like that she actually does something proactive in that priceless scene she is given.
Paul Walker: Yeah. I told Wayne, "You know who has the best scene in this movie, don't ya?" He goes, "Who's that." I tell him, "It's Vera with the pedophile." That's a horrible scene. It's just so awesome. Vera is my favorite.
B. Alan: You filmed this after Into the Blue?
Paul Walker: Yeah, right after. Because I was reading it while I was on the boat. This was defiantly a change of gears. Vera, I have a crush on her. She's one of the most awesome girls I've worked with. She really has it together. She's a nice girl. I'm not talking about how good of an actress she is. You want to talk about keeper? That's Vera.
B. Alan: What about the little kid that plays Oleg? I'm not sure what his name is, but he's so intense. He kind of creeps me out a little. Even in that other movie he was in with Nicole Kidman, Birth? Scary child. Is he like that off set?
Paul Walker: No. He's actually a nice kid. He likes to eat his boogers. And gross you out. And pick his scabs. But he's tapped into something. That's what he's good at. And I'm sure he'll develop other things in time, but it's his eyes. I don't know what it is. He's super smart. He's really sharp. Alex Neuberger, the one that plays my kid in the movie, he just landed a real big movie. I think he's going to do real well. I talked to him on the phone the other day. His voice has dropped five octaves. I'm like, "Man, what is going on?" He goes, "Man, I'm like fourteen now." I'm like, "that's right. You're big."
B. Alan: Are you a big Hockey fan?
Paul Walker: No. I grew up in So Cal. I like surfing. Football. Football was my sport. I was fast. I was a free safety.
B. Alan: Any predictions for the Super Bowl?
Paul Walker: Pittsburg. But I'm happy for the buzz…
B. Alan: You also have Eight Below coming out.
Paul Walker: Yeah. It comes out the 17th. My daughter is dying to see that movie. It's funny, because I showed my mom the trailer that Wayne cut together for the AFM. Trying to sell this damn thing. And I went home and showed my mom. I was all excited. And he cut together a pretty graphic few minutes. My mom is horrified. But she can see that I'm really excited. She doesn't want to say what she's really thinking. She knew it was going to be bad. She says to me, "It would be great if you could do something that the kids could go see for a change." No joke, two weeks to the day, that Disney offer came. I'm one of those people that think certain things happen at certain times for all the right reasons.
B. Alan: I got a question about that movie. In the commercials I've seen, there's this monster eel-type thing. I'm wondering what that is, because this is supposed to be based on a true story and that looks like something out of a horror film.
Paul Walker: It's CGI. But it's actually based on a Leopard Seal.
B. Alan: A Leopard Seal?
Paul Walker: That's what they really look like. And they're nasty boogers, too. Disney is going to whore me out big time. I've got to do so much press for that thing. Guaranteed.
B. Alan: What's the best thing about this process for you?
Paul Walker: Ah, that's a real question. I don't talk. I'm a quiet guy. And then when I get in these things I just start rambling. I don't hate on junkets near as much as I used to. I used to have a really shitty attitude. And outlook about it. And I know a lot of other actors do too. Which isn't good. You can sit there and grip about it, but you got paid for this way back when. I told my manager that if the studio was smart, they'd spread the money out. Not just through the course of filming, but through press as well. They should spread the million dollars out over the next two years until the press is complete. That would cease a lot of the griping. And you'd have a lot more control.
B. Alan: Are there a lot of times when you shoot a movie, and then two years later you have to go do press, and you don't even remember the movie?
Paul Walker: That has happened.
B. Alan: Do you like improvisation, or do you like taking directions from the director?
Paul Walker: It depends. I just worked with Clint Eastwood. This past fall. That guy gives no direction.
B. Alan: Really?
Paul Walker: Yeah. It's minimal. He'll question why you do things. For instance, I had the very first line during the production. We were shooting on this sulfuric island. It just stinks. It smells like a freaking rotten egg. So we stormed the beach. And my character goes, "Ah, this place stinks." It was written to be said like Tom Sizemore in Black Hawk Down. Or Robert Duvall with his "Charlie Don't Surf." Hands on the hips, belting it out. Shit, that's not real. I had Japanese guys shooting at me from the other side. I'm hunkered down. I said the line under my breath, "God, this place stinks." Eastwood didn't even hear it in the midst of all the gun fire. And he goes, "Did you say your line?" And I'm like, "Yeah." He says, "I didn't hear you." And I'm like, "That's because I said it to myself. I said it under my breath." He's like, "Why?" I told him what I told you guys. And he says, "Good answer. Fuck it. Say it under your breath." That was it. When the guy's on top, you always kiss his ass. Even if he's a prick. I always heard good things about Clint. I wanted to see what was really up. That guy is so solid. And it's cool to see, because if anybody had a right to be a prick or a pain in the ass, that guy does. He doesn't just want to be the man, he is the man. You walk away from that set thinking, "This guy knows how to make movies." He has his act together. He's cool. He's really complementary.
B. Alan: On the other side of that, did they actually have the Japanese crew shooting at the same time?
Paul Walker: No. They were shooting at different times. He's working on that right now.
B. Alan: Well, great. Great talking to you.
Paul Walker: Yeah. Thanks for coming out.
And that's the End. Look for my Interview with Running Scared Director Wayne Kramer coming to these pages soon. Bitches.