Scott Mechlowicz talks about playing Anthony in Cat Run, shooting in Montenegro and Serbia, future projects and more.
Scott Mechlowicz is an actor I've always wanted to see more of. He burst onto the scene in 2004 with the fantastic comedy Eurotrip (you know you still sing Scotty Doesn't Know every now and then...) and the heralded indie Mean Creek. Since then, though, he has only worked sparsely, with roles in Peaceful Warrior and Gone in 2006, and Waiting for Forever just last month.
Scott Mechlowicz next stars in the hybrid comedy Cat Run, which hits theaters on April 1. Scott plays Anthony, a recluse who packed up and headed to Montenegro to start his own restaurant. When an old friend (Alphonso McAuley) comes to visit, and an exotic stranger (Paz Vega) steals his car, Anthony gets dragged into the private investigator business, where he meets a host of colorful characters including a Mary Poppins-esque assassin, played to perfection by Janet McTeer.
I recently had the pleasure to speak with Scott Mechlowicz over the phone about this outrageous comedic adventure. Here's what he had to say.
One thing I'm curious about is there is a bit of a break you had there between roles. Was Cat Run one of the projects that took you out of this hiatus?
Scott Mechlowicz: I get very picky. There's sort of a line you have to walk, between working and doing something you actually want to be a part of, as opposed to just working for the work. That often puts you in a place where you have to choose whether or not you want to wait for good material to come along. It can be a determent to yourself to not be working, but at the same time, you want to hold true to what you're wanting to be working on.
What were some of the elements of Cat Run that really appealed to you with this character, Anthony?
Scott Mechlowicz: It was a wild script when I first got it. I mean, it has changed so much since the original draft that I got when I signed on. Every day there were new elements put into the script, and it was sort of evolving throughout the whole process. What I was drawn to was the arc that my character gets to take. It's pretty interesting and diverse. He starts out as this reclusive shut-in who has left his family and traveled half way across the world to be left alone. He's kind of thrust, unwillingly, into this situation, where he's becoming a detective with this childhood friend of his. He's tracking down this girl, who's a prostitute and who's being hunted down for having witnessed a conspiracy and murder with government official. He has to bring out all these nuanced skills that he's developed throughout time, but he hasn't really had an outlet for them. He becomes a little more untethered.
It was cool to see him picking up on all these little weird things, which normal people certainly wouldn't pick up on. He's very sharp, but he has this weird outlook on life. I was laughing during that scene where you politely asked her not to steal the car.
Scott Mechlowicz: Yeah, it's so funny. There's a lot more to it, actually. It's a much more developed character, but a lot of it ended up on the floor just to help with the pacing of the film. Yeah, he had some really interesting moments that I was drawn to.
It isn't really touched upon on why he became this recluse. Were there parts in the original script about what those family problems were?
Scott Mechlowicz: Yeah, there absolutely was. His mom passed away and there was this whole financial situation between him and his brother, and being cut off from the trust fund and how his business was going under. That was kind of the impetus that allowed him to go on this otherwise-unorthodox trek. That's kind of what drove him in the initial draft.
The movie really goes all over the place to these different European places. I was curious where you actually filmed this. Were you actually in Montenegro?
Scott Mechlowicz: Yeah, we shot in Belgrade, Serbia and in Montenegro. It's really beautiful because you have this medieval town with all this gorgeous architecture in Montenegro, and then you're in Belgrade, this city with so much history and conflict. To see both ends of the spectrum, was a unique experience.
I know Ram Bergman produced this and he also produced The Brothers Bloom. I remember talking to (director) Rian Johnson and I believe they shot in Serbia or Montenegro for New Jersey.
Scott Mechlowicz: (Laughs) What, Montenegro doesn't have that Jersey vibe for you? I think they were initially shooting in the states, and then the producers were told that Serbia is just a great place to go for location. They didn't want to go and shoot Serbia for America, so they just changed it up to Serbia is where they were.
I simply loved Janet McTeer in this. It's just a wonderful, hilarious performance, and even the fight scenes were awesome. What was it like being on set with her?
Scott Mechlowicz: It was amazing. She's just gorgeous so to see her with a weapon just makes her that much hotter. I find that when you're working with such accomplished people, it's always the coolest because they have nothing to prove. She was so exciting and intelligent and just a pleasure to be around her, on set and off set.
You have a lot of screen time with Alphonso (McAuley). It was a cool rapport you both had there. Did you guys meet up before shooting?
Scott Mechlowicz: Yeah, we hit it off pretty quick. He is just so full of energy and it's so great to have that to feed off of and play against. It really helps drive the film, and even the spirits of the cast and crew. They were entertained throughout the day, and it was just great working with him.
Your director, John Stockwell, he was an actor for many years. He was in Top Gun and many others. What kinds of things does working with a director like that, who has acted before, bring to his directing?
Scott Mechlowicz: I'm always under the impression that directors should act, at some point or another (Laughs). Just to get the basic fundamentals and empathy, I think that's the most important thing to bring to it, if you've acted in the past and are now a director, the empathy. It helps you to navigate more subtly through a scene, and John is incredibly dynamic behind the lens as well. When you put those together, it turns out as a good product.
I can imagine there are some pretty crazy stories from the set. Were there pranks going on, or was it a loose set to be on, from day to day?
Scott Mechlowicz: Not so much pranks as it was food poisoning (Laughs), which was, in and of itself, a blast. We were out for a week, just working that toilet. It was actually kind of crazy because we were in Serbia and I would say about 80% of the cast and crew came down with this thing. We were looking for hospitals and the big hospital was packed, or wasn't good, so someone said they were going to send us to the good hospital. We walked in and we were in this defunct children's hospital that was filthy and eerie. It looked like it came out of a slasher film. I went in and the secretary was the person who administered my IV. That was a fun experience.
Is there anything you have lined up right now that you can talk about?
Scott Mechlowicz: Yeah, sure. I have a film coming out called Undocumented. It's a really cool flick. It's about a group of filmmakers who follow these illegal immigrants who are trying to cross over into the States. The whole group winds up getting detained by this group of radicals. It's a pretty intense film and I think it's going to come out later this year.
Is there anything you can say about your character in that?
Scott Mechlowicz: He's kind of the lead documentarian, he's the director of the film. He also is trying to balance getting his film accomplished, but that quickly deteriorates when he's put under the duress of being held captive and all these lives are at stake. It becomes very real, very fast.
Is distribution lined up for that yet?
Scott Mechlowicz: I think there are a couple of distributors circling it right now, as we speak. I think we're supposed to know, maybe even this week.
I was curious about your thoughts on the title itself, Cat Run. I've seen the movie and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. What were your initial thoughts on this title?
Scott Mechlowicz: Oh, man, if you knew the story of the title... (Laughs). It would be a whole other interview. Cat Run wasn't the original title. It was called Roadkill, and then I think there were about 20 different incarnations of this title. There was an entire back-and-forth to try and choose a title, but this is tight, it's fun, it's short. It gets at the action.
Sometimes you see there's just no explanation for a title, and other times it's a big plot point.
Scott Mechlowicz: Right.
It was one of those things where I kept waiting to see if it would come up at all.
Scott Mechlowicz: Well, listen, I don't know if there's any way to explain the movie anyway, so I don't know if there would be any title that could justly congregate all the different facets of this film (Laughs).
That's very true. Maybe you could just call it Hodgepodge.
Scott Mechlowicz: Yeah, something like that would work.
So, just to wrap up, what would you like to say to anyone who might be curious about Cat Run, or Hodgepodge, about why they should check it out?
Scott Mechlowicz: (Laughs) Go check it out. It's fun. It's about a million films in one, so whatever your taste is for the evening, there's going to be a little bit of it, in it. One thing you can say about it is there's a frenetic pace, it goes and goes and goes and doesn't really stop. It should keep you hooked.
Excellent. Well, that's about all I have for you, Scott. Thank you so much for your time.
Scott Mechlowicz: Thank you, man. It was a pleasure talking to you. Take care.