Stephen Dorff discusses playing Stavros in Immortals, working with Tarsem Singh and Henry Cavill, future projects, and more.
Actor Stephen Dorff has found a way to tread through both the indie and studio movie landscapes throughout his career. For every Blade, World Trade Center, and Public Enemies on his filmography, there is a Cecil B. Demented, Felon (which is a fantastic and underrated drama, by the way), and Somewhere. Stephen Dorff's next big-screen appearance is the big-budget 3D adventure Immortals, which arrives in theaters nationwide November 11. The actor portrays Stavros, a shady thief who ends up as an ally to Perseus (Henry Cavill) in his quest to defeat King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke). I recently had the chance to sit down with Stephen Dorff to discuss Immortals, and much more. Here's what he had to say below.
First of all, when you first got on the set and started to see this whole world unfold, were you a little bummed out that you didn't get to wear one of those awesome helmets?
Stephen Dorff: No, well, at one point, I had a helmet for the end battle, but it didn't quite work. There's some great, weird costumes going on in this movie. I liked that Stavros was kind of simple. He has those pants and this weird thing on his neck. No, I didn't have a helmet, but it would've been kind of cool.
I thought Stavros has one of the more interesting character arcs in the movie. He starts out as this thief and kind of an outcast, and starts to go the other way. Were you more drawn to that arc, or working with (director) Tarsem Singh?
Stephen Dorff: I think it was more to do something bigger and hit the commercial world a little bit. I have a lot of faith in Tarsem as a director, but I also loved the part too. I thought it was a cool character who is almost the most human out of everybody. He's someone the audience can identify with. Mickey is very evil, Henry is avenging his mother's death, Freida (Pinto) is the oracle sensing this stuff. Everybody is sensing these things, and then all of a sudden you have this normal guy who says, 'Well, I'm going south because there are hot chicks that way.' I had a good time doing it.
Yeah. Stavros is basically the everyman. In this crazy world where anything can really happen, he's the one normal guy.
Stephen Dorff: Yeah, that's what I liked about him. I hope the audience does as well. It seems like the fans will like this. It seems like a crowd-pleaser. I feel like people have been let down a lot, by these big movies. I feel they all look the same, they have bad effects, they feel rushed and converted. I felt this was made the right way. It's not a comic book, so it has its own original intro thing. At the same time, you have Tarsem, who has something to prove, and I think really made the film for 3D fans. I hope it feels a little more grounded.
One of the things I was really blown away by, was not only the 3D, but the scope of these sets. How much of these sets were actually practical? Were there a lot of green screens?
Stephen Dorff: The thing that Tarsem really fought for, which I thought was awesome, was there were actually these huge sets built, with green screen floods behind it. In the village set, for example, we had real horses, real atmosphere, extras walking around. It felt real. It wasn't like we were just in front of a curtain, like I hear the way movies like Sin City are made, like this couch is fake and we're sitting on an apple box, and they have to put it all in. I think by having most of it built for us, and then Tarsem can do his magic afterwards, the scope was so big in his head that it seemed very clear what he wanted us to do. I liked that. I like confidence in the director, and he had a lot.
Henry (Cavill) is about to blow up, with this and Man of Steel coming up. Can you talk about working with him, since most of your scenes are with him? What did you take away from working with Henry?
Stephen Dorff: He's new at it. He seems focused and, it's weird because we're kind of at odds in the movie, and then we team up. But yeah, I wish him luck with Superman. That's a hard one to pull off. Bryan Singer couldn't pull it off, so I hope Zack Snyder can pull it off. That's a whole other ball of wax. I hope it works for him, because that could go the other way too. He was great. The people I really sparked to were Freida Pinto and John Hurt. I thought Luke Evans was cool and there are a lot of cool newcomers on the movie too. A lot of testosterone on the set, so it was always nice when the ladies showed up. I didn't get to see Mickey (Rourke) that much, but I love Mickey.
Did you undergo any training for the fight scenes? We saw some of the footage of Henry training.
Stephen Dorff: Yeah, well he's got a lot more than I do. I didn't really train that much, in the choreography, but there are certain scenes where I would work with the stunt team, a few days before. They knew exactly what they were doing, and the fight scenes I saw was pretty cool. This isn't really my favorite kind of movie, but I feel if you're going to do one, you want it to rock. I definitely feel that this one rocks. What I fear most about acting, is if you do a movie, and it comes off silly, I'm up there forever. It's almost worse for the actor than anybody. The director, they almost forget, but if you're in it, they remember, so you want it to really be good. From what I'm hearing, people are liking it. I really want to see it with an audience. I want it to do well for Tarsem and for all of us.
You have a number of movies in various stages of development. What's the next movie you're planning on jumping on?
Stephen Dorff: I did a really cool movie last year called The Motel Life, with me and Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, and directed by the Polsky Brothers. They're new directors who have produced a lot of movies like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. This film is really strong. I play a character with one leg, so it was really challenging. It's probably one of the best scripts I've ever read in this business, and I've been doing this for a long time. I'm really excited about that. I just did a film called Boot Tracks with Michelle Monaghan and Willem Dafoe, which was directed by David Jacobson. He's an interesting guy, and the movie has kind of a Badlands feel. Michelle is really awesome in it. There's another movie called Brake that I produced, and we sold it to IFC. They're going to release it theatrically next year, probably in March. I'm excited about that, because it's a real tour de force performance piece. I don't know how big that movie will be, because it's kind of limited in what the film is, but it's pretty strong, and I'm excited about that.
Stephen Dorff: Yeah, he's going to start shooting with Dwayne Johnson. Yeah, I'm excited for him because, Felon, he just killed it in that movie. He did such a good job, but we got such a horrible release. We opened in New York and L.A., but it was downloaded almost as much as The Dark Knight. That movie has become one of these Boondock Saints kind of movies on DVD. Kids everywhere come up to me and say, 'Felon!' I was excited about that one, because that was the first movie I ever produced, with my friend Tucker (Tooley), who runs Relativity now with Ryan Kavanaugh. Ric was a director he brought to me, and I think he's fantastic and I'm excited he's getting behind the camera again. After Felon, he had a couple he was on that never got off the ground. It's so difficult these days to get a movie going. But I'd love to work with him. There was talk... he had one part in there, but I read it and I didn't really see myself in the part. Ric and I talked and he said, 'Look, Dorff, if I have something, I'm coming to you directly. I didn't think you'd want this, but tell me what you think?' I said we should just wait, and you go kill it with The Rock on this one. It was like a cop part, but if the part is not on the page, there's not a lot I can do with it. It's not a movie about the cop, it's a movie about The Rock. For Ric, that's a big step up, budget-wise. He's working with $20 million, I think. With Felon, I think we made that for $3 million.
Stephen Dorff: I think it's bigger than 300. I feel like this one, tech-wise, I think this is the one people want to see. I think Tarsem is a lot different than a lot of directors in town. I think he has something artistic to prove in this big format. I hope people get their money's worth. That's what you want out of this kind of movie. You want to be in a movie where people say, 'I loved Immortals, man!' I like feeling genuine passion from people, because that's why I make the movies. If they're not digging it, then we did something wrong, so I hope they like my character and like the film. That's all I can hope for.
Excellent. Well, that's my time. Thank you so much, Stephen.
Stephen Dorff: Thank you, buddy. I appreciate it.