Recently Kurt Russell sat down to answer a few questions about his upcoming crime drama, Dark Blue which hits theaters on February 21st, 2003.
Q: What attracted you to this screenplay?
I like the way it was written. I like James Elroy's style. I like the script. It's an actor's piece. There was something about the importance of the message that I liked and that I've wanted to see done. I've been involved off and on with this project for about four years, through Jim Jacks. Jim produced Tombstone and I originally got the screenplay from him. We started talking about it a long time ago and the importance of it stayed with me. Finally, when Ron Shelton became involved as director and he told us how he wanted to make the movie, I really felt it was the time to do this picture. It's a bit of a labor of love. We don't have all the money in the world and these kinds of movies often find themselves in that position. You've got to pitch in yourself. You've got to love these kind of pictures to do them. I've been really pleased through the whole process. Everybody is trying to make a really good movie. Everything has been done to give these characters a chance to flourish. They are well-drawn people with extremely good actors playing them.
Q: How did you prepare for it?
Number one, Eldon Perry is a third generation Los Angeles Police Officer. There is a lot of history that goes with that. He says his grandfather grew up chasing horse thieves into the Santa Monica Mountains. Then his father came along. There were blacks and whites and signals. Then Eldon came along and there were computers, but the job never changed. His family was a family of gunslingers. Like all individuals, he's got 360 degrees. He is completely politically incorrect in a real sense, in 1992. He is considered a racist; that is to say, his running commentary can certainly fit into a racist category. He is a man who, in the course of the film, is going to find out how far over the line he's gone.
Q: Not very likeable, is he?
I hope he is. (LAUGHS) I hope he is likeable, yes. I think that's what makes him dangerous. I think people do like Eldon Perry. There is a huge side of him that's likeable. The movie would be a tremendous failure if he wasn't. He is the kind of guy you hear a joke from and you laugh hard because it's funny. However, he mixes that with a volatility and a hatred for certain criminals that is real. I think that's what's going to be interesting to see -- where the audience lets Eldon off the hook and where they reject him. He's a risky character. I hope you feel some empathy for him.
Q: This is a very different role for you.
This is a contemporary film about real people. The backdrop is big -- the LA riots are about to happen because of the four men who were cut free in the Rodney King beating. My character is a real person. Eldon Perry III is legendary on this police force for a number of different reasons. Some of them aren't good. I think he is at fault and he suffers the consequences. He's not unlike Jack Nicholson's character in A Few Good Men. At one point he says, Who is going to do that job? You? I don't think so. I think Eldon Perry is like that. He is a man who understands there are certain aspects of this job that nobody else is going to do. He can do them so he does do them. All of these characters are complex. Ving Rhames plays a cop who is climbing the ladder. He's great in this. Brendan Gleeson's character, Van Meter, is a man who has a tremendous history that mingles into my past with my father. He wields tremendous power. Of course, the character we will hang our hat on and wish good things for will be Scott Speedman's character. That's who we hope climbs above this quagmire of bad deeds and bad thoughts.
Q: What will the audience take away from this movie?
I hope that people will talk about it. I hope they will enjoy it. The way that people are together is extremely entertaining, it's kind of tough to watch at times, but I think that it's funny. It has something to say.
Q: There seem to be no underdogs in this movie.
You've got good people that are forced to make decisions that might not be the right decisions. Scott Speedman's character is not a bad guy. He wants to do good, but he finds himself having to do some things that are not right. What do people do? Where do you draw the line? When do you make decisions? How far under somebody's spell do you allow yourself to be taken? Who do you have respect for? Who are you afraid of? Who can get you something? Who should you stay away from? You know, anybody in any job is going to have to face these things. What we find out is, for some people, there are no limits. They find out that they are company men. Ultimate company men. These men will actually kill for the company.
Q: Ving Rhames.
Ving plays Chief Holland, who is this very savvy street cop who has fought his way up through the LAPD in a heavily racist environment. Van Meter is played by Brendan Gleeson, who is a terrific actor. All these people are excellent actors. My wife is played by Lolita Davidovich. She does a fabulous job of giving us a sense that these two probably had a lot of fun at one time. Scott Speedman is doing a terrific job as the young good-looking cop whose world is turning upside down by the hour. Michael Michele plays a young police officer who is now involved with Scott Speedman's character, Bobby. It's a James Elroy set up, you know, everybody becomes entwined. Ron Shelton brings this together in a very entertaining fashion.
Q: Describe his directing style.
I've enjoyed many of Ron's movies. I think this is a director's medium. His style blends extremely well with the way this story needs to be told. He is an extremely effective director.
Dont't forget to also check out: Dark Blue