Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramrirez talk Domino
Usually when journalists visit the set of a movie, they see a scene being shot and observe the repetition, multiple takes, variations on the scene, coverage, etc. During any breaks available, the stars and filmmakers talk about the work they're doing, allowing journalists the further probe the specifics of the day's scene.
On the set of Domino, quarters were too cramped to really observe the scene. It was a group of bounty hunters in a hotel room, coming off of mescaline. Cameras, lights and cables took up any space not occupied by actors and crew. So, the press invited to visit the set that day waited in an unoccupied hotel room as actors came in to speak with them.
Keira Knightley portrays real life bounty hunter Domino Harvey in a fictionalization of her story. Harvey was Laurence Harvey's daughter who chose the life as an alternative to modeling. Knightley jumped at the opportunity to take on the character.
"I mean, the moment that I read the script, I thought, 'This is so cool,'" Knightley recalled. "It's really a black comedy. It's a black, black, black comedy, really dark and nasty and all the rest of it. But there's something about it, you read it and you're just completely swept up in it. At that point I knew that I was doing Pride and Prejudice and I got a real kick out of the idea of going from Elizabeth Bennett to Domino. I think that the whole concept of the story, the whole idea of this girl who's from an extremely privileged background who completely turns her back on all of it and goes off on this wild path is an extraordinary idea in itself. Then there's the fact that a lot of it is based on reality. That's fascinating. So I just thought that the whole thing was amazing. Then I came out here and I met Tony Scott and he's just incredible, a total inspiration. You know that because most of his crew has been working with him for ten or fifteen years. And that doesn't happen unless they completely adore him and they do completely adore him. You walk on set and it's just such a great atmosphere and it's lovely to be a part of that."
Knightley met the real Domino before principal photography but found that she had a lot of room to interpret the character for film. "Originally, I kind of thought that it'd be really interesting to just play her totally and I'd do the voice and I'd do everything. Then I sort of met her and heard all her stories which were amazing, but although this is totally inspired by her and by her character, it isn't true to her story. So I sort of thought, 'Okay, well, seeing as we're not completely telling her story, it gives me a sort of freedom to actually do what I want.' So I met her once and she was an extraordinary woman, really amazing and it was fantastic meeting her. She's very intelligent and just incredible. They really kindly gave me a lot of tapes and things like that. It was just of her speaking and everything and no, I haven't taken any of it. But it was just great to listen to it and be acquainted with it and have that in the back of my head. It was just fascinating to hear her talk about the decisions that she made which was definitely what helped within the character as opposed to any physical resemblance or the voice being the same or something which it isn't. Actually, what was interesting, she's lived over here I think since she was about eight and she's totally English. I sort of expected right at the start that it would be an American accent because she's been over here so long. But it actually isn't. It's English. So I thought, 'Well, I'll keep my own accent.' That's fine."
In Domino, Knightley crops her hair above her ears, dies it blonde and sports tattoos visible when her jacket opens. This is quite different from the real Domino Harvey. "We just don't look that similar. It's that simple. She's quite a bit taller than me. I like [my look]. I like it a lot. I'm very glad to wipe the tattoos off at the end of the day, but it's quite nice to have them. But no, I'm enjoying her."
Knightley has gotten to learn many different weapons in her training for the film. "Num-chucks was the big one. Guns. I think that I do a couple of knife throws or one knife throw. And I'm just punching people in the face really. I've got to tell you how I got this [mark on my chest]. I was shooting two machine guns. It was fantastic. I had a machine gun in each hand, and one of the shells from the machine gun jumped out the back and hit me right there. I didn't know until afterwards. I went home and had a shower and I had fake blood all over me and suddenly something wouldn't come off. It's a fabulous burn. I'm very proud of it because everyone looks at it and goes, 'Wow, what happened?' I go, 'A machine gun.'"
She looks forward to more big stunts before filming wraps. "We're flipping a Winnebago, but we've done the interior of that already. Someone drugs us with mescaline and then we're riding in a Winnebago which is obviously not a good idea if you're high on mescaline and so it flips. The Winnebago flips and crashes. So I think that we've got a lot to do with that. We've done most of the final shoot out kind of thing, but I think that we've still got a bit more of that too. So there's little bits and pieces all over the place."
Joining Knightley on the bounty hunter adventure is veteran tough guy Mickey Rourke. Admittedly a loner and not always fond of other actors, Rourke has warmed up to his costar in Domino.
"I don't particularly care myself for actresses at all," Rourke said. "I really don't like them. She's like a breath of fresh air and if she wasn't I would tell you. I have no f*cking problem telling you, but it's really rare that I see somebody especially at that age, let's say in the category that she's in at the moment where she's not like some Hollywood sort of who's said I'm the next so and so. She's genuine. What I really like about her is that she's a lady. She's very classy. I caught myself going, 'Sh*t.' At such a young age she's very talented, she's really classy which you don't find often, or I haven't with the people her age or older. So it is like a breath of fresh air working with somebody that I have respect for like that."
As bounty hunter leader Ed Mosbey, Rourke is in some ways Domino's mentor. "I meet her when she needs a job. She's looking for a job and she comes to a bounty hunting school. She's kind of ballsy and we have two people on the team and we need a third person on the team and she looks like she could fit in like undercover or do whatever the story calls for. And that's how the relationship starts off."
Rourke did not meat the real Domino and did not feel the need to go too in depth with research. "It wasn't much of a stretch really. I just listened to what Tony [Scott] had to say and we didn't meet the real guy. It was the technical advisor. I met the technical advisor and his team for the first couple of weeks. That was kind of interesting because you don't really know the procedure. I didn't really know what the grey area was as far as what the bounty hunter can do opposed to what a cop can do, stuff like that. So we talked to the real guy and his team."
Though it may seem a no brainer to cast Mickey Rourke as a tough bounty hunter, Rourke says this character is a bit different. "This guy isn't so much of a tough guy. Like, the bounty hunter guys that I met, the head guy, it's not that he's tough, but that he lives in a tough world. He was kind of cerebral in a way because that's how he has to make his money. It's not that he stalks these guys. He'll get different kinds of leads on where they are and then he follows them. What was interesting to me was that they don't just rush in and grab someone like you'd imagine that they would. They do all this research first like where their girlfriends live, where their mothers live, where the father lives, what their habits are, are they gang affiliated. They follow other people to get to this person which I thought was kind of interesting."
When the film's action picks up, Rourke is happy to hand things over to the pros. "I don't really like to do stunt work so I do as little as possible. I have a guy that doubles me really well and he does most of it."
Domino also introduces audiences to Edgar Ramirez, an import from Venezuela. In his U.S. film debut, Ramirez plays Choco, a bounty hunter on Mosbey's team who gets tongue tied around Domino. In real life, he and Knightley get along famously.
"I have a birthday March 25th and Keira has a birthday March 26th," Ramirez shared. "We are pretty much the same, so no, we don't get shy around each other. We understand each other very well. It's been great for the whole movie that we have ahead, and it's very good. We share feelings all the time. And it was great. She's a very talented actress. I mean, she pushes the limits and that's great. And she's very comedic too, what she does, and that's great because I try to be that way too. I try to go a little bit further all the time. So we kind of encourage each other to go to the next level possible."
For his first American role to be in a Tony Scott action movie, Domino was a whirlwind that picked Ramirez up on a brief visit to LA and kept him for months. In town to promote his film Punto y raya, his agent gave him the script and he met with Tony Scott. Weeks later, he was canceling a trip to another film festival.
"It's been a great experience. I think this is a very risk taking movie for all of us and that's always wonderful, when you're able to not compromise your vision and try to do the movie that you dream of doing. And I think that's pretty much what Tony's doing and I think he's reflecting this goal, this desire to all of us. And then he's generating the best atmosphere possible to really experiment and go for it doing this movie. So we are all pretty much involved in the whole process now. I think everybody working on this movie feels really part of it and that the final outcome is going to belong to all of us. That sense of belongingness is so beautiful because one of the most beautiful things that I find about doing movies is that it's one of the few jobs still going on in the world that is all about teamwork. Maybe it sounds a little bit cliché but it's the total truth. You are not working in cubicles separated. We really need to be in touch, in contact to everybody involved and that's beautiful. I think that's beautiful because it's all about meeting new people and adjusting different minds, different point of views, creatively talking. I think that's why it for me has been a really rich experience. I've been learning a lot and working with such a kind director, so solid and so open as Tony is, it has been a great experience along with the cast which I find wonderful."
Learning about bounty hunters for the film made Ramirez appreciate what an admirable job it could be. "I think it would be distrustful for me. These people, it's a very tough job because they cannot do plans in life. They cannot say, ‘This Thanksgiving, I'm going to spend it at your house' because they don't know if they're going to make it to next week. I think it's a very dramatic thing to live that style of life, not really knowing if you're going to see your kids again. And being at the edge of justice, it's such a big responsibility that I wouldn't like to carry on my shoulders. Like being an arm of justice, like somewhere in between. Although they're pretty much regulated, bounty hunters nowadays have a lot of regulations. It's not like bounty hunters at the time when our characters lived, where they were really in the middle of nowhere. It was between legal and illegal. Right now, they are very legal but however, you're dealing with justice and it is very tempting to have justice in your hand. When sometimes nobody's watching. And that kind of dilemma I don't think is something I would like to go through. To really define what could be fair at a certain moment, I don't know if I would like to be able to do that. I mean, this reflection goes beyond the violent thing and the guns. It's when you go to bed and you go to sleep and when you think, what have I done? Was I fair today? Did I give these guys the proper treatment? That's something very huge. I really admire people that can deal with those kinds of dilemmas."
Domino is aiming for a spring or summer release in 2005.