Friday, December 12, 2008

Tangling with Snape

Last week I covered a junket for Nobel Son, a little Guy Ritchie-esque black comedy/thriller by this husband and wife DIY indie writing/directing team. Seemed like it wouldn't be very exciting, but that was wrong.

#1 The junket was not at a hotel like usual, but instead in some sort of a soundstage/hanger at the Culver City Studios. It was an uncommonly cold/foggy day (hello! It's not January, people!), and since the giant warehouse doors and loading bays of the thing were open, it was basically freezing in there. There wasn't much food (normally they ply us with food), and one of the roundtables was in this trailer-like room with a washing machine in it. This was no Four Seasons, indeed.

#2 During one of the interviews (with Bill Pullman), the background noise was ridiculous. There were giant trucks rumbling around the lot, and they were basically pulling right up in front of us, parking, and then making an ungodly racket. Bill Pullman would have to yell to answer our questions. We were all laughing. RIDICULOUS.

#3 Interviewees: Randy Miller, Jody Savin, Danny DeVito, Bill Pullman, Eliza Dushku, Bryan Greenberg, and Alan Rickman.

A. (filmmakers) Randy Miller & wife Jody Savin: normal, boring except for the revelation that a lot of the evil father (Alan Rickman) character was based on his real-life dad. Now that was one for Freud.

B. Danny DeVito: everybit as miniscule-ly tiny as you think. He was wearing giant bifocals and was kitted out in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia wear (baseball cap, jacket). He was very sweet, kept forgetting what he was talking about, and reminded me of every youngish Italian grandpa I ever met.

C. Eliza Dushku & Bryan Greenberg: the stars. Dushku is kind of nuts. She is high energy/party girl/fun/scary and Greenberg looks so much like every Jewish TKE brother I ever met that I honestly felt like I must have seen him in something before, but upon checking his IMDB profile discovered that I haven't, but obviously did go to one too many frat parties in my day.

D. Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman: i.e., the men who are exactly how you would imagine them to be.

Pullman is the nicest, most pleasant man on earth. He was worried about us being cold, and was trying to get a fellow journo to borrow his jacket. He gave great, long answers, seemed happy to be there (even when telling us that his part was small enough that he wasn't sure why they really needed him at the junket), etc. Just a truly pleasant guy. He also started making up outlandish funny stories as to what the noises were going on in the background were. The truck sounded like it dropped a car and he started claiming it was transporting an elephant, etc.

Rickman, however, is just as eccentric as you'd expect. Wearing the perfectly in place theatreman scarf, purring in his upperclass accent, giving very terse answers (i.e., i have no interest in being here and am not going to go out of my way to help you by being chatty) and most of all, interestingly, LOVING putting people off kilter with his demeanor.

We asked him about playing bad characters (e.g. Snape, Sherrif of Nottingham, every one he has ever played) and he said that he doesn't always play bad characters. That in fact he plays way more nice ones and 'doesn't undertstand' that question. I decided I wasn't going to let him get away with that and pressed him. He said would you like me to list them? I said, No. He thought he'd be fun and try to trap me, 'Is Snape BAD?' but lo and behold I have read all the Harry Potters (SPOILER ALERT), so I was able to say well, ultimately he is not, but he sure as shit is unlikeable all the way. Now some of the others at my table are starting to titter nervously because they think Rickman is going to eat me alive and that I must be nervous, too. But I'm not nervous because I can see his little smirk and hear it in his voice and know that he is just having a ball trying to fuck with me, and probably having more of a ball because I'm not scared, so we're just playing slightly antagonistically.

I don't blink and he actually gives somewhat of a real answer, but now you know: If You Ask Alan Rickman About Playing Bad Guys, He Is Going To Give You Shit--probably because he gets that question constantly and probably because he might even bring more of an edge to a character than is even written into it because of just how he comes off/who he is. Or not. Welcome to my dime store psychology.

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