Over the past few years, Amber Heard has made a name for herself in such films as Pineapple Express (Seth Rogen’s High School girlfriend), The Informers, The Joneses, Zombieland (she played the hot neighbor next door), The Stepfather, and Never Back Down. While she’s proven she can play the girlfriend and the hot neighbor, in director Patrick Lussier’s Drive Angry 3D, Heard is going to show another side: ass-kicking vigilante.
In the film, Heard teams up with Nicolas Cage after he steps in to help her out of a situation at a restaurant she works at and soon after they form a close friendship. Heard says of their relationship, “they become fast friends and form a bond and partake on this kind of supernatural evil-fighting journey together and they kind of become teammates.”
Much more after the jump:
Back in early May, I got to visit the set of Drive Angry while the film was being shot in Shreveport, Louisiana. While studios usually wait till closer to release to let us post on set interviews, I’m giving Summit a lot of credit for letting us get a jump on Comic-Con and lifting the embargo today.
For those not familiar with Drive Angry, you should start by reading my set report. But the quick synopsis is the film “centers on a man (Cage) driven by rage who is chasing the people who killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby. The vendetta/rescue spins out of control as the chase gets bloodier by the mile, leaving bodies strewn along the highway.”
What’s great about the movie is that it’s being filmed in 3D, it’s a super hard R, and it’s from the filmmakers behind My Bloody Valentine. Meaning…expect plenty of blood and guts! I’m super excited. Anyway, while on set Heard talked about how she got involved in the film, working with Cage, and so much more. As usual, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here.
And if you’re going to Comic-Con this week, Summit is holding a panel in Hall H on Drive Angry. Here are the details:
Drive Angry at Comic-Con on Friday in Hall H from 2:15 – 3:15pm.
DRIVE ANGRY 3D – In a Comic-Con exclusive, stars of the film including Nicolas Cage, William Fichtner, Amber Heard as well as director Patrick Lussier will debut footage from the high-octane, blood-spattered road trip through hell. In this newest action horror shot in 3D, a vengeful father hunts down the people who brutally killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby.
Question: You’ve been working on a lot films lately and they keep having bigger and bigger names. Now you’re working alongside Nic Cage; What has this past year or two been like for you?
Amber: You know, I’ve kind of been lucky enough to always work with established actors or big names or people that are really popular or infamous for doing what they do and doing it well, I guess. It doesn’t really feel any different, especially when you’re showing up. It’s any other day of work. You show up and these are your coworkers for the next couple of months. So it doesn’t necessarily feel different. It is certainly nice, though, to know that the movie might be seen by a few people which, for those of you who know the fate of Mandy Lane and stuff, it’s just, for sure, a bonus to do a movie that I know will get out and be seen.
Are you ever worried about not having chemistry with actors when you first meet?
Amber: No, I get along with everyone I work with so it has never been a problem. They might all hate me. I don’t know. But so far, so good, I guess.
What can you tell us about your character?
Amber: I play Piper. She’s this bad-mouthed, chain-smoking kind of vigilante of the movie. She’s a diner waitress. She’s got a lot of spirit and a lot of spunk. A lot of balls, I guess you could say. Milton sees her — the guy who’s played by Nic Cage — and they become fast friends and form a bond and partake on this kind of supernatural evil-fighting journey together and they kind of become teammates.
How do you meet? Do you bring him food?
Amber: No. To make a long story short, my boss, the guy who owns the restaurant I work at is a little bit inappropriate with his hands and so I grab him by the balls, slap him across the face and teach him how to talk to a lady. He likes that about me, Milton. He senses that I’m somebody he can bond with. I don’t know what that says about him. We become friends at that moment. I guess it helps that I drive a ’69 Charger which also is a good thing. That’s always a good sign about a woman.
Do you have a lot of backstory or is that just where we meet you?
Amber: No, that’s where we meet. You don’t know anything else about Piper. At that point you just meet her. You know she drives this badass car. She can defend herself. She can fight. He sees that as the perfect element for his team. We become a team from that moment on. We, in my Charger, take on the world.
Amber: I think the motivation becomes clear in the movie, but I don’t want to give it away. Because, after a few minutes of getting to know these characters in the film and them getting to know one another and knowing Milton’s backstory — which, you know, is the most important element of the film — After all that comes into play, then you know why Piper does what she does.
We’ve seen the cars. Do you get to do a lot of driving?
Amber: Yes, I do! Yeah, I even took the stuntman for a spin. And I have not been allowed to do that ever since.
Did you go to the stunt school they have in LA?
Amber: No. I drive a ’68 myself and that was all the training I needed.
You have a Charger?
Amber: No, I have a ’68 Mustang.
How do you cross over from your real life into the film life? As that character crosses over, what do you have to do?
Amber: There are a lot of things about this character that are like me. She’s a lot more personal to the real me than a lot of characters I’ve played. It’s easier playing this character for me than, say the character in THE STEPFATHER or the character in THE INFORMERS so we went out to the gun range, but I do that anyway. Then they wanted to teach me how to drive a classic car, but I do that anyway. I don’t smoke, though. My character smokes.
They teach you how to grab balls and slap guys in the face, but you do that anyway.
Amber: Hmm. I don’t know about that.
Do you have a lot of fight scenes?
Amber: I do. I have a lot of fight scenes. I have a lot of stunts in this movie. They’ve been letting me do a lot of them. Surprisingly, they’ve let me do quite a bit of stuff on this. I fall from the trailer onto the hood of the Charger. We have a lot of gunfights and things fall on me. I’m doing a lot of physicality.
Is your character well-pepared for this world or is she surprised? If you’re hanging out with Nic Cage’s character, do you think he’s one guy and he turns out to be another?
Amber: There are a few surprises. I don’t think Piper is filled in exactly on everything that’s about to go down. She walks in on her boyfriend cheating on her right from the beginning of the movie and she proceeds to do what any reasonable woman would do and beats the shit out of him. She’s doing this and she’s losing the fight, I guess and that’s kind of the bond. Milton steps in to ultimately help out. That cements the bond for them. I think I become his partner in crime because I feel maybe indebted to him right at the beginning because he helped me out. Then it becomes much more as Milton’s real motives are revealed.
The stuff being shot tonight was without your character, but is she there?
Amber: I don’t know. What are we doing tonight? See, I don’t even know what I’m doing.
Are you at the end of the movie where Milton’s character is fighting Billy Burke’s character?
Amber: I’m there throughout, baby?
How are liking Shreveport?
Amber: Shreveport’s wonderful.
Can you talk about working with the 3D cameras?
Amber: I’m really interested in it. I don’t know much about the technology involved. I guess a lot of people don’t. I was really anxious before we got to set because I didn’t know what this would mean for us on our shoot days. I didn’t know if it meant we’d take twice as long to shoot half as much or what it would be. And so far, so good. It hasn’t really felt any different. The cameras certainly look different. They certainly behave differently. Everything from checking the gate to when we run out of film, it’s all different. But it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything different from my perspective. But it’s interesting to see how new it is and everybody on set is kind of learning.
Have you watched any of your footage in 3D?
Amber: Yeah. But I don’t watch playback on set so I don’t need the glasses. I watch dailies. That’s in normal 2D. So I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like in 3D. I haven’t really seen it.
Have there been any shots where the 3D affects the way you act?
Amber: Yeah, a little bit. But while it seems like it would be done differently from a performance point of view, it’s really not. Sometimes it helps to know that it’s going to be a shot that’s particularly useful for the 3D effect. But only on rare occasions do they tell us, “You’re going to need to come an inch from lens because it’s going to serve this purpose.” Only then does it feel like I’m doing anything extra. It feels, other than that, like I’m completely doing anything else I’ve shot.
The whole crew seems to be really unified. What do you think of working with Todd and Patrick?
Amber: They’re the best part of it. I mean, Todd is a really amazing writer and he’s written a character that, from an actor point of view, is a character unlike anything else I’ve read. I have not read a character like Piper ever. I rarely get to see anything like it onscreen. This is the person that has created this platform for me and has created this vessel and I get to do all this cool shit because of him. And aside from that, he’s a really cool guy so I’m honored to work with him. And Patrick could not be a better director. I was kind of anxious not only for the 3D aspect of, but we’re kind of doing this in a short amount of time and there’s a lot of shit just from the big stunts to the huge crowds to the enormous effects. There’s a lot to be anxious about as an actor when you’re putting your trust into somebody else and make sure it doesn’t turn out totally shitty. You come out to the premiere and you’re like, “What?!” So there’s a lot to trust and when you’re dealing with an extra a new kind of way to shoot it, you’re only adding to the things that can go wrong and Patrick is handling that so well. He’s so prepared. He knows exactly the way he’s going to shoot it. He knows exactly what he wants. He knows exactly what he’s going to need in the editing room which is, for me, such a relief. Because I’ve sat in editing rooms before and wanted to cry or whatever because sometimes the director is good on-set but not anything after that. It’s really special because he knows how it’s going to cut together. Part of him being such a great editor means he’s the most prepared director I’ve ever worked with.
Do you get any cool weapons in the movie?
Amber: My weapons before Milton comes into play in the script are my fists. So then Milton comes in and he has all these cool guns and amazing gadgets. And that’s really fun.
So you are packing later on?
Amber: Oh, yeah.
Did your character change much after you were cast?
Can you talk about your reaction the first time you read the script and found it to be a hard-R?
Amber: Well, in my career I haven’t really shyed away from the ratings. I feel like that’s the last thing I was preoccupied about. But I saw the guns and I saw the action and I saw all the supernatural elements. All of this only made it more interesting for me. I was only more interested. And it’s a badass female character. Everybody enjoys when a woman is her own character in a movie or otherwise. We just don’t get enough of that in Hollywood. I’m excited to be given a role that is a role that is not just supporting a male’s role. It’s a real character. I was so turned on by the script and interested in these people and these characters. And the fact I was going to play one of them and have all this shit to do is really exciting.
It sounds like you’re going to be a little bummed to finish shooting.
Amber: With these 14 hour days, trust me; Bummed is not the word.
Drive Angry gets released February 11, 2011.
For more Drive Angry 3D coverage: