As I said when I posted the 5 movie clips
the other day, there is no way for me to talk about the plot for ďThe NinesĒ and not give away some of its secrets. So rather than try, hereís a different approach.
I saw ďThe NinesĒ for the first time at Sundance and walked out of the theater not knowing exactly what I felt. I knew I was blown away by the film and the story, but I wasnít sure if it was due to the no sleep and the surprises the film unexpectedly threw at me. So I decided before attending the junket that I ought to see the movie again and take it for a second spin. Thankfully, the film was even better the second time as I was able to catch a lot of little things that I missed during the initial viewing.
But while I bought into the film hook, line and sinker, I did speak to some friends and they were less than impressed by John Augustís feature debut. And this doesnít surprise me. I really think John has made a film that will polarize the audience. Some of you are going to be like me and LOVE this movie. And some of you are not.
But thatís also whatís so great about this film, the ability to be so different to so many people. Itís not like this is a huge budget Hollywood spectacle and it needs to appeal to all four quadrants. ďThe NinesĒ is a small budget indie that needs to just find a small passionate group that get it. And Iím happy that Iím one of them.
Anyway, posted below is the transcript of the roundtable interview that I got to participate in with Ryan Reynolds Ė the star of the film. During our long discussion we cover everything you might want to know about - from this film to what is coming up, plus we even discuss Sundance and Comic-Con. If youíre a fan of Ryanís youíll love this interview.
And before getting to the interview, I think you do need to know that the film unfolds in three parts, featuring the same actors in different (and in some ways overlapping) incarnations. Hereís a summary of the partsÖ
Part 1 - Gary
(Ryan Reynolds) - a TV actor who finds himself under house arrest after one too many benders. He is tended to by an impossibly chipper publicist (Meliisa McCarthy) and a sexually tempting new mother next door (Hope Davis).
Part 2 - Gavin
(Reynolds), a show-runner who is the subject of a reality TV show about the thorny process of creating a network series (not dissimilar to John August himself). His show stars his (and August's) best friend, the actress Melissa McCarthy, much to the chagrin of the network's development executive (Davis). He also happens to own the house where Gary is imprisoned (John August's actual home).
Part 3 - Gabriel
(Reynolds) - a successful video game designer who runs into car trouble with his wife (McCarthy) and daughter (Fanning) in the woods and then into even greater trouble when he seeks help from an attractive hitchhiker (Davis).
As always, you can either read the transcript or download the audio as an MP3 here. But be warned, Iíve edited the transcript and taken out a MAJOR spoiler from the movie so if you listen to the audio you will still hear it. Youíve been warned.
ďThe NinesĒ opens today in limited release.
Question: Whatís the beard for?
Ryan Reynolds: Lethargy. Itís my salute to lethargy. Yeah, I have a couple months off so Iím enjoying it by not shaving.
Q: So how did you come to the project? Did you read the script or John made you an offer or how did that come together?
Ryan: Well, I have a team of interpretive dancers that acted it out for me. No, I read the script immediately as soon as it came to me. It was something that my agent I guess was very, very excited about so I read it right away and fell in love with it and tried to get a meeting with John as soon as I could and we had lunch and I think half of the casting process these days is a matter of finding somebody as excited about a project as you are so, I think John could see my enthusiasm and how into this thing I was and I think he felt maybe I had a similar idea as to what it was all about. We had similar notions on it. The next thing I knew I was shooting a movie.
He said the main reason you got cast was the physical resemblances.
Oh, between he and I? Yes, of course. Itís like looking in a mirror often. In fact, Iím John. Heís over there doing the other interview. Yeah, John became a really fast friend as well which is I think no coincidence to me getting cast. I mean, we really just hit it off right off the bat. Heís a good guy. Even when weíre doing these press days they can be a little stressful particularly when youíre as jet lagged as I am. I just got back from Europe last night in the middle of the night. You know I see his face and go oh good everythingís all right. Iíve got my buddy hereóa comrade. So, heís an excellent human being.
So your agent was excited about this project then? Thatís interesting for an agent because itís kind of risky, like a small film.
Yeah, definitely. I think for him itís a calculated risk. I mean itís a movie that deals with subject matter that I think is exciting to him and anyone else who would have read it. I mean, anytime you can find something that you can get behind that unorthodox and hasnít really been seen before but youíre still really able to stretch yourself and dive into wholeheartedly I think thatís kind of unusual these days. So many projects you read are cast up already or itís really is difficultÖgood problems to have, but itís difficult to find a script and a director in particular that can really pull something really fantastic off. I particularly believe that actors are as good as their director and itís their medium. Theatre might be our medium but this oneís theirs through and through.
When you do a project like this, do you in the back of your mind think that well, it may not be a box office success but it will be a good calling card role for future projects?
Yeah, I donít have a lot of like $150 million box office gross movies in my wake so itís not like itís the first thing I think about. I also donít think thatís anyway to survive in this industry. There are certainly guys out there that are those 20/20 guys, you know. $20 million 20% gross guys that like have a way of a science to this thing that theyíre in and I ever really think that way, I just love the material and it was something I felt that I could do something with. It was one of those really tough movies because itís 3 distinct characters and to find a way to do 3 distinct characters that doesnít feel really indulgent was the trick. In fact, it wasnít finding the differences in the characters that was hard it was finding the similarities that I was looking for. I felt like not to be so esoteric about it but this is a story about the puppet and the puppeteer being one in the same.
Your films are almost always different from each other and itís hard to categorize you. What attracts you to a project?
You know, itís always a tough question. I donít know. I mean, usually if itís something that I feel is challenging I feel like itís very difficult to choose movies way in advance because if I shoot oneósometimes I have the good fortune to have 2 movies lined up in a row and Iíll inevitably drop out of the 2nd one because once you finish the 1st one everythingís different. You have different ideas of where you want to go next or what you want to do and as soon as you realize youíre kind of pegged into this thing you have to do in a month from now, I sort of blister a little bit and so yeah, as far as choosing roles go itís just hard to find the stuff that presents something different or is a challenge. I like doing the mainstream, right down the pike broad comedies as much as I like doing the kind of unorthodox different stuff.
How did you approach playing John, or a character based on John?
With kid gloves. John, yeah, I think thatís more of a challenge for him than it is for me because Iím not portraying him in the sweetest light. I mean, youíve met him and heís an excellent human being but heís really showing his ambition and his hubris in that piece. Iíd have a really tough time watching that if that were me being played on the screen. I had a tough time doing it because usually I always find that the most rewarding things in life are somewhat kind of counter-intuitive and what was counter-intuitive about that to me was that I was presenting myself as John but presenting myself in a way that is not appealing and not like pre-packaged to make people think Iím this guy or like this really funny charismatic charming fellow or somebody that is likeable. It was this really kind of ugly side to this person and doing it felt disgusting then walking away you kind of look at the movie now and thatís my favorite part. I love that section. I mean thatís the warts and all section and thatís what itís all about. I loved it but it was definitely strange, you know, capturing Johnís little things that John does.
What about playing the actor? From the first part, how much of your own experience as an actor or your friendís experience in Hollywood having attention or having a break down that you drew on for that?
Anyone with access to outside information knows that you canít even get into any acting union without smoking crack, crashing your car, wearing an ankle bracelet. Yeah, it is a little strange playing an actor, but that character Garyís a bitóhe walks that line between kind of vacuous and emotional and thereís a lot of actors out there like that. Thereís a lot of actors I think that appear so much more together as the characters they portray as opposed to the actual people, so I know Iíve said this before Hollywoodís not a place where youíre rewarded for growing up. Youíre in fact rewarded for fucking up and you know that can cause a strain. That can cause a strange dynamic. This arrested development that you see in so many young celebrities, you know crashing cars and doing whatever the hell theyíre doing. But yeah, it was fun in a weird round-about way of poking fun at Hollywood, how like emotionally irresponsible so many people can be and in Garyís case physically as well. Yeah, it was fun definitely. I was into that one. All 3 of them I love. Theyíre all aspects of myself as well. You canít jump into a role unless youíre finding things that mirror your own condition.
Who would you want to play you if you saw yourself in a role? Is there a particular actor you would want to see play yourself in a bio pic or anything like that?
Whoopi Goldberg. Sheíd be doing me and really capturingÖno, I donít know what theyíd be toÖI hope Iím never in a place where people know so much about my life that I could be portrayed in a movie, Jesus. Thatís just my worst nightmare. I think we know too much about actors as it is and their personal lives and itís this information age where weíre stimulated constantly by the celebrity buzz effect or whatever it is, these web sites and blogs and different things.
Youíve done a good job of staying out of that. How did you manage that?
You know I think in some degree you can court that. If you court it, itís going to find you, but yeah, to some degree you canít completely control it. Thereís a very real possibility in this industry of going out and leading your life and then going home and being a voyeur of your own life. You can literally go watch yourselfówhere you went last night, what you did, what the things that people presuppose about you. Itís kind of crazy. That stuff is a real turnoff for me so I donít reallyÖI donít know. I donít have an answer to why I donít have all that going on, I donít really go out. Maybe thatís just sad.
So you can handle house arrest just fine.
Yeah, absolutely man. Yeah, the ankle bracelet in my case comes off every once in a while but I love it. Itís terry cloth and washable, soft.
Joe Carnahan said thereís going to be prequel to Smokiní Aces.
Yeah, there is. Yeah, yeah.
You were great in that.
Oh, thanks. I love to do an action movie. Thereís some out there but Ö
You got buff for your role in Blade Trinity which I liked, but you never followed up with more action. Was that something that youÖ?
Well, I mean I canít do the movies where Iím just intermittingly clenching my jaw muscles and shooting people. Thereís got to be somethingÖ if itís funny, then thatís kind of cool or if itís very real and it taps into something for me thatís great too but I donít think I want to go see those movies let alone be in them. Yeah, like I said itís just finding those.
You have a few projects coming up later this year. Can you talk about your roles in these things?
Yeah, I have a movie called Definitely,Maybe which has a great cast. Itís got Kevin Kline and Rachel Weisz and Abigail Breslin and Isla Fisher, Derek Luke. Itís just a big cast and that is about I kind of liken that to a love letter to broken families. Itís about a guy whoís explaining his impending divorce to his daughter and she asks how I met her mom. I say come on what do you think Iím going to tell you to story of how I met mom and Iím going to fall back in love with her. It doesnít work that way, Iím sorry. And she says I need to know. I say ok, Iíll tell you what. I had 3 great loves in my life. Iím going to tell you the story of these 3 great loves but Iím going the change all the names and you have to guess which one is your mom. So we go all the way back to í92, thatís when the story begins and it goes to 2008 and itís sort of really sweet, sort of comedy but more romance and several romantic who-done-it kind of thing. Then I have another movie called Fireflies in the Garden which I love. Itís a story about a family broken apart by the death of the matriarchóher mother whoís played by Julia Roberts. That kind of echoes some stuff with my own childhood and growing up. I mean, who doesnít have a fucked up family. So, I think thatís probably a little bit more broadly appealing than I like to believe but Iím really excited about that one as well. Then I have this little thing called The Nines. Yeah, called The Nines.
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