Opening this Friday is the Columbia Pictures' action-thriller “Vantage Point.” The film is about eight strangers who all witness an assassination attempt on the President of the United States
. But unlike most movies, which tell a story by intercutting all the characters storylines as the film builds towards a big climax, “Vantage Point” tells the story quite differently.
Rather than follow all the storylines at once, the film follows one person’s storyline for the twenty minutes leading up to the assassination attempt. Once we see the shots hit their target, we start again from another characters perspective. As we watch each segment unfold, new details get revealed. Only after all the characters have told their stories do we finally understand what actually happened.
While some have compared the film to Kurosawa's “Rashomon”, the fact is they are completely different movies. “Rashomon” used each person’s storyline to show how we all view an event differently, but “Vantage Point” never changes what actually happened, just the perspective of how you see the event unfolding.
Now the reason you’re here, the interview with Dennis Quaid for “Vantage Point.” In the movie, Dennis plays a Secret Service agent who has only recently been put back on active duty. As the movie unfolds, it’s his storyline that intersects the most characters as he desperately tries to figure out what happened.
The frustrating thing about doing an interview for a movie like this is you can only talk about so much or you’ll ruin it. So while most of the journalists would normally ask pretty specific questions about scenes or character moments, most of the time was spent talking about other projects and more personal stuff. Of course we talked about “Vantage Point,” but I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.
Anyway, if you missed the movie clips I previously posted you might want to watch them before reading the interview. You can click here to see them. Finally, here’s the MP3 of the interview in case you’d rather listen to it.
“Vantage Point” gets released this Friday.
Question: So, did you see – this character you were playing, Thomas Barnes, the Secret Service lawyer, do you see him like at all the one that Clint Eastwood played in the Secret Service movie he did where he was the – In the Line of Fire?
Dennis Quaid: Where he said, "I'm getting too old for this?" [LAUGHTER] Well, running – we made a running joke, actually, during this—you know, I'm over 50. And, you know, I was running for the first part of this film, and then in the car. There was so much action. Just, where is the line? You know, we've got to have – where are we gonna put the line, "I'm getting too old for this shit?"
Question: This isn't a character-driven movie, it's such a plot-driven film. As an actor, do you rely on different sorts of acting muscles to convey so little in a short amount of time, with a character, with a guy like this?
Dennis Quaid: Well, really, that's what, to me, that's what acting is really about. Is what – you know, the silences between the words, in a way. You know, that's where you feel it's about – you know, it's about feelings, really. That's what acting is. You know, I go to movies to feel things. And it was really kind of a challenge with this one, especially. Because – I mean, I have 17 lines of dialogue, I think, in this film. I do! [LAUGHTER] Yeah, that's it. And it's – you know, most of that is like, "Oh my God, what have you done?" [LAUGHTER] And –
Question: Stop it!
Dennis Quaid: Yeah. Stop! Halt! [LAUGHTER] "Oh my God! Oh my God." And then I run out of the room. So – it was – so it's – it was a challenge, you know, to create this character by – you know, because it's created, really, in the doing. And in the silences of the character.
Question: So that was the attraction, then. That was why you read the – you know, "Let me play this guy." Doesn't say anything, but he –
Dennis Quaid: Well, I thought it'd be great. [LAUGHTER] But – you know. And then – Pete, from the original script, added a small scene where I'm in the hotel room – you know, before we go out. And – which I think – you know, really did a lot to sort of inform the character, from the audience.
Question: Where he comes in and says –
Dennis Quaid: Yeah. "It's time to go, and I'm a little nervous." You know, "I'm thinking about taking a pill or two." And – you know. Taking a bullet for the president the year before, this is my first day back on my job. So that really informs – that did a lot to inform the character. So you didn't really have to – say anything. It was – again, it was done through, just seeing where this guy was in the silences.
Question: You get to do something like Smart People, which has more than 17 lines of dialogue in it.
Dennis Quaid: Yes.
Question: Do you – do you prefer looking for that kind of material? Is that kind of material rare to find?
Dennis Quaid: What kind of material is that? You're talking about –
Question: Smart sort of comedies, which –
Dennis Quaid: Well, you know, if I've done anything intentional about my career, is that I really have not – I've chosen to try to do as many different types of things as possible. That's really what I like to do. And so it makes it interesting for me, and I don't—so, I don't even seek out any particular type of movie or role. It's just that movies at this point seem to – and the roles seem to come. And – rather than me seeking them out.
Question: They just come?
Dennis Quaid: Well, the movies happen to me, rather than me, like, going out there and trying – "Well, I'm gonna play this." You know, or whatever. Or that I – me deciding that I'm this kind of persona or character or whatever. It makes it more interesting for me to play as many different types of things as possible.
Question: Was The Rookie a changing point in that –
Dennis Quaid: It certainly – you know, the life got good. The life – as far as career choices and stuff, it got a lot better after The Rookie came along. That on top – you know, that with Far From Heaven coming out in the same year really kind of – you know, two different types of movies, types of films. I'm also, you know, past my mid-30s, where – I don't just have to play the leading man type of guy any more. I can branch out.
Question: I just talked to Dennis Christopher on CSI. And I was wondering, have you all ever talked about doing a Breaking Away, 20 or 30 years later? Has that ever come across the table? Forty?
Dennis Quaid: Yeah. If he can still ride a bike, I'll do it. [LAUGHTER]
Question: Has it ever been talked about?
Dennis Quaid: Sort of a senior Cutters team out there. Do a little 500.
Question: No, has there ever been anything?
Dennis Quaid: No, there never has. I mean, Steve Tesich – I mean, you know, he's no longer with us. He wrote that. And just – he's incredible.
Question: Cuz Haley's doing great.
Dennis Quaid: Yeah. It was really great to see Jack – Jackie Earle do well last year. And – yeah. It's a – that was a special time.
Question: Pete said one of the things he likes about you is that you're sort of this all-American kind of guy, and he thought you were good for the role for that. I was curious if you were aware of that perception of yourself, and if you ever intentionally screw with it in the choices you make.
Dennis Quaid: Well, yeah, I'm aware of it, because that's what I get told. You know. Just like right now. [LAUGHTER] But – but yeah, I have – I don't know if I've intentionally screwed with it yet or not.
Question: You haven't tried to play Frenchman?
Dennis Quaid: What?
Question: Have you tried to play a Frenchman?
Dennis Quaid: No, I haven't tried to play a Frenchman.
Question: Speaking of all-American roles. You were going to be playing –
Dennis Quaid: [FRENCH ACCENT] Speak louder! I cannot hear you.
Question: You're gonna be playing General Hawk in G.I. Joe.
Dennis Quaid: Yes.
Question: So can you talk a little bit about how you came to that project, and what's that gonna be all about?
Dennis Quaid: They offered me G.I.—they offered it to me about a month ago, and yeah. I figured it'd be a lot of fun to do.
Dennis Quaid: Well, because it's G.I. Joe. You know, we grew up with G.I. Joe. And it's – you know, it's basically kind of a cartoon thing, and it's – you know, it's a big popcorn type of tent pole action movie that – you know, really doesn't – it's not deep. Not really too deep. I mean, the character – the character of General Hawk that I'm playing is really kind of a cross between Chuck Yeager and Sergeant Rock and maybe naïve Hugh Hefner thrown in there. General Hawk's aide to camp is a Victoria's Secret supermodel. So. I mean, how serious can it be? [LAUGHTER]
Question: A lot of people are wondering, though, that with the material, it's gonna be an action film, but how are you gonna do the bloodless action? Is this a rated-R movie? There's been a lot of questions from fans about how the material –
Dennis Quaid: I don't know. How do they do Spider-Man – you know, without blood? Basically. You know, it's – kind of the same deal. Gah! [LAUGHTER] Ah! Yeah.
Question: When you say you haven't screwed with your all-American man thing yet, does that mean, like, you're looking at – is there a time in your career that you envision as your own – being an idol of cinema or something?
Dennis Quaid: I'm an idol of cinema? Oh, wow. Thanks! [LAUGHTER] Appreciate that.
Question: Do you still feel like a sex symbol?
Dennis Quaid: Sex symbol? I – I don't have a vision. I just go along, really, basically just probably having more fun with my career than I've ever had. Cuz it's – you know, you go through different stages in your life, and in your career. And – you know, and the 20s and 30s, we're all taking yourself – especially in the 20s, taking ourselves so seriously. Especially men, you know, about this whole career-building thing, and whatever. And – you know, and I just feel now that I've been doing it – I'm doing it really for the same reasons that I started out, like, in acting school back in college. Because I really love to do it, and I'm having fun with it. And I like to do as many different types of things as possible. I mean, it's not a real job, for God's sakes. You know? It's just really wonderful, if you can avoid that.
Question: Do you take it less seriously now?
Dennis Quaid: I – yeah. And I enjoy it more. You know, I think I – I think I'm better at it than I used to be, you know? Certainly you would hope that, you know? If you're a plumber, you learn little tricks as you go along that makes you a better plumber.
Question: Isn't it true, though, that you did screw with your image in American Dream?
Dennis Quaid: Yeah, I guess so a little bit. Yeah. That guy was kind of a spoof – it was kind of a spoof on itself.
Question: I guess people were expecting you to be the all-American guy to come in and be something, and then you did this other thing.
Dennis Quaid: Yeah. It was kind of a spoof on itself.
Question: But it was a comedy.
Dennis Quaid: Yeah, it was a comedy. Yeah. It was intended to be satirical. Kind of a parody, really, I guess you would call it.
Question: What's happened with your brother this week, with this announcement that he's been banned for life with…
Dennis Quaid: I really don't have any kind of comment on it, to tell you the truth. Yeah. I heard about it the other day and was very surprised to hear about it, myself. So, I mean, I really have no comment on it, about it at all. So.
Question: Can I ask you about The Horsemen? When is that coming out, and how was that, shooting?
Dennis Quaid: Horsemen—I don't know when it's coming out. But – I did these four movies, actually, back to back last year. I've never done it before. That many movies, like, really in a row. I had two months off cumulatively over the entire year. I don't know if I'd ever want to do it again. But it was just, there were these four films that were very different and very interesting that came along. And the first one was Vantage Point, and I went right from that to Smart People, and pretty much I – you know, had a nice Christmas week, and then right into Horsemen up in Winnipeg. And that's really a horror movie with heart, it's really what I call it. [LAUGHTER] Yeah, it's a horror movie with heart. And I play a cop who's really a tooth detective. You know, one of these guys who's a detective, who specializes in – you know, in tooth impressions, and things like that. And these teeth are found out in a pond, and they've got to be connected to a body somewhere. Either, or they're extracted while he was alive. And these murders start happening that are very ritualistic and apocalyptic, sort of based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And so – I'm trying to find out who it is. It's – yeah.
Question: So it's frigid. Extremely cold.
Dennis Quaid: Oh, it was very, very cold. Yeah. I was in Winnipeg in February. Last February, anybody in Winnipeg? It's – yeah. Forty below. I mean, I've got a place in Montana. I've been there when it's, like, 50 below. But. To work – I've never worked in it. It's something else. Ever – you know, Fahrenheit and Centigrade come together there, you know?
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