Matthew Fox Interview – VANTAGE POINT

     February 20, 2008

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 in Spain. But unlike most movies, which tell a story by intercutting all the characters storylines as the film builds towardsthe big climax, “Vantage Point” is quite unusual.

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 the President, we startover 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”, they really 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.

Anyway, let’s move onto the reason you’re here, the interview with Matthew Fox.

While most know Matthew from his work on the hit ABC TV show “Lost,” he’s recently been branching out and doing a lot more movies. Last year he had “We Are Marshall,” and later this year he stars as Racer X in the Wachowski Brother’s “Speed Racer.” I think it’s safe to say when “Lost” ends he’ll still have a career.

During the mini press conference that I took part in, Matthew talked about all the projects he has coming up, making “Vantage Point” and he spoke a lot about his family. It’s a solid interview and one worth reading.

Finally, 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: One of the questions that has come up today with this movie is his motivation, I was wondering whether earlier on in the script there was more detail about his motivation? Did you care about his motivation?

Matthew Fox: Obviously I had to figure out some things – yeah. I cared very much about his motivation, but I think as a film I like it better that you don’t know why he does it.

Q: One thing I really liked about this film is one of the things I like about Lost is you’re never sure where people stand on the line dividing good from evil. What is it about these morality plays that attracts you as an actor, and us as an audience?

Matthew Fox: I don’t know, I guess I’m really interested in the gray areas, and this concept that I’m not necessarily really sure about any concept of good and evil, black and white, good and bad. And I’m also very interested in the concept of perspective, it’s something I think about all the time in my life, the ability for one event to happen and for two people to perceive that event so differently, depending on where they’re standing and who they are and what kind of agenda they had in how they perceive it. It’s astounding to me, it really is, and I find myself running into it in my own life, just in my own micro-world, in and my relationships with family and friends and those types of conflicts, and then you extrapolate that out into conflicts between nation states. It’s just unbelievable to me how many people walk around in this world thinking their version of reality is the only one that exists.

Q: Is that why you were attracted to this movie in the first place?

Matthew Fox: That was big part of it, yes, absolutely. It was Pete Travis and I thought the script was very smart, and I really loved what the movie is dealing with. And then it’s an action thriller, but it does deal with something that I think is pretty fascinating.

Q: What challenges do you have finding stuff that is different from you character on Lost?

Matthew: I’m really having a great time right now, I’m getting a lot of opportunities and I’m getting an opportunity to meet with and work with really great directors, and so I think that television is more of a writers’ medium and filmmaking is more of a directors’ medium, and getting an opportunity to work with these types of directors is really rewarding to me. I’ve been doing this business for quite awhile, I’ve taken it very slow, I always felt that it was a marathon and not a sprint for me, I think that the people that really go quickly in this business, is sort of the sprinters, they go away kind of quickly and a lot of times they’re not in it for the right reasons anyway, they’re sort of after something else other than just doing the work. For me it’s been sort of a slow, steady, finding the right projects, never doing a project as a means to an end, or just because I feel compelled to be a part of it and it had those elements come together.

Q: Because of the strike have you been sitting there waiting to find out if Lost is going to start up next week or the week after?

Matthew: Yeah, that’s been part of – we shut down in November, for me I’ve been working none stop for two years, I’ve done four films and Lost in the last two years, so I understand that the strike was very, very difficult for a lot of people and I’m very well aware of that, for me it was like a forced hiatus in which I got to spend all of December and the holidays and most of January hanging out with my family.

Q: In Hawaii?

Matthew: In Hawaii, and also in Oregon. Family is important to me, so it was a chance to get connected. And I knew that I had these two films opening up in the spring, and that I was going to have a lot of publicity responsibilities, and sort of gearing up for the travel that that requires and the time that requires away from my family.

Q: Is there a cut off date when they’re going to decide this season is done?

Matthew: I think there is a drop dead date, but… There are some conversations going on right now, there are conversations about us starting back up.

Q: There are a lot of rumors that the strike is going to be voted on tonight, and possibly resolved by Monday, for fans of Lost, assuming that the strike is over on Monday how long are you contractually obligated to the show – how many episodes do you think you could make prior to the original hiatus?

Matthew: I think they’re in negotiations about that right now, the studio and Damon, and I think it’s possible that we do 4 or 6 of the 8 that we were supposed to be doing right now. I think we would pick back up and maybe shoot another four this spring, which would give this season a grand total of 12.

Q: Peter said you were very passionate about this movie and really wanted to do it, how do you do a movie and a series?

Matthew: Touchstone has been very accommodating as far as, I spent three and a half months in Berlin last summer making Speed Racer and there was overlap, there was almost three weeks of overlap between my schedule on Speed Racer and Lost, so Damon literally shot – we shot episode out of order to accommodate my schedule, which is incredible. They’ve been very, very supportive of these projects I’ve been doing outside of the show, and I appreciate it because I’m really enjoying the process.

Q: Can you talk about your experience working with the Wachowski brothers – did you have any expectations when you went into it? Did you love Speed Racer when you were a kid?

Matthew: I didn’t know Speed Racer at all. Again, getting back to that thing about how directors are very important, when the Wachowskis asked to meet with me, I guess they’re fans of Lost and they had an idea that I might be Racer X, and I went into the meeting never knowing anything about Speed Racer. I wanted to work with the Wachowskis. That meeting went great and I went home with a script, and I got the source material and watched a lot of Speed Racer, and the script blew me away and then I went after that role. I went back to L.A. and I really went after that role, I wanted it, and it took like six weeks. Working with the Wachowskis and the cast on this particular film, and what this film is going to be like, how much it’s a game-changer in my opinion, was an extraordinary experience, it was amazing.

Q: Can you talk about working with those new cameras?

Matthew: They’re pretty unforgiving.

Q: You mean every line shows?

Matthew: Every pore. But they’re amazing and the information that they’re capturing and then what can be done with that information in post is extraordinary. I ADR’d the movie yesterday with Larry and Andy and, I mean, it’s just unbelievable what it looks like, it’s just unbelievable.

Q: Does the film have a running time yet?

Matthew: I think it does but I wouldn’t feel safe saying that.

Q: Like William Hurt did you have to have any security guards in Mexico City for fear of being kidnapped?

Matthew: I think all of us had protection, yeah.

Q: Were you able to bring you family, or were you afraid to?

Matthew: I did, they came to Mexico City for two and a half weeks I believe. There was some conversation about that, it made us a little nervous but the truth is it was awesome. The kids travel incredibly well, they love it.

Q: You mentioned with Lost you were going to try to do maybe 4, maybe 6 episodes, does Damon plan to take the 8 episode storyline and push it into 4-6 episodes?

Matthew: I couldn’t tell you. That would be a question for Damon.

Q: Regarding Lost and having moved ahead as well as going back in the story, and now that there’s a time when it’s going to be over, do you know more about the story and what’s going to happen because your character is kind of a mess in the future, do you know why?

Matthew: Oh yeah, I know a lot, I know everything that got him to that point, I know why he’s at that point, that was important to me.

Q: And?

Matthew: Oh yeah, I’ll just –

Q: In general terms what does having a final date for the show to end affect the way you as a cast and crew approach the whole process?

Matthew: I think how it affected Damon was the – Damon campaigned for that, that was what he wanted, and I understand why, he would always say to me, ‘If somebody told you you were going to go out and run a marathon tomorrow, but they were like we’re not sure whether we’re going to make you run 18 miles or you’re going to run 26, you wouldn’t have any idea how to pace yourself through that.’ And he has the story in his head, but until he knew how many chapters he had to write that story in, it was very difficult for him. And so now that he has that, that’s why the story is going to have a lot of momentum and is going to move quickly, every episode is going to feel like it’s charging forward to the final conclusion of this story.

Q: How surprised were you that the show became the cultural phenomenon that it seems to have become?

Matthew: I’ve always believed in it being something very special from the moment I read the first script and met with J.J. and Damon and the people that were involved. I felt very positive that it was going to be a very good show. You can never count on that translating into some sort of finding a massive audience. And what the show has done globally has just been astounding. I’m very surprised by it. But on the other hand, I think the show deserves it.

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Q: Do you think it lost its way? It had a huge audience and then a huge drop off.

Matthew: No, I don’t feel that at all. The people that jumped, those were all bandwagon jumpers, those were the people who would not have been Lost fans to begin with. We won the Emmy, we won the Golden Globe, we were like this cultural – and then we had a whole bunch of people jump on just because they couldn’t stand being left out, and they weren’t really Lost fans to begin with. And they all went away.

Q: What are the other two movies you did four – you did Speed Racer and Vantage Point

Matthew: I did a cameo in Smokin’ Aces as well, with Joe Carnahan, so I count that as one of the projects.

Q: How do you keep your kids grounded when you’re a star?

Matthew: Well they don’t have any contact with the business part of it. They really don’t get to see any of the things I’m in. Speed Racer that’s one of the things that I was just so excited about as well was that I knew that my kids – it’s a PG film and a family movie, and they came to Berlin and they came on set and saw me in the full Racer X thing, and I didn’t want to scare them so I was like, ‘Hey,’ and they were like, ‘ Daddy?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s me,’ and I walked on set and my little boy turned to my wife and he goes, ‘I want to be Race X next Halloween.’

Q: How old are you kids.

Matthew: He’s six and the girl’s turning 11 this spring.

Q: Are they aware that their daddy is a big star?

Matthew: I don’t know what big star means. I have no idea whether – I guess people at school make a little bit of a thing about it, but I don’t think they’re really that conscious of that in any way.

Q: Would you like to have a big family?

Matthew: Every now and then I think about having another one, and then my wife says, ‘Absolutely not.’

Q: How’s life in Hawaii?

Matthew: I’ll tell you what, I’ve never really been a beach paradise guy, I’m more of a mountain person, so it’s been amazing and we’re enjoying it and it’s been a welcomed change for us to get the kids away from the bigger city into a quieter – they’re in a really good school and they’re making great friends and it’s been wonderful, but it’s not the place I would want to live the rest of my life. I just need bigger horizons, mountains, and I need four seasons, I really miss four seasons of weather I’ve got to be honest with you.

Q: What do you want to do with the rest of your career when Lost goes off the air? A romantic comedy?

Matthew: Again, for me it’s just sort of project by project. I don’t think I’ll do television again. I only say that because – I think some of the best writing is going on in television, and in my opinion Lost is an example of that. The reason why I want to do films from here on out is just because it gives me more control over my year. I love the idea that I can pour myself into something 110% for three months and then it’s done. Then I’m unemployed again, and then I use that unemployment period to hang out with people that I love and nurture those relationships and do things that I love to do and reenergize myself until that next thing comes along that feels inevitable for me. And that just gives me more control over the year. When you’re working on a television series, depending on whether you’re doing 24 episodes or doing 16 like we are now, that’s anywhere between six and nine months of your year is locked into one character, one project, one place and I would just like to have a little bit more flexibility than that.

Q Will J.J. come back and direct an episode of Lost?

Matthew: I would love that, and I think it probably will happen before the final episode. I would be very surprised if J.J. didn’t want to come back and direct at least one more episode of the show.

Q: Going back to Speed Race for a second, you mentioned PG, but there’s a lot of talk that the movie might be rated G.

Matthew: They might be going for G as well. I’m not sure where that’s going to fall, but it’s certainly going to be in one of those two categories.

Q: Could you talk a little about working for the Wachowskis and if you had any preconceived ideas about them going in and what were they like on set?

Matthew: None, no. They were very private and so you don’t really know much about them until you get to meet them and fall into their world, and they really are artists, they create a world and a big part of your job, particularly on a cartoon being turned into this whole world, is that you spend all of your time trying to figure out what that world that they’re creating in their two head is, and you’re trying to crawl in that and you’re trying to bring that image of X, and that’s what I was doing, X, and this guy and this voice and this presence and this silhouette and find that guy within the backdrop of what they’re doing, which was just amazing. It was a really, really great experience.

Q: I’m curious how your life now in Hollywood compares to what you envisioned for yourself when you first started out as an actor?

Matthew: I never ever thought I’d be doing what I’m doing right now. I never really set out – getting here has just been a series of a bunch of opportunities, one leading to another, and I never set out when I was 22-years-old and said, ‘I want to be acting in big movies.’

Q: Would you like to do romantic comedies, and do you consider yourself a romantic guy?

Matthew: I’m probably on a scale of 1 to 10 on romantic, like a 3.

Q: Does your wife agree with you?

Matthew: Yeah, yeah, she probably would, but she’s a 3.7

Q: So Valentine’s Day is not a big day?

Matthew: No, we’re just not soft and mushy in that way. If the right romantic comedy script came along, if somebody writes one that’s not the same exact fucking formula, then ….

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