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A Beautiful Journey: Demián Bichir Discusses His Career, “A Better Life” & More!

A Beautiful Journey: Demián Bichir Discusses His Career, “A Better Life” & More!

Demián Bichir may not be a household name in the United States, but in his home country of Mexico he is nothing short of a superstar. His breakthrough Spanish-language film role came with “Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas” (Sex, Shame and Tears), a 1999 ensemble comedy and one of Mexico’s highest-grossing films. However, this dynamic actor made the difficult choice to relocate to the U.S. to pursue new opportunities. Best known to U.S. viewers as the Tijuana mayor Esteban Reyes opposite Mary-Louise Parker on Showtime’s “Weeds” and for tackling the part of Fidel Castro in “Che” (2008), Steven Soderbergh’s two part bio-pic about legendary Cuban-Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, Bichir’s hard work and dedication to his craft is paying off in spades. In his most recent role in “A Better Life,” he stars as an East L.A. gardener, an undocumented immigrant who’s doggedly pursuing the American dream. His performance in the film garnered praise from film fans and critics alike and his amazing portrayal earned him a piece of his personal American dream, as he was named one of five best actor nominees for a SAG Award! Jason Price recently caught up with Demián Bichir to discuss his start in the entertainment industry, the challenges of his role in “A Better Life,” his recent nomination for an Independent Spirit Award, and what the future might hold for him!

Demián Bichir

Thanks so much for taking time out to speak with us today, sir. It is a pleasure!

Absolutely, man! Thanks so much for your time!

Let’s jump right in then! All of your hard work has led to an amazing career. What can you tell us about how you got started on your journey in the entertainment industry?

I have come a long way and it has been a long, long journey — a beautiful one! My parents met each other studying theater in their hometown in Mexico. My brothers and I were born in Mexico City and we grew up in the theater. We were always in touch with art in every form. My brothers and I began acting in professional plays when were we just kids. We had the best teachers, schooling, and everything we needed to read was right there in our parents library. I grew up in the National Theater Company in Mexico. Theater was the thing that I enjoyed the most. Then I started doing some films and decided to expand that territory and experience by moving to New York to learn and do something more as an actor. After I lived in New York, I moved to Los Angeles and I have been going back and forth doing a lot of things in Mexico, Spain and Latin America. Right when I landed the role of Fidel Castro for Steven Soderbergh, a lot of great things began happening!

I am curious to know, who are some of the influences who helped shape the actor we see today — both on-screen and off?

Demián Bichir

I think everyone that I worked with as a kid in Mexico. As a kid, growing up with those amazing actors, creative directors, artists and musicians … there were so many talented people involved in the production of a play and in the arts who surrounded my family and I. You have to include all of the influences that you get as a movie lover. I remember the first time I wanted to go to New York was when I saw “Taxi Driver.” I just wanted to go to New York and drive a cab! [laughs] When I saw “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” I think I was 14-years-old. I remember taking the long ride home on the bus. I remember playing that I was Jack Nicholson on that bus going to The Cuckoo’s Nest instead of my house, which is pretty much the same anyway! [laughs] You grow up watching the best of the best and they become big influences. Of course, my parents and my brothers — there was always inspiration right there at home.

One of your recent and very exciting projects is Chris Weitz’s “A Better Life.” How did you initially get involved with the project?

I met Chris Weitz because I auditioned for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” He was preparing that film. When I got there, we began talking about this other project but, actually, I didn’t know that “A Better Life” was what he was talking about. We sat down and he started telling me about this gardener and I was confused because I didn’t know if the character was a vampire gardener or what! [laughs] In that half hour of talking, I was hooked by what Chris told me. He said, “We don’t have a script or anything but if we get one soon, I would love for you to read it and see if you can do this.” Sure enough, I got the script a year later and I read it. It was fantastic! It was beautiful! I was hooked immediately and I fell in love with it! I felt not only lucky but honored. I knew that I had a huge responsibility in giving voice to this community of human beings that are making our lives easier and better in the United States.

This role is clearly very close to your heart and it is a terrific performance. Did you do any special preparation or research for the role?

'A Better Life'

You know, I always try to go as deep as I can in any project. It has a lot to do with the time you are given to prepare. For example, when Steven Soderbergh called me to play Fidel Castro on the “Che” films, I had five months to prepare. I was able to gain a lot of weight because Fidel Castro is huge and I have always been skinny. I put on 25 pounds or something like that of the part. I had Fidel Castro for breakfast, lunch and dinner for five months! I became an expert on the Cuban revolution. I used to know a lot because growing up in Mexico, you are really connected with that and we knew everything about the event. I became an expert on all of the small details on the subject. I had a great chance with “A Better Life” because I lost all of the weight from playing Fidel but I had to gain it again. Not as much, only 18 or 20 pounds for the role of Carlos Galindo because Chris and I wanted that for the character. We agreed that my pizanos don’t have time to keep a proper diet and be perfectly fit. Carlos is fit because going up palm trees, you need to be! But that was only the physical part of it. I had to learn everything about gardening for the part, including going up a tree! Then there was the emotional ride, whcih for me was the most difficult part of it. Besides the physical part of it, I also got rid of my car and bought a beat up, pickup truck. It was a piece of crap! [laughs] It was really, really bad! I didn’t want to get deep into the role and then leave to go get into the car and see yourself in the the mirror as another character. You need to be in tune. You need to be there, in character, 24-7, if necessary for the six or seven weeks that it takes to shoot a film because it goes so fast and you need to be there, at least I need to be there. I remember that was really great because my character doesn’t have anything. Carlos Galindo he doesn’t have money, he doesn’t have anything! Driving in Los Angeles in that beat up truck changed everything! It changes a lot of things. People are rude, people assume that you are a loser for driving such a truck. It also raises many of the same issues we address in the film.

As I am sure you and many of our readers know, there is quite a buzz about this film and how special it is. What do you think director Chris Weitz brings to the table for a project like this?

Demián Bichir

A lot of things. Many things! We were very lucky to have this script, a really great script by Eric Eason but Chris Weitz is so smart and has everything so clear in his mind. You need to be able to communicate what is in your head and he does that very well. That communication made it easy for me. Anything that you see on screen is because Chris has an expert eye and takes care of you all the way. He has some Mexican blood in his veins also! He doesn’t play games. Once he is on a film, he goes really deep as well and nothing that you see on screen was an accident. Everything was very well planned. For example, Chris didn’t want the gangbangers to be disguised, you know? Like people disguised as gangbangers. He needed that to be as real as possible and that is exactly what he did! All of the guys that you see on screen are ex-gangbangers and are actors. Some of them came From Homeboy Industries, a place that Father Boyle commands and helps rehabilitate ex-gang members into society. Some of them were actors and we were very lucky about that too! Little things like that were always taken care of by Chris and really add to the realism of the film.

Each project serves as a learning experience for an actor. What did you learn from your time on this film?

I learned a lot of things. Of course, I know about gardening now! [laughs] I know everything about gardening and could even create my own business! I am pretty good at going up palm trees! But basically, I learned a lot of things but I confirmed a lot of things that I knew before. First of all, there is this community of 11 million undocumented workers that are working really, really hard in an honest and decent way with a lot of dignity to make our lives easier and better. I knew that and I reconfirmed it while making this film. Also, it is now clearer than ever that this is not a political issue but a human issue that needs to be solved. We need to demand that politicians stop lying about this “new threat” that are undocumented workers because they are not a threat, they are helping us to improve the economy and we are not giving them anything in exchange. We need to be fair in that sense. This film has helped to not only touch hearts but it is also touching minds. It is teaching everyone that the real problem is human, not political.

Demián Bichir

That is very true. Your work was amazing in the film and people are definitely taking notice. You were recently nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for your role in “A Better Life.” What does being nominated for an award like this mean to you?

It means a lot! Being an actor in such a competitive industry here in the United States. When you get the attention of being nominated for an Independent Spirit Award from the SAG awards, you can’t stop thinking about how much talent there is everywhere around you. You cannot stop thinking about the great performances that were there in the course of the past year. Just the fact that they look to your work and decided to include you in those five names, that is an amazing thing for me. I am grateful for it and I am enjoying it a lot! It is a wonderful ride and I am just having fun with it! I am really grateful to be a part of it in a place where there is so much talent everywhere!

You career has been, and continues to be, very diverse. Is there a particular type of film or genre you are anxious to tackle in the future?

There are many things that are going to happen soon. Hopefully, a lot of doors will open and I will be able to work with some of the directors that I have come to admire the most like Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch, Guillermo del Toro and so many others. I would also very much like to work again with Chris Weitz. I would love to work with J.J. Abrams, I just met him the other day and I am sure that we are going to do something together one day. I would also love to do a western, that would be really, really nice!

What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to someone who is just starting out?

You have to chase your dream and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve it. Don’t ever stop dreaming and don’t every quit! Keep going and remember to be patient. Most importantly, work really, really hard and your dream can be achieved!

Thank you for your time today, Demián! We wish you continued success on all of your endeavors!

Thank you! It has been a pleasure! Take care!

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Watch The First Five Minutes Of Steven Soderberg’s ‘Haywire’ On Hulu!

Watch The First Five Minutes Of Steven Soderberg’s ‘Haywire’ On Hulu!

January 20th, 2012

Action fans rejoice! You can catch the first five minutes of Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, the new action packed film by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Contagion).

Watch the adrenaline inducing clip starring MMA superstar Gina Carano and Channing Tatum on Hulu now at this location!

The film also stars Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zorro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and Michael Angarano (Almost Famous).

Synopsis: This dynamic action-thriller directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Contagion) boasts a talented cast that includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zorro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous); and introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

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Three Clips And A Final Poster For Steven Soderberg’s Action Extravaganza ‘Haywire’

Three Clips And A Final Poster For Steven Soderberg’s Action Extravaganza ‘Haywire’

Haywire, the upcoming action-thriller is directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic), hits theaters nationwide on January 20th, 2012. Check out the final poster for the film below, along with three clips!

Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous) and mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano star in the film.

Official Synopsis: This dynamic action-thriller directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) boasts a talented cast that includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous); and introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

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Gina Carano Kicks Ass In New Trailer For Steven Soderberg’s ‘Haywire’

Gina Carano Kicks Ass In New Trailer For Steven Soderberg’s ‘Haywire’

If there is one film you can not miss in 2012, it is Haywire, the upcoming action-thriller is directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) and hits theaters nationwide on January 20th, 2012.

Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous) and mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano star in the film.

Official Synopsis: This dynamic action-thriller directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) boasts a talented cast that includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous); and introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

Source: Crave Online

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Gina Carano Kicks Ass In Second Trailer For Steven Soderberg’s ‘Haywire’

Gina Carano Kicks Ass In Second Trailer For Steven Soderberg’s ‘Haywire’

Relativity Media has just unleashed the Second Official Trailer for their upcoming action-thriller Haywire, directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic), is now LIVE on Entertainment Weekly. Check it out below!

Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous) and mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano star in the film. Haywire hits theaters nationwide on January 20th, 2012.

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Striking New Poster For Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’ Starring Gina Carano!

Striking New Poster For Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’ Starring Gina Carano!

Relativity Media has just unveiled the official poster for their upcoming action-thriller Haywire, directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) and starring Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous); and introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

It is pretty bad ass if you want our opinion! Check it out below and weigh in with your thoughts!

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High Intensity New Teaser Poster For Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’

High Intensity New Teaser Poster For Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’

Relativity Media has just unveiled a kick-ass teaser poster for Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming action flick ‘Haywire’! Check it out below and weigh in with your thoughts on the artwork!

In the film, mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano (American Gladiators) makes her feature film debut, starring and performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

The film’s talented cast also includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (Desperado), Bill Paxton (Titanic), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and Michael Angarano (Almost Famous).Check it out below!

Official Synopsis: This dynamic action-thriller directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) boasts a talented cast that includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous); and introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/haywiremovie
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/haywiremovie

 

 

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Two New Action Photos of Gina Carano and Channing Tatum In Steven Soderbergh‘s ‘Haywire’

Two New Action Photos of Gina Carano and Channing Tatum In Steven Soderbergh‘s ‘Haywire’

Relativity Media has just released two new photos from one of our most anticipated films of the year, ‘Haywire’. The photos show Gina Carano and Channing Tatum in action!

In the film, mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano (American Gladiators) makes her feature film debut, starring and performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

The film’s talented cast also includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (Desperado), Bill Paxton (Titanic), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and Michael Angarano (Almost Famous).Check it out below!

Official Synopsis: This dynamic action-thriller directed by Oscar® winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) boasts a talented cast that includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zoro), Bill Paxton (“Big Love”), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous); and introduces mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, in a demanding lead role that has her performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

Mallory Kane is a highly trained operative who works for a government security contractor in the dirtiest, most dangerous corners of the world. After successfully freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, she is double crossed and left for dead by someone close to her in her own agency. Suddenly the target of skilled assassins who know her every move, Mallory must find the truth in order to stay alive.

Using her black-ops military training, she devises an ingenious—and dangerous—trap. But when things go haywire, Mallory realizes she’ll be killed in the blink of an eye unless she finds a way to turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/haywiremovie
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/haywiremovie

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First Look At Gina Carano In Steven Soderbergh‘s ‘Haywire’

First Look At Gina Carano In Steven Soderbergh‘s ‘Haywire’

The first official image from Steven Soderbergh‘s action flick, Haywire, has hit the web and it packs some firepower! In the film, mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano (American Gladiators) makes her feature film debut, starring and performing her own high-adrenaline stunts.

The film’s talented cast also includes Channing Tatum (GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra), Ewan McGregor (The Ghost Writer), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Antonio Banderas (Desperado), Bill Paxton (Titanic), Michael Douglas (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) and Michael Angarano (Almost Famous).Check it out below!

Official Synopsis: In Haywire, an electrifying tale of espionage and betrayal, a female covert ops specialist (Carano), who works in the deadly world of international operatives, strikes back after discovering she’s been double-crossed by someone close to her in the agency.

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Directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien Discuss ‘Solitary Man’

Directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien Discuss ‘Solitary Man’

Brian Koppelman and David Levien made a name for themselves in Hollywood penning stellar scripts for “Rounders,” “Knockaround Guys” and “Ocean’s 13.” This dynamic duo, who have been friends since childhood, have become two of Hollywood’s most sought-after screenwriters. Now, their march to cinematic greatness continues with their second directorial effort, “Solitary Man.” In the film, Michael Douglas stars as Ben Kalmen, a used car magnate who becomes a shameless, aging, self-destructive lothario set adrift on an rapid decent from perceived greatness after an irregular EKG turns his world upside-down. Kalmen ventures with his wealthy girlfriend’s daughter to her perspective college campus in order to use his friendship with the school’s dean to ensure her admission, as well as a opportunity to get his declining career back on track. After a brazen sexual encounter with the daughter, opportunities for redemption continue to pass him by and his choices threaten to ruin him for good. Michael Douglas’ performance jumps from the screen as he nails his performance with interactions with a number of high-caliber actors like Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Jesse Eisenberg, Jenna Fischer, and relative newcomer Imogen Poots. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Koppelman and Levien to discuss their roots in the entertainment industry, the making of ‘Solitary Man’ and their upcoming projects!

You guys have been a dynamic duo for quite a while. How did you initially form that bond?

Brian Koppelman: We have been like brothers since we were 14 or 15 years old. We met on a cross country student bus tour. I was carrying, my idea of cool, a leather valise full of cassette tapes. Dave was the only one not put off by my geeky music fandom and we became friends.

David Levien and Brian Koppelman

How did you decide to pursue a career in the entertainment industry as opposed to going in a different direction?

David Levien: Our paths diverged for a little while after college. I went out to Hollywood and started working in the business. Brian had a successful career in the music business for a while but our goal was always to do movies. We had this shared sensibility, so we decided that we wanted to do a film together. We were looking around for the right arena to set a movie in, when Brian got taken to an underground poker club in New York one night. He lost all of his money but he smartly recognized that it was a great place to set a movie! He called me at 3 in the morning just to say, “Hey, I think I have the subject of this movie!” We started going to the clubs every night and playing cards. That is what ‘Rounders’ came out of and got us started.

As filmmakers, how difficult is it to get a film made outside the Hollywood system these days, like ‘Solitary Man?’

Brian Koppelman: That is a great question. Yeah, it is very difficult! We had a few things going for us. Obviously, the main difficultly was that it was a small story on Hollywood standards. It is about a character whose redemption doesn’t come easily, if it comes at all. Steven Soderbergh had read the screenplay early on and loved it. He sent it on to Michael Douglas. Once Michael agreed to be in it, it was a battle as it always is to get the money together to shoot and have enough resources. But once Michael and Steven were in, we knew that we had a movie! It is difficult every step of the way and we only had 26 days to shoot it, so if we wanted an actor other than Micheal for more than scale, we would have probably had to put our own money into the movie to get them. It was all worth it, you do anything you have to, to get these kind of movies made.

How did the script for ‘Solitary Man’ originally come about?

David Levien: We both grew up in New York and Long Island, specifically. There were a lot of men like this. There is no one person that the script is based on. This type of guy, the type who have a tremendous amount of business savvy, they think that it leads to a certain amount of authority in all other areas, was just fascinating. As a young kid, looking at these guys you believe that they have all the answers. As you get a little older, into your 30s and 40s, you start to realize that they don’t really. I started to wonder about hubris and power, people whose charm and ability to influence was so great that it perverted something essential about them. Then it was like, “How do you make that entertaining, funny and compelling?” The most rewarding thing has been that everywhere we have gone with the film, which started on two screens and ended up on 200 and there have been festivals, people come up to us and they say, “That was my dad up there!” or “That was my mother’s father up there!” or “That was my uncle and now I understand why he acted the way he did.” So, although it wasn’t based on one person, I think there are a lot of people out there that have aspects of Ben Kalmen.

You mentioned Michael Douglas, who plays Ben Kalmen and is in just about every shot in the film. How much of his own personality did he bring to the role as opposed to what was on the written page?

Brian Koppelman: From the moment that he showed up to talk about it, he had a complete understanding of the character. He didn’t draw any parallels to his own life. We never spoke to him about his personal experiences. It was always about the character and what the character was going through, yet he clearly had a very deep emotional understanding of the issues that the character was facing. He brought a complete command of the material and total professionalism. He really led by example and set a great tone. He made the whole thing possible to shoot in 26 days on a very high level.

You mentioned the time frame in which you had to shoot. Was that the biggest challenge in making this film or is there something else that stands out in your mind?

David Levien: When you are lucky enough to make movies for a living, like we do, we don’t really live in the place of taking off to challenges really. We wake up every day and are so glad that we get to do this and are able to tell these stories. There are challenges that come up every day but it is more about using the resources that you have and trying to tell the best story that you can within that framework.

David Levien and Brian Koppelman

You’ve worked with Steven Soderbergh several times before in different capacities. What was it like working with him as your producer?

Brian Koppelman: He is brilliant in whatever role that he is playing in a film. To watch him direct a movie is like watching a maestro in action and, as a producer, he is totally supportive. He has made enough movies and is secure enough that he doesn’t want to get into the business of the directors, he just supports the whole thing. He puts the movie first and has great ideas …

David Levien: We talk a bit about this on the commentary track of ‘Solitary Man’ on the DVD. We get into talking quite a bit about how Steven was helpful in the editing room and his various suggestions. He brought a real specificity, a filmmakers point of view that was very helpful.

How do you think you have evolved as filmmakers since your first film?

Brian Koppelman: That is definitely for someone else to say based on the work. But there is nothing like making your first movie to prepare you for making your first movie, unfortunately! By the time you are done, all the knowledge that you have gained is in you, so it is great to get to go and direct another movie to feel more experienced and ready for the challenge throughout the process.

Does directing get any easier as you move forward?

David Levien: Directing a movie is a job where even if you know exactly what you want to do, you never walk off the set saying, “Yeah! I nailed it! I am the best director in the world today!” There is always room to grow, so you just do your best every day. It is not a job that you can do perfectly, no matter what.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to aspiring scriptwriters or filmmakers?

David Levien: Sadly, the only advice is sorta the sage advice from the beginning of time. David Mamet said that, “People who make it in Hollywood are the people who refuse to go home.” I interpret that to mean that you have to take every day to move it forward. Write every morning. If you can’t write in the morning because you have to work, write at night. Surround yourself with talented people and don’t stop.

Brian Koppelman: Don’t let anybody else define the restrictions of the world for you.

You guys are attached to a lot of upcoming projects. What is next for you and will we see you behind the camera again soon?

David Levien: We are currently writing a project set in the world of online gaming, the off-shore web casinos in Costa Rica and places like that. That is a project for Leonardo DiCaprio’s company. That is one that we are writing, not sure about the directing aspect of that. We plan on directing again as soon as we find the project that is totally animating to us.

Well guys, our time is short. Is there anything you want to say to your fans before I let you go?

Brian Koppelman: Just thanks! We hope that everyone gets a chance to see the film that didn’t get to see it in theaters.

We will be spreading the word. I think it is a film that a lot of people will enjoy. The dialog in the film was fantastic and I wish you all the best!

Brian Koppelman: That’s awesome, man! Thanks so much!

David Levien: Thank you! We really appreciate it!

– –

‘Solitary Man’ is available on DVD and Blu-Ray on September 7th, 2010! Visit the official website for the film at www.solitarymanmovie.com.

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