Oh, the Inanity!

Feature and interviews by Carlo Cavagna


Dark Blue


USA, 2003. Rated R. 115 minutes.

Cast: Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman, Ving Rhames, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Michele, Lolita Davidovich, Kurupt, Jamison Jones
Writers: David Ayer (screenplay), James Ellroy (story)
Director: Ron Shelton

• Carlo's review of Dark Blue
• Related materials and links

for a self-invented Internet journalist, the press junket for Ron Shelton's latest, Dark Blue, was to be a special day. Despite some heavy-handedness and an ending that falls back on the oft-used Big Speech, I had enjoyed the gritty crime drama, which tackles police corruption and morality against the backdrop of the Rodney King riots. More importantly, it was my first junket for a major-studio release.

I arrived at the swanky St. Regis Hotel in Century City right on time, and was placed in a room full of print journalists who had flown in from all over country, representing big-city newspapers everyone has heard of. "Welcome to the big time," I thought. "Maybe I will learn a thing or two."

Until that point I had done only small-studio junkets. The art-house and specialty studios have been good to me; in lieu of a generous marketing budget, they rely on all the press they can get. At those events, I was usually in roundtable interviews with other "onliners." I enjoyed them, but with the rambling and leading questions that characterize those sessions, I couldn't help feeling sometimes that we were all a bunch of amateurs. I was especially sick of openly star-struck interviewers who acted like they couldn't believe they were actually talking to Middling Big Star. I was excited about doing a more disciplined roundtable with experienced journalists.

Little did I know that by the end of the morning, I would be sorely missing my online colleagues. Despite any inexperience, onliners tend to be interested in the film at hand. They're passionate about movies, and they know why they're there.

In contrast, the print journalists--these accredited professionals who fly to junkets on expense accounts--could not have cared less about Dark Blue. After a polite question or two about the film, they invariably brought the interviews back to trivia and personal lives, until star Kurt Russell rebelled and screenwriter David Ayer saved the morning with some of the most quotable material I've ever been privy to.
Scott Speedman

Scott Speedman in Dark Blue

Our first victim is ex-Felicity star Scott Speedman. In Dark Blue, he plays conscience-stricken junior cop Bobby Keough, who is partnered with Kurt Russell's ruthless senior cop Eldon Perry--shades of Training Day, which screenwriter David Ayer also wrote.

With his prototypical TV-star looks and shoulder-length blond hair, Speedman is doomed before he even sits down. Journalists--both men and women, but mostly the women--fawn over him like a gaggle of those thirteen-year-old girls that Speedman doubtless knows to avoid. He has just finished shooting a film due out in September called Underworld in Budapest with Kate Beckinsale. It's about vampires fighting werewolves or something. The group wants to know what Kate's like, and if Speedman has had vampire teeth made. He has. Lots of laughter all around.

We touch on his athletic career. Speedman was a mile swimmer on the Canadian Junior National Swim Team and placed ninth at the Olympic trials in 1992. Later, he dropped out of the University of Toronto to pursue acting. It turns out Speedman has no formal acting training, so my stash of pompous questions about The Craft is moot, not that anyone gets a chance to do a James Lipton impression in a roundtable format anyway.

An injury ended Speedman's swimming career at sixteen, which is when he began hanging out with actors. His first gig was an appearance playing basketball in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, which was shooting in Toronto. Speedman hates swimming now, and is sick of the water. "Hot tubs?" a woman wants to know. Her body language suggests that she would prefer to conduct the interview from Speedman's lap. "No, hot tubs are fine." "Okay, let's go!" she says. I feel sick to my stomach.

As if actors should go out of their way to get naked, a guy comments that Speedman's love scene in Dark Blue could have been a nude scene, and why wasn't it? Does Speedman have a "no nudity" clause? "I don't think I have any clauses," deadpans Speedman.

How has Felicity changed Speedman's life? Not a lot. Did he get any stalkers? No. Any marriage proposals? No. He did get fan mail. Strangest one: triplets sent him photographs. "Wow! Did they have a nudity clause?" Uproarious laughter from around the whole table, except me. "Are you married?" He isn't. "Are you dating anybody we would know of?" No. "Kate Beckinsale is already married," someone offers irrelevantly.

Regarding working with Kurt Russell, Speedman uses some of the most common press junket words. He says it was "great," and that Russell taught him "so much." In a moment of actual journalism, one interviewer prompts him to be specific. "It's not anything really specific, it's just being around someone who has been making movies for a long time." Ah.

Someone wants to know if he also got to meet Kurt's longtime Significant Other, Goldie Hawn. Of course he has. What was his worst Valentine's Day? He threw up on himself once when he was sixteen. Then the group wants to know about his best and worst vacation ever. "Probably the same one," he says. "I went to Bali and got really sick." This stimulates a discussion of 'Bali Belly.' Then someone asks whether rumors linking him to Gwyneth Paltrow when they shot Duets were true. "You guys would have been cute together," she says. "Sure, but no."

Somewhere along the line, I manage to get in a question. "What was the biggest adjustment you had to make transitioning from something like Felicity to something like Dark Blue?" Speedman acknowledges that it was a big adjustment going from something quiet and intimate to the streets of L.A. "In what way?" I ask. "To shake off your TV habits--you get into some habits going to the same job every day, breaking out of that character, and breaking out of certain things you get used to doing." Someone else asks him about his preparation for the role. Speedman visited a few cop bars and drove around South Central, but the crew did not get much cooperation from the Los Angeles Police Department. "They weren't jumping for joy that we were making this movie," Speedman says. Not surprising, since the LAPD doesn't come off looking too good.
Kurt Russell and Ron Shelton

Ron Shelton directs Kurt
Russell in Dark Blue

The second roundtable of the day is with director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump, Tin Cup), who is for the first time just the director, as opposed to the writer/director. We begin with the long-postponed release date. Shelton attributes the delay to nobody knowing how to release "this type of movie" and various internal changes at MGM. "There were three heads of marketing and distribution from the time we started the movie…This movie was shot well before Training Day was released."

In response to a vague question about why he wanted to make Dark Blue, Shelton recites a canned bit of PR straight from the press notes. "We wanted to do a movie that was about a guy who has gone to hell. Nobody starts being a cop in order to become a crooked cop. Nobody is born, unless you're paranoid schizophrenic, with a problem. The system, the generation, the training, and the culture all make us who we are... We wanted to humanize [Eldon Perry], without sympathizing with him. We wanted to show this is a human being...not just some cipher cartoon villain. I want to see him struggle when he is realizing who he has become... There's not an easy fix."

That piques my interest, given that the film's classic Big Speech wrap-up could be considered an easy fix. So I ask, "Was it difficult to get [Perry's] background into the story given that you were telling the story within the framework of just a few days?"

Shelton knows immediately I am referring to the speech. "Yes, it's very, in a way, unusual to have a big speech at the end of a movie. It's sort of contrary to the basic rules of screenwriting, but we couldn't figure out another way to do it. David [Ayer] had written it there, and so we just embraced it there, and you pick up little pieces of [Perry's] background as you go… But, even when he comes clean and tells the truth, he's still congratulating the other cops for getting off [for the King beating]. He's still a cop! He's just doing the best he can at truth-telling at that moment, which is better than he's done up to that point in his life, but it's hardly a clean act of redemption. It's a messy act of redemption." The idea of setting the climactic action during the King riots is that Perry is caught in a riot of his own making. The riots, in case anyone has forgotten, were not localized; they went on for several days, and fifty-four people died.

Regarding his actors, Sheldon observes, "Casting is a very curious process. First of all, it's who is available. Second of all, it's who you can afford. Third of all, it's who works well together." Lolita Davidovich, who plays Perry's wife, was definitely available and affordable, since she is married to Shelton. As for Kurt Russell, this was his project from the beginning. He had been tinkering with the script, originally written by James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), since about 1996. Shelton says he is a big fan of Russell and calls him one of our most under-appreciated actors. "Kurt's a fabulous natural actor… He's like Wesley [Snipes]--he should quit doing those stupid action movies." It emerges that Shelton had considered Kurt Russell for Bull Durham.

Shelton is very specific that Russell and he didn't want to make the movie until certain changes were made. What changes? The answer, "nothing specific," makes no sense, given how emphatic everyone is that the movie could not be made until the script was right.

We turn to the production of the film. "We all did it for almost no money. The movie cost seven million below the line, fifteen all in," Shelton says. Even with the riot sequence? "I'm proud to say that whole riot sequence was shot in two days." We are all impressed. Shelton remarks that one of the things he wanted to do was show Los Angeles as a third-world city and "upset some people." Did he approach the LAPD about working on the film? Yes, as Speedman already told us, but they refused. "They don't have a great sense of irony over there." However, Shelton did have ex-cops working on the movie.

Next for Shelton is an action/comedy called Hollywood Homicide. He calls it a movie about the other side of the LAPD, "the good cops you think are bad cops." It stars an impressive cast, including Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Lena Olin, Martin Landau, and Isaiah Washington. After some discussion, Shelton says he's not here to talk about his next film, but after a few minutes the conversation turns back to Hollywood Homicide anyway. After a question about what kind of car Josh Hartnett was driving when he had a serious accident on the set--a critical bit of information, presumably--Shelton leaves rather abruptly, before his time is up.
Michael Michele

Michael Michele in Dark Blue

Michael Michele, who plays Keough's love interest and the assistant to Ving Rhames' crusading Assistant Chief of Police, enters the room. Michele, in case there is any confusion, is a woman, and a stunning one. She most recently appeared in How to Lose Guy in 10 Days and as Muhammad Ali's last wife in Ali, after a few seasons on E.R. Naturally, her unusual name leads to a question. Are people ever surprised that she is a woman, the group wants to know, even though we can see perfectly well during the movie that she is a woman. Personally, because I don't watch E.R., I was surprised that her name was Michael Michele and not, say, Michele Michaels. "Most often people think I've created the name because I'm an actor," Michele remarks. But no, she was named for her mother's best friend. (Nobody asks why she was named Michael.) Has she ever thought of changing it? "That cuts to the core of my soul. If my name were Lollipop, it would just have to be Lollipop, because that's who I am."

But before we get to this investigation of Michele's name, before she even sits down, she is hit with a question about what designer she is wearing. Michele is surprised. "We're talking about fashion?!" It turns out that one of the group is actually a writer for a fashion publication. Michele is wearing Hermes. And so we're off and running on simple yet classic designs, handbags, and Paris, not to mention designer freebies for actors. Someone asks her whether she's going to the Oscars, and if she's a member of the Academy. Michele is again surprised. Even I know that she can't be in the Academy yet, since membership is by invitation only, and you generally need an Oscar nomination to be invited.

We touch on Michele's stint as Dr. Cleo Finch on E.R., from 1999 to 2001. Apparently she lived in New York the entire time and commuted, usually spending four days in Los Angeles and three days in New York each week. This is incomprehensible to all of us. Michele explains, "People arrive at their normalcy in different ways… My way of coping with my business and what I do is to keep all that I know and what makes me happy intact, and to not leave that. Some people felt that was extreme, but that was my way of coping, to get on a plane, go home, see the same bagel guy, see the same guy I buy my salmon from, go to the same coffee shop, get on the same train, go downtown, do what I do, and have a sense of normalcy that I've always had."

Michele is questioned about being too beautiful to play a cop. Michele explains that she had twenty-two hours of "footage" playing a cop on Homicide: Life in the Streets and spent time with the Baltimore police department, and that she had a year of weapons training in Dallas for a 1992 show called Dangerous Curves. "They take weapons pretty seriously down in Texas." As she was learning about police work, what was Michele's biggest surprise about women cops? Michele identifies their concern for being mothers, because so many are, and married, and she notes that the divorce rate is very high for both male and female cops. Somebody who has clearly been watching too many bad television programs wonders, "Because they have on-the-job affairs?" I try not to laugh. Michele is taken aback. "N-no! Because of the life and death issue and the stress of being cops!" "Oh, okay," says the questioner.

The follow-up question to her comments about the hardships of women cops is, "Do you have a nudity clause where you only show certain things?" "I am not showing too much," Michele demurs. Several people declare, "We noticed!" Michelle launches into an explanation that the scene is not actually a sex scene, but takes place after, and that the modesty is appropriate given that the two characters are not that comfortable with each other. It's her first such scene, just like it is for Speedman. "Oh, so you're both virgins!" someone exclaims. I'm having trouble believing the other people around the table have press credentials, and begin to wonder if America's Sweethearts was actually a documentary. When Michele is pushed into discussing the mechanics of shooting the love scene, the journalists eat it up, cackling riotously.

In politically correct fashion, Michele at one point refers to her Significant Other as the "person" that she loves. The group is having none of that. They ask her if she's married. She ignores the question. They continue to pester her about her significant other. Has she been in the relationship for a long time? "It's been a long time off and on." Any children yet? "No." Have they talked about names for children? "No." I wonder if they are oblivious to her gender-neutral remarks and reluctance to discuss her love life? Or, more alarmingly, has the group picked up on it, and is forcing her to be specific about her sexuality? If Michele is gay, then the group is compelling her either to out herself or to lie. This might be a sound approach for a criminal investigation, but hardly appropriate for a relatively unknown actor who has a right to her privacy. Finally the group wins. Michele confesses to seeing a businessman.

I get in a question toward the end. "As an actor, what are you comfortable with, and what are you looking to improve or develop?" She responds, "I'm very comfortable with drama, and would love to continue to grow in drama, but I'm really curious about comedy right now, and would love to pursue something in the action genre... Something where I could use my athletic abilities." A runner, a skier, and a basketball player, Michele leads an active life. Clearly, she also understands that action pictures and romantic comedies are the road to stardom, not dramas.

During the break, the other journalists talk about all the fun things they're going to do the rest of the weekend, and the parties they're going to attend. I will not be attending any parties. I complain out loud that all this "personal stuff" is useless to me. "Oh, well, you're with the wrong group, then!" I am told. I consider joining a different group for the last two sessions, and consult the schedule, but I stay put. I reason that it is unwise to exit an out-of-control vehicle until it has come to a complete stop.
Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell in Dark Blue

The personal questions start almost immediately with Kurt Russell. After a couple polite inquiries about Dark Blue, Russell is asked about a rumor he has given Goldie Hawn an engagement ring. No, and even though he and Hawn have been together twenty years, he's pretty emphatic that he doesn't believe in marriage. "You have to believe now more in divorce... I had done it. Goldie had done it. We tried to pass this knowledge on to our children but failed miserably." The group finds this remark to be uproarious. I recall that Kate Hudson, Hawn's child by musician Bill Hudson, is married to Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, but otherwise the joke goes over my head.

Russell gamely continues to field personal questions. What has kept him and Goldie together all these years? "We just like each other. We just do. I don't know." The group prods him to talk about when they first met, until finally Russell rebels. "I don't wanna do this. I don't want to spend this interview doing this. I gotta be honest with you. I want to sell this movie; it's a good movie… I hope you appreciate this. So, if we can get back to that… I don't mind talking about it, but I really don't want to talk about it. I just think it's a waste of time--unless you really don't like the movie."

This whips the roundtable into shape. I still don't glean exactly what Russell wanted changed in the script, but he says he was reluctant to make it back in '96 because it didn't say anything yet. I ask, "What did you want it to say?" "What it says now," Russell responds. "It's not like we didn't understand that. We were just trying to figure out how to show it. The main problem was Eldon Perry."

Russell continues discussing Eldon Perry. "I knew this could be good. I knew it could be a really great character--one to watch, one that you could relate to on levels that you wouldn't think that you could, if you could accept one premise, and that is that we all look at life through our own eyes. Eldon Perry does not see himself as an antagonist." Then something unexpected and fun happens. Russell slips into character. "Okay, so I understand you all have some criticisms of the way I do my job. So here's my badge. Who's gonna do it? You? You gonna go out there and do the job? And by the way, good luck, and I'll see you in twenty years!"

Russell is just getting warmed up. "After twenty years...he's come to the conclusion that you've got crime..." he holds up one hand, "...and you've got criminals." He holds up the other, and becomes Eldon Perry again. "If you're meticulous, maybe you can make a match. I don't care, we're in the getting-shit-done business. Get this guy off the street. We know this guy is a menace to society."

Himself again, Russell observes, "In our perfect society, we imagine a perfect police department that never makes mistakes. And we should, because that's what we're supposed to do. We're suppose to question our lives, question our society, and say, 'Is that the way we want it done?' And the answer is no." Then, as Eldon Perry, Russell says, "Oh. I see. Well, I'll tell you what, you fucking assholes. I'm going to the Bahamas. You take care of it. And good luck driving down that street in a week and half, because it will be OUT OF CONTROL." Russell concludes, "Looking at life through a character's eyes, which is what you do as an actor, is a really fun thing to do."

Russell believes that the groundwork for Perry's moment of epiphany is well laid. His wife leaves him, and he discovers his boss is actually using police power for money. Russell remarks, "Nobody's ever said to him, look at what you've become, Eldon. Now they have. He's not just a bad guy--it's easy to do something where a guy just does bad things--but I found what was needed is his humanity. He's trying to do right."

It has been written that Russell's film roles have stood for American optimism. Responding to this observation, Russell says, "Yeah, I understand... After awhile, the world knows you enough that there's an opinion of some kind that's formed. I know that you're right." Eldon Perry is a radical departure from that image, and for Russell a rewarding one. "I am extremely satisfied with what I got to do, as an actor on the movie. I'm the most satisfied I've ever been." Someone else puts it to him that he has been underrated. "That's just not my world. That's your world. My world is to go out there and try to do the best I can. Sometimes audiences respond. Ultimately you have to do what you believe in, hoping that it works."

We finish on a political subject--Russell is a Libertarian. "I've taken some flack for that over the years," he wryly observes. But he is emphatic that Dark Blue is not meant as a statement about guns or the Bill of Rights. "It's not a political movie. It's about people. You take something political and find out how it's about people."

Encouraged that the Russell interview has proved to be more substantive, I am looking forward to David Ayer. The screenwriter is not a public persona, and there shouldn't be much room for gossip journalism. However, I am becoming increasingly irritated by my colleagues' habit of trying to finish an interviewee's sentences, not to mention inserting their own wisecracks. Later, as I listen to the recording, I will have a hell of time sorting out what was actually said amid the hubbub of sycophantic voices. I ask myself if they don't understand the concept of an interview. The point is for the interviewee to speak, not for others to speak for him.

Setting aside my frustration, I lead off with David Ayer with a question about Dark Blue and Training Day, which no doubt he has heard a hundred times already. "There's three hundred movies a year Hollywood makes. Some have to be similar," says Ayer. Then he defends himself. "I got hired to write Dark Blue in '96, and the story was pretty much locked then, because it was a James Ellroy story and James Ellroy's original script."

Ayer goes into the differences between Dark Blue and Training Day. "Training Day focuses more on the street-level corruption, as opposed to what's going on in the offices downtown. The other thing is, Denzel's character is motivated by greed and self-interest and nothing else… Kurt Russell's character in Dark Blue is not a rogue cop like Denzel. Kurt Russell is a foot soldier. Everything he does is because of orders. He's not operating on his own. He's doing it because he believes he's playing a part in a bigger system that makes sense somehow. When he realizes that he's serving an evil master and the scales fall from his eyes, because he is essentially a good person--believe it or not, that's how I conceived the character--he does bad things [but] his heart is in the right place to some kind of degree--he owns up to his sins, and he tries to change them."

Once again, I try to find out specifically what was changed from the Ellroy version. Ayer explains, "His original script was really dense and expansive, and covered too much territory for a movie. So I had to go in there and hack out the excess and find out what the focus of the story was. What drew me to it was the idea of this guy being redeemed. Because if a guy this brutal, this misogynistic, this racist, can go, "Dude, I'm wrong," and change, then there's hope for everybody. That's what I had to focus on in the script, that fine line between, 'Do we like him or do we hate him, and ultimately how are we supposed to feel about him at the end?' I want people to feel sorry for him at the end."

The group steers Ayer toward other projects and his background. As the session wears on, Ayer's barbed witticisms grow bolder and bolder. What did having a huge Oscar-winning hit do for his career? "It got me about five minutes' worth of the benefit of the doubt in a story meeting." Did he get to go to any Oscar parties? He didn't. "Guys, I'm just…" He gestures in the air, indicating a pecking order or levels of hierarchy. "Cleaning staff, writer. Actually I think they're above me."

We learn that the thirty-three year old Ayer, who is white, went to high school in South Central, where he has been shot at. "I never got jumped or anything, but definitely got capped on a few times," says Ayer. How did he end up in South Central? "I got kicked out [of home]. I was a bad kid." In the lowlight of the day, we are now treated to the cringe-worthy spectacle of a white guy who has never been within miles of the 'hood asking if Ayer knew "some homies" in South Central. No, no homies. Ayer moved in with his cousin. At eighteen, he dropped out of high school and spent two years as a sonar technician in the Navy. "There was a choice. Corcoran State Prison or the Navy." I ask Ayer his favorite sub movie. Answer: Run Silent, Run Deep.

How does a Navy man become a writer? "By transitioning through construction." Ayer elaborates, "After I got out of the service, I was wiring houses. I went to wire up this writer's house in the Hollywood Hills. I told him a few stories and he though I had something to say. He said, 'Dude, write a script.'"

How much of Ayer's world did he put into Training Day? A lot, and he comments that he was the only writer who touched the script. Nevertheless, the studio forced him to change his original ending. "Yeah, the studio had me graft on the 'action module.' He says the last two words in the type of voice you might hear on a television commercial. "You know, gunfighting, car chase, crash, more fighting. But, that's business. That's just Hollywood. I accept that, because when Warner Bros. goes to ShoWest, and they've got the theater owners there, and they're screening movies, they're like, 'Where's the action?' Because the theater owners know who buys their tickets."

Ayer observes, "The development process in Hollywood is inherently flawed, because it assumes logic. The audience doesn't care about logic as much as they do about a complete emotional journey. You have to be emotionally true to the audience. You don't have to be technically true to the audience. The other thing is, no script is going to stand up to thirty readings. So when you have ten people in a room, and that twenty-three year old--he was an intern last week; he's now a creative executive--pipes up, 'You know, I just don't understand this moment here,' there's definitely an impulse that has to be suppressed. It's astounding sometimes."

Despite appreciating creative freedom, Ayer says he loves production re-write jobs. He has done several, including the upcoming big action picture S.W.A.T., with Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, and Michelle Rodriguez. Why? "Because they're spending money. They've got a cast in place. They've got a director in place. They usually have a start date. But they never have a script." He says he needs the pressure of a deadline to sit down and type. "The more pressure the better."

Ayer elaborates on S.W.A.T. "That's much more standard-issue. It's Fast and the Furious with machine guns. It's definitely not an exploration of the dark soul of law enforcement like other works I've done." Someone asks if they are making it up as they go along. He laughs. "Uh…despite the rumors…probably. I don't know...I did my last pass a few months ago." Was Ayer the primary writer? "I was just another writer thrown on the broken pile of bodies. Every writer in town has been thrown on that project. I got it green lit. That was my mandate. I made that happen." And how did he do that? "By delivering a script that was green-lightable." Ah. Ayer clarifies that he did a "a dark, troubled hard-R version" originally. "Then it was like, naw, man. PG-13. Happy machine-gunning people movie." How is that PG-13? "I don't know. It's MTV violence or something. If you shoot in slow motion, it's not violent. There's no blood or anything like that."

Somebody brings up Adaptation, as it's a movie about screenwriting. Ayer makes a face. "There seems to be a trend lately in Hollywood that for a movie to be recognized, it has to have a gimmick. I'm against the clever gimmick. I'm about just old-school storytelling." As I'm enjoying the interview, I resist the impulse to ask him sourly what a Big Speech is--in which the protagonist covers his entire life and delivers a moral lecture in front of family, friends, colleagues, and the press--if not a gimmick.

Ayer is onto the creative process in Hollywood. "You create this stuff and you just hand it over. That's the writer's pain. You're really giving out a piece of your soul. Good writing is emotional... You're prostituting your pain." If he's pouring out his soul as a writer, how does he explain The Fast and the Furious? Apparently he did that re-write as a favor, even though he was booked on two other jobs. Ayer says the story was originally set in New York, with practically no characters or dialogue, and ended with guys chasing each other around in a warehouse with guns, making what I had considered to be a bad film sound like it could have been much, much worse. In collaboration with director Rob Cohen, Ayer rebuilt the script from the ground up. "It was funny because when I was writing the parts, I wrote the L.A. I know. How many freakin' white people do you see in L.A. when you're not in the Westside? So the studio's like, 'Hey Ayer, we can't cast this. Can you write some more white people into this?' And then when it was a successful hit, they're like, 'Yeah, you know, you really tapped into this multicultural thing.'"

Ayer laughs. He has avoided the sequel (called 2 Fast 2 Furious, no doubt to capture more fully that "multiculturalism"), and though he was up for the Biker Boyz re-write, he didn't want to do that either. Someone exclaims that he has a really healthy attitude about this business. "Dude," says Ayer, "it's take the money off the dresser, walk out, and don't even look back at the client." That acerbic remark, which takes a moment to sink in, concludes the interviews. With the determination some of my colleagues have to discuss gossip and fluff, I leave wondering if Ayer's advice is not equally applicable to film journalism, and fervently hoping I never succumb to the temptation to write features about fashion choices and nudity clauses.

Feature and interviews © March 2002 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Images © 2002 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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