Posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 by Peter Sciretta
On March 25th, we had the opportunity to talk with most of the stars of Grindhouse. We will be posting the interviews leading up until the film’s release on April 6th 2007.
First up, we sat down with Josh Brolin (The Goonies, Hallow Man) and Marley Shelton (Pleasentville, Sin City) to talk about their dysfunctional doctor/nurse relationship in Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror. Shelton’s character was also featured in Tarantino’s Death Proof.
Question: Since you’re in both of them, did you shoot all your stuff at the same time? Or did you have to come back?
Marley Shelton: Yeah, I had to come back for Quentin. In a way it was just completely accidental because the first week of shooting Death Proof is when they boarded my scenes in the hospital. So it was nice to kinda kick off his portion of the shoot. And there was this huge break in-between both movies where he was prepping. And I got to kinda be the mascot that cheered them on.
Question: What was it, six weeks?
Question: So you had to keep that character in mind â€¦
Marley: Yeah, I did have to recall a little bit. I had moved on, but that’s what’s great is, very loosely it happened earlier in this world so it was okay if my choices were slightly different. Because it was kinda a prequel sorta. He [Quentin] threw in a southern Texas accent all of a sudden. “You have a southern Texas accent now.”
Question: When you signed on, did you know you were going to be in both films?
Marley: Quentin’s casting process was still persuing when we were shooting Robert’s film. So no, I didn’t know til halfway through.
Josh Brolin: But he created that role for her.
Marley: “Hey, I created this part for you. I had this idea.” And he gave me the pages and I was like cool.
Question: Did you wach a lot of Grindhouse movies to prepare for this film?
Josh Brolin: We did. We spent a lot of time at Quentin’s house and he would show us, you know, Zombie and Vanishing Point and The Cat Ate My Brains. And very passionately, with great respect, they showed us these movies. So we kind of got a different perspective as what you would normally take as a crappy low budget film and saw the validity in each film. They were so into it. They were like “this story came from this Italian movie, they remade it but they didn’t have any money to put into it.” And especially back then there were no boundaries to what you could do because you didn’t really have to think about the critics because they knew only like like four people were going to see it. One of them being Quentin and the other being Robert. It was really great to have a new appreciation for these kind of more low budget films.
Question: What did you personally take from this Grindhouse 101?
Josh: One, that anything’s possible. Especially now in this digital day and age that you can literally manifest anything that you can come up with in your imagination.
Marley: Robert has a doctorate degree in efficient filmmaking. It’s phenomenal what he can pull off on a shoestring budget. He’s just incredible sufficient. I meant to point out, that earlier question about the role Quentin created for me, It really grows out of being Earl McGraw’s daughter which they come up for with Planet Terror early on. But then Quentin and Robert had this fun thing where they like to have Michael Parks cameo in their movies. They always have him play this character Earl McGraw. And Earl McGraw was already going to be in Planet Terror and Death Proof. So they set up that I was his daughter and Quentin was like “Oh wait, wouldn’t that be great if Dakota McGraw was in Death Proof as well.” So it’s fun to be part of that lineage â€“ the royal McGraw family.
Question: How different were they as directors since you worked with both of them? Were there any similarities between them.
Marley: There are endless similarities but they are completely different. They are sorta like the Odd Couple. They are so different but so the same. Josh was saying they are two heads on one body because there is a lot of cross pollination because they share create space, they share creative resources and ideas. They are egoless with each other. But their bedside manner is just entirely different. Quentin is sorta this film purist who insists on shooting on film. In fact, Robert had convinced him on this project to shoot it on high def, up until the eleventh hour, and at the last second he just crumbled and decided, “I just have to shoot on film.” It was going to be a big crossover that was supposed to be as shocking as the gore in his movie. Quentin was going to shoot on high def. [Laughs] And also Robert is a visualist, he uses his monitor and we watch playback of everything. And that’s how he directs. And we shoot the rehearsal. We shoot everything. He cuts the scenes together as we’re setting up the next shot. You can see the scene, like the skeleton cut of it, with music over it. He told Josh this really cool thing, that he likes to create at the speed of thought.
Josh: Which can seem pretentious but so isn’t. Because by the time we would finish a scene he would have this thing he created, it’s more common now â€“ where he has default settings for color correcting the film, so we would seeâ€¦
Marley: He would even do the processing.
Josh: The color correction, the edited version, music on it. The time we finished the scene, we’d see the same thing you eventually saw when you saw the movie.
Marley: The fabulous Grindhouse color correction that would even have the scratches.
Josh: And he would put like Escape From New York music or
Marley: For mine it was Psycho. [Laughs]
Josh: It was great.
Marley: Yeah, so Quentin is more old school. He prides himself on a kinda old school approach. He doesn’t monitor at all. He stands next to the camera, and watches the scene with his naked eye. And as we all know, he’s a very verbal person. And I think Robert is more a man of few words and just likes to show you.
Josh: But everything ultimately I think will be digital. It just looks too good now. It use to look flat and awful but now it looks so real.
Marley: Quentin would actually, with his half of the film, because it was shot on film, they would have to latterly destroy the prints. Take them out in the parking lot, run them over, scrape them, scratch them. Where obviously, all the processing on Robert’s half was all done digitally.
Question: What’s the actors process on a film where you’re not supposed to be realistic and you’re instead supposed to be over the top?
Marley: We honestly set out to play everything as real as possible. It’s just the circumstances that are absurd. But I guarantee you, if we had done over the top performances in an over the top movie, it wouldn’t have worked. But it still has that effect because it’s so melodramatic, especially between us. But we were very earnest. And if you watch these original Grindhouse movies, which we watched many, they were extremely earnest. The actors, it was like they were doing Shakespeare. They were putting their heart and sole in these performances and they were just victims of low budget.
Josh: There’s black exploitation, sex-ploitation, and then Shakespeare-ploitation. That’s what we were doing.
Question: Your characters were so antagonist throughout, how did you get into that? Was it method?
Marley: The opposite, we just hung out all the time. We were as thick as thieves. We’d go to breakfast together. We laugh because you hear the classic adage that you hear that people often hated each other and had chemistry when there is a love story. Like, they go back to their trailers and slam the doors. But we had the exact opposite. We love each other.
Josh: We hung out all the time, because we would work only nights. We would go to breakfast afterwards. We slept four hours a night, every night. We were going to different, South By Southwest was going on â€“ we’d go see a band. All that energy went into 15 minutes for each scene, and flipped the energy about how much we liked each other and hated each other for 15 minutes.
Question: Have your families seen the film?
Josh: Monday for her family, we’ll see for my family.
Question: Will they go see it?
Josh: Yeah, they’ll go see it. Sure.
Question: You’re married right?
Josh: I am, thank you very much. She saw the book, but she doesn’t know anything about the role, so when she sees it, she will see it from a very raw perspective.
Question: Will she see it and be like “Oh my god, I never knew he had this sideâ€¦”
Josh: [Laughs] No, everyone knows I have this side. [Laughs] No, No no. In acting there is this great leap you can take to play things â€“ like Block really wouldn’t work in real life, would he? So you’re given the trust to go that far with something so you don’t have to do it with the consequences you have in real life.
Question: Did either of you have any preconceived conceptions of either Quentin or Robert?
Marley: Both of us have worked with Robert before. I worked on Sin City and
Josh: I knew Quentin from before.
Marley: And Quentin and I had met socially. The thing about Quentin which is great is, what you see is what you get. And everyone feels like they know him because of his larger than life personality, his public personality. But that’s really him. So there is no real..
Josh: The expectation is that these guys have changed American filmmaking and the independent genre as we know it. They changed everything, along with Robert Redford â€“ those three guys have changed everything. So the expectation is: Are these guys as brilliant? Or are they going to have a downfall? Or when is it going to backfire? But they come from such a childlike place where there is no possibility for backfire.
Marley: And especially with this project â€“ Robert told me that they created this world on purpose because it’s backfire proof because they are purposely bad movies. So there’s no rules. And they’re coming off Sin City 1 and Kill Bill 1 and 2, which are like seminal movies in both of their careers. So it’s like, what do you do next? You go in the totally opposite direction. And in terms of defining or changing American cinema, they both sorta embody this spirit of the west. And it is kind of fun being in Texas, which is all too obvious. But both of them have this renegade-do-it-lone-ranger attitude. Not with each other, but with the system. They just do what they want and
Josh: They are Iconoclasts in the way that they just do what they feel. They don’t really worry about the consequences of what they do in what if they don’t like it. What if they don’t understand it? We understand it, you and me, Quentin and Robert, and that’s really all we need.
Question: Josh, Is there going to be a Goonies 2?
Josh: If Robert and Quentin are doing it! [Laughs]
Question: And would you be willing to come back?
Josh: If Robert and Quentin did it [Laughs]. If there was a great spin on it, Yeah, I think it would be great. My kids just saw The Goonies for the first time at Midnight on Friday, and Rocky Horror was playing on Midnight on Saturday. So it has become that kind of cult status, which is great. They think it’s hilarious. Watching their dad as a sixteen year old?