Capone rolls in the FIRST SNOW with Piper Perabo!!!
Published at: March 30, 2007, 2:46 p.m. CST by headgeek
Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Have you ever spoken to someone on the phone before and could just tell how hot and wonderful they are, even if you have no idea what they look like? Granted, most of us know what Piper Perabo looks like, so the question doesn't really apply here, but when I interviewed her recently to talk about her role in the upcoming FIRST SNOW (you know, that movie that has been covered extensively on this site by Quint and me over the last couple weeks?), I could just tell that she was adorable, intelligent, friendly, and would probably be my girlfriend if I asked. Okay, maybe not so much on that last point, but you get the idea. She's a fan of the site, and I have to at least give her points for that. It just so happened that the morning of our interview, I'd noticed that a particular turning-point film in her career was going to play on ABC very soon as its prime time movie. That's where we begin…
Piper Perabo: Hi there. I read your site. What's your handle?
Capone: I write under the name Capone
PP: O-o-o-oooh, that’s so cool. St. Valentine’s Day massacre and everything.
C: Yes, exactly. It’s funny, I just noticed--I don’t know where, maybe, I saw a commercial for it last night--I noticed that ABC is running COYOTE UGLY this Saturday night as its big prime time movie. Were you aware of that?
PP: Yes, my grandma called me, and she was, like, [in her best grandma voice] “You’re gonna be on TV this weekend. I can’t wait to see you. I love you…blah, blah, blah.”
C: I found it a bit odd seeing as how the film is more than a couple years old. Why do you think that film has sustained such a fanbase. It’s been reissued on DVD a couple of times. What’s going on with that?
PP: It’s hard for me to say, because when you’re so close to something, it’s sort of hard to look at it objectively, but it sort of has a kind of fairy tale quality about it, like a Cinderella story a little bit, and I think that is sort of the archetype that a lot of teenagers can still kind of relate to and believe in. I don’t know.
C: I think at the time a lot of people thought it was going to be the next SHOWGIRLS or something, but it didn’t really reach those lows. You’re right, though, I think it had much more of a young-girl appeal than had been expected. There’s a fanbase there, and not just a so-good-it's-bad fanbase. They actually like watching the film.
PP: The advertising choices that were made for it at the time were made to expand the demographic that would go in to see it, but didn’t really represent the film very well. But yet, it sort of influenced everybody’s idea about what kind of movie it was. It was sort of a strange process.
C: In addition to you, it’s interesting to see how many of the other actresses you worked with on COYOTE UGLY have gone on to bigger and better things.
PP: Well, Bridgette Moynahan and Maria Bello certainly are still around. I don’t know…certainly, John Goodman.
C: He's a great actress. And, Tyra Banks is still kicking. Even Izabella Miko, she had a nice run on "Deadwood," and Melanie Lynskey seems to be in everything.
PP: Yeah, that’s true. It’s funny how people all sort of strike out for their own thing.
C: For a lot of people, that was really the first time that they registered you as an actress. Do you sort of see that as the turning point aspect of the film?
PP: Yeah, definitely. It was certainly a sort of breakout role for me, the role that people a lot of times associate me with. They'll say, "Who are you…What have you done?" I’m, like, COYOTE UGLY. They’re, like, "Yeah, yeah! I know you!" I’m, like, "Eh." [laughs]
C: See, I actually remember you from, I think it was the year before, in WHITEBOYZ. I actually saw that film in the theater.
PP: You did? Omigod!
C: I did. It played for about a week in Chicago. Okay, so I won’t ask you any more COYOTE UGLY questions, then. So, I have to admit, after seeing you in FIRST SNOW, I was surprised to see you playing the girlfriend role.
C: That’s not something you do a lot, maybe ever.
PP: It’s not. It’s something I actually try to stay away from.
C: So, what was it about this film that made you give in?
PP: There were three elements that interested me about playing a sort of girlfriend role. First of all, Mark Fergus is a really talented writer, and it’s always really interesting, when a writer directs the first time, to go on that journey with them. And, especially if the script is really solid, it’s something you really like--which it was--it got me sort of jacked up to do it.
And, what I think is sort of interesting about the script, which is the second reason I did it, that I think was sort of unique, was that a lot of times when you’re playing the girlfriend or the supporting female character, you’re literally supporting or supportive of the lead character, you know, you believe in his quest, or you fight his fight, or you always agree with him and are kind of his underwritten ‘rah-rah’ girl.
And, in this movie, the female character starts out kind of at the end of her rope with this guy--one foot out the door, bags packed, and she’s sort of over him and all his nonsense. And, it’s really kind of a cool place to start to meet a character. You either meet them at the first blush of a romance, and you see them fall for the guy through the film, or they’re their supporting ‘rah-rah’ girl. This character: her stuff’s in a bag, she’s ready to go, you know what I mean? And, I thought, that’s such a cool place to start and see where you can get to in a relationship from this thing that’s about to end.
And, then the third reason was, I’m sure you can guess.
C: Guy Pearce.
PP: Who I’m a hu-u-uge fan of. And, the opportunity to work with an actor like that is not something you pass up.
C: I was going to ask you about that, actually. What did you learn from working with him?
PP: He’s very prepared when he comes in to a scene, but that doesn’t stop him from continually turning it over the whole day, and talking about it and the angles of it and what something means. He’s continually re-examining the scene all day long, and it’s interesting to kind of participate in that with him.
And, he’s also sort of ballsy. You can see it in other characters that he plays, he makes these characters have a logic of their own. And, he’s not afraid to let his character make a sort of strange choice, as long as it’s logical, but it sort of leads him to interesting ideas, things that he sort of discovers about the characters in the scene.
C: I’ve heard that he can be sort of intense. I don’t mean that in a negative way. But, I guess he’s very focused.
PP: He’s very intense, and he’s very focused.
C: Is that intimidating?
PP: It can be. I’ve worked with people like that before, and if they’re not sort of generous towards you, it can be a little intimidating, because you don’t know where you stand with them, and the work is so much in the forefront, you don’t know how to interact socially…not that a movie is a social party, but when you work with people, you say ‘Good morning,’ or you have a coffee, or you smoke a cigarette together, or you sit next to them at lunch, and if you don’t sort of know how to relate to them, it can be sort of uncomfortable and can bleed into the characters. Whereas, Guy is very generous, and despite his intense nature of working, he can also be…like he knows the names of everybody on the crew, you know what I mean? He’s also a very social person. I think he’s been an intense actor for so long that he knows how to make people at ease that he has to work with.
C: Although Mark is certainly not new to the process of filmmaking, how do you decide it’s okay to work with a certain first-time director?
PP: It’s a real crapshoot. You don’t know if it’s okay. And, you can talk to them all you want--and I have in different situations--you can hear all their plans and all their ideas, but until you’re there on the day, shooting, and something breaks, and you’ve got 10 more pages to go, and the crane just broke, you really don’t know how they’re going to be. And so, I like working with writer/directors as first-time directors because they’re so secure in the story they’re telling, they know it so well, that when the ‘whatever’ hits the fan, they hold onto the story and structure the day around what scenes have to happen, because they know it so intimately. Not that directors who haven’t written a script themselves don’t know it, but there’s something sort of ingrained under the skin of a writer/director that they can sort of hang on to.
C: I literally just got off the phone with your co-star Bill Fichtner, and he mentioned that Mark was really enthusiastic about the fact that he was making a movie, like he was well aware the whole time that he was doing something really exciting. And, it was infectious, and that everybody sort of got a little charge out of that. Is that how you remember it?
PP: Yeah, and also, he realizes how difficult it is to pull a movie together, and he was so sort of jazzed that this is happening that you sort of remember your first movie, like, ‘Omigod! I’m on…a…movie…set. I’m making…a…movie. The cameras are here!’ And, I think Mark sort of--not that he’s a gushy schoolgirl, the way I can be--but his sort of enthusiasm for the fact that it’s happening, definitely, is on the set.
C: That’s sounds exactly like the description I heard. I have to say, I’m actually encouraged to see you, in a couple of the films that you’ve been in recently, take on slightly smaller, but in a way, very catalytic roles, like you did in THE PRESTIGE.
C: Have you gotten to the point where you--I’m assuming here, so please correct me if I’m wrong--are so impressed with the material that you just want to be in that movie somehow. Is that accurate? Did it take a while for you to get to that point?
PP: Well, you know, when you start out a certain way, people kind of expect you to stay on that path. But, you know, the good work is not always on that path. For some reason or another, I’ve had these opportunities to get in films with these sort of amazing people, and I feel like there are certain people who sort of have influence in your career that would like you to be the big, fat, glossy smiling lead of everything. But, that’s not always that interesting. And, I think I finally, maybe, have the guts to just say, ‘I’m just going to go do this, because I want to fucking do it. I’ll see you guys when I finish in three months,’ you know what I mean? A lot of people have a lot of opinions about how to get ahead in this business, and I’m, maybe, a little done with that idea.
C: I read an interview with you from a couple of years ago--maybe it was around the time that IMAGINE ME & YOU came out--and it was the second time you played a lesbian in a film. And, I think the interviewer asked you if people had counseled against playing that type of role too many times, and you said that they did, but you said, ‘You know what, I’m doing it anyway.’
PP: Yeah, hopefully, we all are trying to make the work we most want. Hey, look, if you want to be a big, fat, glossy thing--not literally fat--but, if you want to be a skinny, nice, young glossy thing, there are certainly people that want to help you do that. But, I think you have to really want that to accomplish that, and you have to really be honest with yourself about what you want to do with your life. This movie is sort of about that, in a way. And, I think I’ve just kind of gotten a little honest with myself about who I want to work with and why.
C: I want to talk with you a little about the themes of FIRST SNOW--the idea of fate and whether one can change one’s own destiny. Do you put a lot of stock in fate?
PP: Not really fate, I mean, I sort of believe that you can choose your own. So, like I said, that isn’t fate. I believe you can sort of write your own script, so to speak. And, all that fortuneteller and psychic stuff--I don’t think that’s a whole bunch of nonsense. I don’t really know what all that is. But, I do know that sometimes people can put an idea into your head, and because of the day they said it, or the way they said it, it stays with you for a long time. So, you should maybe be careful about who you let have that kind of influence over you. And, I think, if you go to a psychic, you’re allowing someone to put those ideas into your head, and you better be sure you’re okay with that.
C: I hadn’t really thought about FIRST SNOW as a cautionary tale, but it kind of is, isn’t it?
PP: I think so. And also the way that J.K. [Simmons] plays his role is…first of all, I think it’s such interesting casting to make J.K. the psychic guy, the fortune teller, because that could sort of easily be some Romanian woman with a turban on. But, the fact that they cast this kind of big, imposing, quiet, sure, strong actor also invests his message with a lot of certainty. And, that’s not someone you can argue with-J.K. is a hu-u-uge, strong man. And so, Guy can’t just throw him around. This is a person who is sure that his message is clear. To cast J.K. in the role is so genius.
C: The baggage he brings to any role could be either very evil or very good, because he’s done so many different kinds of things, you’re not sure what he is in this film.
PP: Yeah, you don’t know if whose side his character is supposed to be on. And, I think also there’s a weird sadness to J.K. in this film that’s a sort of Cassandra complex, sort of like the pains of the gift of prophecy. And, I think he has that capacity to have this kind of, I don’t know, the sadness that he has and the kind of loneliness of his character’s life. I think he has a really interesting part in the movie.
C: You’ve got a couple films coming up that I think you’ve already shot: one is called ASHES.
C: Who’s the director for that?
PP: It’s this actor Ajay Naidu. He and I did an indie together, and he lives in New York, and we became friends. And, he wrote this insanely beautiful semi-autobiographical script and decided to produce it himself and direct it. And, it’s really interesting. And, it’s definitely as a friend of his, I sort of know about his life, but there’s a whole lot of his scene that I don’t know. And, I think this underground Bong-Ra/hip-hop world that you see in the film is something that I’ve never really been included in. It’s so fun when you find out something’s going on that you didn’t know anything about, and you get invited in. I think the film kind of feels that way.
C: Was that shot in New York?
PP: Yeah, it’s shot in New York--stolen shots in New York, anyway.
C: That’s always the best way to shoot.
PP: Oh, man, like, for his great shots, you would not believe the lengths he goes to for some of these shots. They’re so hot; I couldn’t believe the things he was pulling off. Ajay has a certain energy or a thing about him, like, he has a sort of blessed energy around him. And, when he goes for something, it always kind of comes out so great. And, it was funny to watch that kind of blessing, trying to make a movie. We should all be so lucky to have Ajay on set.
C: And then, the other film that looks pretty interesting is CARRIERS. This looks more genre oriented.
PP: It definitely is. It’s sort of this apocalyptic, existential thriller. And, the two directors are the Pastor brothers. They had only made a short up until we made CARRIERS. I read the script, and I thought it was kind of amazing and genius, and Anthony Bregman, who is producing, is someone who’s work I really have followed. So, I was like, well, I’ve got to see the short, because I had no idea who these two are. And, it’s the most incredibly beautiful thing. Of course, I think everyone felt that way. They read the script and saw the short, and all of a sudden, you kind of realized, here are these guys with a really unique visual style. And, Benoit [Debie], the D.P. who shot it, is the D.P. from IRREVERSIBLE, and he just won the award for JOSHUA at Sundance. It’s the kind of voice that you’re just starting to hear, but I think it’s kind of exciting how it all came together. I haven’t seen a final cut, yet. We’ve been working in post, but it looks f’ing awesome. I’m so excited.
C: Is someone set to release this thing?
PP: Yeah, Paramount Vantage is going to release it. And, I even think that’s the right people. It’s all coming together very well.
C: They’re Spanish, the brothers, is that right?
PP: Yeah, they’re from Barcelona.
C: So, where did you shoot that, then?
PP: We shot that in Albuquerque, where we shot FIRST SNOW, which is so strange, because it was more than a year later that I went back. And, I knew where the bars and the grocery store were, that’s for sure. It’s cinematic, New Mexico, I can see how these two unique vision can both be placed it in this barren and yet majestic landscape. It really works.
C: I mentioned IMAGINE YOU & ME earlier. You made two films with Lena Headey [they also made THE CAVE]. Have you had a chance to see her in 300?
PP: I’ve seen little clips of it. She’s actually a friend of mine, and so while she was working on 300, she came to New York a couple of times, and we would see each other. I’ve seen little pieces of it, but I haven’t sat down and watched the whole thing. I haven’t told her that.
C: It’s a real drastic turn for her, and I was just kind of curious if you knew she had that force in her.
PP: I certainly knew she has that in her, I mean, she’s so pretty, I think people assume certain things about pretty, skinny English girls, but she’s certainly not to be toyed with. And, I’m excited to see it. It’s nice to see her so sexy, too. She’s such an interesting person that, but she gets cast as these sort of quirky characters.
C: That’s true--—a lot of comedies or lighter things…
PP: Yeah, and she’s so-o-o-o beautiful.
C: Everyone’s going to know how sexy she is after this, for sure.
PP: Even on that poster, you just see that beautiful back, and you’re, like, ‘Who’s that?!’
C: You also made two CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN films. Give me your best Steve Martin story.
PP: You know, one of the nice things about Steve is that when we were making the second film, he plays the banjo, and when we would be shooting at the house by the lake, a lot of times after lunch or sometimes in the morning, he would sit on the porch of the house and play. And, it was so nice. You think about these big studio pictures, there are so many people involved, and it’s such a big deal, there’s so much money being spent, and all these trailers and actors, and all the people that come with the actors, and all the assistants. But, to see Steve come back after lunch and sit down on the porch and play, and the kids would sit with him and listen. All of a sudden, you feel like you’re on a much smaller scale. And, I admired that about him, the level of career that he’s had, you wouldn’t think that he’d be so sort of easily accessible--and, he is.
C: And, on that film you worked with one of my favorite comic actors--Bonnie Hunt.
PP: She’s so amazing, isn’t she?
C: Indeed. And also, just recently, you worked with Diane Keaton [in BECAUSE I SAID SO]. Was she a sort of role model as someone who’s had real success in both comedy and highly dramatic roles?
PP: Diane is definitely a role model of mine, I mean, she’s so smart and sexy and unabashedly neurotic and fashionable. And, men are going to fall all over themselves for her, and I wish I could emulate her in any way. Certainly, that was one of the great draws of that picture.