Life struck me as several cuts above “meh” but never made me jump out of my seat.
Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" uses the talents of three of Hollywood's most notorious rebels: Writer Quentin Tarantino ("Reservoir Dogs"), and actors Woody Harrelson ("White Men Can't Jump") and Juliette Lewis ("Kalifornia"). I asked him to talk about all three.
Stone on Tarantino: "When Quentin wrote those two characters, Mickey and Mallory, they were originally based on, I guess, Bonnie and Clyde. But he basically wrote a different movie than the one I've made. He wrote a very nice, clever take-off on an AIP picture with a '90's wryness. It was mostly about the TV journalist, and Mickey and Mallory were just sort of crazy, stick figures.
"It was a clever script but he didn't want to do it so he moved on to do 'Reservoir Dogs.' I think he was hurt that I rewrote it so much. But I told him that I really can't make what he, as a 26-year-old, would make as a first film. As a 47-year-old filmmaker, it doesn't interest me. I want another level of socio-political comment and I want to deal with the whole justice system. I want to deal with the killers; where they come from, who their parents are.
"Quentin hasn't seen the movie, so who knows what he'll say? His approach to violence is a little different; at least it used to be. He always seems to be making movies about other movies. I don't think that his violence has been realistic. It's more, 'Can I do the violence in the most new and shocking and unconventional way?'"
Stone on Juliette Lewis: "Juliet's a special resource who's coming into her own. I had problems with the last few films she's done. She seemed to be sleepwalking through her roles and I was a little concerned at the beginning. I almost let her go because she was not working in such a way as to tell me she was serious. She was only 19 and she'd never been to a technique class; she didn't have those skills.
"Gary Oldman, who'd worked with her, told me, on the other hand, that she was great when the camera turned on, so I went a long way to stick in there with her. And finally we got her into the kind of shape we felt was necessary. She'd say 'I can act this,' when a scene involved physical timing. Well, you can't 'act' physical stuff; for that scene, you had to practice with a boxer. But she was great whenever the camera rolled. Sometimes I wonder about her technique and her approach but she surprised me constantly. I'd work with her tomorrow. I think she's a major young actress. She's tiny but she's powerful and feral and very comfortable inside that role, playing it."
Stone on Woody Harrelson: "I liked him very much in 'White Men Can't Jump.' I thought he was terrific and underappreciated in a tough role there. And he's got that ability to play a character with a kind of midwestern dopiness and low IQ, but with very clever eyes, demonic eyes. He's charming (ital) and (unital)demonic, I guess. Audiences kind of like him. It's nice to see that crazy grin. And he looks great clean-shaven. You know his dad is in jail. Leavenworth. You know about his dad?"
I heard something. "Yeah. Woody comes from a tougher place than the guy they see on 'Cheers.' I think he's probably a very violent person. That's why he does yoga so much."
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