Playing Nick the Marine in David Twohy’s A Perfect Getaway
The premise of Twohy’s latest is based around a couple (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) on their honeymoon in Hawaii, where they meet Nick and his girlfriend Gina–Kiele Sanchez from “Lost” whose first appearance in the movie is completely starkers. Having heard stories about a series of brutal murders on a neighboring island, they start to suspect Nick and Gina of being responsible, although there are other possible suspects as well. Olyphant has played a lot of bad guys and anti-heroes and the like but he always seems to make those characters so likeable you might find yourself liking Nick as much or more than the heroes of the story.
ShockTillYouDrop.com had a chance to sit down for a fifteen minute interview with Olyphant where we were able to cover a lot of ground.
ShockTillYouDrop.com: I was reading that you were actually born in Honolulu, so I thought it was cool you had a chance to return home. Then I found out that the movie wasn’t shot in Hawaii at all, but in Puerto Rico.
Timothy Olyphant: I know, I thought I’d shoot in my birthplace.
Shock: Do you go back there often?
Olyphant: No, never been.
Shock: Really? When did you leave?
Olyphant: Like when I was an infant.
Shock: When you first read the script did you think you were going to go back and spend some time there?
Olyphant: Well, I thought, “The locations are nice. I don’t know where we’re going to shoot it, but I figure it’s gotta be fairly nice. We’ll probably shoot in some realistic place, wherever we get the best tax break.”
Shock: They shoot “Lost” in Hawaii, and we have no idea where they’re supposed to be.
Olyphant: There you go.
Shock: What was the main appeal of doing the movie? And I guess we have to be careful about talking about certain things as to not spoil the twists.
Olyphant: Sure, I appreciate it.
Shock: Nick seems at first like a character we’ve seen you play before, but we do get a few different things from him over the course of the movie. Did that contribute to you wanting to play the part?
Olyphant: There was a lot to chew on. I thought the scenes were smart and they were fun and I don’t know, it felt like a good part I could have some fun with. I like the attention to detail in the script. I remember really enjoying that. There’s so many things that are being called back. Your read a lot of scripts or scenes with heavy dialogue like that, but they’re sort of very, very few of them actually have relevance to the things that are being said. I thought those were fun and smart and clever.
Shock: The movie is very self-aware. You don’t often have thrillers where there are killers, but you don’t know who they are, and then one of the suspects starts talking about movie making devices like “red herrings.”
Olyphant: It’s a completely different genre, but it reminded me first of the “Scream” franchise and I enjoyed those for the same reason.
Shock: Yeah, it seems more intelligent than your normal summer thriller usually is.
Olyphant: Good, I thought so as well.
Shock: I was just talking with Milla about this, but when you go on vacationâ€”and maybe as an actor it’s differentâ€”but it’s easy to create a persona that’s a glorified version of yourself. Did you think Nick was exactly who he said he was, that he was a Marine guy who did all the things he tells Cliff and Cydney about?
Olyphant: I can tell you that I thought the fun of it was always just playing the scenes as exactly as is, don’t try to disguise anything, don’t try to worry about revealing or secrets or any of that kind of stuff, just play the scenes. I tend to approach every job as the script is the thing and it’s all there. So all I know is written. My gut on that stuff is that most of it is probably real, most of it, if it’s not real he thinks he is.
Shock: Were you able to shoot in any kind of order so that you knew where in the story you were, as far as the level of suspicions between the travelers?
Olyphant: No, we were all out of order. We didn’t shoot in order. Locations were a priority. It was all about locations, when we got to the rainforest, we shot all of the rainforest, when we got to the beaches, we shot all of the beaches and everything. So, we didn’t really get to kinda go through it. It would’ve been a lovely luxury for a film like this.
Shock: I guess the movie is sort of non-linear in a sense anyway, but how is that for an actor trying to get into such a difficult character and figuring that out?
Olyphant: You do invest a great deal into this especially because it’s such a puzzle at making sure you’re clear on the information. But again, the script was in good shape and so you really just had to play the scene.
Shock: Did you do any kind of preparation for the movie? You’ve done so many different things that you probably have experience doing anything that might get thrown at you I would think. What kind of preparation did you have to do, if any?
Olyphant: I just start with the script and I just invest everything into that and then whatever that brings up. You kind of go on instinct I guess. I think that mostly with this one it’s about making sure those dialogue-heavy scenes, that you’re really investing them into a way so that it comes out in a very organic way. It can come out quick and keep moving and keep people on their toes and not feel like it gets bogged down. Those are the challenges I recall. We had so much fun, it was so easy really. It was a blast.
Shock: It was basically the four of you most of the time.
Olyphant: It was basically the four of us, and it was a blast. I mean, working with all of them was a dream. Steve and I had a great rapport right off the bat. I love working with him. Milla and Kiele were both just so refreshing and all of them, you really feel like you’re playing ball with them. I never say something and it just sort of disappears and you get that sometimes. You really feel like it was always spontaneous, it was always fresh, you were always discovering things, you’re always like, f*cking with each other and finding little nuances. That’s really a kick. It’s fun to be able to do a three, four page scene with actors like that.
Shock: It was all pretty much on location?
Olyphant: Yeah, we shot everything in Puerto Rico.
Shock: Was any of the location stuff built on soundstages?
Olyphant: No, we didn’t build any jungles. We were in the jungle. We shot in the rainforest, we shot in the jungle, we shot on the cliffs and it was great.
Shock: Were any of the places you had to shoot that were dangerous to get to or to shoot on?
Olyphant: It was all right, nothing too bad, but it was a blast where we had the lean-to on the rocks there. It was just awesome, the lava rocks and the waves crashing up on us. It was great. The locations were amazing. We went to Jamaica. The cave was in Jamaica. Oh, that was a treat, just Steve and I in the cave in Jamaica. Puerto Rico couldn’t come through on their caves. They promised us caves and couldn’t deliver.
Shock: I want to ask David later about the location scouting. A lot of those places seemed really remote and out of the way.
Olyphant: Yeah, I mean, we really drove all over that island and then like I said, ended up flying to at Jamaica last minute.
Shock: It’s too bad, because the movie is a great testimonial for the beauty of Puerto Rico, which everyone will assume is Hawaii.
Olyphant: It looks gorgeous, right?
Shock: I’m also curious about the relationship between Nick and Ginaâ€¦ they’re just an interesting couple, him being a soldier and her having some sort of background as aâ€¦ butcher? I’m not really sure what else to call what she does.
Olyphant: (Laughs) Isn’t that the greatest? The goat? I love that goat.
Shock: What draws them to this other couple, played by Milla and Steve, since it wouldn’t seem that in any other situation, these two couples would be able to be friends with each other.
Olyphant: It’s always tricky to talk about the relationships in this movie without giving things away â€˜cause what I was about to say is that I think that the great thing about the character and what makes them a possibility is that he seems to be at the heart of it all quite a vulnerable, genuine guy, blowing all that smoke, but it feels like it almost comes out of an insecurity. There’s something endearing about that. She sees right through him. I love that he’s a pussycat around here and she kinda gets him and that she knows that when he’s talking on and on and on that it just comes out of â€“ I don’t know, I think she gets him. I was thrilled, I think there was a great chemistry there and I liked that whole relationship.
Shock: That’s really insightful since one of the things I’ve noticed about the bad guys you play is that people generally like when you play those characters. I think that’s the case here, even though you may or may not be a brutal killer, Nick’s personality really draws audiences in.
Olyphant: Well, I think David wrote a really great three dimensional character that really gave me a lot of room to trust to play all those notes and that makes my job really easy. I think any time you do a job, if it’s a good guy or bad guy, you’re looking for the other. If you’re playing the hero, you look to see the other side and vice versa. This one really gave me a lot of room to explore a lot of different angles, look at the character a lot of different ways and those people are very attractive. It’s hard not to enjoy their presence.
Shock: This movie actually shot a while ago, a couple of years ago, right?
Olyphant: I’m really bad at that, but it’s been over a year. I feel like we shot this in maybe April of last year. I think that’s when we shot.
Shock: You also just finished shooting “The Crazies,” so what was that like? It’s based on sort of this strange, lost George Romero movie.
Olyphant: I think it’s great. I think it’s going to turn out great.
Shock: Are they going to keep all of the anti-military stuff that Romero put in the original movie?
Olyphant: Yeah, Participant’s behind it and Participant doesn’t do anything that doesn’t have a real message to it, so it’s kind of an unusual film for them. Participant does like, “Syriana” and “An Inconvenient Truth.” It’s a nice marriage. It’s a nice little twist to the kind of movies they do. I think that what is without question, if there’s anything worth keeping from the original it is that great metaphor, it was a horror film, but it was really a commentary on the Vietnam War. So oddly enough that metaphor is still really relevant and contemporary.
Shock: I was curious about the change of locations. The original movie was set in Pennsylvania, but the remake is set in Iowa, and you actually shot in Georgia?
Olyphant: We shot in Georgia for a few weeks, but then moved to Iowa. We could’ve shot the whole thing in Iowa. I think it was really about weather. In order to start shooting when we wanted to start shooting Iowa would’ve been too cold.
Shock: Do you have any plans to return to “Damages” and do more TV stuff?
Olyphant: As far as “Damages” is concerned, I don’t know. I remain in touch with them and it was a lovely experience, a wonderful show to be a part of, but I don’t know.
Shock: Do you like going back and forth between TV and film?
Olyphant: Yeah, I’m going to do another series on FXâ€¦ it’ll air in the spring of next year, February or March. We’ve shot the pilot and it’s been picked up. I start shooting in October or November. (That’s called) “Lawman.” It’s based on an Elmore Leonard character, Raylin Givens, who was in “Pronto” and “Riding the Rap.” The pilot’s based on the short story called “Fire in the Hole.” It’s fantastic. I’ve had a nice year.
Shock: Have you met Elmore yet?
Olyphant: No, I haven’t but I look forward to it.
Shock: I attended a book reading of his. He’s as cool as you might imagine.
Olyphant: I hear he’s the greatest so I’m hoping to see him soon.
Shock: Will he be involved with the show?
Olyphant: Yeah, as far as I know. Yeah, he is involved. He’s a producer on the show and he’s involved. I know he was involved in the pre-production. I just personally haven’t had a chance to meet him.
Shock: I know there’s been recent talk of doing another “Hitman,” are you getting involved in that too?
Olyphant: I’m thrilled that it was successful enough that they’d do another one. It’s not on my schedule.
Shock: Just physically you couldn’t possibly do it at this point?
Olyphant: It’s just not on my schedule. (Laughs)
Shock: But did you sign for another movie?
Olyphant: If they want me to do another one I suppose it could happen, yes.
Shock: I think most people had low expectations for the movie and it actually did really well. Did you like playing the character?
Olyphant: The things I’ve got in front of me right now I’m really excited about. I’m really thrilled about the television show. What I can tell you about “Hitman” is that I’m trilled it was as successful as it was and it was a really nice opportunity and I appreciate the opportunity.
A Perfect Getaway opens on Friday, August 7. Look for the final interview in our series with the lovely Milla Jovovich, sometime tomorrow.
Source: Edward Douglas