three online journalists approached Steve Buscemi last month, one asked how he
was doing. "I'm sick", Mr. Buscemi replied. "I have a cold, so I'm a little
under the weather right now." Thankfully though, Buscemi gamely
made it through sniffles and Kleenex long enough to entertain questions for his
film "Interview", which opened last week in New York and Los Angeles and
20) in San Francisco and surrounding Northern California cities in the U.S.
"Interview" was one of the three films that the late Dutch filmmaker Theo Van
Gogh (who was murdered in 2002) directed which he gave permission to be remade
as American films. ("Blind Date" and "1-900" are the other two, and
Stanley Tucci is currently helming "Blind Date".) Buscemi directs the intimately staged "Interview", a
two-character dialogue that takes place in midtown Manhattan in New York City over
roughly eight hours of a single night. Buscemi plays a burned-out
reporter who has been diverted from covering sexy political assignments in
Washington, D.C. in order
to interview Katya (Sienna Miller) a star of grindhouse-type horror-slasher
Dance of self-pride and deception: Steve Buscemi directs himself and Sienna
Miller in his new film "Interview", a remake of Theo Van Gogh's film.
(Photos: Sony Pictures Classics)
"He's insecure about himself and he's nervous about being in the same room as
her," said Buscemi of his character Pierre Peders. He agreed when asked whether he found
being in a room of journalists with questions about his new film ironic.
"I'm actually not that interested in revealing that much of myself to strangers,
so yeah, it's definitely a surreal process to the person being interviewed."
While Mr. Buscemi may not be in love with the idea of talking about a film over
and over again, he is willing to acknowledge the de rigeur as a necessary evil,
but won't go as far as some celebrities or actors have been known to do when on
the interview circuit. "I've heard other people can make up lies. I
can't do that," Mr. Buscemi said. The director of films like "Trees
Lounge" and the star of such films as "I Think I Love My Wife", "Reservoir
Dogs", "Ghost World", "Fargo" and the upcoming "Delirious" said that when he is
being interviewed by the press, the formula is anything but an exercise in rote.
"It really is just person by person and how I'm feeling at that given moment
and if I'm feeling engaged, or if I'm really tired -- it gets hard. I
space out and I just get tired of hearing my own voice, tired of talking."
Does Mr. Buscemi's response change if the film he interviewed about is a more
serious film as opposed to a comedy?
"I remember when I did this film a few years ago called "The Grey Zone" -- it .
. . took place during the Holocaust. It was a really intense film that
took me weeks to sort of get over. When I stopped shooting it's something
that stayed with me and really, really affected me. And I was on my way to
the Toronto [International] Film Festival to do press for that film. And I
was dreading it. It so happened, I was on my way to the airport -- this
was the morning of September 11, 2001. So I started out the day feeling
dread that I was going to have to get into this head of talking about this
horrible event that happened in our history and was confronted with a new
horrible event. So yeah, I think sometimes the nature of the film can
inform the interview. But also people have said, 'is it easier to talk
about a film that you really like rather than to do a lot of interviews about a
film that you're not crazy about?' Sometimes it's harder to be interviewed
about a film that you really like because you don't want it to get old.
You don't want the thing that you really cared about and had a great time doing
to get to that point where you're, you know, sick of talking about it."
There are actors who have spoken of taking a piece of each character they have
ever played with them in life -- that part of every character they have played
is embedded permanently within their psyche. Steve Buscemi however, would
disagree. "I think I leave a part of myself with each character I play.
I always start with myself when I play a character. And when I'm done with
the character, I'm done. And that's not to say that I haven't played
characters that are similar to each other," -- a conversation about similarities
between the character of Les from "Delirious" and that of Pierre in "Interview",
both media employees has perhaps fueled the response in that last sentence --
"but I think that's partly true because it's me, playing the character."
"You know it's only so many different parts of me. There's only so many
different characters that you can play. And that was part of my interest
of playing this character in "Interview" because in many ways it feels like a
character that I have not played before. But I've had people come in here
[to the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco] and say, 'oh, it's very similar to . . .
' Sorry! That's me. I just bring that to it, I think,
in whatever role I play."
Sienna Miller and Steve Buscemi, seen her at a Cinema Society screening of
"Interview" on July 11. (Photos: Wire Image)