THE MATADOR - Q&A with GREG KINNEAR in New York
The director was astonished when you accepted this role. Why did you do it?
I'd read the script and of course I liked it, but I told my agent it didn't read as funny as the movie turned out. It was dramatic and sad, but not obvious as to what it was going to be. That could be risky in terms of the outcome. I said I would meet them. Normally when you say that it's like 3 weeks before you meet them, but it was like Christmas Eve when I said I'd meet them and they told me he'd be here tomorrow. Richard literally got on a plane the next day and we met and had coffee and talked for a few hours. I liked him. He's a very likeable guy. He had good ideas and great vision for the script. When we were done I said, 'How long are you here?' And he said he was getting on a plane in one hour. It's so hard to actually get a movie made so you must have someone at the top who is driven and hugely passionate about it. It was so clear from the beginning that he was that guy. Then I saw Oxygen with Adrien Brody, which I thought was a really good film. Mexico City sounded interesting in the script, scary, but interesting. The week before we went there was a big thing in the travel section of the LA Times Magazine with an Alto sign and a title of "Why you'll be kidnapped in Mexico City' My wife and 16-month old baby didn't come down there because we didn't know if it was a good idea. Pierce didn't bring his family. It can be a dangerous city, but I don't know if it's as bad as the press likes to make it seem. It's a beautiful place and a perfect location for this movie. There is this element of loneliness in each character and to take them and put them in the middle of the largest, sprawling city in the world was a good place to start. I was intrigued by that too. The crew we had in Mexico City was fantastic and I feel like the movie is a nice postcard for Mexico City, which is probably reeling from the last movie that portrayed it, Man on Fire. Anybody who wasn't going to Mexico City because of Man on Fire might reconsider after seeing Matador, so we've done our part.
How did you create that chemistry with Hope so well in the bed scene you shot first?
That was all her. It was a monologue that she had to give and she just read this like a poem almost. It's beautifully done and I didn't have to do anything. She's crazy. I don't know what to say. She is really, really talented. That was important for the relationship to be very believable to the audience. We knew that so we partially got lucky. She was pregnant so she was feeling awful when she arrived. I had gone through that 6 months earlier so my fatherly instincts were kicking in so I just wanted to take care of her. That might have helped us a little bit. I used to order lunch for her.
What about you and Pierce?
He makes it easy. He's an incredibly affable and decent fellow. He's a bloke! I have a little Irish blood in me so I wasn't too worried about that relationship. But I don't know. You get thrown together with a guy you are supposed to become best friends with from zero to sixty in five seconds. You don't really know until you get there. I met him once at an Oscar party and had a beer and talked. I don't know how I got into a party with Pierce Brosnan! Then we got down there and the big question was 'Where is Julian Noble?' Because we really needed to have that to have a movie. Right off the bat it was so clear that he had him in his back pocket. From day one I knew we'd be fine on that front. It's a tricky role and you have to be very smart to pull that off. There was the Bond thing and sending that up, but nobody was doing that. Everyone was just playing the role and playing for keeps and playing truthful and whatever would be would be. I instantly found like he had found somebody who was very much alive on screen and I think he does.
So you didn't talk about Bond at all?
No, not at all. I'm like the village idiot on this thing. People ask me about sending up the Bond thing, but I didn't realise that when I read it. Maybe it was the good script, but I felt like Julian was a fatality facilitator. He wasn't a hit man. I didn't even think of Bond. I knew Pierce did Bond, but I always felt [it was] like Tailor of Panama and other small movies, he's such a good actor. Even in Mrs. Doubtfire where he had to be funny and he was really, really funny, I thought he had great comedy chops too, so it was always there to be an underlying element of discussion when the movie was over, but when we were doing it everyone was just playing their role.
Do you break the rules like your character?
Would I be unwrapping something while you are reading the question if I didn't break some rules? (Laughs) I'm out there taking risks every day! Umm...I don't know. I guess I'm probably more Danny than Julian. It's a surprise, I know! I'm very much Danny in that I have great admiration for those guys who are out climbing mountains and ski dropped out of a helicopter. That's cool, but I won't do that in a million years. Danny is like that. He admires people out of the edge. Ultimately I think that was interesting in the script. I think relationships are born because you either have identical sensibilities or you recognise there is something in them that is slightly lacking in you and that is an attractive quality. I think that's it with Julian and Danny. Each is missing something in their life and the other has it. They slightly move toward each other during the movie and I thought that was a cool thing in the story.
What foolish thing have you done?
I went bungee jumping in New Zealand down 250 head first into water. My wife and I went to New Zealand a few years ago and you can't escape it. It's like you wrap the bungee around your ankle when you land at the airport! There is a lot of literature on it and a lot of expectation and I had talked about it around the house for a month before. We got to Bungee World and there is this gigantic contraption going down into the river. You can sit across from it and watch people all day long doing this. Two out of every three will go and the other will walk out and then back up and they try to help them, but those people just walk away. I watched this for like 5 hours. My wife left and came back. I thought it was interesting. I went there and they were about to close so I had to do it right then. I had asked every question at that point. I gave them my credit card so I'm in. You walk out to the ledge and look down. It's the scariest thing ever. It's sheer terror looking down. You can't believe it! The guy says to lean forward and finally you do and the world comes screaming forward and it's incredible!
How has fatherhood changed you?
I used to fly my own planes, but I really don't any more. You think about those things. I got my license and I was flying a lot for a while. It's fun, but the problem is I didn't do it regularly so you get rusty. When you become a father that does seep into your choices. An interesting thing in the movie is Danny has lost his child so he is in a limbo stage of not knowing what he wants. It's probably the worst thing that can happen to you in the world. The staying at home thing doesn't mean much anymore, but he loves his wife. There is a convergence of influences at the time you see him in this movie.
Will you go back to talk shows?
Why, do you know somebody? (Laughs) There is no truth that I am hosting this year's Academy Awards.
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