Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returns to the action genre in the revenge movie, Faster. Billy Bob Thornton, director George Tillman (Notorious) and writers Joe and Tony Gayton join the Samoan assassin for a conversation about the movie, the violence and Billy Bob posing with dogs.
Q: Dwayne, do you think of your character more as a hero or a cold-blooded killer?
Dwayne Johnson: When I first read the script, I didn’t think of him as a cold-blooded killer. I thought of him as a man who was tortured and has a lot of turmoil going on and as he discovers things along the way, we as an audience discover things along the way as well. I would go to the ends of the earth to protect my family. So that was something that resonated with me.
Q: After doing a series of family-themed series, was it important for you to kick ass in an R-rated action movie?
Johnson: It wasn’t necessarily important for me to go back and kick ass and make an R-rated movie. It was just a matter of getting good material. My philosophy has always been pretty clear; if I see something that I like and I can see the value to the audience, its value to me, I’m going to take a shot at it, regardless of the genre.
Q: In the past couple of years, you’ve physically downsized and in this movie, you look like you’ve gotten bigger again. Is bigger better?
Johnson: Well, bigger is always better. I worked my butt off for this movie. It was a role I was excited about playing and it fit with the character who was incarcerated for 10 years.
Q: Billy Bob, can you talk about being a heroin-addicted cop. Is it supposed to signal something morally corrupt about this guy from the start?
Billy Bob Thornton: Well, I didn’t work my butt off in terms of portraying a drug addict. I suppose right off the bat, you see the guy is really at a low point in his life and I think it makes the character more interesting. I think one of the flaws of most commercial action movies is that the characters aren’t very well developed.
Q: What was one of the hardest things about making this movie?
BB: One of the hardest things was reminding myself that I was in this intense, dark movie because everyone on the set was so nice, I couldn’t believe it. Dwayne is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. This guy (George), you don’t see directors like this. At some point of a movie, always, you’ll want to pull the director outside and say, “Listen! You didn’t create this thing, you understand me? Someone at the studio hired you over the phone and sent you over here to resurrect your ass!” And this guy (George), I’m like, “Would you yell at me?!” or something. And the writers are like, “Hey, you got any ideas?” I mean, am I in Disneyland?
Q: Can you talk a little bit about Aedin Mincks, who plays your son?
BB: He came up to me the first day we got there, I didn’t even know the kid yet, and he goes, “Hey! I loved you in Bad News Bears.” I said, “Well, thank you.” You get used to hearing that from kids and you’re always glad it’s Bad News Bears, and not Bad Santa. And then he says one of the weirdest and funniest things anyone has ever said to me on set, which was, “Hey, do you watch those Capital One commercials with those Vikings?” and I go, “Yeah, I love those things. They’re very funny.” and he goes, “You know the fat kid?” I go, “Yeah,” and he goes, “That’s ME!”
Q: Although the prospects of watching Dwayne shoot people in the head for two hours sounds appealing, it seems like you were going for more than that. Can you speak on the moral tones of the film?
JT: Yeah, I mean the whole story started off with an image of a guy getting out of prison and going to shoot people in the head as fast as he can. And then you find out by the end of the first act that he’s the protagonist. And yeah, he busts open a lot of doors and kills a lot of people, but what we eventually do is slow him down and by the end there is something else going on inside his head.
Q: Was it important to show the consequences of the violence in this movie?
GT: From the cinematic standpoint, my goal was to not glamorize it. Like the fight scene in the strip club. It’s quick, it’s over, it’s reality.
TT: I don’t like movies where it’s just violent and there’s no consequence.
BB: Right now, we’re making, in my humble opinion, the worst movies in history, because they’re geared toward the video game-playing generation. These games are people killing for fun. I think traditionally there’s always been some kind of lesson in violent movies, even (Sam) Peckinpah who inadvertently created this movie and a lot of other movies with the slow-motion blood and all that. Those things at their core were morality tales.
Q: Dwayne, did you train to drive the Chevelle?
DJ: Well, stunt driving school was necessary. When talking with George, we both felt that we needed to always show me instead of a stunt driver behind the wheel. It’s one of the fun parts of my job.
Q: These days, people are being misquoted or having what they say taken out of context all the time. That been said, do you enjoy doing press conferences and how do you know how much of yourself to put out there?
BB: I’ll put it this way. We’ve done something real here. In other words, if we’re running down a hallway, it’s a hallway. And it’s nice to be able to talk about it in this day and time because most movies are about vampires and 3D or fantasy movies and war eagles or whatever the hell. So when you’re an actual actor and you like to do actual movies, it’s real nice to be able to do good work and work with guys like these and talk to you guys about it.
I haven’t always been tight-lipped. So as a result, I would get into a sticky situation every now and then. But right now, when we do a good movie or at least try to, we rely on you guys and be able to say, “Hey there, good to see ya,” without getting stuck in the ass. I suppose there are guys who won’t do a movie for three years and they’ll pass you by and they won’t sign your kid’s thing and yet still, you just love ‘em. And then a guy like me, who might say a few too many things, but I’m trying and I will sign your kid’s thing…. When I do that, what I expect is not get stuck in the ass. The way I Iook at it is like this: The fans are the people who allow my kids to go to school and help me pay for the house. You guys help get the word out. So we owe you guys and in return if we’re going to be forthcoming, you owe us to not twist our words ‘cuz I said something about cats and you don’t like cats.
TT: Our first day of shooting, both these guys were fantastic. We were in the middle of nowhere, and at the end of the day, Billy Bob was posing with people’s dogs. I’m not kidding. This one lady kept coming up to him and she called her friends and her family and he didn’t refuse anybody. Both of these guys are fantastic with the fans.
JT: Just not cats.