Bill Paxton's Not A Frail Guy
emily blunt interview
Paxton is one hell of an actor and study mansicle (yes, I'm smitten)
, but know - now - he's a director as well!
know him as 'Mr. Joe Normal' like in in Twister and Alien. Hell
he was even pretty normal aboard the dreaded Titanic! But
really the fella's hard to tag. I personally enjoy his off the
wall choices like the small role of the mean boyfriend in Boxing
Helena or the main role as the conniving brother in indie great
A Simple Plan.
a veteran of the screen, for sure. And this wonderfully frightening
Frailty film marks his directorial debut.
Hard to believe, 'cause Frailty's detail and feel is done so
damn well he makes some seasoned folks look like directing hacks!
caught up with Billy Boy in LA at a swanky five star hotel. And
after depleting the bathroom of it's complimentary trinkets (for
my personal bath-time later) by way of my oversized purse
sat and talked a bit about Frailty.
He's a honest guy, real down to Earth (in Hollywood that's a feat
in itself!). He had this glorious beam in his eye (like a new
father might have) over his controversal new film. Enjoy!
I love the quotes from Stephen King, James Cameron and Sam Raimi
on Frailty's Press Kits
That's gotta help?
Don't I know it! [laughter]
How did the warmth of their reaction make you feel?
I tell you part of the reason I went out and tried to solicit
some positive reaction from people I considered masters of suspense
know Sam Raimi and James Cameron. Although they are such men of
integrity they wouldn't endorse it [Frailty] if they couldn't
get behind it
Jim's the kind of guy, well, I remember having
to audition for True Lies
and I said "I have no mystique
with you how can I come in and audition? You know all my bullshit"
ya know [laughter]? But, when the film [Frailty] first was shown
[the studio]started seeing very reactionary responses to
it from the press.
know the comments were...um... it seemed like
no one was
watching the movie with any objectivity at all. It was
were kids in it and that there was some moral antinueity to it.
And so I got worried. I thought, God Bless we've worked so
hard on this film and these people
I might not be able to
depend on the critics to support this film
So, I thought
what can I do? I thought of all the people that
Brent Hanley, was very smart. He read a hell of a lot of
Stephen King growing up and I said if I can get Stephen King to
see the film
so I found out who one of his assistants was
up in Maine and I called her
I said Look I'm an actor you
probably saw me in Twister or Titanic. I made this first film
very inspired by Stephen king in may ways by his writing
there a way you could show it to him? I sent her the "making
of" and she liked it and called back and said Stephen will
watch the film but he might not comment on it either way. About
a month later I got a nice note from him--that till recently I
had in my back pocket! It was a very short letter. Iit said what
you read here [he points to the cd and the quote on it "It's
unique, thought provoking, edge-of-your-seat entertainment"]
then Sam and Jim gave me theirs...I just wanted to steer the audience
into the direction that this film was heading. I
actually heard from Bryan Singer [Usual Suspects & Apt Pupil
fame] and he really liked the film too.
movie polarizes people and it will . When you make a movie
with this kind of intensity, you don't expect "oh we love
it" from all---you know its not going be that kind of thing.
The film maker has to have his eyes wide open. I think what gives
this movie it's punch is that horror is derived from the impudence
of children and these crazy adults! The crazy father. That's an
old convention. This movie really has a lot of its roots in Night
of the Hunter.
What were the initial comments of the press last fall at the first
God, Oh God, I usually commit these to memory
say people were just not ready for it
thought it was irresponsible, and um you know everything they
call something they kind of jeer about. There's a lot of people
that wouldn't participate in the junkets; that don't want to comment
know I saw a comment by a supposed film professor were he called
it an ugly film
and I was like oh? You're teaching
look if there is one thing about the film
all my experience out here, if I was going to direct it, I wanted
it to look like a real quality crafted film.
I wanted this movie to look like it was produced by Warner Bros.
That's why I got Bill Butler who's an old master and had his roots
in the studio system
And I kind of shot the film like I was
making it back in the sixties. All the violence is applied
you really don't see the bloody body hit the rug
Yeah it's terrifying enough, maybe more so, without it!
Yeah, absolutely, the mind's magnification of the individual is
always more powerful! But I was sensitive
you know I got
these kids I'm working with. The ooriginal script was-- oh my
gosh, it was pretty tough! It cut away to the kid's Charlie's
Angels tee-shirt splattered with blood
[laughter] I'm like,
I don't know if I can shoot that! I don't know if I can do that
to these poor children.
it was like whoa
look I knew what I was getting into. I knew
this was a movie that would kind of polarize people in ways
I didn't have a political agenda with this film I thought it was
just a creepy old fashioned adult Grimm Fairy tale
parable! This movie really is an alliteration of stories from
the Old Testament. When I was a boy my dad was a good friend of
Thomas Hart Benton who was a great muralist, a regionalist painter
my deer in the headlights reaction Bill consoles me...] he's popular
you'd know his work if you saw it. I remember when
he was a young artist coming up he did a series of paintings in
modern day-- which would have been the thirties and forties--
depicting these kind of classic biblical scenes
he had one
called Susana and the Elders. Susana is seen as kind of this pubescent
fifteen year old girl getting ready to take a bath in a creek
and you see an old tree and behind the tree are these farmer looking
the "elders" with bib overalls
watching this girl. He got so much flack for this and all
he'd done was taken an old story and depicted it in a modern setting
in a lot of ways this movie is. It's modern story of Abraham.
Which I always found to be very disturbing. [Bill stops chatting
grabs my digital recorder from in front of him] This is a pretty
cool unit. I have to say. It's very James Bond
have the nerve gas feature? I'm a techno phobe - regular recorders
I can just about handle
It's a digital wav recorder-- no secret agent features -sorry.
What was it about Hanley's Frailty script that made you want to
It was original. It was very disturbing. It was very suspenseful.
And because it
again, I invested so much in the older boy
who was this incredible protagonist. I was afraid of it.
I was approached to play the dad and produce the film by David
Kirschner who controlled the script I initially tried to send
it out to a few directors, and I just-I started thinking why am
I gonna just give this great script to somebody else?
I knew the milieu of this world, I knew the landscape I knew the
characters from other movies I'd done as well as being from Texas
[it's based in Texas] and I thought this is a role that's really
in my tenure
I'm a father myself. I can relate to these boys.
I love the sibling. The brotherly aspect, the paternal aspect
of the film. Weirdly enough and oddly that's been a real running
theme through my own work. My brother role with Billy Bob Thornton
[A Simple Plan] or Chet in Weird Science or as one the Earp brothers
it seems to be a theme with me. I've done a lot of these kind
I always like familiar dramas. I saw this movie as a familiar
tragedy. All this supernatural aspects of the film as spooky and
creepy as it is this wasn't some political agenda for me-- although
the movie kind of plays like it's a pro vigilantism and pro- capital
punishment on a surface level to me you see this nice family that's
destroyed by this thing it's more like the fall of the House Of
me it belies the folly of man's ego. When he ordains himself to
be god's executioner what ever that is. It seems that man uses
religion to promote his own political agenda or his own personal
EMILY: Is there gonna be a True Lies Two?
Hmm. That's one of those rumors that just rolls around! [laughter]
I'm not privy to that info!
made a trip to Titanic with Jim back in August and September.
I made four decents down to Titanic. True Lies came up. And I
think in leiu of the events of September 11th I don't think Jim
Cameron will in anyway shape or form be involved in a sequel to
that movie. That's my opinion
I can't speak for Jim.
You invited the writer, Brent Hanley, on the set of Frailty. That's
rare isn't it?
You know it's a very tricky piece. It was one of those
pauses to think how to put it] the original script was about 130
pages and we knew because of our shooting schedule you figure
you're gonna get about three pages a day
I knew I could
I could only get about a thirty five day schedule so I knew I
had to take pages out
and it's like a house of cards the
script. Everything in its place and needed to sustain the structure.
You pull one card out and it's tied to this other card. It's very
..It looks like a simple movie but it's actually very complicated.
In terms of how the information is given out. Once you know the
story the film all the twists and flips
watching it the second
time is actually kind of fun because there's a lot of clues laid
out for you ...but, they are very cleverly written out.
What made you want to also play "Dad?" [this guy is
very, very handsome....focus...focus]
He was a father. He was a father who thought he was doing right
by his sons
ah... he again, he loved his children but whether
he's mad or divinely inspired through the whole movie we wonder
just liked the story I guess I've always had kind of a taste for
the bizarre the macabre and the unexplained the tales of mystery
and suspense! I was weaned on this stuff god I watched the Twilight
Zone religiously! I read Stephen King till me eyeballs were falling
out my head! I remember my father took me to movies like Hush
Hush Sweet Charlotte when I was a kid. I didn't have a normal
background! I was completely demented from a very early age! To
me Frailty is a love letter to all those films the original invaders
all that paranoia and being a kid and no one listens
to you these crazy adults
started out doing bizarre character films like Near Dark. Most
people know me from the bigger block buster films [Titanic/Twister]
were they know me as the affable light hearted happy go lucky
guy! The mindless idiot-I wanted people to reconsider my work,
I thought Frailty was perfect story to get
that across! I am very proud of the film-I think it's a classic
of its kind. I hope people see the film. I hope they will enjoy
it and not get too deep with it.
I hope to have more opportunities! The next film I want to direct
is a British romantic comedy! Depending on the cast-- I have my
sites set very high!
Bill! Well, yet another Hollywood success story about doing what
you want and not cowtowing to what's expected. See the film -
it's really really scary and positively brilliant.
Is Bill Paxton single.........hmmmmmmmmmm.
Frailty Site here