*Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy brought “The Heat” to New York City this week when they were here at the Ritz Carlton Hotel to promote their latest movie.
The film also stars Marlon Wayans, Spoken Reasons (aka John A Baker Jr.), and Demian Bichir. Sandra (Sarah Ashburn) and Melissa (Shannon Mullins) add new meaning to the label “buddy cop movie.”
This odd coupling, however, gets the job done. The tightly wound FBI Special Agent Ashburn is a perfectionist, if you will, and believe doing things by the book. Disheveled, potty mouth Police Officer Mullins is a live wire and they butt heads trying to bring down a notorious drug dealer. There are some hilarious scenarios that include Mullins’ dysfunctional family and Ashburn’s close relationship with a cat, but there are also timely remarks about guns on the streets and the responsibility to do the right thing.
Before meeting the press, Sandra entered the elevator with son Louie in tow. When she and McCarthy arrived downstairs for interviews, I facetiously asked them if they were role models for law enforcement officers. After laughing heartily because they knew where I was going with this, McCathy said, “I hope not! ‘The Heat’ is actually just a training video. I have a lot of police [officers] in my family, so no. I think we both tried in the handling of the weapons and whatnot to be good at our jobs and just be train wrecks in our personal lives.” Bullock added that, “We handled the weapons properly. We paid a lot of attention to the professionals but we wanted to have our own methods, our own styles. People hold guns in different ways and we wanted to be clear about that so when you saw us you didn’t think that we didn’t know what we were doing.”
Sandra, how was it working with Marlon and was there any flirting going on?
SANDRA BULLOCK: Let me just say this about Marlon that whatever room Marlon walks into, I don’t care if the woman is 12 or 85, he’s an equal opportunity flirter. He will flirt with every single woman in the room. They will go, ‘Oh my God. Marlon was here.’ Marlon is beautiful, absolutely a beautiful piece of man. If he only flirted with me, it would have been nice but nope. He flirted with everybody and we were so grateful he was there. God bless him.
How much of this was improvised?
SB: Melissa and I would like to say that Katie wrote a terrific script that really made us laugh. It didn’t have a title, it said ‘Untitled Female Buddy Cop Movie’ and I thought it sounded horrible. Katie’s (Dippold) style is off-the-cuff but it’s written and that made it so easy to sign on and do it within a matter of two weeks and do it, in our very small window. Once you have that, you can veer off and do fun things but you have to stay within the perimeters of the character. You can’t just chew up scenery because we think we’re funny, and we think we’re funny all the time, which the DVD extras will show. She wrote an amazing script and her style is so free form and I’m just shocked that out of that tiny little blond thing came so many hilarious and offensive things.
Melissa, you unleash a torrent of obscenities. Is being Irish the reason for that?
MALISSA McCARTHY: It is genetic. I blame my people. Also, I blame Paul Feig (director) because if I said three f-bombs or if I spiced it up and gave a variety of obscenities, Paul would just yell for me to throw a couple more in. At one point, I said, ‘I don’t think I have any more in me. I’m tapped,’ and he said, ‘Of course you do!’ I think our total for the f-word is 190. I just want to apologize to my mom.
The soundtrack features a lot of 70’s and 80’s funk. Are you guys fans of that?
SB: Oh yeah. We love us some funk. It just starts the day right. From the opening of that soundtrack, no matter what you’re doing in your day, it’s just gonna get better.
MM: You can’t really dance properly to James Brown and look cool. You look like an idiot. It’s just a lot of jerking.
Do you feel like we are in a new era of women in comedy?
MM: I think funny is funny and the general consensus is it doesn’t matter who’s leading it. Over the next five years, you’re gonna see more movies that women are the leads of because hopefully that crazy idea that women can’t be funny is finally getting squashed.
Melissa, how was it having your husband on set?
MM: Wonderful, not because I dissed him but we met performing together and then it worked out, ‘cause I married him. Anytime I get a chance to work with him, it’s a delight for me. He’s really funny, selfishly.
Was it always planned that he would be in this?
MM: I don’t think so.
Melissa, Sandra are you two up for sequel?
MM: If this whole group is together, even if it’s a play in a backyard, I’ll do it.
SB: I think it should be a live sequel. We just go country to country and perform a live theater version of it.
MM: We’ll sell steak knives.
SB: The less clothing we have on, the more money we’ll get.
Jason Statham explains ‘Redemption’ title
Jason Statham is back in action as the one-man, rectifying, wrecking, fighting machine. In “Redemption,” Statham (Joey) has returned from his tour of duty in Afghanistan to London and like many American soldiers who return home, he is a damaged soul and faces life on the streets. In an attempt to rehabilitate himself, the homeless veteran faces a number of trials and tribulations. Joey is helped on his journey by Sister Cristina—who is dealing with demons of her own—played by the wonderful actress Agata Buzek. Although “Redemption” is a compelling and heart warming story with fast moving action, THE FILM STRIP told Statham when he was at The Waldorf Astoria in New York that Joey’s redemption was questionable, unless there was going to be a Redemption 2. “Well it was never meant to be called ‘Redemption,’” he responded. “In the UK, it’s called ‘Hummingbird.’ That was the title of the screenplay and is the title of the movie in the UK but the US distributors wanted a different name.
“It’s not a story about redemption. We know that he doesn’t feel that he can be forgiven for what he’s done. He doesn’t want to be forgiven for what he’s done. It’s not about that. All of a sudden, he finds where he can do good just for a fleeting moment and it’s not about forgiveness. He doesn’t want someone to come up to him and say it’s ok and it’s not your fault. It’s not about that. He finds an opportunity to do good for however long it is, for that summer when he becomes someone else and it does come full circle. He falls by the wayside because he’s too dangerous to be a sober man. Efficiency and the skills that he’s learned just don’t fit into society so he’s better off in a box, drinking and numbing himself so to not being this bad person. Although he was doing bad things, there were particularly good consequences. To answer the question about redemption, I prefer the title ‘Hummingbird.’”
Where did that title come from?
JASON STATHAN: Hummingbird is a military drone that they send out that witnesses what the soldiers do. They basically are the all seeing eye. They see what happens in places where it’s very difficult to see. Basically, it’s symbolic of Joey’s conscious and what he did and what he witnessed. He is haunted by the hummingbirds because he knows that they saw what he did and he can never let that go. We had a couple of weeks of rehearsals where we met with soldiers who had served and come back and some had become homeless. They spoke about the trauma, the mental illness that seeing those things and how it affects them..
Some never recover, some get through it. We used that to build on making the movie and we also met with homeless people from the Army. All these experiences and stories that they had, we tried to use that in some way for what we needed to get done. We saw a lot of doctors. We were really keen to know what we were doing. We weren’t just winging it. I did more research for this than I have for any of my films.
Did you find this character a lot different from many of your other ones?
JS: Yeah, it was a lot different because he’s a bit of a broken man and it’s a little more sensitive. I never get to have a relationship in any movie.
Did you get inside the mindset of the homeless?
JS: We did get inside the homeless mindset and how they live and all the violence that’s out there in the early hours of the morning. You have to be aware of what’s coming your way. The people that we sat with went to a homeless charity and we sat there with numerous homeless people. Some people get so used to living on the street that sometimes they have an opportunity to sleep in a bed and they find it really difficult. They’re just used to the cardboard on the pavement. It was an eye-opener for us because a lot of the time those homeless people walk the streets and you see someone standing outside a pub drinking and the homeless people walk up to them and talk to them and basically people pretend like there’s no one there. They become invisible. When you get to talk to them in person, you realize they’ve all got a story. It’s very interesting to get inside that. The statistic in the UK is 10% of the people on the streets are coming from a military background. They’re finding it difficult to integrate back into society and a lot of it has to do with the post dramatic stress that they’re suffering. It’s quite a large proportion of the people out there.
The first time I interviewed you was for ‘Transporter’ at the 20 Century Fox office a few blocks over. Did you have any idea at that time your career would take off like it has?
JS: I don’t think you ever have any idea what’s around the corner. When it takes off, it can go down. What goes up, must come down. How far does it go up before it comes down? It’s great to be working and it’s tough. There are a lot of people who want to be working that aren’t working.
Is it that attitude that keeps you grounded?
JS: I got into it pretty late so I think that I knew what it’s like to earn money the hard way so I never get too carried away with it. I used to work on the street and sell perfume and jewelry as a fly-catcher for 20 years.
Can you talk about ‘Fast and Furious 7’?
JS: I’d get killed if I say anything. I’m not allowed to say much. Spoilers are something that they try hard to protect. It was hard enough to protect the fact that I might be in it. We filmed that teaser six months before it came out so I had to keep my mouth shut for six months. I met with Justin and I really wanted to work with him and I know it’s a very successful franchise. I love the car action. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t resist.
‘I’m so Excited’
It wasn’t mere happenstance that Pedro Almodovar’s latest offering is titled “I’m So Excited.” The Spanish filmmaker told The Film Strip that it’s named after the Pointer Sisters’ hit single of the same name, proving the international appeal of their music. I like it. “I love it,” he told me when in New York promoting his movie. “I knew when I was young that I loved them. It’s good, disco music. It was the perfect song for them, for the stewards. At the beginning, unconsciously, this movie I didn’t realize that it’s a kind of tribute to the 80s in Spain. That decade that we found had absolute freedom in every sense because Franco died five years before and there was a new democracy, everything changed for the best. I miss that feeling. I was young and I could enjoy that moment very deeply.”
The “stewards” Almodovar refers to are the three gay flight attendants whose pumping performance on the aircraft they work for would earn them a Dancing With the Stars trophy. When asked if he had any problems getting the rights to use the song, the answer was no but, “You obviously can’t do it without their permission because they would then have the right to sue and hold the film back but there was some issue with the music company that owns the song so we used a different version. We used a later version that belongs to them. Even they cannot use their original version. This is a really weird problem that they have.”
There are those might not be as excited as some of the passengers who engaged in sex, taking drugs, and savoring semen aboard an airplane that just not make it to its final destination because its landing geared has failed and the plane is circling Spain. Many stories unfold as passengers in first class let it all hang out. Almodovar did at one point think about taking a lighter approach to the writing. “When I finished the script, I didn’t like it especially all the parts of the passengers. So it took me a lot of time to want to continue the metaphor. Fortunately, we were living in a crisis and that gave me the idea of these people.
“It was funny but also really metaphorical about the Spanish situation where we were turning around without knowing where we’re going to land. It implies risk and danger but we don’t know so with that feeling in my mind, I rewrote it. Also being on both sides, in heaven and in earth, dead or alive, that was really what gave me the ideas for the feelings. What I wanted is them almost in a cloud, in a place where they almost cannot lie. At that point, after surviving that situation, they are what they are.” When I finished the rough draft, I discovered after that I wanted people who were completely lonely and in solitude, the real contemporary solitude, which is better than loneliness. You are completely alone in front of yourself. It took me time to discover all these things that were the song of the story.”
Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]