Tuesday, October 28, 2003
THE HULK INTERVIEW: JOSH LUCAS
With The Hulk being released on DVD on Tuesday, The Continuum presents a question-and-answer session with Josh Lucas, the actor who plays Glen Talbot in the film.
QUESTION: This is a much different part than Sweet Home Alabama.
LUCAS: I had to completely dissipate the Sweet Home Alabama image immediately. I think the moment this character appears on screen, you should be like, "Yeccchhh." This is a man, even in his demolished state, somehow spends 45 minutes doing his hair every morning.
He's fantastic. He's a lot of fun to play. He's a lot of fun to work with in the structure of a comic-book villain who also has absolutely has specific human motivations. He's a prick, you know? Really is. And they exist.
QUESTION: How did you find the character?
LUCAS:It was taking these little pieces of my own personality that I really don't like and I really feel is ugly, times when I'm ambitious or egomaniacal in a way and just accentuating it wildly. Or then, at the same, thinking about the people I've met, and having these fascinating conversations with James Schamus and Ang (Lee) about these kind of guys, these kind of political guys, the Dick Cheneys of the world. And this is one of those people. He just really does not care about anyone but himself and his own motivations and his own sort of justifications for his behavior, that they're driven from a place that he believes hešs further than humanity, that he'll be vile and horrific within that. It's great fun.
I totally don't like him, though. And I totally wanted to sit there and have the first moment he appears on screen be something that the audiences goes, "Yeccch. Bad."
But also make him human at the same time. He's a comic-book villain, but also comes from a place where he believes in what he's doing.
QUESTION:You've mentioned being a comic-book villain several times. Is there a place where youšre too over-the-top?
LUCAS:I consistently felt like I was going so far over-the-top. The way Ang and I played it -- and I don't think he necessarily knew exactly what he wanted with this character either -- was very much the middle point. Because you have as much money as this movie has, you can take the time to play with many different versions of the scene. And we'd literally do them across the board, the rainbow of the spectrum, from full-on, 100 times over what you seen in the movie, to absolutely the most minute detailed, subtled tiny performance. And somewhere in between, we kept finding this space of a little bit of both. And that was the joy of the experience, figuring that out.
Because, again, he is a comic-book villain, but, yes, he is real. I think this movie has tremendous realism under the performances and yet it is a comic book. My character literally becomes a drawing at one point. I think that's important to keep that in mind in the playing of him.
QUESTION:In the scenes with the computer-generated Hulk, what were you playing to?
LUCAS:We called it Elvis. Basically, what it was is a pole -- the Hulk ranges from nine to 15 feet -- and the pole ranges from nine to 15 feet. On top of the pole is a very flat, two-dimensional drawing of the Hulk. And then you have this very bored production assistant whošs basically walking toward you and Ang, in his absolute extraordinary directing style, is sitting there with you saying, "OK, you're watching moss growing on his arm. You're watching his veins begin to turn green. Now, you're starting to feel the breath of his nostrils come at you. Youšre starting to see his change." And you piss yourself at that point.
It becomes a really playful, creative exercise. As a 3-year-old, you would believe there is a monster under the bed, a monster in the closet. You totally, completely believe it to the point where you're sweating and terrified and can't move. Somehow we lose that as human beings, and that was the wonderful exploration of play in working with the CGI, is creating that same exact belief, even though you've got this really bored production assistant walking with a stupid looking stick towards you.
QUESTION:So the CGI aspects didn't bother you?
LUCAS:A lot of it was Ang and him talking about it from the beginning. I think actors have a really ugly relationship with this technology and it's undercutting. Because it is Greek masked drama in a way. And you have to just believe it like a child. And that's the purest form of acting. I felt like, on a daily basis, I was going into a sandbox with Ang and the two of us were building little cities and we both had Godzillas.
You have to believe this entirely. I see the city. I see the monster. And that's why I was having so much fun with him. Because I felt like a kid. And I felt the relationship of the exploration that way. It took a little while. It took a lot of trusting.
QUESTION:This is a different style of movie from Ang Lee.
LUCAS: Ang set out to make The Hulk and the comic-book version of The Hulk, and I think he achieves it with stunning symbiotic of art and philosophy and all sorts of different things he's going about.
The beauty of someone like Ang is that he's jumping from genre to genre and putting himself on the line trying something. Imagine the man who made Wedding Banquet and Eat, Drink, Man, Woman has got two years of CGI at 20 hours a day and putting every single amount of his focus on creating a performance from a character that lives and breathes. My stunning moment of this movie, in watching it, was the realization that I had so incredibly much compassion for this monster, who's a two-dimensional created image.
When he was falling from that airplane, I really teared up. I was stunned by it. Again, I think it was so much of Ang driving the CGI to make a performance and a character that is playing off some of the best actors. And I think that's risk.
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