Cole Hauser isn’t quite on Hollywood’s A lisst but he doesnt care. funny and not one to take himself too seriously, Hauser enjoys doung the kinds of films most stars shy away from and it appears that The Cave is one of them as Garth Franklin reports.
Question: Have you done any cave diving lately?
Hauser: No sir, I’ve been on land, thankfully. It’s been nice, I’m more of a land animal myself.
Question: How wet did you feel?
Hauser: I was pretty wet to the bone the whole time.
Question: Well, then you must have been frigid cold there.
Hauser: Well, towards the end of the film, the temperature was about 98 degrees so the water felt pretty good. We were in this tin shed in one of these stages and we’d have our wet suits on just standing there sweating and you’d get in the water and be like ‘Thank G-d.’ No, it was great.
Question: How much training did you have?
Hauser: We had two weeks prior and really trained all the way to the last day. The thing with open water, just dive open circuit, you’re resort diving – that part is pretty basic, basically breathe normal and try to stay as comfortable as possible. The re-breather takes about six to seven years to actually understand how the computer works and the dilutant, if it breaks down, how do you fix it. Jill Heinrich and Wes Giles were cave divers there; they’ve done like a million dives. They were down there under water making sure our computers were working. But those things, you can kill yourself in four feet of water, you start hallucinating, and all of a sudden you just pop. It was pretty intense the three months we were there. They threw out the things like ‘don’t screw around, don’t play with anyone else’s stuff, don’t do any prankster sh*t – no, this is serious.’ Everyone took it relatively serious.
Question: Did anyone get hurt?
Hauser: I got a little messed up a few times, but it wasn’t from the water, it was from the wire work. I kind of had a three-day trial by fire training on that and that takes a long time on how to do it. We had the guys who did The Matrix, so they were great, but when you’re depending on someone else to pull you in a direction you’re going to fly over something and you need to move at the same time, it’s only human nature there’s going to be problems. I got flung into the wall a few times, thank goodness I had a helmet and pads, but I didn’t break anything, just bruises and bumps.
Question: Did you see the puppet monsters or were they all CGI’d and just had to pretend they were there?
Hauser: Obviously in sci-fi, there’s a lot of pretending, more so than you actually get to work with them. Same thing goes for every other movie that I’ve done with a creature. The thing is, the puppeteer – Morris, Lena, and Eddie got a chance to struggle with it and fight with it because they have that last scene. It was the CGI jump where I jump and tackle it. I didn’t really get any other type of contact than that.
Question: Did they show you pictures or drawings of what it was going to look like?
Hauser: Oh yeah, before I left to Romania, Bruce [Hunt] and Andrew Mason brought me to some office somewhere in the Valley. We went over and they showed me the sculptures, I saw the prickly guy, and the beginnings of the creatures like the heads.
Question: What was the smell like on set?
Hauser: Well, Romania has a distinctive smell to begin with (laughing) so driving to work stunk and then walking on the set stunk even worse. And then you’re in close quarters with these guys, and Europeans aren’t known for their hygiene; I don’t think there’s too much body deodorant in Romania. It was definitely an experience being in these tight quarters with grown men.
Question: Did it get claustrophobic at anytime?
Hauser: There was a little bit for me. It was in the scorpion cave; I had to shimmy my way through this hole. I looked at it and said I wouldn’t even be able to get my head through there and they said not to worry about it, ‘We measured it for you.’ I said to myself I better not gain any pounds. So I got into it and I got stuck and in the scene it worked, cause you would get stuck and you have to use your legs and arms to get through it. And then underwater I had to go through something, and it’s not even in the movie and I don’t know why. It’s one of the most freaky things you’ll ever see; it’s when Tyler goes through it to study the cave and I go in after him. I had to shock my re-breather to go down and again, I got stuck, but it was good cause I had rocks so I could pull away. It gave into the water and the notion of ‘holy sh*t, where’s the open circuit, is he going to get to his area.’ I thought it was a really neat way to open the movie cause you would have gotten the idea of how dangerous the job is and how you can die in about 30 seconds if you get in a bad spot.
Question: Was that supposed to be in the Yucatan?
Hauser: Yeah, it really gives you an immediate understanding of how dangerous it is to do this. And it really kicks off the film to say ‘wow, these guys are crazy.’ And they are, Wes and Jill really are. I’ve asked them why they do this and Wes said ‘Hey, I’m an water astronaut. We don’t know half of what’s down there,’ and then it kind of hit me. And then Jill’s answer was ‘I’ve always liked dark small places,’ and I was like ‘That’s interesting, what did you used to do, hide in closets?’ And she said ‘Yeah.’
Question: How did Piper and Lena do with a cast full of men?
Hauser: It took them a minute, there’s a lot of testosterone on set. I think Lena took a little more time, but as soon as they started doing the rock climbing and the underwater diving, they were right there with us.
Question: What special skills did you learn from this film that you didn’t have before?
Hauser: Rock climbing and diving. I never did any of that, climbing or diving, so that was a whole new experience. The rock climbing was with Paul Desoto, who’s this insane rock climber. We looked at a few rocks and you don’t think it’s possible to climb that and he goes right up like he’s Spiderman.
Question: Are you sticking with it?
Hauser: You know, I’m going to get back into it; if you ever want to get into great shape that’s the thing to do cause you’re pulling your own weight and you become strong for your body type instead of being muscular big.
Question: Being an actor, you get to do all those things; is that what you enjoy?
Hauser: Oh definitely, I have the ablility to ask questions and do things that the average citizen doesn’t get to do. And I get to hang out with some of the most extraordinary people whether it’s this film or Tears of the Sun where I got to talk to Navy Seals, or Vietnam vets in Tigerland, picking their mind. And for me, that’s probably more than half of what I love about acting.
Question: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
Hauser: I think I’d be an astronaut.
Hauser: Cause it’s the ultimate exploration and there’s a fascination about planes and living in the country, you’re always looking up to the stars. For me, I was always into astrology and how cool would it be to be called an astronaut. What better, you are the epitome of the explorer. That to me, I went to space camp; I was so enthralled with going outside the planet and seeing Earth.
Question: Would you buy your way into space?
Hauser: No, I don’t think so; I think I’ll just go into space at the right time.
Question: What attracted you to this script?
Hauser: I think the immediate thing that jumped out was the cave diving. Cause I didn’t know people did this stuff, go 24 hours underwater, through caves and then come out, study plants and such. And then I thought what a cool idea for a sci-fi film. I’ve seen these movies, like Pitch Black and Alien, but never on Earth, so that was the first thing. Then, Jack is an interesting character which is fun to play as an actor; he goes through an enormous chance from a guy you want to be around to trust in a bad situation to making that change. Me and Bruce discussed about how that change should happen with prosthetics, or just let me act. That was a journey in itself, and we kind of found a happy medium and there are things they could have done to make it more ‘on the nose,’ but when you’re so involved in the story, what to cut out, you miss things like the story and character development but I have no control over that yet.
Question: Are any of these things going to be on the DVD?
Hauser: There’ll be a directors cut for sure and all these things I’m talking about will be on there.
Question: What’s missing that’s disappointing to you?
Hauser: I think a lot of the story, the character development, from the beginning to the middle to the end. I’m one of these guys who will shoot you straight and I think there’s a great idea here; and in these days of science fiction, some people forget to just let it breathe. Being in your face all the time doesn’t always make a great film; a story makes a great movie. I don’t care if it’s a comedy or sci-fi, story starts and ends everything.
Question: Was there something in the transition of your character?
Hauser: Yeah, I can’t name them all for you right now, but there’s a few things with four other characters too for the story aspect of the character development.
Question: What could you take out to make this less than a two and a half hour movie, it’s already pretty long?
Hauser: It’s all in what you choose to stick with, there’s sometimes 20 avenues to go, it’s just what you stay on and what you go with.
Question: You keep referring to this as a sci-fi film, yet it takes place on Earth, it’s more like a horror film.
Hauser: It’s a little bit of everything, thriller, drama, sci-fi.
Question: Most of the cast was there on set at the same time, and on screen at the same time; is that different than when it’s a single shot with two people?
Hauser: There’s no where to go, that’s for sure. No, I’ve done so many ensemble films like School Ties and Dazed and Confused, the thing is if everyone’s on the same page it’s great, if someone is off, you can tell who it is and hopefully the director can tell who it is and aim the camera somewhere else. Everyone who worked on this film was on because it was a serious movie, we were working with fire all around us, under water, and cliffs, everyone took it pretty serious.
Question: Was there something you enjoyed the most out of doing this?
Hauser: The whole process; this is only my second starring role and I’m learning how to talk to people, how to get my point across without sounding too harsh, and making sense. All the things that you learn as an actor and being the lead in a film, you have to do that.
Question: What has changed since you’ve become a star?
Hauser: I don’t think I’ve noticed too much difference; maybe I’ve gotten more of what I want. People listen to what you say. If you’re 4th or 5th on the call sheet, and I’ve gone from 8th to 1st, so I know that process. Going from 8 to 1, I can now sit down with the director and producers and hammer out a story, what are we trying to make, what do we think about this character and this part of the film. And it gives you a good hard look at the picture you’re trying to make and hopefully doing it to its potential.
Question: Do you ever get weirded out by the whole thing like people giving you free things?
Hauser: I don’t think anything is free.
Question: What are you most comfortable with – the ensemble or the lead?
Hauser: Either or, with Paparazzi, it was more me, with this one, it’s more ensemble and before this was more ensemble. I love ensembles because everyone’s doing their job.
Question: Did you do a lot of rehearsal for the film or was it more for the underwater stuff?
Hauser: Yeah, we sat in a room in Romania and said ‘What do you like, what don’t you like, where do you want to go,’ and everyone had their say.
Question: Do you have another science fiction movie coming up?
Question: Are you interested or been approached for a super hero role like Thor?
Hauser: I’m not too familiar with those characters, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. (laughing) I know who Superman, Spiderman, Batman, but nothing like that. They approached me for Fantastic Four, but I didn’t know much about it, so I really wasn’t interested. But they said I was going to be in some suit, and I said ‘no,’ so then I went and did The Cave (laughing) and I was in a wet suit all day.
Question: Do you think there are placed on Earth that people aren’t meant to go?
Hauser: No, absolutely not.
Question: Are the military roles you’ve had by design or purely coincidental?
Hauser: The thing with Tigerland was I was a soldier who just came back from Vietnam and was training soldiers who were going over there. Then in Harts War, I was playing a guy who was just a piece of sh*t, but a great character to play. And then in Tears of the Sun, I play a soldier who helps a Nigerian. So all the roles are different and I made a conscious decision to make them different in every way. As far as military movies, they were making a lot of them a few years ago and now not so much. My grandfather was a Marine, so I guess there is something there, but I think playing a soldier is one of the most honorable things in the world; I think they should keep making military movies because those people disserve to have their stories told.
Question: In most of your roles, there seems to be strength but also a little bit of menace, where does that come from?
Hauser: I think it’s the characters I play; I hate to use the word ‘bad guy’ cause I don’t think there is such a thing, but the most menacing people in the world are the people who you look into their eyes and can just say ‘I’m going to f*cking fill you’ and there’s no rage behind it. You’ve seen people look and say these things and have no remorse for saying it. Growing up, I used to hang out with a lot of bad asses; one guy in particular, who I base a lot on, he was a relatively small guy about 5’6î, kind of stocky, but one of the most menacing guys and it’s not because he was mean, he just had mean in his heart – just cold. He’s no longer alive, but I’ve said that’s the way to do it.
Question: It seems like you take some pride in that?
Hauser: Well, yeah, playing a bad guy, somebody who is a bad guy, you can do nothing wrong. Nobody can say ‘That’s not right!’ ‘What do you mean, that’s not right?’ So it’s great, and there aren’t too many people who can do it right, but when you find it, you know it’s intense. In playing a bad guy, you can’t really think of yourself as a bad guy.
Question: You’ve got to find the humanity of him.
Question: You were talking about a sequel, are there any possibilities?
Hauser: If it makes enough money, they’ll find a way. (laughter) Maybe my brother can’t go back without me and goes back in.
Question: What is next for you?
Hauser: The Break Up with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston; it’s a comedy so you’ll see me with some jokes and some ha-ha’s.
Question: Who do you play in that?
Hauser: I play his brother, who’s just a womanizer, like a fun womanizer, one who’s crazy in his own way. I had a blast, Jay [Lavender] and Jeremy [Garelick] wrote it for me and it was a great difference; I’ve never been on a set where it was like ‘go crazy, have fun with it.’ There’s no boundaries; I had fun with it.
Question: Is that something you enjoy; would you like to do another comedy?
Hauser: Oh yeah, absolutely. For me as an actor, I don’t want to be stuck in one place. I want to jump around, whether it’s sci-fi, action-adventure, thriller, or comedy, you just want to keep people on their toes and have them be like ‘I didn’t know Cole was funny. I knew he could do serious, but I didn’t know he could talk 100 miles an hour, he must be out of his mind and just go f*cking nuts.’ And that way, I had the opportunity to do that and it was a breath of fresh air, this is fun.
Question: You have to talk fast to be with Vince.
Hauser: Oh yeah, and I’m his brother so I get to make fun of him, so it’s fun.
Question: Other then the smell, how was shooting in Romania?
Hauser: It was fun; Eastern Europe is different. I kind of had an idea when I shot Harts War in Prague, but this is kind of like the Tijuana of Europe. (laughing) Half the city is in rubble, and there are only a few clubs there that resemble anything you’re used to, but most of it is bars and pizzerias; I didn’t really leave the hotel much. Being in pretty much every scene in the film, I was tired from swimming. The physical stuff in this film was pretty tiring so I’d go home afterwards. On the weekends, me, Morris, and Eddie would go out and play Texas Hold ‘Em downstairs in the casino and that’s about it.
Question: Were there any sites people were telling you about?
Hauser: We went up to the Carpathian Mountains where Dracula is supposedly from. I don’t believe in any of that bullsh*t so we’re just walking around like ‘oooh’ (lots of laughter) Eddie and his wife were there like ‘Wow, this is really cool!’ The building is cool, but don’t walk around thinking Dracula was walking around here.
Question: A quick follow up to The Break Up – do you do a Vince Vaughn impression?
Hauser: No, he’s one of a kind.
Question: How has fatherhood changed your life?
Hauser: It’s calmed me down in a good way; being a father is the greatest gift I could ever have. My son is phenomenal and I have a lovely fiancÈ who’s an excellent mother; I’m just blessed!
Question: Has that changed your performance in any way?
Hauser: No, people ask me if I want to go off and do like a Jon Favreau cartoon and I’m like ‘no;’ I want to keep doing what I’m doing. If a movie came along that was for my son’s age group, I’d do it. My son’s like me, I can already tell he’s a bad boy – he’s a Hauser!