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Interview: Marton Csokas for "XXX"

By Paul Fischer Monday August 5th 2002 12:43AM
Marton Csokas for "XXX"

The name Marton Csokas may not be familiar to most people, but chances are you've seen him at least once before and never realised. The 36-year old New Zealand actor who got his break playing Dr. Leonard Rossi-Dodds on soapie "Shortland Street" has appeared in over two dozen different productions at home, in Australia and the US including recurring roles in both "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Beastmaster".

In the last few months though the actor has broken through into several major Hollywood productions including a cameo as Cate Blanchett's elf husband in the first "Lord of the Rings" movie, and has landed major roles in both the Bruckheimer comedy "Kangaroo Jack" and the Richard Donner/Michael Crichton sci-fi epic "Timeline" both due out next year. Right now he's delivering a one-two punch in Aussie cinemas playing the lead villain in both the Vin Diesel actioneer "xXx" and the Alex Proyas rock comedy "Garage Days". Both roles portray him as a loud, arrogant, and imposing figure yet in a real life interview situation he's anything but. Gone are the long locks and beard, whilst the demeanour is one of nervous composure yet there's a fierceness and sharp intellect behind those eyes. I sat down with him on the eve of the release of "xXx" in Australia to discuss his work.

Question: In "xXx", there's got to be some perks to playing a Hollywood bad guy & what was it like to shoot in Prague?

Answer: Well it was enjoyable, nice to play a kind of Russian anarchist. Being in Prague was blissful, to see it before the flooding was a good thing and on that note there's a website for anyon whose interested in what's going on there at www.floods.cz that people can look at to see what's going on and if they can help in anyway.

Question: What was Coen like as a director?

Answer: He has a charming sense of humour and manages to draw things out of people in a sideshow circus like manner which was good. Treats the set like a perverted family which i a good thing, lots of fun and makesfor a playful environment. He's also a Harvard graduate so he's intelligent.

Question: Any sequences you shot that you were disappointed that didn't make the final cut?

Answer: There was one which I was disappointed that didn't make it that showed the character's private life whre all that 'stuff' dropped away which I understand is quite typically Russian - comes from singing, drinking, laughingand carrying on. Having said that the way the character was depicted certainly suited the film the way it did. I don't think it'll end up on the DVD. It doesn't necessarily serve the film well if the villain becomes more likable

Question: In "Garage Days", the end credits include a one-take dancing sequence by the cast to a Tom Jones song, how difficult was that to shoot?

Answer: We did about five takes but it was the fourth one they chose - it was the one. Paul Mercurio choreographed that which is probably even more terrifying than anything else considering his reputation for being a good dancer. That was enjoyale, that whole film was enjoyable. Things were thrown around, we workshoped the script for about three weeks. A lot of stupidity and frivolity on the set. Alex was good to work with, you could conduct a conversation with him and exchange ideas which is useful to say the least. I enjoyed seeing the film I saw it yesterday and I thought it had a greatirreverence an sense of irony, and kept changing the viewpoint via the cinematography and the soundtrack which was quite rich.

Question: How did it feel to do the concert shoot for the film's climax?

Answer: That was a little deceptive actually as I wasn't involved, I went and stuck my head through the fence though - the trick of cinema. We did that sequence, my stuff the day before and then the next day they shot the crowd scenes.

Question: You've just finished Timeline, how was that to work on?

Answer: I glanced at the book, but the film looks gorgeous - reminscent of Rembrandt, some parts of it anyway from what I saw. That was an interesting film to be working on. The embattlements that were built, and the horses an the armour - lots of fire. Flaming arrows going overhead, Dick Donner doesn't use a lot of computer generated technology which while your acting is really lots of fun as opposed to blue screen which can be daunting in imagination land, particularly when you've got seven people looking at one arrow. I enjoyed that, and I liked the concept. My character is a medieval military man whose in a precarious position - a matter of survival.

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