Gabriel Macht for “The Spirit”

Gabriel Macht is making a reputation as one of Hollywood’s true up and coming stars. Married to Aussie actress Jacinda Barrett, Macht stars as the title role of the new comic book movie, The Spirit, as an ex-cop, once shot dead, now reborn as it were, as a womanizing avenging angel of sorts. Macht talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.

Question: This is a very kind of strange project, I guess, to be involved with, when you’re working – and I was on set, so I know what that environment was like.

Macht: Well, first and foremost, I think to work with a legend in the comic book world – , Frank Miller is – he’s an icon. And his visionary style is so unique. I don’t know if you’ve hung out with him at all.

Question: I met him on set.

Macht: Right. Well he’s an incredible guy. He’s so bright, and very charismatic and pretty hilarious. He’s a really funny man. So that was a huge attraction. And not to mention working on a film that was taken from one of the pioneers of the comic book industry, Will Eisner. It’s not the most famous comic book in the world, but he did start it off in the early ’40s. So there’s something about being involved in something that has a lot of potential, as far as a visionary masterpiece. I actually think that each scene – if you take just a frame here and there is like a piece of art, Is a work of art. So, that’s the first draw. The second draw is – gosh, when you’re a kid, you want to be an actor – I mean, for me, I would have loved to have been a superhero as a kid, And then to be a grown man and get that opportunity? It was a dream come true.

Question: So, when you put on the costume and do all of that, does it kind of remind you of the reasons why you became an actor in the first place?

Macht: Yeah. I mean, sure. Part of the reason I wanted to become an actor was, A, because I was a storyteller as a kid. I’d go to these movie sets with my father, and see that it was a real ensemble environment. People were working together to tell a story. I grew up with three siblings, and we did that as kids. And as much as my father was influential, my mother was as well. Instead of talking to each other, we’d sing to each other. And so, , I made a film when I was eight years old, along with going to the movie sets with my father, and I just liked the atmosphere so much. And I liked the magic behind the move-making, and what made scenes work, and how the illusion came across. And so I wanted to be in that business.

Question: What are the challenges for you, when you’re shooting something like this, to work in that particular environment that Frank works in, which is the whole green screen environment?

Macht: I would imagine it to be very challenging if I had to work with, like, a tennis ball in place of, like, a dinosaur. I think that would be really, really difficult. But as far as this is concerned, I’m a New Yorker. And it’s just in my blood, so it was very easy for me to envision the backgrounds, because again, if the scene called for me driving up in a car, getting out, slamming the door, walking down a street, we had the car. We had a cobblestone street with cement sidewalk. It was just the backgrounds that were all green. And, , Frank’s unique perspective on how he saw Central City was very articulately described to me every time we went out, and he called ” action.”

Question: What sets Denny Colt apart from other superheros like Batman and other characters who also work in these fictionalized cities, who consider the city to be as much a part of their psyche as anything else?

Macht: Well, I don’t know, I think The Spirit has a bit more self-deprecating humor. I think that the essence of the Spirit that we created was the real innate natural goodness that he brings to the world. And that he wants to return to the city. So when the city screams, he wants to put it at ease, and use reason, and his kindness, to make the city operate in a more humane way.

Question: Now, the last three times I’ve spoken to Kate Beckinsale, we’ve mentioned White Out.

Macht: Yeah.

Question: It seems like it’s a movie that has been striving to come out now for quite some time. Are you finally looking forward to this movie seeing the light of the day?

Macht: Yeah. I mean, I’d love to see it. I don’t know what’s going on with it. I really haven’t been involved with the producers. I mean, I talk to Kate, but I have no idea where it’s at. I mean, I think it’s – I think they want to put it out there when it’s ready. And I think they’ve got a great movie on their hands. I can’t wait to see it.

Question: What’s the nature of your character in it?

Macht: I play a US diplomat that was sent down to solve the first murder in Antarctica, with the only US Marshal down there, that’s played by Kate Beckinsale.

Question: It sounds fun.

Macht: Yeah. I mean, it’s a great thriller, And it’s set in a really icy cold world, where – , we only had, like, three days to solve this murder before we were stuck there for the next six months, because you can’t get out.

Question: You’ve got another couple of things coming out that sound very interesting. Talk about Karen Goodman’s One Way to Valhalla.

Macht: That film is a small, independent film about a guy who is sort of complacent, and because of an injury, he changes his mind about things. And he sees a new light. It’s a really interesting little film. And I look forward to seeing that one, too, when it’s finished.

Question: It must be nice to work on something which is much more character-based than, like, bigger films, like these two.

Macht: Well, , it’s funny. I found The Spirit to be very character-driven. Even though there’s tons of action and romance and stuff, I found – , to slip on a mask and a trench coat with a red tie – I mean, that’s not me. I really love creating that guy.

Question: So you didn’t take the costume home, wear it at night.

Macht: No, I didn’t. No. I took it home, and I dressed my daughter in it for Halloween.

Question: Ah, okay. That’ll be cool. I guess you’re working with Jacinda on Middle Men. Do you two have scenes together?

Macht: We don’t, but it was terrific working on the same film together. We just wrapped two days ago in Vegas and the film was written by George Gallo, who wrote Midnight Run. So it has a very similar feel to that. But we’re dealing this time with two guys who make hundreds of millions of dollars really early on in the adult entertainment industry, on the Internet. And they get into – they make a lot of wrong decisions. They get involved with the Russian Mafia, and the FBI’s after them. And Luke Wilson is a businessman who takes care of the business, and fixes a bunch of mishaps.

Question: And you worked with James Caan in this.

Macht: Yeah. Jimmy Caan is in it, and Giovanni Ribisi plays my partner. He plays a veterinarian who is fired for taking the drug that he’s supposed to administer to the dogs and cats. And I play a rocket scientist who actually came up with the code for credit billing on the Internet. It’s loosely based on some real people and there’s some amazing stuff in this film. Again, that’s an independent film, but we created really great characters with that.

Question: Do you have anything else that you’re planning on working on?

Macht: No, not right now. I plan on spending time with the family back in Australia for the holidays.

Question: When are you leaving?

Macht: Leaving next week.

Question: And is Jacinda and your child, are they already there now?

Macht: No, they’re not, they’re in LA, but we’re all going together. We’re going for a month. We can’t wait.

Question: Do you guys go to Queensland, or do you have any other places that you like to visit while you’re in Australia?

Macht: Well, we’ll be in Queensland, but we’ll come down into New South Wales. My brother-in-law lives down there with his wife and child. And we’ll be up on the Sunshine Coast. And – yeah, we’ll be at the beach. And – , I look forward to having a bit of a relaxing time. We’ve been working hard this past year, so. Every summer – every Christmas in Australia, we get summer again. We get two summers a year, so it’s great.