Nic Cage, Amber Heard for “Drive Angry 3D”

Directed by Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine), very little has been revealed about the intriguingly titled Drive Angry 3D aside from the fact that it’s about a father (Cage) hellbent on revenge for the murder of his daughter. It’s said to draw influence from ’70s Clint Eastwood flicks and gritty, action-packed, car-roaring midnight movies.

Stars Nicolas Cage and Amber Heard, who play Milton and Amber respectively, were on hand to speak to press at San Diego Comic-Con 2010 and help elaborate on what exactly Drive Angry 3D is all about.

“This is a movie that hales from ’70s classic films like High Plains Drifter, movies that were really a factor in my decision to become a filmmaker,” Cage explains to press. “In terms of the character itself, I don’t want to leave too much on the table. I want you to have your connection with it, your secret understanding of the character, so I hesitate to talk about anything too specific with him.”

Although Milton is the angry character of the title, Cage says he sees more to Milton than that single emotion. “I can’t encapsulate everything about Milton in the word anger,” says Cage. There are other things motivating his drive. Hopefully when you see the movie there are other dimensions to the character. The anger is an anger that is almost like a residual anger of something that happened in another life. Everybody gets angry. Everybody feels like they’re being tested or they’ve been through trials in life, especially when loved ones are involved. The fierce, protective nature comes alive. This is happening to Milton. He’s on a tear to save his little child.”

Cage is no stranger to campy, oddball cinema, either. From Vampire’s Kiss to David Lynch’s darkly trippy Wild at Heart, Cage can ham it up with the best of them. We asked about his draw to this kind of material. “I definitely feel that Drive Angry fits into that audience,” says Cage. “I think my love for those kinds of films is the intensity and adrenaline of them. They don’t compromise. They’re honest and they give everything they have. I used to enjoy punk rock music. I feel like it’s that kind of relentless that I respond to. The little I saw today, I felt that achieved it. I was very excited by the footage I saw today. This movie is very in your face and it’s cool and I’m excited about that.”

Co-star Amber Heard was excited by the prospect of playing more than just another pretty face. The actress got to get down and dirty with her Texas roots as the no bullshit Piper. “It’s surprisingly not too far from home,” says Heard. “I’m from Texas and guns and fistfights and stuff are all part of the gig. Everything from the hot rods to the cowboy boots was close to home for me so I was happy. It’s one of the only movies where I get to kick some ass.”

Piper’s relationship with Milton is a complicated one of friendship and shared sensibilities rather than romantic involvement. “Piper provides the heart in the movie,” Cage tells press. “There is another element that might surprise you, where the film actually has a pretty deep, strong heart that’s not romantic. It’s like a partnership. It would be great if we could do another one because I loved that relationship.

“I’m in heaven,” says Heard of playing Piper. “I’m excited that more writers and directors are willing to see a woman or take that risk and make a film that doesn’t have a victim as a woman, that makes a woman her own character that doesn’t need to be saved. This is really cool for me, flipping cars and shooting guns and running my mouth and getting in fistfights. Piper is this bad-ass, potty mouth, Daisy Duke-wearing Charger driving, gun-toting motherfucker and she doesn’t take any shit. Where else am I going to find that?”

As the title indicates, 3D is an important element of Drive Angry. It was shot in 3D and the multidimensional elements were carefully conceived on set. “3D movies in the ’50s didn’t work for me,” says Cage. “They just turned me off because they looked so goofy. Today is the time for 3D. Avatar really showed that in terms of perspective and depth almost like a painting. Some of the shots in Drive Angry I saw those depths of field by the pool when the pool was lit. Amber and I would be running and you see the dimension. It’s a very beautiful format for filmmaking.”

“Part of it was feeling like you were a part of the audience,” adds Hurd. “Acting and participating in how it’s going to be viewed later puts me in the audience. That was an interesting way to go about filming something. Because this was shot in 3D and not converted, we had the opportunity to manipulate some of our actions and blocking around how it would be viewed later. I threw some punches directly into the lens and backed the car up almost over the camera a couple of times to create effects specific to the 3D.”

“I wanted to to know how I can become friends with this new mechanism,” says Cage. “I asked Patrick if I could move like this or that. I even went so far as to stick my tongue out all the way so I could get into the fourth row of the audience.”

Drive Angry 3D opens in the theaters nationwide February 11th, 2010.