“Southland Tales” is an ensemble piece set in the futuristic landscape of Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stars as Boxer Santaros, an action star stricken with amnesia whose life intertwines with Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar), an adult film star developing her own reality television project, and David Clark (Seann William Scott), a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy.
Shooting began early August on the project in and around the Los Angeles area and part-time correspondent Brad Miska was on the set the other week to speak with the cast about the film. Today, “American Pie” star turned budding sex symbol Seann William Scott talked about his involvement.
Question: It’s kind of weird for you two guys to be in a movie again (in reference to The Rock?)…
Scott: It is. It was strange when we did our first scene together; it was a lot of fun. That’s what Peter Berg and I were saying; it’s such a wild business to do another movie together with another actor. For the Rock’s character, in ‘The Rundown’ my character was a chatty Kathy and was in his ear yapping the whole time. My character is a much more quiet in this movie and he’s the guy who is kind of crazy and mightier.
Question: Does he beat you up in this?
Scott: No, he doesn’t kick my ass which was nice. I took a beating in that one.
Question: It’s kind of tough to get our heads around what this movie is, can you sum it up?
Scott: I was thinking about that on the way over here, I was like ‘I don’t think Id be the best person to explain it’. I was lucky to be the first one on board; I had a meeting with Richard- he’s like the one filmmakers I really wanted to meet and I was trying to convince him that it would be a good idea to work with me. He’s like ‘read this script’ and that was over two years ago that I read ‘Southland Tales’ and I was like ‘It was a very specific vision and I really like what you’re trying to do.’ I couldn’t say it was a geo political commentary or anything. I always saw elements of ‘Dr. Strangelove’ or ‘A Clockwork Orange’- the dialogue and the characters I thought of those two films. Then I got to go into some pitch meetings with him when he was trying to get money for it so I got to hear him talk about what it is and how each character and each moment has a purpose.
Question: What do you remember him saying about it?
Scott: To me he’s trying to comment on where we are with security and life and politics and where we could go. I think that’s a little bit about what he’s trying to talk about. It’s a Richard Kelly film and a lot of it will be left up to interpretation, they’ll take something about from it.
Question: What are you working on today?
Scott: We’re doing a scene where I meet the Rock’s character for the first time and Sarah- it’s my only scene with Sarah and the brother that is impersonating his twin, it’s his first time to show his performance.
Question: Do you play a double role or does The Rock?
Scott: I do, I play two brothers.
Question: You said that Richard says each character has a point in the film, what’s your character’s point?
Scott: (laughs) I don’t want to ruin it. I play a brother who is a cop and his twin brother who is a bit mysterious- he has amnesia, much like The Rock’s character. The brother only really remembers things from the last six days and he’s been pretty much been in control of this neo-Marxist group who are using him to pull off this big blackmail scam involving The Rock’s character. And he’s trying to piece things together as the movie goes along and he feels like he’s not being told the truth about who he is or what’s going on. Most of the movie the cop has been drugged and tied up until the end of the film.
Question: Is this your costume?
Scott: Yes part of it, for the cop he’s got all of the weapons and stuff.
Question: What’s UPU (the patch on his arm)?
Scott: It’s the new force in 2008. The way Richard Explains it and the way I’ve interpreted is that it’s got a litte bit more violent and the security has gotten pretty intense and a lot of the people who used to be cops in 2005 just don’t want to be cops anymore and they are a little bit more lenient to bring in people with a criminal history or whoever is really willing to protect if you will- so they’ve combined all of the forces into this one force.
Question: So what happens in 2008 when you see this film?
Scott: I don’t now what Richard wants me to talk about. He said I think you can assume there have been more terrorist attacks in America or enough of a threat to have a heightened security and it takes place in Los Angeles. We see that quite a bit in surveillance and around the city and stuff like that. A lot of things that are done lie people’s fingerprints as identification.
Question: What’s your characters criminal background?
Scott: I don’t think we ever really get into it. The brother who is the actual police man is a bit mysterious. We know that he’s been involved in something that’s a little shady.
Question: What are there names?
Scott: Roland Taverner and Ronald Taverner.
Question: Which ones the cop?
Question: They both have the shaved head look?
Scott: Yeah, they look exactly alike.
Question: The set in the future, is there a lot of production design to extrapolate what it would look like in 2008?
Scott: It’s not ‘Blade Runner’, but there are some elements of Philip K Dick. There is a little bit about how people dress, it’s futuristic- the cars a little bit. A lot of it I haven’t seen, I just heard about. Its one of those movies with such a huge cast and so much is going on and such an ambitious schedule- it’s almost like a paid vacation for me, I only work like 14 days. Every day I come in it’s so much fun but there’s so much information that I’m going to see and be like ‘wow you guys did all that too!’ (laughs) It’s pretty specific, but it’s not like ‘Blade Runner’
Question: Is this pretty much the same universe as ‘Donnie Darko’?
Scott: I think in a sense people have their own take on what it’s about and what’s the bunny about it’s so bizarre- I know the first time I watched it I was like ‘wow’. This is, I hate to say it cause there are so many fans of ‘Donnie Darko, really tripped out! (laughs) It’s absurd, it’s funny and if you’re a fan of Richard Kelly I think you’re going to love this movie. I think its going to be really visual- and the cast is so bizarre, you wouldn’t expect someone like myself or Dwayne (inaudible). Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a porn star, so we’re going to like that. We got such an eclectic people, like the lady from Poltergeist (Zelda Rubenstein) and the guy who played Booger- I’m sure he’s saying ‘the guy who plays Stiffler’ (Laughs). He’s a great actor, I saw him the other day. John Larroquette is in it. A lot of ’80s icons!
Question: Have you had any scenes with yourself yet?
Scott: It won’t happen until kind of the end of the movie.
Question: How does that work as far as you playing opposite yourself?
Scott: I haven’t figured that out yet (laughs). I know what I want to do but we haven’t got to that technical side. I know its not- we are making an effort not to have the good twin and evil twin and the crazy one- it’s a little bit more different, I hate to give it away.
Question: There were some rumors going around that you’d play Ash in the ‘Evil Dead’ remake, any truth?
Scott: I read about that, my friend says ‘you should type your name in the computer’ and I’m like ‘I don’t know, there’s a lot of negative stuff’ (laughs). Which might be really funny, the best I ever did I went to Rotten Tomatoes and typed in ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’- they were the BEST worst reviews I’ve ever had (laughs)! I prefer to have all bad or all good. If you have a few good one and a few bad ones it’s boring, Id rather have them be all putrid. That was great. Then I typed in my name and I read that and I was like ‘oh I guess I’m doing that movie’ (laughs).
Question: Would you be interested in doing it (Evil Dead)?
Scott: I love those movies and I don’t know, Id be worried- but sure. I think a lot of people would be hatful about it- theyd be like ‘that guy?’
Question: It is huge shoes to fill!
Scott: Yeah it is. Id be worried about it, but I love horror films.
Question: They’re already talking about ‘The Dukes of Hazzard go to London’, do you think it’s a good idea to take them out of Hazzard county?
Scott: No, there’s a lot of hateful people about that film too (laughs). It made a lot of money, which is great but I don’t think well do a sequel for it. The reviews are so bad (laughs). I think they’re just psyched they made a bunch of money. They could have had they made a more conscious effort to make it funny throughout the whole film instead of just 20 minutes of funny and then a bunch of cool car stuff.
Question: Do you have any big action stunts?
Scott: I do at the end of the movie. What’s nice for me is I pay two characters that are kind of quiet. Everybody else has more crazy exciting roles. It’s nice for me to actual something that’s a little bit more subtle. Especially in a movie like this; I think it will be a really good film.
Question: Is Richard Kelly know what he wants and it’s precise, or is he open?
Scott: He’s really collaborative and if you have an idea he’s totally game for it. He’s a really great guy, you never know what a young guy with that type of following will be like. He definitely knows what he wants. If you stray away from that it not like he’s like ‘what the fuck are you doing’? He’s ok and he knows. As many people ask ‘what’s this about?’… I remember John Lovitz said that the other day when were hanging out while they were setting up a shot. John goes ‘what is this movie about?’ And Richard explained it a little bit, (inaudible) and I had the luxury of hanging out with Richard for two years- I could tell you but then it’ll be disappointing and I might not be totally right on- I have my interpretation. Id hate for it to get out there and people to go ‘what?” and Richard would go, ‘why’d you say that?’
Question: Is this film your chance to exercise your dramatic muscle like you’ve been longing to?
Scott: I think so; it’s different so because there’s an absurd element to it- it’s funny- although I wouldn’t say it’s a comedy. But I guess it’s a step in a different direction- compared to ‘Dukes’ (laughs).
Question: Where you attracted to the project as a whole or the role?
Scott: First it was Richard for sure. I think any other director would try and do this I’d say ‘no way’, its way too ambitious. But then I liked what he wanted with the two roles.
Question: You said you have 14 days, are you working on other things at the same time?
Scott: No. I’ve been working on stuff at my production company at Universal.
Question: There’s going to be comics leading up to the release of the film, is there going to be more after Southland Tales- is this a story that’s going to continue?
Scott: It could, it leaves it open for that. Its so bizarre and so cool, I hope so. It could do that- I think, I dunno. I don’t know if Richard would though, but who knows- the guys so smart that he’s got a master plan.
Question: Did you have input into the shaping of your character?
Scott: Yeah we talked about it and it was amazing seeing how the script had evolved from when I first read it. When I first read it was kind of weird and cool but I don’t know if it had a purpose at all. But then he kept working on it and working on it and then that’s when I realized how smart he is and how much more specific and sophisticated it got. It wasn’t word for the sake of being weird; it was like this guy has a real vision and is trying to tell a story. So then we talked about the two brothers and even up to right now we’re still talking about some ideas for the end- it’s pretty fun. It’s nice to work with a guy who’s excited about being in business- it’s his first movie in five years. He’s so smart and I’m assuming he’s going to call bullshit on any bad performance on anybody. You can have some real hope that you’re not going to look like a total idiot.
Question: Do you wish some of your other directors called bullshit more?
Scott: Yeah for sure, I did! I’m calling bullshit on myself, you guys should too!
Question: Are people just afraid their going to wound an actor’s ego or something?
Scott: I don’t know, I don’t know if there are a lot of talented filmmakers out there- and there are, but you now. It’s not like a moved out here saying ‘I want to do ‘Dude Where’s My Car’, ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and ‘Evolution’. You just try and make the best decision with the opportunities you have- life is making the best of a mediocre situation. Every once in awhile you get a chance to work with someone like Richard where you’re like he’s turned down other opportunities for this and had two years to think about this- he’s quite prepared. A lot of other films its like director for hire, actor for hire, you get involved with a project a month before; It’s the directors first film, I’ve worked with a lot of first timers and they get involved a month before and push it into production. No one stops to think ‘what’s the best way to make a really good movie?’
Question: Why do they do that?
Scott: I don’t know, people aren’t on the same page. That’s the reason why I wanted to start a production company; there are so many missed opportunities. I also don’t think a lot of people involved are fans of the movies. They don’t watch, I was thinking when you make ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ it’s like watch ‘Butch Cassidy, steal some stuff! You’re never going to make that movie, but steal some things- but nobody watched that movie. You know it takes place in the south you could steal some of the things that worked for that and some of the ideas of course you don’t- you make a cartoon (laughs). Think about ‘Wedding Crashers’ and ’40 Year-Old Virgin’, its like all of a sudden they’re like ‘wooh rated R comedies work!’ And its not that they’re just rated R comedies its that there is actually really good funny shit going on. Those are the only two funny movies that have come out since ‘Old School’- it’s like how does that happen, they’re not as expensive the big action movies and big concept movies? It’s like just write funny scripts and its like they keep pumping out really lame movies- I’ve done a bunch of them (laughs).
Question: What do you think the future of LA will be?
Scott: Lets just hope it’s not what ‘Southland Tales’ is (laughs). I don’t think it will that different.
Question: Has Richard talked about this elaborate universe he’s created?
Scott: A little bit. He talked about the graphic novel and I saw the website – the website was cool.