Here's an interview with Robin and Cole Hauser about the film "Paparazzi" (2004).
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Interview: Cole Hauser and Robin Tunney
Paparazzi's husband and wife team talk about the price of fame.
US, September 1, 2004
by Jeff Otto
Both Cole Hauser and Robin Tunney are on the brink of stardom. It's a pretty interesting paradox that their latest film, Paparazzi, a revenge story about a star who decides to punish tabloid journalists who've taken things too far, could make these two more recognizable faces. If Paparazzi becomes a box office hit, it's entirely possible that the film's stars could find themselves being chased by real paparazzi. Okay, I should stop thinking about this too hard or my head might explode.
Paparazzi is directed by Paul Abascal (the man behind those hysterical Lethal Weapon Diary specials on HBO) and produced by Mel Gibson's Icon Films. Cole Hauser plays Bo Laramie, an actor whose fame has just recently risen. His film is a hit and he's the new host of Tinseltown. Bo is living the life. He's a big star, he has a beautiful wife (Tunney) and son, a nice car, nice house… You get the picture. Bo soon learns that his stardom is coming at a price when naked pictures of himself with his wife show up in a supermarket rag. Things quickly escalate when Laramie sees a paparazzi named Rex (Tom Sizemore) taking pictures of his son at a soccer game. An altercation ensues and Laramie knocks out Rex. Now Laramie is ordered to take anger management classes and Rex and his paparazzi gang are after Laramie in full force. One paparazzi encounter causes a terrible car accident that nearly kills Laramie's family. Bo now launches an all out vigilante assault to rid himself of some paparazzi vermin.
Cole Hauser has been around the acting game for a long time, but always in supporting roles. He's worked with prominent directors such as Richard Linklater, Gus Van Sant and John Singleton. Paparazzi is the first lead role for Hauser. Robin Tunney may be best known for playing one of those ravenous witches opposite Fairuza Balk and Neve Campbell in The Craft. She's also worked with California's Governor in End of Days and starred in the comedy The In-Laws with Michael Douglas. Paparazzi is a chance for the actress to explore her maternal side.
IGN FilmForce spoke with Hauser and Tunney at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles last week about dealing with the media, whether revenge is okay and what they've got coming up next.
Some journalists at the press day seem a little worried that this may be seen as a portrayal of all entertainment journalists, and that Cole Hauser may one day beat the heck out of them too. "These paparazzi, in the movie, are pretty much your extreme version of paparazzi, in general, as far as I know," Hauser says. "I definitely don't generalize and put everybody in the same cup of water. I haven't really had any experiences, as far as having paparazzi sit outside of my house or following me around on the street. But, I actually don't really go to places where they do that, unless they knew where I lived or what kind of car I drive. It depends on this movie, too. I actually ran into a paparazzi the other day, and he was really excited about the movie. He was excited that they were doing a movie about him. And, I thought that that was fascinating. He was excited that, 'Hey, you know what? They're making a movie about me.' And, they essentially are; it's just no longer you looking in, it's you looking out."
Tunney and Hauser are stalked by the evil paparazziTunney says that people shouldn't take this film too seriously: "I think the film is not supposed to be based in reality. It's entertainment. These guys are scumbags with a capital S. They get murdered and you're happy when they are, but it's entertainment. It's not a documentary. The lengths that they go to is heightened reality."
Tunney has had her own not so pleasant brush with the tabloid media in real life: "I read about myself. There was an article in The Enquirer about my soft-core porn history, and that my husband, Bob Gosse, really got me into it. And, my mom was like, 'Is there a movie you're not telling us about?' (Laughs) Basically, I had written an article for Jane Magazine and it was about how terrifying it is to take your top off in a movie. I'd written it myself, and they'd taken the article and made it into my shocking sexual past, or something. I looked at it and I thought I was going to learn something. I was like, 'Really? It was shocking?' My mom was upset, and I called my lawyer and was like, 'What do I do? First of all, my husband looks like a perv, and it looks like I'm dirty.' They word everything so specifically that you don't have a legal leg to stand on. The weirdest thing was that it was excerpts from everything that I had written myself. I, also, am badly dressed to The Enquirer, which I consider a compliment."
In the beginning of the film, Hauser's Bo Laramie attends a premiere for his film. The scene is one of absolute chaos. "I don't really have a bad premiere experience," says Hauser. "They're exciting, at first. I think, when you first get into the business, you're excited about going down the line and seeing what that's like. Similar to the beginning of this movie, I've probably locked up, more times than not, when I was asked a question. When people are yelling your name, 'Cole! Cole! Cole!,' and there's flashes going off, I think you start to lose a sense of where you are, in reality. In the beginning of this movie, they actually used a take that I actually screwed up in because there was so much going on that I just forgot what I was saying. You feel like you're on a huge stage and everybody's looking at you. It can be embarrassing."
"That was actually the most realistic moment in the movie," Tunney says. "It was really strange because I was at work, but I felt like I was at a premiere. I felt like I wasn't making a movie, but I was promoting it. That part is very real, and I thought he did a good job of showing the audience what it feels like. You feel like the biggest, fakest person. You're like, 'I'm a cheerleader, I'm not an actor.' [Tunney gives a nice, big, fake smile]
In Hollywood, doing research for a film about relentless paparazzi isn't too tough. Just talk to any star. "I talked with people that have gone through certain situations, but I didn't sit with paparazzi and interview them," Hauser says. "I had no desire or need for that. But, I sat and talked with friends, and Mel was good enough to talk with me about certain situations he had been through. I had been around Bruce Willis for two straight movies, so I saw the way the paparazzi follows him, and the way the public is with him. He's a mega-star over in Europe. We spent 14 days in France and Germany, and all these places, and you really get an idea of what it's like to be a huge celebrity, and it was good for me to watch from afar and see what it's like."
Paparazzi was made in more of an indie style for a relatively low budget. Tunney says that she liked the film's independent nature and original story, a rare thing these days: "Everything that you read now is like a remake of a movie you've already seen, a television show you've seen, or a franchise. You just try to find something that you didn't read already, and it seems like, with independent film, things are more character driven or more abhorrent, and they're more interesting. You don't want to make a movie that's already been made. And, whenever you think of Paparazzi, you've never seen anything like it. I haven't."
Although Hauser has been around for a quite a while, with supporting roles in over 20 films, taking the lead was a new experience for him. "I'd say the major experience was being at work six days a week, as opposed to three days a week. All I did to lighten the load for myself was work even harder and just make sure I was even more prepared. It was a great experience. I enjoyed having more creative control, more talks with the writer, more talks with the producers. Me and Paul [Abascal] hit it off immediately and had a lot of time to sit and talk.
"Cole was like the sheriff," says Tunney. "He was amazing. If there was an extra that looked like they were in another movie, he'd be like, 'What's that guy doing over there? What's going on? That's wrong. What are they doing? Why are they doing that?' He was incredibly hard-working."
Hauser's Laramie gives Sizemore's Rex fair warningWhile this film may open more doors for Hauser, he's not expecting a free ride should Paparazzi become a hit. "You never stop fighting, ever. The day that you do that, you're done, truthfully. You can ask Mel Gibson, or any of these guys. They're working just as hard or harder. I worked with [Robert] Duvall three years ago on an independent movie in Scotland, and this guy sat and listened to a Scottish dialect every second that he wasn't on the set. I asked him, 'What do you think it is that's made you so good, in my opinion, over the years?' And he said, 'Man, it's hard work. You just have to keep working. You don't take any days off. Don't take a second off. The day you do, you miss, you lose.'"
"If you think about it, people work really hard to get to a certain point," says Tunney. But then, they have to work just as hard to stay there. They can't make a wrong choice. It's almost like it's more fragile once they're huge. With a film's success or failure, they can't say, 'Oh, that director was a hack.' They're carrying the film, and it's their name and their face. I think that there's just as much stress once you're already famous."
After working with Abascal for years on the Lethal Weapon movies (Abascal was Mel's hair dresser) and on the HBO Diary specials, Gibson had no hesitation about giving Abascal the directing reins on Paparazzi. Gibson visited the set on occasion, more as a curious observer than as "the boss." Hauser talks about Gibson: "He was doing The Passion for the first, I'd say, 3/4 of the movie, and then he came back and came down five, six, seven times and hung out. The funny thing about Mel was that he didn't come in and go, 'This is what's happening. We need to do this, we need to do that. You're not doing this right.' He's not that kind of guy. He came in and sat back on the sidelines and let Paul and myself and Robin and Tom do their parts, and didn't sit there and critique us or judge us. And then, when the movie was all put together, he was happy. I was really impressed by that. I was impressed by his confidence in the cast and the crew, and I think he got a good movie for that."
Up next for Hauser is another lead role, in The Cave. "It's about an underwater expedition of cave divers. Basically, they go into the Carpathian Mountains in northern Romania and get inside of a cave and go about a mile and a half in and about three miles underground, and one of my divers gets in a situation and ends up blowing his scooter up, which is a scooter that pulls you through, so you don't have to swim. Basically, the exit gets blocked, and it's about finding a way out. It's underwater for the first part of it and then it's, basically, caving, which is climbing rocks inside of caves.
"I actually trained. I don't know how much you know about underwater cave divers, but there's a ton of these people that are good, and then there's about a handful that are just unbelievable. They really are earth's astronauts. It's one of those things where they do s**t that would absolutely scare the living beejesus out of any of us. I'm not a big underwater person, to be honest with you. I was on a re-breather, which is kind of what the astronauts use. They had this one sequence where this thing kind of crumbles behind me and they were actually dropping live rocks on top of me. I had a helmet on, and stuff like that, but it was intense. I've seen about 30 minutes of it and it's one of those movies where you're holding your breath. It's scary! There is a creature in the film, which I don't even think you need because it's so scary on its own, but that just adds to the next element of trying to get out of this situation."
Hauser on the set with director Paul AbascalTunney has three projects in the works: "Yeah, I did a film about the Zodiac Killer called In Control of All Things, and I really liked it. It's with Rory Culkin and Phillip Baker Hall. It turned out well. I've got a Culkin as a child." After that, Tunney will do two smaller indies: "Yeah, where nothing good happens to anybody and I'm not getting paid any money, and nobody will probably see them, but there will be that one person at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf who rented it and they'll be devastated that they saw it, and they'll walk up and they'll have tears in their eyes, and I'll feel fantastic. I [get to] go to Sundance and I'll get some free stuff at Sundance, and I'll be partying down with Bob Redford. I get the schwag!"