by Michael J. Nicholas
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I had a discussion over the phone recently with Margot Kidder(Superman, Amityville Horror, Sisters) regarding her new film, ‘Love At First Kill’. Actually, we talked about more than just the movie, and the film was made about three years ago, directed by the late John Daly(producer, Platoon and Terminator).
MK(Margot Kidder): Hi, where are you calling from?
MJN(Michael J. Nicholas): Chicago.
MK:You have great theater up there. Whenever I’m there I just go to the theater every night and two years later it ends up on Broadway.
MJN: There’s a lot of creative people out here… and we don’t mind the cold.
MK: I don’t mind the cold either, I live in this little town in Montana.
MJN: Speaking of living in a little U.S. town, I heard you recently became an American citizen. How is that working out for you?
MK: Well just fine, I get to vote and shoot off my mouth. And then nobody can say, “Oh, you dirty foreigner!”
MJN: There you go, now you have the right to say whatever you want.
MK: Yes, and I’d like to urge people to open the debate against gun control. All these endless discussions about everybody being civil, but words didn’t kill these people in Arizona and shoot that wonderful young congresswoman, a gun did. Can we start looking at that? But we’re in a national state of denial.
MJN: A lot of things this country needs to fix. Anyway, I’d like to get to your new movie, ‘Love At First Kill’. Well, actually not a new movie.
MK: Yes, it is about three years old now. It’s kinds weird talking about it.
MJN: Yeah, right? I’m wondering if you know why it did come out over three years ago with a very limited worldwide release. Any clue?
MK: I don’t have a clue, I didn’t even know it came out. I guess it was not deemed good enough for general release I’m assuming, not audience pleasing enough. I mean these decisions now are based solely on dollars and 100% on the return you’re going to get for the buck. So, when you’re talking about a relatively small, independent movie, playing against movies that have budgets of small countries, most of those small, independent movies don’t have a chance. But I’ll tell you what- I sure love making them.
MJN: I bet. Especially with all the talented people you get to work with.
MK: You get to work with great people, you have a freedom that’s wonderful and often there’s a lot of inspiring and enthusiastic and idealistic young people around who are just getting in to the movies, who are absent in cynicism, which is just heaven to me. It’s so infectious and so glorious to work with.
MJN: You definitely get reminded it’s not about the money.
MK: It’s certainly why you don’t go into it in the first place. Because most people don’t end up making money. You go into it for your love of the arts and your love of film, or theater, depending on which you’re most interested in.
MJN: Do you know why the film’s title was changed from ‘The Box Collector’ to ‘Love At First Kill’?
MK: I don’t know, because when they approached me about doing publicity, I had to email my agent and say I had no idea what movie they were talking about, I didn’t do a movie called ‘Love At First Sight’. And we finally had to sort that out.
MJN: Yeah, I had to do quite a bit of research and couldn’t come up with too many answers.
MK: (laughs)Well, I don’t know how they came up with this title. It’s much more pathantic than the title of ‘The Box Collector’ if you ask me.
MJN: When you first read Guy Lee Thy’s script, did you feel right away like it was a role you wanted to play, or did you have to talk yourself into playing such a frightening character as Beth?
MK: Yes. Well you know the thing is, reality comes into play, and when you get to be my age, unless you’re Meryl Streep, there aren’t a ton of parts… and so to get to play one that was complex and which was neither all good nor all bad, and had the real makings of a character you could flesh out and do your homework on, was really delicious. And they paid the right amount, and I like Winnipeg, and the fact that I had a delightful time.
MJN: It seems more and more movies are being made over by our neighbors from the north.
MK: The governments’ getting involved with tax incentives and Americans have finally caught on in states like New Mexico and Georgia, which have an incredible set-up as does Michigan. I’m not sure what Illinois has, but it’s a clean industry that you can bring to your community and there’s not a big mess left afterwards like in mining or logging. And, for every dollar in the budget, something like seven goes into the community. So it’s very profitable for hotels and restaurants and shops. And it employs people and gives a bunch of money to the state, it’s kind of a no lose situation.
MJN: When you got into the mindset of playing a villain like Beth, do you study similar characters from any novels or films?
MK: Let me correct you right away. You don’t get into the mindset of playing a villain, ever… you’re playing a human being. So you take your initial cues from the script, and you read the script, and you build a character. And because there is no such thing as a person who is all bad or a person who is all good, you build a character based on the cues, and you add things that you think might be interesting or fun. Sometimes the director says no and sometimes he says yes.
MJN: When you rehearse for these roles, are you able to reach the same level of intensity when the cameras aren’t rolling? Because I know some performers need any kind of audience, big or small, to raise their game sort of speak.
MK: Well, you never give as much in rehearsal as you do on the day, as we say. Particularly if it’s right before you’re filming because you don’t want to run out of juice, so usually rehearsal is a time of exploration. And naturally acting, when the cameras are rolling, is a time of taking all that energy and giving it out to the “audience”.
MJN: The late John Daly, director of this film, was mostly known as a producer. Would you say his directing abilities were at a level of the directors he produced?
MK: He produced some of the best movies, so I would honestly have to say probably not. But he was a wonderful director and a joy to work with. Just a joy… funny, dry, witty and left you alone when you didn’t need fixing sort of speak, and stepped in when you had gone out of what was his vision for the movie. So, he was wonderful to be directed by.
MJN: Did he give you any freedom to tinker or ad-lib your lines?
MK: Oh sure, sure. But if it was wrong, he let you know right away. If you don’t have someone to tell you when it’s wrong, it’s very scary to lift your wings and fly outside of the box. So you want someone to let you know when it’s off.
MJN: Did you enjoy your experience working with up and coming actors, Noah Segan and Lyne Renee?
MK: I had the most fun with Adrianna, the woman who played the tarot card reader. We became great friends and are still friends. You get to know people very well because you’re doing an intimate dance when you’re acting. So there is this imposed intimacy that is sort of a part of your job.
MJN: Now how do you feel when a movie like ‘Love At First Kill’ requires the casting of young children due to it’s graphic content and adult subject matter? Do you feel they should be allowed to view the film when it’s complete?
MK: Well the young children never see the graphic content and the parents won’t let them watch it, I hope. I also don’t have to do graphic scenes darling, I’m 62(laughs), it would be horrifying!
MJN: I also mean violence.
MK: Well, I think that kids should not be allowed to see violence. I think letting kids watch sex scenes is far better for them then watching violence, that’s my personal opinion. I have a nine-year old grandson and I think some of his video games are disgusting. I think they should never let children have them. I find this whole culture of marketing violence and shooting and guns to be disgusting, and a mark against our civilization.
Michael J. Nicholas - a.k.a. Nicky The Note - reviews, opinions & life lessons.
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