Premonition - Julian McMahon interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
JULIAN McMahon talks about his new movie, Premonition, why its themes are universal, and the joy of working with Sandra Bullock in Louisiana.
He also reveals a little bit about his continued involvement with hit series Nip/Tuck and the upcoming summer blockbuster Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Q. Premonition is a different kind of film to the one many people might expect. It’s much more intimate and psychological. What appealed to you about it in the first place?
Julian McMahon: Exactly what you just said. Sandra Bullock was already attached to it when I got the script. But to me it was really about the intimacy. When they first sent me the script they said it was a psychological drama or thriller and I thought: “Here we go…”
But I was just very touched when I read it. It’s a very emotional movie as opposed to what I was expecting. I was devastated by the script. I guess the best way to describe it is that I felt a lot. It was almost confusing but when you get that kind of connection to something I think it means something, so then when you get the chance to fulfil it in some way then that’s always good.
Q. As a father yourself, did you find particular scenes to be extra emotional?
Julian McMahon: Are you a dad? Or married? What doesn’t connect? We’ve all been in relationships but the daddy part still upsets me. Just the possibility of not being around for your child…
Q. Sandra Bullock pays you a lovely compliment in the film’s production notes, saying that you were missed whenever you weren’t around and that you were the “the joy, the energy and the spark”. How did you enjoy working with her on the Louisiana set?
Julian McMahon: I’m a big fan of Sandra’s. I’ve watched her movies for a long time, seen her on the cover of countless magazines and being an aspiring actor, who wouldn’t want to work with her? So to get the opportunity to work with her under the circumstances that we did was great. We went down [to Louisiana] three weeks early and we all sat down at the table and threw in whatever the hell we wanted with a view to what we thought, felt and wanted to achieve.
A lot of the time you go through this business and sometimes we pretend that we’re all just easy go lucky and we come in and perform. But the reality is you have to do your work and maybe you don’t know everything. Maybe I don’t know what the hell I’m doing! But most of the time you can’t even admit that, though. On this set, we allowed ourselves to do that every day. And so inside of that I think that you get to know somebody in an extraordinarily intimate way that you may not even get to know with your partner or wife. It was like I went to therapy almost.
Q. I guess it’s a matter of putting all your trust in the people you’re working with.
Julian McMahon: You always do that but at the same time you don’t always feel like you have a safety net. I never felt like I didn’t have that here. It wasn’t always that we agreed. I was always coming up with stuff but I never felt I couldn’t get it out. I was always supported in some kind of way. It wasn’t always used but they had a look at it and I never felt like an idiot.
Q. What about the concept behind the film, did you do any research into the subject of premonitions?
Julian McMahon: I never even thought about it. I love the name, Premonition, but I never even conceptualised it and once I’d read the script I didn’t even think that was what it was about anymore. To me it was a love story and the premonition part was left on the front page of the script and I never re-evaluated it again until I started really sort of promoting the movie.
So, what’s a premonition? It’s when you feel something before it actually happens. Do I believe in it? Yes. Have I had one? Nothing worth noting. I believe in all of that kind of stuff.
Q. No particularly bad dreams, like the character played by Sandra Bullock?
Julian McMahon: None that have come to any kind of fruition in any kind of way. If I’d had one, I’m sure I’d be able to remember and tell you about it now [laughs].
Q. What was filming in Louisiana like so soon after Hurricane Katrina?
Julian McMahon: I loved it. It was a very touching time and a beautiful time to be there – I almost hate saying that. But Hurricane Katrina had just come through and the devastation it left behind was extraordinary, so here were these people rebuilding their lives. Any time I felt like I was in a bad mood all I had to do was look around the set and see this stoic ability to get on and move on with your life – not in a harsh way; they were happy people who had lost everything. Some had lost friends and family, some had lost their homes, their identification, every picture they’d ever had, everything… that could make you sit down and weep for a year but this was months after.
It was just one of those moments where you just kind of look at yourself. It all became part and parcel of the movie in a way because it was a real evaluation of yourself. That “just take a second to smell the roses” saying was really kind of applicable. A lot of times you just go through life and forget to stop and say: “This is cool.” Or: “I’m lucky, I love the people in my life and I love what I’m doing.” This movie gave me the opportunity to do that in a big way.
Q. And I guess it was a welcoming environment because they wanted you there?
Julian McMahon: They wanted us there. Louisiana people are a great breed of people and they have great food!
Q. You must be really happy with the way your career is heading, what with Nip/Tuck and making the transition to movies. Do you feel like it’s going to plan?
Julian McMahon: If it is a plan it’s one that’s pretty big and broad. I believe that things kind of happen for a reason. But at the same time my real mission is just to continue working in this business with the scripts I enjoy, characters that challenge me and people that I admire. That can be someone like Sandy or a great director such as Mennan Yapo. Or even just some guy who’s just made a short out of college. It’s such a great business when you’re in it and the ability to do things that even surprise you is continually evident. For me, it’s just about challenging myself – that’s the biggest thing – and taking care of my child and paying my bills.
Q. Are you still a part of Nip/Tuck‘s future?
Julian McMahon: Oh yeah, I have two more years left on my contract and I’ll at least fulfil those. We’ll see what happens after that.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement in the Fantastic Four sequel?
Julian McMahon: Dr Doom comes back and he’s pissed off at the fact that he’s been melted and frozen and sent away in a casket on a long cruise. So when he comes back he’s bitter and twisted. To me it’s kind of like the Dr Doom that I know from the cartoons and comic books.
He’s always been a bit of a different character once we put him on film to what I felt he was. But his whole thing was: “Take over the universe, own everything, destroy the Fantastic Four and manipulate anybody’s powers if he can.” So that’s what he does.