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Repo Men - Jude Law and Forest Whitaker interview

Repo Men

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JUDE Law and Forest Whitaker talk about the appeal of making Repo Men, a futuristic thriller in which they repossess people’s organs if they fall behind on their payments.

They also talk about the continued appeal of science fiction and why they felt it was necessary for the violence to be so shocking…

Q. What was the appeal of Repo Men?
Jude Law: I’d never read anything like it. I just loved its originality, its humour… I read it and thought that’s a film I’d go and see and probably be very entertained by. I liked the fact that it was riddled with all these themes that seemed relevant, and yet it didn’t seem like a kind of message-laden, finger-wagging kind of film.

Forest Whitaker: I think that the dark humour was interesting, and the relationship was interesting. This whole issue of growing… being in a friendship and people changing was really a big thing. I found that interesting. Also, the issues of healthcare, of credit and all these little themes that are running through the movie made it interesting too.

Q. It doesn’t play around either. It’s prepared to go the whole way… it’s hard-hitting but it needs to be given that you’re repossessing people’s organs!
Jude Law: I agree and I’m glad you say so. I think also it’s important to remember that their complacency is one of the big messages of the film. That you, the audience, should be shocked at what they’re doing to people and what they’re willing to do to carry out their job. And yet they make light of it, go and have a beer afterwards and talk about it like they’re changing exhaust pipes on cars! I think it’s a reminder that we go and see a lot of violent films and come out thinking nothing about it. With this one, I think it’s quite affected and it’s quite a shock.

Q. What’s it like watching back a scene with you being operated on? Does it make you more squeamish?
Jude Law: You know what? One of the downsides of being in films is that whenever you watch your films back, all I can remember is what we did on the day, where the camera was, what I should have done better… I only really enjoy watching other people’s films now. It’s odd. That said, I like watching the bit where I have the pipes [coming out of my chest], which I had to act without them being there. So, seeing them add on the extra stuff, as they keep coming [out of my chest] is really quite gross [laughs]!

Q. The two of you share some great chemistry. When did you know you clicked with each other?
Jude Law: When everybody started telling us that we had great chemistry [laughs]!

Forest Whitaker: More like a couple of minutes ago, when you mentioned it!

Jude Law: It’s a funny thing. You’re thrown together, we hadn’t met, but we had a good period of time to rehearse and practise the fight scenes. We did a bit of research in those weeks. What can I say? He’s a very easy guy to get on with. He’s fun and I love his work and I love working with him. You just hope that’s going to be the case. I’ve been very lucky in that I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a total idiot that I’ve had to pretend with. But Forest is delightful and I think that shows on camera.

Forest Whitaker: You can see with Jude, even now, that he’s very open. He’s a great guy and that makes it fun. I guess this could have been a hard thing to do together because of the nature of some of the action, but it wasn’t at all.

Q. Forest, you’re a martial arts fan anyway and already studied it previously. What was the appeal?
Forest Whitaker: I was excited about doing some of the fight scenes because they’re fun and I’ve never gotten to do that in a film. I remember in rehearsals there was this one time when Geoff had all these guys attacking me and they were filming from above… it was fun! It’s like being a kid because you know that no one’s really going to knock you out.

Jude Law: And whatever you’re using for a weapon is rubber, so you can really let rip. It’s fantastic!

Q. But what made you actually want to get into martial arts in the first place?
Forest Whitaker: I was 12-years-old. I used to read all these Eastern philosophy books when I was little and they kind of prompted me to get into martial arts. So I did. But then I stopped for a long time and then started a different martial art. But I eventually went back to my first martial art, which I liked more.

Q. What makes science fiction such an enduring genre, in your opinion?
Jude Law: Well, it’s funny because we’ve been talking a lot about this. Is it, do you think, an opportunity to look at where we’re going, or indeed where we’re at socially, without looking directly in the mirror. It’s like being able to judge ourselves and the momentum we’re creating and where it’s taking us in certain themes and threads of life without looking too closely at ourselves.

Forest Whitaker: You get to examine issues and stories. All the great ones… in Blade Runner you get to explore humanity and what makes you human. Even Star Wars, you can look at war and oppression. And yet it’s safe because it feels removed.

Jude Law: There’s also a mythical, fable-istic kind of quality to science fiction that makes it timeless.

Forest Whitaker: Gattaca [co-starring Jude Law] was another one. You got to explore what is right… what makes you truly efficient? Is it your DNA? Or is it individual personality and your heart? He went after his dreams and was able to trick people for all that time. And now we’re talking about Gattaca [laughs]!

Read our review of Repo Men