Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Discuss the scene in the mirror, in which your character
vents his frustrations at American society, before turning his
anger on himself...
A. Actually, that idea kind of grew out of a conversation
that Spike and I were having. The thing in the mirror is in the
book, it's in the same scene as the dinner with the father. He
goes into the bathroom and has this conversation with himself,
in which he sort of vents his anger for the fact of many other
people getting away with many other things. You know, why is he
going down for this? But then, says 'no', it was, more than anything,
you, Monty Brogan...
But David didn't put that in his screenplay because, I think he
told me once, it was too interior a moment, yet Spike and I had
both circled it in the book, because in addition to it being one
of the few times that you get any glimpse into the emotions that
the character is feeling, it was definitely the first moment where
he starts to acknowledge any of his own responsibility.
I think we both felt that and at some point, Spike said that it
was almost like a love poem to the city, and when he said that,
I started thinking 'that's true', and in a way, what he's really
doing is preparing to leave it all, so that when he does actually
leave, it's the things that he sort of loves the most that are
saying goodbye to him.
The thing about the September 11 thing, is that some people have
come up and suggested that there is an inherently political context
to treating those events, and I disagree; I think, with the exception
of Barry and Brian Cox, most of the people who worked on this
film lives in New York...
Of course, there is a political context to that event, but there's
also an emotional context that has nothing to do with politics.
It's something that happened and it's part of the fabric of living
in that city now.
And I think if I had felt, at any time in the conversation about
what we were doing, that we were losing the focus from the story
of these human beings and the individual focus of their sort of
moral crisis, and digressing into a sort of political comment
on those events, I would have been very uncomfortable with it.
Not that you can't make a political comment on those events, but
that's not what this story was about.
But I always thought that what Spike was suggesting was not only
appropriate, it was essential; it seemed insane to make a story...
that same summer we made the film, they were shooting Maid In
Manhattan, so you're not going to point the cameras at Ground
Zero if you're making Maid In Manhattan, but we were making a
film about loss, and the consequences of choices, and of taking
things for granted, and to not allow that new emotional reality
into the background just seemed like kind of an insane denial,
to pretend that it hadn't happened.
I think you can address an emotional reality without it being
a political commentary and watching the film, when Spike first
showed it to me, I never felt that there was a political comment.
I always felt it was being honest about a new emotional reality
of living in that city.
Q. Has your incendiary speech, which is a startling moment
in a terrific film, caused any controversy at all, either for
the fact that it might be taken out of context if people aren't
paying attention, for instance, or that it might reflect the
views of the wider world in which we live at the moment?
A: Well, I think that if people aren't paying attention,
then there is really nothing that I can do. But if a journalist
drops his notepad and misses the sequence, right at the end,
where the character says, 'no, it was you', then that's not
my problem either; I mean, fundamentally, I don't think you
can ever do anything interesting if you're worried all the time
about it being misconstrued.
But, that said, I don't feel that this is happening. It's a
fair question, but other than journalists saying 'were you worried
about it', I haven't had a strong sense of anybody misinterpreting
I mean, it is an equal opportunity bit of insulting. People
have walked up and said, you know, it lambasts the immigrants,
but it lambasts a lot more than that; I think it's a very broad
People aren't always very literal in the way that they express
what they're feeling, I mean one of the things I find very touching
about Frank [Pepper] as a character, is that his cynicism about
9/11, the level of his intensity of his sort of judgement of
Monty, is revealed to be kind of an emotional defence aaginst
the enormous pain and fear he feels about what's happening to
In the scene in the Blue Room, the minute Monty expresses his
real fears, all of Frank's judgement just disappears... to me,
it's a sort of very tender portrayal of someone who's masking
their fear with this toughness, and I think that's certainly
a quality of people in New York in the wake of these events...
But I think that in the mirror, I think a lot of people when
they feel regret, they're instinct is, they don't say, 'Jesus,
you know, I'm an asshole', they lash out at other people, they
look for someone else to blame, before they're able to eventually
come round to accepting their own responsibility.
That, to me, is what's going on in that moment. But I don't
feel people missing it, and the last thing I'd say on that is,
if there's one thing I've admired about Spike's films fairly
consistently, is that he is not afraid to demand of an adult
audience; he doesn't talk down to his audiences, and I get very,
very tired of films that make sure you understand everything
that they've wanted you to understand, in a very safe way, because
I feel like I'm being treated as a 12-year-old.
I don't need everything explained to me, and I don't want everything
to be explained to me, and I actually think the critics tend
to be more guilty of that than a film-maker like Spike.
More often that not, it's the critics that go and under-estimate
audiences. You know, they said that Do The Right Thing will
lead to riots in the streets, well I doubt that very much and
it didn't really come to pass. I was 17-years-old when I saw
that movie and I got it.