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Dark Blue - Kurt Russell Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q: This is a really mean role you took on here, not a very sympathetic character, why were you interested to play him?
A: I was amazed that nobody had ever delved into the backdrop of the '92 LA riots. I liked the way this script didn't go specifically into the riots but into a whole different case and allowed you to meet people who are part and parcel in creating a situation that finally explodes. Eldon Perry was a spectacular character. He was extremely complex and a man dealing with a lot of modern day realities; the politics of crime, justice, legal methods. I just really liked it. I thought it was compelling.

Q: You have some historical perspective on the LA riots, what bought them on? Why did they happen?
A:
Well, I think what this movie is about, and it takes an hour and 50 minutes to tell the tale, is that these riots occurred because you have criminals doing horrible things and you have cops trying to stop them. The cops have been hired by society to do that, but society hired the cops within guidelines and what many cops find out is that they can't always stop criminals within these guidelines.
So, if you hold hard and fast to the rules, the crime rate goes through the roof; once you relax the guidelines, and if you're the individual cop that's going to do that, you bring crime down but you have society on your back for breaking the rules. It's a ball that goes back and forth.
What's interesting to me is this is the way it's supposed to work in modern society or any democracy. Society questions the police and their methods and the police say: "Do you want the criminals off the street or not?"
Well cops like Eldon Perry just laugh at it and say: "Well call me when you need me, I'm just a hired hand, I'm a gun fighter and I will go and do the job that you won't do. I'll go do it, but don't then scream at me because you don't like the way I do the job."
I think that makes for an interesting arrangement. You will always have criminals. People will always do illegal things and you are always going to have to deal with it.

Q: Doesn't he cross the line somewhere?
A:
He crosses the line that you and I have asked him not to cross and he just looks at us and says: "Alright, I won't cross the line. But if I don't, then these criminals will be running through your house in three weeks." So he says, 'you answer the question' and we do.
When we're told of these methods, we don't approve, we fire them, crime goes right up through the roof. So we go back out and get them or we produce people who will and then the crime goes down and, for a while, everyone's happy until they find out the methods that are being used and they get up in arms.
Like I said, it's a ball that goes back and forth. It's for us to answer; you can take the Eldon Perrys off the street easily, but you then can't take the criminals off the street, so we may not like the truth of the answer.

Q: Well, let's contrast his approach with Ving Rhames' character's approach...
A:
Ving's approach in this movie would be, 'this is not proper, and it can't be done'.
By exposing that, Ving's character will rise to the top. If he continues to hold hard and fast to the line it won't be long before the criminals realise that, the crime rate will go up, then everyone will be screaming at Ving's character to get something done.
The crime rates are going up, houses are being robbed, people are being killed, drugs on the street are rapid and worse and you need to do your job and he's either going to turn to Eldon Perry to come back or get fired for not doing anything and then we're back to where we started. Maybe that's just the way it is, maybe that's the way it is supposed to be.

Q: What effects does Eldon Perry's job have on him?
A:
I think that's what the hour and 50 minutes is about. You watch that, you watch what it does to him. It tears him apart. He's learned to love it but it has ruined his life.
He's an alcoholic but he is still trying to do his job even if it destroys the fabric of his being. I think it is an impossible job.
I played a fireman in Backdraft and I realised this a great job; everybody loves it when the fire department shows up, and the firemen are just good people who love their job, but people like Eldon Perry live in this world where everyone hates them, but they need him but won't admit that.
So he's not heralded except from within the department and they realise how good he is at the job. It's a cruel world and there's no satisfaction. I think it's an impossible job.

Q: A couple of years ago, when there were all these scandals going on in LA with the police, wasn't it a bunch of Eldon Perrys that were exposed?
A:
Sure and what's happening is, perhaps, that those events are taking place right now but the scandal hasn't taken place yet. When the scandal breaks, everyone starts yelling and screaming for the heads of those kinds of cops because that's what we're supposed to do.
They get tossed out and, years later, when the crime has gotten to the point where we have to say we've got to do something about this, they go and get the old Eldon Perry's, or new Eldon Perry's, back to calm the city down.
That seems to go up and down, up and down, until it finally gets to a point where all the stars are lined up and everything explodes. That seems to happen about every 30 years in major American cities.

Q: I hear it's about every 20 in LA?
A:
Yeah, we get about 20. My guess would be somewhere in the next 20 years it will happen again, that's if history teaches us or tell us anything. If we don't try to learn from history, it will happen again.

Q: You read the screenplay a long time before you decided to make it, what finally persuaded you?
A:
We kept working on it and working on it and working on it and finally, Ron Shelton came on. I thought his take on it was the exact right one because we felt similarly on the issue.
We didn't want to take the hard edge out of it, but we wanted to be able to present it in a fashion and with a character so that you could stay with it, instead of saying finally I hate him and I can't stand him.
Then it would just have been a condemnation of the police department and that's not a movie that's worth making.
I don't think it's not true and it shouldn't be made but it doesn't have any reality that's worth listening to.
But when you end up leaving the movie with questions and dilemmas in your head, saying at first I hated him, then I felt bad for him, then I hated him, and then I felt bad for him again, and then I realized he was in a tight spot, when you get that reaction out of the central character in this story, and who is generic to the back drop of the LA riots, then I think you can have something that is compelling through a complex character and I thought that was a great opportunity.

Q: Is that your son in the film, the boy who plays your son?
A:
No, that's my nephew, my youngest sister's middle son. We were trying for my son, who's the right age, who looks very much like me because we wanted, having talked about the character, people to say, 'oh, that's Eldon's son, oh that's the kid'.
Unfortunately, my son wasn't available because he was playing hockey and didn't have the time. I said I do have a nephew and when you see him you'll know he's in the family, so that's what happened. People ask that question quite often and I'm happy to tell them because I found that to be very important piece of the puzzle.

Q: Kurt, we've almost seen you grow up on TV. Every time I watch TV on the weekends, there you are at a different age and now it's passing on to the next generation. What is it like to grow up in front of everyone and now have your kids and Goldie's kids go follow the same path?
A:
Well, my Dad was a ball player and an actor and I was a ball player and an actor, so I just followed in his footsteps.
I saw his world, I liked it and I liked that he enjoyed it and I said, well, you know what's not to like here?
I realise with the kids and the world they were seeing, there was no reason for them not to say, 'this seems like this will be interesting, fun, challenging and satisfying'. So far two have.
Oliver's doing really well. He's working on the last year of Dawson's Creek and Katie's life is about to change in a bunch of different ways, due to the success she's having.
They've been taught that it's about the work. You must make your life's work about that, its not about what people think of it, how people evaluate it, or what they might give you for it, or what they might take away from you, because of it.
It's about the work, just whatever it is let it be, but go to work every day and remember the reason you like this is because you enjoy the challenge of it and you want to do well.
So that was all that our kids were ever sort of taught and I think it's a good lesson to learn. It gives the person the opportunity of really enjoying life in a very exciting film but it can be destructive so beware of that, but go for it!

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