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Sin City - Benicio Del Toro interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q: Were Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller true to their vision? Has the film turned out the way that they told you it would be?
A:
Yes, totally. Maybe even more. They basically said we’re going to turn the comic book into a film and boy they stayed pretty damn close to it even using real actors. It would have been truer turning it into a cartoon I guess but by using real actors they stayed very true in spirit and in soul to what Frank Miller created.

Q: There’s a memorable scene with your character and Dwight, played by Clive Owen, where you have a gun barrel sticking out of your forehead. What was that like?
A:
You don’t feel it, to be honest with you [laughs] I don’t want to be like a wise guy here. You just don’t feel it. What’s weird is when you see it on the screen and then you are like ‘oh, I remember that day..’ But those guys who did the make up, they are terrific, they make it painless and they glue that stuff fast and sturdy and that thing was on my forehead the whole day that we did it without sagging at all.

Q: Was it actually good fun doing those scenes?
A:
Oh yeah, At some point there was Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriquez, Frank Miller sitting there, we are surrounded by green screen and there’s not even a car, we’re sat on apple boxes and a steering wheel and I just looked at Clive and he looked at me and he just started laughing. Because for him it would have been the actor he is working with has got a gash like this (indicates side of his face) and we both started laughing, we just couldn’t hold it. And after that we barely finished one take, it was just fun.

Q: You look completely different because of the make up you wear for the character. Does that help or hinder?
A:
I think it’s helpful in the fact that you can hide, you know. In most movies less is more but in this movie more is more, really. Or you can make it that way. And so doing this movie with the make up and all that stuff made it better for me because it’s that kind of movie.

Q; How do you approach building up a character?
A:
Well, with this one I wanted to sound like Tom Waits and I ended up sounding more like Michael Wincott who is a friend and I called him and said ‘Michael I’m sorry, I ended up sounding a bit like you but I didn’t mean to..’ because he has a very distinctive voice, a great voice, so I sound a little bit like him. But it all comes down to the script, that’s the bottom line, the script is the most important thing, for me anyway. And then from there you try to make an interpretation on that character.

Q: Are you a fan of noir?
A:
Yeah, I think that Frank Miller has a lot of Dashiell Hammett, you know the tough banter from women and men, the femme fatale, it’s all over Miller’s writing and he’s very much influenced by Raymond Chandler.

Q: What about the technical aspect of the movie? Did the green screen bother you or do you take the view that you just have to get on with it?
A:
You just go for it. I mean, it could have bugged me for about 15 minutes but in the end you just get used to it and it’s a bit like doing a play where there’s no props. You know, I could be in a play and I’m supposed to be in Central Park but there is no park there, there’s nothing but I’m looking at the trees. So it was kind of like that.

Q: What attracted you to Sin City?
A:
What really attracted me was Robert Rodriquez in the beginning, you know, and I actually met him at a party. I knew who he was and I knew his movies and he came up to me and said ‘hey, don’t cut your hair..’ And I said ‘OK, what’s wrong with this guy..’ You know, like what was that supposed to mean? And the next day I get a phone call and we meet up and he opens his laptop and he had shot the first sequence you see in the movie already.
I saw that and I said ‘well, I don’t know Frank Miller’s book but count me in' because it looked like it was going to be an adventure. I met him the next day, I went to see him and he had shot already the opening sequence of Sin City and you know when I saw it – I’ve been in the business a long time and I knew he was up to something special, something unique. And it was like ‘yeah, I’m interested..’ and then I got The Big Fat Kill written by Frank Miller, took it, read it and I called him and said ‘OK’ The schedule was five days, that’s all.

Q: Because it’s a graphic novel translation does that make the violence less disturbing do you think?
A:
For me it does. I mean, hey look at Road Runner, he’s falling off cliffs all the time and look at Tom and Jerry they beat the hell out of each other. So this is like that in a way, at least for me. It’s over the top violence, not real.

Q: What does your character represent in the tale?
A:
For me, he’s someone who has forgotten where he’s come from, he got success and turned on everything he stood for. He was a hero cop, got all the power and forgot all the things he stood for and just became addicted for more power and yeah, he’s a bad guy. The type of guy you don’t really like, they get to the top of the mountain and they forget where they came from.

Q: Robert was saying you requested some prosthetics. Why was that?
A:
Frank Miller is not only the writer he is also the artist behind the book, so the drawings of Jackie Boy were a little bit pointier than my face. Robert works with this group of K and B and they are terrific prosthetic guys and I said ‘look since we have the best, why don’t we just try it..’ and Robert agreed. I kind of like that face (laughs). I remember when Quentin Tarantino showed up and he liked the fact too..

Q: You got to work with all three of the directors, including with Quentin for the sequence he did. I gather he was just a little uncomfortable with some of the technology and the green screen….
A:
Yeah, he was. You know Quentin is a force of nature and he walked in and Quentin Tarantino became the lead star on the set, you know, and he is just really good. All the ideas he put on the table we just went to try and accomplish these ideas.

Q: The dialogue is virtually lifted from the graphic novels. How did that work?
A:
I thought the dialogue was very good. But it is based on the books and they talk and talk and talk whereas in reality they might not talk that much. But I think the dialogue is terrific, it’s very Dashiell Hammett or (Philip) Marlowe. It’s very much like that, a throw back to those film noirs of the forties. We try to keep the dialogue as straight forward as possible.

Q: What kind of a challenge was it trying to translate the graphic novel frame by frame to the screen?
A:
You know, it’s interesting for me it was like having a road map for what you are going to do. It was almost a beat by beat of what my character was supposed to do. And Robert wanted to stay very close to the book, he didn’t want to explore other stuff. And when you have a script usually you don’t see it you just read it, so I have an idea, he has an idea, everybody has different ideas about how it is going to look, but here the idea was on paper so we just kept it as close as we could and we stayed on the line. We had a good blueprint and I knew that coming into it.

 

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