In the new, fast-paced action thriller "Paparazzi", Cole Hauser, in his first leading role, stars as a movie star who finds his once idyllic life with his beautiful wife [Tunney] shattered when being hounded by an obsessive group of tabloid photographers. Chatting in a Los Angeles hotel room, stars Hauser and Tunny insist that this is movie is not quite reality, as they explained to PAUL FISCHER.
Paul Fischer: Do you think a film like this will reinforce the idea that entertainment journalists are tabloid reporters?
Cole Hauser: Actually, I don’t. These paparazzi, in the movie, are pretty much your extreme version of paparazzi, in general, as far as I know. I definitely don’t generalize and put everybody in the same cup of water.
Robin Tunney: I think the film is not supposed to be based in reality. It’s entertainment. These guys are scumbags with a capital S. They get murdered and you’re happy when they are, but it’s entertainment. It’s not a documentary. The lengths that they go to are heightened reality.
P.F: How close do you think this is to classic revenge movies?
CH: Well, this is an original way of revenge. It’s probably the dream of a lot of actors and artists to live out this kind of revenge, but I don’t really know if there is a movie quite like the way he does it. We tried to make it as smart as it could be, in a realistic world, and we’ll see if we failed or succeeded.
P.F: What kind of experiences have either of you had with paparazzi?
RT: I read about myself. There was an article in The Enquirer about my soft-core porn history, and that my husband, Bob Gosse, really got me into it. And, my mom was like, "Is there a movie you’re not telling us about?" [Laughs] Basically, I had written an article for Jane magazine and it was about how terrifying it is to take your top off in a movie. I’d written it myself, and they’d taken the article and made it into my shocking sexual past, or something. I looked at it and I thought I was going to learn something. I was like, "Really? It was shocking?" My mom was upset, and I called my lawyer and was like, "What do I do? First of all, my husband looks like a perv, and it looks like I’m dirty." They word everything so specifically that you don’t have a legal leg to stand on. The weirdest thing was that it was excerpts from everything that I had written myself. I, also, am badly dressed to The Enquirer, which I consider a compliment.
P.F: What are your worst premiere experiences?
CH: I don’t really have a bad premiere experience. They’re exciting, at first. I think, when you first get into the business, you’re excited about going down the line and seeing what that’s like. Similar to the beginning of this movie, I’ve probably locked up, more times than not, when I was asked a question. When people are yelling your name, "Cole! Cole! Cole!" and there’s flashes going off, I think you start to lose a sense of where you are, in reality. In the beginning of this movie, they actually used a take that I actually screwed up in because there was so much going on that I just forgot what I was saying. You feel like you’re on a huge stage and everybody’s looking at you. It can be embarrassing.
RT: That was actually the most realistic moment in the movie. It was really strange because I was at work, but I felt like I was at a premiere. I felt like I wasn’t making a movie, but I was promoting it. That part is very real, and I thought he did a good job of showing the audience what it feels like. You feel like the biggest, fakest person. You’re like, "I’m a cheerleader, and I’m not an actor."
P.F: Is there much room to improvise in a movie like this?
CH: I know Sizemore did a lot. He was perfect for this role. I think he was born to do this character. He’s had so much stuff happen with him in his life, that he’s actually able to really understand it and play that to a T. And, I think he did a great job with it.
RT: It’s great. They’re so despicable that they die and you’re not worried about their parents. You’re like, "These people don’t have parents, and they’re evil spawn. Go Cole! Excellent job!"
P.F: Do you feel like it’s become more difficult for you to maintain a sense of normalcy and privacy, the more aware the public has become of each of you, as actors? Or, given the types of projects you choose, does it not concern you as much?
CH: I haven’t really had any experiences, as far as having paparazzi sit outside of my house or following me around on the street. But, I actually don’t really go to places where they do that, unless they knew where I lived or what kind of car I drive. It depends on this movie, too. I actually ran into paparazzi the other day, and he was really excited about the movie. He was excited that they were doing a movie about him. And, I thought that that was fascinating. He was excited that, "Hey, you know what? They’re making a movie about me." And, they essentially are, it’s just no longer you looking in, it’s you looking out.
P.F: How do you think the paparazzi industry will react to this film?
CH: I’m curious. I can’t wait to see. I think they could be excited about it. As much as actors and musicians love press, these guys want press too. They want to be known as, "Hey, I took the shot of Julia Roberts when she was bent down, falling over drunk." And, they want to make the money, too.
P.F: Did you do research for this, or is it completely in your imagination?
CH: I talked with people that have gone through certain situations, but I didn’t sit with paparazzi and interview them. I had no desire or need for that. But, I sat and talked with friends, and Mel was good enough to talk with me about certain situations he had been through. I had been around Bruce Willis for two straight movies, so I saw the way the paparazzi follows him, and the way the public is with him. He’s a mega-star over in Europe. We spent 14 days in France and Germany, and all these places, and you really get an idea of what it’s like to be a huge celebrity, and it was good for me to watch from afar and see what it’s like.
P.F: Do you believe in revenge?
CH: Yeah. I don’t know if you have kids or a wife, or what, but if somebody beat your wife up or, on purpose, hurt her in some way, I think you’d feel like it’s fair game now.
P.F: Do you believe in an eye for an eye?
CH: To an extent, yeah.
P.F: Robin, how tough was your fight scene with Daniel Baldwin?
RT: He got hurt. His knee snapped really badly. You could hear it. I’ve been working in movies for 10 years and I’m a chick, so I get beaten up and cry in most things I do. So, I’ve got a thicker skin by now.
P.F: Which do you prefer?
RT: I prefer the getting beaten up. But, usually, as a girl, you only get to kick the guy in the balls. That’s as bad as it gets. So, I’m looking forward to a role where I hit in the face, and not just the balls.
P.F: Would you like to be an action heroine?
RT: That would be fun, yeah.
CH: I could definitely see you doing that.
P.F: Were there more sub-plots that might have gotten cut out?
RT: The script is there.
CH: We didn’t have days just to fool around and shoot stuff. This was filmed in 36 days, so we got everything that we had to get.
P.F: In your mind, this is more of an Indie film then a studio film then?
CH: Oh, god, yes.
P.F: Is that the direction that you both choose to take? Or, is it that mainstream Hollywood just hasn’t discovered you yet?
RT: Everything that you read now is like a remake of a movie you’ve already seen, a television show you’ve seen, or a franchise. You just try to find something that you didn’t read already, and it seems like, with independent film, things are more character driven or more abhorrent, and they’re more interesting. You don’t want to make a movie that’s already been made. And, whenever you think of ‘Paparazzi,’ you’ve never seen anything like it. I haven’t.
P.F: Cole, how was it to do your first leading role?
CH: I’d say the major experience was being at work six days a week, as opposed to three days a week. All I did to lighten the load for myself was work even harder and just make sure I was even more prepared. It was a great experience. I enjoyed having more creative control, more talks with the writer, and more talks with the producers. Me and Paul (the director) hit it off immediately and had a lot of time to sit and talk.
RT: Cole was like the sheriff, though. He was amazing. If there was an extra that looked like they were in another movie, he’d be like, "What’s that guy doing over there? What’s going on? That’s wrong. What are they doing? Why are they doing that?" He was incredibly hard-working.
CH: It was fun. It was a great experience, for me. It was a wonderful first experience. And then, having the actors that were in the movie, along with Robin, are really veterans who take care of their own.
P.F: Which was the most fun cameo for you?
CH: Probably Vince. I definitely want to work with him again. He’s one of those guys where, you give him a direction to go in, and he’ll [zig zag] to get there, but he’s a genius doing it.
P.F: Were you surprised that they were able to get that calibre of cameos?
CH: Yes and no. With Vince, he’s a close friend of mine, and I asked him to do something. He supports whatever I do, and vice versa. I’m very happy that he did it. And, it keeps you in the believability of Hollywood. Just like ‘The Player,’ any great movie that’s about Hollywood, you need to see celebrities. You need to see Mel Gibson, you need to see Matthew [McConaughey], you need to see Vince, so that you feel like, "Hey, this is real. This is Hollywood. There’s Vince Vaughn. He’s doing a bit part in ‘Adrenaline Force 2.’ Holy shit!" It’s cool. It’s one of those things that bring you back to the reality of where you are.
RT: I also think that Cole’s been around and always been a great actor, and they were probably really happy to see you get to play a lead and wanted to support that. I mean, how come it took this long? He’s always good.
P.F: Do you think this film will allow you to fight less for leading roles?
CH: You never stop fighting, ever. The day that you do that, you’re done, truthfully. You can ask Mel Gibson, or any of these guys. They’re working just as hard or harder. I worked with Duvall three years ago on an independent movie in Scotland, and this guy sat and listened to a Scottish dialect every second that he wasn’t on the set. I asked him, "What do you think it is that’s made you so good, in my opinion, over the years?" And, he said, "Man, it’s hard work. You just have to keep working. You don’t take any days off. Don’t take a second off. The day you do, you miss, you lose."
RT: If you think about it, people work really hard to get to a certain point, but then, they have to work just as hard to stay there. They can’t make a wrong choice. It’s almost like it’s more fragile once they’re huge. With a film’s success or failure, they can’t say, "Oh, that director was a hack." They’re carrying the film, and it’s their name and their face. I think that there’s just as much stress once you’re already famous.
P.F: How involved was Mel Gibson on the set?
CH: He was doing ‘The Passion’ for the first, I’d say, 3/4 of the movie, and then he came back and came down 5, 6, 7 times and hung out. The funny thing about Mel was that he didn’t come in and go, "This is what’s happening. We need to do this, we need to do that. You’re not doing this right." He’s not that kind of guy. He came in and sat back on the sidelines and let Paul and myself and Robin and Tom do their parts, and didn’t sit there and critique us or judge us. And then, when the movie was all put together, he was happy. I was really impressed by that. I was impressed by his confidence in the cast and the crew, and I think he got a good movie for that.
P.F: Would you ever go into production on a sequel for a film while you’re still premiering the first film?
CH: If I believed in it, sure, why not? If I believed in it and thought that it could be successful, absolutely.
P.F: What are you guys up to next?
CH: I’m having a child next — my first. I just finished a film and I got back, and I’m just taking a minute off.
P.F: Which film was that?
CH: ‘The Cave.’
P.F: And, Robin, you’re doing an Indie film? RT: Yeah, I did a film about the Zodiac Killer called ‘In Control of All Things,’ and I really liked it. It’s with Rory Culkin and Phillip Baker Hall. It turned out well. I’ve got a Culkin as a child.
P.F: Cole, when is your wife expecting?
CH: Hopefully, in about two weeks. She’s got a hot one in the chamber.
P.F: Do you have the baby’s room all ready?
CH: No. You know what? I don’t.
P.F: Do you know if it’s a girl or a boy?
CH: It’s a boy, yeah. My brother just moved out, so we’re using his room.
P.F: How long was your brother living with you?
CH: For three years. It’s time for him to go out into the world.
P.F: How old is he?
CH: He just turned 21.
P.F: How did you break the news to him?
CH: I said, "You’re out." [Laughs] And he went, "Come on, man!" But, he’s doing well for himself, so he’ll be fine.
P.F: Do you have a name for your son yet?
CH: Not yet. I’m going to meet him first.
P.F: After the experience of making this film, do you feel you have a more adversarial relationship with the media now?
CH: No, and I’ll tell you why. There’s good and bad in every business that you’re involved in. Like I said earlier, these are four extreme paparazzi. I’ve met paparazzi in certain places that have asked me nicely, "Hey, can I take your picture?" and I’ve said, "No," and they’ve said, "Okay, fin. Thanks, Cole, see you later." I’m not going to put anything out there that’s going to be bad. If this movie succeeds, are they going to come after me? I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
P.F: Is it important for you to protect your child from those situations?
CH: Yeah, definitely. And, there’s ways to do that. I feel like I have an idea of how to do that. Like in this film, I think there should be a line drawn in the sand, as far as being able to take a picture of your son at a soccer game where people would be able to know where he was and, possibly, abduct him. I think there are certain things that they could do that are a little bit more classy, as far as paparazzi. But, if it happens, it happens, and I’ll deal with it when I get there. I don’t know if this is going to change my life. It might, it might not. Who knows? We’ll see.
RT: It seems like it’s perfectly clear, when you watch the film, that it’s entertainment. It’s not presenting itself as a documentary. I can’t see anybody thinking, "Oh, that’s how they’re painting me.
CH: I have a feeling that it’s going to be the opposite of what most people would assume, which is paparazzi wanting a piece of my ass. I think they’re going to come up and go, "Man, that was cool. Thanks a lot for making that movie."
P.F: And, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously.
CH: It’s definitely not a comedy, but it has fun moments and it has serious moments and moments that you, hopefully, will walk out of the theatre and talk about over dinner later.
P.F: Are you intimidated by the prospect of fame, and what happens as a result of fame?
CH: Not really, no.
P.F: Do you want fame?
CH: I don’t want fame, I want success. Fair enough?
RT: You know, it’s weird. I think that there are certain actors who go to bed at night and they’re like, "I’m going to wear the slinkiest dress to that premiere tomorrow and I’m going to get my picture taken and I’m going to be famous!" And, they date famous people and they’re really into the celebrity of it all. That’s never interested me. That’s never been the part that I’m most comfortable with. I like actually making the movies and I like the whole process of doing that. You do press and it’s respectful and you want people to go and see the movie and you’re nice to people, but it’s not what I go to sleep thinking about. And, I think my choices have been really clear.
P.F: You’re about to shoot two other movies, aren’t you?
RT: Yeah, where nothing good happens to anybody and I’m not getting paid any money, and nobody will probably see them, but there will be that one person at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf who rented it and they’ll be devastated that they saw it, and they’ll walk up and they’ll have tears in their eyes, and I’ll feel fantastic. I go to Sundance and I’ll get some free stuff at Sundance, and I’ll be partying down with Bob Redford. I get the schwag.
P.F: Cole, can you talk about ‘The Cave’?
CH: It’s about an underwater expedition of cave divers. Basically, they go into the Carpathian Mountains in northern Romania and get inside of a cave and go about a mile and a half in and about three miles underground, and one of my divers gets in a situation and ends up blowing his scooter up, which is a scooter that pulls you through, so you don’t have to swim. Basically, the exit gets blocked, and it’s about finding a way out. It’s underwater for the first part of it and then it’s, basically, caving, which is climbing rocks inside of caves.
P.F: How daunting is that?
CH: It was pretty insane.
P.F: Did you do any training for that?
CH: Yeah, I actually trained. I don’t know how much you know about underwater cave divers, but there’s a ton of these people that are good, and then there’s about a handful that are just unbelievable. They really are earth’s astronauts. It’s one of those things where they do shit that would absolutely scare the living bejesus out of any of us.
P.F: Was it scary to film?
CH: Yeah. I’m not a big underwater person, to be honest with you. I was on a re-breather, which is kind of what the astronauts use. They had this one sequence where this thing kind of crumbles behind me and they were actually dropping live rocks on top of me. I had a helmet on, and stuff like that, but it was intense. I’ve seen about 30 minutes of it and it’s one of those movies where you’re holding your breath. It’s scary. There is a creature in the film, which I don’t even think you need because it’s so scary on its own, but that just adds to the next element of trying to get out of this situation.
P.F: Do you long to do something with less action?
CH: I’m constantly looking for all kinds of different things. I don’t want to keep repeating myself. I definitely don’t want to be stuck or pigeonholed into one thing and have people say, "Hey, you’re great at doing that, just keep doing that." If that was the case, I’d just keep playing bad guys.
PAPARAZZI OPENS ON FRIDAY