Giovani Ribisi took a dusty seat to yak up his latest “A Million Ways to Die in the West”, now on DVD and Blu-ray.
Q: What was it about A Million Ways to Die in the West that made you want to be a part of it?
A: I was just excited about working with Seth MacFarlane because there is nobody like him!
Q: What did you think of the script when you read it?
A: I loved the script because it was really funny but, at the same time, also had a lot of heart.
Q: Being such an accomplished dramatic actor, do you enjoy working on a comedy like this film?
A: I enjoy comedy if I’m working with someone like Seth because I have a massive amount of respect for him and for everything that he does. More than genres, it really comes down to the people you are working with. This applies more in the case of someone like Seth because he has his own stamp and style of filmmaking.
Q: Did you feel the same way about TED, Seth’s previous movie?
A: Yes, I did. In watching the film, you could immediately tell that Seth knew what he was doing. He loves making films and is one of those guys that has seen his favorite movies a thousand times and knows every beat.
Q: Seth has voiced many characters, but we have never really seen him have so much screen presence before. What was it like acting opposite him?
A: I think Seth knew he had to be utterly prepared, to the extent where it almost felt like second nature to him, and he was. My firsthand experience with him as an actor made me think that it was almost effortless for him.
Q: What is Seth like as a filmmaker?
A: Seth is very specific and knows exactly what he is doing. It’s just one of those rare cases of talent where he can comprehend in a moment where the camera needs to be, what the acting should be like, and what lighting, writing or rhythm he requires. At the same time, he is also open to other actors improvising.
Q: Did you get to improvise on set?
A: Yes, we did. However, we would just talk about those ideas beforehand mostly rather than having some inspiration and making things up in the moment,
Q: What was it like to work so closely with a great comedian like Sarah Silverman who plays Ruth, your character’s girlfriend in the movie?
A: I was terrified at first because Sarah is someone who gets up in front of thousands of people and has a viewpoint that, at the beginning of the show, probably most of them will disagree with, but then she will have the audience in the palm of her hand by the end of the night. That’s someone who has a lot of talent! It was very easy to work with her because she also knows what she is doing.
Q: You and Sarah both have great chemistry on screen.
A: The truth is that it felt like we had the kind of special connection you always cherish and look for in this career, one where everything just feels very natural.
Q: What kind of a man is Edward, your character?
A: That question is precisely the problem that Edward is dealing with. I actually feel that Ruth, Sarah’s character, helps or allows him to become a man. Edward is definitely innocent and stuck in these beliefs or values that he maintains until she sort of liberates him. They are also truly in love. My character is a virgin who is engaged to a prostitute, but they have a very sweet relationship. They want to respect each other. It is quite funny.
Q: What can you say about Charlize Theron?
A: I can say that she is totally ballsy. Seth was very specific about his style, which also demanded that you performed with heart and vulnerability and authenticity. Charlize delivered all of that.
Q: The title of the film jokes with how rough those times in the West must have been to endure.
A: The genius of the writers was to joke with the fact that it probably was a terrible and very raw place and moment in time to live in.
Q: At the same time, the scope of the movie is quite impressive and beautiful!
A: The large scale is the other great thing about the film. It really has that scope. On one hand, it shows how horrible and disgusting it must have been, but on the other hand, it is also really cinematic and sophisticated. It looks beautiful. There are some spectacular shots!
Q: What did you think of the music in the film?
A: Personally, the music in the movie proves that Seth MacFarlane has this whole other talent. He is a musicologist and has amazing taste.
Q: Liam Neeson plays the villain in this movie. What can you tell us about him?
A: Liam does play the villain, but he also has a wonderful sense of humor. My experiences with him on set were brief, but I understood why he is a legend in his own right. Liam fit perfectly in a comedy like this.
Q: In a way, all of the characters in A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST laugh at themselves.
A: Laughing at oneself is very healthy, and it speaks to the human nature of the film.
Q: Was it hard to keep a straight face at times?
A: Yes, I would break all the time! I trained myself to hold it for three beats until I knew they could cut away. Luckily, Seth was very patient with me.
Q: The film was shot in New Mexico. How was the experience of shooting there?
A: There is a very spiritual quality in New Mexico that made me understand why people want to go there and have a retreat.
Q: What did you think of A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST when you finally saw it on the big screen?
A: It is hard to be objective when talking about the film because I remember the context of every moment and what surrounded it. However, watching this film was a great experience. I almost felt like I had been involved in making a classic. It was a privilege.