Interview: 'Passion Play' Director Mitch Glazer On Rourke, Murray and Megan Fox With Wings
A sensual and mysterious Megan Fox – with wings. That alone should warrant multiple film viewings, but throw in some obsessed Mickey Rourke, sassy Kelly Lynch (love her!) and unsettling Bill Murray and you’ve got the new to DVD/Blu-ray flick "Passion Play" hitting shelves on May 31 from Image Entertainment. Rourke plays a washed-up jazz musician on the run from gangster Murray who happens upon angelic carnival bird woman Fox and sees a way to possibly wash his dirty slate clean. Rife with many twists and turns in a noir world where nothing is as it seems, the film is the directorial debut of "Scrooged" and "The Recruit" screenwriter Mitch Glazer. (Who is also married to the ever-timeless Lynch – lucky dog!) Starpulse got a chance to chat one-on-one with Glazer about his journey getting the film to the screen, securing his eclectic cast and the insight behind having a lead character with wings. Up and away, here’s…
DIRECTOR MITCH GLAZER!
As a title, "Passion Play" is an inspired choice – can you talk a bit on how it came about?
Mitch Glazer: It’s weird – it was kind of intuitive. It was always the title and I wrote the first draft of it centuries ago! (Laughs) But it was always the title and I always thought it was the notion of redemption through love and the journey that Mickey’s character Nate goes on, while not a religious one, is still one of coming to grips with his life. It always felt appropriate and, in my head anyhow, had romance which is the heart of the movie as well. It was the only title it ever had.
I read that you had a twenty-year dedication to the project, so what were some of trials and tribulations behind getting the film made?
MG: In my eyes it was romantic and hopeful, although it has a fable quality to it and she does have wings. But when I first went in and pitched it, I’d done "Scrooged" before and I guess I had been known for that kind of tone. I wanted to make it very clear that was gonna have more of a noir feel to it. What I didn’t want was to be "Splash" with wings, which would have been a bigger hit, but not what my intention was. But because the movie is personal those are harder to get made. I initially wrote it for my wife Kelly Lynch to play the lead really, but in the course of time it took to put the financing together and all the pieces together, it became clear that she’d be great to play Harriet, Nate’s close friend and the grounding force of the movie. So Megan came out of nowhere truthfully, out of the blue and was just so incredibly perfect for the role with her iconic beauty. I was looking for an Ava Gardner, timeless look and her vulnerability and the fact that she connected with the material so strongly – she was the last piece of the puzzle.
Megan Fox has a very ethereal quality in this film that we haven’t seen from her before – was that a conscious decision on your part during the casting and shooting?
MG: The woman I met was so in character - she’d read the script three or four times – that when we met for lunch it’s a version of what you see on screen. Now I don't know how much of that is her in real life, but she came so prepared and with such a fully formed take on the character. I mean we’re putting her between Academy Award nominated actors Mickey and Bill and she just killed them and she never broke for the entire shoot.
Mickey Rourke is a unique choice for the lead. What made you think of him for the role of Nate Poole?
MG: I was always a huge fan and simultaneously I’ve known Mickey since we were fifteen. We grew up together in Miami and my mother was his English teacher in high school. So I knew him and there was a lovely history of short hand and trust. And I gave him the script about a year before "Sin City" and it was really a dark time for him. Then "Sin City" and "The Wrestler" happened and it was actually great timing to have him for the financing, but I always thought he was perfect. Initially it was written to be a failed screenwriter who becomes a Hollywood confidential gossip monger and when Mickey and I first met he said initially, “Would you mind if he was a trumpet player – I’ve always to play a Chet Baker type guy who’s got problems in his past?” It was such an inspired perfect call I was like, “Absolutely!”
Kelly Lynch and Mickey had worked previously on the Michael Cimino film "Desperate Hours" and I was curious if that added to the obvious chemistry between them in this film?
MG: That’s a great note – it actually did! In fact Kelly is one of Mickey’s favorite actresses and he just loved her from "Desperate Hours." From the very beginning it was one of those things that Mickey wanted to happen and I did as well because I think she’s wonderful in "Drugstore Cowboy" and all those movies. But they do have a real flirtatious, (jokingly) and I’m praying, platonic relationship that is fun to watch and they’re pretty much best friends. They’re great together and she gives such a strong, grounded earthy performance that whenever she’s on screen I think people are happy.
Can you talk about Megan Fox's wings for a moment – how did they either help or hinder in terms of making the film?
MG: I always wanted them to be not angelic and not demonic, they were kind of funky and real. We had some practical wings that were made with swan feathers and they were used in a few shots and then the rest were the CG ones. Truthfully it was very ambitious – there were two hundred effects shots and we had a fourteen million dollar budget. Part of the deal was the wings had to be real and it’s a struggle because without the money that you can really throw at CG when you really need it becomes specific and surgical about how you use them. But we had prop wings for Megan to use in scenes that were kind of behind her at times and I thought it was wonderful – it added another dimension to the movie.
Having Bill Murray play the villain is some great casting. Having worked with him through the years on "Scrooged" and "Lost in Translation" and now "Passion Play," how has he changed as an actor and a person?
MG: John Belushi introduced me to Bill in 1978 I believe it was and even though we met each other we didn’t become really close good friends until "Scrooged." He’s just one of the brightest, most mysterious and special men in my life. And I’ve seen him in situations where he’s a big forceful presence and I knew he would be cerebral and off and original. The idea of playing the heavy opposite Mickey Rourke, you’d better come really inspired because Mickey’s a really powerful guy, but Bill was so strange and in character that I think he freaked Mickey out. But it’s a blessing to work with him. As a person I just think he’s wise – there’s a wisdom to him.
It was great to see Kelly in this film, so can we look forward to more movie collaborations between the two of you?
MG: Actually, I’m in Miami doing a TV series called "Magic City" about Miami Beach in 1959 and Kelly is in it. I wrote a character for her and you’ll get to see it the first quarter of 2012 I believe.
"Passion Play" hits DVD and Blu-ray on May 31 from Image Entertainment.
Title: "Passion Play"
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox, Bill Murray
Director: Mitch Glazer
Runtime: 94 minutes
Release Company: Image Entertainment