Interview: 'Seeking Justice' Star Harold Perrineau On Roger Donaldson, Acting Styles And Abel Ferrara
You may not know his name, but to see prolific actor Harold Perrineau makes him instantly recognizable. Be it "The Edge," "28 Weeks Later" or even "The Matrix Reloaded" and Revolutions, Perrineau has worked with some of the best Hollywood has to offer. His latest outing is now exception, with Perrineau teaming up with the likes of Nic Cage, Guy Pearce and January Jones for the vengeance action thriller "Seeking Justice." (On DVD/Blu-ray June 19 from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment) The film, which is helmed by "No Way Out" director Roger Donaldson, has Perrineau playing the best friend of Cage’s family man pushed to the edge that has a lot more to him then meets the eye. We got a chance to chat one-on-one with Perrineau about "Seeking Justice" and its notable cats and director, but also took a glimpse into his past and future work to keep the movie geeks going! Here’s...
Your character in "Seeking Justice" Jimmy seems to be on various sides of the fence when it comes to crime and punishment – how would you describe him?
Harold Perrineau: I would describe him as a person with really great intentions that strays from the path he originally started. A guy who really believes in what he’s doing and it takes a turn that even he didn’t expect.
Working with some very notable actors in this one can you talk a bit about their various processes when working – Nic Cage, January Jones and Guy Pearce?
HP: I’ll start with Guy Pearce because that’s the quickest as we didn’t get a lot of time together and I’m a huge Guy Pearce fan. It was great to hang around and to see what he does. It’s really intense, it’s really thorough and it’s really thought out. January comes from a very genuine place in herself, so not abrasive or in your face, but just very mellow. And then there’s Mr. Cage who is all those things that you might expect him to be. He’s always acting, always working and always challenging because as an actor you want to stay on par with his intensity and so for me that was a great learning experience.
You’re also working with legendary filmmaker Roger Donaldson in this one – what kind of a director is he?
HP: Roger is a very interesting guy – he’s very detail oriented. For the most part it’s really helpful, but sometimes you have to go give me a second because he really is into the details of it. But he’s just a really gracious man and a smart director and he will keep going until he gets it right. I have a lot of respect for that.
Talking previously to Roger Donaldson he mentioned that the film originally had a different title – what did you think of the first title?
HP: The original title was The Hungry Rabbit Jumps and I was all on board. I thought it was perfect, it was unique and you don’t know what that means and you want to find out. That’s exactly what I feel that the movie is – you want to question and find out what it means. So for me I was a little disappointed when the changed.
Past work - I love the Peter Weller/Sam Elliot outing "Shakedown," so what was your role and what do you remember about working on that film?
HP: That was maybe the second time I had ever been on a movie set ever and I just played at the time some young punk kid that Sam Elliot gets to beat up and threaten. So Sam Elliot with that voice (laughs) and all, it was pretty interesting at the time. I think I was in New York and I was living in the Bronx at the time and I got to come down and be part of this big Hollywood movie. So if you go back and look at it you see I’m some punk kid outside of a club he’s trying to get into. It’s not a real role, but it was one of my early ones so I’m very appreciative of it.
"King of New York" had an amazing cast that all went on to huge success – did you feel at the time that the actors involved would go on to such notable work and what was it like working with the mysterious and strange Abel Ferrara?
HP: I’m gonna try to be honest without being crazy about all of that stuff. (Laughs) All the actors to me were already pretty established and that they went on to do more stuff was kind of amazing. Laurence Fishburne, whose career I’d been following forever, he’s Laurence Fishburne! He’s fourteen years old and working with Brando – that’s Laurence Fishburne. Wesley Snipes again was really an inspiration. And then there was Christopher Walken, you know what I mean? Abel Ferrara wound up being really interesting to me because Abel Ferrara was everything my mother told me not to be and he was successful! (Laughs) I mean it was really interesting all the stuff he did to himself and still was able to show up and get work done and make this really dark, weird, intricate movie. It was like how did he pull that off?! (Laughs) You know what I mean? But he did and it wound up being a cult classic and it makes sense for the kind of guy that he is – it was definitely an experience for me.
"The Edge" was written by the master David Mamet – could you tell when you read the script that it was of stellar writing caliber?
HP: Absolutely – you certainly could. I was hoping at the time that he would be there on set, but he wasn’t. I got to meet him years later and not to kiss his ass, but I really love David Mamet and his work. But you could tell and there are a number of very wry David Mamet lines. For me one of the great moments is when Alec Baldwin and my character have a quick exchange and Alec says something like, ‘I like my women like I like my coffee.’ And my character says, ‘Yeah, bitter and murky!’ (Laughs) For me that that’s classic David Mamet – he’s one of the greats.
You worked with Jeremy Renner in the horror sequel "28 Weeks Later" – what was like to work with and did you ever feel pressure to top the first film by Danny Boyle?
HP: Jeremy is one of my very good friends and we had a good time filming that. And the first movie was so good I was like I hope we’re not doing some wacky sequel. But Juan Carlos Fresnadillo who was the director I actually think maybe made a better – not that "28 Days Later" wasn’t great and Danny did a good job – but I think definitely Juan Carlos improved on it with "28 Weeks Later." It was wild and crazy and I got to learn how to fly a helicopter because he didn’t want to use green screen. So I got to England and went to helicopter school. But we were up in that helicopter and doing stuff that I didn’t know you could do with a helicopter. I didn’t know you could chop off zombie’s heads with a helicopter – that was very useful information for me in case I ever have to do that! (Laughs)
You played Link in the last two "Matrix" films – how long was the shoot all together and can you talk about the on-set directing process of the illusive Wachowski Brothers?
HP: I think it took two years to film that movie. I was in and out of it – certainly there was much more that Keanu and Laurence and those guys had to do. That being the second time I worked with Laurence Fishburne, he has become one of my closest friends and I’m one of his biggest fans. And the Wachowski’s were really interesting at the time – they were guys who loved comics and were super smart and into philosophy.
You’re working with the amazing Kathryn Bigelow on her latest – can you describe the project and what kind of director is Kathryn especially her on-set processes?
HP: I can tell you this - I have signed my life away so that I’m not allowed to speak one word about what goes on on that set. I can tell you that Kathryn Bigelow is everything you think she is - smart, talented and just a woman with vision. Her and Mark Boal, who is the writer, are great collaborators and they showed in "The Hurt Locker" what they could do and you will see again when this film is out how good they are together.
I read you were going to portray Sammy Davis Jr. in the upcoming Linda Lovelace biopic – what kind of research will you be doing for the film?
HP: You know that movie hasn’t happened and I don’t know that it will happen. Certainly I don’t know if it is going to happen with me. Originally I think Lindsay Lohan was going to play Linda Lovelace before she got in trouble, so I have no idea what’s going on with that. So I haven’t done any research on it, but it definitely would be difficult to play Sammy Davis Jr., but for right now from what I know that movie is not happening at all.
"SEEKING JUSTICE" HITS DVD/BLU-RAY ON JUNE 19 FROM ANCHOR BAY HOME ENTERTAINMENT.