Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Captain America Project #5: Rob Liefeld

The Captain America Project: 20 comic artists, 20 drawings of Captain America on one page.

This week: Rob Liefeld (X-Force, Youngblood, New Mutants)

Rob Liefeld made an appearance at Wizard World New York back in October 2010.  When the artists and fans at the show saw my Captain America page in progress, more than a few said, “You HAVE to get Liefeld to draw a Captain America for you.”  He was absolutely on my list.  I go there early that Saturday morning and and was one of the first three people on line when the doors opened at 10 AM.  It was worth the wait.

Normally I would watch the artists as they drew their version of Cap on my page, but Rob needed some time before he could work on it and asked me to leave it with him until he worked on it.  Over the next hour or two I walked by his table to see if he was working on it.  During that time I saw him work on a Wolverine and a couple of Deadpool commissions.  He got to mine about halfway through the day and it was definitely worth the wait!

Drawing by Rob Liefeld.
Captain America copyright Marvel Comics.

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The Captain America Project #4: Rich Buckler

The Captain America Project: 20 comic artists, 20 drawings of Captain America on one page.

Sorry I’m behind schedule!  So this week there will be two Captain America Project updates.

This week: Rich Buckler (Fantastic Four, co-creator of Deathlok)

I got to meet Rich toward  the end of the first day of Wizard World New York in October 2010.  He’s one of my favorite Marvel Bronze Age artists, and I was lucky to get this sketch before the show ended.  Yep, four Captain America sketches in one day.  I’d call that a pretty good haul!

Drawing by Rich Buckler.
Captain America copyright Marvel Comics.

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Superman Check Sells for $160K At Auction

The auction for the check that ushered in the age of superheroes ended with a winning bid of $160,000 on ComicConnect’s website yesterday.

The $412 check, issued by National Periodicals in March 1938 and saved from the trash bin by a DC Comics staffer in the 1970s, was made out to Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for their original 13 page Superman story (used in Action Comics #1), and three other stories for Detective Comics ($210), New Adventure Comics ($36), and More Fun Comics ($36).  Comic book fans and historians are able to see the amount paid for the story and the rights to the Man of Steel: $130.

Photo: ComicConnect.com

A Metropolis Comics’ COO Vincent Zurzulo and CEO Stephen Fishler produced a video about the back story of this check.

More on the sale at BleedingCool.com.

I’ve been watching this auction since it first went live last month.   I can honestly say that if I’d won the lottery this would have been my first purchase.  The term “grail” has been used to describe this piece of history.  I couldn’t agree more.
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Thank You, Jack Tramiel

I just read the news that Jack Tramiel, founder of Commodore, passed away on Sunday at the age of 83.  He was a pioneer in personal computing, stating that he wanted to build computers for “the masses, not the classes.”  More on his life and career here.

On a couple of occasions I’ve posted on the passing of an artist that influenced me in one way or another, and I try not to weigh this site down with too much of that.  I prefer for this site to be a celebration of artists and creators.  But this news hits home and got me reminiscing about one particular era of my youth.  I admit I didn’t know much about Jack Tramiel until I read of his passing today, but to say the Commodore 64 was an influence on the course of my life would be an understatement.  I have a lot of memories associated with the machine Jack Tramiel’s company created.

It was 1984, and my father took me and my brother to the Caldor’s department store in Port Chester, New York to buy our first home computer.  That computer was the Commodore 64.  The funny thing is, my brother and I didn’t really do too much research on it prior to buying it.  We had used the Texas Instruments TSR 80 in school, but there was just something about the advertisements (possibly in a Marvel Comic) for the Commodore 64 that made us have to buy it.  So to Caldor’s we went in our navy blue 1977 Ford Granada.   And to my father’s credit he didn’t balk at the price, nor did he question why we would need it.  He saw it as something that would help us with our school work, and it was a step towards giving us the opportunities he didn’t have.  We wanted it for the games, too, but we didn’t mention that.

For those of you who didn’t have a Commodore 64 back in the day, it was simply a keyboard (with a cool design) and a separate floppy disk drive that was hooked up directly to your TV as a monitor.  You could also purchase a separate dot matrix printer.  Once everything was hooked up and the adapter was switched from “TV” to “Computer,” the following screen would come up:

We were mesmerized.  A real computer.  In our home.  Put the Atari 2600 in the closet, we’ve got computing to do!  But the next thought that crossed our minds was:  Now what?  We didn’t buy any games that day.  And we didn’t now how to program in BASIC.

Crap.

Fast forward a bit.  Our local Waldenbooks had a very small section on Computers and Computing, and we bought  a book called 20 Amazing Games For Your Commodore 64 to get us started.  Great!  We’ll have twenty games now!  Wait, what’s with the weird code on these pages?

Yep, each game had to be entered into the Commodore 64 line by line, which in some cases took a couple of hours.  And they would work, provided you didn’t add a “%” where you should have entered a “&” and have to go over your entries line by line all over again to find the mistake.  When I think back to the summers of 1984 and 1985, I don’t think of cookouts, bike riding, or trips to the beach.  My first thought is of sitting in front of that TV at our Commodore 64 keyboard.  I’m not sure how many beautiful summer days we spent indoors with this machine, but it only got worse when we bought what would be our favorite game of the era: Zork by Infocom.

Infocom games were text based adventures in which you maneuvered through the game with simple commands (i.e. “West” to move in that direction, or “Get lamp” to pick up a lamp).  Your command would then lead to a text description of your surroundings and interactions with characters, etc.  In short, it was a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure book and a live screenplay.  I try to explain the concept to some of my younger co-workers, and even show them YouTube video of the actual game play, but they don’t “get” it.  The graphics are in your head.  I still prefer those old games to any new video game.  If you’re curious, you can download a C64 emulator and some old games online.

Zork led to Zork II and III, but Infocom branched out into non-fantasy genres as well.  Ballyhoo was a mystery game that took place on the grounds of a traveling circus.  Infidel took place in Egypt.  Deadline involved a reporter.  Infocom even licensed Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and turned it into a very good game.  The last Infocom game I bought was probably around 1989: a Cold War mystery called Border Zone.

I didn’t finish Border Zone, but it’s on my list to finish one of these days.  I still have our original Commodore 64 and all of our games.  I haven’t hooked it up since sometime in the 90’s but I’m sure it still works.  We used the original box to store some of our X-Men comic books.  Still have that, too.

I always felt comfortable writing in screenplay format.  It took me years to realize that comfort level came from the hours, days, and years I played those Infocom games.

Sorry if it seems like I’ve digressed from the original purpose of this post, but there is a good reason for it.  Everything above was a direct result of my pop buying us that amazing little computer back in 1984.  It defined an era of my youth that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  The Commodore 64 led to countless hours of playing Infocom games.  Those Infocom games led to my passion for writing.  And I have Jack Tramiel to thank for it.

Thank you, Jack Tramiel.

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Interview: Willem Dafoe on “The Hunter”

Willem Dafoe in THE HUNTER, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Willem Dafoe’s latest film The Hunter is one of three current releases for him along with Disney’s John Carter and the independent film 4:44 Last Day on EarthThe Hunter, directed by Daniel Nettheim, tells the story of Martin David, a mercenary sent to the forests of Tasmania by a biotech company to hunt what is believed to be the extinct Tasmanian tiger.  As Martin scouts the terrain, he is drawn into a local conflict between loggers and environmentalists, and helps struggling mother Lucy Armstrong (played by Frances O’Connor) whose environmentalist husband has gone missing.  The film also co-stars Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, The Dish).

Dafoe met with the press for a round table interview on March 14 in New York to discuss the film, hunting, and his approach to acting.

Do you have a background as a hunter?

No, in fact when I was a kid – I grew up in Wisconsin, deer hunting is very big there – and during deer hunting season it was a father/son ritual that you would go out deer hunting.  And at the end of that weekend you would have that buck on the hood of your car and you’d go up and down the main drag beeping your horn.  It was really primitive.  My father didn’t hunt, and I would be the only boy in the class for about a week because it was such a part of the culture they would all get permission to leave for father/son bonding.  So I’d sit there with all the girls (laughs).  It was nice when I got older, you know?  (laughs)

Was that the week you decided to start acting?

(laughs) Yeah, something like that.

Willem Dafoe in THE HUNTER, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

What surprised you the most about filming in Tasmania?  And also could you compare and contrast your experience with working in the jungle to this movie and say a movie like Anti-Christ where you were actually being hunted.

In Tasmania, the weather was really volatile.  It could be snowing and really cold and two hours later it could be sunny and warm.  I mean, a lot had to do with elevation but we were moving around a lot.  So the weather was brutal and obviously, particularly for the sequences when I’m out in nature, I’m playing scenes with the weather, I’m playing scenes with nature.  It’s a powerful thing when you’re filming because you can’t control it so you have to be flexible and you have to invent things, and you have to know the story you want to tell, but you have to make adjustments all the time.  So it has all the energy and curiosity and problems of an expedition.  So I’m out there with a small crew, so on some level it kind of mirrors the hunt for the tiger.

I’ve been in the jungle a lot through the years and you know, jungles when you really get down to it, they’re all the same.  Nature gone wild.

In the spirit of your character, did you keep a distance between yourself and the children in the film (Morgana Davies and Finn Woodlock)?

Well, not so much on the set, but actually in the scenes because naturally they’re kind of sweet.  They’re actors, but they’re kids first.  And they don’t have – even though Morgana (Davies) the little girl has done some films and people really like her in films, it’s not like they have traditional actor skills of repeating things so when you’re playing these scenes, you’re tricking them into things and in that job you can get sucked into a sweetness.  And I just found myself feeling kind of a paternal urge happening, and I thought “Boy, we gotta nip any sentimentality in the bud.”  So I was very conscious of that.  You don’t want to muck it up, you know?  If you get too soft then the ending’s never gonna land.

Willem Dafoe in THE HUNTER, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

And when you were a cut off, isolated hunter with no human connection does that affect you when you’re not working?  Do you feel strange or different?  Or can you just shake it off at the end of the day?

The funny thing is I feel that as I get older I’m more affected by roles.  I used to say when the camera turns off the character goes back inside me.  But I feel like that’s less true.  In a role like this, all I’m doing is filming.  I’m working long days, and there’s nothing else.  I’m just doing very little besides that.  So of course, just by sheer immersion the character starts to haunt you and becomes you for a period of time.  Particularly when you’re working in a location where all your normal habits are broken and you have nothing to remind you of who you are normally, and we were working in quite remote areas.  So what I’m dealing with is I’m applying myself to a fiction in a funny way, and you’re inviting yourself to be flexible.  You’re inviting yourself to transformation.  So it can run really deep, but not in a scary way.

Does it take away the joy of being an actor?

No, that is the joy of being an actor.  I mean, the joy of being an actor is taking on someone else’s point of view and someone else’s circumstance, getting the shift of perspective.  That’s what I like about film in general is when they just by kind of learning or seeing something new, you go ‘Man, you know I never thought of it that way.’ Or you say “Oh, I always thought this was this, but it’s really this.”  As an actor you actively get to do that.  You have empirical evidence, it’s not just an intellectual shift of point of view.  It runs deep, you experience it.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Magnolia Films’ The Hunter is currently in theaters.

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Interview: Director Daniel Nettheim On His New Film “The Hunter”

Daniel Nettheim, director of THE HUNTER, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Australian director Daniel Nettheim helms the new film The Hunter, an environmental thriller adapted from Julia Leigh’s 1999 novel.  Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe (Platoon, The Last Temptation of Christ) plays Martin David, a mercenary sent to Tasmania by a mysterious biotech company to hunt what is believed to be the last Tasmanian Tiger in existence.  Along the way Martin is drawn into a local conflict between environmentalists and loggers, and against his nature helps struggling mother Lucy Armstrong (played by Frances O’Connor) whose environmentalist husband has gone missing.  The film also stars actor Sam Neill.

I had an opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with Nettheim to discuss the film, working with Willem Dafoe, and the challenges of shooting in Tasmania.  The questions below were asked by the group in attendance.

How close to the book did you want to keep the script?

There were things in the book that I definitely wanted to hold on to, which were things that attracted me to it in the first place.  So we held on to the premise, we held on to the characters, we held on to the locations, we held on to the tone, we’ve held on the essential dramatic arc, and what we’ve changed is certain aspects of the ending, and we’ve really had to find ways to externalize the drama.  Most of the book was a man alone in the wilderness and it was all inside his head.  As a filmmaker that’s not so easy to do.

In the film, the Tasmanian vistas are absolutely breathtaking.  As a director did you find the terrain incredibly challenging to work in?

People had warned me that the weather can change, you can get four seasons in one hour.  The cinematographer had worked there before and he said to me very early on, to forget any notion of continuity of light across a scene.  For that reason we kind of deliberately didn’t have long two hand dialogue scenes in the exterior because you can start it in the sun and you’ll finish in the rain.  The snowstorms you see in the film, we were hoping to get snow, but that snuck up on us.  That morning was sunny.  We saw the clouds come in at lunch time and half an hour later we had snow.  So I just had to quickly say, “Alright guys, let’s quickly scrap this afternoon’s plans.  We’re going to shoot the snow scenes.”  So as a crew we had to be very adaptable and responsive to the weather because it’s one thing you can’t tame.  As filmmakers you try and control everything as much as you can.  But the weather, particularly in Tasmania, we just had to roll with the punches.  And for that very reason, when we’re talking about Willem’s wardrobe, we decided that when he’s out there hunting, he’s only going to have one outfit.  That way, not only can we quickly change what we meant to shoot to respond to the weather, but once I was in the edit I could move anything anywhere and it would fit.

There seems to be a trend in films recently like The Grey and other similar films with regard to man vs. nature.  What do you think this film really speaks to thematically to that man vs. nature story?

It’s interesting because it starts off as a man vs. nature story and ends up as a man vs. himself kind of story in a way.  This is a man whose work involves trying to be at one with nature, it is a hunter.  And as part of Willem’s training for the film we learned techniques like how to move across the landscape so animals don’t hear you, how to use what’s around you to build your traps and snares.  So it’s kind of paradoxical because he’s at both one with nature – he understands nature, he thinks like an animal – but his business there is essentially very destructive.  So what we wanted to speak about was really the uneasy relationship that has always existed between mankind and the natural environment.  This story of what happened to the Tasmanian tiger is a great kind of historical case in point, but that story is continuing with the battle to save the native forest which you see in the film, and the conflict that’s going on between the loggers and the environmentalists.

Willem Dafoe in THE HUNTER, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Is Willem Dafoe the only actor you had envisioned in that part of Martin David?  He was so perfect for it.

He was the only actor we approached.  I had envisioned him in the part from quite early on in the writing because it’s helpful to have a face in mind when you’re writing scenes.  There was a list of people, but fortunately Willem said yes.

What are your thoughts on Willem’s take on the character?

One of the things that was strong in the book was this character had for whatever reasons, shut himself off from experiencing human emotion in a way.  He was a character who was assumed to be most comfortable when he was alone in the wilderness.  I identified with aspects of that, sometimes I like to get away from people, it’s great, but I found a way to function in society and most people do. This character chose not to.  And Willem and I didn’t talk about what pain he might be running away from, what might have been happening to him to make him like that.  We didn’t investigate that part of the psychology, we just took it as a given that he’s a man that’s very closed off but over the course of this story he begins to open up to the possibilities of another way of being.  And look, it does cause him incredible pain, incredible loss.  But that is part of the human experience.

Did you have any conflicts with Willem on set in terms of the vision of how you think the movie should be?  Did you lock horns at all?

No, we had a mutual understanding of the character and we worked all that out in pre-production.  I invited Willem’s input on the last draft of the script.  So the character stuff was clear and most of our work on set was about matching up the expectations of the scene on the page as compared to the physical realities of where we were.  Ok, it says, “Martin lays a trap.”  What’s that going to look like?  Where’s that going to happen? Which parts of the setting of the trap are we going to see?  What parts does he need to learn?  There were moments where his instinct for the character contradicted what I think the scene needed for the story.  And he respected that.  We would find a way to get both.  But I kind of figured he should take ownership of the character, he should protect that character, and I’ll just keep my eye on the story and the big picture, and we’d work together to make that happen.

Was it quiet crew?  Was it a small band up there that was trying to get him to feel as isolated and alone as possible?

We were a pretty lean crew.  We didn’t have big trucks.  All of the lighting and grip gear could go on the back of a couple of utilities [trucks].  Usually we could drive to within a hundred meters of where we had to shoot.  But Willem, that’s where acting really came into it, he didn’t have to actually be totally isolated to feel the part.  However, he did insist on doing everything himself.  He had a backpack that was always weighted, and he would not be doubled.  There’s helicopter shots where you see a little speck, and that’s Willem.  He wouldn’t let anyone else do it.  Some of the most spectacular helicopter shots, he had a walkie talkie.  There was an assistant hiding in some trees or in some bushes somewhere.  He couldn’t see us.  We were in the helicopter going, “Okay we’re coming up over the hill, come towards it.”  And he’d be like “Which hill, I can’t see it.”  We’d say, “Just keep walking,” and he would.  The ground was incredibly difficult to walk on.  He was deep in mud, there was leeches, and these buttongrass tufts are really hard to navigate.  He was a real trooper.  The things he did for authenticity I was impressed by.

Could you talk about Morgana Davies who plays Sass in the film.  She’s a real scene stealer.  What was the casting process like for that role?

I’d seen Morgana, she’d done one film before which was a French/Australian co-production called “Betrayed.”  It played at Cannes a couple of years ago and she had a small role.  I liked her, I met her maybe on the third day of casting but then I met another 200 girls after that because you don’t want to throw all of your eggs in one basket.  If you’ve got one great kid and no backup, and that kid gets sick or pulls out, or has stage fright, and suddenly they can’t perform you need to know you’ve got someone standing by.  So although I liked her we kept looking.  We came back to her, she was very natural, she was outspoken, she was a real tomboy, she was confident, she didn’t really care if she was going to be an actress or not.  Her mother was really supportive, but equally if the girl decided she didn’t want to act anymore her mom wasn’t going to push her.  So she was a kid.  She was primarily a kid and then she had some great natural abilities.  She was close to her character.  With kids, obviously kids that age can’t rely on instinct or you can’t rely on technique or training like you can with someone like Willem or Sam Neill.  You’ve got to rely on what they do naturally.  And we said to her mom don’t rehearse the scenes at home.  Yes, she should learn her lines, but don’t rehearse them.  I had a kids acting coach on set as well so they talk about the meanings of the scenes and they riff on that, but we never over rehearse stuff.  [The cursing] was part of the script.  She came to me and said, “I, Morgana, would never say that, but I know that Sass says that.”

In the film, you used real footage from the 1930’s of the last Tasmanian tiger.  Was it difficult to get permission to use this?

That footage wasn’t difficult to get a hold of.  It’s quite famous footage.  There’s maybe eight or ten minutes of footage in existence in the world of the Tasmanian tiger when it was alive.  That footage was partly owned by the Hobart Museum and partly owned by the National Film and Sound Archives.  One frame belongs to someone, and one frame belongs to someone else.  So we had to go to both bodies for permission.  When they sent us up what they said was the best quality master available, on an HD cam or something, it was really bad quality.  It was a very low res digitized image.  And this was the coup: we got them to send us the original 16mm print, made a new High Def digitization of it.  And no one’s ever seen it projected like that before since the 1930’s.

Did you have a personal connection emotionally with the Tasmanian Tiger?

I had a personal connection with the landscape more than anything initially.  The descriptions in the book were really beautiful.  I knew that landscape a little bit because I traveled a bit in Tasmania.  I knew it was a place that hadn’t been filmed much.  It’s hard to have a sentimental feeling about general animals – kangaroos, wallabies – which are hunted for meat and for sport in Tasmania.  But the Tasmanian Tiger itself, it’s become part of our national mythology.  There’s a great sense of national guilt about what happened to it, and I think this myth that goes on that it still might be alive in a way is kind of a dangerous one because it lets people off the hook in a way for that kind of destruction.  But I think it’s also become symbolic of the way that progress can decimate nature.

Do you think there really can be some type of balance between the industrial side and the environmental side in that area?

I think there can.  In areas like that in the U.S.and else where there are plantation forests, a sustainable timber industry.  And in Tasmania, one third of the island is world heritage area or national parks.  It’ll never be touched, but where the frontline of these battles is there’s these borders, the perimeters of these national parks, that are constantly being shifted.  The government is constantly allocating little sections to the logging companies of these old growth forests which will become toilet paper for the Koreans, literally, and never exist again.  But that’s the front line of this battle, and it’s very heated.  You go down there and it’s a very, very emotional debate.  We spoke to people on both sides, they were all very articulate.  We were clear that we wanted to depict both sides as characters in parts of the story and we wanted to make sure we were presenting them in a fair way.  Obviously I have my own feelings about that kind of conflict.  There was a point where there was close to some kind of truce when we were down there, but I think it flared up again.

What would you say would be the most important thing you learned as an independent filmmaker making this film in Australia, and what advice would you have for filmmakers that would want to work in this type of environment?

There were pluses and minuses.  One of the things that really worked in our favor was the story of the film was very contained.  There was the house, there was the pub, and there was nature and a couple of other small locations.  So it was achievable.  We got a lot of support from the state of Tasmania who wanted us to come down and present their landscape in a way that would encourage tourism, and it’s worked for them.  The budget was very lean, as they always are.  But we couldn’t make that film without Willem Dafoe.  Which is a paradox because we had the Australian actors union going, “How dare you bring in a foreign actor.”  In Australia we receive foreign subsidies to help finance cinema.  All our films get government subsidies, but we’ve got the government saying you need to make films that are going to be exported overseas.  It has to play overseas for foreign audiences.  So it was fortunate that we had a character who was an outsider.  It allowed us to cast someone like Willem who could bring a name to the project but not in a cynical way.  It was right for the character that he play it.  So yeah, casting was critical, and making sure that all of the money was on the screen.  None of us got paid much, but we wanted to make sure that every cent we spent translated to some amazing landscape.  Up until the last week we weren’t sure if we could afford the helicopter shoot.  The producer would say, “If you’re going to do overtime today, you’re not going to get your chopper.”  So it was very lean but the chopper was important because it really just opened up that world.

Magnolia Films’ The Hunter opens in theaters on Friday April 6th.

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Abel Ferrara on 4:44 Last Day on Earth

Independent film director Abel Ferrara (King of New York, Bad Lieutenant) uses New York City as the backdrop for his latest film, the apocalypse themed drama 4:44 Last Day on Earth.  The film stars Willem Dafoe (Platoon, John Carter) and Shanyn Leigh (Public Enemies, Go Go Tales) as Cisco and Skye, a New York City couple reflecting on their lives and relationship on the eve of the end of humanity.

Ferrara sat with journalists for a round table discussion in New York.

What was the significance of the time 4:44 for the end of the world?

Shanyn (Leigh – lead actress) is a numerologist.  4:44 has a very heavy Chinese meaning.  Four means death.  That’s a heavy meaning.  There’s that point in it, that 4:44 means death.  They may have to change that title in China.  But at the same time the film is in New York.  4:44 is only on the East coast.  The world is going to end at 1:44 in Los Angeles.  And the world is going to end at 10:44 in the morning in Rome, right?  In New York the bars close at 4.  It’s almost 4:44 is the time like if it’s not happening by 4:44, go home.  At what time is the night over?

Is there a part of you that truly fears the end is coming?

I don’t know about personally fearing it, I can accept it.  There are much more advanced civilizations than us that have gone down.  One thing I want to make sure of with this film, this wasn’t a meteorite hitting the earth.  This was due to man’s destruction of what is out there.  You can buy in to Al Gore’s idea, you can dismiss it.  You can say, because a bunch of hackers come up with a bunch of fu**in’ e-mails that might or might not be real.  You know, there’s a lot of words going back.  But it’s like the Dalai Lama says in the movie, we don’t control nature.  If we don’t understand we’re part of nature and that if we think we can abuse it and not use it.  You’re going to be in for a surprise like the people in Easter Island and there’s a lot of other civilizations, too.

Where would you want to be at the end?

I think that film is pretty much what I would be doing.  I mean, I’m not going to go to Times Square and watch the ball come down.

(SPOILER ALERT) At certain points in the film you showed a disturbance in the atmosphere.

A disturbance of wind.  Because outside in the wind there’s a disturbance of the atmosphere.  If the ozone is protecting us from the rays of the sun, and the ozone is gone, then that’s it.  These kinds of films are not scientific documentaries.  I had my guy from Stanford, and he said, “Listen, go with the Twilight Zone.”  We’re dealing with fiction.  I just wanted to make sure it came from the earth.  What would happen if we didn’t have the ozone protecting us from the sun?  It would be like you’re in a f**king, you know, microwave.  How painful is that gonna be, I don’t know.  The film isn’t about that.

Come on, look outside today, it’s March.  This is f**kin’ March.  Sure, you could say, “Okay, it’s just another day.”  You know, come on.

It’s going to be what they say it’s going to be.  The guy that come up with aerosol spray deodorant, did he think he was destroying the ozone?  No, but if you’re not aware of it…but the worst part is to be aware of it and not give a f**k.  But what are you going to tell them [China and India] they’re not gonna have their 50’s [era]?  They’re not gonna have, you know what I mean, age of consumerism?  You know, blatant global destructing consumerism.  What are we going to say?  “Okay I had it and it’s really not that big a deal anyway.  Stay on the farm.”

(SPOILER ALERT) In 4:44 there was a very strong theme about sobriety. 

I’m drinking water, so it really was about that.  Obviously he’s in the program, Willem (Dafoe’s character in the film Cisco).  He’s counting days.  And then came that moment.  He came to the drug dealers obviously to score and then he bumps into this cat with 20 years sobriety.  So the point was, was he going to get high or wasn’t he going to get high?

What neighborhood did you grow up in?

I was born in the Bronx, and I grew up in upstate New York.

The neighborhood I came from was very Italian and very protected.  It was very dangerous in a way of white street gangs when I was really young.  But then I moved away from it.  But then I moved to a town that was like the crack capital of New York, Peekskill.

What are your thoughts on how New York’s changed in the last 20 years with all of the cycles the city goes through over time?

This city has changed.  It became very much international.  It started with Giuliani, it became very much focused on the money.  It’s become an international financial capital, which it’s always been.  But it’s spread from just Wall Street and neighborhoods like here (midtown) to almost all of Manhattan.  So if you want to go to Manhattan you gotta go to Brooklyn now.  Brooklyn is the new Manhattan.

4:44 Last Day on Earth is currently in theaters.

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