Interview With Timothy Olyphant
Timothy Olyphant has long been an A-list movie star in waiting, with roles in the likes of Scream 2, Catch and Release and Go to his name. He also starred in the big budget adaptation of the popular game, Hitman, and was one of the leads of the very brilliant, but short lived HBO series, Deadwood. He stars in the thriller The Perfect Getaway, which is released here on Friday August 15th.
Q: Shooting a film like A Perfect Getaway, playing a cool character, in paradise, with a bunch of attractive actresses. It must have been a dream job?
TO: I’d say so. I had a great time. It was a great job, a great character, working with Steve [Zahn] and Kiele [Sanchez] and Milla [Jovovich]. It was a fun puzzle, and it had great characters and moment. I thought that we were really lucky to get Steve, because he brings so much humour to proceedings. He brought a lot to that part and it was a real steal to get him. A lot of actors would not have been able to bring the same complexity to the character.
You hail from Hawaii, but I understand you didn’t return for the film, it was shot mainly in Puerto Rico…
I didn’t get to step foot on Hawaii, we mainly filmed in Puerto Rico. Apparently it’s cheaper, better tax rebates or something. Everywhere I go to work, that seems to be the reason. I never got to go on that beach in Hawaii either. I heard it is beautiful. I suppose it would have been nice for them to fly us in, so we could at least step foot on it, but, hey, Puerto Rico is pretty beautiful island. We got to explore, which was great and San Juan is a really fun town. We had a good time down there.
Any mishaps in the jungle?
Nothing like that, but I had never shot in a rainforest, which was really, really unbelievable. The nature was just incredible. We had lots of rain machines there, though, and there’s nothing fun about those! But the weather was really nice and it was just kind of stunning sitting around in-between takes and looking at the view.
How are your own survival skills?
My survival skills are very good for Hollywood, beyond that I’m not really sure.
Your character is pretty hard-looking and fit. Are you normally that toned or was this a movie where you thought it wise to work out before filming?
They do all that in post-production! It’s amazing what they can do these days! If they can put a dinosaur up on screen, I’m sure they could make me look good! No, seriously, with a role like this, you do want to get in shape for it, and that’s a good motivation. It’s all part of the job. I got in shape specifically - I always do what I think is necessary for the job!
Did you have a favourite scene when you shot the movie?
It’s hard not to love the longer dialogue scenes. They’re such fun to do - the four of us having a blast together. Those were the most fun things to do; we all felt as though we had great chemistry and there was a real sense of camaraderie. So I particularly enjoyed the walk-and-talks along the coast and the scene hunting the goat was really great fun.
Did you at any stage carry a real goat slung across your shoulders?
I was never carrying a real goat. I didn’t get fully method there! I had no idea what the thing I was carrying was made of but it was really, really heavy!
Since finishing A Perfect Getaway, you’ve also shot The Crazies, a remake of the 1973 George A. Romero movie, right?
We had a really great time on that. For me, the last four or five jobs I’ve had, I feel like I’m on a real roll in terms of making things that I’ve really enjoyed. I think it comes out in February and it will be really great.
Were you a big fan of George Romero, or the original version of the film?
I didn’t know much about it - I had no clue about the original. I’ve since read a great deal about George and his work and it’s really interesting. He’s a fascinating filmmaker. I’ve seen only parts of the original. It’s a remake though. The original was set in the 1970s and at its core it’s essentially the same story - it’s set in a small town in America and everyone starts going nuts and it turns out that it’s something in the water, and the military’s involved. The original was this metaphor for the Vietnam War and while this is set in modern times I’m sure people will be able to draw comparisons with what’s happening in the Middle East.
Is it quite gory?
I think it’ll be scary, really scary. The tone is really well grounded and I’m pretty sure it’ll deliver with strong characters and story.
Are you a horror or gore fan yourself?
If it’s good.
What can you tell us about the forthcoming Elektra Luxx movie?
It’s with Carla Gugino, but I have not seen it yet. It’s a small deal - I play a detective hired by a band to look into some songs that have been stolen, and that leads me to Carla’s character, and this fun little romance develops between us.
Internet is all of a twitter with talk of another Hitman movie. Would you be keen to return to the franchise?
To hear those things is always nice for everyone involved but a sequel Hitman movie is not on my schedule.
Olyphant is an interesting name; do you know your family history?
Well it’s Scottish. That’s about what I know, although we do have our own plaid, our own tartan. I’ve got a plaid tie back at my house with our own design. I’ve not been to Scotland though, so I need to get there. My son’s been there a couple of times and he’s shown me pictures of the castles that my ancestors used to run around in. Who wouldn’t want that, right?
So where’s the family money, in Hawaii where you were born?
I have no memories of Hawaii. We moved to California when I was very young. And somewhere between the castles and me arriving, I think someone lost everything! We grew up in suburban Modesto. I’d say that we were very middle class – it was a very pleasant environment to grow up in. But there’s no family money!
I understand you studied art as well as theatre at college…
Not as well as, only. I was a Fine Art major. You do a bit of everything until the final year, when you specialise. I did pencil drawing and sculpture. It’s a pretty well rounded fine art education. I thought that it was viable option to make a living out of art. I’m not sure if I was thinking realistically, maybe I never was. But it had great appeal.
Why didn’t you follow it through?
I thought that, one, the acting was a bit of a hunch. I took a class and thought that I should look into that before I moved forward in one particular direction. And two, at the time, that seemed more fun at the time.
So what was the acting class?
I took an acting 101, a basic acting course. I needed some general elective units and I had to do something. I could have taken underwater basket weaving, or French for idiots, but there was this acting class, and it counted towards my degree, so that was a good opportunity to poke around. I had no acting experience, not even a school play, not an ounce of experience. I can’t say that they told me I was good at it, but I enjoyed it, and based on a single semester I thought there might be a way to make a living here. And if it doesn’t work out I’ve got the pencil drawing to fall back on (laughs). That’s the parachute that everyone needs, right? I’ve always got the sketches, was what I thought. I can doodle with the best of them!
Looking back, do you consider Deadwood a turning point in your career?
I think turning point is a little strong, but I do look back at it as a significant job and learning experience. It was an education, working with David Milch, and to be surrounded by those actors was amazing. To watch Brad Diourf, or Ian McShane closely, was amazing. A significant portion of the experience was David Milch - his creative mind is unlike anything else; and I hope I’m not delusional in thinking that I absorbed some of that.
Is it true that you persuaded Bruce Willis and Len Wiseman to cast Kevin Smith in Die Hard 4.0?
There’s no truth in that. That I could persuade Bruce Willis to cast Kevin Smith? No chance. And for the record, I’d be talking them out of it! I’d say, ‘You don’t realise what you’re getting yourself into. I’ve worked with him before, and you don’t want that!’
You’ve been married for quite a long time…
I like the way you say that - it sounds like a marathon. It’s exhausting! She was a childhood sweetheart; we met in college.
Did she make you work very hard?
She still does, what are you talking about? That’s the secret of the marriage!
A PERFECT GETAWAY IS IN CINEMAS AUGUST 14
Story by Mike | 09:00 | Thursday 13th August 2009 | Movie