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Kids, as a Deity, Iím not supposed to fear for my life. However, that security blanket was ripped from me after surviving a sit-down with Alan Rickman, who bestowed his best Severus Snape Side-Eye on Your Ever-Luvviní Elephant Head. Despite the joking, now I know what made Harry Potter such a nervous boy. Thank goodness his Bottle Shock co-star, Bill Pullman was around to catch us before we hit the floor.

Dig it!

 

Bottle Shock

Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman

 

Mighty Ganesha: So, tell us what brought you to this sweet little film?

Alan Rickman:  EmmÖ sweetÖlit-tleÖfilm?

Bill Pullman:  That doesnít quite work, does it? Sweet huge film! Compromise.

AR:  Well, I read it and kept turning the pages. Thatís what it gets down to, I think, a lot of the time. Sometimes you have to take shovel to get the page open {Laughs} No itís a great story. I had no clue about it actually happening, that was news to me, and those are rich characters that you canít pin down and you have complex relationships and in a beautiful place!

BP:  Itís simpler for me; I get to work with Alan!

 

Q:  Are you guys adept at wine tasting? Can you tell a French chardonnay from a California merlot?

BP:  Alan is. {To Alan} You already knew a lot, did you learn a lot more?

AR:  I donít know. I donít know a lot more. Iím just like anybody else that goes to the wine store to get a bottle of wine for dinner. I donít ever sit around comparing wines with no relationship to eating, or friends, or a function. And itís taken a while, but if I know anything at all, I realise now I have got the guts to send a bottle of wine back, which, of course, in teenage years would never have happened. You drink this stuff and then carry on drinking it. But no, if itís corked, I know what that smells and tastes like and I send it back. Thatís about as far as I can go, to be honest.

 

MG:  Were there free samples on the set?

AR:  Grape. Juice.

 

MG:  The one benefit to being on this filmÖ

AR: {Laughs}

 

Q:  Does playing a character that is referred to in the film as a ďsnobĒ affect your perception or performance of that role?

AR:  I think the last thing you ever do is put labels on a character youíre playing. You donít judge them yourself. Itís all information. But there is a moment in the movie when Bill calls me a snob and hopefully I sound surprised and say, ďAm I?Ē Itís like he hadnít thought of it before. But I think itís also to do with language as an English person, to be called a snob is much, much worse than it perhaps is for an American to use that word.

 

Q:  Due to class issues?

AR:  Yeah, and so we had a lot of discussion about that line while we were making the movie cos I thought it was, just as a piece of writing, I wasnít sure about it. But thatís to do with my reaction as an Englishman to that word, itís very emotional. So thatís why, I suppose, my way round it was to play it like something that never occurred to me. But thatís a lot to do with being from the upper classes and you donít get criticised.

BP:  It was a hard choice cos it was something that we all were thinking about and I remember thinking that it was a really natural thing to say, ďYouíre kind of a snobĒ and that it would frame it in a way where I wasnít totally throwing away his personality. I was just saying thereís an aspect of him and Randy said, ďNah, I donít think itís Ďkind of a snobí I think itís Ďa snobí.Ē And then I got back and think this is the time period where you didnít have to put a little spin on things to try to slide it in a little better, yíknow? That it actually is better and more true to the character to just kind of come in bluntly.

AR:  Ultimately, it all underlined something that was helpful, or it was to me, that you are playing a product of a country with a class system, still. And you are walking into a country that doesnít really have one and certainly not in the same way Ė maybe economic or if you went to Vassar or something but itís not the same. This is something that in England we still have to deal with.

 

MG:  Were you allowed a lot of leeway and room to improvise? You were just mentioning the difficulty you had with that line.

AR:  Yeah, Randyís in there with his sleeves rolled up. He reminded me a lot of Mike Newell, who wonít mind me saying that IÖ Does Basil Fawlty mean anything to you? Iíve actually seen Mike Newell raise his fist to the sun at a cloud and mean it and call it ďYou bastard!Ē And Randy, I think has a little bit of that, making the movie fills his whole body. Itís not an intellectual pursuit, but heís very smart.

BP:  {To Alan} I think it was curious, I kept observing what suggestion you had to him and he would take it and transform it and it would take a while and he would go way around the barn and then come back. And some very good things in the movie Ė not to give it away, but the guacamole and the Kentucky Fried Chicken I thought were a contribution Alan could make. No words, but incredibly succinct moments.

I think my favourite moment is when the guy brings {the guacamole}. That guy that brings the guacamoleÖ

AR: That guy is fantastic. He was so wonderful.

BP: Öheís so astounding, and to see the two of you sitting in the same bubble of air.

AR:  I was very worried about him because he looked so vulnerable and fragile. You talk about an alien, this guy was terribly sensitive and shy and heíd suddenly been thrust Ė the {crew} said {in tough Teamsters voice} ďHey, I need ya ta take this bowl of guacamole over here aní put it down.Ē So, itís all very joshing and jokey, but he looked so fragile and Iím just sitting there thinking heís gonna just fall apart any minute. And in between takes, he would just stand there holding this bowl. He knew what he had to do and he did it.

BP:  I mean, as much as Alan not playing a snob, this guy comes to him and Alan looks at him like an alien, not editorialising on him. Thatís what I liked about it. I mean if there was one cynical little response that you would have had toward him it would have sunk the scene. He was so vulnerable. 

AR: So touching. I hope he survived the experience.

{All laugh}

AR: There wasnít a lot of aftercare.

 

MG:  I loved your scenes with Dennis Farina and I wondered if there were more that we didnít see?

AR:  Nope, that was it.

 

MG:  I wondered if there was a lot of improvisation between the two of you because your dialog flows so naturally back and forth.

AR:  You know when you meet someone like Dennis, you just go with the flow, thereís no point in doing anything else and thatís the strength of that, I suppose, time marches on and you learn where to put your energies and that is just be with Dennis, cos thereís no point in trying to steer the ship in any direction. And that was a mirror of that relationship, anyway, thatís was what was good about it, yíknow? Heís in there trying to drink my wine for no money.

 

MG:  Whatís coming up next for you guys?

BP: Well, I got bunch of movies that are coming out this fall. Phoebe in Wonderland with Elle Fanning and Felicity Huffman, and then Surveillance, which I did with Jennifer Lynch, David Lynchís daughter, and Nobel Son, which we made together

 

MG: You star together in Nobel Son and itís also directed by Randy. That was made previous to Bottle Shock, wasnít it?

BP: Yeah, Yup.

AR: Yeah, but itís a good way around. So Nobel Son in October and Harry Potter in November and Iím then gonna direct a play in London.

 

MG: Which play?

AR: Itís called Creditors, itís by Strindberg. So, Bottle Shock has been no preparation! {Laughs}

 

MG:  And Iím sorry Alan, but it is a sweet little film.

{All Laugh}

AR: No, it is, but itís got heart.

 

~ Mighty Ganesha

August 4th, 2008

 

 

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