Film Focus Interview

Friday, March 18, 2005

With an incredible eleven movies yet to be released at this moment in time, and some 77 titles banked over a career just shy of twenty-five years, Michael Madsen is always a busy man. Nevertheless, we were able to pull the actor aside and chat to him for five minutes at last weekend's Empire Awards in London, where he was presenting an award to his long-time friend Quentin Tarantino, and get all the latest news on two of his coming attractions, Sin City and Inglorious Bastards.

Inglorious Bastards is, as we reported earlier in the week, Tarantino's confirmed next project and Madsen told us that he and Quentin had been discussing it earlier in the day.

"Yeah, we were talking about Inglorious Bastards a couple of hours a go," Madsen told FilmFocus, "he's got an interesting idea of how to make it. I think he's going to cut it up into a couple of different parts, 'cos it's a big story to tell and he doesn't want to cram it all into one show. I don't know the whole story of how he's going to do it but eventually we'll get there, you know."

Madsen also told us the project was one very close to him, "I'm looking forward to doing it," he said, "my father's brother was killed in World War 2, my dad was in the Navy and my cousin Kenny was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I've always wanted to play a soldier and being able to do it was Quentin is obviously going to be a great time. A great experience, you know. I think his take on it is gonna be... different. It ain't gonna be the norm that's for sure."

Madsen's history with Tarantino has been a prosperous one. He counts his work on Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill as some of the finest he's ever done. "You know," he explains of his rapport with Tarantino," I think the main thing is that I know what he's thinking, he knows what I'm thinking, we don't really need to gab on about it that much. I'll try stuff that sometimes he's not so sure about and sometimes he'll ask me to do stuff and I don't know what the hell he's talking about, but for some reason it always seems to click with us. It's nice when you find that with a director, you know. I think DeNiro had that with Scorsese. It's just an understanding, I can't describe it. If I knew what it was I think I might not be able to do it, so I just leave it up to him. I'm nowhere without a director.

Without wanting to rub salt in the wounds by mentioning some of Madsen's less... inspired acting choices when not on a Tarantino set, we suggested that work on one of his movies would, perhaps, be a safer bet than on some other sets he's been on. "Absolutely," he said, "when you work with the guy, you come off the set at the end of the day and you know you're going to come out with something worthwhile and something worth looking at. You know you're not going to have some piece of shit that you're not going to be able to live with; some of these movies will follow you for the rest of your life. You know, something comes on TV and you're like 'Turn the channel over, my God in Heaven!' but at least the stuff I've done with him has a long shelf-life, you know."

One non-Tarantino movie that'll definitely have a long shelf life, Sin City's next for Madsen. "I haven't seen it," he told us, "Quentin's seen it and he just told me about an hour ago that he thinks it's great. I worked with Bruce Willis on that. We play partners."

But what of Madsen's experience making the film? "Most of the actors are wearing prosthetics and stuff like that," he told us, "so that they look like the guys in the comic. We shot the picture in Austin, Texas. That was a really great experience. Next to working with Quentin, Robert Rodriguez is the best, man. He's really calm. You know, he's out strumming his guitar, he doesn't get too excited about anything... It's a good working environment!"

We're definitely looking forward. Sin City is due out on June 3rd here in the UK and Inglorious Bastards will hit cinemas about a year after Quentin Tarantino decides to start making it. Whenever that may be.

By Joe Utichi.