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Crooked Cops Take

New U: 02.13.03

IA memorable part of Los Angeles history will be revisited in movie theatres, on Feb. 21. ďDark Blue,Ē a film starring Kurt Russell and Scott Speedman, is set in the highly volatile and racially-charged time period of the Rodney King trial and the L.A. riots of 1992. Focusing on the Los Angeles Police Departmentís Special Investigations Squad, the film aims to expose the felonious actions and abuse of power by cops who have gone astray.

The New University sat down with the cast of the gritty cop drama at St. Regis Hotel in Century City to talk about the film, family and steamy love scenes.

A seasoned veteran of more than 40 films, Kurt Russell is an ageless man in many ways. Comfortably attired in worn-in jeans and a green dress-shirt, he shows he still has the touch with his most recent film offering. Unabashedly candid, Russell touched on his new role as the corrupt lieutenant-to-be Eldon Perry and being a father figure to an actress on the cusp of stardom, stepdaughter Kate Hudson.

Absent of the bravado of celebrity, Russellís right-hand man in the film and former ďFelicityĒ actor Scott Speedman, shed any misconceptions of ego he may have been associated with, with his surprisingly shy demeanor. Behind unkempt blond hair and a nervous, secretive smile, Speedman spoke about his new role as young SIS Sergeant Bobby Keough.

Interview with Kurt Russell:

New University: Why didnít you want to be too politically controversial while making this film?

Kurt Russell: Itís real easy to do a movie like this [with a controversial backdrop] and make it political. The movie is about the people in it, their lives and how they behave. This movie has a backdrop to it [the Los Angeles riots], but the people you see in it are easily a creation of that backdrop. They said the riots had been coming for 20 years, and why? It is because of these people, and what youíre seeing is their behavior today. They suffer the consequences of their immediate actions.

New U.: What makes your character Eldon Perry different from other corrupt cops?

Russell: Itís his point of view. We all look at the world through our own eyes, and I donít know about you, but Iím always surprised about what other people see.

New U.: You held out for a while on this project. What made you mesh with Ron Shelton as a director?

Russell: I think that Ronny and I had a similar locker room mentality that we felt was right for this project. I had worked on this back and forth with some good people, and I never believed this film would work on a motion picture level. But after I talked to Ronny for half and hour about it, I believed it. In order to make this film interesting, you had to answer the question, ĎWhat makes Eldon Perry tick?í Without that, it just becomes an exposť about doing bad things, and I didnít just want an exposť on the L.A.P.D.

New U.: Many actors frown upon working with musicians and rappers on the big screen. What was your experience like working with Master P and Kurupt?

Russell: These guys are without question, simply the best actors of our time. Why they are like this, would be a great book to write. What I think is that in their own eyes, theyíre underdogs and theyíre free to fail. I donít know if itís right, but itís just a theory. Theyíre smart and they have ability. Iím looking at it from 42 years of acting experience. They just get it and know it, and theyíre not afraid to be it. Now, Iíve never been a method actor. The only way I know how to act is to feel. I appreciate Kurupt and Master P because they feel it too. Kurupt is a good kid. I really like him. And, we had some great talks. Master P is a good guy. He can easily pick up his cell phone and talk to the president of the United States.

New U.: Your family seems to remain closely-knit, especially because it refuses to fall into the pitfalls of show business. Whatís your secret to such a tight family?

Russell: First of all, our family is no different from anyone elseís. We are like anyone else. We make terrific, horrible mistakes. We disappoint each other. We scream and holler. We also scream with laughter. I donít know what to say other than I think we live a very normally dysfunctional life. I think to label our family as anything other than just regular is wrong, and if you were to do something wrong, itíd be magnified anyway. Iím not the worldís greatest father, but I try to be a good one. Itís my lifeís work, but Iím glad that Katie [Hudson] understands that it is about the work. Itís not about the result of the work. Oliver understands that, and Wyatt certainly understands that too. Theyíre all in very different worlds, but theyíve gotten the message that if you make it about the work, youíll never be dissatisfied.

Interview with Scott Speedman:

New U.: What was the most challenging scene to shoot in this film?

Scott Speedman: The scene when I shoot a guy was challenging. It was an all-night shoot. It was cold, and Iím not comfortable shooting a gun.

New U.: What did you do to prepare for the role of an L.A.P.D. cop?

Speedman: The L.A.P.D. is completely different from anything Iíve seen. I got to hang out with L.A.P.D. robbery and homicide even more than I thought, because of the movieís subject matter.

New U.: What was it like working with Kurt Russell? Did he take you under his wing, like a lot of seasoned actors do?

Speedman: Working with Kurt was wild because I watched his movies when I was little. And, he didnít take me under his wing. He was much cooler than that. He didnít preach or mentor. We were friends.

New U.: What do you want people to take away from this movie?

Speedman: This film is one manís journey. As far as taking something away, people can use the film to see whatís wrong in their own lives, but I donít think it can change race relations.

New U.: What was your on-screen love scene with actress Michael Michelle like?

Speedman: It was not the most comfortable thing to do. Meet someone, take off your clothes and jump into bed. At the same time, 50 guys [the crew] were around us eating donuts.

New U.: Was she more of a woman than ďFelicityísĒ Keri Russell?

Speedman: No comment! Keri is my ex.

New U.: Would you like to do more films, or go back to television, and which is more challenging?

Speedman: Films are definitely more intense. In TV, you can shoot a bad episode and then, make a good one a week later. Iím not looking to do more TV. I enjoy traveling for my movies. Itís exciting!

New U.: How did you get your start in acting?

Speedman: I was a swimmer in Toronto, and went to a school for gifted athletes, gifted students and gifted actors. I got injured and started hanging out with the actors more. I started getting into acting and going to auditions. I didnít get the first part I tried out for, but after that, I got luckier.

New U.: Is there anything you learned as an athlete that would help you in your acting career?

Speedman: The only thing is discipline. There is certain aggressiveness and discipline to being an athlete, and this could be useful in acting.

New U.: Youíve been described as shy. Since youíre also somewhat of a teen poster boy, how has public life been like?

Speedman: I never felt like a teen pin-up. I go out, but donít get bothered.

New U.: Which actors have inspired you?

Speedman: Gene Hackman and Robert De Niro. They are introverts by nature, but they are amazing performers.

New U.: What visions do you have for your career?

Speedman: I want to do good stuff. Some kids forget that you have to keep developing as an actor, and keep taking challenging roles.

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