Movie News

Craig Brewer and Quint have a nice long chat about everything from GATOR BAIT to BLACK SNAKE MOAN!!

Published at: March 2, 2007, 12:46 a.m. CST

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the first of my Sundance interviews. Post Sundance I ran right into the Santa Barbara Film Festival and jumped from there to the IRON MAN production office visit and finally got home only to be struck down with one of the worst flu’s I’ve ever had. By the time I was well again I was off to the New York Comic-Con. Now I’m in Louisiana for a few days. I started on this before I left, but didn't quite finish transcribing this long-ass chat, so before I finished the 2nd Mist piece, I completed the transcription on this, my first Sundance interview. Luckily, I kept up with the film reviews out of Park City, so now I only have a half-dozen interviews for you. I’m starting with my long conversation on film with Craig Brewer. This was one of those last minute interviews that became real during Sundance. I met Brewer just after Sundance the year before when he showed HUSTLE & FLOW in Austin and spent some time talking with him after the movie. From that conversation I knew we shared similar tastes in film and a similar enthusiasm, so I decided this time it’d make for a more interesting interview we just had a conversation on film. Naturally, we end up talking a lot about BLACK SNAKE MOAN and Brewer let loose some really interesting stories, including who was ALMOST cast in Sam Jackson’s role. Hope you enjoy!

QUINT: I’m just going to roll with this and see if there’s anything salvageable.

CRAIG BREWER: Do you mind me asking… how old are you?

QUINT: I’m 25 (now 26, FYI).

CRAIG BREWER: I’m 35, so I’m ten years older than you, which means… I don’t know if you can really appreciate this time, but I remember when VHSs and BetaMaxs were the competing players. Regardless of who had what there was this Renaissance in my house with my dad because suddenly there were video stores. I know this sounds kind of crazy for our generation ‘cause we actually grew up with choice. We could say, “Let’s go rent BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI,” but there was a time when, hey… you caught it on TV and that was kind of it…

QUINT: I know that’s why a lot of people collected 16mm, too. That was the only way to have the movie on demand.

CRAIG BREWER: I watched STAR WARS on 16mm. You could rent it from the library for, like, a coupla bucks. The big thing was you rented the projector as well, and the screen, from the library. On that weekend you’d set it up and watch a few flicks.

QUINT: I have a 16mm projector and I collect prints, but what I like to do is grab up stuff that isn’t available on video or DVD. I just screened one of my prints, a great ‘70s movie called SLITHER starring James Caan and Peter Boyle and it’s written by W.D. Richter, who wrote BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.

CRAIG BREWER: Oh!

QUINT: It’s this bizarre fuckin’ road trip movie and it’s one that almost nobody has heard of. I know I hadn’t heard of it until I saw the print was for sale. I just saw it was cheap and it was a James Caan movie. But you were saying…

CRAIG BREWER: When video started really happening, it was one of those things where you’d walk down the aisle and my dad would be picking up things that he had seen. BULLITT and THE GODFATHER. I remember one of the first love scenes that I saw was from EXCALIBUR, which is a great love scene. I don’t want to call it… that can’t be called a love scene. That’s just a flat-out fuck scene because there is no love. It’s when Uther changes… oh, man. I had a whole different idea of what I thought sex was until I saw EXCALIBUR. Then I was like, “That’s what everybody’s talkin’ about.” Oh, that actress… she was so gorgeous.

QUINT: Wasn’t she John Boorman’s daughter?

CRAIG BREWER: Was that Boorman’s daughter?

QUINT: I think it is.

CRAIG BREWER: Oh, man. If you took her and… oh, I forgot her name… Ming’s daughter from FLASH GORDON, the ‘80s version. There’s that moment when she’s kinda strapped to the table and the guy says, “Bring the bore worms.” She’s just got her mascara running with the sweaty face and she’s like, “No! Not the bore worms!” I remember being a kid going, “Wow! I wonder what the bore worms are! Wow!” But this whole Renaissance of movies we were watching… It’s funny because I remember being at dinner with you and Harry and we were talking about GATOR BAIT and my grandfather, he was a really cool cat… his name was Marvelous Marvin Thrownberry and a lot of people don’t know this, but he played for the Yankees and then he played for Mets and then he became part of the Lite Beer Gang. What that was is, you know, they had that gang of has-been ballplayers that would do the “tastes great, less filling” commercials. So, he was kind of a celebrity, so he’d go to these Lite Beer baseball exhibition games. So, he came to visit us once, and this was right when the VCRs were coming out. I took him down to the video store and the first movie he grabbed was GATOR BAIT and we went back to the house… It’s weird. I remember it very clearly because he shut the shades, so it was very shady in the room, and he just turned to me and said, “Don’t tell your mother that I’m showin’ you this movie, but you can stay here and watch it if you want. And just watching… Have you ever seen GATOR BAIT?

QUINT: I most certainly have.

CRAIG BREWER: You know what I find most interesting about GATOR BAIT? It’s like they never really shoot anybody talking in that movie. If you watch it again, it’s all reaction shots. I think it’s just because they probably had shitty sound, but at that moment videos just became… I had to watch all the movies I could, you know? That’s why Harry and all of us get along. Suddenly when you realize there’s a choice of like, “Is there a movie out there I haven’t seen or I’ve heard about? I’ve gotta get it!” Now there’s folks like you where you have things that weren’t even available, you know? Like, some of those trailers they were playing (at Butt-Numb-A-Thon), I was asking them about some of those porno trailers they were showing… There was one in that I can’t really remember, but it looked like a good film. It’s like, “Where is this thing now?”

QUINT: Are you talking about the “shot in 70mm” one?

CRAIG BREWER: This one was… remember, it was the girl and she said, “I’m 15 and I’m too young to see this movie…”

QUINT: “But I’m the star!” Yeah!

CRAIG BREWER: And she had those crazy eye-lashes painted on her eyes. Remember that? Anyway, I’m just rambling.

QUINT: I’m such a DVD addict. I love searching through the used DVD stores like CD Warehouse and I’ll pick up almost anything I haven’t seen if it’s cheap enough. If I haven’t seen it and it’s three bucks? Most of the time I don’t even care what it is, I’ll buy it. I mean, three bucks is cheaper than renting.

CRAIG BREWER: I remember I was… I hate to admit this, but I hadn’t seen SOUTHERN COMFORT since I was a kid. I remember it, especially the stakes, the boobytrap that gets the one guy, but I was in Wal-Mart and there it was. Brand new DVD cover with Powers Booth. I pick it up and I look at it… I remember SOUTHERN COMFORT, but I don’t know anything else about it. I don’t know if it was a hit. I don’t know if it was critically acclaimed. I don’t know anything about it. So, I’m sitting there looking at $9 and I’m going, “I gotta buy SOUTHERN COMFORT.” And I sit down for an afternoon, I crack open some beers and I’m watching a great movie. It was a moment of clarity for me where I just suddenly thought that whenever I make a movie, and there’s all this business that goes in to trying to make a movie because you’ve got to spend a lot of money and so much is geared towards audience expectation and box office and how to market it to everyone, but in the end, for filmmakers, Wal-Mart’s on our side. Because there’s gonna come a day that your movie will just… exist. Ten or fifteen years from now, someone’s going to be walking by and they’re not gonna know what everybody thought and they’re going to like it or not like it. It was just this moment where I felt like that as much as I have to worry about public perception, I think I just need to concentrate on keeping to make content until I can’t make anything anymore.

QUINT: Well, if it’s something you want to say and you want to tell… as long as the movie is what you want to see. I had a similar experience at Wal-Mart recently, thanks to their $5 bin. God, I love their $5 bin.

CRAIG BREWER: The $5 bin is great!

QUINT: I saw this movie starring John Cassavetes. It’s a ‘70s movie called TWO-MINUTE WARNING that I’ve never seen or heard of.

CRAIG BREWER: TWO-MINUTE WARNING?

QUINT: But it was a ‘70s thriller starring John Cassavetes and Charlton Heston. $4.88? Why not? But I have almost an entire DVD shelf filled with DVDs I haven’t watched yet, probably some 200 DVDs that I either haven’t seen the movie or I haven’t wached the extra features yet. I’m such a packrat when it comes to DVDs, the pile just keeps growing no matter how many I watch.

CRAIG BREWER: They’re our new books. They are. You know when you walked into somebody’s house and you saw their bookshelves and you have that moment, like when somebody’s doing some shit around the house and you walk over to the bookshelf. And they haven’t read all these books. They’re to let us know what their interests are, right? And that’s what DVDs are. People come over and they see the DVDs that you got and they kind of judge you by what movies you have. It’s a little difficult with me because I’ll just buy everything.

QUINT: Since I don’t do DVD columns or anything I don’t often get sent DVDs, but I get some stuff every so often, but…

CRAIG BREWER: My new collection or obsession, I guess, is when I go to the previously viewed bins at different Blockbusters and I’ll take a weekend on a Saturday and I’ll hit them all. I like collecting the fat VHS cases. They’re puffy and kind of cushiony, you know? The great thing about that is it’s like an act of Congress to open up those things. They almost have an air-tight seal.

QUINT: And they get crusty really easily.

CRAIG BREWER: Yeah, but man… those tapes, man! You could take a hammer to those tapes. They were sturdy. Now the tapes are kinda thin, the video cassettes, but those tapes… I think they were just geared specifically for video rentals, so they wanted them to be able to do multiple plays. But I like collecting those video tapes now.

QUINT: Well, you also have to remember that back the VCRs were much… meaner pieces of machinery. You hit the eject button and the damn thing attacks you almost.

CRAIG BREWER: There’s a gentleness with VCRs now where you just put the video tape in halfway. It’s like, “Oh! Did you want to play this? We’ll take this from you.” But back in the day it had some violence to it. You had to kinda push it in and then you gotta slap down the top of it.

QUINT: And the first slap down would never close it right and it’d pop right back up…

CRAIG BREWER: Yeah! I even had a VCR where the play button was… like, you had to push it Ka-Chunk! It had to click, you know? I wonder… we have this kind of nostalgic romance with that kind of tactile love of films. Like, to own a print or to have an old VHS copy of, like, BABY DOLL, the old Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams movie came out with a box set and I was so proud that I had a video cassette that I found in a cheap bin from forever ago. You get emotional with your video tapes. Right before HUSTLE & FLOW I had a garage sale because we didn’t have any money. We were so broke. And I had a collection of about 300 video cassettes that I had even cut the paper cases that the VHS put in and I put them in Blockbuster black cases…

QUINT: And you slide the cover…

CRAIG BREWER: Yeah, slid the paper sleeve down into it and then I labeled them. They had little dots. There was, like, 300-400 of these and I sold them all in a day. Just watching all those movies go… It was so awful because there was the night before where it was like, “Okay, I can’t sell this. I can’t sell this. I can’t sell this.” Finally my wife was like, “Craig, let’s look at these now. Do you really need the double cassette version of HEAT? It’ll probably come out again. Some of the older ones keep…” It’s so sad, but what is my son, when he’s 15 and it’s gonna be as easy to watch a movie as blinking your eyes, you know… It must be kind of a double-edged thing. He may be able to see more than I was able to see, but I don’t know if he’s going to have the same…

QUINT: Sense of adventure, maybe?

CRAIG BREWER: Yeah, yeah. There’s something in the hunt that’s always fun.

QUINT: I’m sure the next step is going to be a giant digital database, like TV On Demand where you’ll just sit down in front of the TV, enter in the name of any movie you want to see and download it.

CRAIG BREWER: You know, I think that kind of distribution, I just feel it in my gut, it’s going to lead to a new definition of narrative. I find it very interesting how accepting the population is on reality shows. And I say “reality” as just a label. I don’t think they’re really real anymore. I’ve seen them being produced and they’re phony. They have people saying, “Can you go have another argument with your boyfriend? Can you please re-do that argument with your boyfriend so we can get another angle on it?” And how easily a younger generation feels totally at home performing that and filming that…

[At this point the Bladimir from Paramount pops in to drop off a bag of swag that’ll be handed out at the premiere party. The bag included a hat with a sexy silhouette and the words: “It’s hard out there for a nymph,” a CD soundtrack and a shirt that I will never fit in to.]

I hadn’t seen my wife in a long time, so I tell my wife, “Hey! We’re going to meet at Sundance together! I haven’t seen you in a long time, so just be ready up at the hotel room.” And I open the door and she’s ONLY dressed in the BLACK SNAKE MOAN swag. She’s got the hat on, she’s got the shirt on, the black panties and boots… and I’m like, “This is why I married you!” That was like the equivalent of me being a band member of Danzig or something like that and my girl’s wearing a Danzig shirt. (laughs)

QUINT: At Butt-Numb-A-Thon I had a friend with me. It was her first BNAT and your movie played first. I was trying to gauge her reaction during the film and I couldn’t really nail it down and I began worrying she might be taking offense to what she was seeing…

CRAIG BREWER: Right, right. I think about that, too.

QUINT: After the movie she turns to me and says, “That movie was so fuckin’ awesome.” She has a series of tattoos in white ink that have initials of things that have impacted her life. It’s so small and the ink so clear that you can’t really see it unless you’re looking close. She said the film moved her so much that she wanted to get BSM inked in.

CRAIG BREWER: Oh my God! That just gives me chills, man! To hear about that!? Hot girl with a tattoo inspired my movie? Oh my God! It’s like a redneck fantasy! (laughs)

QUINT: I loved the film. I had an expectation in my head of what it was going to be. It was a little different. I was expecting it to be more exploitative, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the genuine warmth to the movie.

CRAIG BREWER: Right, right. It’s funny… I gotta be honest with you. When I was writing it, I didn’t think of it as an exploitation type of movie.

QUINT: It doesn’t come off that way, with the obvious exception of the imagery of a girl in a chain.

CRAIG BREWER: Right and I think once you take a snapshot of the movie it looks like an exploitation movie. Just like I think if you did the same thing with HUSTLE it, perhaps, could look like a blaxploitation movie. I always saw it as a story that was divided into two parts. I know this sounds strange, but when I was writing BLACK SNAKE MOAN, I wanted it to have this feel as if the way you watched the movie was you kind of like you pulled out an old, dusty album and you took out a record and you blew off some dust and you put it on an old record player. There’s a little crackle and hiss and then Sunhouse comes on and says, “Okay everybody. This is what the movie’s about.” It’s an old record, so the wand would go up and you’d have to turn it over and on this side the label in the center is a different color because this is when we start going into the salvation part of the movie. You know, the first side is the sin and the second side is the salvation. I thought that if BLACK SNAKE MOAN wasn’t a good title I was thinking of something like SATURDAY/SUNDAY just because that’s such a… at least where I live… Saturday night going in to Sunday morning, I feel, is the best way to truly personify the South. I think we go a little crazy on Saturday night. We get a little drunk and we do things that we probably shouldn’t have done and we wake up the next morning and we genuinely want to pray to God. What’s interesting about it is that church and a juke joint or church and a club… church manages to keep you in that Saturday mode. They got the music, they get you standing, you start sweatin’ and it’s like this continuous ride into Monday where the whole cycle begins again. That’s kind of what I was going for with BLACK SNAKE. So, when the whole imagery started revealing itself, when the dailies started coming back and I started shaping it, I realized that I guess it is going to fall into a B-movie exploitation category, but I actually like that. Not necessarily as a gimmick, but some of my favorite movies, I would call them B-movies. I’d call PURPLE RAIN a B-movie. I’d call FLASHDANCE a B-movie. I’d call FOOTLOOSE a B-movie. They meant a lot to me, those movies. Yeah, they may be hokey here and there, but when was the last time you really watched a movie where you just got drunk with it? Where you go, “God! I gotta buy that soundtrack! I gotta stay in that high that I got when I was in that movie!” I think those movies, because FLASHDANCE and FOOTLOOSE and PURPLE RAIN were so musical-heavy and music-centric I had to get the soundtracks and I just played them over and over again, I just visualized the scenes in my head, I’d be dancing around my room. Now I find that’s the only way I can really write. Now the thing that I have to do when I get in the mode to come up with a new story is I start playing music and I walk around my house and I start hearing dialog and I start writing it down. It really starts with the music first. Then I find the story, I find the tone.

QUINT: You can see that with both movies you’ve done so far. It seems that with your films the heart is expressed in the music and not the words.

CRAIG BREWER: Yeah, yeah.

QUINT: Is the premiere tonight?

CRAIG BREWER: The premiere is tomorrow night.

QUINT: Nervous?

CRAIG BREWER: Yeah. I gotta be honest, at first I was scared to come here. I haven’t really told that to anybody. I guess what it is is no matter what I feel about BLACK SNAKE MOAN, it’s the second movie everybody’s going to see of mine. The term “sophomore curse” has been thrown at me and I definitely think about it. There’s nothing like losing your virginity to that first girl, which, for audiences, was HUSTLE. When I came here, to Sundance, the audience really embraced HUSTLE and they embraced me. I mean, I was having dinner up the street and people would come up and say, “We were here with HUSTLE and we’re so proud of you.” I felt like I owed my career to people at Sundance who were movie-goers, not people who bought the movie, not industry types, not people with a bunch of PDAs and Palm Pilots in their hands watching movies and making deals, but people who really came to this festival to watch a variety of movies. And they fell in love with HUSTLE & FLOW. I guess the reason why I was filled with anxiety about coming here is that I want the people to keep supporting me because I need it. I feel like I want… not praise, not necessarily people gushing over the movie, but I kind of want them to pat me on the back and go, “Very good. Make another one.”

QUINT: You want acceptance.

CRAIG BREWER: In an industry where I think signature is so hard to maintain, a particular brand or your slant, your interest in the stories you want to tell… It’s harder and harder to keep making movies that are yours, one after the other. I mean, we can look at Quentin Tarantino and go, “Wow! He started with RESERVOIR DOG and then went into PULP FICTION, JACKIE BROWN and KILL BILL 1 and 2. They are all Tarantino’s movies. There’s no way around it.” I’m learning more and more that’s a rare thing, so I just want to keep making my movies and I hope that people really take it as part of a series of films. I’m hoping that when filmmakers first come into the business and they have their signature, they have their particular type of growth… it’s very easy to lose it when you’re hungry and jobs are offered to you that are probably pre-existing scripts. It’s like, “Look, we know you just did something very dramatic, but we want you to do a goofy comedy.” It’s hard, when you’re so desperate to make movies, to hold on to your own stories. I guess that’s where I was very fortunate. I think about that every day, how fortunate I am that I’ve only made the movies that I’ve written and that I’ve wanted to do and I’ve been able to feed my kid and my wife with it.

QUINT: I’m sure having a draw with talented and name actors has a lot to do with you keeping that artistic freedom. When you can get Christina Ricci and Sam Jackson to sign on to your movie, I’m sure that makes it much easier to maintain your freedom.

CRAIG BREWER: Oh yeah.

QUINT: I’m assuming they didn’t do it for a payday, so they must have really been drawn to the material.

CRAIG BREWER: No, they didn’t. I sometimes look at the poster of Sam and Christina and I think to myself… I just don’t see how this would have worked with anybody else. I’m so fortunate that they both responded to the material and they both took it to that level.

QUINT: And they’re both extremely brave with it, too. Especially Ricci.

CRAIG BREWER: I mean, really. Is there a better performance from Ricci? Christina is so damn good in BLACK SNAKE MOAN! (laughs)

QUINT: How do you talk an actress into this? “The whole movie you’re going to be wearing nothing or next to nothing and you’re going to be a nympho and you’re going to be chained to a radiator.” Sure, there’s something under all that, but I can’t imagine being able to get an actress to look past that.

CRAIG BREWER; See, that’s where I knew Christina was different because the first time I heard from Christina was a letter. She emailed me. She said, “I just saw HUSTLE & FLOW,” and she was really moved by it. She said she went into a bathroom and cried for a long time after HUSTLE. Then she read BLACK SNAKE MOAN and she would not let it go. She said, “Listen. I’ve read plenty of scripts. I’m going to probably quit the business unless I play this role.” It’s not that I’m not a Ricci fan because I am, but she was not necessarily the first actress that I could picture playing Rae. I was looking for kind of more like that Lil’ Abner southern siren type of look.

QUINT: Claudia Jennings.

CRAIG BREWER: Very Claudia Jennings. Perfect. But then her agent called me and said, “She’s not going to take no for an answer. She’s coming in to read for you.” I’ve come to learn that not every actress does that. You either have to have a meeting with them where they decide whether or not it’s compatible or there’s the offer. “Hey, if you want this, it’s yours.” But Christina came in and she was amazing in her audition. I was covered in goosebumps and we ended it… I must have looked confused to her because I was not picturing her at all and then suddenly… there she was. It was the strangest thing I’ve experienced. Usually you have an idea for a character and you cast accordingly. You cast somebody to fit your preconceived view, but then Ricci started doing this scene where everybody else was trying to be sexy and sexual and she was just like an immature 13 year old yelling at her mom, then she’d turn around and then, in a snap of a finger, she’d be like an animal, like she could attack you and kill you. Incredibly rageful. And then just drop down into tears. I was like, “That’s her. She’s going through every emotion because she’s been unchecked all her life. Nobody has loved her. Everybody’s used her. No family at all.” And when she finished this scene she was like, “I’d like to do another one for you,” and we didn’t even give her the sides. She had gone into the script and she said, “I really want to perform this scene where I confront my mother to you.” We weren’t even prepared for it, so the casting director pulled out a script and played the mother. They did this scene, and I still have it on videotape, and it’s just incredibly. It just chilled me to the bone. After that audition… she was the first person I saw. I had three to four days of other actresses. A lot of them and big ones coming in to read and every day I just went home and I said, “I can’t get Christina Ricci out of my mind! I can’t get her out of my mind.” So, I finally went to the studio and I said, “I don’t want to see any more actresses.” They go, “Craig, you may want to keep your options open.” I said, “You know, I can’t get past it. I think I’ve found my Rae.” I told them it was going to be Christina Ricci, they signed off on it and I meet Christina. She doesn’t know she has the part. We meet at this hotel bar, The Standard that they were having me stay at and we were out by the pool. I was asking her, “Why do you want to play this role?” She had given me her reasons, just things that she’s experienced in her past and her struggles and why this is the role she thinks this is the role she was born to play. I gave her a box and I said, “This is for your audition. It’s just a gift.” It was a wooden box and she opened the wooden box and I had a chrome chain in there from Home Depot. She pulled it out and looked at me and I said, “Do you want to put it on and do this movie?” She just started crying. She goes, “Craig, you can’t just say that!” I was like, “No. I checked with everybody. You’re Rae. If you want it, it’s yours.” We knew that it was going to be such hard work, that we were going to be fighting with each other and all this stuff, but at that moment… you know, it was love.

QUINT: I noticed there’s a lot of actors with multiple movies at Sundance this year. Justin Theroux, Steve Buscemi and Sam Jackson, who has another movie where he plays a homeless dude. I went to see it just because it Sam Jackson playing a homeless dude! And I actually really liked CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE, so…

CRAIG BREWER: Oh yeah. Amy Vincent, who shot both my movies, shot CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE. My cinematographer, Amy Vincent, is the cinematographer who has shot Sam the most. She shot BLACK SNAKE MOAN, she shot CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE and EVE’S BAYOU. Sam loves the way she photographs him.

QUINT: This new movie, RESURRECTING THE CHAMP was okay. It was a good movie, but it was a great movie whenever he was onscreen. That’s the beauty of actors like Sam Jackson. No matter what he’s in, he brings something strong to it.

CRAIG BREWER: Well, you know… you really gotta put him in that category of the iconic actors like Brando and Nicholson. There may be people that’ll say, “Are you saying he’s as great an actor as Brando?” I don’t think that’s what I mean. I’m talking about when someone comes onto the screen and suddenly you perk up. You’re familiar. It’s like, “I want to watch whatever this guy says. I’ll follow wherever this guy goes.”

QUINT: You can say that about Eastwood and Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne…

CRAIG BREWER: Exactly. And Sam has earned it. People know it, but they haven’t said that out loud, really. Sam has earned our interest. It’s so funny… I was watchin’ GOODFELLAS the other day with somebody who hadn’t seen it in a long time and he went, “Motherfucker! That’s Samuel L. Jackson!” I said, “Well watch this…” Pow! He gets capped and blood sprays out of his head. He said, “Aw, man!” I said, “Hey… this is before he had good lawyers.” (laughs) “I ain’t gonna die in this one!” (laughs)

QUINT: The one that blows my mind is Eddie Murphy’s RAW where Sam Jackson pops up in the filmed sequence at the beginning! The first time I remember seeing him and registering him as a good character actor was COMING TO AMERICA.

CRAIG BREWER: And there’s nothing more electrifying than his performance in JUNGLE FEVER. It’s such a small part of it, but that moment where he’s just trying to get some money from him mom… ugh! Wow.

QUINT: So, how did you get him in the movie?

CRAIG BREWER: How did I get Sam in the movie?

QUINT: Yeah.

CRAIG BREWER: (John) Singleton, being the player he is… he’s the Godfather, man. He really is. That Sidekick of his is connected to a lot of people and he pulls the strings. Don’t turn your back on him! He’s got it down. He called me one day and he said, “Hey, man. I hope you don’t mind, but I just sent the script to Samuel L. Jackson.” To be honest with you, my agency, William Morris, repped Morgan Freeman, so Morgan read it. And Morgan was like, “I like it. I’ll do it.” At first he didn’t know if it’d be kind of the same thing he’s done, like “Black man saving the white girl,” you know? I said, “No, this movie it’s very important that Lazarus be somewhat sexually threatening.” We never solidified anything with Morgan because he was juggling a few projects at the time and then John told me that Sam Jackson flipped for it, he loved it. It’s the strangest of all conflicts that I’ve ever had in my life. It’s like wait a minute… what do I do here? I’ve got one incredible actor who’s somewhat interested and I’ve got another incredible actor that is really interested and now I’ve got to go to the Oscars. I’m going to the Oscars for Terrence (Howard) and I’m watching TV and Sam Jackson’s being interviewed and he’s talking about his life experience overcoming addiction and he’s talking about growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was like, “Why did I not know that Sam was from Chattanooga, Tennessee?” He announces it in SNAKES ON A PLANE, he goes, “Hey! I’m from Tennessee!” but I had never known he was from Tennessee. Then I go to the awards that night and Sam’s a presenter. I’m sitting there watching him walk out to the end of the stage… such presence. I think to myself, “Here’s one of our best actors.” You know, all these other African American actors now are getting the awards and I’m thinking to myself, “When is Sam going to win an Oscar?” It really was a question to me. I’m standing in the limo lines and I can’t keep my eyes off Sam. I keep looking at him. Me and my wife get in the car and she’s like, “What’s wrong?” And I go, “I know who needs to play Lazarus. I think it’s Samuel L. Jackson.” So we immediately met with Sam. He was filming THE MAN and I went into his trailer and played him some of the music and he just got it. He understood it. The biggest question… I told him, “Look. You’re a great looking guy and I really want this man to be a hard-workin’, farmin’ old man.” He said, “Just let me do what I want to do… because I got an idea.” We got him with the musicians and I got him books of all the old Mississippi bluesmen and he went into make-up trailer… I swear to God it gave me chills when he walked out because he was Lazarus. I didn’t know what he was going to do. I didn’t know if he was going to have a beard or chops or that open-toothed gold grill that he has or the receding hairline that he has… or that mole. But he really wanted his team to create this man. And, really, he holds himself differently in the movie. There’s so many little things in his craft that I’m pleased (the audience) is not aware of. He kind of held his belt a little lower. He gained a little bit of (weight) so he walked, I swear to God, just like my Granddaddy did. He’d flick a cigarette away just like my Granddad did. It was incredible.

QUINT: I love Morgan Freeman, but Sam Jackson has that… I don’t know, Joe Don Baker sweat to him, you know? I think I would have had more trouble seeing Freeman do it… it would have been fascinating, but I don’t know if it would have worked.

CRAIG BREWER: Yeah, yeah. The thing that now, having been through the movie, having filmed it and having seen it with audiences… Where Sam I think is really perfect is he’s a little romantic in this movie. There’s this romance between him and S. Epatha Merkerson and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where I’ve seen Sam Jackson be embarrassed, be a little tongue-tied, be a little nervous and man… women love it! I’m watching Sam in these scenes and you just want him to be happy, you want him to find a good woman, you want him to have a happy life. He’d be a great father. It got me thinking. Sam should be in a romance. There should be a love story that Sam Jackson’s in, you know?

[A Paramount Vantage lady walks in]

Have we been talking too long?

PARAMOUNT VANTAGE: Yeah. (To me) Nice to meet you! I heard you just saw SON OF RAMBOW.

QUINT: Yeah, I did.

CRAIG BREWER: You’ve seen it?

QUINT: Yeah.

CRAIG BREWER: God damn it.

PARAMOUNT VANTAGE: What’d you think?

QUINT: It’s great. (To Craig) You’re going to go crazy for it, as big of a fan of FIRST BLOOD as you are. I won’t spoil them, but there will be little moments, references peppered throughout that you’re going to love.

CRAIG BREWER: FIRST BLOOD… You could watch FIRST BLOOD… sometimes people come over and I’ll play it on TV and I’ll watch the counter and say, “Watch what happens here.” The great thing about FIRST BLOOD is it’s really a battle of war archetypes. It’s really about a Korean War Vet up against a Vietnam War Vet.

PARAMOUNT VANTAGE: You’re going to love this movie! There’s a midnight screening tonight, but it’s in Salt Lake City (a good 45 minutes away) and there’s another one tomorrow, but it’s up against the premiere.

CRAIG BREWER: Well, I’ve seen BLACK SNAKE MOAN… (laughs) I’ve seen that motherfucker a few times. It’ll be like, “I hope you all enjoy! I’ll be here for the Q&A, but I’m going to see SON OF RAMBOW!” (laughs) I’ll tell you what… looking at (BLACK SNAKE MOAN) and the way you handled it…. I can’t imagine what an ‘80s UK SON OF RAMBOW… y’all can have some real fun with it. Don’t get meditative on it. No, like, REGARDING HENRY type of posters! I’m seeing camo… this could be great!

And there you have it. I long, long, long 6500 plus word interview. My buddy Kraken just said that after that first MIST set report and this interview, I’m going to be accused of being a long-winded son of a bitch. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chat. At the very least it’s different than your typical publicity interview. It might be a little unfocused, but so is a regular conversation. I think you know more about Craig Brewer from a chat like this than you would a straight forward interview. I don’t think it should be this way every time, but it worked out for this one. So, I’m off to finish Day 2 of my MIST set visit. Be back in a couple hours with that! -Quint quint@aintitcool.com



Readers Talkback

comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • March 1, 2007, 9:50 p.m. CST

    Foirst

    by dekionplexis

    Yay!

  • March 1, 2007, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Christina Ricci Wants Me

    by Professor Krapp

    She just doesn't know it because she hasn't met me yet.

  • March 1, 2007, 10:13 p.m. CST

    Also, What's So Special About Being First?

    by Professor Krapp

    I'm a newcomer to this kind of thing, and I've noticed that people tend to gloat or think it's somehow special to be the first person to post a comment. Would anybody care to explain this to me? I'm not sure what the big honor is. Do you win a prize or something?

  • March 1, 2007, 10:28 p.m. CST

    I'm sorry, but Brewer is misogynistic as hell...

    by Chief Redcock

    ...and his films don't even try to hide it. Honestly, who gives a whit about the main character of Hustle and Flow? He's a woman-hating scumbag who leaves a woman and a child on the street because she dared to talk back. And that film is lame and overrated amyway. Brewer has a long way to go before he can make a worthwhile film, I think.

  • March 1, 2007, 11:04 p.m. CST

    Misogny is in the eye of the beholder

    by terry1978

    Most guys that use that term, misogyny, are basically trying to get in good with the female gender to ultimately fuck them anyway. I have never heard a straight man use that term, except maybe during a speech where women were present. Wrap your brain around that one. =P

  • March 1, 2007, 11:15 p.m. CST

    MANDINGO

    by THE KNIGHT

    You know you wanted to say it...

  • March 1, 2007, 11:33 p.m. CST

    Morgan Freeman, huh?

    by El Scorcho

    Can't really see it. Anyway, I'm gonna check out BSM tomorrow night. Hope it's fun. And then... ZODIAC motherfuckers!!!!

  • March 1, 2007, 11:49 p.m. CST

    Boorman's daughter in Excalibur...

    by HappyHamster

    I remember that being my first "real love scene" in a movie too. Oh man. <p> And now the whole Hellen Mirren thing (Morgana in Excalibur)...wow, whole lotta Excalibur synchronicity going on here. :)

  • March 1, 2007, 11:52 p.m. CST

    not to be a total deuche...

    by BEARison Ford

    but you'd expect from the number of people that namecheck Bullit on this site that they'd know how to spell it.

  • March 2, 2007, 12:10 a.m. CST

    One of Quint's best

    by filmcans

    Thanks in no small part to Craig Brewer, who just jumped up a couple more levels of cool in my eyes with that bit about Wal-Mart filmmaking.

  • March 2, 2007, 1:48 a.m. CST

    Son House

    by Poacher

    Not Sunhouse. Honest mistake, but he was a legendary Delta Bluesman. And to an above poster: Why is Brewer a misogynist? Because DeeJay didn't have the utmost respect for women? He was a pimp! What does that have to do with Brewer's personal feelings?

  • March 2, 2007, 1:54 a.m. CST

    i'll be renting this when there's nothing else to rent.

    by howardroark

    boooonnnnnng.

  • March 2, 2007, 4 a.m. CST

    Great interview, particularly regarding the VHS thing

    by Giant Fish

    Two years ago, the oldest and biggest video store in my home town got rid of their archives; thiw place opened in 1978. The sheer joy of going through those dusty boxes and digging up VHS treasures... Finding tapes like Laserblast, The Fighting Fist of Shanghai Joe, and The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist, to name but a few. Buying DVDs on the web just isn't the same.

  • March 2, 2007, 9:53 a.m. CST

    Bring Me The Bore Worms!

    by toadkillerdog

    Yes!!! I have been waiting over twenty years for someone else to recognize the malevolent and undeniably sexually stupefying genius of that phrase. I am content. Flash Gordon truly rocked!

  • March 2, 2007, 10:46 a.m. CST

    Son Of Rambow?

    by liljuniorbrown

    What the hell is that? Sorry i just havn't heard of it.

  • March 2, 2007, 11:26 a.m. CST

    Christina

    by optimus122

    Damn count me in on seeing this movie tonite..I love that little hottie. I would bang her longtime.

  • March 4, 2007, 9:50 a.m. CST

    "I never knew what my father was...

    by DocPazuzu

    ...until he let Klytus put the bore worms on me." .... Ornella Muti made me feel funny in my pants when I was twelve. Oh yes.

  • March 6, 2007, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Black Snake Rocked!

    by Zeke25:17

    This flick is gonna pull in two types of people: dimwits who simply wanna see Christina Ricci masturbate herself with a link chain; and people who understand what U2 meant when they sang of "salvation in the blues" in "Angel of Harlem". Actually, the exploitation hook will pull in just about everybody--half of em will love what Craig Brewer has done here; and the other half will be sorry they didn't get to see if Ricci's all-growed-up carpet matches the drapes. They'll also probably think the film is over the top, offensive, racist, stupid, and just too darn upsetting for mass consumption. Fuck all of em: the movie rocks. Now I don't pretend to know the blues much at all; but you'd simply have to have no appreciation whatsoever for good music to not be moved by this film. Jackson is, of course, Da Man: how could he not be? And Wednesday Addams is indeed all growed up: this is her best onscreen work, period, since she was a kid. More than that, even the fringe characters in the movie are important, and acted with real heart. Compared to other films, you might call this the offspring of The Hot Spot and Monster's Ball: it has that kind of feel. Come April, Grindhouse will be our exploitation feast; we will dine heartily on fine junk food. Black Snake Moan is more than that; it's a seven course meal: a tale that shows rebirth coming out of the most unlikely of places....And by the way, Morgan Freeman is terrific; but Lazurus should be played by no one but Samuel L.

  • March 6, 2007, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Black Snake Moan is this year's "Little Miss Sunshine".

    by SouthSide_2010

    WHY? Because Christina Ricci gotta eat Sam Jackson's Tomboy Beanpole while he drinks a beer and cheets!!

  • March 7, 2007, 4:16 p.m. CST

    This Is Madness...!

    by buster00

    THIS...IS...SPARTA!!