Savannah Film Festival Interview: Aaron Eckhart
The star of “The Dark Night” and “Thank You for Smoking” chats with us about Johnny Depp, his knack for making bad guys appealing and his scheduled return to the Coastal Empire in 2012. By Summer Teal Simpson.
Savannah Magazine: You are being honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award at the Savannah Film Festival. What does that mean to you given the company of a fellow honoree such as Lily Tomlin.
Aaron Eckhart: Well, I am not in her category. I’m honored to be here. It’s nice to be asked. I feel like I have a long way to go to deserve an honor such as this. That’s pretty good company.
SM: With the work you have done in films like “Towelhead” and “Thank You for Smoking,” how is it that you are drawn to these complex, sometimes unappealing characters?
Eckhart: Well, it all comes from the script. The reason why you do movies where you may not come out in the best light is because the writing is good, the directors are good and your fellow actors are good. You feel a connection with the material. People ask you to do those types of roles because they know that you are going to give your all, that you are going to make an accomplished character and you are going to play into the hero and not the villain. I don’t know how many people offer me roles where they say, “You’re the only guy who can make this guy appealing. Make him human.” That’s a compliment, but if I ever get married or have a girlfriend, I can’t keep on playing those roles. It’s tough sometimes.
SM: I know that you have an upcoming role in “The Drummer,” which is about Dennis Wilson, the drummer of The Beach Boys.
Eckhart: Yes, and it is going to be filmed here.
Eckhart: I think it is going to be filmed right around here. Next summer, I think.
SM: We’ll be glad to have you back. I read that you started out with an interest in songwriting. Can you tell us about the musical demands of that role?
Eckhart: Well, they’re pretty big. I get a little scared when thinking about it. You know I have to learn how to play drums, piano and harmonica. I have a lot of songs to know. That’s what I am doing right now. I have either drum or piano lessons everyday, but I am also doing a movie before that where I play the monster Frankenstein, so I’ve got that to do. I feel I have a big responsibility with “The Drummer” because of Dennis Wilson. This was his passion, his life. It is what ultimately killed him. He was a very complex dude.
SM: The film version of Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Rum Diary” has recently been released, which you star in with Johnny Depp. What was that experience like?
Eckhart: It was great. I really enjoyed working with Johnny. He is so good to the people he works with. He treats you like family. And he is so passionate about Hunter. Hunter’s chair was always mixed in with ours, always with a script on it. And every day they would dip their fingers in whiskey and put it behind their ears in tribute to him. It’s nice to be able to work on projects like that because it wasn’t a job for Johnny. He was carrying on Hunter’s legacy.
Source: Savannah Magazine
Aaron Eckhart: ‘Rum Diary’ Star Talks Johnny Depp, ‘I, Frankenstein’
by Jo Piazza
Source: Huffington Post
Aaron Eckhart stars in “The Rum Diary” with Johnny Depp, but he actually prefers Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Hunter S. Thompson. He grew up in the Church of Latter Day Saints, but has absolutely no opinion on Mitt Romney’s candidacy. He’s studying to play Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, but claims he can’t sing.
The Huffington Post recently discovered these contradictions and more while chatting with Eckhart at the Savannah Film Festival:
You just did “The Rum Diary” with Johnny Depp, who plays writer Hunter S. Thompson. What was he like to work with?
We filmed in Puerto Rico, which wasn’t bad, and it was a fun movie because Johnny was so involved. It is his passion project, so everyone on the crew has done six movies with him and it was like filming with his family. I got along really well with him. We had a good time, which I was happy about, and you know, Johnny is crazy about Hunter. He is passionate about him and knows him really well and feels a responsibility to carry on his legacy in a certain way, so if it weren’t for Johnny, these movies wouldn’t get made.
Are you a Hunter S. Thompson fan?
I am more of a Dostoyevsky fan. I am sure Hunter read Dostoyevsky. I do like Hunter. I have read some of his books, but I am not an aficionado. I love the idea that he lived his life in his way, and I think that’s to be admired because I think it takes a lot of energy and courage to live against the grain like Hunter did. I think Johnny leads his own life that way.
How did you get into acting?
I was 14, in high school in England, and I was on my way to rugby practice when I saw a sign for auditions for a “Charlie Brown” play. Since my school was so small, no one else auditioned and I got the role of Charlie and I had seven solos.
So you can sing and dance?
No, I was dreadful because those songs are high. Somebody had to kick me in the balls to get up there sometimes. Then I went to a school for the arts in Sydney and I got a theater degree at Brigham Young University and then moved to New York
2011 Savannah Film Festival closes with honors for Aaron Eckhart and filmmakers
By Linda Sickler
Actor Aaron Eckhart accepted an Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award. “Many have called him an actor’s actor,” said Danny Filson, the festival’s executive director, in presenting the award.
Eckhart said he once worked with Morgan Freeman. “Every word out of his mouth was perfect,” he said. “Take after take, it was flawless.”
When Eckhart asked Freeman how he did it, Freeman simply replied, “Thirty years.”
“I’m halfway there,” Eckhart said. “After 30-plus movies, I continue to ask, ‘How do you do it? How do you reach perfection?’”
Earlier in the day, Eckhart said he will be filming “The Drummer” on Tybee Island next summer. In it he will play Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.
Like Wilson, Eckhart himself was a surfer, until his family moved to England for his father’s work. While living overseas gave him life experience to draw on in his acting career, it came at an inopportune time.
“I was just going into the eighth grade when we moved to England,” Eckhart said. “I was just getting interested in girls and sports.”
But while there, Eckhart discovered acting when he auditioned for a school play and got the lead role of Charlie Brown.
Eckhart plans to teach a master class at the Savannah College of Art and Design when he returns next summer. He recently spoke to students at Harvard about the film industry.
“It’s helpful for students to hear it coming from a professional,” Eckhart said. “I majored in theater and got the degree. I feel I give them the perfect advice.”
With credits for films as varied as “Erin Brockovich,” “The Company of Men,” “Thank You for Smoking,” “Rabbit Hole,” “The Missing,” “Battle: Los Angeles” and “The Dark Knight,” Eckhart truly is a good source for inside information.
He encourages students to pursue their dreams. Eckhart himself hopes to someday write screenplays and direct.
“I have a love-hate relationship with acting,” Eckhart said. “I’d like to abandon acting altogether and be much more involved in the subject matter.”
Source: Savannah Now
Aaron Eckhart on “The Rum Diary,” advice for actors
By Susan Kemp and By Danielle Austin
Just before stepping on stage at Trustees Theater on Nov. 5 to accept his award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema, Aaron Eckhart sat down with District for a brief interview.
After nearly 15 years in the industry, he shared his advice for young actors jumping into their first big role and what it was like working alongside Johnny Depp in his most recent film, “The Rum Diary.”
“The Rum Diary” at the Box Office
Johnny Depp’s latest, The Rum Diary, stumbled out of the gate with just $5 million. Pirates of the Caribbean this was not. The disappointing opening fell in line with Depp’s other substance abuse picture, 1998?s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which debuted to $3.3 million and earned $10.7 million total. The Rum Diary‘s edgy story was always going to be a tough sell, and FilmDistrict’s President of Theatrical Distribution Bob Berney admits: “While we all wish the numbers were better, we’re proud of the film and its loving tribute to Hunter S. Thompson.”
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Five Favourite Films with Aaron Eckhart + “The Rum Diary” interview
by Luke Goodsell
Source: Rotten Tomatoes
You could set your watch to Aaron Eckhart’s handsomely chiseled features — but do so at your own peril. As he’s proved time and again on screen, Eckhart excels at portraying deceptively charming men: be they manipulative executives (his breakout In the Company of Men), big-tobacco spin doctors (Thank You For Smoking), or literally, physically duplicitous district attorneys (The Dark Knight). Which isn’t to say he won’t play nice, reasonably normal guys, of course, as his excellent (and strangely Oscar-overlooked) performance in last year’s Rabbit Hole attests. This week, however, Eckhart’s up to his smooth-talking tricks in The Rum Diary, playing against Johnny Depp as the impeccably-dressed but otherwise rather rapacious Sanderson — an American businessman out to turn postcard-perfect Puerto Rico into a lucrative tourist resort. We spoke with Eckhart recently, where he talked about the film, his thoughts on writer Hunter S. Thompson, and the art of playing the likeable bad guy. But first, he ran through his five favorite films.
Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
My five favorite films? I have no memory, that’s my problem. [Laughs] Well one of them would be Apocalypse Now. I mean, you could tell that the movie was made in madness, as madness, and that, to me… someday I want to make a movie like that. Total consumption.
Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
One of them would be… did I say Apocalypse Now? [Laughs] What other films are there? Have there been any other films? I would say Five Easy Pieces. Nicholson was a god. Is a god. Great movie. Fucking great movie.
The Getaway (Sam Peckinpah, 1972)
Then I’ll say — this is so easy, but I’ll say The Getaway, with McQueen. Just, you know, just raw power and action.
Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
Bringing Up Baby, with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn — just because I grew up on those movies.
Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978)
And then I’m gonna say… What’s a modern movie that I’ve seen? How about… you know a great movie that I saw was… [extremely long pause] Oh, I got a movie — the one where he goes to the Turkish Prison. Midnight Express. There you go. That movie terrified me. [Laughs] Go to Turkey, but do your hash before.
Plus, The Rum Diary co-star on making the film, playing chaming bad guys, and staying in character — and sober — on set.
Aaron Eckhart talks “The Rum Diary” and “I, Frankenstein”
by Christina Radish
In The Rum Diary, adapted from the Hunter S. Thompson novel, actor Aaron Eckhart plays Sanderson, a businessman involved in shady property development deals, determined to convert Puerto Rico into a capitalist paradise in service of wealthy Americans. When he meets journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp), he recruits him to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, but quickly learns that Kemp is not someone easily controlled.
At the film’s press day, Aaron Eckhart spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about what a great time he had making the film, how timeless the themes of the story are, how flattering it is to know he was the only choice for this role, and that he enjoyed watching Johnny Depp work. He also talked about his next role, playing the iconic monster in I, Frankenstein, a modern take on the classic story, and how he has no plan, when it comes to deciding which projects he’ll sign on for. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: It was really nice to finally get to see this film, since we’ve talked about it a few times before.
AARON ECKHART: Yeah, I made this movie, and then Rabbit Hole, and then Battle: Los Angeles.
How did you get involved with this? Were you approached about doing the role?
ECKHART: Yes, (director) Bruce [Robinson] called up. He had needed somebody who had done that sort of character before, and he thought that I could do it, so I met him. I didn’t know Johnny [Depp] and I didn’t know anything about the story. I hadn’t read The Rum Diary, but I’ve read some of Hunter’s stuff and had heard about it. So, I came into it pretty virginess, but had a great time making it.
Did you feel really transported to that time, while shooting this?
ECKHART: Yeah, once you put on those clothes and have the cars. But, it seems like a lot of this is timeless stuff, thematically. It’s relevant today. Certainly, my character is. But, once you’re in that environment, you do lose yourself, especially in Puerto Rico ‘cause you’re either looking out to the sea or you’re looking towards the mountains. You can lose yourself in that sort of timeless place, which is good. Normally, you go to places to make a film about another place. You go to Toronto because you can’t afford New York. This movie was good because it takes place in Puerto Rico. That’s where Hunter went. So, I thought it was good for the film.
First photos of Aaron Eckhart in “The Expatriate”
Here are the first promotional stills from “The Expatriate”. Check them out in the gallery. Huge thanks to Nicola for linking us to these!
Aaron Eckhart: From ‘Rum Diary’ to ‘I, Frankenstein,’ It’s All About Character
All it took to get Aaron Eckhart to sign on to “The Rum Diary” was the promise of going toe-to-toe with Johnny Depp – and, yeah, that tropical setting.
“I think the allure of something like this is working with Johnny and working with Hunter’s material,” Eckhart tells PopcornBiz of his decision to join the cast of producer/star Depp’s film adaptation of novelist Hunter S. Thompson’s book. “It was a great opportunity, especially when you’re sitting at home: ‘Let’s go to Puerto Rico and make a movie. It’ll be six weeks. Don’t worry about it.’ That’s easy to get through my mind.”
The actor opens up to PopcornBiz about his coursework in Thompson, Depp and Hollywood acting, as well as his horrific next film.
On Hunter Thompson 101:
“Years ago, it must have been when I was in college or something, the first article I ever read with Hunter was when he assigned to go to Hawaii to cover a marathon, of all things. And he accepted the job. And he never got outside of his hotel room. He just opened the minibar and just had a complete debaucherous time in the hotel room. Meanwhile, the marathon took place right outside his window. And then he just wrote what he saw and sent in the article and he was published.”
On Johnny Depp 101:
“I learned how simple he is – how little he does for the effect that he gets on the screen, mostly. How he prepares and interprets a character. How he comes to set. How he makes his way through the day. What temperament he keeps. Always looking at people. It’s not just Johnny. It’s the same thing with Nicole [Kidman], or when I was working with Jack Nicholson or Morgan Freeman, Ian McKellen – whoever it is, always watching. I said to Morgan Freeman one time ‘Morgan, how do you do it?’ And he looked at me and he said, ‘Forty years.’ And so when I hear that I go, ‘Oh, I haven’t been doing it 40 years.’ When you watch guys like this it kind of takes you off the hook, because you say, ‘Oh, he didn’t torture himself before the torture scene – He just went into the torture scene.’ Johnny does this. I saw things that Johnny does to an effect that I sit there and analyze it afterwards and go, ‘I see – Maybe I can do the same thing in a way. Make it my own.’”
On going from playing one classic character in “Pan” to another in “I, Frankenstein”:
“‘Pan’ got postponed, in which I was playing Captain James Hook. Peter Pan was abducting children and Captain Hook was on his tail, so it flipped Peter Pan on its end. And now I’m playing Frankenstein in a modern adaptation. It’s sort of what happens after Victor Frankenstein builds his monster, about Frankenstein’s life and the monster afterwards. And then there’s a couple things I have after that actually that are super-interesting. Large character-scale. Like, serious stuff, which I’m looking forward to. Things that have the big action pieces and this sort of stuff, but you also never get away from doing the character stuff. Getting back to the acting. Always staying close to what’s hot in the acting. That’s the most important thing for me.”
On whether he has a special affinity for revisiting classic icons:
“No, I think Hollywood’s interested in that. I think everybody’s so scared to make a movie these days that they’re going into the grab bag. For example I just talked to a Japanese journalist yesterday and said something about Frankenstein and, obviously, the Japanese have a huge history with Frankenstein. So it’s an automatic sell. I think it’s less about us as actors and more about studios and independent producers saying, ‘How can I make this movie?’ It’s so difficult to make a movie these days that they have to go with the sure thing.”
“The Rum Diary” opens in theaters everywhere today
‘The Rum Diary’ Co-Star Aaron Eckhart On Why He Might Be Ready To Quit Acting
by Amy Nicholson
Source: Box Office Magazine
Say this about Aaron Eckhart: the blonde, almost cartoonishly handsome leading man entered Hollywood with a splash. His first film, In the Company of Men, was a project with his college buddy Neil LaBute that put both BYU grads on the map. The dark satire about two men who compete to seduce and destroy a deaf woman played Sundance and Cannes and stirred up a scandal. Since then, Eckhart has become the face of the bold American man, playing a tobacco lobbyist in Thank You For Smoking, an ambitious district attorney in The Dark Knight, and here in The Rum Diary, a wealthy investor who wants to turn Puerto Rico into a paradise for the rich—and wants to keep Johnny Depp’s hands off his fiancée Amber Heard. Eckhart talks candidly to BOXOFFICE about how impossible it is to describe his job, and why his working days might be drawing to a close.
Bruce said he wanted you because he needed someone who could hold their own against Johnny Depp.
Well, that is sweet. Bruce is a good man.
He also said he wanted you because you were blonde.
Well, I guess I was then. I did hang out at the beach a lot. I think he was going for that opposite-coloring thing against Johnny, so that worked out. But I think you could put a cardboard cutout in front of Johnny and everything would be okay.
You’re often cast as the All-American capitalist, which seems like a lot of pressure on you to seem totally confident.
I don’t mind that, the businessman and all that stuff. I think that you have to commit to it, though. If you’re going to play a role like this, you have to commit to being an unscrupulous archetypal greedy businessman bad guy. Which I’m not personally in love with in my own life and elsewhere. I wouldn’t want to make a career out of it, but I have played them quite a bit in In the Company of Men and Thank You For Smoking. People seem to like that kind of guy that doesn’t have any sort of morals or ethics—who runs over people and has fun doing it.