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Post Info TOPIC: Bad Lieutenant TIFF Interview with Werner and Nic - long - fascinating


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Date: 2:35 AM, 11/22/10
Bad Lieutenant TIFF Interview with Werner and Nic - long - fascinating

Nicolas Cage plays an over-the-top, crazy cop in 'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans'

Nicolas Cage

Did you ever notice that Nicolas Cage
seems to get his best reviews when he plays characters that are wacky,
living on the edge and about to go off the deep end? From playing a
dim-witted kidnapper "Raising Arizona" to his Oscar-winning role as an alcoholic in "Leaving Las Vegas"
(to name a few roles), Cage has portrayed a lot of these types of
damaged characters. One of the Cage characters joining the "screwed-up
person" list is Terence McDonagh, the corrupt cop addicted to drugs and
gambling in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans."

Directed by German filmmaker Werner Herzog, "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" is a very dark comedy that has almost nothing in common with the Abel Ferrara-directed 1992 film "Bad Lieutenant," starring Harvey Keitel
in the title role — other than that both films have the similar names
and are about a morally bankrupt police officer. Cage’s "Bad Lieutenant"
character is the type of cop who does things like accost a partying
couple who are leaving a nightclub, steal their drugs, and then pressure
the woman to have sex with him in front of her male companion.

Did we mention that Terence McDonagh’s involvement in the seedy
underworld of New Orleans also involves sometimes robbing drug dealers
and menacing the clients of his cocaine-addicted prostitute girlfriend
Frankie Donnenfeld (played by Eva Mendes)?
In other words, this movie is not for children or those easily offended
by seeing bad behavior and explicit violence on screen. Cage and Herzog
sat down to talk about their "Bad Lieutenant" film at a press
conference at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival,
where the movie had its Canadian premiere. During the conference, Cage
revealed why he had to overcome a fear of filming in New Orleans, what
scene in the movie was inspired by a real-life drug-induced
hallucination and why people can find humor in the film's serious
subject matter.


Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, do you think you’ll ever do Shakespeare or theater?

Cage: That’s a good question. I’m one of those
people that feels that Americans that shouldn’t do Shakespeare … The
rhythms of the English language and the mannerisms of the English speech
seems to work effortlessly with William Shakespeare, but when Americans
do it, something seems stuck. So I haven’t really grappled with it. It
would have to be a modernized version of it for me to really explore.

As far as going on the boards, I’ve really only been interested in
film, unless Werner [Herzog] would consider directing me in an opera.
But movies are my interest, particularly because I think the close-up is
an awesome trial of honesty, and that’s what interests me.

How would you compare the preparation for "Bad Lieutenant:
Port of Call New Orleans" to "Leaving Las Vegas," since in both movies
you played a self-destructive character with addiction issues?

Cage: Werner and I both wanted the movie to be
funny. That was key to us. The process was quite different. [For]
"Leaving Las Vegas," I had a drinking coach —literally, a drinking
coach, who I would study as he got drunk, and then I would administer
just the right amount of scotch or the right amount of sambuca or coffee
or what the scene needed. So I was really kind of more photo-realistic
with that. This one, the process was a sober, where I was just trying to
look at impressionistic landscape in my past, 25 years in my past to
get some sense of where I wanted to go. It’s much more of the


Tim Bellow and Nicolas Cage in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, do you think you’ll get another Oscar nomination
for "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"? And where do you keep
your Oscar?

Cage: I don’t really think abut my work in those
terms. I think Werner would agree: You can’t make movies thinking about
awards. That’s going about it the wrong way. You make movies coming from
the heart, and it comes out from the imagination. That’s the way to
think about it.

I’m recently trying to establish residency in Louisiana, and one of
the ways they determine if you’re a resident is they ask you, "Where’s
your Academy Award?" It’s in a truck somewhere moving to Louisiana.

Herzog: I would like to add that it was quite clear
for both of us that we would go as far as we could go. Nicolas would be
taken where he hasn’t been before. Although it sounds very vague, I knew
he would be, in a way, in an intensity that we haven’t seen yet.

And what about any Oscar nominations or other awards that "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans" might get?

Cage: It’s always nice to be appreciated by your
colleagues and people you know. Let’s face it: Hollywood is a small
town; everybody knows everybody. So when people say, "Hey, good job,"
that’s nice, but you can’t take it too seriously. Again, that’s a wrong
target. The real test is: Does the movie connect with people and does it
last? I made a joke about it: I don’t want people to go to a movie and
say, "Hey, that was great." I want them to see the movie 15 years later
and then come back and say, "What the … was that?," really amazed.
That’s the idea.


Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival

Werner, New Orleans has one of the highest murder rates
and reportedly one of the most corrupt police departments in the United
States Is that why you chose to set this movie in New Orleans?

Herzog: New Orleans was unknown territory for me. Of
course, for Nicolas Cage, it was a familiar place and a place he loves.
In the screenplay, I think it was [originally set] in Detroit in
Michigan. And it was only a move by the producers that advised me to do
it in New Orleans because of tax incentives. It was as banal [as reason]
as that. But I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I said, "This is a
wonderful idea. That is what is fertile ground for a film like that.
That is where the bliss of evil has to occur. This is where we have to
lay out this story."

And, of course, it immediately affected the visual quality of the
film, although I had a very short time for pre-production, it was fairly
quickly clear that it was not just a question of morality [but also]
and the collapse of civility and the destruction of civility. So it all
fell in place almost effortlessly. And when I say "fell in place," I
mean Nicolas Cage and New Orleans. It can’t get any better.

Cage: The thing about New Orleans, I had spent quite
a few years there. And I had this — without going into detail — this
epiphany, this awakening. And it both terrified me and compelled me. I
felt blessed and cursed in New Orleans. And I was afraid to go back to
New Orleans. When the movie came to me it was, as Werner said,
[originally going to be filmed in] Detroit. And I knew I had to face my
fears and make a movie in New Orleans.

So I requested that we shoot the movie in New Orleans so I could go
through this catharsis. And I really didn’t know which way it was going
to go. It was either going to be really beautiful or it was going to be a
disaster. I mean, the first day of filming, I couldn’t remember any of
my lines. It was terrifying, but then it all started to flow.

The reason why I think it’s important to recognize New Orleans in the
movie is New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz. And there’s no other
place like it in the world. It was colonized by the Spanish, by the
French. And it has African beliefs and all these systems of magic and
energies flowing together to make this kind of incredibly unique
experience. So jazz came out of that. And I wanted to approach the
acting similar to that.

My understanding of jazz is that you know your lines so well that you
can go off-page and you can improvise. And Werner is very open to that
and would encourage that. So Eva [Mendes] and I would improvise, and
things would just come out. It’s a very comfortable experience to be
creative in.


Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, you made your directorial debut with the 2002 drama "Sonny," which was also shot in New Orleans.

Cage: Yes. "Sonny," and that’s where I had my
experience, something that happened, very mysterious. And that’s where I
was both sacred and delighted.

Herzog: I would like to add about the kind of
fluidity and the kind of music that influenced Nicolas Cage. Normally, I
would shoot an entire scene, trying to shoot it in one single take —
moving the camera form close to wide, weaving in and out. And some of
the scenes in the film were actually done in one single shot. And that,
of course, gives the actor the possibility of a certain rhythm, of
certain fluidity and a certain way of imagining things and to project

I sense that I like to work in a way in which I’m not completely
docile to the so-called rules of professional shooting, where you do a
master shot and then a close-up and half-close-ups and reverse shots and
all of that. It never occurred tome. I never made a film like that.


Nicolas Cage and Werner Herzog at the
2009 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Bad
Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Cage: Werner is a joy to work with. He’s so
confident. The reason why he’s the best is because of his confidence.
You can have a scene play in one shot. You don’t have to do a hundred
takes. He knows when it happens and he’s got it. And so what that does
is liberate the actors. You feel safe and you feel creative.

Herzog: However, it’s a risky way to shoot, because
you have no way of saving yourself in editing later. You’ve got what
you’ve got. And I would not allow a so-called video village, as they
say, where everybody looks at the instant result of what you have shot.
Sometimes we would refer to a tiny, tiny screen to see if it was in
focus or not, but sometimes, only for technical reasons.

And I think both the actors and I, on the other side of the camera,
had to feel completely comfortable that was the best we can do. And I
asked the cinematographer, "Was everybody in frame?" "Yes." "Was
everybody in focus?" "Yes." And I said, "That’s it. Move on to the next


Werner Herzog, Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes on the set of "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Werner, in the production notes for "Bad Lieutenant: Port
of Call New Orleans," there’s a quote from you where you seem to be
angry at anyone who thinks there shouldn’t have been another "Bad
Lieutenant" movie made. In fact, you say, "Go for it losers." Can you
comment on that?

Herzog: [When I said,] "Go for it losers," I spoke
about the film studies academia which tries to find points of references
everywhere and squeezes it and forces it and wrings it out like a wet
towel — which is somehow against the culture of imagination and against
the culture of poetry. So I always had the feeling that it would be
wrong to try to enforce a comparison to a movie [the first "Bad
Lieutenant" movie, directed by Abel Ferrara] which I haven’t even seen
yet. I have no idea what Abel Ferrara has made, nor have I seen his

And it was actually a speculation from one of the producers to start
some sort of franchise. I battled against the title from the first
moment on, tried to persuade the producers to have "Port of Call New
Orleans" instead. However, I could not prevail. I was not in a position
to prevail. I can live with it. I have no problem with it at all. And I
think, as far as I know, Abel Ferrara has no problem at all with it,
knowing that it is not a remake. It has nothing to do with his film.

I think the only question is, "Why did we have to have that title?"
It’s probably a mistake, but so be it. It doesn’t really matter. We have
to look at a film. Does it comes across to an audience or not? And if
it does, the title doesn’t really matter.


Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, about this epiphany that you mentioned earlier … Can you give us a hint of what happened?

Cage: I would just that I was born in Los Angeles,
California, but you could say on some level I was reborn in New Orleans.
It was a very mystical kind of thing that happened that I don’t want to
talk about.

Was it anything like in "Easy Rider"?

Cage: That is interesting, because that’s probably where I’m going to wind up when I die, in that cemetery: St. Louis Number One.

Nicolas, how big of a role does acting and filmmaking play in your life?

Cage: It’s been the lion’s share of my life. I think
I’ve spent more time in front of a camera than off camera. That’s just
the way it is. I started when I was 15. It has been my path, my choice
to make movies. My house is basically a trailer. I live a circus
lifestyle. I’m always moving. It’s not always easy for people that live
with me but that’s the path I chose.


Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes and Werner
Herzog at the 2009 Venice Film Festival premiere of "Bad Lieutenant:
Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, you said you’ve spent so much time working, but how important is family in your life?

Cage: Family is extraordinarily important, and I’m
with them all the time. One of the reasons I’m working as much as I am
this time is, because I know that when my young one starts school in
earnest in a year, I’m going to have to stay put. So I’m trying to do as
much as I can now.

Werner, there are a lot of animals like water snakes,
crocodiles, iguanas and dogs in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New
Orleans." Can you talk about casting animals?

Herzog: I love to cast animals for parts that were
not in the screenplay. I love to have animals in it. The scene with the
iguana is one of my favorite moments in the film, which is kind of a
fever dream, illusion under drugs. So it kind of has a central part in a
way. And I love Nicolas, how he looks at the iguana in complete bliss.
Nobody else sees [the iguana].

Cage: Werner was very, very devoted to his iguanas.
It was at the halfway point, and we had our little midway wrap party. I
went to the bar, and there was Werner, and he was very kind of unsettled
because he wasn’t uncertain that he would have his three minutes of
iguana time in the movie, and if he couldn’t have the three minutes that
he may not ever want to make a movie again. And this was very serious
and important that he must have three minutes of iguana time. And it’s
the most important thing in the movie and therefore he may have to cut
certain scenes that I’m in. And I said, "All right, Werner. Good night."

And then I went home and I slept on it and said, "Well, that really
would be a shame if Werner didn’t make another movie because he didn’t
get all the iguana time he needed." So I called him the next day and I
said, "Now listen, Werner, we’ve got this six-page scene coming up where
I bust the young couple on the street. Why don’t you just cut that and
then you can get all the iguana time you need." He said, "Well, no
Nicolas. That’s very kind of you, that’s very thoughtful of you, but we
must have that scene as well."

Herzog: I love the support of Nicolas in this case,
because in a way I sense that the producers were not accustomed to do
things like that. [They’ve done] action movies, "Rambo" and things like
that, and would not tolerate more than five seconds of an iguana. And I
had a feeling if that sequence was cut out, I should really stop making
films. I was kind of serious with it. That was one of the consequences
of working together: I always felt safe and that Nicolas Cage would be a
strong support and we would raise our voice if necessary. Actually, it
was not necessary. Everybody loved him.


Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival

Can you talk about the music in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"?

Herzog: Mark Isham did the music — a very fine
composer who has done some very, very good Hollywood films in the
industry. And, of course, some music was taken from existing recordings.
One at the end, from New Orleans, a blues singer, is "Release Me." I
don’t even remember the name of the singer. And the other is Sonny Terry
"Old Lost John," which is a recording from Sonny Terry from the late
‘60s, I’m not completely sure … The music always comes to me fairly
easily. And I’m convinced it’s the best we have in the film.

When do you know how far to go with the craziness in a movie
like this? Like those scenes with Terence hallucinating dancing souls …

Herzog: Like the iguana, the dancing soul was not in
the screenplay. When we approached this scene only a few days away, I
had the feeling that it could be an extension of [Terence McDonagh]
taking crack cocaine in the existing script. And I immediately started
to ask, "Is there a breakdancer around? We need the best of the best" …

And we found a breakdancer who was very, very good. And we said this
is sort of the epicenter of the scene. This is what people will remember
of the scene. And it actually works. How these things come to me, I
don’t know. But it’s my profession to come up with ideas and keep
shooting alive and keep being inventive.


Nicolas Cage and Werner Herzog at the
2009 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Bad
Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Cage: That was the thing I was hoping to
experience with Werner, having watched his previous work: that there
would be moments that would go into the enigmatic, that maybe it was a
hallucination, that maybe it was the soul. And that’s what I was looking
forward to. So when Werner said he had this idea, I was thrilled that
[a character’s] soul was still dancing. I was excited about it.

And also he came up with this line: "Do fish dream? Do fish have
dreams?" I loved that line as well, because to me, that’s right at the
center of imagination. Is it a hallucination? Is it genuinely something
spiritual happening? Those are the questions I like to ask when I see
Werner’s movies.

Werner: However, it’s not just a line of dialogue
that I added spontaneously. It has to be tied up to the very mysterious
end with [Terence McDonagh] and the prisoner that he rescued in the
beginning of the film in the flooded cell track. They are sitting the
glass wall of the aquarium and you really see these sting rays and
sharks and other large fish. They seem to have dreams.

And the most sensational about all this that occurred is how Nicolas
Cage laughs at the end. That was so mysterious that I cut right there —
end of film, and it can’t get any better. How it occurs is only steered
toward something. The mystery of something that can happen in cinema is
quite obvious to me. For reasons like that, for moments like that, I
love my profession.


Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, going back to what you said earlier about
slowing down in your career. Does that mean you’re going to take a break
from acting?

Cage: I’m not in any position right now to take any
kind of break. I meant that I would like to stay, more or less, in one
place if possible, because I think it’s harder on my family to keep
moving around. That’s all I meant by that. And when school begins, I
think it’s important to stay put. But this has really nothing to do with
"Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans." That’s more of a personal

I wanted to say though that Werner and I had a very happy marriage
working together, because Werner would bring things to the set every day
that would get my imagination spinning. And conversely, he would invite
me to bring things. And little things that even before we started, even
before we met, I was in Australia making another movie and I thoughts
about things I wanted to say.

The first day that I met Werner, I said, "I’ve got these little
ideas, the unspoken dirty little secrets that we think about from time
to time when a relative’s in the hospital but no one can really say."
And I thought that this bad lieutenant, in his chemically altered
position, might just say it. Werner allowed me to do these things, and I
have to thank him for that, because a lot of directors wouldn’t
tolerate it.

Herzog: It happened quite often that we did the
scene in a so-called normal version, and I had the feeling that there
was something wilder and more to it. And I turned to Nicolas and say,
"Let’s do it once more, but this time you shall turn the pig loose."


Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Venice Film Festival photocall for "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Cage: See, I never agreed with that. I always thought the character was more of a shark than a pig. He had this fascination with pig!

Herzog: No, it was just a way to kick him off into
something. In the scene with the two elderly ladies where [Terence
McDonagh] threatens them with a gun, we shot it in a "harmless" version
without the gun drawn, and Nicolas was kind of disappointed. He
immediately had the feeling that the milder version … ends up in the

And I took a look at the materials, and it was obvious he was right.
It was obvious it was the way to do it. It was obvious that he went
completely wild with dialogue that I didn’t even expect. I just stood
there in awe, and I laughed so hard that I had to gag myself with a

Cage: It is funny.

Herzog: And I was purple in my face, and I knew it would come across to an audience in the same way.

Cage: Actually, I did have an idea where I was going with the dialogue. As I said, I wrote it out.

Herzog: I was surprised!


Val Kilmer and Nicolas Cage in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Cage: He was surprised but I did read it to
William Finkelstein [the screenwriter of "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call
New Orleans"] in New Orleans before we started shooting. But my point is
we shot it very quickly. Werner was thrilled. We did it in two takes,
which is one of the things I love about working with him.

And then Joe Bini, the editor, put the scene together. I don’t go in
the editing. I said, "Is the gun, the .44 Magnum, pointing at the
woman’s head." And he said, "Nic, we cut it out because we think it
might be too over-the-top." And I knew this was a mistake.

But then they went back to shoot a milder version. And I said, "I see
now I’ve been tamed." And Werner said, "No, you’ve been castrated!" And
then I said, "Well, if you castrate me, you castrate yourself." And
then magically, it [the gun-pointing scene] wound up back in the movie.

Herzog: Sometimes we had beautiful exchanges like
that. And, of course, we always enjoyed it like that. But let me just
say that Nicolas Cage’s abilities to form dialogue under the pressure of
the lights and the camera on him. For example, the exchange with Xzibit
when he takes the uncut heroin and starts to ladle it in a plastic bag
and [Terence McDonagh] starts to talk about the football player growing
antlers. And this is something that is completely and utterly wild, and I
love Nicolas for that, and I thank you for that.

Cage: That came from an actual experience. A few
friends of mine told me 25 years ago that they were watching a football
game, and they were doing some drugs, and they all had the exact same
hallucination at the same time: They all saw the same football player
sprout antlers and score a touchdown. I said, "Come one, this didn’t
happen!" They said, "I swear, he saw it and I saw it! He sprouted
antlers!" That story stayed with me for 20 years or so and it wound up
in the movie. But that’s how it happens.


Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival press conference for "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, you’re one of the most versatile actors around.

Cage: Thank you.

Which genre do you feel most at home? And is there a character you haven’t played yet that you would like to play?

Cage: I try to keep it eclectic. I try to keep it
fresh and stay interested. I have personal reasons for making movies. My
base, what would be my first love, is drama. But I have personal
reasons for making movies for children. I like making child-oriented
movies that that the whole family can go to, because that’s a good way
to apply myself, in terms of my own beliefs.

But drama is my first love, and whenever I get a chance to do that,
that’s where I want to go. I like stories about people who are broken in
some way, people who have been injured by the world, because that’s
what this is. We all know it at some point that there will be sorrow.
And so when you tell a story about that, it affects people more deeply
because people all have a story to tell; they can relate.


Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Nicolas, do you think about kids when you make such a violent movie like "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"?

Cage: No. I think we have a ratings system. That
ratings system is there for a very good reason. I make movies for
everybody, but when I make "Bad Lieutenant," I’m not expecting [young]
kids to go to this movie — and any parent that would take them would be

Do you think any of your kids will see this movie?

Cage: When they’re adults. Sure. Of course. The
adult mind is very different from a child’s mind. But as I said, I try
to make many different kinds of movies. I want to have the ability to
connect with children and adults.


Nicolas Cage at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival premiere of "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

It’s no secret that actors like you make a large sum of
money for doing movies. Is the money just a bonus? Is acting like a job
for you or is it a passion?

Cage: Neither. It’s becoming more like — without
going into too much detail — a calling, where I feel I have to quell my
selfish passions and my selfish interests and bring them down and try to
extinguish them so I can give myself over to what I would consider to
be the spirit of the place. And in this case, it was New Orleans. I want
to more or less absorb the energies that can be around me and filter
through me.

So it’s less about passion now and more about listening to another
sound. The word "person" means "where the sound comes through"; we are
all persons so we are all where the sound comes through. The more you
listen to that sound, the more honest the creativity will be.

Herzog: I want to add one thing. At the same time we
decided to make this film together, there were certainly more offers
made for Nicolas Cage to do other films. I’m totally convinced that
doing those one or two other films could’ve made [Nicolas Cage] much
more money. So it was a choice. Quite often, the choice is not the
amount of money that we do earn in a film.


Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage at the
2009 Toronto International Film Festival premiere of "Bad Lieutenant:
Port of Call New Orleans"

Violence in American films is as old as cowboys versus
Indians. Werner, how did you deal with the violence with this film as a
European filmmaker?

Herzog: I think it’s simplistic to say that violence
in American films is cowboys versus Indians. You have quite a spectrum
of violence in movies nowadays. Much of it, of course, is a stylized
violence, like a comic-strip kind of violence that you see in many of
the big Hollywood productions. In European violence, I’ve never had an
inclination to show violence on a screen … in particular against the
defenseless. I do not want to see violence against children. I do not
want to see the rape of a woman on screen. I have my very clear

The same thing actually occurred to me with drugs. I’ve never, ever
had any experience with drugs. And I simply didn’t have it because I
didn’t like the culture of drugs and the culture surrounding drugs. I
did not want to have too much in the film. There were at least four or
five other scenes in the screenplay where Nicolas Cage [as Terence
McDonagh] takes drugs, and we deleted them. There’s still quite an
amount in it. And in a way, just to give a little detail for the sake of
fun, when Nicolas [as Terence McDonagh] snorted cocaine, he acted
different and acted so convincingly different that I had a suspicion
that he had really taken cocaine.


Lucius Baston, Xzibit, Nicolas Cage and Tim Bellow in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"


Cage: It was an awful day. It was one of our
first scenes in the movie. Method actors, or whatever you want to call
us, we try to live within the imagination to make it real. So whatever
you can do to make it real to yourself. So I would have this little vial
of saccharine or something, and I would just take it and snort it and
just try to psyche up and totally create this imaginary world where I
was high on coke.

And Werner would say, "Now, Nicolas, what is in that vial?" And I
said, "Oh man, please don’t pull me out of my imaginary [world]. I’m
psyching up for the camera. You know better!" And I went, "It’s coke!"
because I didn’t want him to break the wall. But then he understood, he
started to get it that I was using the whatever you want to call it.

Herzog: It was the first or second day of shooting,
and I was kind of appalled. It was just a fantastic performance — so
good that I couldn’t believe it.

Cage: Thank you.


Xzibit and Nicolas Cage in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"

Can you talk about why you decided to make this "Bad Lieutenant" movie a comedy instead of a heavy drama?

Herzog: I always sensed that there was something
very hilarious about the film, although both Nicolas Cage and I
emphasized this a little but more. But it’s very discreet how it works.
There isn’t a single moment where it’s obvious, with the exception of
the gun held at the head of the elderly ladies. But otherwise, the humor
is very subtle. And it’s very strange how much people laugh when they
see the film. I’m absolutely and totally pleased, because while I was
shooting the film, I always sensed it. And I always had the hope that
people would get the sense of humor.

And by the way, I’ve always been labeled as this obsessive, Teutonic
filmmaker who was dark and abysmal and these kinds of things. No! Not
so! Wrong! I’ve always been hilarious. In most of my films, there’s a
lot of humor. And people, thank God, are starting to see it.

Cage: It is funny. It’s kind of like you’re watching
a monkey go nuts. There’s something quite tragic and shocking and funny
about it. And I felt like with a title like "Bad Lieutenant" that I
would have to ramp it up a little for people to watch the bad lieutenant
in action. And I knew that they would want to see something like a bit
of a train-wreck personality. Otherwise, why call it "Bad Lieutenant"?
So the further I could go, the more outrageous I could become, I thought
the funnier it would be.

But I didn’t want to make a movie that would compel anyone to take
drugs. Werner doesn’t look at movies the same. He sees it as the bliss
of evil, which I get as well. But I wanted to make the effect of the
drugs really hideous on my face, the facial expression, [so] that no one
would ever want to do coke or crack, that it’s so obviously disgusting
and hideous. And so the more I could go in that direction, the better I
felt about what I was doing.

-- Edited by Lady Trueheart on Monday 22nd of November 2010 02:38:25 AM



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