A lean, mean and uncharacteristically disturbed Woody Harrelson breathes sad life into this role of a corrupt LAPD cop during the Rampart Scandal. His character’s perverse and twisted view of the world becomes increasingly disturbing as he often has many good points. Film critic and all around badass Elvis Mitchell conducted an intriguing interview with Israeli filmmaker Oren Moverman.
An excerpt from a Comingsoon.net interview with Woody Harrelson:
CS: You and Oren really have established a great relationship between this and “The Messenger” so do you see doing another movie together?
Harrelson: Well, we figure we have to stay with the uniforms, so probably postal worker.
CS: There aren’t that many movies about postal workers, so is that something you pitched to him to write?
Harrelson: (laughs) I’m kidding. We gotta find something with a uniform, but no, we’ve already been talking a little bit about it and he’s the writer. He’ll write something f*cking great and I just want to work with Oren again and Ben Foster, and do it right.
At best, I was expecting a rehash of Kurt Russell’s “Blue Shield” or a shoddy version of Denzel Washington’s “Training Day.” Instead, I was met with a nice surprise in Woody Harrelson’s “Rampart” in that it held my attention from beginning to end. Rampart does not deal with an objective situation; instead, it addresses a subjective turmoil as experienced by its main character, Dave Brown. I appreciated how director Oren Moverman wisely refused to tie loose ends and create a sense of closure. Alternatively, he leaves this story he weaved in my lap and leaves me pondering how it may (or how I want it to) end.
[W]hen they offered me the movie, I told them I had a couple of conditions. Number one was that Woody would have to play Dave Brown. […] With Ben, it was different because we have a company together, the company that produced Rampart. We wanted to develop more projects and Ben wanted to get involved on the production end as well as acting. He is interested in directing, writing, all those things. That was actually condition number two. [laughs] For me to direct the movie, Ben would have to be a producer, and our production company would have to be involved in the decision-making. Ben was a huge part of this movie, on and off screen.
Oren Moverman to Collider:
You mentioned bringing the gang back together: Ben Foster is also fantastic in the film. Was that another situation where you had this part and you immediately thought of him?
MOVERMAN: No, with him it was different because Ben and I have a company together and this was our first film as a production company. He really worked his ass off as a producer. He was really a very present, very creative producer and partner in making the movie. But I couldn’t stand the idea of having Ben Foster on set and not putting him in front of the camera because he is such an enormously gifted actor; again, one of my favorites. We talked about who he could play and then we looked at this homeless guy and thought, “Hmm. That could be a nice little thing for him to take a stab at,” and we started developing that role for him from that.
You two are collaborating again with the movie Queerbased off the William S. Burroughs’ novel, correct?
MOVERMAN: Yeah, what happened there was I wrote the script and Steve Buscemi is the director of that one. Steve’s an old friend of mine and Ben is attached to play one of the parts and our company is also producing that with Steve’s company, Olive. Yeah, there’s a lot of cross-pollination going on in New York City these days.
You mentioned your production company. Has that given you more freedom in those responsibilities? How has that affected you as a writer and director, that new element to your career?
MOVERMAN: It gives it a home, it gives it a center. It gives me another chance for collaboration with Ben [Foster] that is something that we crave and we want to continue to do. It gave me a partner who’s someone I trust absolutely and believe in and who’s an incredible talent, not just as an actor and producer, but as a writer and a future director. He’s just really, really a Renaissance man in that way and I think that having that is very grounding; you always have somebody to give you a counterpoint or another way of looking at things. It just focused all of it into one place.
Oren Moverman (director): ”The poster was Lawrence Inglee’s idea. He’s one of the producers of Rampart and he was searching for an image that would be thought-provoking and challenging, not an indictment of a cop but rather a communal approach to the idea of policing, the idea that maybe when cops do bad things it’s more of a reflection of society and what it is willing to tolerate rather than the fault of one bad apple or an institutional problem. If they work for us, could it be they ARE us?