Malkovich Makes A ‘Changeling’

Reporting by Jessica Goebel

Being John Malkovich must be anything but dull. With a slew of movies slated to premiere next year, one might wonder if John Malkovich is to 2008 as Jude Law was to 2004. In case it’s been a while since you took the SAT, suffice it to say that the actor already has half a dozen films in the works, and shows no signs of slowing down.

“At the moment I’m doing Clint Eastwood’s new film called ’The Changeling,'” the prolific actor said, sparing one of his few free moments to fill us in. “It’s set in 1920’s Los Angeles and Angelina [Jolie] plays a mother whose child disappears,” Malkovich explained. “I play a pastor who tries to help her get her child back — or at least find out what happened.”

Based on true events, “Changeling” tells the story of a distraught woman whose recovery of her child takes a dark turn when she realizes that the LAPD may have returned what wasn’t hers. Eastwood’s film will use the case as a jumping-off point for a tale of scandal and corruption during the early days of Los Angeles law enforcement.

“I acted with [Clint Eastwood] many years ago,” Malkovich reminded us, referring to 1993’s “In the Line of Fire,” which earned the “Beowulf” star an Oscar nod for playing an adversary opposite Eastwood’s Secret Service agent.

For “Changeling,” however, Eastwood will stay behind the camera — a place that has suited him extremely well with recent hits like “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby,” and, most recently, “Letters from Iwo Jima.” But did Malkovich take to taking direction from his former co-star? “I found it delightful,” the actor affirmed.

“[Eastwood] sort of redefines economical,” Malkovich mused on the legendary “Dirty Harry” icon’s famously minimal directing methods. “He doesn’t say ’action,’ he doesn’t say ’cut’ — he doesn’t say much, really. He’s fairly quiet,” Malkovich elaborated.

Eastwood’s on-set reticence meets no resistance from Malkovich: “Some [directors] — like Clint Eastwood or Woody Allen — don’t really like to be tortured by a million questions. They hire you, and they figure you know what to do, and you should do it.”

Grinning, Malkovich added: “And that’s fine by me.”