Michael Davis is the writer/director of "Shoot 'Em Up," the upcoming action flick starring Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci. The following is the second in a series of guest columns by Davis for MTV News. Read the first one here.
I'm nobody, and here I am meeting these A-list stars. I do my best not to come off like a fraud. This is what I remember about my first meetings with them:
Clive Owen has this great handshake. He's taller than me, and his hand rockets down from above. He pumps it furiously like a kid. Clive laughs all the time. Big laughs, the kind that make you feel good. It's endearing and unexpected to me, as he often plays stoic characters.
One time, I have to drive Clive back to his hotel from New Line. I drive a beat-up Honda Civic. I forget that it is covered in garbage. Old fast-food containers. He climbs in. Instead of giving me a hard time, he doesn't say a word about it. I just drive, and he tells me he hopes to work with Julia Roberts in a new project. That's cool.
I meet Paul Giamatti in [the New York neighborhood] SoHo on the hottest day of the summer. His shirt is unbuttoned down to his belly button. He doesn't care. Nor do I. He's relaxed. We talk about comics and how we both love to read "Tintin" [comics] to our boys. I tell him that I don't want to push him in a certain direction for this part. Instead, I'd love for him to create a character beyond the page. He says he'd like his character to be based on Karl Rove — a seemingly bookish guy who exercises power behind the scenes. I like it. His character turns out to be way more flamboyant than Rove ... but I like how our free-flowing conversation started making the character better than what is on the page.
The same day I meet Paul, I travel to the set of "Inside Man" for my second meeting with Clive. After a take, Clive marches across the set toward me. Spike Lee wants Clive for another take, but he waits silently. Clive asks, "Did you get him?" — meaning, did I get Giamatti to do the movie? I tell him, "I think so." His eyes sparkle like a kid on Christmas morning. He is ecstatic and he hugs me. Then he says, "I finally get to make a movie with Denzel Washington, and guess what? I have to do the whole movie like this." He lifts up his mask. I laugh. He then asks, "What about the girl?" I say, "I am thinking Monica Bellucci." He roars "Oh, you have to get Monica. The film needs a real woman, you know."
Monica Bellucci walks towards me for the first time and she looks like she is on a movie screen — she doesn't belong in ordinary life but in a movie world. She lives up to your fantastic hopes and dreams. Elegant beyond belief. She calls my bloody, violent script "a beautiful American movie," pronouncing it be-uuuuuuuuu-tiful. I am in love.
Working with all three is an absolute pleasure, and they all had a great time, too. Paul put it best, "If you make another one of these, my character has to come back. Even if my brain is in a jar."
Check out everything we've got on "Shoot 'Em Up."
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