The president of the United States is in danger! Someone in his immediate circle is an assassin! What will agent Pete Garrison do? And more importantly, how are audience members supposed to figure out who the villain is, as they sit in movie theaters and look at four major stars, all playing equally suspicious roles?
Michael Douglas, the above-the-title name playing Garrison in the new action flick "The Sentinel," insists that such star-studded suspense is what makes his whodunit a uniquely interactive experience. "You will not have [any idea] who the bad guy is," the veteran actor and "Sentinel" producer recently promised. "It's really hard to figure out who it is."
Kiefer Sutherland, Eva Longoria and Kim Basinger, along with Douglas, portray characters who might have reason to murder the president. Sutherland, cast as David Breckinridge, a former Secret Service agent whose wife succumbed to Garrison's advances, said that, as in all good thrillers, the plot gives everyone a motive. "These are the movies that I loved to see when I was younger," the "24" star explained. "They don't make very many of them now."
"It's like a hot potato — 'You catch it!' 'No, you catch it!' " said Basinger, whose character, the president's wife, seems to be (at the very least) guilty of cheating on her husband. "It's all so quick, and you don't land on anyone long enough to really think it is them."
None of the stars of "The Sentinel" are letting on as to which one of them actually plays the assassin. During an intense cross-examination, however, they did not object to testifying against their co-stars.
"We know what kind of girl she is on 'Desperate Housewives,' " Douglas slyly implied of Longoria, who plays the newest Secret Service agent. "Someone wouldn't trust her alone with their husband for two seconds. In 'The Sentinel,' she comes in supposedly as the rookie — obviously, she's not in the appropriate uniform for a Secret Service agent," he chuckled. "Her pants are a little too tight, I'd say."
"[My character] is the only one that hasn't been jaded by a personal history with these men," Longoria explained, in her own defense. "And I don't think she has enough knowledge to pull something like this off."
"Eva can handle a gun," Basinger shot back. "Where did she get that training from? It's really kind of eerie, and she doesn't have a problem shooting anybody or anything." Basinger grinned and narrowed her eyes. "So, it could be her."
Pointing the finger right back at her co-stars, Longoria insisted that Sutherland would be any filmgoer's prime suspect. "Kiefer has always played bad guys. When you see him on a big screen you think, 'He did it; that was him,' " she reasoned, thinking back to movies like "The Lost Boys" and "Eye for an Eye." According to Longoria, Sutherland portrays "probably the most uptight person in the movie. He's very strict, he doesn't break the rules, and because of that you kind of go, 'Hmm ... something is weird with him.' "
"Don't you think Kiefer always looks like he has a secret?" Douglas added. "He's so paranoid, believing that I'm having an affair with his ex-wife and trying so hard to convince everybody that it might be me who's cooking up this plot. Something smells wrong."
Basinger, for once, came to a co-star's defense, saying that Sutherland can't be the killer for one very important reason.
"Kiefer can't be the bad guy, because I am too much of a '24' girl and I'm crazy about him," she laughed. "I don't want him to be the bad guy."
Sutherland admitted to being cursed with the cinematic bad-guy stereotype of squinty eyes, but offered a simple explanation if audiences find his eyes even more so in "The Sentinel." "He kept putting me in the sunlight," the actor said of Douglas. "That's what happens when you start acting with the producer of the film. I think he wanted to make sure he didn't squint, so he had his own back to the sun."
Maybe, just maybe, sticking his co-stars into direct sunlight wasn't the only dirty trick up Douglas' sleeve. "Look at my history in films, I'm always the good guy," he said, attempting to defend himself. At the risk of tampering with the jury, however, we had to remind him of his roles in "Falling Down" and "Wall Street." "Oh, well, there might be little acts of indiscretion here or there, but no. I don't know how anybody could say that [I'm the villain]. Besides, I'm the producer."
"Michael's been nuts in movies before," Basinger reasoned. "Maybe something happened between him and the president."
Naturally, Douglas responded that it could, in fact, be Basinger who is guilty. "In 'L.A. Confidential' I found her very, very seductive. I think most people forget their best intentions when they're around her," he said. "She's got that prissy little blue dress that you wanna rip off all the time. I'd be careful of an ice-pick to the back."
"She is married to the president," Sutherland agreed, reasoning that it's got to be Basinger. "She has a bad marriage, and she wants to get rid of him."
"Just remember," Eva Longoria chimed in. "Every first lady is a desperate housewife."
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