Last week, Cinematical brought you an interview with Sylvester Stallone about his latest action extravaganza -- Rambo, the fourth film in the series. (Check out that discussion here.) This week, we have a junket report with the supporting cast. You probably know the lovely Julie Benz from her role as Dexter's girlfriend Rita on the Showtime drama Dexter. She plays Sarah in Rambo, a kidnapped missionary. Graham McTavish and Matthew Marsden play members of Rambo's ass-kickin' mercenary posse.
Julie, your hair looks so different!
Julie Benz: I know! I woke up this morning and I was a brunette, go figure! No, it's for The Punisher 2.
And in that movie you play --
JB: My character in Punisher 2 is Angela Donatelli, she's an Italian from Brooklyn, New York. My character in Rambo, Sarah, is very soft and vulnerable. Angela's got a bit more of an edge. She's a fighter, she's a mama bear, she has a child she's protecting. She's not really happy with anybody; she's in a bad mood!
What does it mean for each of you to be in a Rambo movie?
JB: I know, what an honor and a privilege, right? And to be a woman who lives to the end! In Rambo II, there was one girl, but she died. Poor girl. But really, even if I had died, to be the female representative in a Rambo movie, I think it's great.
Graham McTavish: It's not every day that you get to be in something as iconic as Rambo. Going back to when I first met Sly, when I went in for my audition at his production office, I'm looking around and seeing all these posters for Rambo and Rocky. And then this presence just loomed up next to me and said "How you doin'?" And I'm not at all impressed by famous people, but I looked up at him and it was pretty much an out of body experience. Because I've grown up with that guy -- with Rocky, with Rambo -- he's a part of my whole history, and certainly of filmgoing history. To be in the movie, it's fantastic.
Matthew Marsden: Same goes for me, I was always a fan. I remember watching First Blood when I was entirely too young to be watching it. And the second one I watched over and over and over again as a kid, and you never think that you're going to get to be a part of something like that. When I got the phone call with the audition, I was like: "Holy shit, are you kidding me?!" Being part of such an established franchise was quite incredible for me. It was an amazing experience.
Julie, were you always a fan of the Rambo movies?
JB: No. I grew up watching all the Rocky movies, and I was an athlete growing up so Rocky was very important to me. I think I even ice-skated to "Eye of the Tiger" one year! But as far as Rambo, I was pretty young when the first one came out, very girly, and it wasn't my thing. But I've since seen them and become a fan.
Do you think a female audience will be drawn to Rambo?
JB: I hope the social message behind it draws them. Look, it's an action movie first and foremost, and it's an extremely violent action movie. But the violence in no way compares to the atrocities that are going on in Burma. I would hope women will want to see this to be made aware of the situation in Burma. Plus...there's a lot of hot guys in the movie! Have you seen Matthew Marsden? Graham McTavish? Mr. Stallone? I mean, come on! Eye candy, totally!
What is Mr. Stallone like on set?
GM: I was surprised by how collaborative he was, wanting your input. He's very supportive and very intense. Working in that environment, you can't come on to that set anything but completely prepared. Because he is completely prepared. He worked in every single department on that movie. He got amongst the pigs, moving them around, moving the soil, feeding them. He's completely hands on, very concentrated, very focused, very enjoyable.
MM: He leads from the front. When you do a film, the lead actor sets the tone. When you work with someone as huge as Sly, you don't know what you're getting into. Will there be diva moments? He was absolutely down to Earth. An actor's director all the way. He expects excellence from everyone, which is why he is where he is. But he's also very giving, and he listens to everyone. He is a force of nature.
JB: He's extremely humble. He's the first to make fun of himself. He's extremely jovial and funny, great sense of humor. He does whatever it takes to put you immediately at ease. He's extremely intelligent. I would challenge him on things he would say, and I would go home and look it up on the internet, and he was always right. The guy knows everything! It's frustrating!
Julie, in this testosterone-driven film --
JB: I thought it was a romantic comedy! I haven't seen it yet, don't spoil it for me!
Sorry about that...how did you approach your character?
JB: I have been a huge fan of Mr. Stallone''s directing for a very long time. I think the performances he gets out of his actors are so beautiful and so natural and extremely nuanced, that I was excited to work with him in that way. I told him whatever he had to do to get that kind of performance out of me -- do it. We had a lot of talks about my character, Sarah, and the amount of courage it took for her to be there. She is the only female missionary on the adventure. We talked a lot about her back story, she probably insisted on coming, and that's why she couldn't give up -- because it was a battle to get there in the first place. But let's face it, Mr. Stallone is a huge presence on film, as Rambo especially. To be able to take that on was a big challenge for me. We worked a lot on those scenes for me to be able to find that courage to stand up to him without going "Oh my God, it's Sylvester Stallone!" We all had that moment with him. I had to get over that very quickly.
Did you have any intense experiences shooting in Thailand?
GM: Well, the Thais were wonderful. The accommodations were lovely. But once you went on to the set, you got down and dirty and nasty. There were insects in that country that you could put a saddle on and ride home. They were big. And snakes. One of the actors was within a second of being bitten, and someone pulled him out of the way. We had anti-venom on set the whole time. There were snakes everywhere, biting ants underneath you. Jake, who plays one of the mercenaries, saw a snake ten feet long. You had to be careful.
MM: Sly told us it was going to be a tough shoot. They made the best efforts to make it comfortable, though. Did we have cable TV and satellite in our trailers? Well, no. But we're very fortunate to be working, especially on a movie like this. You have to just shut up and get on with it. I think Sly had it worse than us, because Sly would do all the location scouting. He really hurt himself several times.
JB: I was really tied up in my prisoner scenes. There was no fake tying, and I couldn't get away. In one of the scenes, pigs broke through that little fence. I was already doing my work to freak out, and all of a sudden it's a real freak-out when you have a 400 pound pig sniffing your toes and you have Sly yelling "Keep it going! Keep rolling!" I was freaking out big-time. I needed a lot of comfort after that.
What's next for you guys?
MM: Rambo V?
Rambo opens today.