AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Week: Denis Leary Praises Young Stars
Welcome back to Amazing Spider-Man week! The Webhead's tale is being rebooted July 3, 2012 in theaters with new direction, new stars, and a decidedly new feel to the film.
In the build up to the movie's release, we have insights into the filmmaking process from all those involved. Thanks to a series of press conferences held in New York, NY early June, we can tell you exactly what to expect, and what these actors, writers, directors, and producers think about Spider-Man.
Denis Leary at first may seem mildly out of place in this cast. Then you find out he's playing Gwen Stacy's dad, a Captain in the NYPD, an intimidating father for a high school boy who wants to date his daughter, and it all makes sense.
Newsarama Note: This press conference was edited for content, focusing only on The Amazing Spider-Man, and not on Leary's stand-up or voice over jobs. But yes, he will be doing stand-up again soon, if you're curious!
Denis Leary: I have a question, you guys f***ing bored yet? (huge laughs from press) You just had Sally Field and Martin Sheen, I'm sure you're really looking forward to me. Two screen legends, and then this a**hole. I'm sure we can make this very fast.
How about that Martin Sheen? Did he mention his book? I'll do it for him.He just wrote a book with Emilio about father-son relationships. It's this totally dysfunctional book about Emilio wanting to beat the sh*t out of his father on the set of "Apocalypse Now." By the way, I don't know what kind of stuff you like to read, but when he told me about it today I said "I'm reading that this weekend."
Question: After handling Producing/Writing/Acting on "Rescue Me" was it nice to just come in and focus on the acting?
Leary: It was AWESOME. When the cameras, 3D cameras sometimes had to take a break, I'd just go back to my trailer and watch Sportscenter, I didn't have to write anything, fix anything, it was awesome.
Question: You've played NYPD and NYFD, have you had any experiences with people in those jobs coming up to you? Also I wanted the inside story on the Godzilla line?
Leary: It was improvised! Marc is an actor's director. He made this terrific little movie, 500 Days of Summer, and it's an actor's movie. He described this that way and he stayed true to that. He was making a character movie that happened to cost a bajillion dollars and had this big name and a July 4th release date, but it was for the actors!
In rehearsal he was talking about wanting to improvise certain scenes and play with it. That was one of the scenes he earmarked.
I don't remember what take it was but we'd done a bunch of versions of it, just myself and Andrew that day and a lot of extras. We played around with it, and somewhere in the middle of that, Marc walked up and said what about this? We had, I wanna say 8 or 9 takes, and some were Marc's ideas and some where my ideas, and Marc came up with that line, and I said "let's shoot it!" I dunno what they did from there, if they tested all the takes or if they just decided.
For the other question, there's too many to mention with firefighters. When I was doing a television show called "The Job" years ago, for ABC which was based on the real life of a detective, who I knew, who was my technical advisor on "Thomas Crowne Affair." So the guy was clean and sober when I was working with him on the television show, but he'd been a pill head and kind of a mess. He had a mistress while he was married and he had both things going on which is what the show was about.
I was standing with Lenny Clark who was an actor on that show outside of a steak house after we had just eaten dinner. There was a detective, who was on the job, undercover. We looked over and there was this guy obviously scoping something out across the street. He had gotten something on the radio and he started to move and he saw us and said, "Hey Denis, thanks a lot! Now my wife is really pissed, she found out about my girlfriend!" And I thought that summed it up.
Question: Your bond with Emma Stone was great, how did you feel about working with her?
Leary: Horrible! It was such a nightmare! (laughs)
Yeah, we had makeup and hair tests, all that stuff you normally do, and we had some rehearsal time. Listen man, honestly speaking I'd seen her in a couple movies and heard through the grape vine great things about her. Andrew I'd seen in a couple movies, and I knew Rhys's work. The only person I knew going in was Martin Sheen, we did a movie together years ago. I really thought Rhys is just a great actor; I didn't know what to expect from Andrew and Emma, and quite frankly they were the real deal. They were all about the work, they were able to improvise which not a lot of people can do, everyone thinks they can but they can't really do it. Every actor thinks he can do comedy and it's just not f***in' true. And everyone thinks they can improvise and a lot of people can't! And she's great at it, so is Andrew.
So the first couple days were getting used to the idea that these two kids were going to steal the movie from me and Rhys. And then I remember the dinner scene, which was the first big acting scene we shot, one of the first things we shot on the movie. We had three days to shoot and we're playing around, improvising, all this stuff, and I just wasn't there yet. I was supposed to be intimidating Andrew's character and I didn't feel like it was working, cause he was really coming straight back at me, and Marc came up to me after a take, and kneeled down next to me, and he said, "Hey, you really gotta step it up," and I said "oh f**k." That's really how good they are.
I don't know if you saw "Death of a Salesman" on Broadway, but [Garfield] was just outrageously good. And that's famous as one of the most difficult roles you can do in the theater, and he was outrageously good.
They're the real deal, and they're gonna be around a long time. I'm saying all these nice things and I'm gonna ride their coattails. That's what I'm hoping to do; I'm going to be really nice to them from here on out.
Question: What's the difference between the films you worked on ten years ago versus now technologically?
Leary: It's a huge difference, even in the course of "Rescue Me" which we shot for 7 years with a lot of action sequences that involve fire, obviously dangerous, real smoke, real flame. And there's sometimes effects that you lay under that. We went from having to do everything completely real fire and smoke, to make it look real, to by the end we found there were details we could do digitally that the audience would never see the difference with and would save a lot of safety concerns.
At the same time, there's a lot of stuff in this movie that Marc purposely shot in front of the camera to avoid CGI in regards to stunt work. You'll never get away from that. The audience will always know, that there's been a cut, an edit, or an effect tossed in. I remember the movie "Children of Men" there's a couple of scenes in that movie where it's one take and it's really the actors and you can tell. You're never going to get away from that. We all know, we know more than ever that we're being tricked. So when you're not tricked, it makes it stand out even more.
Question: Is 3D filming different? Did you notice them?
Leary: Yeah they're pretty big, the rigs that we were using were pretty big. We get used to it after awhile.
Question: Do you get scared doing any of the physical work?
Leary: Hey man, that's what stunt doubles are for. A lot of actors walk around going "hey I do all my own stunts" and I say "f*** you." First of all, there's stuff they won't let you do. Then there's s*** that you're like "hey, okay, I want to try that." Then there's stuff that I'm just like, "F*** this I'm not doing it! Call in the stunt double man!"
The one thing I told Marc, I'm shooting that shotgun every time that thing gets shot. There were four days of that man, that was a blast, shooting the shotgun. I like to do all the shooting, some of the falls; s*** that makes you look cool, I'll do. But once it gets a little dangerous, that's when that CGI s*** comes in, you know?
Question: What originally attracted you to this film?
Leary: You know, I just finished shooting the last season of "Rescue Me" and we were still cutting and making some choices, and Marc called me, I got on the phone with him, and like I said, he described this small little acting movie, and I said this guy's crazy. I've done action movies, and nobody gets to act in them. Then I said, I'll just jump in, there's no writing or producing it so how hard can it be? And you know, it took longer than I thought but my job was basically just the acting, I didn't have to do anything else, which was great.
Like with any film, you just hope it comes out after the wash and ends up good. But there's no pressure on me. I'm not a comic book guy… my friends that were like Captain Stacy and Spider-Man nuts, I just stopped talking to them, cause it's insane, the s*** they want you to know about your character. I just listened to Marc, went to work every day and focused on the other actors and that was it. I had it easy on this, no pressure on me.
Now I just gotta make sure I'm in Amazing Spider-Man 2, 3, and 4. By the time you get to Amazing Spider-Man 5 it might be called Captain Stacy's Story!
Question: How DID you step up and intimidate Andrew in the dinner scene?
Leary: That next take, I saw his head move back a little bit. I got it in me, I was just still playing around and trying to figure it out. They're really good, they're not… Andrew and Emma, I don't know how they're so good at such a young age, I really don't. Rhys and I would sometimes stand off to the side and just go, "How did these kids get this good at so young?" They're concerned about all the right things. It's not the size of the trailer, it's the meat of the scene that they were concerned about. So hats off to them, you know. I wasn't anywhere near that good when I was their age. Or that mature!
Question: Did this movie get you thinking about the limits of science and pissing God off by going too far?
Leary: Yeah. Lapsed Catholic.
I now believe there is a God, since the Red Sox won the 2004 world series. I like to think God is a gangly Irish guy who smokes and drinks and is not the God most people believe in.
I flunked science and math in high school. I still don't understand science. I think it would be really cool if you could get bit by a spider and fly around, I'd f***ing do that tomorrow! I don't investigate that stuff anymore. I don't know any of this s*** about science, but I can basically recite the entire starting line-up of the 1967 Boston Red Sox and their batting averages. Why wasn't that on a math test when I was a student?
SPOILER ALERT! The last question contains a spoiler for the film, especially for non-comic book readers! Read further at your own risk… it IS the last question after all! SPOILERS!
Newsarama: You said you're not really a fan of the comics, but how early on did you know about Captain Stacy's fate?
Leary: Oh, right from the get go.
Nrama: Was that something that made you hesitate, or more excited about the role, getting to play the tragedy?
Leary: I've been around long enough to think ahead. So I'm like, "ah, f*** the guy dies." As an actor I get to do a big juicy death scene, but then I could be out of sequels which is where the money is.
In the original "Ice Age" Diego was supposed to die at the end of it, and I said "this is not gonna work. You can't kill a major character, kids are going to bum out." They screened it the first time and kids bummed out. Because you have to, you can't kill, you have to kill like the mother in the beginning, that's okay. But you can't kill a major character at the end [in a kid's movie]. So I got in on that, thank God.
I did have a brief conversation with Marc where I said, "How about if I die, but at the end I come back to life," and he's like, "no you gotta die." I said all right, but that's why I gotta plant the seed for flashback city for 2 and 3.Related Stories: