I don’t like the pressure of figuring stuff out on the set. I always say, do you want to try something? It’s usually not different words. But maybe they want to be angrier. Or maybe they want to be less angry. Or maybe they want to try not crying, but it won’t be “Let’s do an improv.” I hate improv. I’ll tell you. Raging Bull has amazing, amazing, amazing fight sequences, but some of those improv scenes with De Niro and Pesci. You just feel the improv and it drives me crazy. So, there, I insulted Marty Scorsese.
Who first noticed Raul Julia had the burst blood vessel?
I noticed that. I said, “Raul, what happened?” And he said, “I was at a bar last night and I was just sitting at the bar and my eyeball just fell out on the table.” It can’t be true. An eyeball is attached to an optic nerve and. And he said, “Yeah, the eyeball just popped up out and you know, it’s unrolled and I picked it up and I put it back in my eye. But I guess I scratched it.” I said, “OK, that’s a good story. But we can’t shoot with you today because it was really red.” And then the next day it was better. But I love that he had to create a dramatic story because that’s who Raul was.
One of my favorite movies is Get Shorty. What was it like to work with James Gandolfini back then?
It’s really funny. Gandolfini, in the movie, plays a stuntman, and Gandolfini came to me and he said, “You know what? I think this guy is from North Carolina. I know so many stunt guys who are all from North Carolina. So, I’m going to make him be from North Carolina, and I’m going to give him just a little accent.” I said, “Bad idea. Don’t do it.” And he said, “Why?” I said “You’ll never talk fast enough.” And he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I’m going to ask you to talk faster and you’re going to say, ‘no, there’s a certain lilt to people that talk in North Carolina,’ and I’m going to say, “you’ve got to do it faster” and you’re going to have a problem with that because you’re from North Carolina.
He said, “Please give me this.” And I stupidly said, OK, I think you’re making a bad decision. But if you think you can talk fast enough. The whole time [shooting], I’d say “Gandolfini, you gotta do it faster.” And he goes, “Yeah, I know, but there’s a certain patois and rhythm.” I go, “Yeah, exactly. And that’s why.”
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