|THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS: Diary of a Film|
How were you first approached about The Crow?
I think it was because of Queen Margot. Suddenly my name was one of the possible actors on the list, and my agent organized a meeting. I saw Tim [Pope] and we talked. I liked the man. Tim's intelligence really caught me. I felt that he had a vision. If I feel that the director doesn't have a vision, I don't go into [the film]. I'm not interested.
Were you familiar with the comic book at all?
No. I discovered the comic book during the preparation of the movie. I'm not really into comics, but I have to say it's very powerful.
I'm trying to build a bridge between the [film's] story and the comic book and my life because [acting is] always a mixture of everything. I have to find my own way, my own space, my own dimension regarding the kind of pain [dealt with in The Crow]. [The comic] is helping me find ideas for playing the part.
Why do you think O'Barr's story translates so well to film?
The comic book was created because of a huge pain, a real emotion. The comic book is a catharsis. I'm sure when James O'Barr did the [comic] in the beginning, he was just doing this thing [for himself], it was just coming out of him. We talked together, and I feel that the film is based on that real emotion.
Had you seen the first film before?
I saw it just before meting with Ed Pressman. I had my ideas on what I would like to do and what I wanted to avoid. I thought that the first film was really good - especially Brandon Lee's work. I think he did an amazing job. The story and the tragic ending were something I had to think about before accepting the role in City of Angels.
But it's true that sometimes I had the feeling that I was on the same journey as Brandon Lee, because this is the same kind of atmosphere. The same kind of world. The same kind of relationship with death. It's like this huge pain that I'm carrying throughout the movie.
In the Crow mythos, there is a fantasy device where, a certain type of character with intense capacity for love can transcend death. Would you say that the first film sets that up and the second expands on it?
I don't know if it's the beginning of a new legend, but there are lots of symbols in The Crow. I think everybody's carrying masks. I was reading that in a Joseph Campbell book just today. He was saying that a religion can be a mask, and it's good to have masks. But, when the subject is death, suddenly you're putting your feet into a few questions: What's my relationship with death? Am I afraid of death? What is life? What is love? It's a wonderful field and it's interesting to see what things grow.
We are reaching the end of the century, and suddenly we have to turn back into the century and ask about ourselves. Everybody's afraid of the year 2000. When I was a child, everybody would say that 2000 is going to be the end of the world. I think something is happening today, we are losing our tales, losing our references, we're losing our stories. We don't have any story to tell.
The only well of being in touch with what made us as we are today, [is through] these symbols, going back into fairy tales and mythology. We are today in the world of technical problems. The Crow, in a very strange way, is connecting us with a mythologic fairy tale and I think people need that. I think that there is a very strong soul in The Crow.
Everybody can project themselves into this story. It's very easy to project your own fears, your own questions. The way Tim [Pope] did the movie, everything is very logical, so if you go into the trip - because it's a real trip - you go into yourself. I think people need that. When I see movies, I often feel that there is a lack of personal involvement in the story. We're just witnessing a story, but we're never concerned. That's the feeling that I have in a lot of movies, especially big blockbusters.
I think this was the big suspicion of a lot of fans: "Oh, a sequel is going to be a rip-off." But I believe they'll see that the filmmakers involved recognize their responsibility.
It's an amazing team: Ed Pressman, Jean-Yves [Escoffer], Alex [McDowell], all of us. And Tim is brilliant. He's really the one who respected [fandom's concerns].
What was the most physically demanding part of making the film? You did most of your own stunts, which is unusual in Hollywood filmmaking.
That's what people told me. But if I can do something, I will do it. The most [taxing] thing, I would say, was when I stayed eight hours in the water. Eight hours, in and out. That was really tough, all the scenes with the child in the water. And also the end of the movie, the big meeting between Ashe and Judah. I was being dragged, and whipped, and hanged. At the end, I was really giving the last drops of energy, it was really tiring. But it was really fun, and very easy because everything was so organized.
What were some of the major issues for you in developing Ashe's character?
Each killing was a very important issue for me, because each killing was bringing me to the next one, and I had to change. I had to become a mirror. I was going into the weaknesses off my victims, but I had to understand them to be able to kill them. So, that was the most difficult thing. We rehearsed [a lot] before shooting those scenes, because we had to find, each time, a new reason and a journey into each killing, a different journey. And putting in this journey my own transformation.
The movie is also about rituals. I'm becoming a guide, because I'm guiding these people into death. And I'm joking with death. It's very intimate. Like when I'm killing Curve. It was like a communion of some kind. It was like we were very close to one another until the last, his last story. Like a mother to her child.
Tim [Pope] was always saying: It's like a [drug] trip. You're taking the dope, or whatever, and at the beginning you have the excitement, but after that, you're a little bit scared. You're not enjoying it the same way. Then you go into this nightmare. Children's movies do it like that. That [feeling] was quite difficult to find because it was very precise. I really needed the help of the [Crow's] mask to be different in each killing. I'm somebody else in each killing because I'm becoming them.
So each victim is being, in a sense, killed by himself, through you.
Exactly. Or I was killing something in myself, because I think Ashe wants to die. I really do think that he wants to die. The last victim is himself, because Judah is his shadow and his shadow is also the Crow. Ashe has to kill his own shadow. It's very strange. At the end, he's carrying all the sadness, the pain of the world. It's his pain. This is the nightmare for him, the beginning of the nightmare. He has to be there. Standing up.
Is Ashe an angel?
A black angel. I think my point with the movie, which is very personal, is that all the actors in the movie, all the characters in the movie, are angels. And Tim filmed what is not possible to see with your eyes. He filmed what is behind you, your angel.
This is, literally, a City of Angels?
I think so. Maybe the game of the movie is to find the one who's not an angel.
Would you like to do some more Crow films after this?
We will see. Why not? If it's different. If it's better, which is going to be difficult, because this movie is going to be very good. I have to say I really enjoyed myself on this movie. I feel that there's a great freedom in my work. I'm still growing and learning and I hope I'm going to do that until my last day on Earth.