Read our exclusive interview with actor Rutger Hauer, who portrays the title character in the new action-adventure-crime movie ‘Hobo with a Shotgun.’ The movie, which will be available On Demand on April 1 and hits theaters on May 6, 2011, was based on the fake Canadian trailer that was attached to the 2007 double horror feature ‘Grindhouse.’ ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ follows Hobo, who is determined to rid the crime that plagues the city he lives in, especially the corruption that is caused by main crime boss Drake (played by Brian Downey). Hauer discusses with us, among other things, what attracted him to the role of the Hobo, and what it was like working with first-time director Jason Eisener.
Shockya (SY): You have appeared in bigger blockbusters. So what attracted you to this role, which is a smaller, more independent movie?
Rutger Hauer (RH): Well, I’ve played so many different roles in so many films. Blockbuster movies, I haven’t done many of those. I’ve worked for the major studios, maybe four times, five times. So the question is not really about the size. I just thought this director (Jason Eisener) was so close to my heart and the story was raw and unusual. I just wanted to know how it felt. One of my biggest concerns was, will director and I know and like each other. But then I had to see what it was like on the set, and what the art direction was, and what the style. Basically, to fit myself to the other things was to complete or ad to where I thought he story had weak spots. Those were the two concerns I had. We just decide there would be more heart in the film if it wasn’t just noise.
SY: How did you prepare for the role? Did you do any research?
RH: I had two guys that I worked with in Halifax, apart from the director, who was very specific in what he was hoping to get from me. Dave, I think it’s Brunt, he was the inspiration for the story. He was in the trailer, in the fake trailer. He was my right hand and I felt I needed to read on it to get the character. He was there every day. Then there was a musician that I liked who was there now and then and he would sing street songs. That was kinda nice too. So those two, and the script, and the director. Then I had (actress) Molly (Dunsworth), Molly’s character (Abby). This one woman in the story that I meet and we end up trying to escape from this city that has turned to sh*t. The bad comes from all corners. We really kind of scrutinized the relationship between them. That’s where the peace came in, and that’s where the dreams live. That’s where the softer part of the Hobo gets a voice, so to speak. It’s an angry movie, I find, angry. Is full of anger and disgust with the world that we live in. He fights for his equality of life. You can never win that. It’s just like that, it’s impossible.
SY: Like you said, the movie was based on the fake trailer. Did you see the trailer before the movie?
RH: Yeah, yeah, of course.
SY: Were you surprised at how popular it was with the fans?
RH: Yes, absolutely. I did not know there was such a following. I woke up very slowly to it. At Sundance, I woke up and said “Oh, my God, this is so wonderful.” It’s very interesting to see the crowd on the Internet, how big it can be, how funny and serious and smart. Very nice, very nice.
SY: Like you said, the movie was at Sundance and it was an official selection. Were you surprised about that?
RH: Well, it was a world premiere. I can’t think of a more beautiful place to have a premiere for a film like this. I just didn’t think it would get such a great response, and I don’t think anyone was ready for it. But the people who knew and where there were up for it. I felt we gave them what they wanted and more. You’ve got to surprise people, you have to take it one more step.
SY: What was it like working with Jason?
RH: It was like Heaven. I haven’t done a lead in, I don’t know, I have to Goggle myself, in 20 years or something. For a 67-year-old, there aren’t many roles. That’s the way it is. So it was tough, but so what? You just have to measure yourself and see if you can hold on. They treated me very well, and I was basically in bed after I shot it, pretty much.
SY: The producers have said that when they were casting the movie, they immediately thought of you when casting the Hobo, based on your past roles. How did you react when you heard that?
RH: Well, you know, that’s very nice, but that doesn’t mean I have to do the movie. Basically, it’s about me clicking from the first second and feeling that we shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to work. I’m not scared. You can see Jason isn’t scared either.
SY: Were the stunts you were involved with difficult to shoot?
RH: No, no, no. I think it was one stunt, basically, that hey planned, where the Hobo is just thrown from one or two floors out of the cop station. They had the stunt guy there, and I didm’t even know they were shooting it. I just happened to walk on-set, and I saw they were preparing for it. I also saw what the camera angle was, and I thought, this is not difficult, it’s not a problem, I can just jump and it’s not a problem. Stunt people never look correct. They have the right clothes, but you have to stay away from them. It’s nice when you can get the actors, it’s not a big deal. So I went up to Jason and said, “Jason, what the hell are you doing? I can do this easily, it’s not a problem.” He went, “Are you sure?” I said “Yes, I’m sure. Trust me.” So I climbed up the ladder, and that was the hard part. The ladder was the tricky part. Then we shot it, and I jumped in a whole bunch of trash bags, adn that was that. I think we did one take. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I could. I’m wise enough, I’ve gotten hurt quite a few times, so I’m not going to do any crazy stuff. But this was easy.
SY: Would you consider doing more action movies like this in the future?
RH: Well, I’m not sure if I would call it an action movie. But we’re exploring the idea of having him come back.
SY: Would you consider doing a sequel?
RH: We’ll see. I think you have to make the sequel better than the original. So far, so good.
SY: This is the second movie, the first being last year’s ‘Machete,’ that was based on a fake trailer from ‘Grindhouse.’ Why do you think the fans like them so much?
RH: I don’t know, because they’re weird, I think, and because they have a sense of humor. I like the characters and the artistic parts of my craft. I don’t mind reminding people it’s a movie, or that you’re telling a story. Everybody knows this, but for some reason, we want to be real. I don’t get it, I like the fakeness of my craft. I don’t think the audience minds-they all know we’re making a movie.
SY: Though the movie had a lot of violence and action, it also has an underlying message that people can put whatever they put their minds to. Your character was determined to rid the city of its crime.
RH: But people died because of it. Why do people have to die, like in Libya? It’s a tough one. I’d rather make a movie!
SY: Were there any memorable scenes on the set?
RH: Well, there was one that was absolutely hell. They had this (sewer) hole, like you have in New York, where I had to be in this hole with this collar. I had little room, and it was cold. I was in there for quite some time. They had to lift me out, because my muscles wouldn’t do anything. Literally, they thought I was joking. I said, “That’s the smallest hole I’ve ever been in,” and I was being serious. They thought I was making some kind of sexual remark, which they thought was funny.
SY: A lot of the movie was filmed outside, on the streets of the city, in Canada. What was the weather like?
RH: The weather was chilly, a lot of soup.
SY: Did that put any limitation on how long you could film?
RH: No, the limitation was basically we filmed as long as we could.
SY: How long did you shoot for?
RH: It was about five, six weeks. I think we had Sundays off, but not a lot. Sunday was off, but Saturday, I don’t think so. I think we worked six days. So it was like five weeks, six days a week. It may have been a little longer, but I think I was there the first day and the last day. I was in every shot, almost. It’s amazing I’m sitting here!
SY: What do you hope the audience will take away from the movie?
RH: Life’s a bitch and then you die, you know? I think so. I don’t want to tell hem what to take away from the movie, I think the movie should tell that. I think it’s hilarious. I think it’s crazy and I think it’s way out of whack. But I think it has a nice heart.
Written by: Karen Benardello