Actors Michael Madsen & Ash Adams During LVFF Q&A – Part 1

Published On August 7, 2011 | By admin | Blog Post, Film Festival, Filmmaker, Independent Film, Q&A


Actor Michael Madsen poses with LVFF Volunteer

Following the presentation of the Indie Icon Award to Michael Madsen by four of his six sons at the 2011 Las Vegas Film Festival after the screening of his 2008 film “Vice” and a conversation hosted by good friend actor/director Ash Adams, the actor took questions during an audience Q&A. Adams remained on stage with Madsen and there was a camaraderie between the two men that was obviously the product of their 11 year relationship as friends and colleagues.  In fact, it was Ash who recommended Michael for the award. Last year his feature “Once Fallen” won for best film and his short “Peter’s Hope”, which screened later in the evening, received a special jury prize at this event.

Once the audience settled down one of the first topics discussed was the making of “Vice” and Madsen praised his DP on the movie Andrzej Sekula.  “A lot of people don’t really understand that “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”, those were big hits for Quentin Tarantino, but the fact is, is that a lot of the reason was Andrzej Sekula, the way he shot it, the way he lit it.  He knows exactly where to put the camera.  He knows exactly how to shoot actors.  He watches actors and figures out what’s the best angle of their face, the best way to light them.  He’s a very quiet guy.  He’s a very methodical man.  He’s very, very good natured.” Michael explained.  “I asked him to shoot “Vice” because I knew that he was the only one that could get it.  What is was really supposed to be.  It was a very simplistic script and I changed the ending and I wanted Andrzej to shoot it and I cast it, you know, and I changed a bunch of stuff in that movie, but it never would have been nothing without Andrzej.  You know as far as I’m concerned he really is the best DP that’s living today,” he finished.

Listening to Michael talk about his family and friends one fact becomes apparent: this is a loyal man who wants to do right by the people around him and values his relationships.  A member of the audience pointed out the parallel between “Vice” and one of Michael’s best known films Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” since in “Vice” the cops try to figure out who the criminal is whereas in “Reservoir Dogs” it was the opposite.  When asked about this Madsen responded, “It is a plot that works, you know, I mean either way.  I found Max Walker to be an incredibly complex person.  I think the original script was a little too simplistic and I thought it to be more of a story of redemption.  You know, the guy obviously has a few problems, but he felt bad about it, you know, and that makes a difference and he had a conscience and I made sure that that happened.  It was one of those…they let me change the ending and they let me put Mykelti in there for my partner and Daryl Hannah and they give me Andrzej as a DP and there was a lot of stuff that worked for me in that film that they allowed me to do. Usually as an actor you’re more of a puppet and uh, if you can have a lot more involvement in the movie like I had with “Vice” it’s a lot more fun.  I know the similarities you’re talking about and it definitely attracted me to it originally.”

Actor/Director Ash Adams at the LVFF

At this juncture Adams spoke a bit about his friend and what makes him such a unique personality and audience favorite.  “One of the things that makes Michael Michael is Michael and one of the reasons that he’s made as many pictures as he has and has worked with some of the best people in the world is because he is who he is and I think that sometimes we as an audience forget that what we’re watching somebody do on screen is something that…the reason they’re there is because we want to see it and we want to see it again and we want to see it again and we want to see it again.  The same thing goes with Pacino The same thing goes with DeNiro, the same thing goes with Redford, the same thing goes with Newman, the same thing goes with McQueen, with Robert Mitchum and with all the cats that came before,” he commented then turning to Madsen added, “but there’s a similarity there that you have with those guys and I think that’s what we want to see as audience members. We don’t just want to see it once and then have him go play Rainman. We want to see it over and over and over again so I think that it’s important that we discern the difference between the movie star and the actor cause Michael can bring it together and has so well in the past, bringing those two elements together being an actual movie star that’s also an actor,” he finished.

Madsen is also aware that most audiences want to see him with a cigarette in his mouth and a gun in his hand playing the tough guy character he’s so well regarded for that appeared throughout the video that Adams had put together.  Michael acknowledged, “When I see this beautiful tribute that Ash did I realize I’m pretty good.” Considering the impressive list of films that he has appeared in he’s more than that.  He’s a symbol representing a certain type of male role model that may actually be turning into an endangered species.  Admitting that he feels as if producers are trying to phase out the types of characters that he’s best known for playing he said,  “I heard that Clint Eastwood once said…in fact I think he recently said that what’s going on in American cinema now is what he described as the pussification of the American male.  You know he can certainly can get away with saying something like that, so I can quote him, but I kind of get it you know cause I see it happening and I’m definitely someone whose being pushed out. There is a certain breed of, a certain element of certain things that …masculinity is in peril at the moment in cinema and it’s sad,” he concluded.

Part 2 with Michael Madsen and Ash Adams from the LVFF Q&A later on this week in Filmmakers Notebook.

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