Interview during the filming of "Red Phone", Moviestar Magazin (Germany)

(Interview by Uwe Huber & Daniel Wamsler, translation found on: arnoldvosloo-resource page)


MOVIESTAR: Can you tell us something about "The Red Phone" and the part you're playing?
Arnold Vosloo: It's not easy to describe the plot in a few words. The film can be most likely compared to "Ronin". There are these men who worked for the KGB, CIA or GSG9. They are unemployed at the moment, so they sign up with a big organisation called AT-13 to fight terrorism. There are lots of movies dealing with that topic but it's surely more interesting than industrial espionage or something like that. In our case the characters are really tough guys who take up the struggle with crime. (Arnold starts browsing the Moviestar issue with "The Mummy Returns" cover) Does "The Mummy 2" still play in German movie theatres?

MS: They showed the film for a very long time and still do. Did you all expect such a big success?

AV: We had to. After all it was our aim to outdo the first movie. Everyone was willing to perform in front of the camera once again for the sequel. That means, Brendan, Rachel, Stephen and I not only wanted to make a better movie, everyone of the cast and crew hoped for a huge profit at the box office. In the end it exceeded all expectations.

MS: Accordingly you've got promoted to the Hollywood big budget mainstream. Before you were an acclaimed actor in your native country South Africa. Was it hard to get accustomed to the working methods of the Americans?

AV: No. There's no difference. In principle every film crew everywhere works the same. It doesn't matter if I stand in front of the camera in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Australia or Africa nothing changes except the surroundings. I perform, stay in the trailer during breaks and sleep in my hotel room at night. It's always the same. However there's more sunshine in Africa, that's the only difference (outside it's pouring).

MS: You've already won a movie award in South Africa in 1984 and another one in 1990. However in the U.S. you've only played small parts before "1492", why?

AV: This was not only in the U.S. Personally I think, that if you want to become an actor it's important to act on a theatre stage first before you perform for TV or in a movie. In my opinion acting is a kind of training you have to work for. Gradually I started filming in the U.S. and I was offered more and more better roles. With movies like "The Mummy" Hollywood producers noticed me and the roles grew bigger. This shows that I've done it right.

MS: You had your first big Hollywood role in "Hard Target" as sidekick of Lance Henriksen. How did that happen?

AV: In 1992 I played John the Baptist 18 times in the play "Salome" at the side of Al Pacino and Sheryl Lee. John Woo attended one of those performances and apparently he liked me and gave me the role in "Hard Target".

MS: Was this your breakthrough?

AV: Honestly, I think "The Mummy" was my breakthrough role. The people in Hollywood always knew that I'm a good actor. Only when "The Mummy" made such big bucks, they began to notice me. In Hollywood money counts more than anything else. You can be a very good actor but you'll only get great roles once you've played in a big budget production. Therefore "The Mummy" is the first step on the ladder leading to the next level.

MS: When looking at your filmography it seems that you've done a lot of low budget movies produced by B-movie producer Allan Towers, f. e. "Buried Alive" (1990).

AV: Yes, that's right. But did I really play in "Buried Alive"?

MS: You've played a police officer.

AV: Really? I cannot with the best will in the world remember that.

MS: Do you remember other Harry Allan Towers production such as "Gor" or "Skeleton Coast" with Donald Pleasance and Herbert Lom?

AV: Yes, I remember. For "Gor" we were shooting this scene with me for about two or three days. But it's amazing that I've forgotten about "Buried Alive". Once I'm back in the U.S. I will get the videotape right away. I really need this film for my movie collection (laughs).

MS: You've taken over the part of Darkman in both sequels from Liam Neeson, who played the role in the first movie. Did his performance serve you as a model?

AV: No, not at all. Sam Raimi who produced the second and third film and I discussed this and I asked him if I should copy Liam. Sam said that I should play the part as if no other has played it before. In my own way. We shot for 5 months in Toronto, Canada. It was great and we had a lot of fun. Darkman is a weird character, kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

MS: Both of your "Darkman" movies were direct-to-video releases...

AV: Yes, too bad. Many people told me, that they liked those films very much and that they thought that they would have been worth showing in movie theatres. Too bad, but just before I came to Germany, I heard that HBO will air them during prime time. One every 3 months, a Darkman series so to say. Surely they will inform me about it once I'm back in the U.S. It would be very interesting to play the character once more.

MS: You've played Darkman, Imhotep etc. - dark characters every one of them and partly in your TV appearances like "American Gothic" as well. Do you like such roles better than others?

AV: Absolutely. It's simply much more fun. I think that playing a hero is fun too, but heroes are boring. Once you've played the bad guy, it's getting harder to play the straight hero who rescues the girl, the child or the dog. It's much more fun to kick the dog. (laughs)

MS: In a way the villain is a hero too, because the audience loves him sometimes even more.

AV: Yes, mainly in genre movies like "The Mummy" or "James Bond". It's working even better the more interesting the bad guy is. The villain has to be credible and interesting. Only then it will be a good movie. Marlon Brando once said: "The success of the main character depends on how good the villain is." I quite agree with him. You need a strong opponent who doesn't make it too easy for the hero. That's why I hate movies with Stephen Segal. He comes into a bar, beats up twenty guys and never gets a single scratch. That's idiotic. I don't want to watch such movies and I think I'm not the only one.

MS: In "The Mummy" movies there are many well-done scenes in which Imhotep is only a CGI effect. However it looks like the actors are very involved.

AV: I love that. When we'll shoot the third movie, probably at the end of next year, I would love to have even more CGI effects. Half CGI and half me, that's what I want. It would be very interesting.

MS: Do you think that Imhotep will escape out of the hell mouth from the end of the second movie?

AV: Of course. Steve Sommers will write the script for the third movie. Perhaps he won't direct it, but there will be another sequel definitely.

MS: Do you like horror movies?

AV: Yes, I do. I'm not sure how much the German people love them, but they are very popular in the U.S.

MS: Do you have any favourite directors or movies?

AV: Yes, I appreciate the work of Sam Raimi very much. Even though "Spiderman" is not a horror movie, it will contain some real cool stuff. A friend of mine who also worked for "The Mummy" productions was at the set of "Spiderman". He called and told me that Willem Dafoe who is playing the green goblin is really great. Another one is this guy from Australia or New Zealand who's doing those mind-blowing films.

MS: You mean Peter Jackson?

AV: Right. He makes creatures with 25 arms, heads and legs. It's wonderful. I love those movies.

MS: He's shooting "Lord of the Rings" at the moment.

AV: I'm very keen to see them. He makes three movies in such a short time, it's incomprehensible. The technology advances with such an incredible
speed.

MS: Back to "The Mummy". How were the CGI effects done? What did you have to do to get facial expressions right for the film?

AV: Most of the scenes were edited with the computer after shooting. Now there exists a technology with which they can scan your face and record all the expressions for the computer. I had to sit in a chair, which did a 360-degree turn and I had to recite Imhotep's lines for two long days. I read the text while the camera filmed. At the end they gave the material to the people doing the computer animations as a basis for the movie. It's an amazing technology.

MS: Did you have the possibility to do some sightseeing while you're here in Germany?

AV: No, I didn't even get the chance to watch a movie on television. Most of the time I come back to the hotel around 10 pm, take a shower and go to sleep. It's always the same: trailer, hotel room, set, trailer, hotel room, set... On Wednesday when we've finished here, we'll go to this big lake an hour from here, I think it's called "Starnberger See". I hope the sun will shine and I can go for a swim. Then I would have seen at least something from Munich's surroundings. There are so many sights here. We shot some scenes at really great places, but it's work nonetheless.

MS: What future projects are waiting for you when you'll go back to the U.S.?

AV: Thank God the strike is over now, so that's not a problem anymore. I went to a casting for the role of the villain in the next James Bond movie. Further negotiations will start next Friday when I'm back in Los Angeles. [When everything goes fine, Arnold will play a villain called David Saten, who wants to rule the world using the World Wide Web. Nigel Havers is under discussion too. Despite earlier press reports a decision about this hasn't been reached though.] Otherwise there's something on Hawaii and another project in Japan where I might take part.

MS: So your agent has a lot to do?

AV: Yes, a lot of negotiations on the phone. I will pick what I want and wait what the future will held in store for me. At the end of 2002 or at the beginning of 2003 the shooting for "The Mummy 3" will start.

MS: With the same cast and director?

AV: We will see. But probably not with the same actors. Letting the story take place another ten years later would be a dead-end. It would be very hard to find an appropriate plot for Brendan, the kid, etc. This wouldn't make much sense. Therefore the next movie will probably take place in our time. 2004 in New York City or something along that line. Steve Sommers will write the script. Perhaps he won't direct it, but the script will be definitely his. And probably they will cast today's stars like Drew Barrymore or a pretty boy like Jude Law who will fight against the mummy. Let's wait and see what Steve comes up with. He's a very good writer. And it will surely be a lot of fun. I hope it will be more horror and less Indiana
Jones, but that remains to be seen.

MS: You'd prefer it if the movie wouldn't be an adventure movie?

AV: I would love to have more horror, especially in the third movie. We could do something completely different.

MS: Will they fulfil your wishes?

AV: Presumably not, if they had agreed to my suggestions in the past, then the profit would have been smaller. Horror doesn't bring as much money as adventure movies. If they had done the first two movies in my way, they would have earned half of the money. Nevertheless I will talk to them about it.

MS: If Peter Jackson would offer you a horror script...?

AV: Oh, this would be great!

MS: We wish you much success!