Film Scouts Interviews

John Herzfeld on "2 Days in the Valley"

by Leslie Rigoulot

Buy this video from

Music from
Buy The Soundtrack.

September 25, 1996

You've probably seen John Herzfeld's work, you just don't know it. He directed the ground breaking "Ryan White Story", and, at the other end of the spectrum, "The Preppie Murder". He introduced Dermot Mulroney and Patricia Arquette to the small screen in "Daddy" with Danny Aiello. And now he has brought Charlize Theron to the big screen in "2 Days in the Valley", along with Danny Aiello, Teri Hatcher, Glenne Headly, Peter Horton, Marsha Mason, James Spader, Eric Stoltz, and actor/director Paul Mazursky. You will find glamorous Charlize memorable due to the very athletic fight with Teri Hatcher which Herzfeld gives the scoop on.


Film Scouts (Leslie Rigoulot): It looks like you and Danny Aiello go back a ways. Is that how he got involved with "2 Days in the Valley"?

John Herzfeld: Yeah, it started out with a TV movie called "Daddy" and then we did the "Preppie Murder" together and we just had great times working with one another, we have a lot of fun. I'm a major fan. I wrote this role with him in mind and was lucky enough to get him after we went through the hair problem. He didn't want to shave his head. "Love the role but forget the toupee stuff."

FS: A little vanity thing there?

JH: He was afraid he hair wouldn't grow back and he also was afraid that in some way people would think he had worn a toupee all these years.

FS: Do you think that when actors are working on an independent project it is easier to get those compromises?

JH: I've had good times with actors. Some are more challenging than others. This one was really great because everybody wants to be there because of the passion. They all got paid the same. They all got paid scale. They all were in the movie not because this was a movie that would feed their family, they were there because they wanted to be there. We had 3 weeks of rehearsal before and nobody got paid for that.

FS: Teri Hatcher has been doing smaller movies moving away from TV's "Lois and Clark". You must have had a great time doing that fight scene.

JH: We did! I wanted to see two women really have a brawl. Not the hair pulling and face scratching. There is no other fight scene in the movie. There is gun play but no punches exchanged. I knew I specifically wanted two women who are strong and in great physical condition who are smart and tough to go at it the way they could if they were in great shape. And they worked on it for weeks. Then as we were getting ready to shoot it, there was an incident that changed the whole climate of the fight. It is probably the reason why that fight works as well as it does. The first punch thrown, Charlize did not pull her head back far enough and Teri went a little too far, and she clocked her. Charlize was great about it. We had to ice her down and cover up the bruise with make- up. She said she was fine and Teri was terribly apologetic because it was an accident but it raised all the adrenaline. Suddenly the way the fight had been planned with the stunt doubles, well, they wanted to do it all. I don't do a lot of close ups; I hold them together on screen. When Teri throws Charlize up against the wall, it's them. When she kicks her over the table and Teri grabs the vase and smashes it over her head I don't cut to a close up of the vase over the head. It is all there on the screen. They were very into it.

FS: Do you think today's audience is more sophisticated and aware of when the stunt people cut in?

JH: Oh, yeah. Premiere magazine has scenes shot by shot! Once laserdiscs came along, the audience was way ahead. I'm happy to say that when you get your laserdisc, go ahead and slow it down as much as you want. They are both on camera. When they turn around and you see their faces, it adds to it. I couldn't have done it if they weren't both in really great shape. And they both really wanted to do it. When the first punch was landed, a certain competitiveness came out. And you can't replace that. And then they were gung-ho. "Do you want the stunt double?" "No, no. Do you want the double?" "I can do this. Show me what you want and I'll do it."

FS: I loved Glenne Headly but she has a way of adapting to character so no one remembers her!

JH: I think Glenne Headly and you can quote me on this, is one of finest actress working in America today. In some ways that works against her because I have had people say to me "Glenne Headly, she's great. Where have I seen her before?" Have you seen "Mr. Holland's Opus", "Sgt. Bilko", "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" or "Dick Tracy"? "That's her!" She disappears in the role. I'm president of her new fan club! You know what she has? A big heart. She is a very generous actress. She doesn't 'act'; she behaves. She lives on screen. She's a special person. You'd love her.


I do! "2 Days in the Valley" is open now. And yes, it was Herzfeld's idea to use the Emmy award in the bathroom.

Back to Interviews

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.