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.