Earlier this month, FilmJuice’s Matt Isard found himself on a tour boat travelling down the River Thames. However, as London’s greatest monuments passed by, his eyes were firmly fixed on the stars sat in front of him. Mary-Louise Parker, Dame Helen Mirren and Bruce Willis were in town to answer some questions about RED 2 … Matt braved the press pack, and rocking the boat, to find out exactly what we can expect in this second instalment of the comic book-inspired movie …
Fans fell in love with these characters and are excited to have them back. Could you tell us a bit about how it feels to come back?
Mary-Louise Parker (MLP): I just love these actors; they are legendary. It’s so easy to work and hang out with Bruce. Most of my scenes are with him and that’s my main draw.
Dame Helen Mirren (DHM): Well this movie has expanded from the first. They go to incredible locations – they didn’t write me into – like Paris! What was so wonderful about the first were these fully realised quirky characters, the comedy and the romance and the action. That’s a very difficult to make a film that has genuine love-romance in it, great comedy and has a lot of action. Those are the balls we try to keep in the air with this movie. I think it’s just faster and funnier and a little more furious than the first one.
Bruce Willis (BW): I was pleased to return because … let me tell you in a different way and then explain why I was happy to come back. When we did the first film, it was very ambitious and it’s not often they try and make a film that has romance, action and comedy all in the same place. I always thought that one part of it was going to have to be kicked out, but it all stayed in. So this time the writers added more. When we all got back together, it was just about two years in between, but it was as if we had just seen each other the day before.
Ms Parker you get the chance to be an action girl this time round. In Paris do you actually drive that car, because it has a particularly unique gearshift?
MLP: I’m a horrible driver and I don’t drive at all. Ever. The one scene where I was asked to drive, I went straight into a wall. The director put it on a loop and watched it over and over again.
Dame Helen, I am wondering if it is now becoming de rigueur for you to a regal moment in every film?
DHM: I so tried to wriggle out of that particular mantel. I think the writers thought it was very funny that I would pretend to be the Queen. I think I suggested it should be Elizabeth I who I have played and I thought that would be a funnier than being the present Queen.
Mr Willis, welcome again to London. I wonder, since this is a franchise inspired by the DC world, if comic books played a significant part of your youth? If so, which comic books really grabbed you?
BW: I wasn’t a comic book guy. I spent most of my time just outside. Unless you want me to say “I am a big DC fan. Let me tell you no body is bigger than me when it comes to DC”.
Perhaps it is because you were into outdoor pursuits, and I imagine sports, that you remain in such good shape?
BW: Vanity plays a big part in staying in shape!
When you do your job, how difficult is it to stay in shape and do the stunts you have to do?
BW: Well, I have to think about the food I eat and I also have to think about pumping weights. But I don’t do many stunts – I let the stuntmen take over. I would if I could, but I am not allowed to – ever. I wouldn’t mind getting hurt, but I get scolded!
In the film someone is captivated by a very expensive bottle of Burgundy on an auction site. What item would get your interest?
MLP: I have always wanted a Robert Frank photograph. But he stopped printing prints when his daughter died and he only made collages and Polaroids after that. I have a picture that has Robert Frank in it, but an actual Robert Frank is something like $70,000.
BW: I like old cars. I think the one I want the most is a Chevrolet Corvette.
DHM: Inspired by Mary-Louise, I think I’d want a hand written parchment by Elizabeth I. To own a piece of history would be so incredible. Maybe one of her letters to the ambassadors rejecting the hand of some king.
Bruce Willis you used to sing and even got a number two in this country. Have you ever had any ambitions to go for a number one or taking any singing roles?
BW: Fortunately not. I shower in key, but there are a lot of really good singers in the world and I am very happy to let them sing well. I can’t stand the sound of my own voice when I sing. It’s really excruciating.
Dame Helen, it’s quite difficult for more mature women to get good parts. How do you manage it and what advice would you give to other, mature actresses?
DHM: I am just lucky. I was so excited and over the moon the first time I got offered the role in RED. Actually that’s a bit of a lie. I was a little bit “Oh are people going to think I have sold out”. Then I realised how utterly stupid that was and how it was an incredible opportunity to do something I had never done. Once I had decided that, I was very excited and loved every minute and couldn’t wait to come back. It was just luck that they asked me to do it. All I try to do is mix it up all the time. I realised that RED was the perfect opportunity for me to mix it up. I was just coming off the Queen movie and it was a brilliant jump in the opposite direction.
Are you three aware that history was made in this film? For the first time, thanks to Brian Cox and Sir Anthony Hopkins, there were two Hannibal Lecters on screen.
DHM: That’s right. I never thought of that. That’s fantastic!
Bruce, you’ve been making action movies since its golden age. How do you keep it fresh?
BW: I try not to take it very seriously. We are all really just trying to be entertaining and the action sequences are just part of a certain kind of entertainment. Not my favourite. I like to make people laugh more than I like to fight. But I have done a lot of them.
A lot of films these days are either prequels or sequels or franchises. Dame Helen and Mary-Louise, you have never done franchises – what do you feel is the best bit about revisiting characters?
DHM: This is the first time I have done anything like this. It’s a wonderful opportunity to come back to a character. There is always more to discover and you can push the character further. And it’s rare. I know Bruce has done a lot of it, but in general you very rarely get to play a character twice so it’s fantastic to revisit it.
MLP: I thought it was really fun. I do theatre, I like doing television and I like being with the same group of people and working with them and having more emotional shorthand. It’s a real luxury.
Of all the characters you’ve played in the past is there anybody you’d like to be able to play again?
DHM: Oh gosh that’s a tough question – almost all them. In a way, the great thing about TV, and Mary-Louise had that experience with Weeds and I did for a certain extent with Prime Suspect, is it’s great to play a character that can develop with time in real time in a way. That, as you get older, the character gets older. As the world around you changes, the character changes. There was a character I played many years ago in a film called The Cow. It would be kind of fun to revisit that character now – a woman of Italian extraction living in Northern Ireland.
MLP: I would like to play this character again. And also I did a play called How I Learnt To Drive about seventeen years ago that we are trying to remount. So I might get to do that and actually that’s the character I would have chosen so if that happens that would be great.
DHM: Obviously that wasn’t successful with the learning to drive bit! (Laughs.)
MLP: (Laughs.) It was mime!
RED 2 Opens in the UK on 2nd August.