Tokyo International Film festival – November 09, 1998

BP: Good morning to everyone. How do you say in Japanese? Ohayo? Ohayo.

Was there earthquake last night? I thought I was back in California. How big it was? The size? Four? Three?

Q: How do you feel about the premiere of your latest movie, MJB, here in Tokyo?

BP: Oh it was just mayhem. [laughs] I’ve never seen a theater like that to begin with. It was a stunning, beautiful theater. We don’t have them that large and grand. And I’m just happy the movie went well and people walked away with something. That’s why we’re here.

Q: You’ve been playing very interesing characters in the past, sometimes portraying the dark side of human nature. But Joe Black is a very symbolic character. Why did you choose this part at this time in your career?

BP: I just wanted to get back to someting that I … listen, I’d always kinda held out for. I guess I would call this a romantic comedy and I’d always
been looking for that and just waited till the right one came along. And I felt like this one was just because of the beautiful things it had to say about living and about doing the best you can and I just really liked the script. And it’s more of instinctual thing when you make the choice. And also the storyteller is very important to me and that being Martin Brest. So, who is going to be telling the story? Cause it could come out you could have a script, and if ten different directors did it, then you could have ten different stories.

Q: Everything is a first experience for the character Joe Black. Did you discuss this a lot with the director? And you said you loved the dinner scene. Why?

BP: Many discussions with Marty Brest on keeping it discovery; everything was about discovery as far as Joe Black was concerned. The dinner scenes I loved just because we had had this collection of fantastic actors, and Tony leading us, and just to get to play off everyone and have everyone doing their stuff; because in the context of the film, everyone is coming from entirely different places and it’s always funny to see these people conflict.

Q: Did you do any improvisation during filming since Martin Breat is well know for allowing actors to improvise?

BP: Yeah Marty let us play a lot, certainly with, there was alot of improvising with the excloration of Joe in the beginning, like with the peanutbutter and things like that. But we had a script that was so well written that Marty had worked on for almost ten years- him with Bo Goldman. And Bo Goldman is one of our best know writers. He was responsible for Cucoo’s Nest for example. So I didn’t want to change many of Bo’s words. He knows what he’s doing.

Q: Have you seen this finished film?

BP: Yes, three times, maybe four.

Q: Really? How did you enjoy the film yourself? You know, it’s eh, three hours long. It’s quite a long film.

BP: Yeah. Was everyone alright?

Q: Are you worried about the running time? Or are you confident that you could suspend the audience?

BP: No, I just tell people if they have a coke hold on to the cup.

Q: A coke?

BP: No one got that. [laughs] I’m always looking for more technical things, how things flow into each other. So it’s not so easy for me to get lost in the story as if I was just seeing it the firat time. But the last time I saw it, I saw it with an audience and I was very moved. It said things that touched me, so…

Q: The audience?

BP: No the film what it says, I was able to stay more removed.

Q: [inaudible]

BP: No, just pray.

Q: [inaudible]

BP: Lots of close ups…I don’t really like to think that way. I think more of the scene whether it’s working or not. The scene moves to the next
moment….Or if it stalls.

Q: [inaudible]

BP: Ah that’s brilliant isn’t it? Yeah I don’t want to give that one away because it comes at just the perfect timing in the film becuase you’re led to think one thing is happening then.And then as far as how we did it…I can’t tell you. Marty just wanted to keep it in one shot instead of, you know
usually in films you cut to the person on the street then you cut to the oncoming car then you cut to the person going ‘ah’ then you cut to the screeching tyres and then you cut to shoe rolling in the gutter and Marty didn’t want to do that. He wanted it all in one shot and he pulled it off.

Q: How did you like the person Joe Black when he is taken over by Death. Would you want him to be your friend?

BP: I like him all right. I wouldn’t want him to come to my house, though.

Q: If Death came to visit you and told you that you only had a few days left, how would you spend those days?

BP: I’m throwing a big party and you’re all invited.

Q: What do you imagine Death looks like?

BP: I have no idea and I’m in no hurry to find out.

Q: Joe, in the film, stays in Anthony Hopkins’ house. If you were Death and had to stay a few days on this earth, whose house would you choose to stay in?

BP: I don’t know, I think I’m going to the Caribbean, instead of NYC.

Q: Joe Black teaches how to love. What does love mean to you?

BP: Well, I mean, if you ask me, I’d say there’s nothing more important than love and then dealing with loss; love and loss, I think, is waht the film is about. Living and losing, and losing is an inevitable part of our life and we all have to deal with it eventually. And so I was very moved by the course
the film took.

Q: Joe fell in love at first sight. Have you ever had that experience yourself?

BP: Yes, I have.

Q: Recently?

[Brad notices one of the casette recorders set by reporters stops. He starts to check it.]

BP: [into the recorder] Hello…Oh, they’re all going…Um…yes…sorry. Oh well, that’s it.

Q: [inaudible]

BP: I’m sorry I missed the question.

Q: [inaudible] We’ve also heard that you get into a part by listening to music, so what kind of music did you listen to to play Joe Black?

BP: I’m still into camera, some guitar, some design stuff. I’m still into landscaping. Landscaping and just funiture and things.

Q: How’s the guitar?

BP: It’s an old Yamaha, like a seventy’s Yamaha. I love music, so music’s such an [inaudible]…it’s endless for me, because there’s fantastic music in every category. But…but this film…who do I listen to? I think I listened to Philip Glass some…he’s an composer who…an experimental composer. I don’t know if he’s known over here. And numerous others that I couldn’t recall at this time. Right now I’m listening to a lot of Radiohead and Aerosmith, and then my favorite always, Bob Marley.

Q: Do you choose different roles because you don’t want to be typecast, or do you just get good scripts?

BP: Yes, certainly actors can be stereotyped. Then there’re other actors that makes an entire career doing similar things, so…I don’t know about that; that’s not the focus. Just for me, it’s just much more interesting to finish a project and go into something completely different and see how you do, because it’s always a test to me. Like this one was, this one was actually, although it seemes very simple, one of the most difficult things I’ve tried, just because I wasn’t sure where the balance was, there was no one I could go do any research with, there was I wasn’t sure where to start on the
omnipotence aspect of it all, and then the naivete.

[The Interpreter interprets his words fluently. He’s staring at her with admiration while she’s speaking and says]

BP: She’s good isn’t she? Really good.

The Interpreter: Thank you.

Q: You’ve been working in this business for almost ten years now. What kind of future do you see for yourself, career-wise?

BP: Career-wise? I’m just now starting to feel like I know what I’m doing. So…truthfully. [laughs] So, I see…I have a direction that I want to head in the next few years and it’s more experimental; we’ll see if I get there or not. And other than that, I look forward to family life and doing some other things, actually. So as far as the acting goes, I’m going to do it as long as they let me, but I see it being fewer and far between. [laughs]

Q: Would you like to say anything?

BP: Yeah, yeah. Unfortunately, I’ve got to head back. So I got to see a little more of Tokyo than last time but still not everything. But I’m going back to shoot Fight Club; we’re in the middle of that. It’s called The Fight Club. It’s with David Fincher, who directed Seven. That one should be a nice one. So I’m going to shoot, but thanks again. We’re very excited, everyone involved with Joe Black in the States, when we heard we were going to get to close down the festival. So that was an honor for us. And thanks for having us again. And sitting through the movie.