THE YOUNG AMERICANS FEATURE
Harvey Heltel: ‘Make me belleve It and let me go with lt.’
becomes more hands-on in an attempt to nail the hood behind it all, a fellow American who is recruiting the city’s disillusioned youth with the promise of money, fast cars and guns.
‘The cop didn’t have to be American, really,’ Cannon admits. ‘The idea of calling the gang The Young Americans was always there, however; a lot of these kids want to be Americans and to emulate Americans because they ﬁnd that culture glamorous. Turning that upside down was the theme of the ﬁlm, and the American coming over just seemed to be the perfect way to do that. This ﬁlm could be set in Paris, in Rome, Berlin . . . London’s just one of the better cosmopolitan cities. But if I was going to use it, I didn’t want to see it through red bus/black cab eyes, and so I thought that by using a foreigner I could show it in a different light, especially the darker side. I didn’t write it with anybody in mind, and I never expected it to be a well-known actor. I’d have written it for Steve McQueen.’
Given that circumstances rendered this a little
lett: Babes In the hood - Thandle Hewton as Rachael. lllght: director nanny Cannon with Harvey and homeboy promo-wear.
difﬁcult, Cannon found alternative choices hampered by ﬁnanciers’ demands. The American backers, who were principally buying for video. would only throw in their wad if actors to their liking were cast: their list had William Hurt at the top and, as Cannon notes, ‘his asking price was bigger than the entire budget’.
‘When I knew that they wanted a name, I had to pick somebody I could get on with,’ he continues. ‘The ﬁlm was going to be made really fast, there was a very energetic, quite aggressive atmosphere about it, and I needed somebody who could go along with that. Harvey was perfect. What I like about him is he‘s not a movie star, he’s not an affected actor; he’s very sincere, very ordinary, an actor’s actor. Harvey always comes from the angle “Make me believe it and let me go with it”. I’m the same kind of animal as Harvey Keitel, so I could talk to him. He called me a wiseguy. you know.’
I can believe it. The fast-talking Cannon was born and bred in London, and began making ﬁlms when he reached sixteen. In 1987, he won the BBC’s Young Filmmaker Of The Year Award for his 40-minute piece Sometimes. A word of advice from one of the panel’s judges, Alan Parker, persuaded Cannon to enrol at the National Film and Television School, where — among other projects - he completed a short London-based drama, Play Dead, which Channel 4 snapped up after viewing its three-minute trailer. Early evidence of a more-than-usually ambitious eye came when he ﬂew to Los Angeles to ﬁlm Strangers, the romantic thn'ller that was to be his graduation piece. And now, when they say that Danny Cannon is a director who is going places, it’s more than likely that those air tickets will be stamped for America.
‘A year ago, I would have been coy,’ he says, cutting through the usual bullshit, ‘but it’s inevitable, it really is. The States seems director- driven. England seems to wait for the screenplay — “if it’s going to win awards and get good reviews, then it’s something that we’d like to make.”
sincere, very ordinary, an actor’s actor. I’m the same kind of animal as Harvey Keitel.’
America comes more from “What do you want to make?” This is where I live, this is where l was brought up, but if I’m to follow the opportunities to make the movies of the size and proportion and scope that I would like to, and work with the talent that I would like to, then I can’t stay here.’
And they don’t come bigger in scope than the long-awaited movie version of Judge Dredd, with Sylvester Stallone playing Mega City One’s unforgiving law enforcer. Stallone backed Cannon in his bid to ﬁll the director’s chair purely on the strength of seeing The Young Americans, and now that the ink has dried on the contract. the young
Londoner is about to
experience a major shake-up ‘What I like in about Harvey Keitel is he’s not a movie star, he’s not an affected actor; he’s very
his lifestyle. Every possible obstacle for an inexperienced ﬁlmmaker will be thrown in his way: a sizeable budget (starting price $30 million), hard-to- please audience expectations, the Big Brother eyes of studio executives, the unhappy memory of Alien 3 (also placed in the hands of a twentysomething director). Then again, it won’t be easy
for Hollywood either, because Cannon has sharpened his natural self- conﬁdence —- at times,
cockiness — while slugging it out with a fairly resentful British ﬁlm industry.
‘It was said that The Young Americans was
too commercial,‘ he ﬁres back, ‘that if I wanted to make Miami Vice, then I should go to America and make Miami Vice. Well, I don’t think “commercial” is a dirty word, as some would perceive it. [just go out to make something that I would like to see.’ C] The Young Americans screens at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on Saturday 2] at 6.30pm in Cameo l and on Tuesday 24 at 6pm in Film/louse I , before going on general release later this year
The List 2(l—i6 August l99313