Nicolas Cage: ’Who are you calling two-faced?
many power things going on. It makes everything so much tougher.’ Significantly. Woo says that he wished to work with Cage because. as well as being a brilliant actor, ‘Nic has a very serious air and a great heart.’
For the actors. Face/Off was a chance to do something new. Travolta has said: ‘It may be the first time two actors have ever had to jointly choose what a character does.’ If he and Cage did have big egos, there would have been an unprecedented opportunity for rivalry and conﬂict on set, but Woo’s wise choice of actors and calm philosophy ruled out the possibility.
‘It was really a challenge for both actors.’ says Woo. ‘Before we started shooting, we spent some time rehearsing everything, developing the characters. deciding all the gestures. They spent time learning from each other and imitating each other, like John Travolta learning how Nic Cage walks. Because they like each other so much, amazingly there was no jealousy, no competition between them.
‘I let them watch all the cut scenes and each take too. so they could follow the characters. They never had any fights. they just worked together as a family. People say it’s very unusual in Hollywood. that whenever
two big stars get together. there’s usually a problem. But they really worked as friends.’
There still seems a great contradiction here between the harmony behind the scenes and the blood, pain and murder that appears on film, but Woo explains that the violence in his films is a creative rather than destructive force.
‘I always like to try something unexpected,’ he says. ‘And I like to show the guts of the stunt guy. to give them a hard time. So I say, “Okay. let’s do the crash, but with a fireball to make the shot more exciting and more like a painting". I like to see things blow up. 1 like to destroy. But it’s not for the violence that all of my sets get blown up at the end. I like everything to look rich — when things blow up, when there’s people flying. it feels more like a painting to me.
‘I grew up in a violent world. I saw so many violent things when I was a kid - gang fights. people being killed. getting hurt. But that didn’t make me look for more violence. Actually. I think it made me look for more peace. I try to use the action movie to send a message sometimes.‘
And just in case anyone wants to typecast him as a director hooked on violence, Woo knows the film he really longs to direct. ‘I’ve got a pretty strong feeling about musicals.’ he says, smiling.
Face/Off goes on general release on Fri 7 Nov. See review on page 26.
John Travolta: 'a man with no ego'
7—20 Nov 1997 THE llST19