September 29, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

A Moment with…: Taylor Hackford

Taylor Hackford has directed some of Hollywood’s most outstanding films including The Devil’s Advocate, An Officer and a Gentleman, White Nights, Dolores Claiborne, and Proof of Life. He is married to Helen Mirren who co-stars with Joe Pesci as Grace and Charlie Bontempo in Love Ranch, loosely based on the famous Mustang Ranch, the first legalized brothel in Nevada. The film has met with mostly negative reviews and despite Mirren’s valiant effort, will probably not go down as one of their finest pieces of work. The following interview has been edited for print purposes.

Mirror: Did you give Helen a lot of character direction?

Hackford: The hard thing is you have this classy broad who played the queen and has done Shakespeare and everybody knows her as this classical actress. I was very tough on her because I told her she had to be this working class woman. By the way, Helen is from east London where her father was a taxi driver, so she came out of a working class family.

Mirror: What was the genesis of the script?

Hackford: Mark Jacobson is an old friend of mine who writes for New York magazine. He called me to tell me that he wrote this script and wanted me to take a look at it. I thought the character of Grace would be a great role for Helen. Her first reaction was did I want to make her a madam in a brothel? After she warmed to the idea, I immediately partnered with Mark and we worked on the script together.

Mirror: Were there any special challenges in working with your wife?

Hackford: We are very comfortable with each other and didn’t have to define our roles. She was off with the actors and I was the director. It would not be good for the rest of the cast if the director’s wife was near the director’s chair and they might think that we were discussing their performances. She knew what she had to do and that she had to bond with the cast members. It’s great to work with your wife because when you go home, she knows what went on that day.

Mirror: What is the main different between directors and actors?

Hackford: Directors are result oriented. Give us a release date and a budget and we get it done. Actors are process oriented. They’ve got to get to the base of the character and they don’t care how long it takes. The director says ‘hey we have to shoot this scene now and it can’t wait until tomorrow.’

Mirror: Can you give an example?

Hackford: In this film I’m asking my wife to look haggard in the beginning because the character is a cynical, tough, tired professional who has just been given very bad news about her health. She has no romantic illusions left and knows her husband (Joe Pesci) is a philanderer who samples the product.

Mirror: It must have been difficult to make Helen look worn out.

Hackford: Sometimes life is fortuitous. Helen just came from shooting another movie and showed up sick with the flu. The first scene we’re shooting was the exterior shot where she goes out to see the boxer Armando Bruza. (Sergio Peris-Mencheta). It had snowed the night before and was below freezing. It’s a horrible situation, but I have to shoot the scene. I can’t say to my wife, ‘It’s o.k. baby, you don’t have to work today, I’ll shoot something else.’ I said you gotta’ suck it up and get out there, and she did.

Mirror: In the evening were you her cuddly husband?

Hackford: Of course we slept together every night, but I was usually dead tired and not a great companion. We did have Sundays off and would drive around New Mexico.

Mirror: What was the most difficult scene to shoot?

Hackford: The most difficult scene was the boxing. I’m a life-long fight fan and love the sport. I know what great boxing is and when you’ve got Scorsese’s Raging Bull, you have something to live up to. Women do not really like boxing and they don’t like to see that kind of brutality, but I had to do it even though I knew that it was not going to be well received by audiences. It was difficult to shoot and was difficult to keep in the movie because when we screened it, we received a lot of negative reaction to that scene especially from women.

Mirror: Were the sex scenes difficult for you to shoot?

Hackford: I have done a lot of love scenes in my films and hope you don’t look at any of them and think they’re gratuitous. Helen and I had discussed it and she knew this was a crucial scene that profoundly changes she and Armando. But, poor Sergio, he’s a lovely fellow but he’s a man and did have some difficulty at first. I told him he would not have a problem with Helen or me and that he had to make it real, and that if he didn’t, we’d be doing it all night and people would really get pissed.

Mirror: Could you comment on Helen’s recent nude photos in New York magazine?

Hackford: Helen has made a reputation of being very frank about her sexuality and nudity, which for Europeans is not exactly what it is for us here. We come from this Puritan ethic that says that sex, the most natural thing in the world, is bad, wrong, taboo, and you don’t deal with it. I faced this in An Officer and a Gentleman that was about two people who find each other sexually first, but ultimately fall in love. People were saying that I couldn’t make that kind of a film. Anyway, I knew that she did the photo shoot, but she didn’t tell me anything about it so I was surprised. Helen bonded with the photographer and what she did was her choice and I have no problem with it.

Mirror: Thanks so much for an interesting interview.

Related Posts

Review: “Away”

September 21, 2020

September 21, 2020

“Away”Rated TV-14Season 1 – 10 One-Hour EpisodesReleased September 4th on Netflix In 2014 Esquire Magazine published a thorough article by...

Beloved Santa Monica Artist Passes Away at 99

August 31, 2020

August 31, 2020

Venezuelan born artist surrealist artist Luchita Hurtado passes away  By Toi Creel For some in Santa Monica, the name Luchita...

Brock on Your Block: Saturday Morning Neighborhood Jazz

August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020

In the latest Brock on Your Block, Phil discovers an impromptu Jazz Concert by the neighbors – a great way...

Film/TV Review: Upload

May 28, 2020

May 28, 2020

FILM/TV REVIEWUPLOADRated TV-MA30-Minute EpisodesSeason 1,10 Episodes Released on Amazon Prime May 1st Upload has the guise of a cute rom-com....

Edify TV: Santa Monica Place Food Court Vacancies

March 10, 2020

March 10, 2020

Another restaurant has closed in the Santa Monica Place food court, adding to the number of vendor vacancies. Learn more...

Fried Chicken and Doughnut Joint Closes Santa Monica Location

March 4, 2020

March 4, 2020

All Southern California Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken shut down By Toi Creel After an almost three-year-long stint, Astro Doughnuts...

Edify TV: Free and Affordable Meals for SMC Students

March 3, 2020

March 3, 2020

Santa Monica College has opened its first Everytable SmartFridge. Learn more about this program to make healthy meals affordable for under $5 (and...

Lazy Daisy Cafe to Reopen Doors With New Menu, Ownership

February 27, 2020

February 27, 2020

Feb. 28 soft opening By Toi Creel A popular Santa Monica eatery-once planned to be closed for good – is...

Cinema at the Edge Film Festival Returns

February 19, 2020

February 19, 2020

February 21st to 23rd – Edgemar Center for the Arts By Staff Writer Housed at the Edgemar Center for the...

My Own Academy Awards

February 7, 2020

February 7, 2020

On May 16, 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization founded by Louis B. Mayer to...

Brock on Your Block: The Maiden Factor

February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

Phil Brock meets Tracy Edwards, MBE, skipper of Maiden, who led the first all-female crew to complete the Whitbread Round...

Santa Monica High School Graduate Becomes NASA Astronaut

January 14, 2020

January 14, 2020

Dr. Jonny Kim becomes first Korean American astronaut By Sam Catanzaro A graduate of Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI) has...