10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, October 26, 1999
'Limey' actor Stamp
stars with himself
Cage seeks thrills to.
balance intense roles
NEW YORK - Terence Stamp,
who happens to be wearing a
Hawaiian shirt, is talking about his
vacation. With his girlfriend. On
Kauai. On the beach. At one of those
purposefully remote resorts with
very limited access to telephones.
And where his agent still managed
to reach him with a message to call
"So," Stamp says, "armed with a
load of quarters, we went into the lit-
tle village and got through to 8 1 8 in
the Valley, and there I was, talking to
"I just thought it was was some
eccentric Englishman, some small
part that he wanted me for," Stamp
continues. "But suddenly he's
explaining this story, this thriller,
and how he's going to use this old
footage from my early movie. All the
time he was talking to me, my mind
was racing ahead and thinking,
'Nobody's ever done this, it's just a
wonderfully ingenious idea.' And
while I'm thinking, there's this long
pause and Steven finally says, 'Well
... what do you think?' I said, 'IT'S
REAT!! IT'S GREAT!! ..."'
More than a few people are agree-
rng. "The Limey," Soderbergh's lat-
est, pro\ ides Stamp his most potent
ole in years - certainly the most
rominent since his transsexual turn
n "The Adventures of Priscilla,
ueen of the Desert" (1994). But
hile "The Limey" contains many
f the elements that made
oderbergh's last film, "Out of
fight," such a critical and popular
hit - action, humor, suspense and
creatively nonsequential editing -
it also includes a ferocious perfor-
mance by Stamp and the novel
pportunity to play more or less
opposite himself. The title character,
a hardened professional criminal
amed Wilson, arrives in Los
Angeles looking to avenge his
Intercut with the scenes
Soderbergh shot for "The Limey"
are scenes from "Poor Cow" (1967),
English director Ken Loach's first
feature, a largely improvised film
Shat featured a young Terence
Stamp. And while the "Poor Cow"
segments would work in any case as
melancholy flashbacks, they also
have the quality of home movies. "I
have this pictorial memory of Ken,"
Stamp says, "just before action,
leaping through the set squirting tal-
cum powder into the air, to cut the
glamour of the color."
As the "Poor Cow" cuts show,
Stamp was one of the most beautiful
actors ever to appear onscreen. And
he remains a spectacularly hand-
some man - not the angelic Adonis
he was when he debuted in Peter
Ustinov's "Billy Budd" back in
1962, perhaps, but good-looking
enough to share screen tim e with
his own 30-years-younger self. Plus,
he has enormous confidence in
Soderbergh, whose ease of direction,
he says, "was like watching Fred
Soderbergh was less sanguine
about the film after it premiered at
the Cannes Film Festival in May.
When it was suggested that the film
would be an easy sell - given
Stamp's powerful acting, the pulp-
fiction aspects of the story, the pace,
the plot - Soderbergh balked.
"No, I don't think it's an easy sell
at all," Soderbergh said. "Nobody in
the film" - which co-stars Peter
Fonda, Barry Newman and Lesley
Ann Warren - "is under 50. That's a
Stamp sees it another way. "I
guess what I really think is that good
stuff is a hard sell," he says.
"I think it's easier to sell a movie
than it is to sell a film. But I have
such admiration for Soderbergh. I
think that he's one of the great
American filmmakers. I watch him
- it's like watching the infancy of a
William Wyler or a John Ford. So I
don't think his films are ever going
to be a hard sell, providing he can
contain himself within a certain
restricted budget. Because if he can
make a film like this for this much
money, there's more than enough
Steven Soderbergh fans in the world
to make a profit."
Stamp - who has worked with
several of the world's great direc-
tors, including Wyler (one of the
actor's better-known films is 1965's
"The Collector") - believes that
limitations truly make for better cin-
ema. He recalls telling that to David
Lean during a dinner in Rome in the
1960s. ("With the exception of
ne Allentown Moning Call
From 1995's Oscar-winning perfor-
mance in "Leaving Las Vegas," to action
films ("Face/ Off," "Con Air," "The
Rock") to thrillers ("8mm," "Snake
Eyes"), to earlier work ("Wild at
Heart"), Nicholas Cage has imbued his
roles with a barely controlled anger.
Even in comedies ("Moonstruck,"
"Raising Arizona," "Peggy Sue Got
Married"), Cage has been ... intense.
You can see the rage at work in his lat-
est movie. "Bringing Out the Dead,"
directed by Martin Scorsese.
In the gritty city drama, the first film
Cage has made with his wife, Patricia
Arquette, he stars as a disillusioned New
York paramedic. With a screenplay by
Paul Schrader (with whom Scorsese col-
laborated on "Taxi Driver"), the movie is
based on a novel by Joe Connelly.
When he decided to do the film, Cage
didn't know Arquette would star oppo-
site him as a young woman whose heart-
attack victim father he rescues.
"That was something that totally came
from Scorsese. He really felt she
(Arquette) had the right style for the
part," Cage says.
Cage and Arquette have wanted to do
a film together, but there were details to
work out. What would be the on-set pro-
tocol? Notes Cage: "Do we have sepa-
rate trailers? We figured out we would
keep it separate so that when we were
acting we wouldn't do anything that
would throw each other off.
"I knew that working with Patricia, I
wouldn't really be able to fake it because
she knows me so well," he laughs.
"When you're that intimate with some-
body, you really can't act. We were like
each other's truth barometers."
Cage says he witnessed Arquette's
professionalism first- hand during the
filmmaking, saying she's a considerate
actor who wants everyone to do well.
"I've worked with many actors and
actresses where they're out there trying
to sabotage the other person so they look
better," he notes.
After a week of filming, Cage says the
couple was able to leave their characters
on the set. "I've found over the years that
when your acting is really working,
you're not all-consumed by it. You have
an objective point of view. At the end of
the day, I was able to switch gears, go
home and be supportive."
At the time, that was especially
important to Arquette. At the start of
filming, her father was in the hospital,
recuperating from a liver transplant. Her
mother had died six months earlier.
Cage saw a positive aspect to art imi-
tating life for him and his wife. He tc
Arquette, he says, "'Let's count our-
selves as being fortunate that we have a
productive place to put this grief, rather
than a destructive place. You can take
these feelings and you can do something
good with them.' It was like a gift, real-
There were moments of celebration,
too. When Arquette's film "Stigmata"
went to No. 1 last summer on its opening
weekend, the couple had a champagne
toast at home. While Cage has hadO
number of hits, this was a first for
Arquette ("Ethan Frome," "True
Romance," "Ed Wood," "Lost
"Bringing out the Dead" marks the
first time Cage worked with Scorsese,
although they met years ago through
Cage's uncle, director Francis Ford
"You're in such a zone when you'
working with Scorsese. There's such
adrenaline there. You're not really think-
ing about the difficulties."
Cage says that, while the all-night
filming in New York was grueling, he
had fun zooming down the city's nearly
Sti 11, that doesn't compare to the thrill
he gets behind the wheel of his Ferrari$F-
40 at the Willow Springs, Calif., race-
track. Cage practices with Robert
Carradine. "He's an actor, but he consig
ers himself a professional race-car driver
first. And he has, in fact, won a lot of
races for Lotus."
Cage also has a Lamborghini and-a
Jaguar E Type which has been in the
winner's circle (10 victories). "I'm not
anywhere ready to enter a race, but if I
had another solid month I could enter a
couple of historic races first and th
maybe the Ferrari Challenge.
"The first day I was terrible. I spun
out. I got it up to about 150 (mph) on
turn eight at Willow, and the straight-
away, about 165 (mph).
"It's a new world for me. I don't know
how far I want to take it."
Cage says his thrill-seeking hobbies
are a way of relieving the intensity.
Appropriately enough, Cage's next
film, Jerry Bruckheimer's "Gone in 60
Seconds," is about fast cars and fast;
"The Limey" provides Terence Stamp with his most potent role in years.
'Lawrence of Arabia,' I don't think
Lean's big-budget pictures were any
improvement on his 'Oliver Twist'
and 'Great Expectations."')
He remembers Joseph Losey
telling him about the creative advan-
tages of poverty and how Stephen
Frears once claimed he'd never make
a movie for more than S5 million or
S6 million ("And the next time I saw
him, he'd agreed to do 'Hero' with
Dustin Hoffman and the truth was it
was the least good of his movies.")
Given the "penury" in which Stamp
grew up and the unlikelihood of his
eventual stardom, his outlook makes
a lot of sense.
"We were very aware of our posi-
tion," he says of his family. "When it
came to something like acting, it
was, 'People like us don't do things
like that' - which my dad actually
said to me. So when I was taken up
and got my first film break, I
thought, 'I must always think about
a long career,' because it would have
been devastating if I had to go back
to driving a minicab after a year. I
didn't want to be flavor of the
"And then I guess the great chal-
lenge to me all my life, all my
career, was the hope to find a part
that combined the strongest ele-
ments of myself with the gentlest
elements of myself and I'd never
found that; it'd always been one or
the other and before this came
along, I'd given up hope. So when
'The Limey' came up it was so over-
whelming that I thought, I mustn't
blow this, I mustn't get anxious.
This isn't me, this is me playing
Steve McQueen. High intensity, low
He quotes the poet Terence, who
won his freedom from slavery
through verse. "I am a man and
nothing living is alien to me." A bet-
ter motto for an actor? Like Stamp's
life itself, it's something hard to