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Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman Team Up for "Runaway Jury"

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Runaway Jury movie

Gene Hackman in his 'war room' in "Runaway Jury."

20th Century Fox
Can you talk about working with John Cusack?
HOFFMAN: Make that answer quick so you can get back to working with me.

HACKMAN: John's an interesting actor…

HOFFMAN: Next question! [laughing]

HACKMAN: John is an interesting actor, and quite a good one. I think that the movie really relies a great deal on his performance. He's really talented.

Gene, how do you approach a character like this after doing it so many time before?
HOFFMAN: When Gene and I spoke about being in this movie and we were here in New Orleans, the first thing I said was, “So, do you have any thoughts about your character?” And he asked if I had thoughts about my character. The first thing that he said was, “I want to make him human.” That's why he's such a good actor. That's the first thing he said. I just wanted to say that.

HACKMAN: I think that pretty much says it all, in a way. I always try to find in these bad guys, something that's human that makes them even more diabolical. If you see someone that's all bad, you kind of just put them in the monster category. But if you see someone who is really bad, but is also a father and a grandfather and all of that, that's even worse, I think.

Dustin, is it a stretch to play an honest lawyer?
HOFFMAN: Well, I mean, it's a lawyer who gets a hit. I felt the same thing that Gene did. I didn't think of him as honest or dishonest. I thought of him as naive because something tells me he's playing like the guy who doesn't believe that technology has even happened and all you need is your own sense. I have a friend who's a lawyer for 35 years and I was once arguing with him about capital punishment. I said there are innocent people there and DNA is proving it, and he said, “No, no, no.” He pissed me off so much, after about a half hour, I said to him, “How can you feel this way?” He just smiled, and said, “Do you want me to take the other side?” That's all they are. They're hired and they do it.

You did some work a while back for gun control. Do you still feel deeply about the subject?
HACKMAN: Yeah, I'm for that. There should be some control of how people acquire guns and that kind of thing. There are just too many guns out there.

HOFFMAN: I could talk for an hour on this because that was my character. I called up the Brady Center For Control Against Gun Violence and the guy who ran it then was Dennis Hannigan. I talked to him for hours. I think that the director liked him and flew him out and we learned about it.

After I spent time with this ex-Congressman, my head is filled with statistics. It's so interesting because more than 80% of Americans feel that they're for more gun control, but it doesn't happen because the NRA, The National Rifle Association, is the most powerful lobby that exists. I mean, we're not talking about the right to bear arms, the 2nd Amendment. It was initially conceived, as I understand it, because we needed a militia and now, we have the National Guard. So, you can shoot down a plane, you can buy that. They took it in '86 for Congress to pass legislation to no longer allow bullets that were especially made only to pierce bulletproof vests and to kill cops.

80 people die every day in the United States from violence with guns. 10 of them are kids - 30,000 every year. These are statistics that I took from the Brady Center. More people died last weekend from gun violence than in the entire Iraq war. There are certain aspects in our society that remain hidden and we just say, “What can we do? There's nothing we can do about them.”

Page 4: Working with John Cusack, Gun Control, and Honest Lawyers

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