MIKE MOROFF ['Gustavo Leon']
What's your character's relationship to Vin Diesel's character?
I play his commander friend. I play the head of the DEA in Mexico. I'm the only friend he has there for the simple reason that the DEA is not allowed to carry guns in Mexico, so I go against my government, against my policy, against everything just because now I realize what has happened to Vin Diesel's character's wife. I'm out to also prove that there is also good authority in Mexico.
Is it tough to walk a line between a good guy and a bad guy?
Yes, absolutely. I played bad guys from La Bamba to Robocop to Desperado to From Dusk Till Dawn. You name it, I've been playing bad guys. What you do is you get a little bit of what I've done for so many years and then what it is it's the new feeling of being a good guy now, and you know that you have to break the law - you know that you have to break rules. So how do you do it? You do it in a very nice way but at the same time you are a bad guy. In order to be good, you've got to be bad. [You walk] a little tiny line.
What did you do to research this role?
I had friends in the DEA and I talked to them and they were telling me exactly what to do. It was kind of like a technical advisor-type deal, so that technically I would know what to do. I really did appreciate these friends telling me that.
What's the best advise they gave you?
Never turn your back on anybody.
STEVE EASTIN ['Ty Frost']
Steve Eastin at the Premiere of "A Man Apart"
Photo ©Rebecca Murray. All Rights Reserved.
You play Vin Diesel's boss in this film. What was it like working with Vin?
Any time anybody gets that big that fast in this business, everybody assumes they turn into a jerk - and that's just not the case. He's very collaborative. He gave me so much respect because he knew that I'd been doing this for about as long as he's been alive. We had a lot of wonderful conversations about what it's like in the industry.
I was very impressed, believe it or not, with his humility. This isn't just Hollywood blowing smoke. I was really struck by that. And also, he's very bright. That's the thing, a lot of people think he's just a big, strong guy but this guy is very smart. He actually started his career by producing his own short film, and that's pretty damn smart.
How would you describe your character?
My character's name is Ty Frost. They call me Frosty the Snowman, kind of a play on the cocaine thing. I got to play him not like a stereotypical bureaucrat. He was a guy who really had a heart. There's a scene in the film where I have to fire Vin and the way it was written, it was sort of stereotypical about, You screwed up. You've got to get out of here, but I was so heartbroken about what happened to his wife that there's a little twist about it that I think kind of works. It makes it more human.
How much freedom did director F. Gary Gray give you?
He's wonderful. If it's good, he uses it. If it's not good, he tells you. That's how the great ones are. I just worked with Steve Spielberg on Catch Me If You Can, and he was so open. He really lets the actors play, then he just tells you what he doesn't like. He doesn't tell you what he wants up front, he just says, Let's see what you bring to the table. It was just a dream. F. Gary is the same way. He's very collaborative. He's very trusting and he's very motivating. He really gets you motivated. A lot of times they'd say, Camera rolling, speed, and then before they say action, F. Gary would go, Come on. Give me something. That's my great memory of the film.
You also have "Matchstick Men" coming up. What do you play in that movie?
It's about a pair of con men and one of them has Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder - Nic Cage - and they con my wife into buying a water filtration system. They come back as agents investigating the guys who conned my wife, and then they con me. It's beautifully written and I think that Ridley [Scott] had a lot of fun directing it.