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Jim Caviezel Tackles the Role of a Bad Guy in the Tony Scott Movie "Deja Vu"

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Jim Caviezel Tackles the Role of a Bad Guy in the Tony Scott Movie

Jim Caviezel in "Deja Vu."

© Touchstone Pictures

Jim Caviezel takes a journey to the dark side in Deja Vu, a dramatic thriller directed by Tony Scott and starring Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer and Paula Patton.

Although we've gotten used to seeing Caviezel in more heroic roles (Passion of the Christ, Madison), director Scott knew Caviezel could handle the part of Carroll Oerstadt, a domestic terrorist who takes hundreds of lives when he detonates a bomb onboard a ferry. "I was looking for an actor and I had someone else in the back of my mind, another type of person in mind," said Scott. "Then JC came in and he sat with me for 2 minutes and I said, ‘Oh, this guy is [him].’ You see, JC is Oerstadt and Jesus.”

Is Jim Caviezel’s Character Based on Tim McVeigh: Caviezel doesn’t feel his character is based solely on the Oklahoma City bomber. “I wasn’t very specific,” explained Caviezel. “I picked up several, probably about 15, different cases that I watched and read. And what I’ve found though is there was a difference between the serial killer and the Unibomber type. One is more sexual and the other is more destiny-oriented. The [serial killer] has sexual power of some type, but both are narcissistic none-the-less.”

Playing the Bad Guy in Déjà Vu: “You stay with the character. You do the research. You have to be honest and tell the truth of what those kind of guys are like. I think playing the bad guy badly is playing him saying [with a Dr. Evil pinkie up to his lip], ‘Oooo, I’m Dr. Evil. I enjoy evil,’ versus saying, ‘I’m the good guy here. Denzel is the bad guy working for the government and they let us down here.’ But, at the same time, you have to see through that because this guy isn’t part of that. He was using it.”

Getting Into the Dark Side of His Character: Caviezel said, “Well, we were in a dark place and we couldn’t help it. When you are going down to the 9th Ward and they are pulling bodies out… I was down there five days after it hit with the 82nd Airborne and I never smelled that kind of smell in my life…like death. I was just blown away by the heroes I saw, the firemen coming down. I remember one particular occasion these guys were really in a bad situation and these L.A. firemen grabbed boats. No one asked them. They drove four or five days and by the time we got there, they were just coming in. ‘Hey, we’re from L.A. We’re here to help.’ They pulled a fireman out. It was amazing.”

On Shooting Guns and Blowing Stuff Up: Caviezel explains how he tackles roles in action films. “Personally? I look at it this way. I look at a script. You have to have a good guy and you have to have a bad guy. So, if you have no bad guy, you have a good guy who becomes ‘gooder’ and ends up goodest. Excuse my grammar.

You just stick to the character and play the role. It’s about playing the role and playing it well.”

Working with Denzel Washington: Washington and Caviezel approach acting from different angles. The two share one of the film’s most powerful and intense scenes – an interrogation sequence - and Caviezel talked about how that went down: “He doesn’t rehearse. We actually began a rehearsal and Tony said it was against Denzel’s nature to do that and felt like we shouldn’t have done it. I thought maybe it was significant to go through it, but it ended up working wonderfully. We kind of got an idea where we might want to go with it. Originally, the scene was [to be shot] at the beginning of the film. Then it got moved to the end, thank goodness. A film should have a feeling of grapes that have been around for 50 years. If you can do that, the better you get in this business. You can grab a role and quickly become that character. It’s very, very difficult when you don’t have that much time. You go from one film to the next and, all of a sudden, you go into this critical scene and don’t have time to explore all the possibilities.”

Playing a Man Who Views Himself as a Misunderstood Patriot: “I felt like he had a sense that there was a time window, a destiny, where there’s just this much time left and it had to be accomplished, and he had a sixth sense to him. So if Denzel was the good guy, this guy was the reverse but still had that gift, a sense. And a guy like him is not just a bomber. I thought he was more than that. He had that gift of understanding, not just the criminal mind but how cops think. To have that gift, when they came up with this déjà vu technology, it kind of backfired on him. I think, in a way, he was aware of something going on and so that scene plays out in some form where he let’s [Denzel] know. ‘I’m ahead of you. I know what you’re up to. I don’t really know what it is, but I know there’s something there.’”

The Idea of Parallel Universes: Caviezel admits the idea intrigues him. “Sure it does. Tony Scott came to me and said, ‘It’s not science fiction, Jim. It’s science fact.’ Then he gave me this cornucopia of magazines and said, ‘Here you go.’ Wow! I started going through it thinking, ‘How are they going to figure this out?’ Then I thought, ‘20 years ago, who would have ever thought of the internet? They’d think the guy was crazy.’

Technology should be used for good but sometimes we don’t think about where it could be used for bad. Should you stop it? I don’t think so. But I think we have to be responsible and understand that, even without technology, if a man had a gift of understanding and having a sixth sense like Denzel’s and abusing it, what could he get away with how many people could he kill? In his mind it’s all good. In his [Jim’s character’s] mind, it’s all good and Denzel is the evil, the bad guy, the government.”

Page 2: Jim Caviezel on Getting Physical, Following Up Passion, Mel Gibson, and His Upcoming Films

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