Paula Patton burst onto the scene by sharing time onscreen with Andre Benjamin and Antwan A Patton in the musical drama, Idlewild. Patton follows up that breakthrough performance with a co-starring role in Déjà Vu directed by Tony Scott and featuring Denzel Washington, Jim Caviezel and Val Kilmer. Patton plays a woman somehow involved in a lunatic's plot to blow up a ferry loaded with military personnel and their families. And saying more than that about her character would give too much away...
Tony Scotts Style and Working with Multiple Cameras: It is a bit of a challenge because you want to make it as honest and realistic as possible, so you want to be the way youd be at home on your underwear by yourself, explained Patton. They dont really want to see you picking your nose, but you want to be that comfortable, you know? I think its a challenge as an actor to make sure that you dont overdo it, that youre as honest as possible to that moment, and as unaware of the camera as possible.
Tony is really great. He is always shooting with so many cameras. You never know really where they are. It allows you to feel as if youre by yourself and that helps a lot, instead of having a big camera in your face.
Patton explained how the surveillance shots were captured: Tony usually shoots with at least five cameras or more at all times. Hes sort of like a composer. The way he sits there is really remarkable, because imagine getting all different angles here from this room. He knows just what he needs from everybody and its pretty incredible. I dont know if that answers your question about surveillance, but thats how he got so many angles. Thats how he works, really fast, actually. We dont do that many takes. We do five, 10 takes, but really not that many for a movie because he has so many cameras going. Tony likes sort of those first takes that realness and grittiness - the imperfection of it. He feels the more you rehearse, the more stale and unrealistic it gets. I kind of think of him as a filmmaker thats documentary style for a fiction film.
Working with Denzel Washington: You know, it was interesting. I met Denzel when I had to do my last, final read for the movie. That was the first time I met him. And then after that, we did talk a little bit, but we didn't talk about our characters. He's not a rehearsal guy. He prepares on his own and I prepared on my own. He likes to then get into the scene and see what happens. You work hard in a movie, you know where your characters have been, where it's going, and what needs to be accomplished in that scene. But then it leaves it open for whatever you feel. There's no, I'm going to cry at this moment, or I'm going to do this now. It allows you to be sort of like a vessel and what you're feeling at that time, it comes through. And so in that scene that maybe seems like you should cry, you laugh. But it feels natural. I think that's why he's such a captivating actor, Denzel, is because he's always in the moment. He always believes whatever he's doing and that's why we believe it with him, because he just is in the moment and feels it. I tried to learn from him.
Did Washington throw anything at her that caught her off-guard? He was always throwing things at me, but I guess the one that surprised me the most is that... We had talked about maybe in that moment when we kiss, that maybe we should, or maybe we shouldn't, but we didn't... He doesn't like to plan out anything. And so we were doing the scene and he goes in for the kiss and I was a little bit taken aback. I bit his lip. It was like, Oh my God! And I thought, Okay, now Denzel thinks I'm a bad kisser. Great. Great! So that was one of those moments where I was like, I wish I was a little more prepared. I would have put lip balm on."
On the Set with Jim Caviezel: Patton says she didnt dare make any religious jokes around Caviezel, not that she would have had he been any other actor. No, I did not dare to make a Jesus joke! No religious jokes! That's never a good idea, across the board. (Laughing) Only with your family, I guess, maybe.
Patton has watched Caviezel in Passion of The Christ a couple of times. You know what? And not only did I see him, I re-watched it while we're making the movie. It was kind of a weird kind of moment. But he's so intense. He's such a great actor, and it's not hard to act with him because you believe him. When he's in character, he's scary. So it was good. It was a great experience that way.
The Dangers of the Mighty Mississippi River and Underwater Scenes: Patton joked that had they actually filmed the car scene in the Mississippi River, she wouldnt be here today. Thats just how powerful the river is. But we did do one thing in the Mississippi. [The shot] of the Mississippi where the water was calm, when I come out of the water, and then when they pull me out of the Mississippi, that was actually the Mississippi River. And that was the one time...
I'll do anything for Tony because he's so charming and so wonderful and it's hard to say no to him. But he said, Okay, Paula, do you mind going in the Mississippi River? (Laughing) Now the whole time we're listening to people tell [us] that the Mississippi River is like the most dangerous river. They've lost so many lives. And I'm like, That Mississippi River right there? So the Coast Guards, they dropped me into the water, and the current is so fast that my legs immediately [went] like this. I'm hearing them going [making struggling sounds] to pull me out of the water. Now I'm like, These are two big guys. And if they're making that noise, we're in trouble. So that was a scary moment.
But the other thing, to answer your question, was in this tank. I was pretty frightening of it because this is the biggest tank in Hollywood, in America. There's another big tank, I think, in Mexico. It felt like being in the ocean. It's 50 feet, at least, deep, and 50 feet wide. It just feels like you're in this massive water. I mean, they've got boats on it, you know, to get you to the right area. So it's pretty intense.