Capturing the Essence of New York in "Heights:" It plays a character in the movie almost. I think Chris [Terrio] does a great job of showing New York in a way that I think I dont know if I should go so far as to say that no one else has ever done or something like that, because I havent seen every movie ever made or shot in New York. I think he covered the city in a really original way and I think more importantly in a way that felt very natural, if youve ever lived there.
It didnt feel like some guy who grew up in LAs take on New York. It was like these great sort of tableaus where one section of the screen, over here youve got like this building where its just windows, windows, windows, windows. Over here youve got this nice open space. Its images that you feel like youve seen if you spend a lot of time in New York. So yeah, he depicted it, for my money, in a really real way.
The Play vs. the Movie: I never read the play. I didnt really feel that it would serve to inform me that greatly about the character. Not that Im not a curious person and not that I wouldnt like to just see it anyway, but at the time I felt that I should just stay away from it because I figured it was probably a very different animal. And from what Ive heard and talked about with the director, it is.
I do this thing sometimes where if Im auditioning for a movie and I have to go in and read scenes Lets say Ive got two scenes to read. Ones on page 24, the next is on page 65. And the movie is 100+ pages long. Sometimes Ill get the impulse to not finish reading past that most late scene in the script because, theoretically as your character, you wouldnt know what happens after that page anyway. Unless you think theres going to be some secret thats revealed that the character already knows, then you read on. But sometimes you feel like, You know what? Im going to stop here because I dont want extra information to cloud how I react in this scene. I dont want knowing how this particular relationship plays itself out by the end to cloud how I act in this particular part.
Maybe thats a little infantile because ultimately you read the whole script before you do a movie or at least I do. But sometimes it feels right to omit things. That was how I felt about it. I was just like, You know what? All I should really deal with is what were putting on the screen I think. And I can talk all I want about the character but Id rather have it come from what Ive decided based on this script, than what Ive decided based on anything else like this or what this was derived from or whatever. Thats the material so I stuck with that.
Jesse Bradford on His Relationship With Ismail Merchant: [We were] close enough that I would have considered him not a close friend but a dear friend. The difference only being time spent together. I worked with him years ago on a movie called A Soldiers Daughter Never Cries. He was someone who it was very easy for me to look up to and even emulate to some degree, and really just appreciate as a person and a businessman. So to work with him again was just awesome and then its just a tragedy
Ismail Merchants Legacy and Heights: I think his legacy sort of transcends this movie. His legacy is 40 years long so to put it all in the lap of this movie I think is too much. But I know he really loved this movie. I know he was really excited about doing something contemporary and doing something in New York. So I know this movie was really dear to his heart. To whatever degree we can sort of dedicate what were doing here today and what were doing with the movie to him, I think thats extremely appropriate.
One of Jesse Bradfords Favorite Memories of Ismail Merchant: We went to the Venice Film Festival for A Soldiers Daughter Never Cries and I spent all day chopping potatoes for him. Not a whole day but hours, hours, for this big banquet that we were having that night that he was cooking for. Me and Leelee Sobieski kind of became his food prep bitches and its because you dont mind. You feel like if this is how they get the job down, then I want to be a part of it. We also stuffed envelopes that day