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Interview with "Running Scared" Writer/Director Wayne Kramer

Wayne Kramer Doesn't Hold Back with "Running Scared"


Interview with

Paul Walker stars in "Running Scared."

© New Line Cinema
"Running Scared" - The Story: The gritty, violent action drama "Running Scared" is writer/director Wayne Kramer's second feature film. His first, "The Cooler," garnered critical acclaim and earned Alec Baldwin a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. His second film is a no-holds-barred mobster movie starring Paul Walker as a low-level gangster who must save his family by tracking down a gun before the cops or his bosses find it.

Wayne Kramer on What Paul Walker Brought to “Running Scared:” This is a dramatically different sort of character than what audiences are used to seeing Walker play. Kramer thought Walker was perfect for the role and firmly believes this character is closer to the real Paul than anything the actor’s played before.

“Because he’s a tough MO, you know? I like to say he’s not the laidback sort of surfer,” explained Kramer. “I mean he is that guy on some level but he’s not really. He’s a tough guy. I would not like to be on the wrong side of him in a barroom fight. People think they’re going to stand up to him. It’s like the Sean Connery as James Bond thing - people always challenging him. I think if people decide they’re going to challenge the guy from the ‘Fast and the Furious’ or one of these lighter comedies he’s done or something, I think they’re going to find they’re facing down Sean Connery.”

Wayne Kramer on Paul Walker’s Work Ethic: “You know, I loved working with him because as a director he’s completely supportive of my vision of what the film is. And even better, he’s completely game for it. There’s certain actors I might have started down the path with had I done the movie with them, and as the movie gets more and more intense I think they might have backed down and said, ‘Wayne, I think this is a little extreme.’ What I love about him is he just goes for it. Every time I thought he’d come to me behind the camera after the scene and go, ‘You know, I think we’re crossing the line here,’ or something, he’d be like… He’d come over to me and go, ‘This is so f**ked up!’ and he’d be like laughing. We’d be conspiring together.

I don’t think anyone should take this movie seriously. There are subtexts to it about violence and children getting exposed to violence and parenting issues and the evils of this world, but at the end of the day it’s gritty entertainment. It’s not making too much of a political commentary on the world. It’s visceral. It’s entertaining but I don’t think this violence translates into real life where somebody goes and sees ‘Running Scared’ and walks into a post office and shoots down people. It’s pure visceral sort of… It’s not unlike a game like ‘Grand Theft Auto’ you know, where you’re going through these obstacles to achieve an objective.”

Wayne Kramer on the Film’s R Rating: Kramer admits he was this close to getting an NC-17 rating from the MPAA ratings board. “You know, you can negotiate with them and say, ‘Look, you’re being too harsh. The film’s going to be darker than what you’re seeing.’ What tends to happen is that you become so cynical of the MPAA that you over-shoot your movie to some degree. You kind of like throw your first cut out there and see what sticks and what pisses them off. And you know the one thing I can say is that I ended up with the cut I wanted of the film. It’s an R-rated film and that’s great. On any given day, because they’re so arbitrary, they could have decided to be NC-17. I think I just caught them in a good move, a good time of the month (laughing).”

Kramer said he never felt any pressure from the studio to change or delete scenes. “Even when we sold the film to New Line there was really never an issue about that. Initially the financing company had some reservations about the pedophile scene. But I said, ‘No, this is going to be a winner,’…and we stuck by it. But everybody who bought into this movie knew it was going to be a very sort of ballsy experience.”

“Running Scared” Has an Almost Claustrophobic Intensity: “Yeah. It’s a really intense experience that, even I as the filmmaker who has lived with this film for a long time, when I see it I feel the audience going through it. I mean it really takes no prisoners in its approach. I liken the film to kind of like a primal scream. Once Paul’s character realizes what’s happening it’s just bam, bam, bam, you know?

I love watching his performance in the movie. It’s the most exciting thing for me about the film because there’s a crazy madness that plays in his eyes where he’s just crossed the line at some point. He’s in this woman’s apartment. She’s holding the baby and he’s yelling in her face. I really believe this man is fighting to save his life, his future, his family and everything else. There’s an intensity that Paul brings to it that I doubt another actor could have come through the door with.”

Page 2: The Tone of "Running Scared" and Casting the Young Actors

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