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Rene Russo Discusses "Two for the Money"

Rene Russo on "Two for the Money" & Working with Al Pacino & Matthew McConaughey


Rene Russo Discusses

Rene Russo in "Two for the Money"

© Universal Studios
Rene Russo on Working with the Male Dominated Cast of “Two for the Money:” Russo stars with Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey and Jeremy Piven in “Two for the Money,” a dramatic film set in the high stakes world of sports betting. Reflecting on the mostly male cast, Russo said, “I'm not sure that I actually think about that going into it, you know? I'm a little bit of a tom-boy myself and I love men, so that's easy. But mostly I just go in and I think, 'OK, who's the character?' And you know, I sorta had to be in Al Pacino's face, because I was very controlling in this movie, so it was kind of fun to boss him around. That was fun. We're both Italian so we both kind of have that fire. That was a lot of fun.”

Rene Russo on Getting to Yell at Al Pacino: “You know, he's very intimidating. He doesn't talk a lot. I went in the room during rehearsal and I thought, 'It's Al Pacino across... That's Al Pacino. That's all Al Pacino. Oh my God, that's Al Pacino.'

I've got to be honest, I was really scared, really, really scared, to work with him. Very intimidated, and I don't think too many people have intimidated me. But then I thought, 'You know, the only thing that I've got going for me in this way is that I know I have the same fire he does.' I just had to come up with that. I just had to play my hand.

It's hard in a way. It's hard but I just had to say, 'OK, it's not Al, it's just anybody. F**k you.' You know? You just have to get, 'What the f**k are you…'

I remember when we rehearsed and he was like...I think it actually surprised him in a way because you wouldn't know that about me, just watching my films, that that's really a part of me - that street thing that Al has going. So it was funny. What did he say to me? I can't remember what he said. It was something like, 'You're wild.' That's what he said, 'You're wild.' “

Rene Russo on “Two for the Money” Star Matthew McConaughey: “He was so dedicated. It was unbelievable. He was so serious about this part. During rehearsals he would ask questions, he was just so into it. It's wild working with him. You get the feeling that he's like really in the film. The character has taken him over. That's how much he's in it. It was fascinating to watch. You always learn something from everybody, but he was just like, 'Whoa!'

He's cool. He just said, 'I want to be in a van.' He was in his van and that's where he'd comfortable. It probably worked for him in this part. We would drive by and we would see where this trailer park was and there'd Matthew be, like cooking up his steaks. It was great because we had to cross over the bridge every day in Vancouver and we'd go, 'There he is.'”

Rene Russo Takes on Producing Duties as Well as Acting in “Two for the Money:” “Thank goodness I didn't have to keep the budgetary thing. I wasn't in charge of any of that, you know, because once you give your script over to the studio, that's their job. So I don't think I would have been able to really produce this movie, as a line producer.

What was fun for me as a producer, though, was to get it to the right people. I felt that if you could get it to actors, because it's so character-driven, that they would love the characters. We just got lucky. We got it to Al [Pacino]. I said, 'If you can get it to Al, I think he's really gonna like it,' and to Matthew [McConaughey]. And so we were really fortunate in that there are so few really good, complex characters, that they liked it."

On Filming “Two for the Money” for $20 Million: “You pay for your own hair and makeup. And you take a major cut, which everybody did. You got nothing, basically, for this film. But you know, some films you do because you love 'em. There aren't many. …A lot of people just loved the material and everybody took [pay] cuts.

Why was the budget limited to $20 million? Russo said, “Because it's a drama and dramas don't sell. This is a business that we're in and studios don't trust it, because really it's about making money and it's not about the movies.”

Rene Russo’s Favorite Memory from the Set: “Working with Al in a scene that I had at the end of the movie where everything's broken down. He thinks that I slept with Matthew McConaughey's character and that whole scene was an amazing scene that day. It was really an intense scene and it took all day to shoot. We were exhausted in the end, but it was amazing. It was very cool.”

Rene Russo’s Definitely Not a Gambler: “I hate to gamble because I hate losing. I'm one of those people who would just keep doubling down ‘til I lost my house.”

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