About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Home
August 2004
Suspect Zero: An Interview with Aaron Eckhart

Suspect Zero: An Interview with Aaron Eckhart

By Todd Gilchrist

Aaron Eckhart is one of Hollywood's most versatile actors; after staring his career with an auspicious turn in Neil Labute's "In the Company of Men", he has gone on to play in many huge hits without anyone seemingly knowing the better: "The Missing", "Paycheck", "Erin Brockovich", and "Any Given Sunday" are among just a few of his higher-profile releases, and the actor shows little signs of slowing down in upcoming months. "Suspect Zero", his latest film, is a serial killer thriller unlike any you've seen before; Eckhart takes charge as a detective hunting a murderer who he may or may not want to stop. The actor recently spoke to blackfilm.com about his experiences on the film, about losing his mind on set, and seeking appropriate reverence for his estimable body of work.

Because the movie is so dreamlike, does the final product resemble what you thought it would?

Aaron Eckhart : Uh, well, I think it reflects the script and what we set out to do. I feel like to tell this story, you know, obviously film is a director's medium, that's the general. He's the captain of the ship, he's got it all in his head and then they go and cut it. I feel like Elias's vision for this film, he executed it. I mean, obviously he knew more about that than I did when we were filming it. I feel like I really enjoyed watching this movie, I really enjoyed making the movie, I really enjoyed being a part of Elias' vision. I didn't know exactly what was going on at all times in terms of how he was going to cut it and how lyrical it was going to be and all of that sort of stuff, but I love it. You never know what the director's thinking; you've always got to (do what you do?).

Have you ever had a director turn the camera upside down before?

AE: Did Elias do that in this movie? On me? I can't remember that, so I guess the short answer is no.

Did you do any psychic training' for this?

AE: Yeah, I went out with the remote viewer, but I didn't have training sessions because I didn't need to know how to do it in the movie, but I went out and spent time with him and he remote viewed in front of me. He did a current case that he was working on, and drew and got the key word, and all of that sort of stuff, and took me through a couple of cases and got me believing in it, but I actually never tried it myself, and then I went around and played around with the FBI for a while, which was cool. You know, we went to target practice and went up in Westwood and checked them out, which I thought was really fun.

Was there any one thing that made you believe in this phenomenon?

AE: Well, he was working on a case where a young girl had been abducted here in California, and everybody was out looking for her, and they had the police alert, and he broke down that case to me right in front of me and determined that she was dead, this little girl, and where she was and stuff like that. And I thought, you know, even though it's a fifty-fifty chance whether she is or she's not, I felt like this guy had a pretty good idea what he was talking about and he believed in what he was doing, and he did it right in front of me in a crowded hotel lobby. I was pretty impressed with that, and I thought that if I ever had somebody go missing or something like that, I would definitely give this a try.

Something about psychics.'

AE: Well, they don't call themselves psychics. They're more scientific, but I believe if you want to know the answer to something, if you think about it long enough, then you'll get the answer.

Was the guy you met as tortured as the character Kingsley plays?

AE: He had a lot of pressure. I think the burden that was on his shoulder was the burden of knowing things that he couldn't convince other people of because it was gotten in a way that was unconventional. It was not within the boundaries of conventional law enforcement. That was his burden, I thought, him knowing where somebody was but he couldn't get to them because a, it was on private property, he couldn't go up and get the permit or warrant from law enforcement because he couldn't show them evidence that you could show to a judge, things like that, and him knowing that there is a body beneath this' but he couldn't get to that body. That was his burden I felt, his burden was knowing things that other people would not believe, and obviously law enforcement, I talked to the FBI after I was with him, and they said we do not condone that, we don't use these guys, I don't know what he is talking about, the guy is a lunatic, blah blah blah, and I say, you know, but you guys do use them because it's documented that they do. I mean, not that a foot soldier would know that, so it's interesting to see how law enforcement is much more meat-and-potatoes and these guys are over here working in truffles.

Is there plausible deniability?

AE: Well, like I said, these guys are foot soldiers, and I'm not saying they were foot soldiers like it was demeaning, but in my opinion they felt that going out there and conducting interviews and looking at the evidence was more their thing. That's how you solve cases, not going into a room and looking up into the ether and trying to put some words on a piece of paper. They didn't feel that was really what they were there to do, and it's not what they are there to do because they were not trained to do that.

Did this role give you any new acting challenges? AE: Yeah. I got to play a cop who runs around, I got to deal with, I mean, I don't know. I don't want to sound pretentious or anything like that, but yeah. It took me to places that I had never been to before as an actor, on and off the set, and I felt maybe sometimes during the making of this movie I did lose my mind. Yes, it did. Where it did, I'm not really sure, but I did feel that I was in character for the movie.

How hard was it to come back from those feelings?

AE: Sometimes it's difficult. It's difficult especially if you have to go to places that are unpleasant or that if you have to get yourself so worked up that, I mean, like it drives you crazy. Some actors can do it, but I seem to have to hold on to it for a while so it can create problems.

How was it working with Ben Kingsley?

AE: Sir Ben has got it all worked out and he's right there. He's just an absolute pro. His body is like a void and it gets filled up with what's needed and that's what he uses. I mean, he's like a vessel. He uses only the energy he needs to use, he's totally focused, he's absolutely, totally professional, he's the nicest guy in the world, very kind, and it's like watching one of your heroes work, and the fact that he's working with you and saying words with you and sharing the screen with you is quite nice.

Was Ben as emotional about the project as you were?

AE: I don't know that he, because he had to go other places than I went, and I didn't see him. I don't know if he slit anybody's throat during rehearsal or anything like that, but I think that he was affected with the material that we had to deal with inasmuch as it was dealing with nasty subjects. It was dealing with nasty drawings, and with kidnap victims, and doing research on these kind of movies is never pleasant. I mean, it's putting pins in maps and looking up people's cases, real-life cases, and talking to their parents, and reading about it and stuff like that is always difficult, talking to the agents about it and law enforcement and all that sort of stuff.

Talk about working with Carrie-Anne Moss?

AE: Yeah. It just was a breath of fresh air, just the greatest, she kept the set loose, kept it nice and, you know, had that great female energy on the set, was really kind of a good place for me to go. We would sit next to each other and eat lunch together and talk and stuff and I think she really saved me from some intense moments and stuff like that. I really thought she was a great actress and so, just so simple and so beautiful. I really can't say enough about her and how much I'm thankful that she did the movie.

What is Neil Labute's next movie about?

AE: I don't know. You would have to call him. I don't know what he's doing.

How does it feel to be part of someone's stable of actors like that?

AE: Well, I feel good. I think Neil and I are friends, and we like to make movies together and do plays and enjoy each other's company. I mean, I think that we have a mutual respect for each other and we will continue to make movies that hopefully challenge audiences and give people joy. How was that?

What were you chewing when it was supposed to be aspiring in the movie?

AE: They were little candies, like little sugar candies, like Smarties. They weren't Smarties, but they were little sugar candies.

Do you feel like a real suspect zero' exists?

AE: Yeah, I mean, I do think that. And that's the thing, it's always these serial killer movies and we buy all of these serial killer books and start reading about this kind of stuff, and it always freaks me out. There are people out there, who because of whatever reason are directed in ways that are sadistic and mean and just absolutely black. Evil. And now how successful he's going to be, I don't know, but I do believe that people kill out there all of the time. I mean, look at this guy in Vancouver that killed how many, sixty, seventy women or prostitutes and buried them. People do it all of the time. I don't know, I just know that people do it and they do it a lot, and for whatever reason, but it's not something I like to think about.

What are other films similar that you enjoyed?

AE: Two great movies, and I really enjoyed The Pledge, too, I really enjoyed, I think Jack did a fantastic job in The Pledge, and so yeah, with the swing, and the truck going by, running after the girl and everything.

What do you think are your most under-rated movies?

AE: Uh, the last twelve that I've done (laughs).

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy