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September 2004
The Last Shot: An Interview with Matthew Broderick

The Last Shot: An Interview with Matthew Broderick

By Julian Roman

The Last Shot is a clever satire on filmmaking in Hollywood. It's based on a true story of how the government used the film industry to bust mobsters. Matthew Broderick plays the hapless, struggling director duped by the FBI into making the fake film. Matthew notches up another great comedic performance and continues to distinguish himself as a fine actor. He'll next be seen on Broadway before filming the big screen version of The Producers.

This character gives you the opportunity to make fun of Hollywood and poke fun of other actors. Without naming names, did you have certain people in mind to parody?

Matthew: The script made me think about situations. The idea of shooting a movie called Arizona in Rhode Island. Using that little river that they have as the Grand Canyon, that doesn't seem farfetched to me. That's how movies are, particularly independent movies. What was your question again?

Did it give you chance to riff on other actors?

Matthew: No one specific, I read the script as a piece of fiction, even though it's based on a true event. He's just someone that's too enthusiastic, too hopeful, too ready to think that things will work out. Obstacles that should stop him don't. You just watch his movie get butchered by the studio, but it's really the FBI. You get the impression that if he made the movie he and his brother wanted, it would have been god awful. You're not watching a masterpiece. You're watching a bad movie get made.

What brought you to this film?

Matthew: I read the script and it stuck with me. I thought it was funny and true, in a heightened way. You go bit by bit. I met the director and liked him. Then Alec [Baldwin], Toni Collette, Callista Flockhart, all come on board. It became more real. The cast helped a lot. I laughed when I read the script.

Can you recall a nightmare pitch meeting that you had to endure?

Matthew: I don't get pitched stuff actually. I usually read things. I've heard pitches that are so vague; I never know what to make of them. This is about a doorman, who has a lover; he walks her dogs, stuff like that. Pitches are weird. If you pitched Hamlet, it would sound farfetched. It's difficult.

I always wonder about your beard. Some films you're clean shaven and other films, like this one, you're bearded. Is that on purpose? Did you read this character and see him with a beard?

Matthew: No, I often have a beard when I'm not working. I think I came to rehearsal with it and everybody liked it for the character. It looks like a pretentious film student. We also based the look on Spielberg. The film takes place in the middle 80's. What would a director wannabe look like? We had pictures of Spielberg and other bearded directors. That's how the look started.

Were your struggles as an early actor comparable to the ones your character faces?

Matthew: No, I was really worried that I was never going to get any work. I didn't have the distance to think this is funny that I'm reading for Summer Stock and not getting the part. I wasn't even allowed to finish the audition. That was a low. I didn't have any perspective on it. When it's happening to you, you're very worried that you'll have to find another business. It's high stakes when you're starting out.

While we're on the subject of lean times, can you recall an odd job that you really hated?

Matthew: I have very little of that. I started working when I was twenty. I didn't run out of money yet. I never really had those jobs. I worked for a caterer for a while on weekends. I was fired. I worked for a day for a mover. That's a hard job. It was much harder than I thought. Be nice to your mover.

What do you credit to your youthful looks? You haven't aged a bit since Ferris Bueller.

Matthew: I don't know. I don't do anything, so I don't have any tips. There aren't any creams or stuff like that. I don't sleep in a hyperbaric chamber, but I would if I had one. It's genetics I guess.

You and your wife Sarah Jessica parker are the quintessential New York couple. How do you think New York City has come back since the 9-11 attack?

Matthew: It's pretty much back. We're a little further up, but when 9-11 happened, I was fairly close. I don't think the city will ever be the same, but it's amazing how resilient the people are. The park along the river is getting finished and it's beautiful. I use that bike path down by the river and I take my son to Battery Park. I love it, I always have. Every now and then it occurs to me that we're happily biking by a huge pit where three thousand people died. It's horrible, but people are rollerblading along. That's the world. Life is totally back downtown, thank god. I'm looking forward to see something built there.

Will you and Sarah star in something together?

Matthew: We don't have any plans. I'm doing a play, which I start in a week. Then I'm filming The Producers in the winter. I believe that Sarah also has a film in November. That's as far ahead as I know. We always think about working together, but nothing has really come of it.

Are you excited about the theatrical version of The Producers?

Matthew: We're all very excited. Nathan [Lane] and I are pleased and surprised that we're in it. We always make jokes about Chris Rock and Amanda Plummer starring in it.

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