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July 2006
MIAMI VICE: Press Conference Interviews

MIAMI VICE: Press Conference Interviews, continued
By Melissa Walters
July 17, 2006


Why call it ‘Miami Vice’ then?

Foxx: Why call it ‘Miami Vice’?  I don’t understand that question.  You saw ‘Starsky and Hutch,’ but it wasn’t anything like [the original].  Do you understand what I’m saying?  You’re not taking ‘Miami Vice,’ the series.  You’re taking the spirit of that and you’re doing the movie.

Mann: That’s exactly right.  It’s the spirit of it.  It’s the core of it.  It’s who these people are.  So, at the core of Crockett is Crockett, at the core of Tubbs is Tubbs, but they’re re-imagined in 2006, in a different world, in a different place, in a different Miami. 

Why didn’t you use the theme song to put it all together? 

Foxx: I’ll put it to you this way -- I understand exactly what you’re saying.  I believe this movie is high risk, high return because you do go away from what you think it is.  But, you can’t keep re-hashing it.  It’s like watching the dunk contest today.  You can’t go in and do the Dr. J dunk anymore because you’re kind of past that, so if you come from the free-throw line, you’ve seen it.  But, if you’re wearing Dr. J’s jersey, and you bounce it off the backboard from the back, and then you dunk it, you’ve got the spirit of Dr. J and you changed it.  Did that do it for you?

For all of you, what was the most difficult part about shooting this film, and was there any kind of training for the weapons you used?

Mann: Everybody went through training, and went through a lot of it.  A lot of hard work went into it, and they look good because they are good, and they are good because they really can do everything that we see in the film, including all of the physical stuff.  The most difficult thing to acquire is all the skills that I think these folks have, in terms of really being in an undercover situation.  When they’re confronted at Jose Yero’s, and these guys have responses, and they accuse Yero of being the man hooked up with the DEA, or the street theater that they put down on Isabella in the house, when they pretend that they’re bringing back the dope which we know they stole, and the skill and the self-confidence they have came from lots of scenarios that Colin and Jamie and Naomie and Gong Li did, with real folks who really do do this stuff.  They did simulations that were very, very realistic, and they did it a lot.  I’m real proud of their work, and the benefit of it is what you see on screen.

Just talking about being in 2006, obviously drug trafficking is a very serious thing, and you treated it that way.  Even though this is a serious topic, the tongue-in-cheek from the old series wasn’t in this. Was that on purpose?

Mann: It’s a different subject.  If I took you through the first two years’ episodes, which I consider to be the real core of ‘Miami Vice,’ these are exactly the kind of stories that were being told.  They were poignant, they were emotional, they weren’t happy endings.  So, there were these kind of stories.  And then, there was some lighter stuff that would enter in, once in awhile. 

Farrell: As I remember it, and a lot of people I know remember it, ‘Miami Vice’ only became camp in hindsight.  At the time, it was a really cutting edge show.  The subject matter was really dark -- drugs, prostitution, so on and so forth -- with Crockett’s backstory, with his two children and his wife.  Some very reality-based situations were dealt with very honestly, for the time, and as you said, this has just been elevated to today’s modern age.  I saw a twinkle in Jamie’s eye when I was watching it.

Michael, how has your personal view on how you see these characters changed in the 20 years since you did the series?

Mann: Somebody reminded me of a line in the pilot.  Tony Yerkovich wrote the pilot, and created ‘Miami Vice,’ and there was a line in the pilot where a woman says to Crockett, “Do you sometimes forget who you are?”  And, he says, “Darlin’, sometimes I remember who I am.”  And, that is the core of that character, and the volatility of Tubbs and the way he would rise to anger.  One episode, he gets furious because somebody shoots at him with a machine gun ‘cause machine guns scare him, and when he gets scared, he gets really angry.  That spirit is the same in these characters.  These characters, in that sense, in their hearts and their souls and what they reach down into when they really have to rise to the occasion, are identical.  So, the center of these people is the same.
Michael, there was no smoking in this film.  Was that a deliberate choice?  And, Colin, how did you manage to get through the takes without smoking?

Farrell: Oh, it was tough.
Mann: It was not a deliberate choice.  John Hawkes, in one of the opening scenes, actually is smoking a cigarette when he’s pulled over in that Bentley. 

Farrell: We were originally going to go with a costume that was made of Nicorette patches for me, but it kept melting in the Miami sun. [Laughs] It was okay.

What are your thoughts about all the smoking in movies?  There was a report that came out this week about how there are more teens smoking because of what they see in movies and on television.  Do you have any thoughts about smoking, in general?

Mann: I don’t, really.  But, when I’m making a movie, the integrity has to be about making that drama, and if somebody was to be a smoker because that’s what his character would do, he would smoke.

For Michael, the two Columbian guys are played by a Puerto Rican guy and a Spanish guy.  What was the casting process for the Latino characters, and wasn’t Gong Li’s role originally done for a Latina?

Mann: No.  It was a Cuban woman, and that was it.  I’ve wanted to work with Gong Li for a long time, and there is a very vibrant Chinese Cuban community in Havana, which we visited and spent substantial time with.  And, I know Luis Tosar from a film he did with Javier Bardem that hasn’t been released here.  And, John Ortiz knocked me out in ‘Narc,’ so he just had to be Jose Yero. 
Michael, I understand that, when you shoot these action sequences, you have a lot of cameras going.  How much of this was story boarded, and how much do you do once you’re there?

Mann: I don’t story board.  I do something else, which is I block it.  We then train to the blocking. In other words, when everybody’s training, they’re actually training a lot of the moves that we are definitely going to use, and then, I do a lot of photography of that, and that becomes where the cameras go.

Jamie, you obviously play a very good, cool guy in this movie, and you seem to be a cool, likeable guy in real life.  The article that Kim Masters wrote kind of portrays you as the bad guy, as far as the making of this film was concerned.  Would you like to comment about what was said?

Mann: That’s just nonsense.

Foxx: See.

The article was nonsense?

Mann: Yeah.  The article is nonsense, and a lot of the perspective of the article is nonsense.
Foxx: This is one of those films where a lot of stories were just written.  They were just writing stories about stuff.

Farrell: The second week into the shoot, me and Jamie were killing each other, and I hadn’t even met him yet. 

Mann: These guys weren’t getting along, and we were finishing the movie in Peru.  That was one story.

Foxx: But, that makes the opening [bigger].  “Let’s go see what all the hubbub’s about.”  You let all that go.  Everybody descended on Miami.  People were coming to Miami just ‘cause we were shooting down there.  I’ve read crazy, crazy stuff that wasn’t true, but I think it all plays into the hands of making people get up in there and get them tickets, and see what’s going on.

Isn’t there a basis in fact for these rumors?  They just come out of nowhere?

Farrell: Yeah, we’re in the same film together. That’s all it really takes, you know.  It doesn’t take much.

Mann: We knew we were going into a major hurricane season in Miami ‘cause we were shooting in the summer.  All you have to do is go on the web and look up the U.S. Weather Bureau, and you find out the history of hurricanes in Miami keeps getting worse, so we knew it, we provided for it in production’s deal with the studio -- what would happen, officially, on this picture if there was a tropical storm watch to tropical storm warning to hurricane watch to hurricane warning.  So, we all knew this was common and we prepared for it, and we were a lot more fortunate, in our circumstances, to weather these hurricanes than a lot of the local folks were, and certainly everybody in New Orleans that got hit by Katrina.  And then, we had this shooting incident, and that went public.  Absolutely, that happened.  Our security precautions that we had prepared worked flawlessly.  That’s why a guy who was, in fact, a policeman was stopped by uniformed Dominican military, which was our outer-perimeter security.  We take safety very, very seriously on every film I make, and that’s why I’ve never had a serious accident or anybody killed, when I make a picture.  Everybody had to leave in a very prescribed way.  And then, I was not going to shoot in the Dominican Republic anymore because we didn’t know what the backstory was.  You have to think about these things.  Does this guy have five brothers?  Do they have a lot of animosity with the military that you don’t know about, and now they’re blaming Gong Li, or something?  Who knows.  So, you change the stuff you’re doing.  That’s the process.  The important thing is not the process.  The important thing is the product.

Michael, what was the purpose behind cutting the opening boat scene you had shot, and will it be on the DVD?

Mann: You always do it.  I asked myself, way in the beginning, how should this story tell itself?  And, one of the things that attracted me to ‘Collateral,’ by the way, was the fact that it was a really tight construction, and I always felt the [‘Miami Vice’] story should be tight.  You should be dropped into their lives and just taken away from it.  I think audiences are really smart and they’re really intelligent, and I think that you can place the audience almost like they’re right on Jamie and Colin’s shoulder, and you don’t have to explain, “Well, now we’re going to go into this club and maybe this pimp, Neptune, is going to show up.”  You don’t have to go through all that.  You can bring the audience, hopefully, into a much more immediate experience of what these guys do and how they do it.  You don’t have to be inside a joke, you can be a participant in a joke.  And so, the movie tells its story that way, and I wanted it to have an intensity and a drive, where BANG, you’re in it.  And then, when that movie ends, it cuts to black, and that’s as much of this story as we’re telling right now.  So, consequently, I have to make a lot of really difficult, hard, heart-breaking decisions, sometimes, about material that is really great and that I really love, and people do fabulous work in.  Unfortunately, I have to serve the greater good of the experience of the picture.  So, the stuff will absolutely be on the DVD. 

For Colin and Gong Li, what was the chemistry like and how did you find the center between the two of you, with the obvious language barrier that you have?

Colin: I sign.


Gong Li: There are a lot of things that you don’t have to use language to communicate.  You can use eye contact, body language, and so on.  That’s what art is about. 



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