Crash, The Dark Knight, Black Hawk Down, Prison Break and Entourage. These are just some of the projects that William Fichtner has been a part of. He’s an actor who really needs no introduction and when you see him in Drive Angry 3D, opening February 25th, you’ll certainly recognize him.
In the film, he plays The Accountant, a supernatural operative sent to Earth by Satan. He is tasked with bringing a man named Milton (Nicolas Cage) back to Hell. Milton has broken out of Hell and is set on trying stop a cult from sacrificing his granddaughter.
Fichtner was recently in Toronto to promote the film and we got a chance to speak to him. Along with a few other journalists, we were able to ask him some questions about the film and his role in it.
Check out the interview below.
UPDATE: The studio has requested that we remove the audio version, so here is a written version. This interview was done in roundtable style. Enjoy!
As mentioned before, Drive Angry 3D is Mr. Fichtner’s latest film. But how did Mr. Fichtner come to be in Drive Angry? How did he get involved in it? He told us that:
When I first got the script, it was just something my agent sent me to read. No one was talking to me about doing it. I just read it and called my agent up and said ‘you know that script you sent me, Drive Angry, I really dug it and there’s a part in there called The Accountant that’s great. I gotta meet Patrick’. And I didn’t meet him until a couple months after that.
Then there was a Friday night and I was driving with my wife and my agent called me and she said ‘hey you got an offer on Drive Angry’ and I said ‘what’s the role.’ I just wanted to be sure. She said ‘The Accountant’ and it just made my weekend.
The next step for him was to develop the role and work with director Patrick Lussier to craft it. He told us that:
Mostly with The Accountant, I always had a reference point for a guy who works in hell. It’s such a clear blank slate, that like two months before we started shooting, the conversations I would have with Patrick about like ‘well The Accountant hasn’t been on Earth for a while and in the opening scene he sees a woman, I wonder what that’s like.’ Just one thing led to another and we kept filling in the blanks and Patrick is just so unbelievably positive in his approach to work and his enthusiasm about working on this. I would work with him anytime, anywhere in the future because it was right up there in the top one or two things I’ve ever worked on.
He went onto say how he was inspired by odd things for the role. Fichtner told us about one particular incident that inspired him for the role.
Well I saw a character turn his head in the circus, and this was before I knew I had the job and I kept watching this performer and I thought ‘that’s like that character [The Accountant], in that script I read a couple days ago.’ He had that odd sort of knowingness about him.
The film has been described by many people as a 70s grindhouse action movie and we asked William what he thought about that and if he was getting that response from a lot of people. Were audiences getting that grindhouse vibe from it? He said that:
The first time somebody said that to me I thought, ‘that’s freaking cool, I didn’t even think of that.’ I didn’t think of it like that when we were shooting it. My mind just doesn’t go to that sort of thing. I go to different things. The characters and their journey. And how it kind of evolves.
Those familiar with Mr. Fichtner’s work will know that he has had quite a few memorable appearances on television. During the interview, he was asked what he prefers, TV or film? He told us film and then proceeded to explain why.
For the most part, it’s more of a creative journey. Just for logistics alone, time wise. An hour TV show, shoot it in 8 days, 50 pages. Even the shooting a film on a wing and a prayer, you still have a little more time than that. Then there are studio pictures which obviously give you a huge amount of time. Also, TV is depending on where it’s at. Is it network TV, cable TV? One is so story driven and one is the opposite end of it, character driven. I tend to gravitate more to the character thing and the TV I’ve worked on has been Prison Break, Invasion and Entourage and it’s cool and fun. But I love a movie set, because also with TV, you’re shooting an episode and you get the script for the next one. You don’t really have the time. I had as much fun in the two months before we started Drive Angry thinking about it as I did shooting it. It’s equal and I love that. You don’t have that in TV, except for the first episode, and even that you only get three days before you begin. It’s nice to think about something and let it sit for a while. And film gives you that.
While talking about his acting and preparing for a role, he told us that it takes a while for him to get used to his performances, and sometimes he’s too critical of himself.
Is what I thought of the role, is that what ended up on screen? I don’t know, usually it takes me three times of seeing something before I can let it go and not be so critical and just think ‘oh, I kinda like that.’ The first time I saw Go, I was mortified. I went into my garage and was like ‘what the fuck were you thinking Bill? What did you do!’ Third time I’m like ‘oh, that’s not so bad.’ So it takes a while.
In fact, he’s so critical of himself that he is always wanting to do more takes, just so he can get everything perfect. He tells us that while shooting Drive Angry he would keep asking Patrick to shoot things over.
I would be driving out of the base camp at night and Patrick would be walking off the set and I’d lean out of the van window and be like ‘tomorrow first thing can we shoot that over again?’ And he’d be like ‘no Bill, we’re moving on tomorrow.’ Then I’d text him saying ‘are you sure about that?’ And he’d reply back ‘Yes Bill, I’m sure’. So I just never know what it’s going to be.
Lastly, Mr. Fichtner explained how he got into acting, since he was originally going to be a policeman.
I had to take a fine arts course when I was in high school. There was an improv class and I really never did anything like that so I decided to take it. It was a whim sort of thing. The professor of the class told me near the end of the semester that I should take more classes like this. She could tell that I liked it. So the rest of my years there I did a few more acting classes. And then I graduated but I still wasn’t really thinking about going into acting. Then in the summer of 1978 my girlfriend gave me a book called How To Be A Working Actor. And I read it over and over.
Then, when I took my police test, I remember just thinking ‘I’m not going to do this.’ So I did a regional audition in Syracuse for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and I got in. So I went and took a bus to NY.
And that’s where the interview ended. We’d like to thank Mr. Fichtner for taking the time to talk to us and remember to go check out Drive Angry 3D when it hits theatres on February 25th.
Be sure to check out our interview with Drive Angry 3D director Patrick Lussier.