Editors Note: This interview originally
appeared in the November 19th edition of the Santa Monica Mirror and
is being reprinted as a courtesy of that publication.
Aidan Quinn at a recent press conference. Photo:
An Interview With
By Beverly Cohn
idan Quinn’s piercing blue eyes have been lighting up the big screen
for decades with one of his many memorable roles being that of Alfred,
brother to Brad Pitt’s Tristan in Legends of the Fall, also starring
Anthony Hopkins. Quinn is a very successful working actor and at the
same time has managed to keep his private life, private, avoiding the
“Hollywood scene.” He is married to Elizabeth Bracco and has two daughters
– Ava Eileen and Mia. His latest film, ACROSS THE LINE: The Exodus
of Charlie Wright, co-starring Andy Garcia, Mario Van Peebles, Gina
Gershon, and Danny Pino, will be available on DVD and Blu-ray December
Q: You starred in A Shine of Rainbows, a beautiful
film recently screened as part of the Irish Film Festival in which you
gave a stunning portrayal of the husband, Himself. Is it
going into general release?
Quinn: It was. (he laughs) Its come and gone.
Like so many so many independent small films, it had a short, quick
release. It was a fun part and Donegal, Ireland is one of my favorite
places in the world. Ive lived in Ireland, but I never got to
visit that part of Ireland before and it was a great thrill to do that.
Aidan Quinn as the billionaire criminal Charlie
Wright contemplates his next move.
Photo: Exodus Distribution
Q: Charlie Wright, the character you portray in ACROSS
THE LINE: The Exodus of Charlie Wright, which we understand is loosely
based on Bernie Madoff, is a pretty despicable human being who bilked
people out of billions of dollars with his Ponzi scheme, but in the
film he comes off as a really likeable guy. Did you have any misgivings
about not revealing that evil side of him?
Aidan Quinn as the billionaire criminal Charlie
Wright finds himself thrown into a Tijuana jail by corrupt Mexican police
who are on the payroll of the local drug lord, played by Andy Garcia.
Photo: Exodus Distrubtion
Quinn: No because I think its about redemption.
It was important to have that moment when his self-loathing is revealed
when the Claudia Ferri character tells him hes a good man with
a good heart and he says that she has no idea about how bad he really
is. You see this man at the end of his rope and you eventually understand
why nothing means anything to him anymore about money. It comes down
to what is his life all about. What is the meaning of his time on this
planet about. Another aspect of the character that I found interesting
was his quest to find his daughter who he fathered many years ago and
whom he never met.
Q: You shot in Tijuana, which is a pretty violent city.
Did you feel safe?
Quinn: I did feel safe because bodyguards were provided
for security. At the same time, I felt a tremendous amount of compassion
and sadness for the everyday people who worked on our film, the neighborhoods
we went into, the incredibly low wages that they work for, and how this
whole drug cartel problem is hurting them so badly economically because
no gringos are going there. I felt bad about all these things
and felt glad that we were providing work, but its a tough situation
Q: Youve done a ton of films and have worked with
a lot of directors. R. Ellis Frazier (director) said he didnt
give a lot of character direction. Would you have wanted more direction?
Quinn: You know Im 51 years old and have been
doing movies for 29 years. I dont need a lot of help. Its
nice to get it when I need it and Im always open to someone who
wants to challenge me to go deeper or wilder or take more chances as
an actor, but I think the directors main job is hiring good actors
and then shaping the music and beats of the scenes because good actors,
given the opportunity, are going to do good work. I think the directors
job is about shaping the rhythms and creating a good working atmosphere.
Is it easier to work with a smaller crew?
Quinn: It isnt about the size of the crew. You
can have a crew of 300 as long as its a comfortable working set.
The working condition thats most beneficial to me is where you
have a safe environment in which to act and you feel like you can do
your work. So, when its chaotic and you see 14 crewmembers walking
back and forth while youre trying to do a one-on-one delicate
scene, thats difficult. A lot of the time we were stealing shots
in the streets of Tijuana where people didnt even know we were
shooting. My favorite situation is where we have a sacred space where
we get to play.
When you decided to do the film, did you know it was
going straight to DVD and Blu-ray?
Quinn: I make my living doing independent films and
in the last couple of years you really dont know if any film is
going to get distributed unless it already has a signed, sealed, and
delivered distribution deal.
Where did you get your training?
Quinn: I trained a little bit in Chicago with a man
named Byrne Piven and his wife Joyce at the Piven Theatre Workshop.
They are actually Jeramie Pivens parents. Then I studied with
Sanford Meisner, which I guess is The Method. I also learned
Viola Spolins Theatre Games, which is a great acting foundation.
But really, I started working in theatre when I was 19 and I basically
learned by practicing my craft.
Doing Theatre Games is a great tool for actors as it
frees you up to be spontaneous and to work outside in as well as inside
out. Do you agree?
Aidan Quinn as the husband, "Himself,"
in the Irish film, "A Shine of Rainbows."
Quinn: Yes. Exactly. And it also teaches you how to
You have 12 or 13 films in the works. How do you find
time to be involved in so many projects?
Quinn: Some of the roles are supporting roles, which
are fun, but the truth is I have to keep working. Ive got kids,
a mortgage, you know, financial obligations.
The more times we see you on screen, the better.
Quinn: Thank you for that