Excerpts from A Roundtable Interview with Darren
Director of “The
Dallas , Texas
November 20, 2008
Outlook: I was
fascinated by the scene where Marisa turns to him and quotes scripture to him.
DA: Yes, I was
interested in your response to that, after meeting you last night at the
screening and learning that you are a minister…
Outlook: Well, it’s
from one of the Suffering Servant Songs in Isaiah…
DA: I think it’s
also at the opening of “The Passion Of The Christ.”
Outlook: That, too.
DA: Oh, yeah, I guess
that was quoted, as well. (laughs)
(laughs) Well, it’s also in Handel’s “Messiah.”
Outlook: But I think
the whole thing about his cuts and bruises…”the chastisement that made us
whole” sort of thing…I thought that was fascinating.
DA: Well, good.
Outlook: In my
review, one of my Questions for Discussion, to the Christian audience I write
to, is “Is it possible to quote scripture inappropriately”?”
DA: (laughs) I’m
Outlook: I was also
fascinated with the intertwining of their stories. He’s
in a world of fake athleticism, she’s in a world of fake eroticism…
DA: They both have
fake names, they both wear spandex…..
Outlook: And they
both show a lot of body.
they’re both grappling with “What now?” and “What next?”
DA: Well, anytime you
do an independent film, and the stripper comes up, red flags go up, because
it’s just like “Could be a cliché, you know?” But
what was so fascinating was just the connection between these two worlds.
I mean, me and the writer tried forever to think about something else
she could do. But the more we took away, the more upset I
got, because I felt it was just a perfect match. In
reality, the wrestlers, when they’re done with their wrestling, go to the
strip clubs and spend all the money they’ve just made. So
it just made a lot of sense. And I think Marisa played it
in a non-cliché way. That line between the real world and
the fake world is something she’s working on keeping straight and clear, and
Mickey’s character is not even aware of it. In fact
“The Ram” has just kind of thrown away the real world, and made the ring,
the fantasy world, who he is. So she’s almost more of a
mentor in the film. I mean, she’s a love interest, as
well, but she’s trying to direct him in the right way. What
she did that was so interesting is that she was kind of like a drunken
tightrope walker, in the sense that she had this line separating two worlds.
She didn’t know which way she was going to go, just being pulled from
Outlook: It added to
the poignancy a lot, to watch that relationship try to develop, and neither
one had the emotional grounding to know what to do.
DA: Yeah, absolutely.
Outlook: This may
surprise you a little bit, but there’s a point of identification I had with
the main character, even though I’m not a wrestler, I’m a preacher.
Outlook: You know,
I’m approaching the end of my career, I’ve had larger venues in the past,
I’m in a smaller venue now; and there’s that feeling that “OK, there are
some things that I just want to hold on to, because it’s who I am.”
I’ve half-jokingly said that I’ll quit preaching when I show up on
Sunday morning and nobody’s there to hear me, which is exactly where he
DA: Yeah, yeah.
That’s very interesting. You know, that’s kind
of one of the universal things. I haven’t heard it from a
preacher, but I hear it from athletes, in the sense that, it could be about
any sport: baseball player, football player, even a ballet
dancer. At a certain point, your body can’t do what it
used to be able to do. And what does that mean?
There’s a thing about aging, and changing, and holding on to glory,
Outlook: Well, and
the culture wants youth. They want to look at a preacher
that looks more like him (pointing to a 30-something man)….
DA: Do they really?
I’d rather get advice from you than from him, though, I tell you that
Outlook: It’s a
half-joke, in my profession, that every church secretly wants a
thirty-something minister with a wife, 2 ½ kids, a dog, and an SUV…
DA: Is that true?
Why? I would think they’d want someone who has
attract the youth.”
DA: Oh, I see, to
attract like, someone that 20-year-olds can identify with. Same
thing with Barack Obama!
Outlook: So there’s
something more universal you’ve tapped into…
DA: I think so.
I hope so.
universal point is the whole area of family dysfunction: people
having relationships in their family that they wish so fervently they could do
over, or do differently, and they can’t, and when they try, it just
lurches…those scenes were very powerful.
DA: Thank you.
You know, it’s sad, but it’s almost a cliché among these
wrestlers. During their prime time, they would be on the
road 350 days a year. And when they come home, it’s like
in that Johnny Cash
movie, how do you suddenly become a normal Dad, when you’re a superhero on
the road? Also, they’re non-unionized, so they have no
pension, no rights, no health care, no worker’s comp, none of that stuff.
There’s absolutely no protection for them. And to
compete, they’re on all these crazy drugs, and so their lives are all messed
up. That’s why so many of them drop dead all the time.
It’s tragic. They should be in SAG (the Screen
Actors Guild). They’re entertainers. But
if I say any more about that, I’ll get in trouble…
mentioned that you’ve already had a wrestler come up to you and thank you
for telling his story. You know you will have arrived when
a stripper does the same…
DA: (laughs) We’ve
already had that! They’ve said, “Nobody’s told that
part of the story, how you’re trying to play this part of being erotic to
the stranger, and keeping that separate from your real world...trying not to
take that home with you.”
technique as a Director varies, depending on the actor?
DA: Yeah, Mickey, for
instance, is lazy. You have to push him. But
after you do, between “Action!” and “Cut!”, he was
just so natural. But it was getting him there.
Outlook: How was it
different working with Marisa and Evan?
DA: Very different.
With Evan, you didn’t have to do anything. Marisa
was mixed, because during the nude scenes, you had to be very gentle, and
encouraging, and even during the emotional scenes, she had a lot of emotion
she had to show. Every actor requires a different
relationship. So it’s just about figuring out what that
person needs and trying to help them with it.
Outlook: Thanks for
DA: Thank you very
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace
Presbyterian Church, Greenville,