Paul Walker/Timeline Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
Paul Walker never seems to lose his enthusiasm. Talking up his latest film, the sci-fi actioner Timeline, the young star who achieved fame in The Fast and the Furious, laughingly shrugs off his status as a teen icon, even at age 30. "I'm not going to fight it," says Walker, as we chat in a Los Angeles hotel suite. "I've had a really long run as a teen icon with the movies I've done of late, but I can think there are some 25-year-old girls out there who think I'm all right," Walker adds, smilingly. He says that he can fight the whole teen icon thing by "not doing teen people any more or those types of publications. But I do them, because they're the reason why I'm working; people are going back and seeing Fast And The Furious 20 times over, so I love this audience."
Walker says that his escalating fame doesn't preclude him from living a normal life. "I don't go to malls. There are limitations, but it's not near as bad as people make it out to be. The thing of it is, with my family and friends, I ask them: look, don't read the magazines. Anything you do hear, I don't want to hear, so just kind of keep it to yourselves. You just kind of go through life pretending that nothing's happening... The core thing fore me is I just try to come off as a regular guy to everybody. With kids, it's really easy because they just think I'm this cool guy. They don't go - oh, he's like this actor that's in these cool movies. It's just: oh that guy's cool! He drives cars! He's always got a good-looking girl. They just want to see me be a cool nice guy. So when I've got a 15-16-year-old come up to me, it's like: hey, what's up?? What's going on?" Walker says that he refuses to even read what's written about him, and perhaps that is why he is kept grounded. "I can't read anything. I live my life and just pretend that nothing's happening. People go up to me and say: oh, you're in such-and-such today, and I go really? I just tune it out. I even avoid newsstands. The only time I can't avoid it is when am at the grocery store, and it irks me. You know, I check out stands and I go you son of a --! You don't look. You try to pass right by it."
When talking to Walker, one is immediately struck by his genuine sense of reality and lack of pretensions. He loves the attention and the perks of movie stardom, he says, but not selfishly. "I like being treated nice, but when people treat you nice, you treat them nicer in return."
Perhaps, one of the reasons for Walker's philosophy is that all this fame and adulation can one day stop. "I've thought about that before, but like I said, I like where I am right now, but there are still moments when I'm overwhelmed by what I'm doing, when I think: Man, I don't really fit, I'm not a movie star. I was never built for this. I really thought I'd live a pretty simple life and I'd be a marine biologist or maybe build custom homes" Walker set about studying Marine Biology and ventured into acting by accident. Still an avid surfer, but a chance meeting with an agent changed all of that. The likes of Pleasantville, Varsity Blues, She's All That, The Skulls and The Fast and the Furious put the young actor on the industry's radar, and for Paul Walker, the heat continues with his starring role in Timeline, about a group of archaeologists who venture back to the 14th century to save Billy Connolly's character in the midst of the Hundred Years War. While Walker is the most recognisable name, he loved being part of an enthusiastic ensemble. "I've got to tell you, the best thing about it is there are so many more personalities to deal with on set, and when personalities are difficult it can actually create a better situation," Walker explains. "You've got a lot of people, and everyone wants to get their screen time, and feel they're being rightfully served and they get their opportunity to do this or do that with their character. And, you know, they don't want every scene to be stolen from, say, Joe over there, and that sort of thing. When you just kind of set the tone - look, I'm a team player. I look at it, and I know everybody wants their moment, and everybody wants to do this and everybody wants to do that. It's like a team sport making a movie."
Walker chose Timeline as his next project "because it's Richard Donner, and I'd grown up on his movies. The Goonies, next to Star Wars and Indiana Jones was like my favourite movie growing up like a kid. I'd seen it I don't know how many times. And I loved Ladyhawke, because I'd always loved fantasy. I like the medieval period. I've always had this intense fascination from the time I was a little kid with swords and knights. That stuff's cool. I love this period. The science fiction aspect, I don't really care. To me, the real draw was medieval France. That's cool," Walker says with boyish enthusiasm.The actor continues to devote time to his five-year old daughter while juggling a high profile acting career, which may or may not include a Fast and the Furious 3. "I think I'll do a third one, to be honest with you. Walking around the streets, kids come up to me. I always ask which they like more, and the consensus is that the sequel was better because the action and the car sequences are better. Will you do a third one? And I say: I don't know. Well, if you do a third one, who's going to be in it - Tyrese or Vin? Well, I don't know. And they say: Well, it should be Tyrese because Vin's ego precluded him from being in the second one. So my whole thing is: I don't want them saying that about me. Because the studio will go and make a third one, and in a way I'd feel that I was letting these kids down. And on top of it, it's a great time, and I'd get paid a lot of money."
In the meantime, Walker has a change of pace with the Indie film Noël, directed by Chazz Palmanteri, and featuring the likes of Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Penelope Cruz and Alan Arkin. "That's in the top five in terms of the things I've read, an emotional roller coaster Christmas story, which ends with you feeling really good, but completely worn out. You'll go straight to bed after you see this movie, but every year, with your significant other, maybe with your family, I think you're going to pop it in your DVD player and watch it and you'll all pass out real happy."
Walker, who is spending his spare time these days "team roping, cowboy style for last several months" is eager to do a western. "I grew up on Westerns. I love Clint Eastwood." Asked if he has an urge to maybe play someone old and ugly, Walker smiles. "I'll be old later."
O'connor's timely hollywood careerFrances O'Connor/Timeline Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
It would be an understatement to define Australia's Frances O'Connor as shy. Clearly uncomfortable at the whole press junket process, which she sees as a necessary evil to help promote the latest Hollywood film, the pretty 34-year old smiles appropriately, believing in a be brief attitude. Perhaps that is why it is difficult to associate the actress, who most recently won acclaim for her role in London's West End playing Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as Paul Walker's love interest in the time travel adventure Timeline. "I just finished Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and this kind of got offered to me right after that," explains O'Connor in a Los Angeles hotel room. "I've never done anything like that before, and I thought if I'm gonna do that kind of thing, then [director] Dick Donner is very good at that kind of genre, so it's kind of a combination of those few things." In Timeline, the actress plays a diligent archaeologist who goes back to the Middle Ages in order to rescue her lead archaeologist and expert on the Hundred Years War, played by Billy Connolly. O'Connor may not have done such a big Hollywood adventure had it not been for the kind of woman she played. "I liked that she's kind of very assertive and wasn't a wimp, but very active in the piece I think the women in Donner's films are very assertive."
O'Connor also loved the idea of going from what she calls an "acting fit"experience in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to spending several months in Montreal filming Timeline. "which is just a lot of fun. I mean, you're working so hard and I thought it would be nice to just have fun," says O'Connor, who turned down the chance to bring her Maggie to Broadway. "I just ran out of steam. We'd done it for four months and that's a long time, especially if you've got a career in film, to kind of be out of the loop, and I was going to have to do another four months, which is what the commitment was. So I felt I needed to get back and I also felt I'd done the play. You know, I got to the end of the journey for that character, and I didn't have the steam to go on for another 4 months." Of course, O'Connor still hopes to make her Broadway debut in the foreseeable future. "I'd really love to do Streetcar Named Desire, which hasn't been done for a while on Broadway."O'Connor says that in an ideal world, if she had the luxury to truly pick and choose theatre and film, "I'd probably mix it up a lot, doing a lot of film and theatre, but I think film is the kind of thing that you have to kind of keep coming back to."
The Perth-born actress, whose success was initiated in the hit comedy Love and other Catastrophes, went on to acclaim in the likes of Kiss or Kill, Thank God He Met Lizzie, and Mansfield Park, before her Hollywood bow in Bedazzled. She won rave reviews for her poignant work in Spielberg's critically divided A.I, a film that remembers with much fondness. "Well I think it was interesting at the time, because it got quite a bit of negative press and some negative reaction from people. But I think in 10 years it'll be a classic. . I think it's a difficult film but I think it has moments that are brilliant."
O'Connor calls London home these days, where she lives with her Scottish boyfriend, but won't elaborate on any aspect of her private life, and never has. She hasn't worked in an Australian film since 1998's A Little Bit of Soul, and denies turning her back on the Australian industry. "I just haven't found anything that I really wanted to do, you know? I got offered a couple of parts, but there was nothing that I could really kind of sink my teeth into, but a couple of things have come up for next year, so hopefully one of those will pan out." O'Connor will be spending Christmas in Australia Tasmania to be precise, in order to attend her sister's wedding, but keeps busy with a variety of different film projects, including Iron Jawed Ladies. "It's a story, not many people know about these two women who got the vote for women in America. It's set in the 1900's to about the 20s. It's afantastic story."
O'Connor joins that elite group of Australian women who have managed to carve strong international film careers, and doesn't quite know why Australians are doing so well internationally. "I think we've got a similar kind of simpatico to Americans, so there must be some connection there, but it's got a slightly different kind of twist on it though. I don't know what it is. I think there's a kind of honesty that comes through Australian acting maybe which Americans have that too." Yet at the same time, unlike perhaps Blanchett and Kidman, O'Connor prefers to be actress, not star. "I do much prefer being an actor rather than going through the whole celebrity thing. I think going that way can take the focus off your acting which I think that can be a bit dangerous."