Interviews with "BIG TROUBLE" Principles
Farina, Vergara, Deschanel, Myers, Warburton, Sonnenfeld
By Ross Anthony

Barry Sonnenfeld Director Barry Sonnenfeld enters the room dressed so unassumingly you might assume he's his own assistant. Donning a Levi's shirt and a wonderfully dry sense of humor we slip into conversation as comfortably as a worn jeans jacket.

Q: Have you been blind-sided by history?

A: No. On Sept 11th I was on the Sony lot getting ready for another day of "Men in Black II" when the event happened and we shut down for the day. Sony closed the lot. I was not even thinking about "Big Trouble." Our film is as far removed from terrorism as you can get. But I've been watching Letterman and Leno, and they make Bush jokes again. So we decided to release it now. It's a nice funny movie that really is about couples in love and relationships, so I'm not worried.

Q: Tim?

A: Tim's an interesting guy. (laughs) Tim was really good in the movie, we just have very different philosophies of comedy and they're both equally valid. And btw, I will often go to Tim's version of comedy which is the finger in the shoulder (pokes the journalist to his right) going 'Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello...' and now your laughing. You didn't laugh the first 11 times, but on the 12th there you were. Mark Twain said, 'if a joke doesn't work - say it again.' Tim loves the attention, 'pay attention to me.' And I'm an only child of Jewish persuasion and so I also want the world to pay attention to me. So we sort of had a competition, me with the dreary, whining sulking version. Tim one-on-one at dinner is the most fascinating, intelligent, learned person ... he reads ... he sends me reading lists cause I'm really shallow and only read magazines. My wife reads the scripts and the books. I'm like, look schmitty, "look what you can do ... it fries and it bakes!" (laughs).

Q: What types of movies do you like to do?

A: There are two kinds that I can do. I can do sort of the smaller movies like "Get Shorty" and "Big Trouble" which are actually a lot of fun to do which are actor driven and novel driven which means that the dialogue is really good and the characters are really good... [Actually]I felt this was a sequel to "Get Shorty" for me.

Q: Why isn't Michael Jackson an Alien in "Men in Black 11?"

A: Because everyone would expect that. He's incredibly funny and he only worked one day. And he does not play an Alien.

Q: Did you look for him?

A: No, he wanted to be in this movie badly and called us up. [At first] I couldn't find a way, but I wanted... I met him earlier; we wanted him to write the ending credit song to "Adam's Family Values."

Q: What was the other kind of movie you like to make?

A: The big expensive kind. "Men in Black," "Wild Wild West." Let's not call them expensive, lets call 'em effects-driven and then it's implied that they're expensive.

Q: Let's face it "Wild Wild West" was not good. (one reporter comments)

A: I think you're wrong (Laughs all around) ... Ah, write that down. (More laughs). Here's what I think, I think it was not great. I think I made a mistake in that movie which I said for years I would never make ... which was to have two funny people in the same comedy. We decided Will would be the straight man and audiences didn't really want to see that and they didn't want to go with the concept of a sci-fi western.

Sofia VergaraSofia Vergara struts stylishly into the suite; sweet smile and strong sense of self, she sits.

Q: How did you get involved?

A: I work for Univision, the Latin Network here in the United States, and I've been working for them for several years. But a producer saw me and asked me to cast.

Q: Now, did you do that scene with Stanley Tucci where he sucks on your toes or was it stunt double?

A: No, it was me.

Q: So was he good toe sucker?

A: Very good. I wasn't into that [before], but now after that ... (laughs). The first two or three takes we had to stop because I was laughing and I felt so bad for him.

Q: Did you spray your foot with something?

A: No but I was very concerned so I had a bowl of water right there.

Q: So what was the worst part for you?

A: For me it was so much fun.

Pat WarburtonPat Warburton is already seated when I return to the room from a potty break. His upper body expands a "Pearl Jam" T-shirt to its limits. He wears a cap backwards and camo pants. Soft spoken, but sharp and conversational; he picks up the my microphone that lays on the table in front of him and fidgets with it making my audio tape's play back full of clicks and flutters.

Q: What happened to the Tic?

A: No they killed us, the network killed us, they held us for two years on Sunday night against Malcolm and Simpsons and Survivor. They wouldn't promo us. The shows that they owned they promo'd and we were left to fend for ourselves. They slaughter us, they did, bastards.

Q: And feature stuff?

A: You got your big stars they make all the money, then it's a real trickle down for everybody else.

Q: That clip comes off the microphone and you can play with it off the mic. (I inform him, hoping to clean up my recording.)

A: I am the worst fidgetter there ever was -- which is interesting, my usual characters are very still. But I'll sit on the couch and my wife just has no tolerance for it. You don't understand, I'm not saying to myself 'I want to fidget' ... it just happens!

Q: You got a kid now ... is he doing the fidget thing too?

A: Yes, sixteen months old and I go, Cath look ... It's not a choice, why don't you hate your baby too?

Q: So are you going to go back to TV after being slaughtered by the network?

A: Yeah, you got to get back on that horse. And maybe it's all my perspective anyways ... Maybe the Tic was just sh*t. Maybe I was wrong.

Q: You're the guy that hit Tim Allen in "Joe Somebody" right?

A: Yeah, that felt good. I kept wanting to do it over and over again. It was funny because Tim does the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the great movies and I got to do Buzz in the TV production so there was always that little ... (laughs). I was burdened by ... you know, there's no improving on Toy Story Disney/Pixar and now I'm doing the voice in old style TV animation. So you know that millions of kids across the nation are going, "That's not the real Buzz" and that sucks ... but what are you going to do?

Q: So did you and Tim do it for each other: dueling Buzzes? Who's the best Buzz?

A: I did tell Tim, you realize that I'm the real Buzz and you're just the toy Buzz. It's like with the "Star Wars" movie ... you go back in time to the original. I told Tim, I got four kids and all the Buzz Lightyear toys they've got are Buzz Star Command, when they pull that string they hear my voice. None of that Toy Story crap in my house...

Q: What's Tim like?

A: Tim is an egomaniac, he's a nonstop yapper, fortunately he's funny. That does help.

Q: When did you get big?

A: I grew up a geek in HS. I needed a sense of humor just to survive.

Q: You work out, do you worry about getting too big?

A: I'm a bit pudgy, I don't have the energy or time. I've always been a little huskier, as an actor it's always felt better to go for the Nick Nolte gut ... I don't know if this theory's working, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Zooey Deschanel bounces in with a "Where's Waldo" pink and red horizontal striped shirt cloaked with a Christmasy contrasting green parka poofing at the ridges with white fuzz. Alive and happy.

Q: How old are you and how did you get into acting?

A: I'm 22. I was always performing ever since I was little. I guess my parents knew. I had this thing were I wanted to jump into the tape of the "Wizard of Oz" when I was like 2 or 3. I didn't really understand what my dad did though. (Caleb Deschanel is an Oscar nominated cinematographer of "The Patriot" etc.)

Q: Are you blown away by his work now?

A: Yes! I just saw "Being There" the other day. That's an amazing movie. I'm very much a fan of my dad.

Dwight Dwight "Heavy D" Myers under a flat hat and shades slips in, he looks comfortable in his gym suit and chewing gum.

Q: Reflections on 9/11?

A: As unfortunate as it was, it brought people to reality, made people closer. I still feel a certain bond between people that I don't even know. Just walking into this room right now with you people, I don't take that for granted... I've had a brilliant career thus far, if I die tomorrow my only regret is I don't get to see my daughter graduate college and in my life that's all I want to see.

Q: What's her name?

A: Xea, you know I'm an artist, every once in a while I gotta do something tricky.

Q: How's it gonna be for boys coming to meet D's daughter.

A: They better where a bulletproof vest.

Dennis FarinaDennis Farina struts in snug in his three-piece suit, gray with purple pin strips and a matching purple handkerchief. His big smile welcomes the small group of reporters and he greets Chicago natives with a certain charm, warmth and camaraderie.

Q: Will you be home to Chicago soon?

A: About a month or so.

Q: You wait for the weather to get warm ... don't you?

A: Yeah, I do.

Q: What kinds of jobs did you have before acting.

A: Yeah, I had a job makin' potato salad and cole slaw. My job was to boil the potatoes then smash 'em. What else did I do, Jesus? I was a runner for my brother Joe ... he'd say, "Go deliver this to the guy down the road" and like that. I was a soda jerk at the drug store at North Avenue and Clark Street and it had a fountain at the dime store. I remember that bleach truck too. We mostly stood up in the truck and he'd make the stop and we'd run that bleach to Mrs. So and So and we'd get a quarter and then he'd take us to lunch. In those days, in that neighborhood, everything you did, there was the bleach guy, the guy who used to come around and do your knives and scissors. Then there was the guy you went to get the chickens, the live chickens... plucking was more money, if you had a plucked chicken - you had some dough. Your mother would put in boiling water mostly, but if you had some dough, they actually had a machine, but I don't know what the machine did, but when the chicken came out it was plucked. That neighborhood was so old with old people and old ways ... I never really left that neighborhood till I was older. Everything you needed was there.

Q: What else did you do?

A: We used to play baseball, that's all we used to do. Although, we went to the track and we lost there too.

Q: When did you go into the police force?

A: 1967.

Q: Have you seen "Showtime?"

A: No, how is it?

Q: Well it's about a street cop becoming an actor... How did you get into acting?

A: I met a guy named Michael Mann, he was in town doing a film called "Thief" with James Caan. Michael met a retired police sergeant and he was workin' security in Vegas and they met in Vegas. So when the production came to Chicago, he hired a bunch of us. And then I used to do plays.

Q: You know "Crime Story" is back on TV?

A: Yeah it's kind of scary isn't it ... I mean for me it is.

Q: How about a send up to "Get Shorty?"

A: Actually, there's a sequel to the book "Being Cool," but Barboni doesn't show up, and in the book "Get Shorty" Barboni gets killed, but in the movie thank God, he didn't.

Q: Are the action scenes still fun for you these days.

A: The older I get, the less they're fun, climbin' over walls and such. You got a stunt double? Good! Bring him in, let him make a living.

Q: What's the next project?

A: "Stealing Harvard" a movie with Jason lee, Lesley Man, and Tom Green... It was called "Stealing Stanford," but there was a glitch with Stanford University.

[More interviews]  |  [Johnny Knoxville]  |  [Review]

Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Wednesday, 17-Mar-2004 15:36:33 PST