Press Conference Interviews
What Lies Beneath

By Ross Anthony

Lead Actors: Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer
Director Robert Zemeckis
Costars: Diana Scarwid and Amber Valletta
Producers: Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke

Sunday morning at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, the Press splits up into four rooms.

Harrison enters our suite tentatively, sporting a bit of a wince; something that Indiana Jones may have displayed before entering some dark tunnel. His voice is librarian soft, but it resonates like an aquarium pump. An awesome voice indeed, the little 1.5-inch speaker on Harrison Fordmy taping device flutters helplessly on playback. It's no wonder his voice keeps those theater sound system's bass sections in full exercise.

Press: What's your favorite scary movie?

Harrison Ford: You can't talk to me about movies because I don't really know that much about them. I never was historically a moviegoer. I like making them, but I don't go a lot.

(On choosing the script...)
The complexity of the screenplay, the entertainment value. I thought it would be a taut and interesting movie. I always wanted to work with Michelle and Bob. I look for just the best stuff available, not genre; best movie, best people to work with. It's a matter of taste, what I like might not appeal to somebody else. I read it; it was a real page-turner. I was immediately drawn into the story and because I knew who the other players were, I called up and said "yes."

I don't see it as homage to Hitchcock, I frankly was never scared by Hitchcock films. I never really psychologically believed [Hitchcock's] characters that much. These days we tend to make scary stores out of violence, but this film is more maturely developed.

Press: If Hitchcock doesn't scare you then what does?

HF: The news. (smirks) the scariest movie I ever saw was "Bambi."

RA: How many other scripts did you read before you picked this one?

HF: I'll read 7 or 8 pages of something and decide it's of low ambition (grins devilishly). Sometimes I'll finish it and still not like it, but there are lots of reasons not to take it based on it's similarity to something I've recently done, a judgment that it's commercially un-viable, that it's wrong-headed, a judgment that I don't emotionally relate to the character.

(On possibly directing...)
That is not my ambition. I don't want to be in development, I don't want to direct. I don't want to be in the movie business one minute longer than I'm already in. (chuckles) And I mean that in the nicest way. I really enjoy my work and the amount of work I do... leaves me time to have a personal life and other interests.

(On Ridley Scott's statement that Deckard of "Blade Runner" was actually a replicant...)
That's news to me. I mean that's the argument that Ridley and I had from the very beginning and I said I think the audience needs to have a human on screen. Someone they can depend on and relate with. I think that I was assured by Ridley that Deckard was not a replicant. (smiles slowly during the next sentence) But I am delighted now to finally know the truth. (chuckles all around)

(On the lifetime achievement award from the American Institute...)
It was significant embarrassment; it hung over my head like a sword. I was certainly flattered by what was said and delighted that so many of my [colleagues] were so generous and kind to me but you know, I'm not much of a fan of public speaking. Having to actually come up with something to say in that context is daunting.

(On searching for the Indiana 4 script...)
Not looking, we're developing it. It won't happen without Steven and it won't happen without George.

Harrison thanks us and departs. A few minutes later, Michelle, in a carefree woman on the town demeanor enters. She's more bubbly and even seemingly innocent than one might have expected from her more serious/thick roles on the screen.

(On her fav scary movies...)

Michelle Pfeiffer: The first "Alien" is one of my scariest movies, "Birds" really terrified me and "The Exorcist." And when I was really little I used to be obsessed Michelle Pfeifferwith vampire movies and Frankenstein and "The Bad Seed" was my very first introduction into thrillers.

(On being alone on screen...)
I thought, "Who's gonna watch just me walking around the house?" And I panicked, I'm too boring, but the other character with me always is that cameras. There was a synchronicity with the camera, where ordinarily as an actor you don't want to know about the camera.

(On kissing Harrison Ford...)
Is he a good kisser? Yes, he's an excellent kisser. The age difference between us is a lot less than usually, so, we're actually a better match [age-wise]... than some other couplings. (chuckles all around)

(On shooting underwater...)
It was awful. I took some scuba lessons because I was really uncomfortable in the water. Being in the bathtub was the worst because it was so confined and I think it was weeks in that bathtub, I'd be in there for 5 hours [at a time] just laying there.

(On being in tune with the audience...)
I have never been a good judge of how an audience will respond. I just show up and do my job and they're either going to get it or not. See that's what Bob would say, "I think the audience needs a little something here." And he was right ... they love all that stuff.

Press: Did he ever do something not in the script to...

MP: To surprise me? No.

(On possibly directing...)
I might. It's incredibly consuming and I'm not ready to be consumed. I feel real competent about character development, but the tech end and how it will all cut together...

I just wrapped this in December and I committed to take this year off. The hard thing is, I'm so busy, and I can't even tell you what I fill my time with. It's so unbelievably difficult. I'm a shuttle bus. All of sudden you look at your life and cupboards and you see six years of junk.

(On the supernatural encounters...)
I'm not a believer or a non-believer that they do exist. I know people who have had encounters. People that I respect and I have no reason not to believe them, but myself I haven't.

"What Lies Beneath" director Robert (Bob) Zemeckis slides into the room. He's rather jubilant.

(On choosing the script...)

Robert Zemeckis: I kept second-guessing the main character, and that kept me turning the page which when that happens, I have to consider it. Secondly, there was an intelligence and kind of elegance to the writing and drawing of the characters. And there was an undercurrent of creepiness.

(On changing the original work...)
I've never come across a screenplay that you could just go shoot ... making movies is endless writing even right up to the final mix of the sound.

Press: Of the scripts you made into movies which ones were the ones in best shape?

RZ: The ones I made myself. (chuckles all around)

(On scheduling "What Lies Beneath" and "Castaway"...)
You can't afford to hold a crew for a year so I took the same crew and rolled them onto "What Lies Beneath" and then rolled them right back onto "Castaway." We were paying people to wait for Tom [Hanks] to lose weight, so we made a movie in-between. We wrapped "Castaway" in April, started "Beneath" in August, wrapped that in December then went back to Fiji in March so it worked out.

Enter Amber Valletta ... the apparition in the film. She's sharp, bold, and career minded.

(On the ghost's similarity to Michelle Pfeiffer...)

Amber Valletta: Actually the character was never written to look like her, I guess they liked my tape, then Bob and the producers said, "Oh wow, she looks like her too, cool."

[However] It was a requirement to be comfortable with water. I loved being Madison, she has a lot to her, and she's not just a ghost. Robert's really good at developing characters and giving the life ... so to speak. (chuckles)

Press: Was Harrison someone you were attracted to before you started working with him?

AV: I think he's a great actor, and I think he's handsome, but I wouldn't say I'm attracted to him. (squints eyes) He's definitely an icon and he was pretty hot as Han Solo. But, I have a lot more respect for him than having a girlie flirty attraction to him.

(On being pregnant...)
[I'm due in] October. I think as a woman [Michelle] exudes qualities of classiness and being a good mother and you don't necessarily need to pry into someone's life to know how they do it... you can just see that it can be done with care. You can have a career and loving, healthy family at home.

Diana Scarwid not unlike the fun-loving, quasi-kamikaze, kindred spiritual friend she plays in the film, takes the seat.

Diana Scarwid: I was kind of tentative about the Ouija board thing, I kind Diana Scarwidof blessed the area there.. because the last time I played with one was 20 something years ago when I was doing dinner theater, one of the actresses pulled out a Ouija board. There we were, the hair just went up on my arms, because it's very slow with the letters and he said, "Loraine had eyes of nighted blu...." This was taking hours with letters and letters. As the story progressed he [the spirit] told how he was tortured. The disk thing was just going crazy, just flying around and Bobbie said "We got to stop this I've seen this thing come up and hit people in the face." I said, "Well we've got to resolve this..."

Press: Was there any movement this time on the set?

DS: No, there was just too much activity, plus I did kind of bless the place.

Producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke slide in smugly.

(On the trailer...)
We feel we took the trailer as far as we could take it without giving away too much.

(On the success of "Sixth Sense.")
We were already into the process of making our movie when "The Sixth Sense" came out so it really had no bearing on us.

(On letting the cat out of the bag...)
It seems as if the audiences are very respectful of another audience member's experience of a movie, so when they go out there and talk about it it's really quite unusual for somebody to give away what they shouldn't give away and spoil the movie for somebody else.

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Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Thursday, 21-Oct-2010 15:26:34 PDT