LOS ANGELES – Vera Farmiga and Dax Shepard are definitely part of the Robert Downey Jr. fan club, especially after working with the “Iron Man” on “The Judge.”
But don’t discount: Billy Bob Thornton is apparently a pretty good hang.
The co-stars told HitFix reporter Louis Virtel what made their own roles in the flick so cool (or “cute-cucumber,” whatever your preference) too.
“I like taking on feminine characterizations I admire, and want to be more like,” Farmiga said of her role Samantha. “There’s a lot in between the lines.”
For Shepard, he said this is the first time ever he’s “played someone who’s a straight[-up] good person,” he said. “I’m not witty, I’m not making fun of anyone. I do my best… really acknowledging how I feel about Downey in real life. Which is ‘this guy is the greatest.'”
Which roles would the actors love to take from their movies, and turn into a TV show?
Frito from “Idiocracy” is certainly a fan favorite, as far as Shepard’s resumee is concerned. He likes to make his wife Kristen Bell laugh by busting out that dumbbell accent around the house.
And Farmiga would love to be that good ol’ “wacky prostitute” Oana from 2006’s “Breaking and Entering.”
Watch the rest of the interview above, on other fun moments from “The Judge,” why Shepard’s caught on the term “buffoon” and how fans see Farmiga after getting a load of Norma Bates from “Bates Motel.”
Robert Downey Jr. counts actress Vera Farmiga, one of his co-stars in The Judge, among “my favourite human beings in the world.” Back at you, Downey. Farmiga thinks so highly of you and of fellow co-star Robert Duvall that she calls working with the duo on The Judge “a great privilege.”
This kind of buttering-up can be utter nonsense, trite asides during a movie promotion. But, in this case, the mutual admiration sounds genuine and therefore believable. It started with the respect she had going in on the project, Farmiga says in a one-on-one interview prior to the release of The Judge, which is now playing in theatres.
“Duvall and Downey are arguably the best actors in the world. So there is a respect already that we all came with.” Naming other members of the ensemble, including Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Billy Bob Thornton and Dax Shepard, Farmiga says “the calibre already is five-star across the board.”
Layer that support cast under the Duvall-Downey duo and the set was electric, Farmiga says. “So you come in with such respect and anticipation and joy — and that is what you yearn for as an actor, to have this kind of opportunity!”
VERA Farmiga will tell you that doing love scenes is awkward enough (“it’s just weird”), but when your on-screen love interest’s wife is a producer on the film and is standing just out of shot, it can prove downright bizarre.
“I’m sitting on Robert Downey Jr’s lap, and the director is telling me to move this way and that, and his wife Susan is standing there, nodding her head,” laughs the actor.
“The pressure was on me to please Susan. The first person I looked at was her, like, ‘Susan, is that OK?’ I mean, she kisses him on a daily basis — she’s the expert!”
Farmiga and Downey star in The Judge, an old-fashioned weepy (mixed with those old family resentments, grudges and things left unsaid) about Hank, a high-flying lawyer (Downey) who returns to his small hometown to deal with his gruff father (Robert Duvall), the town’s judge, who’s facing a murder charge.
Farmiga plays Sam, “a solid, peaceful gal”, and Hank’s high school girlfriend.
“She’s pretty much the only woman in the film,” groans Farmiga. “So there was a lot of testosterone flying around. Actually, it was good that Susan (Downey) was there!”
Farmiga reckons that “films like this” just aren’t being made in Hollywood, and that it took Downey’s star power to get the project across the line.
“I think there’s a very noble message here (about family). I know what it does for me in my life, I know what direction it points me to. What it sort of deems me guilty of in my life.”
“I’m not going to tell you,” she laughs, “but in a general sense, I know where there’s anger, and indignation and hurt and resentment that I’m not addressing.”
The upcoming horror film Annabelle has many ties back to James Wan’s 2013 movie The Conjuring – as any prequel/spin-off would – but one link it doesn’t have is appearances from the originals’ stars. While the characters do have very important ties to the titular doll, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorainne Warren, who were played by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in last year’s horror film, don’t actually make an appearance in Annabelle. But that wasn’t necessarily always going to be the case.
This past weekend, I had the chance to sit down with Annabelle director John Leonetti and producer James Wan, and personally wondering about Farmiga and Wilson’s absence, I took the opportunity to ask if there was ever a discussion behind the scenes about having them make a cameo appearance. As it turns out, there were conversations about it, but it was ultimately decided that the schedules just wouldn’t work out, so the idea was left behind. Said Leonetti,
“Honestly, yes, we would have loved for them to join the party, if you will, but I just don’t think it was viable with their schedule and ours, so we just did it the way we did it.”
While Ed and Lorainne Warren don’t actually appear on screen in Annabelle, their finger prints are still all over it. To this day, the Annabelle doll (which in real life is actually a rather normal Raggedy Anne) remains as the most notable piece in the Warrens’ collection of demonically touched items. The new film even opens with a call back to the Annabelle sequence in The Conjuring where the Warrens are interviewing a pair of nurses who have felt the toy’s evilness (though the “Warrens” never actually appear on screen).
I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Leonetti and Wan about it during our short interview, but I remain curious as to what the cinematic future holds for Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and the series. The Conjuring wound up making nearly $320 million worldwide when it was done with its box office run, and while Annabelle certainly represents an expansion of the franchise, I wonder if we’ll ever get a more direct sequel with the Warrens looking into another one of their most famous cases. It could possibly hinge on the success of Leonetti’s movie this weekend.
Norma Bates has had nothing but bad luck in relationships on “Bates Motel,” and for viewers who know where her story in “Psycho” ends, that track record isn’t likely to change any time soon. But that doesn’t stop fans from itching for a relationship between Vera Farmiga’s Norma and Nestor Carbonell’s Sheriff Romero.
Both Carbonell and Farmiga are intrigued by the idea, they tell Zap2it during a San Diego Comic-Con 2014 group interview. “I know a lot of people are eager to explore that, and I am, but I want them to do that in a way that is simmering,” Farmiga says.
There were some teases of a possible romantic interest between the two in Season 2, and Farmiga found it “sexy” because Romero “never says anything.” “He’s a man of very few words, and then he opens his mouth and lets the fact that he’s been watching me undress just roll out, without apology,” Farmiga says. “I look forward to where they take it.”
Near the end of season two, A&E’s Bates Motel gave a tantalizing glimpse of teen Norman Bates experiencing the personality split integral to his later-life behavior. Since the character has already racked up a body count, the next question might be when he’ll begin wearing his mother’s clothes. In a discussion after the Bates Motel Comic-Con panel in San Diego Friday afternoon, star Freddie Highmore addressed the inevitable.
“It’s going to come at some point, isn’t it? I can see Norman sitting down in her room in front of the mirror and thinking ‘Oh, I’m going to put on her clothes and see what they look like,’” Highmore said. “Whether that’s this year or next year or the year after, who knows? I don’t know with any certainty at all. But, yeah, there’s certainly going to be the merging of the two parts of Norman’s life and of his personality… The furthest [he's gone] was probably in the motel with Caleb when he starts speaking as her. And that’s when she’s kind of taken over his personality. I mean, maybe if there had been a dress around—who knows?”
Hosted by Entertainment Weekly senior writer Dan Snierson, the afternoon panel included executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost, The Strain) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights), and cast Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates), Olivia Cooke (Emma), and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero). Snierson asked about season two’s emotional, intimate kiss scene, in which Norma comforts her suicidal son.
“Apparently, there was no kiss, until Freddie Highmore read it,” Farmiga said.
“I just thought Norman would like a kiss,” Highmore responded. “It would tempt him off the edge of suicide, that last thing—and it needed to be at least three seconds.”
Both actors agreed that filming the scene didn’t seem particularly notable in the moment. “For Norma, she’s this broken-down lioness, and she’s taking care of this lame cub, and it’s a life-or-death scenario—she’s going to give him a few licks,” Farmiga said.
Friday, July 25 • 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Bates Motel reopens in San Diego! Executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost, The Strain) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) will debut an exciting video with the cast of the highly acclaimed drama series, exclusively for Comic-Con attendees. The executive producers will be joined by the cast, including Vera Farmiga in her Emmy-nominated role as Norma Bates, Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates), Olivia Cooke (Emma), and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero) to discuss the hit series. Fans will hear firsthand details about what is to come in season 3 debuting in 2015 on A&E and will have a chance to ask the cast and creators questions during a Q&A. The panel will be moderated by Dan Snierson from Entertainment Weekly.