Following in his family’s footsteps, his father being the late director John Huston and his sister actress Angelica Huston, Danny Huston has carved out an extremely successful acting career for himself, appearing in such eclectic movies as Clash of the Titans, The Aviator, Children of Men, The Kingdom, The Constant Gardener and 30 Days of Night.
In his new movie The Warrior’s Way, Huston plays the Colonel, the evil head of a renegade gang who years before killed the parents of a little girl named Lynne (Kate Bosworth), who scarred his face. Now a young woman, the Colonel wants to return to the town of Lode to claim Lynne as his own – but unbeknownst to him, a mysterious stranger named Yang (Jang Dong Gun) has come to Lode and is willing to lead the townspeople in an all-out battle against him.
What was your attraction for this project, is it a genre you’ve always wanted to do?
It was very similar to a Sergio Leone-type film, those (are connected) to my childhood in a way. I could almost imagine an (Ennio) Morricone score presenting my character. So it read as a very exciting project and I hoped that it would turn out well.
Can you describe the character of the Colonel?
The Colonel is larger than life and certainly crazed. He has a rather large ego. At times, he’s a bit of a coward, but he has the Hell Riders who flank him and take on any trouble that comes his way.
How did the make up help you get into character?
The limitations the mask imposed on me as an actor actually helped create the character. The masked side of the face was actually quite tranquil, but it distorted the visible side of my face to great effect. It also defined the way the character moves. There was this wonderful little Samurai slit for me to look through, but I didn’t have much peripheral vision. Because most of my vision came from the exposed side, it forced me to move my head in a distinctive way.
I’ve never seen you do this in any other movie, but I caught a little bit of your father, John Huston, in Chinatown in your performance in this.
The tightness of the mask and the way that it forced me to speak with a certain precision and occasionally I heard my father’s voice bleed into my voice and I shared the surprise when I saw it. I kind of see what you mean. Noah Cross, probably the best baddie, if baddie is the way to describe the character of Noah Cross, I think in film history.
In 30 Days and Night you were very scary, and you’re a villain in this – is that fun for you to do?
In something like 30 Days of Night what a nasty trick God plays on vampires. (he laughs) It’s a difficult existence, we can’t survive in daylight; we need human blood, so the character is angry at God.
Here the character is scarred by Kate Bosworth’s character on his face, and he’s quite vain, his heart is also scarred and there’s a romantic desire, however perverse that may sound, that he wants to satisfy.
Was it important for you to do a lot of your own stunts?
I feel more confident as an actor if the images that are being used are mine and not interpreted by a stunt man. You get the odd bruise here and there, so you feel like you’ve actually had an honest day’s work. We trained for the fight scenes and got it down to a fine dance. Still, you depend greatly on the stuntman to double you, especially in the moments when the action is amped up a bit. They make you look great.
Did you do a lot of training?
I had a stunt girl that I was practicing the sword fights with and Kate had a stunt man. In a way I wished for more training because I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but also the anticipation made me nervous and kept a certain amount of adrenaline going. It was a lot of fun for me.
When I was swinging the sword I would look over one shoulder to make sure that Kate was aware that that was what I was going to do, and there was this momentary connection and then you just go for it, you just swing it. Maybe not at a hundred percent but you try to push above the eighties to make it work. And it’s exciting for actors to feel that they’re doing their own stunts.
What was it like working with Jang Dong Gun?
One of the main reasons this picture got made is that he’s in it, so he’s quite a powerful actor in his own right, but also a delicate, sweet, humble human being; he is also an actor who understand stillness.
What will we see you in next?
The Conspirator (opens March, 2011) I believe, directed by Robert Redford. I play Joseph Holt, the prosecutor responsible for the first woman that was hung in the United States for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.
Do you see him as the heavy?
I try to not to censor the material in the way of what’s good and what’s bad, I just try to understand the character. I think in this particular case he’s a man who’s suffered great loss, a great President. In a way these conspirators are like terrorists, and there’s a witch hunt element to it. One could directly relate it to what is happening at Guantanamo right now, and the trials that are going on. So there’s no black and white. But it was a very interesting point in history that relates very much to today.