Amber Heard takes a wild ride with Nicolas Cage in the new supernatural, action-thriller Drive Angry. She portrays Piper, a tough waitress who joins John Milton (Cage) on his quest to save his baby granddaughter from the clutches of a satanic religious sect, before she’s sacrificed at midnight.
She spoke with us about kicking ass, and her admiration for her co-star, Nicolas Cage.
What was it about this role that attracted you?
I’ve never read a character like this. Piper is a cowboy boot-wearing, potty-mouthed, gun-carrying, Charger-driving small town diner waitress with a heart of gold. Piper is not stereotypical and she would punch you in the mouth if you said she was.
How much did you identify with this character?
I am from Texas. So fistfights, muscle cars, guns, it’s part of the gig. I definitely felt right at home in my cowboy boots and Daisy Dukes [shorts]. I have a lot of Piper in me.
What was it like working with Nicolas Cage?
He’s such an amazing actor. He’s so talented and you very quickly realize why he is the legend that he is. He’s a true professional. He comes from old school professionalism. He shows up prepared and ready to improvise and ready to change and adjust to what you give that day to your character, to your scenes. He’s respectful and sensitive and kind of crazy; but just the right amount of crazy. It’s a good mix between Zen and crazy. That’s what I like to describe Nicolas Cage as.
You and Nic had great chemistry. Did you at any point feel that the two characters should’ve gotten romantic?
I didn’t feel like that, actually. It’s interesting that you ask because when you read the script and you meet Piper you assume that’s what’s going to happen. We’re used to seeing the male female duo that are romantic with each other, especially when it comes to the archetypes that these characters are, the tough female and the tough guy.
You assume he’s going to save her because that’s what men and women do in these movies, typically. So I love that she’s not saved by him.
In fact she saves him more. And also you expect them to get romantic and I loved the relationship that Nic and I have, the chemistry that we have, the connection that we have was so strong and so real that we didn’t need a romantic element to piggyback on.
I think that our relationship stood on it’s own merit and it’s a stronger bond, that familiar relationship that we have. It doesn’t need the romance, I guess.
What was it like shooting the action sequences in this?
I had the best time making this movie, primarily because I get to get into fistfights, spit blood, drive a ’69 Charger, save the world with Nicolas Cage and do so in a pair of Daisy Dukes. Part of the thrill is the action sequences and the fight sequences that we have. We had a great stunt coordinator.
He did Gone in Sixty Seconds so I knew I was in good hands. He coordinated the whole fight between me and all the characters, including the naked lady. Yeah, I felt like it was just a very Drive Angry moment at that moment, as I’m beating up this naked chick.
What percentage of the fighting did you do, especially in fight between Piper and Jonah King (Billy Burke) the head of the religious sect?
Well, I wanted to do everything, but there are legal and financial reasons that they can’t let me do it all. So I would say that I did ninety percent, ninety five percent. There were just a few moments [my stunt double] did.
What’s one moment that she had to do instead of you?
There was a moment where I get slammed up against the corner of something in the RV and Kimberly Shannon, my stunt double [did that]. She is so talented and I’d always work with her if I have the opportunity to, but I’d say that ninety percent of it was me.
Regarding the ninety percent that you did do, did you sustain any injuries, bruises or anything like that where you wore it with pride?
I did, yeah. I cut myself several times. I fell a lot and I was bruised. I came to set one morning, and I had some scrapes on my arms, and they were like, ‘Oh, I forgot to take that off of you. Did it not come off in the shower?’ I was like, ‘No, that is real. Were you not paying attention yesterday?’
What is your favorite Nicolas Cage kicking ass movie?
I grew up with Gone in Sixty Seconds. That was a big one for having been a car fan. I don’t know how old I was, but I remember seeing that and thinking that would be the dream job that Angelina Jolie and Nic had. I was certainly so impressed with that that it stuck with me into my adulthood.
I also like his newer stuff. I love what he made out of a character he had in Kick Ass. I thought that was really cool and kitschy and weird and so unexpected. I think he’s so talented. The reason I’m so impressed with Nic, it’s indescribable, that extra element that he always chooses to bring to his characters. His choices are always really strong and they’re so different.
When you’re caught in traffic in Los Angeles do you drive angry?
My record says that I do!