LARRY COHEN: MAN IN A PHONE BOOTH

Finally, Cohen got a phone call from CAA that put things in motion. “They said, ‘Have you heard of Colin Farrell? He’s going to be Stuart Shepard,’” recalls Cohen whose next reaction was one of confusion. “I said, ‘Who the hell is Colin Farrell,’” recalls Cohen with a laugh. “Finally, they explained to me that he was this hot young actor who was about to appear in a bunch of big movies with the likes of Spielberg and Bruce Willis, everything. I guess his big breakthrough was in Tigerland with Joel, who was now set as director. The more I learned about Colin, the happier I was. He’s going to be a big star. The kid’s great looking and he did a great job playing Stuart.”

Joining Farrell, Holmes, Mitchell and Whitaker in the Phone Booth cast are Paula Jai Parker, Tia Texada and Richard T. Jones. Ray Liotta was originally signed on to be in the film, but left the production just prior to filming. Phone Booth’s cinematographer is Matthew Libatique, best known for his work in Requiem for a Dream and Schumacher’s Tigerland where he and the director became friends. Cohen likes what he sees. “They’re doing this in sequence, from the beginning to the end,” says Cohen of the guerrilla shoot which took place during off hours over Phone Booth ’s aforementioned tight ten day shooting schedule. “That means that everybody’s involved in the movie; they’ve all got their heads into the action and it makes for a very intense environment. Joel did a lot of interesting things with this film: using some 16mm, some 35mm and I think this is the best film that Joel’s ever made.”

So what becomes of Larry Cohen, the director, with all of his newfound Hollywood fame? As mentioned, Cohen hasn’t directed a film since 1996′s gang opus “Original Gangstas.” “I’ve been around a long time and I’m going to be around,” asserts Cohen. “If ‘Cellular’ and Phone Booth are successful, I expect that it’ll be easy to finance some of the scripts that I want to direct. If not, I’ll just keep writing, making a million dollars a script. I’ve directed about twenty pictures and it’s a different story now, the film business. I used to be the king of the independents; I was basically the only one, but now there’s hundreds of these independent movies and they’re just giving them away because there’s so much useless product out there.“

But for Cohen, who concedes that directing is “the only way to have full control. There’s no real control writing for others,” there is one project he has a passion for. “I’d like to do a remake of “It’s Alive!” What do you think of that?” Cohen asks. “I think it would translate very well today what with all of the stuff about cloning, and the predetermination of ones traits and the hunting down of those creatures that are abnormal. Nowadays, they’re talking about being able to clone babies and what if one of your loved ones died and you could just clone them? What does that mean to people? Many of my films, especially the “It’s Alive!” films, have been very prophetic that way. I might even like to bring back some of the original cast members although I think fans might want to see big name actors in a remake, maybe someone like a Nicolas Cage. It’s just something I’m thinking about. We’ll see what happens. I’m in a great spot right now.” The king of the low budgets is starting to think big.




Posted on April 4, 2003 in Interviews by

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