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Interview: Josh Harnett talks ‘I Come With The Rain’

I COME WITH THE RAIN is a brutal and compelling story of Ex-Los Angeles cop turned private eye Kline (Hartnett), who travels to Hong Kong in search of Shitao (Kimura), the missing son of a Chinese billionaire. Enlisting Meng Zi (Yue), a friend and former colleague now working for the Hong Kong police, Kline follows a faint trail left by the ethereal Shitao. The path leads to local gangster Su Dongpo (Byung-hun) and his beautiful, drug-addicted girlfriend Lili (Tran Nu Yen Khe). But Kline is distracted from his search, haunted by memories of the serial killer Hasford (Koteas), whose ‘body of work’ was the reason Kline quit the police force.

I COME WITH RAIN is just about to finish  a limited run in the cinemas in and around UK & Ireland, the movie is about to come to DVD & Blu-Ray  on May 2nd the movies main star Josh Harnett recently sat down to chat about the movie, life and his career so far….

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ‘I COME WITH THE RAIN’?
It’s kind of difficult to explain what ‘I Come with the Rain’ is about. It’s a movie I shot in Hong Kong with Anh Hung Tran (‘The Scent of Green Papaya’). He’s amazing, a Vietnamese director. It’s a visual kind of poetic piece. He’s a very famous Vietnamese-French director whose films are very difficult to define in certain ways. I had a great time working with him and the film is about a young private investigator who goes to off to… – well, I suppose I should stop saying young because I’m 30 now (laughs). Well, the film is about a private investigator that gets sent by this man to find his son, that might be in the Philippines. He goes there and the kid might or might not be there. But the movie is really about Catholicism and how this religion is the fastest growing in Asia. There’s a very Catholic theme throughout the movie. The character that I’m chasing, he can heal by touch, and my character is overly empathetic and he finds people becoming like them in a certain way, going through an emotional state, living like them and suddenly he bumps into them. But my character has a really dark past. In the beginning of the film he is in tears, he tries to kill himself, and he is in a mental institution because he was chasing a serial killer and he becomes a little bit like the guy he was chasing. And he finds the guy and kills him in the same fashion that the guy used to kill his victims.

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT WORKING WITH THIS DIRECTOR?
The movie is like his movie ‘Cyclo’. It’s dark but the way he shoots it turns the movie in a very beautiful light. What make his films so great are the visuals and lyricism and the way he approaches the scenes. I never had a director telling me to slow down that often, you know, take your time and just do one shot. He wants the film to breathe, which is really rare because usually the pace of scenes in films nowadays is about how many scenes you can get in one minute. I think this is going to be a phenomenal film, on the highest level. Hopefully, we’ll see.

WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON?
I produced this movie called ‘August’ which is Austin Chick’s sophomore effort. We have some amazing actors in it like Rip Torn and David Bowie. They haven’t worked together since ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’. And there’s a lot of other interesting people in it. It was a very solid script about real people in an extraordinary situation. We shot it really cheap here in New York, but it looks quite good. It’s good to be able to do a film at home, I live here now.

YOU HAVE LIVED IN LOS ANGELES AND THEN YOU WENT TO MINNESOTA. IS NEW YORK A CHANGE FOR YOU?
Actually, I started working at 18 and I moved away from home at 17 – I moved to New York, went to school. So I’m back in New York now. I have a place in Minnesota as well but really I’m always travelling. I’m always on the move at this point in my life. I figure later on I’ll be settling down. I made this film in Hong Kong and before that I was in New Zealand, so…

DOES LIVING OUTSIDE LA GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON IT?
Sure, I think so. I mean, I’m not so caught up in the daily process of self congratulations that we have out there. I don’t read Daily Variety. I’m not up on who’s making how much money on what project. You can get caught in that trap of – I think you do get – almost everybody who has spent enough time out in LA gets caught up in that trap of, I want to be the biggest, I want to be making the most, I want to be the most respected. And by respect I mean that it’s the same sort of game that sports players play with each other. It’s like, I’m number one right now. They’re always trying to one up each other. You think that if you are the best actor, you deserve the most or if you are the biggest star, you deserve the most. That race just isn’t important to me. I just want to make good films on my own wherever I can. Yeah, it’s been the healthiest thing for me to get away from all this.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN EUROPE FOR A WHILE?
Yeah! I’d love to.

COMING FROM MINNESOTA, DO YOU THINK THAT THE CLIMATE REALLY AFFECTS THE MOOD OF THE PEOPLE?
I think there are an inordinate amount of creative people that come from my hometown because we literally spend six months out of the year inside with nothing to do but…imagine. Really great musicians come from Minnesota because there’s just so much time to practice. We have a couple of true geniuses like Bob Dylan and Prince and other artists as well. And I come from an artistic family so I think climate ultimately affects everything. If you have nothing but beaches around you, you’ll probably surf and have a great tan. It’s going to affect the way you look and the way you act. Period.

LAST TIME WE SPOKE YOU WERE SAYING THAT YOUR FAMILY WAS BEING A LITTLE BIT HASSLED BECAUSE OF YOUR FAME AND SUCCESS. IS THAT PART OF THE REASON THAT YOU LEFT FOR A LITTLE BIT? DID YOU FEEL SOME SORT OF PRESSURE?
Not from them. They can take care of themselves, and they never asked me to change anything for their benefit. I think that the hassling was kind of…I mean it goes with the territory, but it isn’t the best part. Obviously it probably has a little bit to do with why I stepped back, but I think the biggest reason was that it wasn’t a step back, as much as it was a step forward for me personally and artistically. I think that the stuff I’m doing now is much better than the stuff I did in the past. I’m going to continue to do new and interesting work. Whether or not everyone want to see it, that’s not really my goal anymore. I’m excited to be working with good people, and real artists on real projects, and feeling satisfied at the end of the day.

SO WHY DID YOU STEP BACK A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO?
I felt that the roles I was being offered were reflecting where I was at personally. After ‘Black Hawk Down’ there was a real lull. Everybody was trying to put me in action movies and typical of heroic roles and I wanted to find more complex things. They just didn’t suit my taste so I thought, okay, I have to be brave enough to say no. And for a while that hurt me immeasurably in the Hollywood world. A lot of people felt jilted, like my ex-agents and stuff like that. They felt like I wasn’t working with them and some studios, I guess, didn’t want to work with me because they felt like I turned my back on these great things that people had given me. But it wasn’t a personal issue with them, it only had to do with what I felt I wanted to do as an artist, as an actor. ‘Artist’ is such a loaded word, please don’t quote me on it – actor – so I wanted to take some time and rework my thinking. So it just had to do with being able to pull back when I felt like the work wasn’t in line with what I wanted to do.

ARE YOU HAPPY YOU DIDN’T DO ‘SUPERMAN’?
Well, I never considered ‘Superman’. It’s not really my thing or wasn’t really what I wanted to do. So, yes, I’m glad that I didn’t have to put on the tights but that was a decision that I made for myself. I love the movies, I love the big action movies and stuff like that it’s just not what I’m interested in playing. Yeah, so I saw the tights for ‘Superman’ [laughs] and I’m only getting older, so…

YOU PRODUCED A MOVIE BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY DIRECTING ASPIRATIONS?
Ever since I’ve started I’ve always been behind the scenes you ask any director. Whenever I’m not working I’m always behind the scenes. The point more for me is learning the process in all regards and when I decide to step out and do something else I’ll do it.

WHAT MAKES YOU COMFORTABLE WITH A DIRECTOR?
His past films, like how was the performances in his last films? Or if his visuals are exciting. I want constantly to grow. I think people have more potential than they give themselves credit for – in this industry specially. When you work with great directors, you can really throw yourself to them and they can find a way to work with you. Sometimes when you see these actors who tend to do these flamboyant characterizations in a movie where the director didn’t protect them, they look terrible, you know? For a long time I was completely terrified to look like an idiot on the screen. Now I’m becoming less and less worried about looking like an idiot and more and more worried of not fully embodying every emotional state the character has to have. I think I’m driven by fear. I’m trying to pick directors that I really feel comfortable with. In the past, I was much more interested in how the role was.

ARE YOU MORE ACCEPTING NOW OF YOUR HEARTTHROB STATUS? WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT…JUST THE BULLSHIT OF HOLLYWOOD. ARE YOU MORE RESIGNED TO THE FACT THAT IT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS?
I think I’m a little bit more of a realist. I think I see that if you’re always trying to operate outside of reality you’re not going to get anywhere. That’s what people admire, and that’s what people want to see. That’s part of it, but my struggle is to try and take that into consideration, and try to do something that is different in the realm…in the movies, and that’s just what I want to do..

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU’D BE CALLED A HOLLYWOOD CAD?
No it doesn’t surprise me because they want to make a story out of anything, really. I think that’s just the bread and butter of a lot of magazines these days. They sensationalize everything because they don’t have a story. They’ll write whatever they can get their hands on it. I think the more you stay out of the spotlight the more believable you are as an actor. You don’t want anyone knowing about your life anyway.

DO YOU HAVE ANY THEORY WHY AMERICA IS SO OBSESSED BY CELEBRITY?
What’s surprising to me is how obsessed people are about it, the same way in Britain. And there are just as many magazines dedicated to celebrity in Britain, but there is one third of the population. So it’s a universal phenomenon that really enjoys celebrity culture.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
I’m probably going to do this movie called ‘End Zone’. It’s a very interesting project. I love Don DeLillo as a novelist and I think that the script he wrote [based on his story of games, including college football and nuclear warfare, set in Texas] is fantastic and hilarious.

YOU WERE WORKING ON A BIOPIC OF JAZZ MUSICIAN CHET BAKER?
The Chet Baker project is kind of on hold; we had a script that wasn’t kinetic enough, and was for the wrong audience. Not that many people have followed Chet Baker’s career. We thought that it would have to be this commanding story [about his life] that everyone would want to see, if we could only get it on the page. We had multiple people who wanted to work on the film, so I felt like I would take a step back. We’ll see what happens.

YOU ARE ONE OF A FEW ACTORS WHO’S HAD LONG-TERM SUCCESS AND NOT STARRED IN A SEQUEL OF ONE OF YOUR OWN MOVIES. WHY IS THAT?
I have a very short attention span so if I don’t move to something completely different, I tend to get pretty stale. In terms of sequels, I’m hoping to get back to do another ‘Sin City’. Probably that’s the only sequel I will be involved with in the future. I love working with Robert (Rodriguez). He hired me for my first film (‘The Faculty’) so I told him at the time and I really like him as a person and I really like the way he works.

  I Come With The Rain is release on DVD and Blu-ray 2 MAY


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