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Teeing up for ‘Secretariat’

When audiences first meet the irascible French-Canadian horse trainer Lucien Laurin in “Secretariat,” portrayed by Hollywood actor John Malkovich, they see a man hopeless at golf and spitting out put-downs in French.

When audiences first meet the irascible French-Canadian horse trainer Lucien Laurin in “Secretariat,” portrayed by Hollywood actor John Malkovich, they see a man hopeless at golf and spitting out put-downs in French. It’s the latest in a line of delightfully aggressive turns from Malkovich, who also hits theaters this month with action-comedy movie “Red.”

Metro sat down with the veteran actor at the Santa Anita Park racetrack to discuss choosing roles, directing theater versus movies and how to look like a bad golfer on screen.

How is your actual golf game?

I never really played golf. My best friend growing up was always playing golf. I went out, I think, maybe once or twice and smacked the ball around a little bit. I never properly tried it though.

So you didn’t have to try too hard to play badly?

Actually, [director] Randall [Wallace] kept filming golf shots that turned out to be too good, so I fixed him up with some bad ones. One shot I hit was fantastic. I put out five balls on the tee and managed to hit one that ricocheted and did another ricochet, eventually hitting the cameraman. It was a spectacular shot. I was like, “Take that!”

You’ve got an eclectic mix of roles this year, with “Jonah Hex,” “Red” and “Secretariat.” How do you plan the types of roles you’ll take on?

I don’t fret over the notion of roles. I try to worry whether a film will be good or not. “Jonah Hex” could have been good. Frankly, it didn’t turn out to be, but I didn’t go into the film with any sort of cynicism.

Your fellow actor Josh Brolin does a fantastic impression of you.

Yeah, they say it’s very good.

Have you heard it?

Not in its entirety. He did a little bit of it for me. I’m very, very fond of Josh. But yeah, I hear that he does a very good impression. I’ve heard a few, but I haven’t heard Josh’s just yet.

 
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