LOS ANGELES — Actor Danny Huston has been having a lot of fun playing bad guys lately, and his latest, the genre-bending martial arts-meets-Old West The Warrior’s Way, has him sinking his teeth into one of his baddest. Huston sat down with Metro to chat about villainy, ninjas in the Old West and getting back to directing.
You seem to be enjoying yourself playing bad guys.
I enjoyed myself on this. The highlight for me really was the sword action sequence with Kate [Bosworth] ,which was shot over about four days. That was just, from a choreography point of view, very exciting, physically demanding and a lot of fun to do. But there’s another aspect to this guy. He’s quite complex — I suppose like most villains. Yet he has this quite unique quality about him. He’s vain, he’s romantic. A psychopath of sorts. There are levels to him that were meaty and enjoyable to take on.
Villains seem to always be the meatier roles in big movies.
I would go along with that, but also our hero is complex in this story. It has a wonderful sort of zen balance to it, this film, which I suppose is indicative as to where it comes from. The hero, in a way, has renounced violence. Our heroine needs violence to conquer her demons. But the violence in this film, for me personally, it’s so exquisite, so beautiful to look at, that it loses its violent impact. Unlike another film I did called The Proposition that was written by Nick Cave, which was very violent — a few people are killed in it. I recall stamping on somebody’s head. But this is on another level. It’s a ballet. It’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It has a beauty to it, which allows it to be quite accessible and ultimately not about violence, but about love.
Martial arts in the Old West is an interesting mix.
I didn’t know quite how the ninjas, all of that was going to work. It at times confused me, to be quite honest. But it’s almost like an opera. To answer your question, there’s a silence that Kurosawa and Ford shared, in your protagonist not necessarily having to express or emote his emotions, but for them to be contained. And Sergio Leone did the same thing, and I think our lead in this picture, our warrior, is extremely good at stillness and at being able to convey emotion without having to act it.
Who would win in a fight, you or Kate?
Kate’s pretty damn good. She’s very athletic, she’s quite a crafty little swordsman. I also felt a little brutish from time to time because I am so much bigger. If I landed a punch or hit her with one of those blades, which are big, with my weight behind it I could really hurt her. But if she started fighting with me, I think I would just lay down and let her do whatever she wished.
Will you be returning to directing soon?
I’m developing a film called Day of the Dead, which is based on a novel by a guy named Kent Harrington. I’ve been optioning this book for 10 or 15 years. It’s become a bad, costly habit. So I’ve got to get this thing made, and I’m looking to start production on it, hopefully, next year. I’m itching to get back in the saddle and direct again. One of the really tough things about directing, other than the job itself, is waiting for your picture to have this green light, this eternal green light that you wait for. And that can be really painful.