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Death Race 2: Interviews with Danny Trejo, Luke Goss and Tanit Phoenix


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#1 of 1 Adam Gregorich

Adam Gregorich

    Executive Producer

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  • Join Date: Nov 20 1999
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Posted January 16 2011 - 06:47 AM

Universal is releasing Death Race 2 on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday January 18th.  Home Theater Forum had the opportunity to sit down with Luke Goss, Tanit Phoenix and Danny Trejo to talk about the release:


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


Luke Goss and Tanit Phoenix on Death Race 2:


HTF:  Luke, You are being made out to be “the new guy” as they are promoting this release, but you really have got quite an extensive background.


Luke:  Luckily I’m a big lover of films and I’m a big kid when it comes to being a part of the industry, I’m still pinching myself when I’m on sets more and more with people that I grew up with, that I’m a fan of --- I feel like they are going to jump out and say “get the F out of here”.


HTF:  Both of you have transitioned from other careers, modeling and singing.  What’s been the biggest challenge?


Tanit:  Luke was a sexy dancer before he became an actor.  And I came from wrangling -----I’m kidding!!  I started modeling when I was 14 and went all over the world, but I’ve always wanted to be an actor.  I told my dad when I was 6 years old, this is what I want to do.  The genre of careers….it’s not easy to go to in South Africa; not a lot of Hollywood films are cast out there.  I’ve done a few others, but when this film presented itself I got the script and I went and auditioned for the leading role and I booked it.   Roel [the director] was like “ooh, this is the girl, she’s ballsy I like her, she’s great for an action film” and it went from there.  I was in Paris once and I was stopped by a Parisian and he said “You would be so beautiful, you should audition for this one role”.  I found out later on it was for Alexander the Great, I think I was 20 years old, and I auditioned for the part playing Angelina Jolie’s daughter.   I had no training, I didn’t know what I was doing, people were looking at me like “what is this girl doing?”. But that sparked the passion to go and train, and this is where I am now.


Luke:  And we’re lucky to have her, she is amazing in itself.  She is just really, really great.  There may have been an assumption that she might just be the boob element, to stand there looking cute…


Tanit:  The BOOB ELEMENT??????????!!!


Tanit in Death Race 2: 





Luke:  Hey, I’m just sitting here looking at the poster….!  In the story we have a great need to see the relationships and the fact that people, although we are prisoners, we are invested in each other, we care about each other, there is a showing of humanity and being able to survive in that environment.  Some things I saw in the screening, I was just blown away by what she did.   So, from that Parisian story to today:  Bravo, Love! (to Tanit)

Luke (continues):   I had a start in music as a kid and then I got into theater.  I was always selling [garbled] film, and self-making a film in London, an independent movie and then playing a drug addict. The Times said some nice things about my performance and I thought “why not try Hollywood”.   And I never assumed it would be a walk in the park, I’m certainly not traditional in the theater, I’m a bony-looking guy and I just knew it would be a journey.   So the fact that I’ve got momentum and I’m getting asked to  play roles, actually, I’m still quite surprised.


Tanit:  Bony-looking guy?????  I have to jump in.  The woman in this conference were all talking about your body and how hot it was and what you did to get it this way!


Luke:  You got to love that right?  Seriously, I knew I had a ride ahead of me, you know what I mean?  I knew it was going to be tough, there is so much competition here.  And I hate auditions, in fact I haven’t done one in a few years.  I hate auditions because I get so nervous, I don’t know why…


Tanit:  Really? I didn’t know you get nervous.


Luke:  I hate that feeling!  The more films you make, the more you audition, the more you film, the less nervous you are.  The transition from music to film ---they are so different, they are not related, it really didn’t help me.  No one gives a shit if you were a musician before or even if you done theater and you have, like 1500 performances under your belt, it’s like “yeah, that’s great, anyway…..”  It really doesn’t carry a lot of weight in Los Angeles, but then, here we are.


HTF:  What interested each of you in these roles, other than just a passion, a love for acting?


Tanit:  It was getting to work with some amazing cast members, like Luke Goss, and I was a huge fan of Sean Bean and we had a scene that was scripted---actually, it wasn’t scripted but it was put into the film by the director and I just worked with Danny Trejo who is a very good friend and I love him to pieces, and Ving Rhames.  You would almost think that Danny would be the bad-ass, scary guy that you really couldn’t approach, that you’d be afraid to ask certain things of, but he’s actually very approachable.
Ving scared me the MOST ---I was afraid of him when I first met him, but actually I think he was just so set into his character, but when I see him now here in LA, he’s very friendly and sweet.  It seems like the car chases and the fighting and the fact that I got to play lead [Katrina]!


Luke:  All of us got along.  I wanted to do this project when I read the screenplay, I was like, wow, there are a lot more relationships in this than I would have expected.  Roel and I wanted to work together previously, and the producer said “no, I want this other guy” but Roel said “no, I want Luke, he’s my first choice and that’s who I want to work with.”  Then I saw the rest of the cast and it got more exciting by the day!


HTF:  You alluded to how physical the role was, did you get to do a lot of your own stunts?


Luke:   I did a lot of the driving, not just a token bit.  Roel and I are MASSIVE McQueen fans and we wanted viewers to believe that the character was doing it.  Roel got in the car and got thrown around like a crazy man filming us.  I think it paid off well, because the audience can definitely see that we are really doing it.


Tanit:  I got to climb on a car and shoot a huge machine gun back at the cars behind me and I get thrown out of the car, I take out 3 convicts, it was a lot of fun.  I have kind of a history of agility in sports --- my dad used to race cars, I grew up doing skydiving, hiking, I scuba dive, I horseride, I bungee jump, I climb mountains.  Being somewhat of a tom-boy, and working with these guys on this film, it was UNBELIVEABLE, I loved going to work!


HTF:  So, in other words, you’re telling me you were bored..?


Tanit:  No!  I was never bored!


Luke:  Yes, she’s quite a good-looking tom-boy!


HTF:  For you, Tanit, I know South Africa is home.  What was it like filming in South Africa?


Tanit:  It was an unbelievable experience – I got to go home and sleep in my own bed every night!  What was so cool about it was that my friends got to come onto the set and look at what I was doing and I got to host Danny and show him around and some of the really beautiful places we have out there.  And Luke had a KICK-ASS pad that I stole the key to and I’d go swimming in his pool, just 5 minutes from me, so I would just pop over there and bug him.


Luke:  We had a great time.  Everyone from the cast would come over, we hung out, the director would come over and cook, it was definitely the kind of movie you hope you are going to get into.   This was my 4th time filming in Cape Town, so for me, also, it was kind of like being around extended family, there’s the beautiful ocean and wine country, it’s such a great place to shoot.


HTF:  Sometimes there can be a stigma with films that go direct to video.  Personally, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard that this was being made as a direct-to-video film after seeing the original one that you’re prequel ling.  But I was really impressed with what I saw, it was not your typical “let’s just phone it in” movie.  What would you say to someone who might be hesitant to view this because it’s direct to video?


Luke:   I think a couple things.  I do think that the 2 in the title gives people the idea of what’s the deal here?  It really is a prequel and if it was a title like Death Race: Frankenstein Begins it would have given more insight to that.  I know that there’s speculation about the cars being used again, stock footage, but the truth is, it’s a PREQUEL; they purchased the cars deliberately since it’s an ongoing story.  Everyone in this movie wanted it to be a feature film, it was always made by home entertainment, but we all had an agreement that we had to make a feature film.  The medium by which this film has been put out has nothing to do with what we were trying to achieve, so I’m glad you noticed it because that was our intention.


Tanit:  What they should have done is called it was “Death Race Europe” or “Frankenstein Begins” or ….


Luke:  Yeah, I think that would have helped.   I think we find ourselves answering questions like “is it lots of stock footage?”  Of course we used some unused footage from the previous movie, to kind of braid that into this film deliberately.  We weren’t trying to save money, we were just trying to make an authentic transition between this prequel and the [Jason] Statham movie.  The amount of shit we blew up and the amount of cars we shipped over there, we weren’t trying to save money.  We made a feature film that can definitely be tethered with the one Statham did for sure I think.


Tanit:  One thing I have to add, Cape Town had never seen anything like this before.  The high-speed chases on the highway, they shut them down, the explosions IN the actual city with the cars flipping, fire going off, the bank robbery---every single day we were front-page news.   Regarding the bank robbery, everyone in Cape Town thought that had actually happened, they weren’t aware it was tied to the movie, they heard the gunshots and saw the cars, they didn’t realize we were filming a movie. 

Luke:  I’m glad you saw it, though, glad you thought it stood up.  I thought it stood up.


HTF:  It absolutely did.  Once people see it, they will say “Wow that was great.  I skipped it in theaters but got to see it on Blu-ray at home.”   That will be the attitude.


Luke: I agree, I’m happy too, but I’m glad you noticed, that’s a good thing.


Tanit:  It’s been lovely talking with you, but we have to go!


Luke:  Yes, but thank you so much, sir.


HTF:  Thank you so much to both of you, congratulations on the film and good luck on the next project!



Death Race 2 Trailer: 





Danny Trejo on Death Race 2:


Danny:  Hello!


HTF:  Hey, Danny, I appreciate you squeezing us into your schedule! [Note: We were double booked with some of our interviews and caught up with Danny as he was heading out]


Danny:  The only reason I’m talking with you is because you were talking to Tanit, and she’s my girl!


HTF:  She told us that you had a great time filming down in South Africa


Danny:  We had a blast, an absolute blast!  Tanit is actually from South Africa, so she showed me around and it was really great.  We hit it off so well----she’s up for Wonder Woman right now and they’re insane if they don’t pick her up.  She looks like Lynda Carter anyway!


HTF:  Yes, I definitely see that!  So, what was it like filming in South Africa?


Danny:  It was fun.  I’d been there before filming From Dusk till Dawn 3 in South Africa, so I’d been there before and it was an awesome experience and fun to go back.  We had a director who was a sweetheart, a guy named Reiné Roel [pronounced Rule].   I scared him to death the first time we met, he came up to me and said “Hey, I’m glad to work with you” and I said “Let’s get one thing straight…” and I could see in his face he was thinking “oh no, not a Diva” and then I said “…Roel makes the rules!” and so after that we were buds.


HTF:  Yes, Tanit thought she was going to be afraid of you, too, but you were so nice to her right off the bat, she said it was a lot of fun.  


Danny:   Yes, it was fun.  She and South Africa, a local --- and walking around Cape Town with her was great, I told everyone she was my girlfriend!


HTF:  What was your favorite thing about playing Goldberg?


Danny:  Watching Tanit!  No seriously, the whole thing was fun, I got to mess with cars and I love cars.   I was the chief mechanic so I was the guy who pushes Luke into having a great car.


HTF:  And it was a phenomenal car!


Danny:  Yeah.


HTF:  Was it kind of refreshing to play a “good guy” in jail for a change?


Danny:   You know, yeah, it was kind of refreshing to not have to kill anybody, I threatened a couple of people, but it was pretty nice, yeah.


HTF:   You’ve got such an amazing body of work, not just movies ---- seems like every time I’m watching one of my favorite shows, whether it’s Burn Notice or Good Guys, you are there!  Do you prefer doing TV or Movies or does it matter?


Danny:  Hey, give me what you got----I’m like a house painter, I’ll paint any house you got, it’s work!   I’ve been in this business for 20 years and my mom didn’t even think I had a job, then one day I did a couple episodes of The Young and the Restless soap opera and I came home and all of a sudden I was a star!  I’d come home and tell her “Mom, I worked with Robert DeNiro today!” and she’d say “I know amigo, I just wish you’d get a job!”. When I came home after that soap opera, she said “We saw you on the Young and the Restless, God has blessed you!”.  It was cool.


HTF:  You’ve worked with so many people, are there any actors or directors who especially stand out to you?


Danny:  Robert Rodrigues, he’s done more for independent film-making than anyone I know, and he makes unbelievable movies.  The guy rules!  I like him, I like the way he works and he comes up with that same genre of “Robert Rodrigues”.  I’ve worked for all of them, Michael Mann, you know, Quentin (Tarantino), a whole bunch of them…I love directors that don’t yell, you know what I mean?


HTF:  Yes, definitely.  Hey, Danny, I know you have to run, but thanks so much for squeezing me in, it was great talking with you.  Congratulations, I know you’ve got both this and Machete coming out…


Danny:  Yes, sure do---Machete is coming out on January 4th, Death Race 2 is coming out on January 18th


HTF:  Thanks again, Danny!