In forthcoming Summit feature “Red,” John Malkovich and Bruce Willis become brothers in literal arms, both as retired C.I.A. operatives, both in danger of being killed by their former agency. Willis as Frank gathers Malkovich’s Marvin for safety but also for intelligence on why they’re being chased.
This is no easy task.
“The last time we spoke you were trying to kill me,” Willis tells Marvin in the film.
Indeed, during the active years of their C.I.A. careers, Marvin tried taking out Frank because he thought Frank was trying to assassinate him.
The misunderstanding may have been a simple one: Marvin unknowingly took LSD for years of his life, government-issued as an experiment. As a result, he’s a conspiracy theorist and largely paranoid. He hides his weaponry, for instance, inside a pink stuffed animal pig. He lives in an swamp-based underground lab and bunker with its entrance covertly disguised as a run-down car.
“Weapons and cans of beans. What else could you want?” Malkovich tells journalists on the set of “Red” in New Orleans this spring. “It’s a little bit wacked. I’ve loved it. It’s really been fun.”
The 56-year-old actor explains he’d met Willis a couple of times prior to the “Red” shoot, but the pair had never worked together before. They’re what makes up the buddy-cop element of the film, which is based on the much-more-serious comic of the same name. So was there any room for some male bonding before things got started?
“There was a lot of drinking.”
Malkovich speaks slowly and takes weirdly long pauses between thoughts. His personality seemed opposite of what was being shot that day in April, as shots fired between shipping containers in an expansive lot, as Frank shielded his love interest Mary-Louise Parker’s Sarah, as Marvin plucked heavy gun artillery from the fluff of the pig.
“I’m not really clear why it’s a pig and not, like, a duffle bag. He carries weapons and at some point, when they find out that they’re being followed… my character says, ‘I’m gettin’ the pig.’ I’m not really sure why, but that’s a really good idea. A sort of call to arms.”
So just how much of Malkovich his character Marvin? As for the paranoia and conspiracy theories, “I have never met that many people so clever to be able to pull off the various conspiracies in the world. I think the world is a lot more chaotic than that. More accidental,” he says. And for guns? “I haven’t shot a lot of guns in my life... Shoot-‘em-up is a part of movies. I don’t have anything against it, but I’ve never owned a gun, and I don’t particularly plan on taking any pot shots at anyone in the near future.”
But co-star Helen Mirren – who is also not exactly known for her gun-toting in movies – may have felt differently.
“She’s fantastic Helen, very pro, very funny, a lot of fun to be around. I mean, she probably secretly enjoyed squeezing off a few rounds.”
Helen Mirren’s Victoria character poster from “Red” is posted below.
Check out what Bruce Willis had to say about “shooting” alongside “Red’s” other co-stars like Morgan Freeman here.
“Red” is heading to Hall H on Thursday during Comic-Con and premieres in theaters on Oct. 15.