Mary-Louise Parker steps out of her comfort zone with Bruce Willis in 'Red'
“I usually do things that are with less movement and less artillery.”
Coming from Mary-Louise Parker, this is the truth. The “Weeds” actress has hustled between stints on Broadway, to “The West Wing” to indies like “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” very few projects in which she’s ducking bullets under the wing of action stars like Bruce Willis. But she says she’ll do just about anything if the script is right, and the “Red” script – and director Robert Schwentke -- was right.
“I don’t really care, I’ll do a show on Nickelodeon if I thought it was well-written,” Parker says on the set of “Red” in New Orleans. “Actually, Nickelodeon’s kind of awesome.”
Considering her acting background, her role as Willis’ character Frank’s love interest Sarah in “Red” is a bit cartoonish. With the heat already settled on the city, even in early April, Parker looks a little rattled, some of her brunette hair sticking to her forehead. She’s spent the morning dodging snipers’ bullets, just one leg of her journey falling for Frank.
“It’s kind of like that classic sort of trajectory in this kind of movie where there’s conflict and they’re estranged and they kind of grow to love each other but they don’t show it,” she says of Sarah and Frank’s relationship.
They first meet over the phone: her character Sarah works in payroll for an agency that sends Frank his pension checks (for his former work as a covert assassin in the C.I.A.) and he frequently calls to chat with her under the auspices that his checks aren't arriving – even if they are.
“And they like each other and they both really don’t have anyone to talk to…There’s something really sweet about the way he’s playing the part and he’s kind of irresistible in a way. They’re both really lonely.The way they meet is just classic, lonely losers.”
They meet because Frank is in danger of being killed by his former agency and he fears for Sarah’s life. Their phone friendship turns into a kidnapping which turns into road trip, with dozens dead in their wake.
Parker doesn’t fire any guns in the film, but concedes she does get to shoot off her mouth.
“[I’m] just damseling mostly. I’m not very good with a gun,” she laughs.
Which is why, maybe, Parker hasn’t been in very many shoot-em-ups. She’s doesn’t tend to watch “the big R movies.”
“The bigger movies I start to space out in, like, they’re just so… I don’t really watch those kind of movies so much.”
“Those” kind of movies have been Bruce Willis’ bread and butter, was she familiar with many of his films? “I know some of the movies that I know because they’re more like ‘Nobody’s Fool’ or [films] like that.”
Then what about the original comic book “Red?” How does she compare to Sarah in it?
“I haven’t read the comic book. I didn’t even know there was one until about halfway through. Helen Mirren and I were talking about that actually... When we had to run she was like, ‘Oh God, we’re both going to get fired.’ The running sequences, it’s a particular kind of humiliation because it’s fun.”
Check out Parker’s thoughts on the "stupid" season finale of last season’s “Weeds.”
Below is the new character poster for John Malkovich’s Marvin from “Red.”
More on “Red”:
“Red” heads to theaters Oct. 15.