Notes from a 'Bullet to the Head' set visit in New Orleans
Sarah Shahi and Jason Momoa discuss star Sylvester Stallone
We don't get to see anybody fighting with Rocky. [We do, however, get to see Momoa's character shoot up a room of gangsters, as was discussed in my feature on "Bullet to the Head" director Walter Hill.]
Instead, hours after the swimming scene, we watch Sylvester Stallone drive away. It's unclear what he's driving away from or what he's driving to, but the driving is being done in a sleek black Ferrari.
It's a single pick-up shot on a New Orleans street a few blocks from the French Quarter. The crew is scurrying back and forth setting up riggings and keeping the small crowd under control, but because of the brevity of the sequence, the production hasn't even blocked off the street.
Stallone, looking dapper, walks out of a club or a hotel or a bar. He sits behind the wheel of his car and answers his phone. He looks concerned. Perhaps it's Ariel calling to tell him that Ursula blew up his getaway house. He drives away. Once. The scene is over and the crew reacts quickly to break down the set.
The journalists return to Bourbon Street, where drunken throngs cheer for a dancing police horse.
Sarah Shahi plays Stallone's daughter in the movie.
"It's funny. When I first met him, I was the most nervous I've ever been for anything," the "Life" and "L Word" star says. "I tried to play cool. We met up at the Peninsula. I got there first and I got a paper. I was enthralled in the Wednesday morning edition of the LA Times. Not even caring about what I was reading, but trying to make it look like I was busy doing something so I don't have too much attention on him. Then I see him come in from the corner of my eye. I still don't look up and I still don't look up. I wait till he's just here and I go, 'Oh, hi! How are you?' I was trying to be nonchalant and my heart was racing. From the moment we met, it was kind of instant in terms of our chemistry and, physically, we look like we could be related."
How does one endeavor to portray Sylvester Stallon's daughter?
"I try to do this thing when I was with him. I try to imitate some of his mannerisms," Shahi laughs. "I would imitate the way he sits and he like to talk with his hands. I would start using my hands. Just things that would basically get me the job. Other than my read. That is lesson 101 in how to be Sylvester Stallone's daughter. Use your hands, puff up your chest a little bit, and sit with your legs slightly apart. And constantly practice your golf swing!"
Now you too can play Sylvester Stallone's daughter at home.
One part of a soundstage is dedicated to the tattoo parlor operated by Shahi's character in the film. There are inked up mannequin torsos and sketches on the wall. Shahi's character is apparently covered with tattoos in the movie, but since she isn't shooting and hasn't undergone her three hours of makeup, we can't see any of her tribal art.
"If they didn't wear off so easily, I'd have them on me right now," Shahi says apologetically. "I love going out with my tattoos. I get hit on by girls, boys. It doesn't matter what walk of life. I don't know what it does. Maybe it just shows I'm tough or something to be able to handle all that ink on a little girl. I don't know. I've had guys come up to me and go, 'What color did you use to fill in your spots? I've been trying to fill mine in with something.' I go, 'They're not real' and they always think I'm f***ing with them. They're like, 'I'm not hitting on you. I'm just asking what color you used.' I'm like, 'I'm telling you. They're not real.' They're like, 'F***ing bitch.' I'm like, 'No, man. I'm serious! They're not real!' Once you say you're doing a movie and playing Sly's daughter, it's [fine]."
Shahi, who says her character has an assortment of tats, including a cupcake on her rear, says that she's gotten the chance to learn the basics of the trade.
"I practiced on a grapefruit," she says. "That's apparently what you start out on. Then you move up to a pig. A dead one. I had a great big pig that I was practicing on. The boys were impressed."
"[E]veryone wants to get tattooed by her," he says. "She did a really good job. She did a pig's hind end. She did a really good job."
You may recognize Kang from a little smash called "Fast Five," a movie he admits he wasn't necessarily convinced would break out, at least not after watching himself in a rough cut.
"Every time I see myself onscreen in a film, I go 'OH! So bad! Why did you do that? So horrible!' And so, I didn’t know. And when I followed Neal Moritz and some of the Universal executives on opening night, the numbers kept going and going. And then we got to 'Jurassic Park' numbers, and if we break 'Jurassic Park' numbers, it’s going to be the number one opening film for Universal. And it annihilated that! Hopefully, 'Fast Six' will have that, hopefully 'Headshot' [the shooting title for "Bullet"] will have that Part 2, 3, you know..."
He reminds himself, "Oh, it’s 'Bullet to the Head.' but we’ll have 'Bullet to the Ass' and 'Bullet to the Groin,' you know!"
"Bullet to the Head" opens on February 1. We'll let you know on the sequels.