William Fichtner on ‘Hypnotic’ & Robert Rodriguez’s Unique Way of Working

May 12, 2023

Before you check out Robert Rodriguez’s psychological thriller, Hypnotic, in theaters, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with character actor, William Fichtner, who plays the antagonist to Ben Affleck’s Detective Danny Rourke in the movie. Known for his performances in cinema staples like Armageddon and Black Hawk Down, Fichtner tells Weintraub that collaborating with Rodriguez was on his “bucket list of people [he wants] to work with.”

In Hypnotic, which is now in theaters, Affleck’s Rourke is an Austin detective whose attempting to process the kidnapping of his daughter, Minnie (Ionie Olivia Nieves). After receiving an anonymous tip of a bank robbery taking place later that day, Rourke finds himself “intertwined” with a mysterious and dangerous man, Dellrayne (Fichtner), who may be involved with the disappearance of his daughter. When he enlists the help of a psychic, Diana Cruz (played by Alice Braga), Rourke learns this Dellrayne is a lethally powerful “hypnotic” who can manipulate reality, and as the two dig deeper into the case, their world is completely upended.

During their interview, which you can watch in the video or read in the transcript below, Fichtner talks about reading the script for the first time, calling it a “page-turner,” and crediting director, editor, co-cinematographer, and co-writer, Rodriguez with the unpredictability, saying, “it really reflects back on who Robert is and the kind of filmmaker he is.” He also discusses reuniting with Affleck for the first time since Armageddon, raves over Braga’s “soulful” performance, and looks back on a number of special roles over the years.

COLLIDER: I’m a big fan of your work. It’s always cool to talk to you.

WILLIAM FICHTNER: Thank you. Is that the DeLorean in the background there?

It is.

FICHTNER: I was just at a Make-a-Wish Foundation event in Orlando, Florida about a month ago and they had – well, I’m sure there’s a couple of them – but they had one there and the guy was like, “This is one of the originals,” and it was pretty cool. I got a really cool photo sitting in it, so kind of a little fan-geek moment for me.

I love the Back to the Future movies, and obviously, Back to the Future Part II. Anyway, I have a million questions for you. If someone has actually never seen anything you’ve done before, what is the first thing you want them watching and why?

FICHTNER: Oh, wow. Oddly, as soon as you said it three came to mind, right off the bat; one is a film that I made a few years ago called Cold Brook. I made that to do with my best buddy and it’s a film about friendship, and I don’t know, it just probably speaks most to me and that’s why I co-wrote it and wanted to make this film. The other two that popped up right away, and I don’t get that question often, both happen to be based on true stories, and one is Black Hawk Down and the other is The Perfect Storm. Oftentimes, when I think about those two films in particular, you know, there was such a commitment about the story that you were telling, because it did affect real people and families that are still alive, and friends that are still alive of the people that were in these films. That always had a weight to me that meant something, and it meant a lot to everybody.

When we worked on Black Hawk Down over in Morocco, we had some of the people that were in Somalia there with us, talking to us and help training us and, and they knew these people that didn’t come back home, and it was a big deal to them that we got it right. And the same thing, when we were shooting The Perfect Storm and we went to Gloucester, Massachusetts and shot in the little town, and the families of the members that were on the Andrea Gail when I had a chance to meet some of them in the family of the guy that I was playing, and that carries an awful lot of responsibility to be honorable. And so, those are my three of the day.

Image via Ketchup Entertainment

As I said, I could dig down in so many of your roles and so many different movies. But jumping into why I get to talk to you today, one of the things that I really enjoyed was, Robert really cut this thing so it is breakneck, especially that first hour is nonstop, and it’s always pulling the rug out from under you. What was it actually like reading the script for the first time because it’s a cool project?

FICHTNER: Fascinating reading the script for the first time. I was on a flight from Sydney, Australia to LA. Right before I got on the plane, I got an email, it was from my agent and said, “Hey, here’s this Robert Rodriguez film. If you like it, he’d like to have a Zoom with you.” So right away, I’m like, “Robert Rodriguez? Okay, that’s in my bucket list of people I want to work with.” Read the film, and, you know, some stories you could be 30 pages into it and go, “Oh, okay, I know what’s going on.” I don’t think I thought that throughout the entire first time that I read the film. It was a page-turner, kept you going, things started to reveal themselves, and just when you thought you knew what was real, all of a sudden it might be real, but it might not be. And that goes with the character that I play, as well. So everything was pretty fascinating just reading it. Talking to Robert the next day when I got back to LA was a great conversation, and then three weeks later, I’m hanging out in Austin making this movie.

But I totally agree with you, I love what he’s– The movie runs an hour and 33 minutes, and it just moves, and obviously that was a choice. You know, we shot a lot more than that, but the way Robert pared it down, it’s like the story has to fly until the moments when you really need something else in a moment. I find that Alice Braga, who plays Diana in the film, she is so earthy and wonderful and grounded. She explains things that you might think of as exposition, but it never feels that way because she’s so brilliant when she’s explaining the world and trying to help Ben Affleck’s character understand where he is. All of that, at the end of the day, it really reflects back on who Robert is and the kind of filmmaker he is.

I agree with you. I hate watching a movie, and I’m like, “Oh, here’s the exposition dump,” but I never felt that in this.

FICHTNER: You know, I had a chance to see the film at South by Southwest. Robert did a work-in-progress screening there and I flew down to see it because I was so excited, I had such a great time working on it, I really wanted to see it, put eyes on it for the first time. I literally sent her a message after, and I’m like, “Darling, you just, boy, did you ground that! You are just so soulful and the depth you bring as that character, boy, wow, I was blown away.”

I could be wrong, but I believe this is the first time you’ve worked with Ben since Armageddon.

FICHTNER: This is the first time. I gotta be honest with you, I think I’ve only run into Ben once over those last, like, 25 years, or whatever it is. I think Armageddon is 25 years old this summer. But, yeah, such is life. Sometimes it swings around, sometimes you work with people you had a great time with and you never work with them again. This was a very interesting thing. Obviously, Ben is a very different guy, I’m a different guy, and here we are years later, playing characters that are very intertwined.

Image via Ketchup Entertainment

Listen, I could spend eight minutes just talking about Armageddon because I love that movie, I think it’s one of Michael Bay’s best films. But I definitely want to touch on working with Robert, specifically, because he also shoots, he directs, he writes, he literally wears every hat, or one of his kids is wearing the other hat. So what is it like working with someone like that because there’s not many filmmakers that do what Robert does?

FICHTNER: The very first day – I love telling this story – the very first day that I got to Austin, they had already been shooting for, I think, about a week, they were doing a lot of things with Alice and Ben. And I got off the plane, dropped my bags, and I went for a wardrobe fitting. So I went out to Robert’s studios in Austin and had a chance to meet some of the folks, and stepped on set to say hello to Robert in person. I’d met Robert once before, like, oh God, I don’t know, 15 years ago, but only for a couple of minutes, so I went to see him, and Robert said, “Here, I’m gonna show you something.” Literally took me in another room – you know, all the rooms in Robert’s studio have fascinating artifacts from all the films that he’s made, whether it’s Spy Kids, or this, that, and he’s got all these cool things all over the place – and he takes out his computer, and he shows me a scene that he shot yesterday.

So Robert goes home– Listen, we shot things one day on set in the morning and then after lunch, Robert showed me a rough cut, and he showed me something that he shot the day before and he goes, “I just wanna give you an idea of this and this. We’re working on this scene right now,” and that was Robert every day. So, really what that gave me, not only is it fascinating to see somebody who has that sort of process, but because Robert has such definitive thoughts and vision about things, I don’t think I ever walked on a set and was more interested right from the get-go. Of course, I’m always gonna show up with my own ideas and choices and thoughts about who the character is, but I would show up and when Robert would start to explain moments and details about things, I was all focused. All I wanted to do is just find exactly what he was looking for because I just so trusted his vision about what Hypnotic was gonna be.

Hypnotic is in theaters now. Check out our interview with Robert Rodriguez below.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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