Nightlife That Makes You Feel Like A Good Person

On Wednesday night we dressed like Eskimos and attended a private screening of director Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman at the Bryant Park Hotel’s screening room. Club legend Danny A. Abeckaser invited me and mine to the show. Danny plays a pivotal role in the flick as the best friend to leading man Michael Shannon. Michael plays hit man Richard Leonard "The Iceman" Kuklinski who had somewhere between 100 and 250 successful whacks before they caught him in 1986. The film is filled with familiar faces, from Ray Liotta, James Franco, Chris Evans, Stephen Dorff, David Schwimmer, and Winona Ryder. Winona ruled. Danny A. had his usual crowd of models and the folks that hang with them, and a good time was had by all. It’s good to see one of the good guys in the club world breaking out and living his dreams on the silver screen. The movie is chilling and captivating. It will come out in a couple of months.

Advance tickets are on sale for The 4th Annual Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball Benefit for The Lower East Side Girls Club happening at Le Poisson Rouge on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12th. They have Cyndi Lauper and ?UESTLOVE doing the King and Queen of the Mardi Gras thing, and performances by Pitchblack, EMEFE, The Ambitious Orchestra and powerhouse DJs Roxy Cottontail and Beverly Bond. All sorts of other acts and stilt walkers and body painters will be part of this for such a great cause. The Lower East Side Girls Club helps young girls climb out of bad places, giving them guidance and support as they try to make their dreams come true. My pal Jenny Dembrow is a honcho over there working tirelessly to make it work. Tickets are $25 or $125 for the dinner, booze, and reserved seating. Get them here.

Just a word to all: it’s real cold out there, even for those who can afford warm clothes and shelter from the elements. Be aware that around us there are people who don’t have the ability to get by on their own. If you have stuff you’re not wearing that can help another, this is a good time to make room in your closet. Donate your goods to one of Goodwill’s NYC locations here and feel like a good person instantly.

Stephen Dorff Comes Clean on Life After ‘Somewhere’ & the ‘Bucky Larson’ Disaster

It’s fun talking to Stephen Dorff. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he definitely doesn’t take Hollywood that seriously, either. That’s what happens when you’ve been in the business as long as he has. You start to loosen up. Dorff, who got a much needed career boost when Sofia Coppola cast him as an adrift actor in last year’s Somwhere, spent last weekend promoting his new film, Immortals. It’s a CGI-heavy, three dimensional tribute to abs and killing, artfully directed by the visual extremist, Tarsem Singh. (The movie debuted to a strong $32 million this past weekend.) In it, Dorff plays Stavros, the rascal-y sidekick to hero Theseus (played by future Man of Steel Henry Cavill), and between making passes at Freida Pinto and stabbing people, Dorff does a pretty good job of playing an ancient Greek version of himself; basically, your cooler, older brother.

After Dorff and I got passed the mandatory Immortals chatter, the actor opened up about his disappointment with Somewhere’s US release (a film and experience he’s still clearly attached to), his struggle to find worthwhile projects, and the extreme letdown that was Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.  

Tell me about the filming process.
We basically shot in this place called Mel’s, which is eight stages, and just took over the place. The cool thing about the film is that Tarsem really had these huge sets built. Normally, in these green screen movies, you don’t have anything, really. It was cool that these huge sets were built so the green screen just kind of went behind that, and on our sets we had real people, real extras, real horses. It actually felt like we were in it, opposed to just standing there. I don’t know if I could do that just standing thing.

You haven’t done a big film like this in a while.
It was cool to do a big popcorn movie again. I felt like Stavros was kind of a character that wasn’t as serious as everybody else, more of a Han Solo type.

Tarsem really uses 3D to its full potential in this film. Are you down with the whole 3D craze?
That’s what’s cool, because nowadays, they’ll put “made in 3D’ on fucking anything, you know? They’ll remake European Vacation with Chevy Chase in 3D. It feels like this one maybe at least enhances the experience, because I’ve seen a lot of these 3D movies, and they just bother me because I didn’t really gain anything from it. But this one, I think, if you get into the experience of it, it seems like its going in the right direction.

Was it your first time making a movie on only a soundstage?
Yeah, I would say a lot of the first Blade was shot on a stage too. If anything, it reminded me of the scale of Blade, but even bigger. Immortals has more characters and more people and big battle scenes, and sometimes I’m amazed that you can shoot a movie inside like that, but Tarsem is all about creating these worlds, and he does it so well.

Was Tarsem unlike any other filmmaker you’ve worked with?
Every filmmaker’s just a different animal. Working with Sofia Coppola is a lot different than working with Tarsem. I’ve been lucky enough in my career so far to work with some amazing directors, whether it’s Oliver Stone, Michael Mann, or Sofia Coppola, who I’d put right at the top. Tarsem’s a visual master, but I think he’s also really good with storytelling and I think the best asset that Tarsem has is that on a movie of this scale, you need a real captain to sail it. He has a great energy, and he’s really powerful, and he never stops. The guy just never, ever gets tired. He’s the king of multi-tasking, so that’s what you want with a movie like this. I think that’s probably why Relativity put him right onto the Snow White one, because he’s just got a talent for these kinds of movies, and hopefully they deliver. I enjoyed working with Tarsem. I, myself, prefer movies like Somewhere more. I prefer more character-driven movies.

The last time I spoke to you was for Somewhere, which you were obviously really excited about. How’s everything been going since then?
It’s been good. I wish we’d had some better traction in America on it. It was this huge movie overseas that won the Venice Film Festival, and we had this huge ride going in, and then in the end we weren’t really feeling it was supported the right way. It kind of got denied the award run and all that, but it got some incredible reviews. But for me, it’s been incredible. I’ve got great movies I’m making with great filmmakers. I’m in a much better place than I was, so that’s cool.

I noticed on your IMDB page that you have a lot of movies in various stages of development. Tell me about some of the ones you’re excited about.
I would never believe that site, because it’s always wrong. The movie I’m excited about is something I did called The Motel Life, which is something I did with Emile Hirsch and Dakota Fanning that’s just a really, really beautiful movie, and I think that will probably blast off next year, probably go to Sundance, Cannes and that will be my drama probably. Then I did this cool one called Boot Tracks with the filmmaker David Jacobson, who did Down in the Valley. It’s with Michelle Monaghan and Willem Dafoe, and kind of like a Badlands Southern love story, a kind of weird sexy thriller. Michelle was really cool. I produced this little movie called Break that IFC is going to put out theatrically next year, and we’re shooting a film, it’s kind of an ambitious movie that I produced and made in ten days that no one really knows about. It’s hard when you do something as strong as the films I’ve been doing, whether they’re Sofia’s or Motel Life. They don’t come around all the time, so it’s hard to go and make something you don’t like when you just had such a great experience. That’s my biggest challenge, is that there’s not that many great movies out there.

After you do something like Somewhere, you kind of need everything to be that good.
Yeah, I just want to keep that bar high, but there’s only a handful of those filmmakers, and they make movies once every three years, and if you don’t get in those movies you’re screwed. I pretty much read everything, even movies I wasn’t getting. I love to read everything so I know what’s out there, or at least know enough. I feel like I got one that’s definitely the best, so I feel like as long as every year I can grab one on that level, I’ll be happy.

Are you talking about Motel Life?
Yeah, that was Motel Life. It’s a beautiful script. It’s such a great movie, man. I don’t want to say anything because it’s early, but I think it’s pretty damn good. Emile is a great actor, and Dakota is so fantastic in the movie, and it’s got soul and it’s really original. I’m really excited about it. Now I’m reading bad zombie scripts.

Of course. They’re the new vampires.
I hope I find another good one, or I’ll start working at the Four Seasons making bloody marys or something.

Or at the Chateau Marmont.
Exactly, I can get a job there for sure. I’ve got some clout there now.

You’re one of the few actors that’s worked with both Fanning sisters. That’s pretty cool.
It’s funny when I go to the Chateau, and see these other actors. Sofia just got that movie so perfect. People do just sit out there and just drink beer, big actors, all day.

So you just see a bunch of Johnny Marcos running around the Chateau?
I don’t know if they have stripper poles like Johnny Marco. Yeah, I love that movie. I think that movie will hold up for many years to come. I want to make a movie again with Sofia one day. She’s starting a movie soon with kids, so I’m like, I can be a kid or play a grandpa.

What happened with Bucky Larson? People were really mean about that movie. Were you surprised by that?
Yeah, I don’t know man. I thought it was pretty fucking funny, and I think that Nick Swarsdon is a comedic genius. I think this studio really marketed it weird and the commercials were really dumb, I thought. I don’t know if they didn’t totally back Nick, but obviously critics are never going to like that movie because they shit on everything Sandler does, you know what I mean? But I would have thought that the movie would have done better than it did. But again, it came out on a weird weekend and that Contagion movie made 20 million dollars out of nowhere. Bucky bombed, Warrior bombed. All the cool movies bombed that weekend, but I think Bucky will be big on DVD, probably like Grandma’s Boy. The movie’s hysterical. Have you seen it?

No, but I interviewed before it came out, and he was so excited about it.
Yeah, I feel like they were trying to plug this Happy Madison thing more than the movie, and people were confused, man. Nobody knows who’s in this movie. It was kind of weird. I just didn’t think it was marketed right. But I think it will be big on DVD and in the end, it makes me laugh more than most comedians today because I just feel like he’s fearless and he commits. To be able to even just play the character he played in this movie and make you care about him is a hard thing to do, and he does it. There’s a sweetness to the Bucky character. It was a bummer. I was bummed for Nick, and also because it was kind of like my first comedy, and not too many people saw it. It’s a pretty classic character I play.

A porn star, right?
Oh yeah man, full on. Fucking hair extensions down to my back, a full on Grenada Hills porn legend. It was fun. It reminded me of an early Farrelly brothers movie, and I love those early movies. I love Something About Mary, I loved Kingpin. Kingpin bombed when it came out too, but it was a great movie.

Does it bum you out when a studio bungles a movie’s released because of some poor decisions?
You just don’t have any control. I’m kind of a nemesis in that film, so I just kind of support Nick. I wanted to be there because I like the movie. I like being in a comedy, which is so different from Somewhere. Sofia really encouraged me to do that, because she thought it would be kind of trippy. Then I went back in my zone in kind of a serious way for some of these other movies. Now I don’t know what I want to do.

How do you pass the time when you’re not working?
I don’t know. I’ve been busy because I have all this press, and it’s usually like one thing rolls into the next, but this is probably the longest break I’ve had. I’ve been off for a month now, so I’ve just been chillin in my house for the first time in a while, because I’ve been on the road. I’m a gypsy. I travel my whole life, so sometimes when it slows down, it’s good to take a breather.

Stephen Dorff to Sofia Coppola: “You Made Me Cool”

Stephen Dorff is loving life. When we met the actor at the Standard hotel, it was clear he was still riding high off the buzz from his performance in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, literally. “I had a Johnny Marco moment last night,” said the 37-year-old actor, referring to his character’s hard-partying ways, which he’d evidently channeled at the Boom Boom Room the night before alongside the likes of Kirsten Dunst and Marc Jacobs at the film’s premiere. Dorff’s also enjoying the sudden attention that comes with playing the lead in a movie made by someone of Coppola’s stature, who only works once every few years. Before our interview began, Dorff asked if I had seen his story in T magazine. When I told him that his costar, Elle Fanning, had a feature in T‘s sister rag New York Times Magazine, Dorff asked one of his handlers why he doesn’t have one. “Someone should call those fuckers,” he half-joked.

But Dorff’s “rediscovery,” as Coppola puts it, is well-deserved. For years, he floated from starring roles in B-movies (FeardotCom) to supporting roles in major releases (Michael Mann’s Public Enemies). He developed a reputation as a live-wire, someone who refused to play the Hollywood game, and his career took a hit for it. He got cast as the villain in the first Blade movie, still his most famous role, and quickly became typecast as a go-to heavy. He never quite disappeared from Hollywood, but for a while, it sure felt like it. It took a director of Coppola’s vision to see a quality in Dorff that few others did: likability. His Johnny Marco lives life in the fastlane (albeit very slowly), drifting through the halls of Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, from one party to the next, in search of something that isn’t there. It’s only when his 11-year-old daughter Cleo shows up for an extended stay that Marco finds purpose, and we can’t help but root for him. We spoke to a chain-smoking, laid-back Dorff about living life as Johnny Marco, being misunderstood, and missing Elle Fanning.

Tell me how you got involved in Somewhere. I got a call from my agent. They called and said she was doing a movie, and I was like, What movie? They said its about a movie star living at the Chateau with an 11 year old, and that’s all they knew. I got the script a week later in an envelope. It said American zoetrope, it was black. It had one little word on it, called Somewhere. It was thin. And I was like, fuck—I read it and I was like holy shit, this is something unique, this is poetic, it jumped out on the page even in the way she writes. So I immediately went to Paris and we had this week.

With her? Yeah, she was observing me, talking to me, we went for coffee. We had a great dinner at this Argentinian restaurant. It felt like a vacation, so even if I hadn’t gotten the part, I would have gotten to see my friends again, and I think it was more for Sofia to see me—she hadn’t seen me in a few years—she’d been living in Paris, had a baby, and hadn’t made a film in a while. She really wanted to go in subtle and intimate with this one, and I think she just wanted to make sure that I hadn’t changed, that I hadn’t become some psychopath. We had dinner with Zoe Cassavetes, our mutual friend, we hung out, and at the end of that week she called me on the anniversary of my mom’s passing and offered me the part.

When you came on set, were you confident? Yeah, I checked into that hotel as Johnny Marco and was there for seven-and-a half weeks, so I was living the part.

Was your name Johnny Marco on everything? Everywhere. I had stationary scratched out with Johnny Marco . If I wrote letters to people, it was as Johnny Marco. I wanted to create this iconic movie star.

What stage do you see Johnny Marco at, in terms of his career? I think he’s a guy that like, 3 years before, had done some good parts with smaller roles, probably the 4th or 5th part, opposite Pacino. But I think he got really famous for this Berlin Agenda franchise. So where we open, he’s about to start promoting The Berlin Agenda. She doesn’t explain this, because she doesn’t really explain a lot, but I think he had that kind of crazy fame where you don’t have the movie to back it up, but you’re on the cover of everything. I remember back when Matthew McConaughey became famous, for I think it was A Time to Kill, he was on everything. I was like, Who is this Brad Pitt-y kind of guy, he must have a good PR guy – it was kind of like that. Because I felt that it would be more daunting for an artist or an actor coming in, and I think Johnny inside is more soulful, and you know, he’s broken inside. I think he would have rather been making Somewhere, he would have rather been working with Sofia. I think he’s worried he’s going to be a sellout, and in a way he is.

So if his fame is still new, why does he seem so bored of it all? I think he’s had two years of just running and running—how many cigarettes can you smoke, how many beers can you drink, how many chicks can you bang—and he’s detached from what really matters, from the people that really know him, which is his ex and his little girl. I saw him as kind of a rockstar dad. He probably shows up to the birthday party with some incredible present, takes Cleo for lunch, and then drops her off at home. But now he’s spent two or three weeks with her, and the fog is starting to lift, and by the end, it’s his beginning, I think he’s going to be a great dad. If he returns to acting, I think his work would probably get better, too.

How hard was it to shoot such poignant scenes with almost no dialogue? The most naked I’ve ever been was in this movie. There’s no tricks. There’s nothing happening behind me. There’s no big set piece or banks to rob. This is the real deal. I found it incredibly challenging.

Is it uncomfortable at all? Totally. There’s an intimacy because she’s hand-picked this crew and it’s almost like a student film.

What was it like shooting at the Chateau, in front of all the guests? That was cool. We kind of had a covert little mini-crew. We’d venture outside, if we needed the pool we’d go to the pool and shoot that scene. They gave us free reign at the hotel. I remember one day, I was shooting in the lobby and all of these directors came in—I think it was the piano scene where I play that Bach piece—and Alfonso Cuaron and all these directors were checking in, and they were so envious of how Sofia was getting away with shooting a big movie 35mm, and yet it looked like we were doing some little EPK interview or something. And I thought that people were very envious, like how is she making a movie at the chateau? They couldn’t believe it, and I thought that was pretty cool.

Was there a sudden onslaught of fame for you when you were younger? I never had that kind of crazy fame. I guess I was plastered in magazines when I was 19 or 20. You’d walk by and I was literally on 4 or 5 covers. And I was 20 and rebelling against my childhood, because my upbringing was sweet and nurturing and I wanted to kind of–I think when we’re young we just go for it. I was doing some good films, I was starting that movie SFW, I was into Nirvana, I was just in an angst-y period of my life, and I gave some hardcore interviews and was pretty outspoken.

Do you think you got a reputation? Yeah, maybe it added to the whole, Why I couldn’t stop playing villains and stuff. It made everybody think I was really a mean guy, and I’m not, really. I’ve grown up a lot since then. I think I’m doing better in my interviews now, and it’s nice to play a good guy again, somebody with vulnerability who is flawed, who has a soul.

He’s incredibly likeable, too. Yeah, you have to like him or you’d shit on him

How did you try to accomplish that? That was Sofia, because I thought I was on pills—I’d come at it from reality, but that was wrong in retrospect. Like, instead of taking all that time with the room service tray, shouldn’t I just throw the fucking thing and piss on the lawn? She was like, No, I want him to be sweet, and she was right, because that’s what makes you like him. He’s nice to the room service guy or the valet parker. He still mustered up enough applause for those twins to give them what they deserve. Everything that I was stuck on, in the end, I was wrong and my director was right, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Actors don’t know everything.

A lot of people are using words like ‘comeback’ to describe this performance. Do you see it that way? I said it from the beginning, since they hired me. I told Sofia, You made me cool. And she was like, No, you were always cool. Rather than comeback, she says it’s a rediscovery. That’s a nice way of saying it. Sofia made me cool. She could have had anybody—an older guy like George Clooney—any of my competition, but she chose me and that meant a lot to me, and says a lot about her and her brains.

Was there a period before this role where you were struggling in your career? A few years ago, as I was losing my mom, all these great things were happening—it wasn’t like I couldn’t get a job. I was working with Oliver Stone in World Trade Center, I was working Michael Mann for Public Enemies, so I was doing big movies, I was just maybe not the number one guy, but the number 4 guy, or something. And I worked real hard on this movie called Felon that I produced, that got really amazing reviews but got a bullshit release

The one with Val Kilmer, right? Yeah, it became really massive on DVD. Kids all around the world love it. That’s how I got the whole UFC crowd to be my biggest fans. I made a conscious choice not to go for money, and just work for directors again, and then this one just landed in my lap.

How is your career changing post-Somewhere? Do you sense some more attention from powers that be? Yeah, I think so. I think there’s more scripts coming in, but the movies still aren’t—you finish Somehwere and the scripts I got were like, Predators. And I’m not going do that after what I just did. I did finally cave and I did this movie, Immortals, and who knows how it will be. There are some really great moments and I’m sure it’s going to look great because Tarsem Singh, the director, is pretty talented.

Are you getting a ton of accolades from your peers? Yeah, a lot of actors really identify with the movie. There were a lot of actors at the premiere last night. My friend Michael Shannon loved the movie. Meg Ryan was there, but I didn’t get to see her.

And Marc Jacobs? Yeah, Marc Jacobs, Lou Reed. Who else? James Franco was there. A lot of actors.

Was it a cool feeling watching this movie with your peers? I didn’t watch it last night because I’ve seen it, like, ten times. I would recommend repeat viewing, not just for the box office.

Does some of the fatherly love you had for Elle onscreen trickle into real life? Totally. After the movie I was missing her a lot. I wanted to call her and I was thinking, Is her dad going to think it’s weird, this 36-year-old actor is calling my daughter. But I was like, fuck it, I’m going to call her. So I called, and I was like, Did you hear we’re going to Venice? And she was off playing volleyball and doing ballet and with her friends, so I didn’t want to like cramp her style, but I do love her. She was my leading lady, and I miss her when I’m not with her.

Santiago Gonzalez Launches Men’s Accessories That Women Envy

Papa’s got a brand new bag, and we’re all jealous. Known for designing iconic women’s handbags with an exotic touch, Nancy Gonzalez is now exploring the world of menswear, with the help of her company’s president, Santiago Gonzalez. The collection, named after and inspired by Santiago, includes an impressive range of luxe travel accessories in various shades of crocodile skin. Men have a choice of over 50 (that’s 5-0, seriously) styles that include everything from money clips and zip wallets to weekenders and duffle bags. And each piece is masculine enough to convert man-purse skeptics, but also chic enough to make women fawn.

To toast the collection’s launch, which is sold exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, an intimate group of designers, actors, and tastemakers gathered this week at the famed Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills for dinner and drinks. I stopped by to congratulate Mr. Gonzalez, who was grinning ear-to-ear as he humbly accepted praise from guests like Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, Stephen Dorff, Balthazar Getty, and Sharon Stone (photo of Stone and the guest of honor below). The hit event—hosted by China Chow, the actress, model, and daughter of Mr. Chow owner Michael Chow—is just a prelude to the success that this collection is sure to enjoy.

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Shop the Santiago Gonzalez collection here.

Photos courtesy of LaForce + Stevens.

Links: Lindsay Lohan Mooching, Naked Dilemma for Vanessa Hudgens

● Lindsay Lohan has been hanging around sister Ali lately so her younger sister can foot the bill for Lindsay’s lavish lifestyle. [Popcrunch] ● Danger Mouse has collaborated with cult film director David Lynch to create visuals for his controversial album Dark Night of the Soul. [Dnots] ● Spoiler alert: Laura Leighton’s return as Sydney on the rebooted Melrose Place won’t last long, as she will be found face down in the famous MP pool at the beginning of the show. [EW]

● Angelina Jolie is evidently just like us, as she enjoys a $4 lip balm. [MSN] ● Zac Efron is evidently encouraging girlfriend and fellow HSM-er Vanessa Hudgens to go naked for a role to get away from her good-girl image. [DigitalSpy] ● Jackass’s Chris Pontius has joined the cast of Sofia Coppola’s Hollywood pic Somewhere. Pontius will play best friend to lead Stephen Dorff’s Hollywood bad-boy character. [EmpireOnline]