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Monologuing as the tragic Prince of Denmark, on the other hand, was me-time.
“I finished playing Jack, went into the trailer, and, you know – 'How all occasions do inform against me,/ And spur my dull revenge’,” he says, reeling off the opening few lines of Hamlet’s last soliloquy. There was definitely a yin and yang thing going on.” As he continues, what soon becomes clear is that those snatched moments of Shakespeare helped Reeves make sense not so much of Traven or Hamlet, but of himself.
In 2009 Sluizer decided to return to “I thought I’d try and put it together. Phoenix was one of the brightest stars in Hollywood in the early 1990s, having appeared in films including . It took some days before the grief and sadness got to me.
I felt so sad as I felt we had built an almost father-and-son relationship.”Yet he added: “I was also furious, that something I had worked on for three years was all for nothing, so I hated him for dying.
Did it help him cope with what was, at that point, his most commercially prominent role to date? He was 29 years old at the time, with a career that was skyrocketing.
But Reeves didn’t see himself as an action hero – or not just an action hero, at least. The director, Jan de Bont, had worked as cinematographer on Die Hard, and both films offered a new, pared-down, conceptually clean kind of action cinema after the muscle-bound excesses of the previous decade.
I’m an actor, I work in showbusiness, I meet people who suffer from addiction every single day.
He assembled the footage and created an 86-minute final cut with his voiceover narrating the missing scenes.
Before I talk to Martha Plimpton about Other Desert Cities, the play about the generational and political rifts dividing America which she will headline at the Old Vic, we must deal with the elephant in the room.
This is the death from an apparent drugs overdose of her fellow New York actor Philip Seymour Hoffman earlier this month.
The film festival catalogue described it as an “elegant solution to an impossible situation”. Technically speaking it was a long, tough job.”The negatives were stored in a Los Angeles vault after Phoenix’s death, as legal action raged. He had grace and dignity, and was liked by all the young women in the world, I think.”The actor’s death left Sluizer considering whether to give up directing altogether.
The director told : “I could not change much of the film now because I have no more material than what was on film. The stock was taken on by insurers in 1998 who planned to destroy it, but Sluizer convinced them to hand the footage over. I had to think about all sorts of techniques from animation to documentary to help tell the story.”The film was finished in 2012 and had its international premiere out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was met with a standing ovation. “When I heard early in the morning that he was dead I couldn’t believe it.“He’s an action hero for the Nineties,” De Bont said of Reeves, and back then, the line sounded like a compliment. Chain Reaction in 1996 was, he says, “a great but tough experience”, largely because the script he signed on for “wasn’t the script that showed up”.