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Moviehole talks to the cast of RocknRolla

“RocknRolla” is undoubtedly one of the funnest films of the year. I frickin’ love it. Its cinematic sex that’ll leave you bondage-parlor bruised. A real welcome return-to-form for Guy Ritchie (read our one-on-one interview with the man himself here) and, to a lesser extent, Gerard Butler.

Moviehole talks to Ritchie, Butler, Idris Elba, ‘Ludacris’ and Jeremy Piven about the film.

QUESTION:   Why did you want to make RocknRolla your next film?

GUY RITCHIE:   This is in the same genre as Snatch and Lock, Stock [and Two Smoking Barrels].  I felt as though I wanted to do another one, partly because of the amount of enthusiasm I got from those movies, but also because England has changed so much in the last 15- 20 years.  And the world of crime has, consequently, changed so much in the last 20 years.  So, to a degree, part of the movie is about Old School gangsters being pushed out by the New School, and an aspect of that is eastern European or Russian.  So, a few years ago, your average gangster who made a few million pounds, was seen as a big to-do.  And that has really been eclipsed by the international / eastern gangster, who now comes packing billions.  He’s like a mobile corporation.  And, to a degree, one of the stories is a reflection of the Old School natives trying to hang on to business as it used to be.  But they’re just being pushed out by corporate, massive crime – corporate in a purely criminal sense.

QUESTION:   Why do you find yourself drawn back to the criminal underworld you previously explored in your other movies?

GUY RITCHIE:  I don’t know.  I just like under-cultures and sub-cultures.  It just happens to be my thing.  It’s in the same genre.  So, if you saw this and then you saw Snatch, you’d suspect that the same filmmaker was behind it.

QUESTION:   Does RocknRolla take a different approach?

GUY RITCHIE:  I’d like to think so.  Because, otherwise, I would have called it Snatch 2.  It’s a new take, and it’s a contemporary take.  The stories are new.  You can tell that the guy that made those movies, previously, is the guy that made this movie.  But, that’s part of the package.  That’s what I like to do.  So, it’s influenced.

QUESTION:  Can you tell us about your characters and how they fit into the story?

GERARD BUTLER:  My name’s One Two and I play part of the gang.  Myself and Idris Elba and Tom Hardy are small time crooks who at the start of the movie are actually trying to do something that, I think, is almost legitimate.  And we get screwed over by the boss, who sees us as immigrants, especially since we are, in a way.  We spend the rest of the movie trying to make that up, and messing with the very people that Guy was talking about – the even bigger kingpins – the Russians. We then start blaming other people and then it becomes that irresistible Guy Ritchie movie.

IDRIS ELBA:  I play Mumbles, who’s part of a gang of, what we call in London, earners.  You are an earner.  You’re out there making a little bit of money any which way you can.  Smart guys, street smart, but who just do it the dodgy way.

JEREMY PIVEN:  I remember I was in Cannes when I read the script and I just wanted to be a part of the movie – in any way, shape or form.  So, I basically begged and tried to bribe Guy and somehow made it into the movie.  Ludacris and I are the only American voices in it.  So, I just wanted to take the ride and it did not disappoint.  That’s for sure.

CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES:  Without giving too much of the story away, Jeremy and myself, most of our scenes are together.  We play the managers of the rock and roll artists who, basically, the movie is named after.  So, like he said, the Russian Mob is coming into London and taking over, organized crime-wise, and just different things are going on.  We’re kind of like hustlers in our own right.  And you have to see the entire movie to completely understand our roles.

QUESTION:  Guy, did you ever hang out with any of these criminal gangs for research?

GUY RITCHIE:  Absolutely not.  (Laughs)  The criminal underbelly of society is heavily frowned upon by myself.

QUESTION:  It’s interesting to see the everyday lives of these criminals.

GUY RITCHIE:  Yes.  Sometimes there’s nothing exotic about the exoticism of crime.  And it’s kind of interesting in itself that sometimes people can do what we see as heinous and nefarious acts.  And, then, to them it’s just like par for the course.

QUESTION:  What’s it like working with Guy as a director?

CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES:  He practices Jujitsu early in the morning. He grapples and then comes in energetic as hell to the set every day.  He knows exactly what he wants, how everything’s supposed to pan out.  He’s very particular, very opinionated.  I’ve never worked with anybody like him but, very good guy.  I was very happy to work. I learned a lot from him.  That’s just my take on it.  What do you guys think?

IDRIS ELBA:  Guy has this thing.  The crew knows as soon as he says: ‘Five, four…’  At first, I was like: what’s going to happen? That’s action. You got to say your line.  He counts down to the action.  That was new to me and interesting.  Suddenly you see the whole room focusing,  getting into the Guy Ritchie space, which is a good thing.  It’s great, actually.

GERARD BUTLER:  What I loved about Guy was – I’m sure he does know – his name is kind of in your soul.  He’s an institution.  Suddenly, you’re there and you’re working with him.  And what surprised me was how easygoing he was.  For me, then, it’s like trusting that you have a director who knows exactly what he wants, but he’s going to let you do what you want.  There’s a natural flow that we all kind of got into as we hung out.  We spent time together.  The script has a rhythm.  And he really understands it, but at the same time just lets it happen and interjects when it’s necessary.  That what’s great about the movie.  It has this flow and this rhythm.  It’s really in the script and it’s just learning to trust that.

QUESTION:  In your films, there is sometimes social commentary.  Does that hold true with RocknRolla?

GUY RITCHIE:  Sure.  The social commentary’s is how the face of England, I suppose, has changed, and, in turn, England no longer has the identity that we previously understood it to have.  It has become international, like New York has become international.  So, the commentary is how, I suppose, identity has shifted.  Cultural identities have shifted.  If you take New York or London now, they’re so much more similar than they used to be.  It’s commentary on that.  It’s commentary on how crime has shifted.  It’s commentary on how business is conducted.  Where previously people could offer a million pounds for a house and then someone else would come along and just to take it off the market to save any haggling:  ‘I’ll offer you twenty million.’ And that wasn’t necessarily uncommon.  They did that with football teams.  They did it with football players.  They did it with every sort of cultural manifestation that we had – these exponential bids would suddenly come into the equation.  Now, that had tremendous cultural effects on the way everything was manifest.  So, we’ve tried to reflect some of that within the movie too.  I’ve used the word exponential, and I think it’s pertinent toward culture in general, particularly in New York or London. Technology is a reduction of time, space and motion. And it has done that to culture too.  Everything is moving exponentially – so fast that we can’t keep tabs on it.  So, I suppose this is the interesting part, the period just before it completely goes off the Richter Scale in terms of its pace of changing.

QUESTION:  In light of how London is changing, are you still happy to live there?

GUY RITCHIE:  I was born there and I’ve seen it change.  And I know a great deal about it.  I’m invested.  I live vicariously through my wife.  I was once a spy and now I’ve become a tourist and it’s much more fun to live in London as a tourist than it is a spy.  Someone told me the definition was: a spy always looks for the bad stuff and a tourist always looks for the good stuff.  That makes it easy, being married to an American.

QUESTION:  Did you enjoy playing a colorful criminal in this film?

IDRIS ELBA:  The reality is that most criminals, I mean 80% of criminals, end up in jail or dead.  That’s the reality. And the 20% that make it end up being politicians (Laughs).  That’s really it.  But, no, I get to play bad guys.  It’s good to be home and making a movie with Guy in London.  London’s had some fantastic characters, a really good bunch of actors, a good crew.  And, honestly, this film from start to finish is the bollocks.  It’s really good, really good.

Village Roadshow have supplied Moviehole with a couple of great “RocknRolla” wallpapers. To Download click the thumb below for the full version. They’ve also sent over some “RocknRolla” icons. Here You Go :

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