Some of the best working actors in the business aren’t necessarily the headlining super stars, but instead the passionate often supporting players. While they often bounce between leads and supporting characters these actors and actresses are usually the hearts of any great movie. Noah Emmerich is one of those that it’s hard to not call him a leading man because he is always right alongside every person headlining a project whether it be for TV and film, often times outshining them at every turn. With an already impressive resume he shows no signs of slowing down and is no taking up the reigns in the western Jane Got A Gun. I had the chance to sit down and speak with this amazingly talented actor on this difficult role and what went into bringing this character to life.
Bobby: This film had a bit of a bumpy start in production. How did you get involved in Jane Got A Gun?
Noah: I got involved because my good friend and colleague Gavin O’Connor called me up and told me he had just jumped into this film that has a troubled past, but is getting a fresh start with me so come on down and let’s make a movie. He is someone that I have worked with a lot. This is our fifth film together and he is a good friend of mine and that was enough to get me on board. The fact that it had this incredible cast, great script and that it was shooting in this beautiful location helped, but the heart of it all was Gavin.
Bobby: I know it is common with these kinds of things in Hollywood, but is there any kind of an adjustment period to a project that has already had some history like this?
Noah: It is hard. This film was plagued with a lot of diversity with a lot of starts and stops and problems. There were numerous times along the way that we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to make the film or not. It was a heavier load to carry than any other project I have worked on, but in the end you just do the work that is front of you for that day and in the end we managed to finish it. It wasn’t as much of an issue for the actors, but more for the producers, Gavin as the director and financiers it was a more nail biting experience. For the actors it was more like “What scene are we shooting tomorrow?” and hopefully we would be shooting tomorrow. It was just a step by step process where you just keep your eye on the ball that is right in front of you.
Bobby: It might sound like a joke, but you lay around a lot in this film.
Noah: (laughs) I do, it was literally the easiest physical job I have had, ever.
Bobby: Does that make it harder as a performer since you don’t have that mobility to help to sell your performance?
Noah: I think that was one of the more interesting challenges of the role was exactly that. You lose a lot of your tools and tricks to communicate what’s going on. The physicality is obviously gone and the verbal side is minimal so it was how much can you communicate with another human being with just your eyes and essence. That was a question that certainly interested me and made the role which visually seemed easy, but internally was a challenge. I didn’t really have an idea on how it would come off and if it would work or not, but it was a really fascinating exploration and attempt.
Bobby: Ideally it seems like a nice relaxed place to work from, but did it take a toll on your body from having to lie around like that all day?
Noah: Yeah, it’s the first choice. No one wants to stay in bed all day especially in a big dusty bed. It was a real authentic period bed so it wasn’t a comfortable modern bed so it was physically not as easy as it appears to be. I got stiff and sore and just wanted to run around. The character was dying so you couldn’t get too energized because it wouldn’t fit the role very well, so it was hard to stay in that state for those many days.
Bobby: Most might think that has to be easy, but there is so much that goes into that performance. How did you prepare to be able to convey all the things that this character needed to get across?
Noah: First is to find out the physical realities of what that would mean when someone is fighting for their lives. Studying the realities of the physical condition and then trying to live inside those realities and let them become real through imagination and knowledge. That is part of the fun of acting that you get to visit places and people that are outside your realm of experience and take that trip internally. Having now been there and done that I hope that never happens to me, but it was an interesting place to visit.
Bobby: You did get to get in on the action a bit. Did you have to do any special training?
Noah: I did the horse training which I am not at all accomplished at. So I learned to ride a horse and to handle those guns. The guns I used were actually quite heavy and difficult to fire. I spent a lot of time practicing with those guns and the horses which was great fun. What kid hasn’t dreamt of playing as a western gunslinger and I got to do it for real. That sequence was tremendously fun.
Bobby: I know they always have the wardrobe people working to create the looks but did you get to have any input during that sequence were you had that bad ass gunslinger look to you?
Noah: I had a real participation and input into that with designing the mustache and the wardrobe. We had a great wardrobe designer and props, hair and make-up people, but especially with Gavin he really wants the actors input so I got to really help design the look and feel of Hamm. I loved going into wardrobe for that sequence. It was really fun like you said a classic bad ass.
Bobby: As we talked about before you spent most of the time in the bed, but even from there you had to do some shooting action. How hard was it to pull off those action moments without being able to really be mobile?
Noah: I worked with the guns a lot and hopefully became proficient as a healthy man and then as an unhealthy man I still had those skills inside, but had to play them up as though I was mortally wounded. Hopefully we were able to make you believe it and then we did our job well.
Bobby: I thought you did a great job selling everything about your performance.
Noah: Thank you so much.
Bobby: Throughout your career you have taken on a wide variety of roles. What do you look for when looking for that next project?
Noah: First is with the characters. Is there something interesting to play with the character and what they are going through and experience and is it intriguing to me as a human being? Then the context of the character is the story itself interesting. Are you a part of something you can be proud of being a part of and is there something there worthwhile. Then of course who are the people you are doing it with. Who are the other actors and director? Are they someone you believe is a good storyteller or something you want to work with? So it begins with the character and ends with the crew and the cast and hopefully they all line up and are compelling to make everything about the project perfect. Certainly first and foremost is the character. Are they someone you feel connected or relatable to and interested in exploring and able to portray?
Bobby: I know you are currently promoting Jane Got A Gun, but do you have anything else coming up you can talk about?
Noah: I have something on the other side of the spectrum from Jane, but not sure when it is coming out. It’s a family comedy called Wild Wedding that has a great cast with John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Patrick Stewart and Minnie Driver that was written and directed by Damian Harris. It’s a really fun light dysfunctional family comedy. Of course there is the next season of The Americans that I hope will be announced soon.
Bobby: I commend you on this role. You did an excellent job with this role as always and I wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
Noah: Thank you so much.
Be sure to check out Jane Got A Gun on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment.