Known to audiences mostly for his performances in "The Goonies, "Die Hard," and villain Franz Sanchez in the James Bond flick "License to Kill," actor Robert Davi is one of the most well-respected actors in the business.
Since his 1977 debut in "Contract on Cherry Street" starring Frank Sinatra, Davi has appeared in close to 100 films and TV shows.
This week sees the release of the hotly-anticipated dramatic satire "My Son Hunter," Davi’s third effort as a feature director.
Even before its release, the film was being scourged by the mainstream media and "reviewed" by at least one leftist critic who readily admitted he had not actually seen the movie.
Last week I had the privilege to interview Mr. Davi, a true modern day Renaissance man who, like so many other conservative artists, is being attacked solely because of his political beliefs.
Michael Clark: Your film was shot entirely in Serbia. Was there some reason you picked that location?
Robert Davi: We needed [European] exotic. Some of it is set in Ukraine and Romania so it seemed to be the logical choice. It’s also easier making Europe look like the U.S. instead of the other way around.
MC: To me the film looks a lot like "The Wolf of Wall Street." Is that the look and tone you were going for?
RD: Yes, that, "The Godfather," and particularly "American Hustle."
MC: There are some people who are going to watch this movie and possibly say that too much of the content is "conjecture." How would you respond to that?
RD: A lot of the content was based on research done by the screenwriter [Brian Godawa] and augmented by me after reading [the Hunter Biden memoir] "Beautiful Things" where he goes into detail regarding his emotional state while conducting his business and personal dealings. When Joe talks to Hunter about his art, it was one of the few times we exercised artistic license. There’s a reason why we opened with the text "This is not a true story . . . except for all the facts."
MC: In discussing "Dr. Strangelove," Stanley Kubrick stated the plot was impossible to do as a drama; it had to be a satire. Is that what happened with your film as well?
RD: Not really. We’d planned it as a satire from the start.
MC: What was the biggest challenge getting the movie made?
RD: The normal stuff. Differences of opinion with the screenwriter. Originally, much of it was set it in a single room with flashbacks and I wanted to open the film up. There were compromises on both of our parts. My original choice for director of photography wasn’t available and I saw three different sets of locations before choosing one. It was everything all directors encounter to one degree or another with every movie.
MC: The casting was spot on. Were all four of the principals your first choice?
RD: No, but not for reasons you might think. The actress I wanted to play [Hunter’s love interest] Grace ended up being cast in the latest "John Wick" movie. We were so lucky that we were able to get Emma [Gojkovic] to play the part. She’s half Serbian, half-British and speaks in a perfect "American" English accent.
MC: The chemistry with the actors was amazing, particularly Laurence [Fox as Hunter] and John [James as Joe]. Did you ask for a lot of rehearsals?
RD: I met with the actors one at a time and then teamed them up based on each scene. They first needed to get comfortable with their roles and then each other. Unlike Jazz where musicians that have never met, go onstage, improvise and it sounds great. With acting you have to make it appear to be improvisational and that’s when you get great performances.
MC: How did Breitbart become the distributor for the movie?
RD: I knew Andrew Breitbart well. We met in 2002 on the U.S. Ronald Reagan. I recommended to the producers early on we should go with Breitbart. Ours is the first movie Breitbart is releasing.
MC: So many "outed" conservative actors are being shunned by the studios and are unable to get decent work. Your imdb.com page lists 12 movies and a TV series ("Paper Empire") that are in post- or pre-production; that’s pretty amazing.
RD: I’m lucky and I’m also not fringe. I’m pro-environment, pro-LGBTQ, and have no issues with anyone’s lifestyle as long as they’re not teaching it to three-year-olds. Parents shouldn’t be taking their preschoolers to drag shows.
MC: I watched you perform four Frank Sinatra songs on YouTube.com yesterday; you’ve some major pipes. If this acting thing doesn’t pan out, you should go on tour.
RD: I have. I’ve toured the world. I headlined at the Venetian, and some of the last few shows Don Rickles did at the Orleans before his passing. I’ve been in Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Finland, Macau, and Australia singing Sinatra and other stuff from "The Great American Songbook." These are the songs that taught the world about America and even taught some people how to speak English. I have a new tour starting in December. I also released a studio album "Davi Sings Sinatra" that went to #6 on the Billboard Jazz chart.
MC: How cool was it being the villain in a James Bond movie?
RD: The Bond movies are the benchmark of espionage/action films. Filmmakers and technical people use Bond films as a blueprint; an instruction manual. It’s the most successful series in the history of cinema. It’s really nice to be included in the gallery of Bond rogues.
MC: The movie "Showgirls" was universally panned when it was released but has since become a cult classic. What are your memories — good or bad — while acting in it?
RD: It was all good; a great time. I love [director] Paul Verhoeven’s work and I learned a lot from him regarding directing during that period. The only issue was the edgier language I had to speak; I’d never been called on to go that rough.
MC: Your imdb.com page lists "The Goonies 2" scheduled for 2027! It that true? Is there a sequel in the works?
RD: They’ve been talking about a sequel since it came out. There have been ideas tossed around now and then but nothing ever gets past the talking-about-it phase. It’s nice that the myth is still alive.
MC: The future of the free world might depend on your answer to this question. "Die Hard" — is it a Christmas movie or not?
RD: I was in London last month doing a concert where "Die Hard" was also screening at the London Action Film Festival. [Director] John McTiernan and I were doing a Q&A and when it was over, the audience joined me in singing "Let it Snow" [featured in the film]. I didn’t think it was a Christmas movie at first but I’ve changed my mind. It is overwhelmingly a Christmas movie. Every holiday season, families watch it together. It was a great thing to be part of.
To view the trailer and find out how to watch the film, visit mysonhunter.com.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national film industry media outlets and is based in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace. He co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017 and is a regular contributor to the Shannon Burke Show on floridamanradio.com. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film-related articles and is one of the scant few conservative U.S. movie critics. Read Michael Clark's Reports — More Here.
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