Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nick Stahl is wheelchair bound

Q&A: Nick Stahl
June 18, 2008

Entertainment News Wire
HOLLYWOOD _ In 1984, at the age of 4, Nick Stahl realized he wanted to act. In 1993, the native Texan got his big break, playing a fatherless boy opposite Mel Gibson in "The Man Without a Face." Another opportunity came in 2003 with the role of John Connor in "Terminator 3: The Rise of The Machines." Following that, Stahl moved to the small screen with a lead role on HBO's "Carnivale."

His latest film is a psychological thriller called "Quid Pro Quo," in which he plays Isaac Knott, a paralyzed public radio reporter who receives a news tip that takes him on a journey into an unusual New York subculture.

Sitting in a comfortable chair in his public relations firm's conference room, Stahl talks about why he chose to do "Quid Pro Quo," his take on "Carnivale" and his future with the "Terminator" franchise.

Q: Tell me more about Isaac Knott. What drew you to work on this film?

A: I just thought it was really unusual and unique, and I'd never read anything like it. The character was very complex, and it just looked like a real challenge as an actor to take on. It's such a unique story with a lot of plot twists, and the dialogue was great.

Q: Did you go through any process of dealing with the character's physical disabilities?

A: Yeah. I went around New York in the wheelchair and tried to manage that and to get comfortable with that so I would look like I knew what I was doing and not have to think about it. That was something concrete to focus on _ the physicality of it.

Q: Just being in New York must be hard for a physically disabled person. Was it really hard to be in a wheelchair?

A: Yeah, it's very hard. It's harder than what I had imagined. First of all, you don't realize that the city is on a slant, so your arms are pretty much dead when you get to the end of a certain block. And going uphill and curves are a challenge. I only had two weeks to do as much as I could with the wheelchair.

Q: With your character trying to figure out why another character wants to be disabled _ what is called a "wannabe" _ didn't that make you wonder why someone would want to be that way?

A: Sure. Psychological disorders. It's very real. I saw a documentary about "wannabes," people who want to be amputees or paralyzed. It's a very real subculture of people, and I think it just kind of falls in line with sort of odd psychological disorders that are different from everyone.

Q: Do you think Isaac had some psychological disabilities?

A: Of course. I think the whole idea of being paralyzed is a great metaphor for trauma and psychological trauma that you suffer at a younger age. I think most people I've met have that to some degree. Life is suffering. Dramatic events happen to you as a kid and it stays with you.

Q: How was it for you, going from kid actor to adult actor and taking on all these serious roles?

A: It's something that I feel lucky that I'm getting better at. I really do feel that with each project I do, I get more dedicated to acting. I feel that I learn things from every film that I do. People ask me a lot, "Why do you do a lot of dark-themed films and heavy drama?" The truth is, these were the films that were available to me, and when someone sees you doing darker movies, those are the movies that come your way. I would love to do a variety of things. I would love to do comedy, more commercial movies, and I think I will.

Q: Has anything come up in line with the "Terminator" franchise?

A: No. No. They're doing a fourth one. They're sort of retooling the franchise so John Connor is older, and there is a new director, so I think they are reconceptualizing it.

Q: Do you keep in contact with Arnold Schwarzenegger?

A: Ha. No. We don't text message or anything.

Q: Why do you think "Carnivale" ended?

A: It ended because there weren't enough people watching it. It's pretty simple and comes down to not enough people watching versus the amount of money they spend on each episode. I would say more people come up to me about that than anything else. It was on a premium channel, which narrowed the field of viewers off the bat. It never had the numbers that they wanted. But the fans that it had were very hard-core and loyal fans that loved it. It kept us going for two seasons.

Q: You mentioned you wanted to do more comedy _ slapstick or verbal jokes?

A: "Three's Company: The Movie."

Q: Playing Jack?

A: Chrissy.

Q: I see the resemblance.

A: Ha. Ha. Mr. Furley. I like all kinds of comedies. I would say I am more attracted to the quirky type of stuff like Wes Anderson-type movies or Tim Burton things. Coen Brothers I love. Sort of the more absurdist type of things. I'm a pretty tough critic on movies in general. I like seeing all kinds of movies and usually there are redeeming qualities in every movie. But I don't know. There are some comedies that are just intolerable and that are so stupid that I can't drag myself to sit through. So I don't see myself in slapstick stuff at all. I don't think anyone else would see me in that.

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