andygarcia09-2-06The Pink Panther 2 is coming out this weekend and what can I say, it’s got an amazing cast! The film stars, Steve Martin along with John Cleese, Andy Garcia, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, and even has an appearance by Jeremy Irons if you can believe it. Andy Garcia appears in the film as a member of The Dream Team, which helps Insp. Jacques Clouseau who is played by Steve Martin (again) to find The Pink Panther (again).

Garcia has been busy the past few years with movies like The Pink Panther, but also his own independent projects such as City Island which he currently looking to distribute. Looks like he does little and big all at the same time!

Check out the interview below where Garcia talks about making Steve Martin blush on the set of Pink Panther 2, producing his own films, and much more...

How long did it take to get your character’s name down?

Andy: [Laughs] That was easy. It was written. Jessica Drake was the dialect coach for the film, and we tried to find the right accent. The movie is full of crazy accents. It’s part of the charm of Pink Panther. The crazier the accent, the better. It has to be crazy and almost over-the-top. But, being that this character was an Italian from Rome trying to speak English, and not an Italian American, she pulled from her library about half a dozen different Romans talking English, and then we found one that we felt was the funniest and that suited my tone of voice and register, and we started working on that accent. She was great. And, we had fun with it. You try to get to the point where you don’t think abut it anymore and you understand the rules of the dialect — what to pronounce and not to pronounce, and why you’re “s” might turn into a “z,” and all that kind of stuff.

But, you must have more room for comedy with something like this, so that it doesn’t have to be die-hard accurate, right?

Andy: Right. And, also, the stranger the better.

You’ve done so many serious and dramatic roles, and this is slapstick comedy. Is it fun for you to just let go?

Andy: It was a lot of fun. When I first moved to L.A., I was involved in an improvisational comedy group that performed in the cabarets here and the Comedy Store, among other places. And, I’ve always been a great fan of comedy. I don’t really watch much TV at night, other than maybe a little late night thing or I’ll watch the Golf Channel for a little bit. But, when I do watch TV I search out comedies. I prefer to watch “Everybody Loves Raymond” than going to an hour drama. It’s something I enjoy. I enjoy the art form of comedy very much. So, given an opportunity to do something with Steve Martin, Alfred Molina and John Cleese, it was very nostalgic for me because the Pink Panther was something I grew up with and they were movies that I really enjoyed. It was just a gas. I said, “I would love to be in a Pink Panther movie. Are you kidding me?” Just to see that little Pink Panther in the beginning, running around to the Henry Mancini tune had a lot of fond memories for me.

Was it fun getting to work with Steve Martin?

Andy: Oh, yeah. He’s a joy.

Were there any good outtakes?

Andy: There were some gag reels. I’m sure there’s some stuff out there. We had a lot of laughs. Sometimes it was when the camera wasn’t even rolling, and we were just hanging out. It was pretty raunchy. I wanted to make my character more raunchy than what ended up in the film, but they kept saying, “I don’t think that’s gonna fly.” I’d say things with double meaning, and Sony didn’t want to go in that direction. I said, “But, the adults will get it. The kids won’t know what I’m saying. I’m not using bad words.” And, he said, “Yes, but maybe the parents won’t appreciate it.” It was a battle I lost.

Did you get to improv a lot on set?

Andy: A little bit, yeah. Sometimes I’d ask Steve, “What if I say this?,” because he wrote it and I wanted to respect that. I remember saying one thing that had a double meaning and he got embarrassed. I couldn’t believe Steve got embarrassed and turned red. He’s very pale, so I could see the red. [Laughs] It was the scene I have with Emily Mortimer, when we’re going down the hallway. She said, “Okay, it’s time for lunch. We can eat Japanese, French, Italian and surely not English because nobody wants to eat English.” That was her line, as we were walking down the hallway. And, I said to Steve, because I’m always doing things to make you jealous, what if I said “I would like to eat French, since Emily’s character is French,” and Steve turned red and said, “Oh, I don’t think so.” I embarrassed him and I didn’t anticipate that I could embarrass him. He didn’t go for it. That’s just one of the many examples of Vicenzo getting out of control.


You perform sometimes is a band as well, is music more of a passion for you than acting?

Andy: It was, initially. It was my first passion, before I consciously said I wanted to act. I was always enamored with film. That was a real escapist thing for me. I would do a lot of that, as a young boy. But, music was something I was very consumed with, from a very early age. I used to go to sleep with the radio next to my bed, really low, and I used to sing. In those days, I was mostly listening to Motown. And then, the Cuban music began to take over and push Motown out. I started studying it and collecting it. I discovered Cachao, and it turned my life around, musically.

What are you doing in the music realm now?

Andy: I produced the last four records in Cachao’s life, and I did a musical documentary on his life, before he passed away. Cachao: Uno Mas, which I produced, is going to play at the Miami Film Festival. He passed away this past year. A lot of the players that would play with him, who live in the Los Angeles area, asked me to continue the traditions of the band, so we’ve stayed together and we’ve been playing different shows. We played at the Nokia Theatre over the holidays. George Lopez asked us to open for him, so we did that. When I can get the guys off the road, because they’re all-star players, who play with people like James Taylor, we play together. They want to keep traditional Cuban music alive in their lives, so we made a pact to stay together and continue, in the traditional sense. We call if the Cachao movement.

Can you tell us about your participation with City Island and what’s going on with it?

Andy: We just showed it for the first time. It’s an independent movie that I produced this summer, that I also act in, with Julianna Margulies playing my wife and Emily Mortimer playing my muse in it. Alan Arkin is in it. My daughter, Dominik, is in it, Ezra Miller, and Steven Strait. It’s about a dysfunctional Italian American family in City Island, New York, and it’s a dramedy with a Little Miss Sunshine type of tonality to it. I play a correctional officer, who clandestinely tells his wife that he has a poker game once a week, but he’s actually taking acting classes. He wants to be an actor. But, also, in the process, he meets, in prison, a son that he abandoned, very early on in his life. He’s from a previous relationship. They separated and she purposely kept the boy away from him, so he lost track of him. He discovers him in prison and brings him home without telling him. He’s on provisional parole, where he can be released to someone willing to take responsibility for him, so he does that without telling him that he’s his son. So, he brings him into his house, and some complications begin to happen.

Does Dominik play your daughter in it?

Andy: Yeah.

She’s done that before, right?

Andy: Andy Davis cast her as my daughter when she was 12, in Steal Big Steal Little. He said, “What about your daughter playing your daughter? We need a 12-year-old and she’s 12 years old, and she’s your daughter.” I said, “Well, she does act. She’s been acting since she was 5. But, it’s up to you. You talk to her about it and, if she wants to do it, that’s between you and her. I’ll embrace it, but it’s got to be your thing with her.” I told him, “I want you to tell her what her responsibilities would be. Leave me out of it. I support it, but it’s between you and her.” So, he did.

What’s it like acting with your daughter?

Andy: She’s a great actress. She’s ready to go. She was in The Lost City, the movie I directed, with me. She played my sister-in-law. And, my little boy, Andres, who’s now 7, was the little boy in the movie that played her son. And then, Daniella, my other daughter, also did a scene in the movie with Bill Murray, at the end of the film. She’s also at Cal Arts in the theatre program. I have a bunch of stray bullets, like myself, in the family. My little boy and I were watching highlights of the Tiger Woods U.S. Open last year and I said, “You know why Tiger is such a good golfer?,” and he said, “I know papi, practice.” I always tell him, “You’ve got to practice to be good at anything. If you don’t practice, you’re not going to be good.” He said, “Papi, don’t worry about those things. When I grow up, I’m going to be an actor.” [Laughs] I said, “But, you’ve still got to practice.”

Do you enjoy producing?

Andy: I produce out of necessity. If I have an idea that I want to tell, or an idea comes my way, if I can contribute to it getting made than I take on that responsibility. The reality is that, you can’t expect someone else to take it on for you. If you want something to get made, what are you prepared to do for that ultimate goal? It’s easy to produce, if you can take it to Warner Bros. and they go, “When can you start? We love it,” and they throw a bucket of money at you. That’s easy. But, when everyone says, “It’s very nice, but no thank you, we’re looking for other things,” and you get turned down by everyone, and you still have this story. You have to decide what you’re prepared to do. Are you going to say, “Oh, forget it! We’ll give up on the idea,” or do you continue to say, “Let’s see what we can do to get this thing made.” That’s more frustrating, but also more rewarding, at the end of the day. The Lost City took me 16 years to get made. And, City Island, when I got involved, took us about 2 ½ years to finally get it financed, and we were able to get it made. Do I say, “I need to produce”? No. I do it as part of the effort of getting something made. It’s rewarding because it’s an accomplishment. If you want to tell a director’s story, you have to take responsibility for it. You can’t expect other people to fight the fight for you.

Does City Island have distribution?

Andy: No. We just showed it, for the first time, to some distributors, and it will be going to the Market in Berlin. We’re in the process of selling it now.

In the case of The Lost City, where you’re the producer, the director, the composer and the star, was that exhausting or was it even more exhilarating?

Andy: It was more exhilarating. And, I produced it with Frank Mancuso, Jr., so he took the brunt of the physical production and the organization, and gave me the opportunity to think about producing it from a creative standpoint, and doing the directing and the acting, and all that. He was a great partner for me. You don’t do it alone. You’re not the only guy doing everything. Sometimes a producer is just a financier. Sometimes a producer is involved more as a creative element in the piece. But, there are delineations of jobs. There are production managers, production supervisors, line producers, producers, creative producers, etc. I don’t mind the responsibility, but it usually comes out of the desire to get something done and taking some responsibility for that journey.

What was the worst audition experience you ever had?

Andy: Probably the most insensitive one. Sometimes there’s a lot of insensitivity in the audition process. One of the things that the actors should negotiate is that, in any audition, an actor should be hired to read with other actors. It doesn’t have to be the normal scale, for when you’re working professionally, but even if it’s $100, someone should come in and read, for three or four hours. That actor gets a chance to show his stuff, and he pays for his gas or some of his rent that day, and the fellow actor should have a chance to read with other actors, as opposed to reading with casting directors. Not to say that they’re not good readers, but some of them are not. They’re also in a judgmental state.

I remember, one time, I went into an audition. This was many, many years ago, like maybe 1978, when I first got here, so I was probably in my early 20′s. I would get one audition, every eight months. And, after waiting and waiting, I remember going in for this TV pilot or something, and I was ready to start and then the phone rang. She picked up the phone and looked at me and said, “Go ahead.” She wanted me to do the audition, as she was talking on the phone. So, I looked at her and said, “No. I’m going to go back outside and wait about another 20 seconds, and then I’ll come back in and, if you’re not off the phone, I’m leaving.” And, she said, “Okay, wait a second,” and she said, “I’ll call you right back,” and hung up the phone. She was completely flustered because no one had probably ever said that to her, since she was the casting director. It was just disrespectful. You don’t have to like my acting, but you should do your job with more respect. You should respect the people that are there, trying to provide something for you. Things like that happen pretty frequently. There are a lot of great casting directors, but there are a lot of moments of insensitivity, in the acting process, which is unfortunate.

Did that get you the job?

Andy: No, not at all.

Do you have any advice for young actors?

Andy: Don’t do it.

Really? What about your kids, who all want to act?

Andy: No. That really comes from Matt Damon. He said that’s what he tells young actors because, if that discourages them, then they shouldn’t have been doing it. I thought it was an interesting philosophy. Plus, it leaves a little bit more room for us guys who are still trying to make a living. What I tell my own children, and what I tell young actors, is take your craft seriously and prepare like if you’re going to be a doctor. Be prepared so that, when an opportunity comes, you’re ready. And, every time you go into an audition, the room is yours, not theirs. It’s your moment. You have to control the room. It’s not about getting the job, but it’s about making an impression that resonates with the people in that room, so that they don’t forget you.

When you are working with less experienced actors, like with Yuki Matsuzaki and Aishwarya Rai in this film, is there anything you do to help make them feel more comfortable and less intimidated by working with someone like you?

Andy: Jeff Bridges is probably one of the most generous actors I’ve ever worked with. He certainly set the barometer for me to measure everybody else by because I worked with him very early on in my life here. You can’t get a more generous and gracious individual than Jeff Bridges. And, he said, “My philosophy is that I’m the host. I’m here every day, so I have to be the most important supporting actor in the movie. The movie is in my rhythm. A guy comes off the street to do one scene, he’s stepping into our rhythm, so it’s important for me, as the protagonist, to make it comfortable to do his thing, and to engage him in our process and make him feel at ease. It’s my responsibility. Everyone else is going to be uncomfortable, but if I can be gracious, hospitable and welcoming, it takes the pressure off.” I thought that was a great lesson. That was a gift from Jeff to me, and Jeff was a gift to me himself. It’s a philosophy that I’ve tried to carry on. The more I can feed someone on camera, the better the whole is going to be. And, the more they can feed me on camera, the better my performance is going to be. That’s my philosophy.

If they want to bring the Dream Team back for Pink Panther 3, are you signed up or on board for it?

Andy: I’m not signed, but I’m prepared to negotiate. [Laughs]

Check out the Pink Panther 2 in theaters February 6th, 2009.