I recently sat down with the stars of Richard Kelly‘s upcoming thriller, The Box. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden made the trip down to San Diego’s Comic-Con to give the fans and the press some info about their latest film. I learned a lot about their characters, the story, but most importantly I tried to get some dirt on Diaz starring in the Green Hornet! You can see if I was successful when you read my interview after the jump.
Can you talk a little about the story and your character?
JM: Well, life is sort of pretty simple at the beginning of this. They’re just sort of your average American couple and this strange guy shows up and says, ‘Hi, half of my face is gone, but here’s this box. If you press this button someone you don’t know will die and you’ll get a million dollars.’ They’re in a place financially where they could use a million dollars. He’s sort of a scientist and doesn’t believe that this is real but they hypothetically go down and have these discussions, like, ‘Could we do this, in good conscious take out someone else’s life?’ I saw the clip out there. That’s about as far as we can go.
Do you guys go back and forth on the issue?
JM: Yeah, definitely. For Norma, she saw Arlington herself. So she already knows that what she saw was real, that this man had half a face. So at this point it’s already unbelievable if you hear it, but since she’s seen it she knows that it’s real. So it makes her feel that this is a possibility, that what he’s saying is really true. She saw the money herself and he gave her a $100 and he wants to make sure the money is real. He didn’t see him. He doesn’t know how real this is.
What is this box? What is it that happens?
CD: Yeah, and he takes it apart and sees there’s nothing inside of it. He says there’s no way that this box can do what he says it can do. It’s just a box. It’s just a button. There’s nothing inside of it, there’s no transmitter. So they do go back and forth on it a lot but for the sake of moving through you see that there’s a moment where it’s just a button and they don’t really feel, it’s funny because when I think the decision is made in a way I think that Norma just expects it to not be real. It’s like, ‘Okay, maybe nothing will happen and if it happens it’ll all be okay because it’ll be someone we don’t know and someone who probably deserves it. It could be a murderer on death row.’ She’s really just hoping, they’re hoping for the best.
You’ve done a lot of romantic comedy work and straight comedy work before. Is the thriller aspect of this film what attracted you?
CD: Yeah. I think overall, funnily enough, I saw a beautiful love story in this movie. I did like the sort of existential part of this, why people do what they do, where are we coming from, is there a hand that sort of rests over us? Is there somebody judging us? What is it that sort of defines human beings? Can a decision like this really sort of be able – I think it does, but a decision like this because of the whole Arlington thing and his employers, basically it infers that there’s this bigger power that overlooks humanity and says, ‘We’re going to put you through this test and if you fail it we’re going to see if you’re willing to be here, if we’re willing to let you stay here, if you’re worthy of it –it’s the word that I’m looking for – ‘if you’re worthy of staying here.’ It’s sort of like on a day to day basis we make decisions, everyone does, that have repercussions. This decision, in particular, being a moral one is one of those really deep human questions, like, ‘What would I do? Would I really take another humans life? What would I take it for, a million dollars?’ Everyday we push a button. We push a button every single day in some way or another with the decisions that we make on every level, from the food that we eat, to the car that we drive. Every decision we make is pushing a button, and overall, are those decision ultimately going to lead to our demise? Yes. Can they also lead to us flourishing? Yes. It’s a matter of whether we question ourselves on a day to day basis, like, ‘What does this mean? What does this decision really mean?’ That’s what I saw in this film when I first read it.
JM: No more questions like that. She said it all.
What scares you guys? What gives you a really good fright?
CD: I don’t know. Oh, you know what terrifies me? Trailers to horror movies. I just can’t watch them. I hate horror movies. I’m always afraid. I kind of want to look but I’m always afraid that I’m going to look too long and see the one image that I’m not going to be able to get out of my head for at least a week every night before I’m going to bed. That’s the one I just don’t like.
JM: I’ll say that to Richard’s [Kelly] credit, what I love about this film is that it feels like to me a classic Kubrick, Hitchcock, suspenseful get into your head, get under your skin kind of thriller that are few and far between nowadays. That’s what terrifies me. I don’t know if you remember the original ‘Haunting’ but you don’t see anything and what you don’t see is what’s killing you. It’s what’s driving you crazy and is scary. In this day and age I know it’s very popular to show the blood, show the knives and tie people up but to me it’s more the psychological elements that terrify me. I was listening to NPR the other day and they were talking about Raymond Chandler and they said what was scary about some of these great crime dramas wasn’t that someone was bleeding to death on the floor but that he was trying to pick up a paperclip off a table that had a polish to it, as he’s dying, trying to pick this paperclip up and that it was this awful, real moment. That makes no sense, I don’t know. But the point is that it’s the psychological element that terrifies me and that’s what I think really exists strongly in this movie. To me it feels nostalgic to some of those great Hitchcock films. It definitely gives a nod to many of those. So I’m happy to be a part of that.
Cameron, what are you looking forward to doing on ‘The Green Hornet’?
CD: A lot of things. I’m very excited to work with Michel Gondry and with Seth Rogen. I’m just really excited about it.
Do you get to be funny in that, too?
CD: I’ll tell you when it happens.
What kind of charge do you get, Cameron, from being around the fans down here?
CD: Oh, it’s great. My favorite part so far has been the signing of all the posters for the fans that came through. It was so great. Everyone is so kind and so generous. They’re so happy to see us and they’re excited about the film. So it’s nice to be around people who are really positive and excited about the filmmaking process.
Has anyone given you any cool memorabilia?
CD: No, not yet. I’d like to.