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Freddie Prinze, Jr. & Mena Suvari – Living By Brooklyn Rules

Updated: May 21, 2023

Mena Suvari and Freddie Prinze, Jr. in "Brooklyn Rules."

Mena Suvari and Freddie Prinze, Jr. in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Freddie Prinze, Jr. & Mena Suvari

Living By Brooklyn Rules

by Jay S. Jacobs

Brooklyn Rules has been a long time coming. The script is a labor of love by Terrence Winter, one of the main writers on The Sopranos. The story was based on his own youth, where he and his best friends grow up in the New York boroughs in the middle of the mob wars.

Unlike most films about gangsters, Brooklyn Rules does not glamorize the lifestyle. It just shows three young kids trying to find their place in the world – with two of them desperately trying to avoid the mobsters around them. Though one of the guys fall in with the wise guys, the other two use education and religion to find their sense of self.

The script has been making the rounds for years, catching the eyes of directors and stars before Michael Corrente came into the picture. A producer and director (Outside Providence), Corrente and Winter combined their passion to get their film made.

Finally, the film is ready to go, with a stellar cast including Freddie Prinze, Jr., Scott Caan, Mena Suvari, Jerry Ferrara (best known as Turtle from Entourage) and Alec Baldwin.

Even after the film was made it was still fated to take the hard road – with Corrente fighting to keep control of the release. After an original deal fell through, he resisted several overtures to release the film straight to video because he believed so strongly in the film. He believed strongly that it had to be released in theaters. Now it is – starting with limited releases in New York, Los Angeles and Boston. Eventually, if all goes well, it will get a much wider release.

“It’s very satisfying. When we made it nobody wanted this movie,” Corrente said.  “In a sense it makes me a little crazy. Every piece of shit movie out there that gets released and a real movie comes along with a great cast, a fantastic writer, a really wonderful story and the current state of the movie business today is we have to pass on movies like this… If not for City Lights, honestly, we were a hair’s breadth away from having to release this on DVD. It’s mind boggling.”

The son of the famous but ultimately tragic 70s comedian/sitcom star for whom he was named, Freddie Prinze, Jr. has been working in show biz since he was a kid. Over the years he has made many films including the Scooby-Doo films, I Know What You Did Last Summer, She’s All That, Boys and Girls and Down To You. He also had his own sitcom called Freddie.

Mena Suvari first caught our eyes in 1999 with the one-two punch of American Pie and American Beauty. Since then she has done a dizzyingly eclectic range of styles and genres. She has worked on big bucks action pictures like Domino and The Musketeer as well as comedies such Rumor Has It, Loser and Beauty Shop. She is also in more intimate films like Stuck, Caffeine, Spun and the upcoming Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

Freddie Prinze in "Brooklyn Rules."

Freddie Prinze in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Prinze and Suvari met with us at the Regency Hotel in New York, shortly before the Brooklyn Rules release to discuss the project and their careers.

What did it take for you all to connect like you did?

Mena Suvari: A lot of late nights. A lot of drinking binges. (laughs) I don’t know.

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: It was twofold.  Michael was very smart – the director, Michael – in the regard that, during the rehearsal process, he’d start a conversation casually. He’d start a conversation casually, and be like … this is the way Michael talks not me … “Who’s the first broad you nailed?” So I would begin to discuss the first woman that I slept with, and you’d start talking about how horrible you were, and it was like ten seconds long and she was like ‘what?’ and it was really embarrassing … and then the other guys would start to chime in, and they’d crack jokes on you. Then you’d find out that it was even less with them, and ha ha ha, and then Michael would say “Now read the scene right now!” and we’d just go right into the scene with that same type of energy and that same type of vibe. That really developed a lot of the dialogue and the pace that was required for the scenes that we were going to do.

Well, did you rehearse and talk about the characters?

Mena Suvari: (laughs) It just worked out very well. We did the film three… several years ago. But it worked out where I loved the script and I’m just a fan of Michael Corrente’s and the characters. I was here just for a couple of days and I got the opportunity to meet with him and I told him that I loved it and I wanted to be a part of it. It just worked out. I’d worked with Scott before. Everybody – Freddie and Michael had been working together for a long time and finally got this made. I’m just really happy about it and really happy to come together and make it work with no, NO drama whatsoever. Easy.

No drunken nights?

Mena Suvari: No. (laughs)

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: As far as chemistry, we just lucked out. Scott and I were confined to a trailer – I kid you not – that was smaller than this table. He would just chain-smoke and I had a really bad habit of chewing tobacco.

Chewing tobacco?

Freddie Prinze Jr., Jerry Ferrara and Scott Caan in "Brooklyn Rules."

Freddie Prinze Jr., Jerry Ferrara and Scott Caan in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: Yeah, I used to. I played baseball grew up in New Mexico and that was just what you did. I quit. Thanks for your concern. So this inner door had to be closed because it was cold and so the smoke’s in there. We’d watch that one scene in True Romance with Christopher Walken, and we’d do our Walken impressions. His was much better, but my Roger Rabbit was better. We would watch movies, and Scott and I, we just got along. I guess some of it was maybe that we both had father’s in this… well, he still has a father in this business, I had a father in this… We both were sort of at the same age, emotionally, so it was very easy for the two of us to bond. Jerry and Mena had the nicer half of the trailer, where they had their own rooms. It’s just hard not to get along with Jerry. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like him.  Kathleen Turner said, “A movie is a marriage with a guaranteed divorce.” I’ve really fought against that for the thirteen years that I’ve been doing this, and she was right as rain. It was so rejected, the amount of love I would put out there. This is the first film ever that we’re still friends. Jerry and I just played golf. I shot like a 122 and he shot like a 126. I beat his ass, as bad as I am. We were drunk by the twelfth hole, but we just had a good time. I speak with Michael all the time. Terry sent me a picture of his baby. Like, I’ve never had that. I had it on my show, but that’s TV and film is very different. It’s never worked, ever, and it’s not from a lack of effort, it’s just never worked. I don’t know why.

Mena, your character and Freddie’s character came from such different worlds. How do you think that drew them together?

Mena Suvari: With Ellen, she’s somewhat well off and goes to Columbia. She catches onto Freddie’s character Michael very quickly, but she admires him. She falls for him, you know, starts to like him. I think it’s just that. The opposites attract kind of thing. She’s on to him and she sees through that. She sees him for who he really is and I think she also sees a lot of potential in him and believes in him. I think it’s really just that kind of opposites attract. And I think Ellen – it was exciting to her. She knows that he’s a little bit more mysterious and possibly dangerous than the other guys she’s around all the time.

Mena Suvari in "Brooklyn Rules."

Mena Suvari in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: It was funny. Mena and I had a different kind of chemistry than I’ve ever had with anyone else. There was something comfortable right away. Usually when I step forward to a girl, they step backwards. That’s just kind of the natural ebb and flow to a scene. I stepped forward to Mena and she stepped forward to me and I was kind of like stepping backwards. There was just this comfort level. The first scene we had to do together was a scene in bed. She just nuzzled right in and fit perfectly right into my chest. We just looked at each other and did the scene and the scene became much quieter than it was in rehearsals. She looked like Brigitte Bardot. It was like possessing her. It was really weird. We had this wonderful chemistry. Then the last scene we did together was on the roof, and so we already had this comfort and protection and all you want to do is hold her and keep her warm, because she’s this little thing. Even though she’s strong, but you want to protect her. She doesn’t need help from anybody. She’s just this firecracker. But I can’t help it. It’s me. My wife is this big, too. It’s how I am. So, when we did that scene, even though it was in the rain, a couple of lines changed and some of the attitudes changed, but there was just this comfort level that I haven’t ever had. And I’ve had chemistry with other actresses before. I’ve only not had chemistry once, (chuckles) and it was zero chemistry. But other than that, I’ve always had it. I don’t want to say it was better, but it was. It was just better. There was just a comfort level that’s never really existed before.

Mena Suvari: Oh, it was different. I mean with Freddie… They are all so amazing, all the guys in this. Freddie was such a gentleman. Very, very polite and very considerate. Those are the things you want in any kind of scene you have with somebody. It’s intimate. So, I was very lucky. It was great. It’s a great movie and fun. That’s how I like to approach the scenes that I work on. I’ve been really lucky with that. They’re all just very, very sweet.

Have you had actors that weren’t polite?

Mena Suvari: You know, everybody’s different. Yeah, there are some times when… you know, people either connect or they don’t. I feel like I’ve been really lucky with that. I feel like I’ve always kind of gotten along with the people I work with. That’s my goal.

I love that your character is upwardly mobile and able to reach out to his friends. Was that something that interested you about this character?

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: The main thing was I could just relate to him. I tell people I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and most people go, “Oh, that sounds so quaint.”  They don’t realize that in the 80s it was the number one city in the country for gang related murder, per capita. There was a group of four of us, and the best one of us was taken away thirteen days before we graduated high school. It shouldn’t have been him. His name was Berto and he was by far the best. He had this girlfriend. It was heartbreaking. So I could relate to that.

Scott Caan, Freddie Prinze,Jr. and Jerry Ferrara in "Brooklyn Rules."

Scott Caan, Freddie Prinze,Jr. and Jerry Ferrara in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Do people still relate to you as this young kid?

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: It depends on the audience, you know? It depends on who I’m with. When you have as much success as I did doing that thing – playing that guy that every mother wishes their daughter would date, and she’s busy dating a guy who rides a motorcycle – it’s hard for them to invest in anything else. It’s funny. I pitched myself for this movie years ago, when Griffin Dunne was attached to direct, and he just wasn’t having it. He was the audience that wasn’t hearing how I grew up. I couldn’t even get a meeting with this guy. Fortunately, they got rid of that guy. (laughs and shakes his head.) I think the real reason was their movie fell apart. It had nothing to do with it. Their financing fell through. Years later, when Michael (Corrente) was involved, I did get to meet and I remember sitting in that room. It was him and (screenwriter) Terry (Winter) and Rachel Rothman who produced it, and I’m making this passion play and I’m telling them “I can relate to this guy.” I don’t trust them enough to tell them all the reasons why, but I’m saying it was much as I can so they know I’m reaching out. I said if you let me read scenes… I’m not afraid of auditions. If you put my work up against every other guy that comes in here and read, I’m gonna beat them. It wasn’t me being arrogant. I just knew I was supposed to play this part.

I was telling (wife) Sarah (Michelle Gellar) this when I read the script. My wife believes in destiny and fate, and I don’t. She was like “It’s destiny! You’re meant to play this role!” I was like, I don’t know about that, but I’m fucking getting this part. (laughs) So I went in and I read and I was fortunate enough that I communicated what Terry was wanting to see and what Michael and Rachel were wanting to see and I got the part. Because they took that chance on me, I was willing to do things that many a therapist has tried to pull out of me and failed. I beat them all. That my wife has tried to pull out of me. I got her too. I relived some of that here. It was awful and horrible and I didn’t feel good – which is why I keep so much bottled in, why I’m so private in the first place – but Michael created the safest environment possible to go through something like that again. For Scott too. People think Scott’s had this sheltered life because he’s James Caan’s kid. No. No. It’s just perspective. His environment was different, but it’s all about perspective.

Mena Suvari in "Brooklyn Rules."

Mena Suvari in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Mena Suvari: He’s the man that made it go, man. Michael’s awesome. That’s what you want. You want somebody who is passionate. Vivacious. When I worked with Tony Scott, come on, he’s got a megaphone and he’s on set yelling at everybody. But I loved that, because Tony would come up to me when I was working on Domino and he would literally jump and down. He would like yell at me, trying to get me into this zone. My God! But that’s great. You want somebody who is really in it with you. Michael was really there and passionate about it and he wants it. You want to feel like you’re in good hands.

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: So it was difficult, but I saw it on the screen and I realized that I had never been proud of a movie before, like I thought that I had been. I’ve said that I’ve been proud of movies, and I wasn’t lying, I was just wrong. I realized what pride was when I left that. I was quiet walking home. We saw it in Tribeca and Sarah and I were walking home. She was kind of choked up and wasn’t ready for that scene with Jerry. And just really loved it and she was like “I’ve never loved you more in a movie” and I said I’ve never been proud. I guess. All of a sudden all these things started coming. The feeling was so good. With a film like this, you don’t know if it’s going to get distribution. You don’t know if anyone is ever going to see it. It’s a small movie, and I didn’t care. I didn’t care. Everything since that screening with like ten people has been gravy. Everything’s been gravy.

Michael was telling us about some of the interesting things that happened in filming as an indie – for example that roof scene it wasn’t supposed to rain, but you couldn’t wait around so you improvised. Is that an interesting way to work compared to a film that may have a little more budget and leeway like Domino or American Beauty or something?

Mena Suvari: Those are things that I don’t think about and I can’t really. It’s just relative. I never know what I’m going to get into, so the only thing I can do is just make it start from the work and whether I’m interested in it or not. You can’t control any of this. So, it’s just kind of the process. I don’t know if… in that specific example… things would have changed that night if it were a studio. We could have gone to a cover. I don’t know. That’s just what you do. I don’t expect to live a completely pampered lifestyle. (laughs) You know, in my everyday work it’s a challenge and it can be grueling on some days.

Freddie, you and Sarah both worked with Alec Baldwin recently. Did you compare notes?

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: I loved him to death. I’m not shying away from questions about Alec but I will say that I love him to death. I know a lot of actors that aren’t as good as Alec and that aren’t at the stature that Alec is at that have never bothered to come to rehearsal – ever – because they got better shit to do. The ball game is on. Alec was there every day. I’m a big believer in rehearsal. I give all my rehearsals for free. Always have. Always will. I try to give two weeks, most people, I’m surprised are happy with one. I’m always the first guy on set and the last guy to leave, and this guy beat me there every day. I would strategically leave early, but he’s just been there. He was me, and he knows all my tricks and how I’m going to get there early. He’s just schooling me. But I loved him.

Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Mena Suvari in "Brooklyn Rules."

Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Mena Suvari in “Brooklyn Rules.”

I’m a big believer in letting these guys know. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Peter Falk and with Ving Rhames and with Alec Baldwin and these guys whose work I respect very, very much. I let them know, in a subtle way, I’m willing to be a student if they’re willing to be a teacher. And he so wants to be. I use the word arrogant in the best way possible. He is arrogant enough to be a teacher. I think you do have to have arrogance to be willing to shape and mold a mind. He really was willing to do that, and it was near as good as the experience was with Peter Falk. The only reason it wasn’t was because I spent more time with Peter. I only had a few scenes with Alec in this. It was a day-to-day thing. Peter would call you up to his hotel room at 3 a.m. (imitates) “Freddie, get up here. Right fucking now.” He’d chain smoke all night long. We would go to like 6 a.m, just doing scenes. The only reason that it made it better is that it was on a daily basis. But, I would work with this guy any day of the week. Any time he wanted, whether it was acting, directing… Whether he wrote it. I don’t care. I respect Alec.

Mena, are you in to mob movies and mob culture?

Mena Suvari: A little bit. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I have an interest, just the same as a lot of people do. I love The Sopranos and… I don’t know why. (laughs) For some reason there’s definitely an American fascination with the blood and gore and violence of the mob, and power and that kind of thing.

Did you know a lot about John Gotti and the whole history of the 80s mobs before the film?

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: Only because I was fascinated as a child. You know, your mother says, “Don’t touch that. It’s hot.” The first thing you do is burn your hand. So my mom was very anti… she gets mad if I watch The Sopranos(Chuckles) I’m a grown man and I’m scared to watch it, because I know she’s going to find out. So I read a lot about him and I really tried to – back then we used the microfiche… (laughs) No kids will understand that. So I read a lot of articles on him and I’ve read a lot of books on him. I never had a lot of time to go to school, so at work I would read a lot.

It seems like mob movies become American classics.

Mena Suvari:I think it’s just like all those things that shouldn’t be a part of life. I feel bad being part of the film. (laughs) No. It’s a lifestyle and that’s why it’s so interesting. It’s so mysterious and not something that you’re really exposed to.

Jerry Ferrara, Scott Caan and Freddie Prinze,Jr. in "Brooklyn Rules."

Jerry Ferrara, Scott Caan and Freddie Prinze,Jr. in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: There has always been something that has fascinated me about a government that exists within a government. A set of rules that exists within another set of rules. They pay no mind to the other set, as long as they don’t interfere. I’m not saying this is a good way of life, but I’m saying that the I think the reason people like it is that it takes a lot of courage and a certain type of character to disregard one set of rules and live by another. Be willing to do whatever it takes to exist within those rules. I read a lot of books about these guys and their philosophy on it. It’s always been something that’s compelled me and I think – as much as you want to believe a 31-year-old-no-college-education [guy], that’s why a lot of other people are compelled by it, too. They’re regular people, they’ve just got a different set of rules. It’s kind of like Vatican City. You realize it’s the smallest country in the world. They have their own form of government. They aren’t subject to any of the laws of Italy. But, that whole sort of system within the system I’ve always been interested by. The Mexicans tried it. It didn’t work. The Mexican mafia. It didn’t really work because the FBI had already came after the Italian mafia so hard, by the time the Mexican mafia tried to get organized, they were dismantled. But a lot of cultures have tried it all over the world and have had a lot of success doing it. A lot of success here until the Feds decided to get hip.

You didn’t really have to meet any real-life counterpoints in this film, did you?

Mena Suvari: No. Somebody asked me that earlier. No.

What are you going to do? Find a rich girl?

Mena Suvari: She asked me if I found somebody who went to Columbia. I guess the gist of it was if there was somebody that went to Columbia and dated somebody from the mob. (Laughs) I don’t even know how I’d find somebody like that.

Put an ad in the paper…

Mena Suvari: I would be like could you find somebody in Manhattan that went to Columbia and dated somebody from Brooklyn? (laughs)

So here you are doing Brooklyn in the 80s. That must have been interesting.

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: It was fun, just because it was such an interesting time in New York. Everywhere else in the country – it was a headline. It was “The Teflon Don.”  Who’s that? In New York, it was an energy and a vibe that people just can’t understand unless they are here. Which is why it was so important to me for this film to be shot in New York. There was talk of it going other places. Here is my soapbox, by the way. I’m the only actor in SAG that gives a damn where movies get made. Other people say they do – and then they take a job in Vancouver. Or Toronto. Yeah, because there’s pine trees in New York and there’s no parking meters in the city. But, it was very important to me that this film be made here. I made another one right after that, called New York City Serenade with Frank Whalley, where they talked about going to Washington DC. It’s called New York City Serenade! It’s not Baltimore. What are you talking about? It was very important to me.

Mena Suvari in "Brooklyn Rules."

Mena Suvari in “Brooklyn Rules.”

Mena, you’re based in California, I assume. What was it like to shoot in Brooklyn and Manhattan?

Mena Suvari: It was wonderful. I’d love to work here more. I mean, I worked a little bit in Brooklyn and I worked here in Manhattan. I stayed in Greenwich Village. It was great. Three months I was here. The end of summer, the beginning of fall is a really nice time of year. It was wonderful. I love New York. I knew you couldn’t fake it well. I’ve worked on films that are supposed to be New York but you’re frickin’ in Canada.  It’s just not the same. There’s definitely an energy to the city that is captured.

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: I think I’ve made five films here now. Every one I had to fight to get made here. Because they want to save money and make money… but that’s economic treason. Again, this is my soapbox. Nobody really seems to care. Except me. I’ve gone to SAG meetings. It’s me and a bunch of extras. Because no actors go there – they don’t have time for that stuff. They don’t know what’s going on. But it’s not even a discussion. It’s a joke. They say they want to do it, but they want to cut their mother’s throat for another role. So it’s just one of those things where it was important to me that it be made in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is like a time capsule. We didn’t even change the sets. It still looked like 1985. So it’s just a wonderful place to film. I was glad that we got the heartbeat and the energy of the city. It’s important.

You’re not thought of as so much of a New Yorker, but you’ve done several films in New York…

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: I’ve done five films here. I live here. 90% of my family lives here.

There is a big Puerto Rican community here…

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: I’m the only one in LA when I’m in LA. I did my show and one of the characters on my show last year spoke Spanish, so I had a big Spanish audience and every week – we did a live audience – and I would speak to them in Spanish and say how many Puerto Ricans are here? (silence) How many Mexicans are here? (mimics crowd noises) I’d say how many from El Salvador and the Mexicans would boo them. They’ve got beefs with the Puerto Ricans now. They used to protest my dad for getting that job. But now they’re cool with him, because we’re crazy. Then I come to New York and it’s like how many Puerto Ricans (mimics yelling).

Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Michael Corrente  making "Brooklyn Rules."

Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Michael Corrente making “Brooklyn Rules.”

You’re resubmitting your New York bond…

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: You know, whether they take me or not, I’m here. I’m like any other Puerto Rican, we’re here. You don’t want us here? I know, it’s okay. (laughs) But we’re not going anywhere. We’ve got no place else to go.

Your father didn’t play a Puerto Rican?

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: My father played a Mexican. He was Chico on the show Chico and the Man.

I knew that, but I guess I never realized he wasn’t playing his background. I just I thought it was right…

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: (laughs) Okay. See, that’s the mentality out here. Everybody is like, “Oh, of course.” Latinos – the reason we can’t step up – the NCLR is kind of a punch line at the end of a joke. Where the NAACP has power and authority because you guys are able to unite. Latinos hate each other. (laughs) The two most powerful Latinos in my business hate each other. If these guys combined together… one of them owns like 600 theaters. The other has about a billion dollars in his pocket. They won’t work together. (laughs) They sabotage each other on a daily basis, because one came up in rich Mexico and one came up in poor Mexico. Now that’s just Mexico. Now a Puerto Rican trying to go in – I did a thing for them last year. They wouldn’t even speak to me in Spanish. Because I’m not Spanish enough. Now, when they need something then I’m very Spanish. Then they need me when they need crap. And if you’re Dominican? Forget it. You’re out the door. So if one day my people could kind of pull together, that would be nice. If they don’t, then I’ll just claim my mom’s Italian half. I’ll just go in that direction.

There you go, with this movie you bond with your Italian roots…

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: (laughs) I speak better Italian than any New Yorker in this town. They butcher the language so much. It makes my mom sick. My mom soeaks fluent Italian and is very proud of her roots. Didn’t let me watch The Godfather until I was sixteen because she hated the fact that everyone thought Italians were mobsters – even though some of her family I think were. (laughs) Her brother. But I spoke Spanish and Italian before I spoke English. I didn’t learn English until I was like ten.

Mena, was it fun putting together that 80s bouffant? It’s quite the contrast from now…

Mena Suvari: Yeah… Somebody earlier was “the hair isn’t big enough.” I was like, what?? “Yeah, we thought there would be a lot of 80s hair.” I was like, well you know, we didn’t want it to be too over the top. But it did have the rollers everyday. Yeah, it was fun. The fashions were definitely fun to play with. The simple sweet, kind of pretty girl, the pearl stud earrings – that kind of thing.

Like you said, you were born in 1979 but this movie and also your upcoming film Mysteries of Pittsburgh are about being on the outskirts of the mob in the 80s.

Mena Suvari: Another 80s period piece. (laughs) It’s funny, because you’re talking about this film; it’s a period film… ’85.

Was it interesting playing a different time?

Mena Suvari: Yeah it’s fun. In this sense, it was really about having fun with the atmosphere and the costumes and stuff like that. I don’t think it really has to do with the characters at that time. But, yeah, like Sonny [Caan’s character]… those were some great outfits. Sonny was very 80s, dude. The Garden of Eden, which I’m going to work on takes place in 1926.

Where is that located? 

Mena Suvari: We’re shooting in Spain, and it takes place in Spain and the south of France. I’m very excited about that.

Are you going to play a zombie in Day of the Dead?

Mena Suvari: No, I actually play a corporal in the Army and I save the day.

How good is your marksmanship?

Mena Suvari: I’m really good. I’m really good. I had my gun training. I worked six-day weeks. I did all my own stunts. I may be little, but I’ve got three older brothers and can hold a gun.

Can you whoop any of them? 

Mena Suvari: Any of my brothers? Sure. Sure, I can.

You did Six Feet Under. What was that like? Are you going to do more TV?

Mena Suvari: That’s probably the biggest thing. When I started in my career I did commercials and independent films. I did sitcoms that I worked my way up on. So I think, yeah, that’s the biggest. I don’t know, it would be about the material. That’s the thing. I don’t want to put too much of a dividing line between TV and studio and independent. I don’t work like that. It’s about the material. It’s about the content. It’s the work that I do. The acting. That’s the way I see things. I don’t want to pass on something or judge something based on whether or not it has money. I just don’t look at it like that.

Well, TV is a different process and some people don’t like…

Mena Suvari: It’s a very different process. And it’s seen differently. Like studio scene vs. independent. But I don’t want to justify that viewpoint. That’s what I’m trying to promote – the creative aspect in this industry. It’s not just a business. There needs to be more emphasis put on that. Not just about like… everything is about money now. Whether it gets released and where is just losing the craft of it all… the creativity and the reason why we’re doing this.

Freddie, is New York Serenade your next thing? Are you done with that?

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: I’m finished with it, yeah. I’m all done with it.

Is that the next thing coming out?

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: I don’t know. It was an independent.

Mena – this movie that you’re shooting in Spain, is that the next immediate thing?

Mena Suvari: Yeah, I’ll be leaving in a couple of weeks.

Do you have other things planned?

Mena Suvari: Not right now, no. I’ve been meeting on things, but I don’t want to… I try not to get too crazy. I’ve done things like that, where I’ve literally gone back to back on something and had like two days off. It’s hard. It’s not hard, but I want to focus on this and do it right. I don’t want to half-ass something. Be half in my head in one place and half in the other. Especially with this part, The Garden of Eden is very, very deep.

Who is the director?

Mena Suvari: John Irvin. It’s a Hemingway story – one of his last stories. It’s a very complicated piece.

Well, nobody will suggest you’ve restricted yourself to any one genre.

Mena Suvari: Thank you, that means a lot to me.

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: The next thing I’m working on, I did Harold Ramis and Paul Reiser’s pilot. Forget the fact that Paul wrote it and he’s a thousand times smarter than me and a thousand times funnier than me. Then you bring Harold into the mix. The amount of notes you get at one time, it’s like… slow down one second. When I catch up this is going to be funny. But you’re going to have to start over. You’re saying this and you’re saying this and I’m just trying to keep up. (mimics) “I’m sorry, we’re a couple Jews.” Sorry, okay, so here we go. Then they hit me with a whole different set of notes. But I had such an incredible experience. It was like a comedy lesson. I really hope it goes. But unfortunately I don’t know until Monday. It’ll be tricky. CBS has never done a half-hour single camera [show] in the history of the network. So, it’s an ambitious show. I don’t think its seeds are ambitious, but it’s ambitious. If that gets picked up, I would do a million episodes with those guys. It was just incredible.

The only other thing that I’m doing is… the guy who created my show last year (Conrad Jackson), my co-writer, he wrote and is directing a film. I’m going back to Brooklyn. I’m producing the film for him. We’re going back to Brooklyn and grab a lot of the same crew and trying to keep films in New York.

Copyright ©2007  All rights reserved. Posted: May 12, 2007.

Photo Credits:#1 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#2 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#3 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#4 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#5 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#6 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#7 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#8 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#9 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.#10 © 2007 Brian Hamill. Courtesy of City Lights Pictures.  All rights reserved.

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