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INTERVIEW: Robert Lorenz (Trouble With The Curve)

INTERVIEW: Robert Lorenz (Trouble With The Curve)
STAYING BUSY:

Lorenz has produced 10 Malpaso Production films including Gran Torino, Flags of Our Fathers and J. Edgar.

I guess this Eastwood character is getting pretty popular.

Robert Lorenz has had his fair share of long days of hard work in Hollywood. After all, it's practically a requirement when you oversee a decades worth of Clint Eastwood films. Eastwood has been keeping Lorenz busy by asking him to produce every film released by their production company, Malpaso. Yet, somehow, Lorenz was able to find a few free days to release something of his own. Breaking in the director's chair, Lorenz has brought Trouble With The Curve into light to prove, not only to Hollywood, but to himself that he can heavily have his hand in films, regardless of if either hand is working a camera. Shakefire had the opportunity to sit down with Lorenz and discuss Baseball, scorching heat and bossing around Dirty Harry himself.

Shakefire: When it comes to directing, especially for the first time, there has to be a lot of emotions that come with the gig.

Robert Lorenz: It felt good. This is really what I got in the business to do. Stepping from executive directing to producing, being around a director with the complete knowledge of how to do that, that was the plan. Eastwood was a great teacher in that regard. You know, I was ready to do this a long time ago but he's kept me so busy with all these projects, one after another. I liked it a lot.

SF: How did the casting of Johnny come along? Was (Justin) Timberlake always the first choice?

RL: That was a tough role to cast. I had some different ideas on who would do it than Clint. We all had some different ideas but we wanted it to feel comfortable. Justin didn't occur to me at first and when his name came up, it just all fit. It all made sense. The role called for someone who was cool and charming and that's what Justin is. I didn't want the film to get too Baseball-y and turn off people who didn't like baseball and I didn't want it to be too romantic to turn off the guys. Justin, I think he has such a broad appeal with his acting. Clint has always loved him on Saturday Night Live. He brought in such great energy and humor. it worked. 

SF: There's such an all-star cast here: Amy Adams, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard. Did you ever think you could get John Goodman and Clint in the same film?

RL: Well, that's the beauty of having Clint in the movie. It really attracts everybody. I never would have expected to get Amy and John Goodman in my movie as a first time director. John was probably the very first person both Clint and I agreed on as we're both big fans of his. That paticular role was kind of tricky because it's not a very big role, not very flashy but he's totally fit for the role. Very likeable. I was thrilled to get him for the part. He did a real great job...He's got a crucial role there. 

SF:  fter having finished your first directorial project, would you want to stay with Eastwood/Malpaso for the next? 

RL: I want to continue directing. I'm set to produce a film that is still being cast and organized and when that goes, I'll be there. At the same time, I'm developing some projects for myself to direct.

SF: With the Atlanta Braves, was that always chosen or was it a decision during filmmaking? 

RL: The screenwriter is from the area and he chose that. So we came here to look with that in mind. The tax incentive was no small factor, either. *laughs* It was a big deal. But when we got here, we saw the scenery and the feel of it and it was definitely it.

On having a handful of newcomers on his project:

RL: Definitely a welcomed challenge. On screenplay, it really worked on paper, so there was no concern there. When it started attracing the kind of people it did, Clint, who got it on the right track and I was so thrilled that Amy (Adams) was interested in playing (Mickey) so I knew we had something with that going in. Clint has taught that you've got to approach things with confidence beause directing leads to leadership and if you have self doubt, then your crew gets concerned, so you've got to go in acting like you know what you're doing and plug away. 

On convincing Clint on the project and his alleged retirement from acting:

RL:   think it had a lot to do with the fact that there weren't very many roles out there for an 82 year-old guy that are new and different from what he's done before. He loves directing and he doesn't expect that many more roles to come out. This paticular role stood out to him and we kind of crafted the role a little bit to appeal to him while trying to distinguish from the other roles he's done. Ultimately, he's clint so people come in to see him and some of the characteristics and manners he brings so we couldn't deviate too far from that. I was thrilled he wanted a part in it. I never expected Clint to be involved in this or any project I directed....It was good to have him in case something went wrong and he could come in and take control. But I knew what kind of moment I wanted in my head so I went ahead and took control of that before he knew what to do. *laughs*

On shooting in Atlanta versus Los Angeles:

RL: Well, it's a little hotter. *laughs* For the most part, I loved it. It was very refreshing because of the people. In LA, people groan when they see a movie trailer rolling in. But in Atlanta, they just loved it...I love the change in scenery. Atlanta's got it all. It's got the real urban sophistacated look we were going for. And we didn't have to go far for the rural shots we needed for some of the games...The President (of the Atlanta Braves) John Schuerholz, when he first read the script, I think he had some concerns when we first met with him. He did such a great job of maintaining this image of the Braves, that I think some of the characters in the script are a little rough around the edges, making fun of them. I have nothing but love for baseball and I never wanted to make fun of it. Once he heard that, he loved it...Their scout actually came out. If you actually look out in the film, all those guys holding recorders are the real deal. For Detriot, the Red Sox, the Yankees, they were with us regularly. It helped with them pointing out the things we were doing wrong. *laughs* 

On Baseball knowledge being a key factor:

RL:   chose some of the people for the film just based on how well they played baseball when they haven't acted in their life. I decided to take that risk. And vice versa as well. Amy didn't have a lot of baseball knowledge...She worked with coaches to make sure she could throw and bat and it was convincing enough to get by.

Trouble With The Curve opens September 21st nationwide and stars Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman. 

Ryan Sterritt
Interview by Ryan Sterritt
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