Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans Inteview, PUSH

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

We PUSH things around with Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans as we discuss their new scifi thriller! A riveting action-thriller, “Push” burrows deep into the deadly world of psychic espionage where artificially enhanced paranormal operatives have the ability to move objects with their minds, see the future, create new realities and kill without ever touching their victims. Against this setting, a young man and a teenage girl take on a clandestine agency in a race against time that will determine the future of civilization.
The Division, a shadowy government agency, is genetically transforming citizens into an army of psychic warriors—and brutally disposing of those unwilling to participate. Nick Gant (Chris Evans), a second-generation telekinetic or “mover,” has been in hiding since the Division murdered his father more than a decade earlier. He has found sanctuary in densely populated Hong Kong—the last safe place on earth for fugitive psychics like him—but only if he can keep his gift a secret.

Nick is forced out of hiding when Cassie Holmes (Dakota Fanning), a 13-year-old clairvoyant or “watcher,” seeks his help in finding Kira, (Camilla Belle), an escaped “pusher” who may hold the key to ending the Division’s program.  Pushers possess the most dangerous of all psychic powers: the ability to influence others’ actions by implanting thoughts in their minds. But Cassie’s presence soon attracts the attention of the Division’s human bloodhounds, forcing Nick and Cassie to flee for their lives.

With the help of a team of rogue psychics, the unlikely duo traverses the seedy underbelly of the city, trying to stay one step ahead of the authorities as they search for Kira. But they find themselves square in the crosshairs of Division Agent Henry Carver (Djimon Hounsou), a pusher who will stop at nothing to keep them from achieving their goal.

Chris Evans has emerged in recent years as one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors for both big budget and independent features. In 2008, he starred in Jodie Markell’s “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond” opposite Bryce Dallas Howard and in David Ayer’s “Street Kings” opposite Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker. In 2007, he reprised the role of Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch, in the summer action hit “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” He also appeared in Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed “Sunshine” with Cillian Murphy and Michelle Yeoh.

Dakota Fanning was most recently seen in “The Secret Life of Bees,” based on the acclaimed best-selling book by Sue Monk Kidd, starring opposite Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Hudson and Paul Bettany. For her performance in this film, she was nominated for a 2009 Critics Choice Award. She was also honored with the Rising Star Award at the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival. In 2007, Dakota starred in “Hounddog” opposite Robin Wright Penn and David Morse. She’ll next be heard as the voice of the title character in Henry Selick’s 3-D animated film “Coraline.”

MoviesOnline sat down to chat with Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning about their new film, “Push.” Here’s what they had to tell us:
MoviesOnline: Dakota, does everyone drive you crazy now, saying, “Oh, you’re getting so big!”

Dakota: [Laughs] It’s okay. I don’t mind.
MoviesOnline: Do you think this is the most grown up role that you’ve done?

Dakota: I don’t know. I think it’s grown up, in a different way. Maybe “The Secret Life of Bees” was more mature, in another way, than this movie is.
MoviesOnline: The dynamic of a young teen girl and an adult guy who are not related, but become as close as family is not something that is seen in a lot in films. What did you think about that?

Chris: That’s one of the reasons I liked the movie so much. Even though it’s got this great sci-fi/action/special powers back-drop, there were some real relationships and some real character arcs. And, when I heard Dakota’s name, I thought, “This could be great!” She’s so good at doing emotionally relatable content. You root for her. You like her. You see her in a movie and you can’t help but feel connected to her. This type of arc, with those type of characters, I figured, “Man, I could really phone this thing in and it’s still going to work because she’s that good.” She’s that good. She could develop a relationship with a stalk of corn and it’s going to work. [Laughs] It’s true. She’s really good. She carried this. She’s great at what she does.
MoviesOnline: Dakota, what did you think about the relationship?

Chris: She’s like, “It was like acting with a stalk of corn!” [Laughs]

Dakota: No. It was great! That relationship is the center of the film. I was in pretty much every scene with Chris’ character and it was great. I really loved that. What I love about movies is getting to have different relationships with different people, in those films.
MoviesOnline: Did you have a lot of input into your look for this film and the wardrobe for your character?

Dakota: Yeah. I thought it was really important to develop Cassie and really create a character for her, and that was so much fun. It was really great to come up with those ideas.
MoviesOnline: What about the pink hair?

Dakota: Yeah, that was my idea. [Laughs] That was fun.
MoviesOnline: Hong Kong is as much a character in this movie as any of the individuals are. Were you conscious of that while you were shooting?

Chris: That’s what Paul expressed, when I met with him prior to actually signing on to the project. He explained the necessity for shooting in Hong Kong, and he had a bunch of photographs and stills to give us a sense of what he was going for. And then, when we landed in Hong Kong, you pull into the city and say, “Alright, I get it.” Every single street was like the set decorator was already there. It really is a character.    
MoviesOnline: Did it help you get into character, in any way?

Chris: No question! A lot of these scenes, where we’re walking down the streets of Hong Kong, you can’t get lock-ups. You can’t own the street. You don’t have extras. So, you’ve just got a camera set up, and Dakota and I were just walking through the streets of Hong Kong. They were real pedestrians, just going about their lives. Having a tangible world around you is obviously going to inform your choices.
MoviesOnline: Dakota, were you really taking a photography class that you were taking pictures for, during filming?

Dakota: Yeah. [Laughs] That’s true. The perfect place to take pictures was the city. And, I got an A in that class.
MoviesOnline: What type of camera were you using?

Dakota: It was a film camera. It was a Pentax K1000.
MoviesOnline: Did you also get to do Cassie’s drawings?

Dakota: I didn’t, no. They were already done ‘cause they were the base of the film and they had to be spot-on, and I couldn’t have done that.
MoviesOnline: Are you an artist at all? How are your drawing skills?

Dakota: I don’t know.

Chris: She’s been talking them down all day. I would look over, and she was having a blast with that pad. She would just be doodling and adding to things, and she’s not as bad as she says she is.
MoviesOnline: Chris, you got beat up a lot in this film. Did you get hurt at all?

Chris: There were some rough stunt scenes, but that was part of the appeal. A lot of times, with the stunt work, you don’t get to play. You’ve got to take a backseat. But, Paul really wanted us in there, actually participating. That’s rare, and it was exciting. Granted, there were some scenes where I said, “You guys handle this one. I’ll be watching from the monitors.” But, it’s great, whenever you can get your hands dirty and actually feel like you’re a part of it.
MoviesOnline: What are your feelings about telekinesis? Is it just science fiction, or do you think there’s something to it?

Chris: Absolutely! In order to act something, you have to believe it, to some degree. If you don’t believe it, you can’t portray it. So, before shooting, everyone did their share of research on the Internet about the legitimacy of psychic abilities and telekinesis. If you spend a couple days doing your research on it, whether you’re a believer or not, it becomes very difficult to maintain your skepticism. It’s out there. It is, to some degree or another. I can’t say it doesn’t exist.

Dakota: I feel the same way. I don’t think I have the right to say it doesn’t exist. There are those people that feel so strongly about it. You never know.
MoviesOnline: Did you have a consultant for this at all?

Dakota: I wish we had!

Chris: Now it seems like I can’t believe we didn’t. We absolutely should have. We didn’t, though. It was to each his own.

MoviesOnline: Dakota, were you the one who wanted to save the fish, when you had to do the scene, running through the market with the fish tanks exploding?

Chris: Dakota saved many fishes’ lives.

Dakota: It was me and Chris. We were like, “Ah, the fish need to get out of the tank now.”

Chris: I was like, “Are they about to blow these tanks with the fish in them? I don’t know if we can do that.”
MoviesOnline: Were you surprised to be doing that scene yourselves? Did you think stunt people would be doing it?

Dakota: Paul was very clear that we were going to be doing that, from the beginning.

Chris: We were aware that we were going to be doing a more hands-on approach to stunt work. The fish just didn’t sign off on it, so I didn’t think they should have to get blown up.
MoviesOnline: Dakota, had you done a drunk scene before?

Dakota: No.

Chris: She did it well.

Dakota: I don’t think there’s anything that, as I get older, I wouldn’t do for a movie. I think that you have to put your whole self into it and be willing to do anything and everything for the character. What I love about acting is that you can just go there and do those things.
MoviesOnline: Did you have to have any training to learn how to hold a gun?

Dakota: It was fake. It was totally fake. Cassie wasn’t supposed to look very experienced. That’s not her thing, to have guns. It was just for protection from this crazy woman that she doesn’t know who is.
MoviesOnline: Dakota, can you talk about the rumors of you being in New Moon?

Dakota: It’s definitely possible. I really hope it will work out. We’ll see. It would be really fun to be a part of that.
MoviesOnline: Have you read the books? Are you a fan?

Dakota: Yeah. I am definitely a fan. I’m a big fan of the actors in the film. To be a part of that would really be a great privilege.
MoviesOnline: Have you read all four books?

Dakota: I haven’t read all four yet, no.
MoviesOnline: Chris, would you like us to start a Twilight rumor for you?

Chris: [Laughs] Just throw one out there. I’m in! Keep it in the Summit family.
MoviesOnline: What about the possibility of another Fantastic Four film?

Chris: No, I don’t think we’re doing another one. I think they’re done. I think, if they were going to do one, I would have heard something. It’s been awhile since the second one, and those films usually come pretty quick, one after the next. So, I think they’re going to close the book on that one. It’s too bad, too. I had a fun time making those films.

MoviesOnline: Your Fantastic Four character was a smart ass, and Nick is so sincere and vulnerable. Was that contrast fun?

Chris: Yeah! I definitely relate more with the Fantastic Four character. I’m a more open guy. I like cracking jokes and having a good time, and Nick is very internal and shut off to the world, and pretty cold and rude, for the most part. [Laughs] It’s a different character for me, so it was fun.
MoviesOnline: Does this hit the limit for superhero/superpower movies for you?

Chris: I think it might have to. I think, if I do one more, I’m just going to be doomed. It’s unfortunate because it’s not deliberate to have that be the way it is. If, all of a sudden, James Cameron is making another superpower movie and he offers me a role, I’m gonna take it.
MoviesOnline: Are you both ready for Push 2, if it happens?

Dakota: You never know.

Chris: We leave you dangling. We’ll see. If that comes down the road, I guess we’ll see.
MoviesOnline: Did you sign on for multiple films?

Dakota: No.
MoviesOnline: Who would win in Johnny Storm vs. Nick?

Chris: I think Nick has some tougher friends. I think Johnny Storm’s friends work for good, and Nick’s friends are probably a little bit more grimy and dirty.
MoviesOnline: Dakota, now that you have ceased to be a child actress and you are doing more teenage roles, were you conscious of that transition happening? Has it been easy?

Dakota: For me, I try not to think of it as, “This is my transition movie.” It will happen naturally. As you get older, it will happen. If you really want to continue doing this, I think that it will all work itself out, and I think it has.
MoviesOnline: Dakota, what music are you into?

Dakota: [Laughs] I always get asked this, and it is so crazy. When I did War of the Worlds, Tom Cruise asked me that and I was like, “I don’t know.” And, the next day, I had an iPod filled with 10,000 songs, of every kind of music there was, from him. I like all kinds of music. I’m not the kind of person that just goes and listens to a lot of music, by myself. But, if I’m in the car with my friends, I’ll listen to something. Sometimes, you don’t even know who the artist is. You just hear it and you’re like, “Oh, my God, I love that song!,” and you don’t even know who it’s by.
MoviesOnline: Out of all the powers in this film, what did you find the most interesting?

Chris: When people ask me, “Which power would you like to have?,” we all said, “Pusher ‘cause you can do the most with it, and get into a lot of trouble.” But then, Dakota made a point of saying that the problem with the Push is that it wears off, so eventually, anything you convince someone of, in about 10 or 20 minutes, they’re going to figure it out and you’re back to square one. I think that led me to say that I’d probably take telekinesis. Why not? But, if we’re going with most interesting, I’m going Bleeder. It’s interesting. Sniffer was kind of gross.
MoviesOnline: What would you use the Bleeder ability on?

Chris: I’m not saying I’d find a practical use. [Laughs] I just think it’s interesting. It certainly is interesting. Your brain bleeds out your ears.
MoviesOnline: What was that like on set, when those guys were just screaming silently?

Dakota: Honestly, it was the funniest thing to watch.

Chris: We were rolling around and I was like, “This is hysterical!”

Dakota: You would see those guys, totally silent, just screaming. It was great! They were great. I loved those guys.
MoviesOnline: Dakota, what did you find the most interesting ability?

Dakota: Pusher.
MoviesOnline: Chris, your character gets beat up so much in this film that, in the beginning, sometimes he doesn’t even know why he’s getting beat up. Does that seem almost comical, at a point?

Chris: Yeah. It’s funny.

Dakota: Did you like his limp in the movie?

Chris: I get thrown around, I hit the ceiling, I’m contorted, and then I walk out and I’m just limping. Honestly, I should be paralyzed. I shouldn’t be moving. This guy got chucked across a room. But, you’ve got to take some liberties with that.
MoviesOnline: As an actor, what’s more fun, getting beaten up or being the guy who does the beating?

Chris: When you’re shooting it, it’s much more fun to be the one getting beaten up. It’s much more fun to be the one getting thrown around the room and being able to actually play a part in the stunt. But, when you’re watching it, it’s much more fun to walk away and say, “I kicked his ass. That was me. I threw him around the room.”
MoviesOnline: Dakota, do you have a favorite character in a book that you’d just love to play someday?

Dakota: “Gone with the Wind” has been one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite books, but I don’t know if I would ever want to tackle that. It’s been done about as amazing as it could be done. But, I’ve been Scarlett O’Hara for two Halloweens in a row. [Laughs] I love that. And, I’m from the South, so to be Scarlett O’Hara would be amazing. It’s one of the best movies ever.
MoviesOnline: Do you ever miss going back home? Do you ever get a chance to go back and see old friends and family?

Dakota: I do. Most of my immediate family lives out here -- my parents, my sister, my grandmother, my mom’s sister and her daughter. And then, my dad’s family and the rest of my mom’s family live in Georgia, and I do go back. But, I’ve lived here for nine years, so all my really good friends live here. I have so many other friends and family that live back in Georgia, so when I do go back, it’s really nice.
MoviesOnline: Have you always been home-schooled, or did you ever go to public school?

Dakota: From second to eighth grade, I was home-schooled, and then, for ninth and tenth, I’m in a private high school.
MoviesOnline: And you were a cheerleader, right?

Dakota: Yeah.
MoviesOnline: You came here, as a child, to be in movies, and then it exploded and you were the only child anybody wanted in a movie. Are you surprised by this extraordinary career you’ve had?

Dakota: It’s really surreal to think that I did a Tide commercial and then a Georgia lottery commercial, and then I came to California to do pilot season and I got E.R., and then I got “I Am Sam.” It was funny because we were like, “Okay, we’re going to go home this Saturday.” “Oh, we can’t because E.R. films on Monday.” “Now we can’t because of this TV show.” It just kept going. It was crazy. My mom would never say, “We live in L.A.” because she always thought we were going to go back home. And then, finally, after the fourth movie, she was like, “Well, I guess we’re not going home.” My first movie was “I Am Sam,” which was when I realized I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay here.
MoviesOnline: Now you have a lifetime supply of Tide, right?

Dakota: [Laughs] Yeah. I remember my audition for that. I remember filming it. I remember the whole thing.
MoviesOnline: What was the experience of doing “Coraline” like?

Dakota: It’s been great. I’ve been working on that for three years, so it’s crazy that it’s coming out on the same day as this movie. But, I’m really excited. It’s 3-D, stop-motion animation, and it’s so cool. It’s going to be really neat. It’s based on a book by Neil Gaiman, and it’s a spooky, scary, animated film.
MoviesOnline: Chris, what do you have coming up next?

Chris: I’m going to do “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” It’s (directed by) Edgar Wright, who did “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.” It’s Michael Cera and Brandon Routh. It shoots up in Toronto in April.
MoviesOnline: What’s your character?

Chris: One of the evil ex-boyfriends (Lucas Lee). Michael Cera is the main character. He’s Scott Pilgrim, and he’s trying to date the girl of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but in order to do so, he has to fight her five evil ex-boyfriends. I’m one of the evil ex-boyfriends.
MoviesOnline: Don’t each of the guys play different characters?

Chris: I can’t say. This interview is over! [Laughs] 

“Push” opens in theaters on February 6th.


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