| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Prolific Pulitzer
Prize-winning playwright and two-time Oscar nominee David Mamet
has been a force in U.S. theater and film for over 30 years.
He has written films such as "The Untouchables," "The
Verdict" and "Hoffa," and written and directed "Heist," "State
and Main" and "The Spanish Prisoner," among many others.
His new film, "Redbelt," marks his tenth as
writer/director. It is set in the Los Angeles fight world and
stars Chiwetel Ejiofor.
The film tells the story of a Jiu-Jitsu teacher (Ejiofor)
who has avoided the fight circuit, choosing instead to pursue
an honorable life by operating a self-defense studio. But faced
with debts, he has to step into the ring.
Wearing his trademark black beret and an impressive belt
and buckle, Mamet spoke to Reuters about making the film and
his love of Hollywood.
Q: Is it true this film was inspired by your own love of
A: "Yes, I've been practicing it for the past five years
and I've always been into this kind of sport. I wrestled in
high school and boxed a bit and I've always liked martial arts.
Later on I did kung fu, and then when I came out to Hollywood
my good friend Ed O'Neill introduced me to the world of
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It keeps me in great shape."
Q: What made you cast Chiwetel in the lead? He's not
well-known or a big star?
A: "I looked at Chiwetel in "Dirty Pretty Things" and
"Kinky Boots," and I said, 'It's impossible for one guy to be
able to play both those parts.' So I called (agent John
Burnham) to tell him I was definitely interested, and John said
'He'll be thrilled to get the part.' So I was like, 'Wait a
minute, this is early days, we're just two guys talking,' and
he (hung up). He calls back five minutes later and says, 'He's
honored and he'll see you on the set."'
Q: Is it true you never rehearse?
A: "Yes, because on low budget movies a rehearsal is Take
One. (Deadpans) And sometimes you get to do Take Two.
Q: Still living in Boston?
A: "No, I moved back to L.A. ... My wife (actress Rebecca
Pidgeon) told me she was moving out here and since I'm rather
fond of her I thought I should come too. So I followed."
Q: Even though you're back in L.A. do you feel like you're
outside the Hollywood loop?
A: "I don't know. Hollywood's a great place to be. It's an
industry town and one of the last left. A lot of people have
been bemoaning the passage of the industrial towns in the
America I grew up in, and this is it now. There's an incredible
amount of life here, everyone works real hard and there's a
spectacular immigrant population which makes it a very
exciting, energized place to live."
Q: You have four kids, do any aspire to be writers? Do you
warn them how tough it is?
A: "No. Show business is a great business. I've been doing
it all my life, and so has my wife."
Q: You're 60. What are your extravagances in life now?
A: "I only really have one, and that's belts and belt
buckles. I lost a bunch of weight, then I realized none of my
belts fit, except this beautiful hand-tooled one I hadn't been
able to fit into for 30 years. I decided to get a wonderful old
buckle to go with it. Then I bought another, and one thing led
to another and now I have this whole warehouse full of belts
Q: What about vices? Any left?
A: "Oh, I have a bunch. I'm nothing but a compilation of
vices. I realize that the road to hell is paved with good
intentions, but at least it's paved."
(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Patrica Reaney)