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Emile Hirsch

Emile Hirsch, co-star of the "Imaginary Heroes" Movie!

Young actor Emile Hirsch rose to prominence in 2002 with showy roles in two high-profile films, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and The Emperor's Club. Hirsch was born in Topanga Canyon, CA, on March 13, 1985. He made his television debut at the age of 11 in an episode of the series Kindred: The Embraced. After a number of small guest roles on Two of a Kind, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Third Rock From the Sun, Hirsch moved on to more dramatic roles with appearances of NYPD Blue and ER. He appeared in a pair of made-for-TV movies, Gargantua and Houdini (in the latter playing the famed magician Harry Houdini as a boy) before making his big-screen debut as pensive Catholic school student Francis in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, which earned the teenager a number of enthusiastic reviews. After appearing in the made-for-cable drama Wild Iris, Hirsch appeared as a bright but rebellious student in the Kevin Kline vehicle The Emperor's Club.


Emile Hirsch on Nudity and "The Girl Next Door"

Hirsch's First Role in a Teen Comedy
"The Girl Next Door" will probably be the film that introduces Emile Hirsch to audiences - and it's far from his normal choice of roles. With starring turns in "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" and "The Mudge Boy," Emile Hirsch is working hard on establishing himself in the world of independent films. And according to the young actor, taking a chance on a role in this teen comedy wasn't something he was interested in doing. It took some convincing to get him to consider the project. Find out why Hirsch was so unsure of "The Girl Next Door," his thoughts on nudity, and Hirsch's research of the porn industry in this interview with "The Girl Next Door" star.


Director Luke Greenfield said you were hesitant to take this role.
Yeah.I mean, before I said it I was like, "Well I don't really want to do a teen comedy." I was doing all these dramas and I was like, "Oh, I can't do a teen comedy." But the deciding factor for me was when I met Luke Greenfield, the director, because he was so driven, so passionate, so relentless, that I became completely convinced that he would make a great movie.

He said he wrote you a letter. What did it say?
It was telling me how passionate he was, like this is the thing, "This is not a teen comedy. I am determined to make this a great movie..." And then he dropped, "Ed Norton read the script too, and he was a little surprised when you wouldn't like [it]." And it was just funny, like he was trying to scare me into taking the meeting so it was funny.

What you finally sat down with him, what convinced you to take the part?
He said so much stuff. We literally sat down for four hours at Jerry's Deli. I just sat there and we ordered food and we talked about the movie to Leonardo da Vinci to music. We talked about everything. I just wanted to get to know him, because in an hour meeting sometimes it's too fast and someone might be nervous. But when you sit down with someone for four hours, you're going to get to know them a little bit, you know?

Did Luke try to make you watch any of the teen films he grew up on?
Yes. I had already seen "Risky Business" and it was always my wish that we surpass "Risky Business." I was always like, "This has to be better than 'Risky Business.' Let's make this better." I didn't want to re-do it, make it for the ages, I wanted it to be better than "Risky Business." That was my goal from Day One.

Does it surpass "Risky Business?"
Oh yeah - in my opinion, a lot more. I watched "Risky Business" recently and I was just - I don't know, I don't know why - maybe it's because I'm competitive with it, I don't know, but for some reason I don't click with that movie.

Did you shot a lot more of the strip club scene?
Yeah, there was some strip club stuff where the girl actually had her top off. But I guess it didn't make the final cut because I was told, with the girls' tops off, because there's lines in the scene, nobody got any of the jokes because they were all staring at the girls. It didn't get any laughs and it's these hilarious lines.

Were there a lot of hoops to jump through on the set because you were only 17 when the film was shot?
Yeah, when I got a lap dance, because I was 17, they had to put this massive pillow between me and the girl when she was, like, grinding me. It was weird, yet pleasurable.

Were there other scenes they had to change as well, like the sex scene?
I was 18 when we shot that. I turned 18 during the movie. It was ironic because I could have done all the nudity in the movie, but because they scheduled that stuff first for some reason, I was 17 so they had to use a body-double. I would have gotten naked or whatever, but...

Is it every boy's fantasy to date a porn star?
I think we have a big problem in America if that's every boy's fantasy, but I'm sure it's crossed the minds of many a person.

Has this film changed your view of the sex industry?
No, it's kind of like what you see is what you get. Everything you imagine it is, it is. It's not like, "Well, it's actually like this..." It's like, "Well, it's like you thought it was."

And you went to a convention?
Well, I didn't go to a convention. They brought the convention to where we were. But it was a real convention, they just didn't have the fans there. The fans were, I guess extras, but they had all the real booths, all the real toys, all the real personnel who normally worked there. I mean there were these freaky deaky toys. There were all kinds of strange toys, you know, it was wild and neon lights and beautiful girls everywhere.

Elisha Cuthbert said you shot the sex scene in the limo separately. What was that like to do?
How does it feel to have sex by myself? You know, very much at home.
How selective are you in choosing roles?
I'm pretty selective. I'm not like a prima donna or anything like that, but if I don't like something I'm not going to do it. It's hard to say. I don't want to be like, "Oh, I have good taste," because then I sound like an idiot. It's a little bit arrogant. Like, "Oh I have such good taste" - I wouldn't want to say that, you know? I trust my instincts.

How selective are you in choosing roles?
I'm pretty selective. I'm not like a prima donna or anything like that, but if I don't like something I'm not going to do it. It's hard to say. I don't want to be like, "Oh, I have good taste," because then I sound like an idiot. It's a little bit arrogant. Like, "Oh I have such good taste" - I wouldn't want to say that, you know? I trust my instincts.

Had you shot "The Mudge Boy" before this?
Yeah, I shot it before, during the summer and then we shot this in January.

Being even younger during "The Mudge Boy," it must have been much harder to do those scenes?
Yes. Me and Tom Guiry got along really well, we were like total buddies and stuff. We just kept a light feel on the set the whole time, we were making jokes the whole time. We had a blast on that movie [even] though it was a dark subject matter. Some of the harder scenes we only did [a few takes]. You could count the takes on three of my fingers, you know? So it was all acting at the end of the day.

Does the indie film scene attract you?
Absolutely. I mean, to me it's more about the script and the director than if it's a studio film or not. Because if it's a great script, you've got to go for it.

Are they hard to find?
They are, they're hard to find and I read a lot of scripts that I don't really like. But even the scripts I don't really like, sometimes they're still entertaining to read, you know?

You've got "Imaginary Heroes" coming up. What's that about?
It's about a guy who loses his brother and how his family deals with that. He was always kind of an outcast within the family and you're trying to figure out why he reacts so passively to his brother's death. And what ultimately unravels is this whole story between him and his brother - kind of a mystery.

How was it working with Sigourney Weaver?
Oh I love Sigourney, she's amazing. And Jeff Daniels rocks. They're both wonderful people who are truly fun to be around.

With all these young actors coming out, how difficult is it to differentiate yourself from this throng of Hollywood hopefuls?
Well, other than "The Girl Next Door," everything else I've done is pretty serious so I think that right there, I haven't done only this type of thing. I did this to kind of explore a little bit and do something different, and I thought it would be fun. I think it's about doing good work and hopefully the work will speak for itself.

Who's your ideal director?
I want to work with Catherine Hardwicke on "Lords of Dogtown." That's who I'm really looking forward to working with.

When do you start shooting "Lords?"
End of March.

Who do you play?
Jay Adams. He's a famous, famous skateboarder. One of the originals.

Is it based on the documentary?
It's based off of "Dogtown and Z-Boys," yeah.

Do you skate?
I do. I've skated for years.

But the skating in this movie will be a lot more challenging than you're used to, right?
Yeah, I mean it will be challenging in a different way because it's a whole different style. Like now I can kick flip stairs and do ollies and grinds and boardslides and flip tricks, but now I'm going to have to learn how to do cutbacks and all kinds of ground-related tricks because back in the days of Dogtown, the ollie wasn't even invented. That's the most basic skateboard trick these days -- they hadn't even invented it yet. It's an invention, it's like a discovery.

So you're not going to have a double just do your tricks for you?
Oh, you definitely have a double for me. I mean, Jay Adams is one of the greatest skateboards ever. But the fact that I skate, I'm probably 99% better than most actors.

Is Jay Adams an advisor?
I'm probably going to hang out him, yeah. He's an intense guy, I can't wait.

Emile Hirsch Talks About "The Emperor's Club"

Based on the short story, "The Palace Thief," director Michael Hoffman describes "The Emperor's Club" as being about "a principled teacher who gets in over his head, venturing into a situation more labyrinthian and complex than his vision of the world had prepared him for."

Cast in the role of the principled teacher is Academy Award-winner, Kevin Kline. Kline found the role of William Hundert to be a "fascinating study of a man who's living in the wrong century." Ethan Canin, author of "The Palace Thief," says Kline was a 'dream' choice in portraying Hundert.

The role of Sedgewick Bell, the student who challenges Hundert's beliefs, was given to newcomer Emile Hirsch ("The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys"). The filmmakers knew that bringing the character of Sedgewick alive onscreen would take making the character as multi-dimensional as possible. "It was important to leaven the serious dramatic moments with warmth, humor and levity so that Sedgewick can successfully cast his spell." Finding the right actor was the filmmakers' most difficult challenge.

Director Michael Hoffman recalls, "A couple of these kids would come in and I thought, 'Oh my God, this person has to go toe-to-toe with Kevin Kline.' What was fascinating was how clear it was when Emile Hirsch came in. His complexity and intelligence and natural instincts were so strong, we knew we had found Sedgewick Bell."

This was an extremely tough role for any young actor. How did you get into character?
Believe it or not, I got into the charismatic, shady, sly heart of Sedgewick Bell by watching CNN and C-SPAN.

You're serious?

What was it about watching those two stations that helped you find Sedgewick?
I don't know. There's something just so kind of smooth about politicians. I'm not saying that all politicians are like that but Sedgewick was raised by politicians - his dad is a senator - so I figured the qualities that they have, he would have been around them while he was growing up. He would have seen that's how adults act and that's how he's supposed to be.

Was it difficult playing this character? Sedgewick doesn't have many redeeming qualities.
Well, his charisma is his redeeming characteristic to the audience, you know, it's his mischievous side. He draws people in by the fun that he has. He gets people to like him.

You do an almost nude scene in this film. What was filming that scene like for you?
It was extremely bold because I don't have a 'six-pack” so I kind of felt like a chump, but it was alright.

And your next project involves your character living next door to a porn star?
I go to school and I fall in love with a porn star. It's got a great script. It's really funny, but it's got some good drama in it, too.

Are you trying to stay away from the typical 'teen comedy' movie roles?
No, not consciously. If there's a good teen comedy script, I'd do it. I'm not staying away from any genre. I'm trying to get scripts that I like.

How did you get the role in “The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys,” and what was it about that script that hooked you?
It was the mix of drama and adventure. The mix of elements, with comedy and animation. It had a kind of honesty that it tried to evoke, and I think it did. Getting the part was thrilling. It was a series of auditions over a month. I lost sleep on a lot of nights but I just kept on going because I wanted that role like a mo-fo.

Of the two characters, Francis in "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" and Sedgewick in "The Emperor's Club," which one is more like you?
Definitely a lot more like Francis - not so much like Sedgewick (laughing).



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