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Escape From L.A. > Exclusive Interviews > Valeria Golino (Taslima)

How did you end up being an actress and director?

I started very, very early. I did my first movie when I was 16, 17 something like that so it almost happened without my permission. You know what I'm saying, circumstances. I did my first movie when I was still in high school. I was planning to do other things after when I finished high school. To go to university etcetera. So the first movie that I did changed my plans. I met Lina Wertmüller by chance. She asked me to do a screen test and she offered me the movie and that's how I became an actress. She was preparing her next movie and she needed a very, very young girl to be the daughter of Ugo Tognazzi who was a great Italian actor. Big movie star at the time. When I finished school I kept doing meetings and working. I didn't do any acting school, theater school. The job came to me instead of me going to it. After that I kept working and working and 21 I went to America to do one movie. Then I was suppose to come back and then I did many movies in the United States. I became a director much later in life. Few years ago, eight years ago. Much too late I think now. I should have started earlier because I always wanted to do it but I was too busy.

How did you get cast as Taslima, how did you prepare for the role and what kind of discussions did you have with John Carpenter (Director/Co-Writer/Co-Composer) about it?

I met him in a very conventional way. They were looking for the girl and I went to do a screen test. I met John and they offered me the role. We got along right away. I knew who he was. I had seen his movies. I was very interested. I was extremely happy to be cast in it even if it was not a big role. If we did have discussions which I'm sure we did I don't remember them. A lot of discussions happened during the costume meeting because the costume was very representative of her. How she was gonna look, her hair. During those moment we were talking about her.

Which scenes have you the most fond memories of and which were the most fun, interesting or problematic to film?

I fell during a scene and hurt my ankle quite badly so I couldn't finish the movie so there were like three or four scenes that I was not able to change because there was running all the time you know. It was like an Escape From L.A. situation. I couldn't run anymore so I didn't finish the movie. I remember when I went home from the hospital John sent me flowers with such an amazing, beautiful little message for me of affection and respect. I was moved by it.

I remember a moment when I had to come out underground. It was one of the hardest moments. I had to be on my knees. There were moment where it was like, Damn it's so hard. I mean, I haven't done many action movies so it was also that.   

I remember I was so surprised. The set of the movie was humungous, it was huge. Even working in Hollywood I was surprised how many means, how many people, how many you know.

How was the experience filming the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills (Bruce Campbell) scenes?

If you think how prophetic it was. It was already happening all that particularly in Hollywood. It was a niche already. When the movie was being made plastic surgery was a niche. Even the fear of that, what is gonna happen. There was a philosophical question. Now it's a normality. Even before Carpenter there was a movie coming out many years before Escape From L.A. that was Brazil. In Brazil it was a little bit of the same grotesque excruciating with people being older you know. Existential fear. Prophetic yes in a way but also I think of the time it was much more talked about because it was like a phenomenon.

How long were you and Kurt Russell (Snake Plissken/Producer/Co-Writer) tied up?

I think it was done in a few moment. I'm not sure but we were tied up for a while. They treated us fine but it was a heavy movie. It was all at night and outside and you had to run. It was not an easy movie physically. We were tied up and Kurt is very kind of like, makes funny jokes. He's very playfully insolent.

How was the experience working with Bruce Campbell and were you ok with him groping you?

Such a good actor. I don't remember how much I was playing with him. I remember looking at him. Very, very good actor. Of course. That's my job. That was his job as well. This is part of work. Actors very often do what they wouldn't do in life of course.   

Do you think Snake Plissken would have crashed with Taslima if he had more time?


How was the experience working with the cast and crew such as John Carpenter and Kurt Russell for instance and what went on behind the scenes?

I really, really got a long with him very much. He's a different kind of person even for Hollywood. Kind of an outsider in the way that he behaved and dressed, his way of talking. He was very different than other directors I've worked with. Very free, kind of cheapish. I don't know if he was bitter about Hollywood. In a better word. He wanted to be an outsider. He didn't like the system I think. This is my perception. I don't want to talk for John Carpenter. He knows. My impression was that he didn't like the Hollywood system. The way the industry worked. I remember him being very critical. He was very good at being a leader in his own way. I thought it was very interesting to see his way of being the head, being the boss. 

I remember Steve Buscemi (Map to the Stars Eddie). I knew Steve a little bit and I remember the night we worked together being very, very joyful and funny.

I remember vaguely some moments with Kurt Russell. For me he was like Snake Plissken as a public. He was Snake Plissken. He was not even Kurt Russell. So when I went to Snake Plissken it was quite an experience working with Snake. Kurt. I don't know him. I only know Snake. I had seen the first movie when I was much, much younger. A kid. I remember thinking when he start talking like Snake with that voice, that kind of thing that he put on. I thought it was awkward when I was there in real life and he was playing Snake. It was awkward. Very often with good actors because he's a good actor no doubt. While you're playing with them and you think, that's not very good. That's awkward you know and then you see the movie finished and they're great and maybe you're the one who's awkward.

What's your favorite memory or memories of working on the movie?


What do you think of the movie personally? Your speech about L.A. being the only free-zone left and then being shot resonates a lot with the movie's theme about freedom for instance.


What are you currently doing and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

This week I'm in recreation but like in 10 days it is all over because the festival of Venice starts again. I have three movies there so I have to be in Venice for a week. One of them with Costa-Gavras. He's a very, very interesting director. I'm writing right now as well. Possibly my next movie. I'm writing with my co-writers. I'm working, working. I like to travel, go to the movies. I love movies. I love cinema. I'm a cinefile. I like the sea so I rent a house on the beach. That's the one luxury I have.

Thank you for your time, Valeria.