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Paul Walker and Wayne Kramer Aren't Running

Like its big brother in San Diego, WonderCon has begun attracting attention as a way for studios to get the word out about upcoming projects. Saturday ended up being as much about movies as comics, with presentations on films both big (Superman Returns, Cars) and small (Brick, Running Scared).

The day also brought out the stars, and we got the chance to sit down with two -- writer/director Wayne Kramer, who had attracted attention with The Cooler a couple of years ago, and Paul Walker.

Let me state for the record that in person, Paul Walker is a very powerful personality. Those penetrating eyes, that easy smile hiding a hint of danger, and a way of really working the room all add up to -- yes, this guy could have been Superman, even with a reputation of being somewhat wooden onscreen. In person, he's anything but.

And by many accounts, his performance in Kramer's newest film, Running Scared, will change his onscreen reputation. Merging dark fairy tale elements (without the supernatural) with a high-octane mob story, the film hinges upon Paul Walker's character being pushed to the edge and beyond.

Walker and Kramer sat down with a small roundtable of three reporters: Rebecca Murray of About.com, Peter Canavese of Grouchoreviews.com and Mario Anima. I took pictures, because somebody had to. Special thanks to Rebecca and Peter for their cooperation and their assistance in getting this piece put together.

Press: Was there ever a point where you almost got an NC-17?

Wayne Kramer: Yeah.

Press: How did you keep them from doing that?

Wayne Kramer: You know, you can negotiate with them and say, “Look, you’re being too harsh. The film’s going to be darker than what you’re seeing.” You know what tends to happen is that you become so cynical of the MPAA that you over-shoot your movie to some degree. You kind of like throw your first cut out there and you kind of see what sticks and what pisses them off.

And you know the one thing I can say is that I ended up with the cut I wanted of the film. It’s an R rated film and that’s great. On any given day, because they’re so arbitrary, they could have decided to be NC-17. I think I just caught them in a good mood, good time of the month (laughing).

Press: Was there any interference from studios or production companies to try and cut back on either the violence or the nudity?

Wayne Kramer: No, not really. Even when we sold the film to New Line there was really never an issue about that. Initially the financing company had some reservations about the pedophile scene. But I said, “No, this is going to be a winner,” you know.

Paul Walker: That’s my favorite scene.

Wayne Kramer: And you know we stuck by it. But everybody who bought into this movie knew it was going to be a very sort of ballsy experience.

Press: In the production notes it says you think this character’s closer to Paul than anything else he’s played, is that really a quote from you?

Wayne Kramer: Yes.

Press: Why?

Wayne Kramer: (Laughing) Because he’s a tough MO, you know. I like to say he’s not the laidback sort of surfer. I mean he is that guy on some level but he’s not really. He’s a tough guy. I would not like to be on the wrong side of him in a barroom fight, you know?

People think they’re going to stand up to him. It’s like the Sean Connery as James Bond thing - people always challenging him. I think if people decide they’re going to challenge the guy from the Fast and the Furious or one of these lighter comedies he’s done or something, I think they’re going to find they’re facing down Sean Connery.

Paul Walker: You just created a whole bunch more trouble for me (laughing).

Press: How do you feel about that? Is this character closer to you than anything you’ve played?

Paul Walker: Yeah, I think it’s probably the closest thing to me, to be honest with you. I mean the opposite is what, East Coast/West Coast thing. But I think attitude and that sort of thing, I think, you know, there’s no way I would have gone at it if I didn’t feel like there’s a lot of me in it. There’s definitely more of me in it than not.

I think on the outside what people see and what I present, especially when I’m doing press, but what they’ve seen in movies they’ve seen the friendly like nice guy, which I like to think that I am. But I definitely have a dark side. I think everybody does.

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Derek McCaw

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