Who knew being trapped in a car windshield could be such fun?
Although it's been 15 years, actor Stephen Rea is still best known for his role as Fergus the IRA volunteer who discovers his girlfriend is actually his boyfriend in the Oscar-winning drama that helped put Miramax on the map, 1992's The Crying Game. The Irish actor, who seems much younger than his 62 years, is about to make another splash in Stuck, a grisly new indie thriller in which he plays a homeless man who is trapped a car windshield after he is the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
"It works because it's not intellectual," he tells me over tea at the Dallas W. "It's about what you're seeing. It's about somebody with a thing shoved up their stomach. It's not that you can sit back and intellectualize or something. It's like, for f--k's sake!"
The night before, Stuck had screened as part of the Dallas AFI Film Festival. The audience -- myself included -- screamed with delight throughout. So loudly, in fact, that at one point I watched Rea turn to his seat-mate, Stuck screenwriter John Strysik, and pump his fist in triumph.
Although clearly in the suspense/thriller vein, Stuck has the blood and gore of a horror movie, which makes sense -- he is impaled on glass in a windshield, after all. "It's pretty horrific, but when you mean horror, you usually mean fantasy, don't you? You usually mean people with capes and teeth," Rea jokes. As Strysik so aptly points out, the horror in this story is what the characters in it do to each other.
More shocking, perhaps, than Stuck's gore-factor is the fact that it is actually inspired by a true story. "I think it's important to say that it bears no relation to the characters of the original people," Rea points out. "But when I think about it being based on a real story, I don't think you could make it up. I don't think it would occur to you to write a story about a guy going through the windshield of a car and a woman driving -- you wouldn't make that up."
For Rea, taking the role was a no-brainer. "It was just one of those happy moments when you receive a script and you say, 'This is really brilliant' and you know that you have to do it," he tells me. The part was somewhat physically demanding, what with his having to lay around in the windshield for a good bit of the time. "I didn't mind being by myself. It was fine. It just was a bit uncomfortable, but it's like the basis of acting, kids' acting, playing being dead or being hurt. That's how you start being interested in acting when you're a little kid. So it's great to go back to something that -- I don't mean this in a pejorative way -- that's completely non-intellectual. It's great fun actually. It's great fun to be wounded."
Rea is thankful, however, for the movie's indie budget and concurrent tight schedule. "That's the only mercy to it," he quips. "If it were a bigger budget, you'd be lying around a lot longer. That's for sure."
Stuck opens in select theaters this Friday, May 30, 2008.