On 16 th December
JB was guest @ Loveline
Yet another interview (video)
IESB Exclusive Interview: Justin Bartha on National Treasure: Book of
How do you view your character, this time around, as having evolved?
Written by Silas Lesnick
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Reprising his role as Riley Poole, tech-saavy sidekick to Nicolas Cage's Ben
Gates, Justin Bartha hits the big screen again in "National Treasure: Book of
Bartha sat down with IESB to discuss his character, his thoughts on acting and
the daunting experience of working with such an Oscar-heavy cast.
Well, this time around, I based everything around his clothes. I thought
that he got all this money from the first movie and obviously money's gonna
change people -- it usually does -- that amount of money. So he went out and he
cleaned up a bit. He got himself some three-piece suits -- the best suits
possible. Got a haircut. Got a shave. Then he got into some tax problems and
lost all the money. So all he has left are his clothes. And that's pretty much
the character for me this time. I figured -- you know what? his journey is him
trying to get to his original clothes. His sweatshirts and jeans. He starts with
a three-piece suit and he's gonna end up with his sweatshirt and whatever
happens in-between, that's the character development that I did.
You're the technical end of things with your character's computer skills.
Did you have to train for that?
I didn't. I have no technical skills at all. It's just movie magic and me
pretending to know where to plug things in.
You've got a brand-new Ferrari in the film. Did you get to drive it much?
Bartha: I did get to drive it!
People love that Ferrari. It's a beautiful car and I did get to drive it a bit.
I tried to steal it, but I got arrested and sent to jail and there was a whole
IESB: So what are you working on now?
Well, I finished one -- I'm trying to do some small movies after this
movie. I did a little romance in Paris. It's in the vein of "Punch-drunk Love".
And then after that there's a couple of small movies next year I might do.
Where are you hoping to take your career?
Well, I just like to do interesting projects and work with interesting
people. Just like any actor. After doing something of this scale -- these "National
Treasure" movies -- which I love -- I like to try to do small movies. Finding
interesting characters is what I like to do and doing all types of genres and
trying everything. And then trying to put some of my own movies together as well.
Are you interested in writing and directing?
I am. I started off writing and directing, actually. I went to NYU and I
wrote and directed some commercials and produced a TV show -- a pilot -- for MTV.
And then I just kind of got on the acting train and have been going on there for
that. But now I'm trying to produce a little movie and I'm trying to get a bunch
of stuff together.
One of my favorite bits in the movie was just you introducing yourself to
Helen Mirren. How do you work out little character-based lines like that?
You liked that? That's the most fun about making movies like this, I think.
I think why people like these movies are the characters and the relationships
between the characters. I don't think people really come for the huge set piece.
The huge action pieces. I don't think that's what the first one was known for.
No one has ever come up to me and said, "Wow, when that ship blew up, that was
so cool!" No, they talk about, "You and Nic together, that was so cool!" or "You
were really funny" or "I loved your relationship". You know? "Are you friends in
real life?" Stuff like that. When you bring great actors onto a set like Nic and
John Voight and Diane and this time even more -- Helen Mirren and Ed Harris --
so everyone's got an Oscar -- Everyone's got such a well thought out character
that you get to develop specific relationships with each character. And the
scenes are just so rife with energy and life because they've all developed their
character so much. You just kind of sit down and say, "What is my character and
how his relate to this person or that person?" How can we get some funny comedy
out of that. That was a great moment at the end. It wasn't scripted. The
director at the last moment said, "Have you ever met Nic's mom?" I said, "Probably
not," and he said, "Well, wouldn't it be funny if after this huge, crazy,
life-altering experience of almost drowning if you just introduce yourself to
her?" There were a lot of moments like that because John is just a thoughtful,
brilliant kind of guy and we work great together.
Nicolas Cage has spoken about things he'd like to see in a third "National
Treasure" and maybe even beyond; What about you?
Wow. Well, I'd like to see more ladies for Riley. Just a lot of ladies. I
tried in this one to make him start to evolve into a treasure hunter. Maybe the
third one him being a full-fledged treasure hunter and he's a James Bond kind of
guy, maybe. Very suave and gets all the ladies. And maybe he's -- maybe Nic's
not even in the third one! Maybe nobody's in it but Riley. And ladies. Riley and
That sounds like a hell of movie right there.
Yeah. I don't know if anyone would go see it, but I would go see it.
Nicolas Cage mentioned that he wanted to make it more international. Is
that something you want to see?
I think that would be a good idea. I think there's a lot of interest. This
time we went to London and Paris and I think that maybe Asia or maybe something
in the middle east would be interesting.
Did you actually get to do all the traveling when you were shooting this
Yeah. We got to all those locations. We go to London. We go to Paris. All
the sets -- they weren't green screen. They were sets. That's what Jerry and
John do best. They go for realism in these fantastic situations.
Did you go to France for this next movie as well?
I did. I shot the whole movie after I finished this. I went right back to
Paris for six weeks. And then we shot some in Montreal. But it's about an
American guy (me) who goes to Paris.
IESB: Ideally, do you want to be
doing action/adventure films?
You know, I -- when I started acting, action/adventure was never something
that was in my mindframe. I never pictured myself in an action movie. I liked
this movie because the characters are so well thought out. It's essentially a
character movie in an action movie's disguise. I'll do any movie if the
characters are interesting and the people I'm working with are interesting. I'm
never going to say no to doing a movie with five Oscar nominees and winners and
a great director and a great -- probably the greatest Producer in Hollywood
IESB: Is there a certain type of
part that you're dying to play?
No, I just love variety. The script is the thing and if I can find
something in the character that I can find interesting and challenging then it's
great for me. But I don't seek out specific types of parts.
Is the strike hurting you at all?
No, not really. Well, first of all, it's hurting the entire industry. It's
an awful thing. What I don't understand about the strike -- you know -- both
sides, obviously, have their reasons -- but studios and producers would be
nowhere without artists and the script is everything. So, writers would have
jobs without studios. They could keep creating. They would find a forum for
their work but movie studios would be nowhere without writers. There would be no
movie studios. But, you know, it'll all be resolved soon. Hopefully sooner than
Your from Michigan originally; Are you living out in LA full-time now?
Well, I was born in Florida and raised in Michigan. And then I went to New
York -- I spent the most time in New York -- for eleven years. And then I just
now live in Los Angeles. For the last few months I've lived out here.
With the holidays coming up and this movie coming out, what are your plans
for the end of the year?
Bartha: I'm going to just try to be
with friends. I'm just going to spend the new year with friends and the people I
love. That's how the holidays should be spent.
PERFORMANCE: Justin Bartha's 'Treasure' comic relief
The actor plays Nicolas Cage's sidekick for 'National
Treasure: Book of Secrets.'
By Paul Brownfield, Los Angeles Times
December 20, 2007
"I feel like I've had a few
careers already," said Justin Bartha.
The 29-year-old was sitting in the kitchen of the cottage he just bought above
Laurel Canyon, dressed in a porkpie hat, long-sleeve shirt, jeans and
moccasins. Bartha immediately apologized about his cold, offering a fist tap
instead of a handshake.
Inside, his house was freezing and empty -- a bachelor pad cum
work-in-progress. Bartha handed out bottled water before sitting in his
kitchen to discuss his unusual career -- high school theater in West
Bloomfield, Mich., college drama and film at NYU, followed by his first big
"It's an odd progression," he admitted of his rise from there to here.
Here is playing Nicolas Cage's sidekick in the Disney franchise "National
Treasure." The rise to success was sudden but hardly steady -- given that this
new career was launched by "Gigli," that infamous bomb of 2003, written and
directed by Martin Brest and starring then "it" couple Ben Affleck and
There was, too, an HBO political film, "Strip Search," in which Bartha was
directed by another film giant, Sidney Lumet.
But back, of course, to "Gigli," that punchline to a thousand easy jokes.
Bartha couldn't help defending Brest, explaining that the director shot a
dark-toned, substantial movie that was lightened and butchered, after the fact,
to coincide with Affleck and Lopez's budding star love. Despite the
cataclysmic reviews, "Gigli" was good to Bartha; in his first paid job, he was
the third lead, playing the mentally disabled Brian, whom Affleck's character
"I feel like I've had a few careers already," he said.
Bartha spent several months volunteering in a program for people with mental
disabilities to prepare for "Gigli." No such actorly preparation was needed
for "National Treasure," and the results have been considerably more
The actor recently returned from being flown around the world to promote the
sequel, which Disney hopes continues "National Treasure" as a fun, and
lucrative, PG adventure franchise. The new one, dubbed "Book of Secrets" and
due out Friday, finds Bartha again playing the computer-whiz sidekick Riley
Poole to Nicolas Cage's braniac explorer of American antiquity, Ben Gates.
The first "National Treasure" began with Ben and Riley stealing the
Declaration of Independence; "Book of Secrets" involves Ben trying to clear
his family's name from involvement in the assassination of President Lincoln
by John Wilkes Booth. Riley, of course, gets dragged along. Cage's Ben is not
only brave but fussy and passive-aggressive about historical factoids and
ephemera; to watch the movie is to feel as though you're playing Trivial
Pursuit with someone who loves to lord it over you with his breadth of
Maybe that's why Riley is such easy, and winning, comic relief. He needles Ben
about his annoying ticks while helping him track down treasure, disabling
alarms, hacking into computer systems and flying a robotic surveillance
helicopter around the Eiffel Tower. The crux of his character, Bartha said, "is
making him the audience member being pulled up and thrown into this adventure."
Nuova pagina 1
Source: Paulington James Christensen III -
Thursday, December 20th, 2007
These are the true confessions of a professed car lover
Justin Bartha doesn't want you to look at his character Riley Poole as a
sidekick. He'd rather have you see him as a main character that gets pushed to
the side by more aggressive protagonists. After all, it is because of Riley that
Nicolas Cage's Ben Gates finds the city of gold in John Turteltaub upcoming
National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Bartha reprises his popular role in this upcoming Disney flick, bringing the
much-loved secondary character to the forefront of yet another exciting chapter
in the lives of Gates and Company. This time out, Poole has written a
book entitled Riley Poole - The Templar Treasure
and Other Myths that are True Information found in its pages eventually lead
the treasure hunting gang to the mysterious Book of Secrets. This in turn leads
to the clearing of the Gates family name in the assassination of Abraham
Without Poole's assistance, this never would have happened.
We recently got to sit down with Bartha in a private suite at the Beverly Hilton.
He discussed bringing the character of Riley Poole to the screen for a second
time and let us in on a few conspiracy theories of his own. Here is our
Interview Justin Bartha
This was your first sequel. How hard was it to find this guy the second time
Justin Bartha: It wasn't hard to find him. The only difficult part was
trying to find something new about him. I wanted to make him interesting again.
I didn't want to do the same movie. I'd never been involved with a sequel. And
obviously this movie was going to be about finding treasure again. I had to sit
back and think, Why would it be interesting? So, basically, I tried to
concentrate on what happened to this guy between the first and second movie. And
how did he change during this time. That's what makes it interesting. I think he
is a bit different. He grows through a bigger journey and a bigger change in
this film. It is a lot different from the first
There is a theme that runs throughout the film. This sort of dissolution and
resolution of romantic relationships. Your character doesn't have a girlfriend.
But that last scene between you and the car seems to tie into this narrative
Justin Bartha: (Laughs). Yeah. A little bit. There were a lot of car
scenes that got cut out. There were some strange love scenes with me and the
Ferrari that ended up being a little too creepy to keep in the film.
You are not being serious?
Justin Bartha: No. I am kidding.
I wouldn't put it past Bruckheimer after watching
Justin Bartha: No kidding. You know what the deal is? My character lost
all of his money. Reilly's big character trait is trying to get respect. He has
written this book "Reilly Poole - The Templar Treasure and Other Myths that are
True". In a sense, none of his friends have read it. No one takes him seriously.
He is seen as the
comic relief. He is a sleeper. People take him
as this goofy, kind-of knowing guy. But in the end he is the key to finding this
treasure. If these other characters, that are his friends, would just stop and
listen to him and take him seriously for one second...Because it is tough to
take him seriously...Then they might find something important. They might find
This guy is slowly becoming an iconic sidekick character. I'm wondering if
there are any specific sidekicks that you sort of look to in bringing this
character to the screen?
Justin Bartha: No. I know that he is seen as the sidekick.
But he is actually the guy's partner.
Justin Bartha: Yeah. I definitely don't look at any other performances in
comparison to this character. That was one of the things I pushed for with this
film. Since he is the sidekick, I didn't want people not to look at him as an
important key in finding the treasure. Fortunately, with a lot of work, we came
to discover these things about Reilly. Like, the book. And how the book at first
seems like a joke, but then we find out that it is an incredible crux to finding
these things. In the first one, he was the comic relief in a sense. That is how
people looked at him. But everyone is funny in this new movie. The comedy comes
from the relationship between all of the characters. I think Reilly takes more
of a center role as a treasure hunter. He becomes this great treasure hunter in
this film. Originally, he was the surrogate to let the audience in on the
Was there anything you felt was missing from the first film that you really
wanted to bring to the character this time around?
Justin Bartha: I didn't see the first movie and say, "Gosh, I wish this
guy could have been this." No. Since we did have a chance to make a
second one, I wanted to be able to bring out a more well-rounded thing. I didn't
want him to be seen as just this sidekick who provides comedy. He has more
serious moments in this. And he has more heroic moments as well.
You were talking a minute ago about the book that your character writes in
the film. Did you do any research on your own aside from the script. Did you
look at some of these theories and conspiracies?
Justin Bartha: I looked some of the stuff up. I am interested in
conspiracy theory a little bit. I went on the
and read about a bunch of conspiracies. I didn't delve the depths of the genre.
Did you ever find anything that you felt would be interesting for future
Justin Bartha: No, nothing. All of the conspiracies that I started
reading were too topical. They were all about the current administration. I don't
think they would be good for a
Disney Bruckheimer movie.
I was talking to Jon Voight about this earlier. In showing a lot of these
ideas in this film, do you think these writers are actually on to something? Or
do you think they could be covering up something else?
Justin Bartha: I think every conspiracy in the film, such as the Booth
diary, is based in reality. I don't know about the inscriptions on the resolute
desk. But I am sure it has some truth to it in some sense. There are conspiracy
theories about every major political figure in our country's history. I'm sure
this stuff has a nugget of real history in it. Obviously, it is expounded on.
I think it is interesting that these films almost enter into the conspiracy
Justin Bartha: Right, in that they create them.
Yeah. They are proposing this idea that people might buy into. And maybe the
writers are selling this idea so that these people don't look at something else.
Justin Bartha: They are creating a distraction. A red haring. These film
ideas are a diversion from what is really going on. I don't think so. I think it
is just entertainment.
People also said the same thing about
Men in Black.
Justin Bartha: Really, what do they say about
Men in Black?
That it is a diversion from the truth. That they build up these caricatures
so people won't believe that they actually exist. They make it look like a
simple fantasy to hide the truth. That the
Men in Black are real.
Justin Bartha: People actually believe that the
Men in Black are real? I have never heard that.
But I love the imagination of it. I highly doubt that is what is going on.
True, but then you have these UFO conspiracy theorist that come out and say,
"You guys are just trying to make light of the truth so it just looks like
entertainment. But we know that it is actually going on." That it proves their
point even more.
Justin Bartha: I think they are just trying to make some money. I think
those people were just trying to make some money and some entertainment. I don't
believe that it goes any deeper than that. It is a very romantic thing to think
about. And that's great. But I don't think this stuff is a conspiracy diversion.
Hey, don't take that the wrong way. I agree with you. That's what I think too.
But I was reading this morning about people that have seen the first
and they think, "Oh, they are trying to hide something else with this. Disney is
covering up something else."
Justin Bartha: I've got to say, when you do research on the Illuminate
and the Masons, the amount of conspiracies and cover-ups is endless. Its crazy
the amount of people that actually think something is going on with that. George
Bush is a Mason. It is interesting. It's enough to drive you mad.
They had the kid's one, too. The Demolay. That was part of the Masons.
Justin Bartha: Oh, really. I didn't know about that.
My brother was actually a part of that. I don't think there was anything
going on with that. Not that I knew about. Seemed pretty normal to me. Just a
Justin Bartha: Exactly.
I wanted to ask you about the end scene in
National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
That is all practical, right? That is an actual set.
Justin Bartha: The water? Yeah, that is an actual set. Those were all
sets that were built at Universal. And they were unbelievable. And the water set
was truly remarkable. It was everything you see. Obviously, the fourth wall
wasn't built, because we had to shoot around it. But everything is practical.
All the water, that stuff is real.
What was the experience of stepping onto that set for the first time?
Justin Bartha: It was outstanding. You can't imagine it. Most movies
would have shot that on a green screen and added it all in later. That's what is
great about Bruckheimer. He just builds it. It was pretty outstanding to shoot
it. You just have to react. Water is really shooting at you.
That's the thing. You can tell when it is CGI. It makes a ton of difference.
Justin Bartha: Exactly. It makes a huge difference.
How physically taxing was this shoot? You are involved in quite a few of the
big action scenes.
Justin Bartha: You know, the only thing that was physically taxing on me
was the water scene. And that's because I was sick. I had a really bad flu, and
we were shooting at night in the water. It wasn't the most fun thing for me. But
aside from that, it's a lot like being in playland. It couldn't have been more
What happens with something like that, where you get the flu and you are
supposed to be on set? Is there any leeway when that kind of stuff happens?
Justin Bartha: You can't really call in sick. Because the production
would lose millions of dollars. So you just have to suck it up. Take a bunch of
flu medicine. And try not to be too loopy. But, then, it helps out the scene
because you are loopy. A lot of that scene was cut. So, maybe I was terrible and
they cut the scene.
I thought you were good in that scene. I don't know what you are talking
Justin Bartha: (Laughs)
So, you say you are loopy. Just having to be there in that moment when you
are that sick seems crazy.
Justin Bartha: Yeah, it wasn't the most pleasant shooting experience. To
be really ill, and it is four in the morning. You have an awful flu, you are in
water, and it is freezing. Your only thought is, "I could die. Could I die? I
could get pneumonia. And I could definitely die."
At the end, we see you kind of flirt with a girl. Do you think in the third
one they will actually let you have a full blown relationship?
Justin Bartha: God, I hope so. At the Hollywood foreign press today, they
brought up that the next movie could revolve around Riley and that cute girl's
baby. Somehow. It would somehow have to do with their baby.
I don't know what a baby would have?
Justin Bartha: Yeah, I don't know either. Maybe it's the chosen baby.
Like, the golden child.
That's another conspiracy.
Justin Bartha: See, there you go.
Yeah, the fake anti-Christ. All these fakes are coming out and sayin they are
Justin Bartha: Yeah. Exactly.
That is happening all over the place.
Justin Bartha: Why not? You've got to get famous somehow. It might as
well be the anti-Christ in this culture. In this day and age. Everyone wants to
be famous. There is no better way.
No doubt. Okay, last question. Did you have to learn about all this
technology to be able to play this guy? Like, when you go into the bathroom and
you unroll all of that stuff. Were you versed in how it all works?
Justin Bartha: I had a day of prep. Like that day, when I was in the
bathroom and had to stick a lot of that stuff to the wall. I had to try and
figure out if there was a practical use for all of these things. What would all
of these things be? You sit down for a couple of hours and you learn how to plug
everything in. You ask what this stuff does. Then you do it. It's pretty simple.
Great. That's my time. Thank you.
Justin Bartha: Nice meeting you.
Justin Bartha Interview, National Treasure 2
Movie National Treasure: The Book of Secrets Posted By: Sheila Roberts / Source
MoviesOnline recently caught up with Justin Bartha at the Los Angeles press
day for his new film, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets.Ē In this follow up to
the box-office hit "National Treasure," treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage)
once again sets out on an exhilarating, action-packed new global quest to
unearth hidden history and treasures. Bartha resumes the role of his
comic-relief side-kick, Riley Poole.
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub and directed by Turteltaub, the
story reunites the original cast including Cage, Bartha, Diane Kruger, and
Academy Award winner Jon Voight, joined this time by four-time Academy Award
nominee Ed Harris, Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel, and 2006 Academy Award
winner Helen Mirren.
Justin Bartha was most recently seen opposite Matthew McConaughey and Sarah
Jessica Parker in "Failure to Launch,Ē in addition to roles in such films as
"Trust the ManĒ and Sidney Lumetís HBO film "Thought Crimes,Ē as well as the
starring role in NBCís comedy, "Teachers.Ē He garnered critical acclaim for his
portrayal of the psychologically challenged younger brother of a powerful
federal prosecutor in Martin Brestís ĒGigli,Ē opposite Ben Affleck, Jennifer
Lopez and Christopher Walken. Next up, Bartha will star opposite "CesarĒ winning
actress Melanie Laurant in the whimsical romance "Shoe at Your FootĒ from first
time director Jennifer Devoldere due out next year.
Bartha bursts into our press conference while Jon Turteltaub is still fielding
questions from journalists. He teases him good-naturedly.
Justin: Stop talking! [They hug]. Boring!
Jon Turteltaub: [to the press] Is he funnier than me?
Q: Youíve been following him around all day?
Justin: I know. Heís a hard act to follow.
Q: Well hereís a question we didnít have a chance to ask him because he was so
long winded. [Laughter] What is the idea behind having a relatively handsome
young man [his character] running around saying he canít get a date?
Justin: Are you talking about me? Iím single. I cannot get a date and the girls
I meet turn out to be awful. My girlfriends turn out to be just bad seeds, so
obviously itís realistic in some sense. This is a frank interview. Ask the
Q: So you donít have high hopes for the girl with the freckles and the book at
the end of the movie?
Justin: I have very high hopes for her. Sheís adorable.
Q: When we spoke with you after the last movie, you told us you werenít much of
a techy. Have you become any more tech savvy since this one?
Justin: Even worse. I keep watching this movie over and over again and I just
get less interested in technology. I use a telegraph now.
Q: Do you own an iPod?
Justin: I do own an iPod. Of course.
Q: Whatís on your iPod?
Q: What kind of music?
Justin: All types of music. Iím a huge music nut so I listen to many, many, many
Q: We hear that working on a Bruckheimer film is sort of like a high wire act.
The script is always in flux and you may arrive not really knowing what youíre
going to be saying that day. How much of what we see in this film was improvised?
Justin: Well, thatís the benefit of doing a sequel that Iíve found. Most of the
characters were in the first one, besides obviously Helen and Ed and the
President, but most of the main characters were in the first one and we know our
characters very well so I know how Riley would react to pretty much every
situation. Itís also a testament to Jerry and Jon in that, even with a script
thatís always in flux, they are not going to release a movie until they feel
comfortable that itís a good movie. So, if it doesnít work, weíre not gonna put
it in the movie. When we first got the script in the beginning of the process,
all the actors sat around with the filmmakers and they asked us, "Is there
anything that you think should be in the script thatís not in there? Is there
anything thatís in the script that you think doesnít fit?Ē And they sat down
with each one of us individually and we told them and they incorporated most of
the things that we came up with.
Q: What did you say specifically for Riley?
Justin: Specifically, my thing was I didnít want it to be boring. A lot of times,
the sequels they make, obviously theyíre making a sequel to make money. Everyone
know that. The first one made a lot of money. People really loved the first one.
Itís not like people come up to me and say "Yeah, that movie was good.Ē They say
itís their favorite movie or itís their kidsí favorite movie so thereís a
responsibility to make it more interesting and to keep the spirit of the
original movie. And when I first got the script for the second one, Riley was
pretty much the same thing as the first one. They played on the stereotype of
the sidekick of just throwing out zingers and I thought it was kind of boring.
There was nothing interesting in there for me to do, so I really wanted to see
what happened to Riley between the first movie and the second movie. How did the
money affect him? What has he been doing? And, with a book that he wrote, how
can that book affect the storyline? So we came up with the idea of him writing
this book and no one takes him seriously because no one takes this guy seriously
because he is that sidekick guy that youíve seen in movies and no one ever takes
these characters seriously. Theyíre there to serve a purpose. But what if they
just stop for a second to read his book, it would actually help them solve the
mystery? So, that was the big thing that I pushed for to get into the movie.
Q: Are you on strike with all the other writers right now?
Justin: Unfortunately. I do support the writers in any way that I can. Iím more
the actor soÖ
Q: Rileyís friends just donít read his book. Have you ever been in a play and
your friends just donít show up? If so, what do you do?
Justin: [laughs] Theyíre no longer my friends. If they donít come and support
me, I donít like them anymore. Youíve got to support your friends.
Q: Did you do a lot of your own stunts?
Justin: I did Nicís stunts also [laughter]. I did my stunts and I did Nicís
stunts. I did Helen Mirrenís stunts sometimes too with fake giant breastsÖ
beautiful. I didnít look as good as her but I pulled it off.
Q: Whatís it like to do your own stunt work?
Justin: Thatís boring. Come on. Iím just kidding. Itís great. There was one time
when I really felt like my life was in danger when my stunt guy just wasnít
there and I like to do my own stunts. Iím just like Tom Cruise. I get mistaken
for him all the time. Iím just taller [laughter]. So Nicís stunt driver was
driving and heís this brilliant driver and weíre in London going through the
streets and heís doing all these very dangerous turns through all these tiny,
little narrow alleyways. And, at the end of this alleyway, I donít know if you
realize it, but thereís a giant tree that was right there and he had to slam on
the brakes and he turned the car so that the passenger, me, was going to hit the
tree. We literally ended an inch away from the tree and I wet myself.
Q: What kind of driver are you? If you had that Ferrari (or whatever it was)
would you back it into the car behind it?
Justin: Iím a little better driver than that, yeah.
Q: Can you talk about Nic?
Justin: I can talk about Nic for hours. How much time have you got? What would
you like to know?
Q: I donít want to hear that heís a great guy, easy to work with, and an amazing
Justin: Okay, then heís an ass and heís not good to work with and heís not that
great of an actor.
Q: Does he eat crackers in bed?
Justin: Does he eat crackers in bed? Iíve never been in bed with Nic Cage.
Actually there was this one night with some Johnny WalkerÖ No, unfortunately,
people come up to me all the time and they donít ask me about myself. They ask
me about Nic Cage and they want to know what heís like and if heís really weird
and intense. And, heís not. Heís eccentric but he is hilarious. Heís one of the
funniest guys Iíve ever met and I love the man. Heís one of my favorite actors.
Sorry, itís a boring answer and I wish I could give you dish but you write and
read about the dish about people breaking into his house.
Q: What makes him funny?
Justin: His sense of humor. What makes anyone hilarious? Heís got an original
view of life and that is what, I think, anyone looks for in an artist. I think
thatís what a great artist is, is they have a singular vision of what life is
all about and the way he looks and survives in this world is funny and itís
interesting but I love the way that he treats other people and the way that he
lives out his life.
Q: It sounds like your movie relationship is similar to your real life
Justin: Except for heís my side-kick in real life.
Q: If there is a National Treasure 3, how would you like to see Riley progress?
Justin: I think I just said it, probably Nic as my side-kick and me getting a
lot of girls.
Q: Do you want to know whatís on Page 47?
Justin: I do. Do you know? I would love to know.
Q: I think they might have gotten themselves into a corner by introducing that.
Justin: Thatís the thing I love about this movie. No one really cares. They just
want to see these characters hang out with each other. You know, I doubt anyoneís
going to be coming up to me on the street and asking ĎWhatís on page 47?í Theyíre
probably going to be saying, ĎWhatís Nic Cage like?í
Q: Are you in Paris again with your next movie?
Justin: Yes. I only shoot movies in Paris now. Iím huge in Paris. Iím like Woody
Allen. No one takes me seriously in America. Nobody goes to see my films but, in
Paris, I get mobbed.
Q: Can you tell us about Shoe at Your Foot?
Justin: I can. Itís about a young American guy who wins a trip to Paris for two
just as his girlfriend dumps him and he decides to go alone or his friends push
him to go to Paris alone and the airline loses his luggage and itís sent to a
beautiful French girl who falls in love with him through the contents of his
suitcase. I pretty much spend the whole movie by myself in a hotel room in a
robe waiting for a suitcase. Itís a really wonderful film. Itís a whimsical
romance in the spirit of Amelie and Punch-Drunk Love.
Q: Billy Boyd is in it with you?
Justin: Billy Boyd plays my best buddy in the movie and heís brilliant. Heís
such a great guy.
Q: Did you give him any advice on being a funny side-kick?
Justin: He didnít need any advice from me. He did his own thing but heís quite
funny in the movie.
Q: Are you a Lord of the Rings fan?
Justin: Uh, yes? Iím not a big fantasy guy. Those arenít my favorite types of
movies but I think that they are amazing films. I havenít seen all of them
actually but Iím a fan of his. I think heís a really great actor.
Q: What is in the suitcase that makes the girl fall in love with you?
Justin: Well, a lot of it is contents given to me by my friends before I go on
the trip so itís not really my stuff. Thereís a Gabriel Garcia-Marquez novel and
thereís some music and it ends up, she falls in love with me under false
pretenses. Thatís what itís come to.
Q: What have you done since wrapping the Shoe movie??
Justin: Well, that just wrapped fairly recently and then I bought a house and Iím
producing a small movie and Iím trying to put together a couple of other small
movies for the beginning of the year.
Q: Are you working on a movie called Holy Rollers?
Justin: Itís a movie that weíre trying to put together next year, yeah. Itís
gonna hopefully start at the beginning of the year.
Q: Can you tell us what Holy Rollers is about?
Justin: Yes. Holy Rollers is based on a true story in the early mid-Ď90ís, there
were some people in the Hassidic community that were used as ecstasy drug
smugglers in and out of Amsterdam into Brooklyn..
Q: Were they diamond merchants?
Justin: No. It has nothing to do with diamond merchants and thatís racist. Who
brought that guy? [Laughter] Not all Jews are diamond merchants, my God! [laughs]
And you can quote me on that. So, basically, itís a small drama. Itís kind of
like Mean Streets but itís kind of like Jew Streets. Itís myself and one of my
favorite young actors, Jesse Eisenberg, are the two guys in the movie and, if
you look at Mean Streets, heís kind of like Harvey Keitel and Iím kind of like
the Johnny Boy character where Iím already kind of into that world of drugs and
I bring him into it.
Q: What are you doing for Christmas?
Justin: I am promoting this film.
Q: Once it opens on the 21st, what are you doing for the rest of the holidays?
Justin: I like this guy.
Q: Do you have any Christmas traditions your family does?
Justin: Yes, we light eight candles and celebrate my people.
Q: I apologize, Hanukkah.
Justin: Iím not a very religious person and I donít really have any specific
traditions besides spending time with my family and friends.
Q: Alright, name eight toys you want this year. [some people groan]
Justin: I speak for them. They donít like that question. I canít answer it.
Thereís going to be a mob in here.
Another nice interview to Justin
done via aol IM:
thanks to Andie for sharing it!
Justin Bartha plays a mean second fiddle,
to which millions can attest thanks to his role of funny sidekick in 2004's
'National Treasure' (and also his portrayal
of funny roommate in the
Jessica Parker rom-com
'Failure to Launch'.) We chatted with
Bartha, who's just as funny -- and apparently taller -- than his smart (and
JustinNatlTrsr: hi, justin here
Moviefoneangie: hi! so -- are you a
conpiracy believer? a member of the masons?
JustinNatlTrsr: if if i answer that i would
have to kill you. sorry, secret society and all
Moviefoneangie: of course. but in your
secret society, are you still the sidekick? do you get to be the big hero at
JustinNatlTrsr: well, in the movie I'm the
big hero aren't I?
Moviefoneangie: uh, yeah
JustinNatlTrsr: that wasn't convincing
Moviefoneangie: it was the best i could do
in the circumstances. i mean, i guess your character finally does get some
respect by the end of this one, but not so much in the first part -- kinda
Moviefoneangie: do you have any roles lined
up that aren't the funny sidekick? you do those so well, so totally not a
dis, but do you ever get the girl?
JustinNatlTrsr: I just finished playing the
romantic lead in a movie called 'Shoe at Your Foot.' I get many girls in
Moviefoneangie: oh, good for you!! when's
it out? and what's it about?
JustinNatlTrsr: I play an American that
wins a trip to Paris. The airline loses his suitcase and it's sent to a
french girl who falls in love with me through the stuff in the luggage
JustinNatlTrsr: Comes out early next year.
It's a whimsical romance in the spirit of
'Punch Drunk Love'
Moviefoneangie: back to
'National Treasure: Book of Secrets' -- did
you do any of your own stunts in that?
JustinNatlTrsr: Not only do i do my own
stunts...I do all of
Nic Cage's stunts too!!!
Moviefoneangie: that's funny -- i've heard
Nic Cage say the same thing about his and your stunts. i think he said you
Diane Kruger's stunt double
JustinNatlTrsr: I did some of her stunts
but my feet started to hurt from the high heels
Moviefoneangie: (that was a lie -- just
trying to start a beef between you two)
JustinNatlTrsr: beef already started
JustinNatlTrsr: tons of beef
Moviefoneangie: i also heard Nic Cage say
Moviefoneangie: are you anything like Riley
-- computer-nerdish, etc?
JustinNatlTrsr: I'm not much like Riley...I'm
not great with computers, I'm a lot taller in real life.
Moviefoneangie: that's great acting --
playing so much shorter. i thought it must've been f/x, but you do it
JustinNatlTrsr: yes. Same technology using
'Lord of the Rings' ...forced perspective,
Moviefoneangie: and you stand in lots of
Moviefoneangie: have you had any great
treasure hunts or adventures that would compare with what you've done in 'National
JustinNatlTrsr: Well, I went to New Zealand
and got really into bungy jumping. That's about the biggest adventure I've
been on ... that and combing Venice beach with a metal detector looking for
Moviefoneangie: you make your fortune with
a metal detector -- is that the plot of 'National Treasure 3'?
JustinNatlTrsr: I couldn't find change for
a parking meter the other day and was looking in the cushions of my car for
about twenty minutes
JustinNatlTrsr: That was pretty exciting
Moviefoneangie: sounds it!
Moviefoneangie: bungy jumping is pretty
adventurous -- was it scary?
JustinNatlTrsr: It was really scary!!! I
never thought I would want to do it. Always seemed lame to me. But it is so
exciting...nothing like it
Moviefoneangie: were there any scary
moments while filming 'NT2'? (or 'NT1,' for that matter?)
JustinNatlTrsr: we were filming a car chase
and Nic's stunt driver was driving and weaving in and out of these tiny
alleyways in London. At one point we almost hit a tree and I wet myself a
little. That got the heart pumping
Moviefoneangie: yeah, i guess it would.
that's so funny -- you're the 2nd person i've done an aim interview with who
referred to wetting himself (the other time was in my
interview with Simon Pegg from 'Hot Fuzz')
Moviefoneangie: the aim format just brings
that confession out in people
JustinNatlTrsr: That is crazy! I actually
wet myself while watching
'Shaun of the Dead'...so it's ironic
Moviefoneangie: me too. love that movie!
and 'National Treasure 2' is really fun to watch. was it also fun to make?
JustinNatlTrsr: It was pretty darn fun! To
go to set every day and work with all of these immensely talented actors is
a gift. I'm a lucky man.
Moviefoneangie: all those Oscar winners in
the room. was that intimidating?
JustinNatlTrsr: Nope. I won best supporting
actor in the tenth grade for my performance as Meeker in Inherit the Wind.
So they were the ones that were intimidated
Moviefoneangie: nice. that is a tough role.
really puts an actor through the wringer. i understand their reaction
Ed Harris couldn't even look me in the eyes.
and Helen Mirren wet herself
Moviefoneangie: i bet. Harris seems like a
shrinking violet kinda guy to me (starting a beef with him too)
JustinNatlTrsr: I have so much beef I could
open up an Outback Steakhouse
Moviefoneangie: and Helen Mirren -- well,
less said about her the better
JustinNatlTrsr: Helen Mirren is the most
beautiful, kind, cool woman i have ever met in my entire life
Moviefoneangie: of course! actually, it's a
really impressive cast. and everyone seems like they're having so much fun
-- except you. you seemed so ... pensive. is that the real you? dark,
JustinNatlTrsr: i am reading Bukowski over
a glass of scotch right now
JustinNatlTrsr: listening to Wagner and
watching a Bergman film also
Moviefoneangie: i figured. do you have a
5-year plan for your career? where do you see yourself?
JustinNatlTrsr: I'm too depressed to think
about 5 years from now. I gotta go. I'm meeting my therepist to go over all
Article [thanks to 'mh']
Double Take: West Bloomfieldís Justin Bartha goes high profile in two new
Special to the Jewish News
A broken wrist really turned out to be a lucky break for Justin Bartha. It
happened 12 years ago, when he was playing tennis at West Bloomfield High
Barthaís injury forced him to look around for new activities, and he
switched his attention from sports to theater. The attraction really wasnít
the stage so much as the opportunity to keep up with friends and meet girls.
The novice performer soon realized that acting was winning his heart, and he
went on to pursue his new passion nonstop in New York and Hollywood, with
the high point arriving this year. Besides having an important role in the
feature film Failure to Launch, opening March 10 in area theaters, he is
starring in the new NBC sitcom Teachers, which debuts March 28.
In the midst of strenuous days on the Teachers set, Bartha took time to
speak about his achievements and background with the Jewish News.
ďI donít consider myself that much of a [professional] success,Ē says Bartha,
27, whose family belonged to Temple Israel, where he had his bar mitzvah.
ďWhat is positive is that my achievements allow me to work more. People are
aware of me and want to work with me.
ďEvery job that I do makes my life seem like a dream life. I canít imagine
anything better. Every day, I go to wonderful places and work with talented
Bartha plays Ace in Failure to Launch, a movie that immerses him with the
talents of Matthew McConaughey as Tripp and Sarah Jessica Parker as Paula.
Ace helps with a plan that heightens the romance of the fictional couple, a
bachelor reluctant to move away from the comfort of his childhood home and a
young woman secretly hired by Trippís parents to motivate independent living
ďThe characters in this film are really identifiable, and itís just a good
time,Ē says Bartha, who has partied with the actors after long working days.
ďAce is kind of the opposite of me. Heís a techno guy whoís crafty, but heís
a little nerdy. I like to think of myself as a really cool guy.Ē
Bartha, whose diverse roles have cast him as a psychologically challenged
person in Gigli and a global positioning specialist in National Treasure,
says he approaches each role by analyzing the part and building the
fictional person from the ground up.
Building a new character for Teachers, also starring Sarah Alexander (Coupling)
and Deon Richmond (The Cosby Show), came directly from his Michigan
ďI based the character on two teachers I had in high school ó Rob Leider,
who headed up the theater program, and James Corcoran, who was my English
instructor,Ē says Bartha, who graduated from West Bloomfield High in 1996.
ďThey both had quite an influence on me because they really cared about the
ďI made a new character by taking their personality traits and mixing them
with a little of Johnny Carsonís style. Their assignments and ways of
teaching very much mirror what Iím trying to do with this series. My
character is quietly attempting to make a difference while showing some
Bartha, whose family moved to Michigan when he was 8, graduated from New
York University in 2000. Although he started college with an acting program,
he transferred to film school.
After creating a show for university television, he was hopeful it would be
picked up by MTV. On the day of that rejection, he learned he had the part
in Gigli, co-starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. the film didnít fare
well, but it brought critical acclaim to Bartha.
The actorís other cinema credits include Tag, Thought Crimes and Carnival
Sun ó work he found after his university project drew management agencies to
him. He wrote and directed the short film Highs and Lows, which premiered at
the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2003. In Trust the Man, which
premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, Bartha played opposite Julianne
Moore, Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
ďJustin was and is extremely creative and dedicated,Ē recalls Leider, now a
curriculum specialist for the school district. ďHe was able to do a myriad
of roles and could work on serious drama, such as Hamlet, and childrenís
shows at the same time.
ďJustin was likeable, funny and good-natured and could put many emotions
into his performances. He would find things from life to use in his
characters and make each moment on stage his own. Iím so happy that he
reached this level.Ē
While both teachers are very flattered to learn they inspired their former
student, Corcoran especially remembers the comic characters Bartha portrayed.
ďI remember how well Justin wrote skits and how comfortable he was on
stage,Ē Corcoran says. ďIn one skit, for an old-fashioned vaudeville show,
he portrayed a boss interviewing a potential employee. Instead of the
questioning being about the job, it had to do with whether the candidate
liked puppies as much as the boss. He was really funny.
ďI recognized Justin when I saw him in the film National Treasure. I looked
him up on the Web and found out what he had done since leaving high school.
He sometimes was our class clown, but there was never anything malicious in
his sense of humor.Ē
The upbeat evaluations of Barthaís talents extend into current projects. Tom
Dey, director of Failure to Launch, is pleased about Bartha and Bradley
Cooper, portraying another lifetime friend of McConaugheyís character.
ďBoth Justin and Bradley are very funny, gifted actors who have distinct
styles and are believable as Trippís contemporaries,Ē Dey says. ďThey were
able to riff with Matthew immediately, and we encouraged them to hang out
together as much as possible prior to filming.
ďWe also gave them physical activities during rehearsal week, including
clinics on paintball and rock-climbing. It was like orientation week at camp
without the macrame.Ē
Betty and Stephen Bartha, who moved to New Jersey soon after Justinís
high-school graduation, have enjoyed exciting times since their sonís career
took off. They have visited him on location, attended star-studded film
premieres and gone to elaborate parties, including one in the home of
ďWhen I saw Justin in his first film, it seemed almost surreal, but after
five minutes, I fell into the character he was portraying,Ē says Betty
Bartha, a former elementary school teacher who has lived in several cities
as her husband accepted different retail real estate positions.
ďWe saw he had a passion for acting, and we encouraged it. We felt he was
young and had nothing to lose. We are most proud that he has stayed true to
himself, holds the same values and appreciates all that has happened.
ďReligion was very important in our home, and we were glad to be in a
community with a large Jewish population that let us share holidays with
family and friends. My husband and I think religion is important in teaching
right and wrong.Ē
As the only family member in show business, Bartha can think of himself as
very much an individual in a family that includes brother Jeffrey, who works
in advertising in California.
ďI keep learning by watching and being around other actors,Ē says Bartha,
who is based in New York and California and spends his free time traveling.
ďI kind of absorb certain things from the type of people Iíve gotten the
chance to work with, whether it be while theyíre on or off camera. Some of
these people are just interesting. Watching them in their everyday life is a
ďJames Burrows, who directed the Teachers pilot, is smart and couldnít have
been nicer. He directs as if he is listening to music, closing his eyes and
hearing the performances. Itís really great to observe.
ďI constantly am making bigger goals for myself and trying to look ahead.
Ultimately, Iíd love to make my own movies and just fulfill any kind of
creative notion I have.Ē
On a personal note, he adds, ďI wouldnít mind being linked romantically. I
donít really know exactly what Iím looking for, but I do know I want someone