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Exclusive Interview: Hue Rhodes director of Saint John of Las Vegas

Posted by LiveFor on January 13, 2010

First time writer/director Hue Rhodes Saint John of Las Vegas looks like a nice, stylish film featuring the always amazing Steve Buscemi and a host of other great actors.

After a run of bad luck, John (Steve Buscemi), a compulsive gambler, runs away from Las Vegas and toward a normal job and life. Taking a nondescript position in an auto insurance company in Albuquerque, he tries to get ahead in the straight world, amid the ever-present temptations of scratch-off lotto tickets.

When his boss, Mr. Townsend (Peter Dinklage), asks John to accompany his top fraud debunker, Virgil (Romany Malco) on an investigation of a dubious car accident near Vegas, John sees an opportunity to get a promotion , though hes concerned about returning to the gambling game. Before leaving he becomes involved with his eccentric co-worker Jill (Sarah Silverman), a dalliance that has the potential to become a real relationship.

Soon John is on the road with Virgil, where they encounter a series of offbeat characters, including a wheelchair-bound stripper (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a nude militant (Tim Blake Nelson), a park Ranger ( Jesse Garcia), and a carnival human torch (John Cho). While Virgil is the supposed leader of the investigation, its John who begins to finally assert himself, pushing the case closer to a conclusion.

Through the journey, Johns confidence builds, and he realizes that he can’t escape his gambling addiction by running away from it—it will follow him wherever he goes. Its only when he returns to Vegas and his experiences there finally send him on the path to breaking free.

I was lucky enough to have a chat with Hue about the film so without further ado here we go.

First of all tell us about Saint John of Las Vegas in 10 words or less.

You can take the gambler out of Vegas, but…

You have a great cast involved. How did you get them all on board?

Steve Buscemi liked the script. He commands such respect in the acting world that the other actors jumped at the chance to work with him. I’d like to say it was my script, but I think Steve was a major factor.

What was the funniest thing that happened during the shoot and what was the worst?

Funniest: Romany Malco decided to do this ridiculous re-enactment of a car accident in one scene. He didn’t really discuss it, he just did it. The whole cast and crew were laughing so hard we could barely function.

Worst: Someone involved with the film suffered a great personal tragedy while shooting. It was over-sobering.

How did you get into the film directing business? Any tips for those wanting to follow in your footsteps?

How: I wrote a script, which people liked. I attached myself as the director. My short films gave people enough confidence in my abilities to direct.

Tips: Most people I know look at directing as a means to getting discovered/anointed/celebrated. Since that might take a while, use the time to get better, skill-wise. Ang Lee said “I’ve made seventeen movies, and I’ve been to film school seventeen times.”

What was the first film you ever watched?

I have a vague memory of seeing a movie/documentary about Sasquatch. I remember thinking “He’s obviously real! How could anyone doubt this?”

If you could have made one film which would it have been?

My next film.

Which actor/actress, dead or alive, would you most like to work with?

Buster Keaton. I watch him now and I can’t believe what I’m seeing.

If you were going to be killed by a movie monster which one would it be? What would you final words be?

Sasquatch. But he won’t kill me, because I’ve always believed.

Best film of 2009?

That question will have more meaning in 2109.

What book are you currently reading?

“Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk.

What are you working on next?

A script about a wedding that gets overtaken by a gang war. But it’s funny.

When will we be able to see Saint John of Las Vegas?

Jan. 29th NY/LA. Feb. 12th, wider US release. I don’t know about international yet.

Hue, thanks very much.

You can check out Hue Rhodes’ official site and he is also on Twitter.

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