CS Video: Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant


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Undeniably the most prolific filmmaker working today with forty years of making movies under his belt, Werner Herzog hasn’t let his 60s slow him down as he’s bounced between dramas and documentaries, stepping up his game even more in the last year to deliver three movies.

The last time we spoke to Herr Herzog, over a year ago, it was for his documentary Encounters at the End of the World–you can read that interview here–and at the time, he was already talking about his next movie Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage.

Herzog showed up at this year’s Toronto Film Festival with the movie, which stars Cage as Terence McDonagh, a New Orleans police detective who sustains a back injury during Katrina and starts spiraling down a bottomless pit of prescription painkillers and stronger drugs as he tries to solve a brutal multiple homicide. McDonagh’s drug-fueled exploits get him into trouble with a persistent bookie he owes money to as well as mobsters, while trying to deal with the issues faced by his junkie prostitute girlfriend Frankie (Eva Mendes) and an alcoholic father. Herzog’s portrait of a corrupt police officer whose moral compass is thrown completely out of whack has allowed him to bring out one of Cage’s best performances in many years, as McDonagh’s behavior gets crazier and more erratic as he digs himself further into seemingly an inescapable fate.

Once again, ComingSoon.net sat down to interview Herzog, always a fun filmmaker to interview because he’s a genuinely funny guy who often has an intelligent quip or anecdote ready to share. One assumes that’s what comes from making movies for nearly 40 years. (Note: Herzog’s other new movie My Son, My Son, What Have You Done? will also be released in New York on December 11, but we didn’t get a chance to talk to him about it.)

Stuff we talked about with Herzog:

• The controversy surrounding his movie, how it isn’t a remake but how any conflict with Abel Ferrara could only be good for the movie, comparing it to a fight at a baseball game that adds to the entertainment
• How he didn’t want it to be called “Bad Lieutenant”
• The movie’s franchise potential
• Getting Nicolas Cage to play the title role
• Moving the story to New Orleans from its original New York location
• How fast the movie came together
• His surprise that he got the cooperation of the New Orleans Police Department
• Casting Eva Mendes and Jennifer Coolidge against type
• Nic Cage and his unexpected improvisations
• His shocking response when asked about the iguanas and their connection to lizard-related drug references from the past (If nothing else, you must check out our question and his response at around 15:30 and see if you think he’s pulling our leg or not)
• And More!

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans opens in New York and L.A. on Friday, November 20 and in other cities on December 4.