I had the good fortune to attend the red carpet premiere of Bottle Shock at the Napa Valley winery where the movie's true story takes place (I know, it's a tough job but someone has to do it). Before they screened the movie, which is about the emergence of Napa as a legitimate winemaking region, I got the chance to chat with some of the movie's stars.
First up, the venerable Alan Rickman with whom I'm slightly obsessed. Surely you know who he is, but have you ever perused the man's IMDB page? It's stunning. He has worked with everyone in everything from the Harry Potter movies to Kevin Smith's Dogma. When I met Alan, I found him to be. . . kind of sassy actually. But in a British way.
I also chatted with Bill Pullman who plays a grumpy guy in Bottle Shock. It's some great acting on his part because he is warm and generous in person, and was as excited as anyone else to be in gorgeous Napa Valley.
To see what I discussed with these two veteran actors of the silver screen,
Buzz: When you were introduced to your character, did you think of him as a wine snob?
Alan Rickman: You can't judge any characters that you play — so to say the word "snob" is to judge him. I simply think he believes he knows what it is he's talking about.
Buzz: When your character arrives in Napa the winemakers are pretty skeptical of him. Do you think he was expecting that?
Alan Rickman: Well, you know the English go where no man dares tread, creating empires and such. . . hack their way into other peoples' lives whether they want them there or not.
Buzz: Did you know much about wine before working on this movie? Did they put you in a wine boot camp or anything?
Alan Rickman: No, but I think I've been in a wine boot camp for the last 25 years.
Buzz: Your character wants so badly to make good wine so that he doesn't have to go back to his nine-to-five job in the city. It kind of reminded me of someone wanting to make it as an actor — did you relate to him in that way?
Bill Pullman: I remember when I was in New York starting out, I got my first paying gig at a regional theater and came back and had to work at a bank. I handed coasters to people that started new accounts. I remember feeling like, "Oh man, I don’t know if I can come back to this." The management determined I had potential! That was just the first week I felt like that, though. I realized there’s another role, so I can hand out these coasters. But yeah when Jim puts on the suit and tie, sucking up to people, it's painful isn't it? It's different, you know, when you're alone out in the field, you don’t have that pettiness.
Buzz: Do you prefer the country yourself?
Bill Pullman: My brother and I have a ranch in Montana. I’m there quite a bit. I was there this past week with the lightning all around, I was alone trying to fix a sprinkler head and I was covered in water, and the lightning was all around and I thought, "I could go this way! It would be good to go this way!" It’s beautiful, it’s wet. . .you know?
Buzz: You don't seem at all as cranky as your character Jim!
Bill Pullman: Two of my kids will see the movie; I, too, have this idea that I have to carry everything to make it happen. I can’t really rely on weak people around me, so I'm not going to be touchy-feely for you — I sometimes have had that as a dad. I can’t wait to have them see this movie because they’ll say, "That is scary! You owned up to that, Dad!"