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Look out for more coverage of
Speed Racer in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Speed Racer

THE STARS:
Emile Hirsch • Christina Ricci • Matthew Fox • Susan Sarandon • John Goodman • Roger Allam
DIRECTORS: Andy & Larry Wachowski

Emile Hirsch and the cars THE CONCEPT:
The Wachowski brothers (The Matrix trilogy) take on a new franchise with the live-action version of the 1960s anime series Speed Racer. Speed Racer (Hirsch) is loyal to the family business, led by his father, Pops Racer (Goodman), the designer of Speed’s car the Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative offer from Royalton Industries for him to race for them, the company’s maniacal owner, Arnold Royalton (Allam), becomes determined to see that Speed will never finish another race.

U.S. RELEASE: May 9 2008, Nationwide • Rated: PG

THE COMMENTS:

EMILE HIRSCH:
Emile Hirsch“You read the script for Speed Racer and it is so descriptive of the whole world, but you have no idea what it’s going to be like until you see it. And the way the Wachowski brothers have made the colors pop is really quite beautiful.”

CHRISTINA RICCI (Trixie):
Christina Ricci“I loved the idea of working with the Wachowskis. I’ve wanted to work with them for a while and Speed Racer was always something that people mentioned to me, saying, ‘Oh, you know they’re making Speed Racer. You’d be a good Trixie.’”

MATTHEW FOX (Racer X):
Matthew Fox“I met with the Wachowski brothers and I heard their thoughts on what they wanted to try to accomplish in the movie. They wanted to make a family film, and that really hit a chord with me, because I have kids and I haven’t done anything that I would feel comfortable for them watching. I did some research on the original source material, and I watched a bunch of episodes to get a feel for what made the series in the 1960s so catchy.”

SUSAN SARANDON (Mom Racer):
Susan Sarandon and Emile Hirsch“I’m a huge fan of the Matrix movies, so I wanted to work with the Wachowskis. I just think they are brilliant. They called me, and after a few phone calls I said, ‘I don’t even understand what you are talking about, but [I’ll do it].’ If you are going to do a big film these are the guys to do it with. If you are going to do something really cutting edge instead of some old green screen movie you should do it with the Wachowskis.”

JOHN GOODMAN on working with the green screen:
Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Emile Hirsch and Kick Gurry“It hearkened back to a time for me without a lot of money for a set, off off Broadway. When I first got into college I did a play in a church basement and there were no props, only chairs and tables. And people started paying attention to the actors and after awhile they didn’t care. So that was what it was like for me, you concentrate more on the person you are working with.”

HIRSCH:
Speed Racer car“What was really weird was doing the car scenes, because we did it on a hydraulic pump called a gimbal. All of my anger in the film is so authentic because they were just slamming me around in the simulator for hours. It was hot and there were lights on me and I couldn’t move because I was strapped in. I got literally frustrated to the point where I wanted to rip the thing apart with a bat.”

RICCI:
“I don’t think any of us could have known what was in the Wachowski brothers’ heads completely. What they have managed to create is so much bigger, much more beautiful and engaging than anything I thought was going to be up on the screen. It’s really incredible. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, so it’s kind of hard for me to explain it. I can’t wait to see other people’s reactions to it.”

FOX on wearing the mask as Racer X:
Matthew Fox as Racer X fighting off some bad guys“The first meeting that I had with Larry and Andy they warned me, saying, ‘The way we’re shooting it is going to be tough. Are you comfortable playing a role where the audience isn’t going to see your eyes for a majority of the [film]?’ I was really intrigued and challenged by it. It was an incredible experience. The wardrobe is always a really important part for me of finding my way into [the character], and when I would put the suit on and drop that helmet, man, it was just like, bam, I was right there, it was so cool.”

HIRSCH:
“A lot of the stuff in Speed Racer has never been done before, from it having a multi-tone, to it having a retro-cool family movie, to having the photo-realism with the CG backgrounds, and the way they worked with these digital cameras. It’s definitely one of the most colorful movies I’ve ever made.”

RICCI:
“I really like the fact that Trixie is the ultimate feminist character. She’s as girlie as she wants to be, but then she does everything the boys do and there’s no commentary on it, ‘Oh, it’s a girl flying a helicopter.’ I was very excited about that.”

FOX:
“My sons visited the set, and I really wanted them to see the full Racer X costume. They were sitting in this huge room with green screens everywhere, and I walked in and had the full gear on and they both did this double-take and went, ‘Daddy?’ So I just went down to them and said, ‘Yeah, it’s me, don’t worry.’ And as I walked away to do a scene, my little boy turned to my wife and goes, ‘I want to be Racer X on Halloween next year.’”

Speed Racers

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Speed Racer site
Images above © Warner Bros. Pictures
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #696, June 2008 cover

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