Vantage Point: Starring Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt

The new political thriller-actioner “Vantage Point” features an all-star cast, with each actor getting to be the star of the show for his or her segment.

Dennis Quaid

Dennis Quaid says that his characters challenges and problems helped to underscore the films central tension that is, that events are determined by ones point of view. Barnes is a guy who took a bullet for the president and this is his first day back on the job, he explains. He has a lot of trepidations about being back and its made him jumpy and quick to reacttoo quick, as it turns out, because sometimes his gut instinct is wrong. But ultimately, youre not paranoid if it turns out that youre right.

Dennis Quaid has always been the all-American hero, ever since The Right Stuff and The Big Easy, says Travis. Thats what Ive always loved about him hes quintessentially American, an old-fashioned movie star, a proper mans man. Hes tough, yet vulnerable. Thats what this part needed, a man who was torn inside. Everybody treats him as a hero, but the last thing he wants to be is a hero hes just doing his job. Dennis brought a real sensitivity to that part. And he has the kick-ass car chase, as well.

Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox plays Quaids partner, Secret Service Agent Kent Taylor. As Agent Barnes longtime confidant, Taylor is in a unique position. Dennis and Matthews story is really about brothers, in a way. These two men look out for each other. Taylor is sticking up for his mentor, who is having a tough time coming back after being shot. Everything changes when the president is shot that relationship is put under the microscope.

As a result, Travis sought an actor who could hold his own next to Quaid. Like Dennis, hes the all-American hero, Travis says. Theres a wonderful authenticity to Matthew that I really like he has a wonderful energy about him and the ability to surprise you.

Fox was excited by the projects structure. When the movie rewinds and you go back and watch what my character was doing, your whole perspective changes: Oh my God! He was actually doing something different!

Its exciting for an actor, Fox continues. Any time you get a chance to play with different aspects of your performance, playing up emotions or mannerisms, to give a scene different meanings its incredibly gratifying. In this film, thats built in its part of the story.

Fox was also glad for the chance to work especially closely with Dennis Quaid. Denniss character is more than just a mentor to mine hes like a brother, says Fox. Its an intense bond that they have. Dennis is a great actor, and to be able to explore the relationship between these two guys with him was a real thrill.

Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker, who plays an ordinary man named Howard Lewis, joined the cast early on after a meeting with Travis. Omagh was so powerful, so strong, so honest, he says. Working with him was one of the main reasons I wanted to join this film. Hes got a good soul.

Unlike the other characters, Howard Lewis is an ordinary man, says Travis. Most of us will never be the president, or a Secret Service agent, or even a news producer. Hes the everyman never been to Spain, never been that close to the president, excited to film it and take the pictures home to his kids and suddenly finds himself the little man at the center of this huge story. Hes the guy who never got picked for the football team who desperately wants to be the hero and this is his chance.

Whitaker enjoyed his chance to be in an action movie. Howard does a lot of running, he laughs. During filming, not only would I run, but Id run for blocks and blocks. Wed just keep going. It seemed like for two months, all I did was run. Everyone was making a lot of jokes about it.

William Hurt

William Hurt prepared for the role of playing the president of the United States by interviewing a man who knew about the job firsthand: President Clinton. I know his time is valuable and didnt want to waste his time, so I was very direct, Hurt says. President Clinton was extremely refreshing and honest. I asked him what it is like to have the knowledge that you represent something that a lot of people want dead. He said that if you werent ready for that before you tried to get the job, then you shouldnt even take the next step.

I also asked him about accepting the scope of responsibility that comes with the job, Hurt continues. He said, Well, its easier if you live over the store. And thats the case the president goes downstairs when he goes to work.

Keeping in mind the presidents advice, Hurt relished the opportunity to change his performance when he is portraying the president as others see him, as opposed to the part of the film that depicts the presidents point of view. When others see him, its interesting to see him walk through a mixed crowd of people, some of whom like him, some of whom dislike him, all sandwiched side-by-side, he says.

Travis admired the commitment that Hurt made to his character and portraying the role. The way Vantage Point is structured, each actor is the star of the film for fifteen minutes, he says. William Hurt showed up in Mexico, and for his first six weeks, he walked into a plaza, raised his arms, got shot, and fell backwards. That was it, over and over again, for six weeks. And he never complained once, because he knew that when we got to his story, he would be the star.

Travis was also impressed by the way Hurt plays the leader of the free world. Im not an American, but hes the kind of president that I would want to vote for, he says. Not because of his politics I dont know what his politics are and I dont particularly care but hes a decent man, hes a smart man, hes a moral man, he wants to do things for the right reason. Thats what I love about him our story pits that man with a huge moral dilemma. This is the defining moment of his presidency and his career and his future totally rest on this one decision. William portrayed that beautifully.

Travis was not alone in that regard. Towards the end of filming, we were shooting a sequence with him and the crew who were all Mexican citizens were so overwhelmed by the emotion of the scene. One of them came up to me and said, I never thought I would care about the American president that much. William Hurt makes you care about him. Its not about politics, hes just a guy you care about.

Sigourney Weaver

For Sigourney Weaver, playing TV news producer Rex Brooks was a chance to play a character whose primary interest is transporting the audience into the news. She is definitely a news junkie, says the Oscar nominee. Rex is a driven and inspired news visionary. When she finds herself at the epicenter of this attack, shes like a kid in a candy store. Shes getting the shots and painting the canvas; shes quite controlling about what goes over the airwaves.

To prepare for her role, Weaver spent time in a newsroom at a major network. While there, she witnessed the reporting of the story of the arrest of the British terror suspects who were accused of plotting to bring down airplanes with liquid explosives. It was a big breaking news day and I got to see people in a crunch, says Weaver. They were so focused, gobbling up every detail, making sure that what they sent out was appropriate and also truthful. For instance, they were very careful not to mention the elements that could be used to make a bomb.