I recently chatted with former NFL super star Simeon
Rice about his journey into directing and his debut project, UNSULLIED.
In theaters August 28th 2015
This should be an exciting time. Your first full-length feature film
is a really taut thriller. I watched it and it had all the elements that
I think need to be in a film like this. You had a bad guy that you can't
stand and this really strong female character who has to take matters
into her own hands. There are many directions you could have gone, as
a first film, what drew you to this genre?
Really, what drew me to this film,
let me be straight, was watching NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. It really created
a platform of anxiety. I was like, "Wow, I could watch hours of this level
of anxiety." It left me at the edge of my seat. The Coen Brothers did
a masterful job at creating that, and I said if I do a movie, I want to
do a movie like that, that creates that type of tone.
I'm very intrigued by, and I think a lot of people should know, the
fact that here you are, you had this great career playing professional
football, you could've just gone into the film industry and said, "I'm
Simeon Rice, dude. Let me make a film." But you went to film school. You
actually paid some dues there and went to learn the art of filmmaking.
Right, I was with CAA. Tom Condon was my agent. Had the biggest PR firm
in the country, Rogers and Cowan. So many people were giving advice. 'You
don't have to go to film school while you're doing that'. 'You can just
walk right in and start making films', and this and that, I said just
because you have that privilege doesn't mean you have that right. The
right comes from hard work.
might be privileged to do those things, but that's entitlement. I didn't
earn that. I was never taken serious.
If I go
in there and get educated and learn the business, you can lie to me, but
it's going to be hard to, because I can shred it with the truth. I can
look at it from a discerning standpoint, and I'm like, "Why not? Why not
get educated? Why not find structure?" I found the structure in school
and I put my backbone in it. I loved it. It wasn't a harmful process.
It was a learning process with a bunch of other people who were learning
Anybody who ever started out with anything in America, you start out in
school. Whatever we ever learn, we learn from our basic principles. I
wanted to learn from these basic principles without it being a hindrance
to me, without having to lose a lot more money than I was doing because
I was trying to just jump in. Because I had the privilege to do it. But
I didn't have the right to be there.
I'm not going to try to circumvent the process. I'm going to submit myself
to the process, and in that submission, I'm going to find the truth. In
that submission, I'm going to plant the seeds that's going to be able
to birth a filmmaker, a real filmmaker, a knowledgeable filmmaker, a discerning
filmmaker. A paradigm shift is going to happen. People are going
to be forced to see what I can do, and they're going to shake their heads
"Oh, why didn't he do a football movie?"
and understanding. Not dumbing down to understand, but elevating to understand,
"Wow, you're more than what we thought. There's more to you than what
we thought." The root of it was always there. I'm just tapping into it
who we see ourselves as. Not how other people see us as. We bear fruit
from what's inside of us.
How much mentoring did you give to your leading lady, Murray Gray?
Because you put her through the ringer, man.
She is a trooper, Matt. I did. She went through it all. She is a wonderful
actress. She was up for it, but it was intense. She had to go from crying,
happy, to melancholy, to excited, to angry, to strong. There's so many
different acting points that she had to get into, and keep in mind, this
is a young lady who has never done a movie before. However, she just had
the acting chops. She is a wonderful actress. She is really every bit
of the character, and she really took the character to heavenly heights.
She evolved in her role and she evolved the character along the way. It
was a beautiful story in there.
This might be a hard question, just to wrap
our little conversation up. What to you would be the pinnacle of success
in your film career as, say, the Superbowl was to your past life? What
would be the pinnacle for you personally?
That is a good question. When I'd be able to create that film that resonates
with people as one of the greatest films they ever saw. I want to entertain
people with films and with strong stories, and be able to inspire a generation
by my film; to change the way you look at film.
to look at black people different, Asian people different. Everyone has
a story. If through our film no more do we have these typical ways that
we look at people, because now we can cast people based upon story, based
upon who fits, based upon those types of things as opposed to being limited
to a perspective of what people are; If I do that I think I will have
done my job to an extent.