Tribute's Bonnie Laufer talks to Andy Garcia about playing the heavy in the star-studded heist flick, Ocean's Eleven.


Q: Personally, I think that you had the toughest job in Ocean's Eleven because you had to be so serious. Are casino owners really like this? What was it like playing this character?
A: It was a lot of fun. The bad guys are fun characters to play, especially when you are empowered with the dynamics of who this person is in the context of our story. He's the owner of all this wealth and power. He's known to be ruthless at times and that for me was quite a challenge. There are lot of questions you can ask about what makes him tick. How did he get to where he is? What kind of person is he? What kind of person is he behind closed doors? How does he get dressed in the morning? How obsessive he is about everything. There was a lot to think about with this guy, Benedict. It's a lot of fun to create a character with so many dimensions.

Q: He was very complex. Here he is the owner of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas. I'd say he'd have a lot on his mind.
A: Sure, and it was not just a question of words. It's just a question that when you step out of a room in that character, it's challenging to get to that point that when you step out and this is your casino, you feel like you own the part.

Q: He is put in a predicament, because the character that you play is very much on his own against these eleven con men. Did you feel this kind of separation on the set to stay in character, or was the comraderie okay between all of you despite that?
A: Oh, it was very good. We all got along so well. If you own your part and are ready to go you don't have to worry. You just go to work, it takes a few seconds to focus and away you go. But no, the comraderie was there. There was never an instance when anyone said he's the bad guy, let's not talk to him. There's no need for that. I think in the craft of acting, the more respect and love that there is amongst the players in the ensemble, the closer that you are to someone, the more supportive you are, thus the deeper you can go in the antagonism. It's all layered with respect and the first thing that they teach you as an acting student is trust. They stand you up and say fall backwards and hope that someone is going to catch you and that's basically where it all stems from. If you know that there is love and respect between two people, then in the course of a scene you can really push each others buttons. Then, when the scene is over, you pat each other on the back. It's all good.

Q: How did you enjoy shooting in Vegas? Was it at all distracting for any of you to be there?
A: No, not for me. Hey, those were my casinos so it empowered me. Actually though, I am not a gambler. I played a little black jack but that was about it. I had my family with me so when I wasn't shooting I spent most of my time with them.

Q: Did you model Benedict after anyone? Was there any one casino owner that you looked at to put into this character?
A: No. Well, obviously Steve Wynn is someone who actually who fits the description of an owner who owns three casinos, or did at one time. I don't consider Steve Wynn like my character in terms of personality, so I did not model Benedict after him although I did use him for some research about casino owners in general. The character was on the page, so between the script and imagination I came up with the guy.

Q: Why does everyone want to work with Steven Soderbergh? What makes him so unique as a director?
A: Well, first of all he is very giving and very collaborative. I think that he also has a consummate knowledge of film. He has a very special point of view as an artist and a filmmaker and that's really what makes him so unique.

Q: You have your own production company now with a number of films set to come out. One of them, The Man From Elysian Fields, premiered recently at the Toronto Film Festival starring Mick Jagger. How did you like working with him?
A: It was fantastic. He is the man! We got a long very well and he's very funny in the movie, people just won't believe it. My claim to fame is going to be being Mick Jagger's straight man!!!