|ABC Good Morning America - Ronin Interview
September 22, 1998
LISA McREE: Who can you trust these days? That's a question posed in the new thriller
"Ronin" which stars, among many others, Robert DeNiro. The movie follows an
international band of ex-covert operators hired to steal a suitcase. They don't know each
other or even who hired them... Joining us now, three members of "Ronin's" large
international cast, Natascha McElhone, Jean Reno and Stellan Skarsgård. Thank you so much
for being with us. All right, you're really British, but in the movie you are.
LISA: All right, we know you're from Paris, Jean, and you're a French guy. And you're
really Swedish, but you're East German and angry.
STELLAN: East German and angry. Or sad.
LISA: Or sad. All right. What is the meaning of the word "Ronin"? I didn't
know until I went to the movie what it was.
STELLAN: It's a Japanese word for a samurai without a master. And we are sort of -
we're ex-spies that are out of work after the Wall came down. So we're kind of modern day
LISA: Trenchcoats without a country.
STELLAN: Trenchcoats without a country. Exactly.
LISA: And I have to ask you, Jean, what is in the suitcase? You aren't going to tell
us, are you?
LISA: Sandwiches in the suitcase. You spent a lot of time going after those sandwiches.
What was it like to work with John Frankenheimer?
JEAN: Oh, a young guy. Open minded.
LISA: Let you do what you wanted?
JEAN: Yeah. Sometimes. But full of experience, also.
LISA: Who had more power on the set, Robert DeNiro or John Frankenheimer?
JEAN: The story.
LISA: The story?
JEAN: Yeah, the movie.
LISA: Describe for us what the movie - what the plot is.
JEAN: We have to find the case. She hired us. We're all pros in different ways -
computers, guns, cars. We don't know what's in the case. We have kind of a discipline
between us. We're doing that for money. But in the middle of the story you find heart,
LISA: In a way you did this in "Mission: Impossible." You got together with a
bunch of guys, you all were experts in different...
JEAN: But I was a traitor. And this one I'm a good guy.
LISA: And you're a good guy. And you are the big boss. What was it like to be the big
boss on this thing?
NATASCHA: It was -- it was hard.
LISA: Was it?
NATASCHA: Yeah. For the first few weeks. And then I sort of rapidly, you know, lose my
control anyway. So that was quite fitting.
LISA: You look pretty tough. Did you actually have to learn how to shoot these guns and
drive these cars?
NATASCHA: Yeah. We all went, you know, to a shooting range and learned how to handle
guns. All these guys knew how to do it from before.
LISA: They've been in Hollywood longer than you have, so they can all handle guns by
now. Now, look at this. I think this is driving through Nice, isn't it? I've been to some
of these places, and the roads are literally as wide as the sidewalk. They had stunt
people driving those cars, yes?
LISA: Did they close the whole city? How did they do that that allows them to do this sort
JEAN: Almost entire sections, you know.
LISA: Whole sections of the old city. And Natascha, you're driving in one scene through
the wrong way on a highway in Paris. I think anybody -- to drive in France, you have to be
brave anyway, but to drive the wrong way on a highway. Did you actually learn how to stunt
NATASCHA: I learned a little bit. But obviously driving against the traffic was fun.
That was a Formula One driver, actually. And also all the guys coming the other way were
stunt men. So they choreographed it for days before we ended up shooting it.
NATASCHA: We were all in the cars the whole time. So that was pretty hairy.
LISA: You were in the car the whole time. NATASCHA MCELHONE: Yeah, it is a fake
steering wheel and I was miming whatever my stunt driver was doing or whatever my Formula
One driver was doing.
JEAN: She was very happy about that.
NATASCHA: I loved it.
LISA: Did you really?
NATASCHA: Yeah, absolutely.
LISA: You guys didn't like it?
STELLAN: We were scared. But she loved it.
JEAN: We were scared, but she was very happy. LISA McREE: It's important to have, you
know, a woman in charge there. You know, to see you now in this movie after seeing you in
"Good Will Hunting," a real change of pace for you. Which do you like more,
action or the more thoughtful?
STELLAN: Well, I want to do both.
LISA: Yeah. I've always tried to do different things to keep the interest up. Well, the
movie is "Ronin,". it opens this weekend. Thanks for being with us. Good luck.
Stay out of cars.