Abel Ferrara and Ken Kelsch discuss Dangerous Game and Madonna
August 14, 2011 Interviews

Abel Ferrara and Ken Kelsch discuss Dangerous Game and Madonna

Abel Ferrara and his Director of Photography Ken Kelsch talk about their film “Dangerous Game” in an interview for Film Annex. Kelsch explains how actors Harvey Keitel, James Russo and Madonna had different acting styles and sensitivities which brought something more to the movie. Ferrara and Kelsch share their memories about their largest budget film at the time, the locations used in Los Angeles, or how they finished 2 weeks early. Then, they tell us anecdotes about how they used shootage from rehearsals, or did one-take shots. They also comment on a few scenes and how they were shot.

Here’s a transcript by Madonnarama…

Ken Kelsch: So this was our big Hollywood extravaganza and this was the one that everybody was going to say was going to change our careers… (grins)
I had no idea what kind of shit-magnet that Madonna was going to get critically. I actually think she did a pretty good job. I think it’s the best acting she’ll ever do in a movie and I thought it was an interesting combination with (James) Russo, (Harvey) Keitel and Madonna.
All very different sensibilities, acting styles, if you have a style…
Keitel was a guy who was much more comfortable in the extemporaneous, let’s not go to the danger of the dialog, school of thought. Russo and Madonna had all of their stuff memorized. I knew, everyone knew, except for these two guys, that none of that dialog would ever make it to the movie…

I think that Madonna… Her girlfriend Ingrid was a constant compagnion on the set. That was interesting. Russo… I don’t know if he… he wasn’t married.

Abel Ferrara: No he wasn’t married at that time. Madonna kept trying to set him up with her girlfriends. Madonna would send him to have dinner and then she’d be screaming at him the next day: “What’s the matter, you didn’t fuck my girlfriend. You just ate, watched tv and went home.” She’d say this in front of a hundred people.

It started off as a 2 million dollar movie, because she had a moment of being so wide as a film person before this movie with her and William DaFoe came out. She had a number one book and a number one record. She wanted to work with us, because she saw “Bad Lieutenant,” until she started working with us.

Ken Kelsch: To be truthful, I think that her moment of this association with the film came that day when [Antony] Redman had wheedled down the four and half hour original assembly into the two and half hour rough cut. That’s was when she screamed at Redman “You ruined my movie.”
She didn’t ruin the movie. Actually, to tell you the truth, this movie got critically trashed, but that was because of her.
I have had more people tell me how great this movie really is and more people, directors, actually related to this film than any other film. I’ve met commercial directors that have told me they watched this movie 7 times.

[Rehearsal footage is showing...]

Abel Ferrara: Here’s where Madonna was great. We were shooting this with video cameras two months before we..
Ken Kelsch: Yeah, I shot this. We shot a lot of rehearsals.
Abel Ferrara: She had no idea we would ever use this footage. Look at her, she’s totally on it, she’s totally cool. She didn’t know the camera was on. She’s alive. This chick is really alive.

[Fighting scene between Russo and his character's drug dealer/girlfriend...]

Ken Kelsch: Well, he cracked Madonna a really good one too. He said “I don’t know if she can act, but she sure can take a punch.”

Ken Kelsch: This is the artfilm within the artfilm.
I started my reel with this shot with her yelling at me. She’s cursing me out. She said “I’m not getting my picture taking by Richard Avedon.”
Abel Ferrara: All he said was “If you’re there, you might put your head a litte bit higher.” What a thing to fucking ask?
Ken Kelsch: I know, that you actually want to be on camera. Most actors would like to be captured. She never ended up in the same place twice.

Abel Ferrara: She’s a big director now
Ken Kelsch: Oh yeah.
Abel Ferrara: We’re good friends with her publicist.
Ken Kelsch: Are we friends with Guy Ritchie now too or what?
Abel Ferrara: I liked his movie, the one where… he’s a Gypsie and he fights… Snatch.
Ken Kelsch: He makes the same movie everytime.
Abel Ferrara: Until he met her, then he remade Swept Away.

Watch the full video here

A few scenes from “Dangerous Games”…