Marc Blucas Talks About "First Daughter"

Marc Blucas and Katie Holmes photo from First Daughter
Marc Blucas and Katie Holmes in "First Daughter". © 20th Century Fox

Two teen TV veterans, Marc Blucas ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and Katie Holmes ("Dawson's Creek"), star in the romantic comedy First Daughter, directed by Forest Whitaker. Holmes plays the college-aged daughter of the President of the United States who wants nothing more than to lead a normal life on campus, away from the happenings in the White House. Blucas co-stars as the guy Holmes falls for before discovering things arent quite what they appear to be on the surface.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is over however loyal fans are still interested in whats going on with actor Marc Blucas, Buffy's one-time love interest, Riley Finn. It seems that no matter how many years have passed since he co-starred on the cult series, the subject of Buffy invariably comes up, no matter what project hes actually promoting. In this interview, Blucas talks about working with Katie Holmes and Forest Whitaker on First Daughter, and, of course, the continued support of Buffy fanatics.

INTERVIEW WITH MARC BLUCAS (James):

Whats the story behind being cast in this film?
What happened was, all of this I learned after the fact of course, he could have saved me a lot of stress and agony by not putting me through the audition process. I was outside. I was going to the meeting and Forest (Whitaker) was going to the meeting as well, and I parked my truck and he was about 20 feet away. We had never met before. I said, Hey, Forest. Im Marc. Ill be in in a little bit. And he kind of stopped and looked at me for a beat or two too long, and Im like, I was just judged right there. And he went in. Probably three or four months after we wrapped, the casting director said he just walked into the room and said, I just met my guy right in the parking lot. So, yeah, he could have saved me a lot of anguish, some stress going in there.

It probably wasnt his decision alone though.
Right. And obviously, I think it was at the point where they had narrowed it to seven or eight guys at that point. I think he wanted to see people with Katie [Holmes] because chemistry really isnt something you can just wish to happen. I think it either does or it doesnt.

Did you read with her?
Yeah, which kind of shows her commitment and her professionalism. That was something she probably didnt have to be at, at that point. She wanted every guy in there to have a fair shake, and it was very easy. I think we found a cadence. I think ease is really the best word. We just found a very easy way of being with one another.

Had you met her before?
Socially, one time. But it was brief. I think it was when she was with Chris (Klein) at something.

Were you a fan of Dawsons Creek at all?
I dont have satellite or cable. I dont really even watch television, so I cant really say I was a die hard [fan]. But I could say that about my own show (Buffy) at that time, too. So, its not any slight to that.

Were at all aware of the other First Daughter movie being made around the same time?
(Teasing) I have no idea what youre talking about. Yeah. All along, as an actor trying to find work in town, I knew about both of them. I knew, I guess rightfully so, it was a race to see who comes first. But that happens a lot in town. Theres a concept out there and suddenly all of a sudden theres three of the same things out there. And I think that, we forget that when Big came out there were two other movies very similar to that that we really dont remember, and it was kind of a race to see which one came out first then.

Obviously, as an actor, we have no control. We dont weigh in on the decisions the studios make, but I would like to think that they saw some of their footage and said, Hey, were going to give the filmmaker as much time as he needs to finish out his vision, to make the movie he wants because we think we have something special and it doesnt matter when it comes out. We dont feel like we need to feel the pressure of going first. But, I dont know what the decision process was there.

Did you practice much for the dancing in the movie?
It was so hard to get onto two and four instead of one and three. It was the gown I was most worried about, this Vera Wang gown. I was like, I gotta stay away from this thing. But Katie had some ballet training growing up so shes kind of been around it, so I took her lead a couple of times. Our dance coach, I think she choreographed Dirty Dancing. She has some impressive credits to her resume and I dont think anybodys going to be calling us Fred and Ginger anytime soon. But hey, the spoils of an actor, you get the opportunity to learn a skill that you normally wouldnt learn or have access to or have time to go learn.

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How was working with Forest Whitaker?

Did you do any Secret Service research?
We did have a Secret Service kind of a tech advisor with us on the set and it was great to kind of do what you guys do; pick their brain for a while and try to get more and more and more. But, it gets to a certain point with those guys where theyre like, I cant tell you that, and they pull the classified card on you. But its real and youre like, Thats so cool. I want to be able to do that!

What was fascinating for me was I kind of fell into the trap of the clichés. We look at those guys as the grunt work. Theyre the guys with the sunglasses and the guns and they jump in front of the bullet and you dont realize the intellectual, psychological approach. They are constantly thinking. They are always on their toes in terms of is this a threat? Theyre looking at the worse cast scenario all the time. Is this a threat? Is someone coming through this door? If they come through here, is that the best way to go or is that just a decoy to get us to go that way? These guys are always thinking in that capacity, and I never really looked at these guys as the brains behind the operation. You just kind of look at them as the grunt work. So, it was pretty fascinating to look at it from that side of it. Id keep pushing these guys for more detailed information on a story and theyre like, I cant tell you anymore.

Did you learn any physical tricks of the trade?
Not really. I didnt have to. Its not like I was handling a weapon or anything like that. That really wasnt this movie. There were interesting things they would come up with like youll never see a Secret Service guy with his jacket buttoned because they need to be able to get at their gun and their radio. I thought that was interesting. [Spoiler deleted] Just little things like that that you find out. It was interesting information to get.

Did they ever tell you what might happen to them if they fell for the person they were assigned to protect?
Nothing like what happened in the movie. Thats obviously a fine line that Forest had to walk. For me, the best thing that [the Secret Service advisor] did for me, his name was Marc, I said, Hey, in a situation like this there would be a ton more Secret Service people around. But giving us the Hollywood license, I asked him to walk down the Santa Monica Promenade with me as if he were protecting me but I didnt know it, the exact situation that happens in the movie. In a public situation, I dont know that youre guarding me. I just wanted to see where he stood in relation to other people, in front of me or behind me. How much he actually looked around without trying to tip your hat and give those things away. Those were interesting observations for me to make because Forest and I had those discussions. How much do you want to give away versus… Its nothing we ever butt heads about. Forest and I didnt disagree, but he didnt want to tip his hat at all to this.

But I said, Well, I think there have to be some moments where you see him want to tell her because hes actively deceiving her.

If you look at the movie a second time, if you dont see that there are times when he wants to come clean with something, then hes not a likable guy. Hes being deceitful on purpose. I think this character wants to come clean and wants to tell the truth and then something happens that he cant. Hes about to tell her and then goes in another direction until it gets to that moment when its revealed, he never got to say it.

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Is there someone in your life you feel you would take a bullet for?

Didnt you have to tote Katie around a lot up and down stairs? How did that go?
What comes together as a 10 second clip in the movie was four different nights of shooting because they were different locations: the stairway, inside the bar, down the street, in her dorm room. The walk and talk, all the dialogue was one take. Walking the full block was miserable on both of us because her stomach was killing her because shed be dead weight on my shoulder. She cant breathe and [she was] bouncing up and down. The scene calls for the pace to be quick. Hes getting her out of there and hes angry at what shes doing, jealous and all these other things, and so to do that 24 or 25 times has got to be…you know. I think we faked it well, but I dont know how much we liked each other at the end of the night. I was looking at her like, What are you having for lunch because it had better not be much.

Speaking of working out, do you still play basketball a lot?
Occasionally. I try not to when Im shooting because Im the kind of guy that will walk in the next day and show Forest my eight stitches above my eye and that wont go over well. Its hard for me to turn off the competitive juices. They somehow creep back up when theres two minutes left in a game and Ive been good all game and all of a sudden something happens.

Do you play in a league?
Yeah, actually the NBA runs a league, the NBA Entertainment League, which is for people in front of the camera or behind the music, anything in the industry. It gives us all a chance to live our dreams of being a professional athlete. Everyone in this town, with their ego, thinks theyre Michael Jordan anyway. But its on the clock. We wear NBA uniforms. Its officiated. Its really well-run. It is fun.

Are you competitive about acting also?
[Pointing to bottled water on the table] Ill race you to see how fast you can drink that bottle of water. Im pretty much competitive about anything. By nature, its a competitive business but Ive also been that guy, Ill walk out of an audition and see the six guys waiting and say, Hey, we didnt do the second scene. Its only the first and the third. I dont wish bad will on anyone. Were all after the same thing and whatever happens, happens. If they like what I did in the room and my energy and my thing, then thats great. But Im not going to intentionally sabotage anyone - or at least I havent yet.

Is it a different experience to do a film like this that is supposed to me more commercial than some of your other work?
I dont know if its a different discipline. Certainly it was a different genre from what Ive done lately. But, I dont think I had to come about it a different way. The minute you find yourself thinking, Oh, this is maybe a big mainstream studio movie, then that defeats the creative purpose and kind of what drew you to the movie in the first place.

Do you find yourself fighting that sort of Boy Scout typecast or is that gone?
Fightings not the right word, I dont think. I think that Im realistic in how Im going to be cast. I know the right things and, on the same token, I didnt think Id get a movie like Prey for Rock and Roll where I got to play the drinking, smoking, tattooed, ex-con. But, the truth is, Im not always cast like that. So any actor is going to sit here and tell you that, Hey, its nice to be cast outside the box and do experimental things and things that you normally wouldnt be thought of for right off the bat. At the same time, regardless of the level of where actors are, you have to deliver how they want to see you, I guess. We want to see Julia Roberts be Julia Roberts. So you have to deliver that.

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What is next for you?

Where is home?
A small town in Pennsylvania. Thats next. Its nice. You work really hard to reach certain plateaus as an actor and so its nice for me to finally to get to that place to be picky. Its very lucky.

What are you looking for?
Im not reinventing the wheel to say its nice to do different things all the time so in the past couple of years, Ive done a couple of period pieces, Ive done real life stories, We Were Soldiers and The Alamo, and the war pieces and ensemble pieces and general romantic comedy so, next, Im not going to make my target small than it already is by saying, Oh, I know I want this. If I read something and it doesnt hit me in my head, my heart and my stomach, if it doesnt hit me in the right places, then Im in a position now where I dont have to do it, which is a nice, lucky place to be. Its nice to say, Whatever job I do next, its for the right reasons.

What if a director you really admire offered you a movie that shoots in December?
I hope it happens. It would be a nice bridge to have to cross but, in general, the business kind of shuts down during Thanksgiving and Christmas time. Theres not much that shoots because no production wants to shut down for two weeks. You lose your momentum. But, sure, if it was the right thing. I love what I do and Im the guy that would like to wrap and go right to work the next day on something else. If it were the right thing, one way or another youll find time for family and make them both happen.

Do you still get the Buffy fans?
Sure. And, hopefully that will never be over. It was so great to be part of a big hit show with such a loyal fan base that has a huge, cult, loyal following. I dont think that will ever go away. You might talk to some of your friends and say, Yeah, I saw Friends last night but I didnt see it three weeks before that. It was do or die with Buffy. You either didnt watch it or it was every week and you didnt answer the phone, you didnt go to the bathroom, you dont miss it. So, yeah, it was fun to be part of a show that has that kind of fan base.

Have you found it easy to balance your craft doing commercial films?
I guess yes and no. Sometimes it is. The lesson you learn your first year of college is time management. It has nothing to do with the curriculum, its like youre forced to do those things. At the same time, doing the bigger studio movies, I still look at that as the craft. Its a credit to Forest because this could have very much been a movie where the classic formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back, and he made sure that every character had their own set of obstacles that they were trying to overcome. Here was a guy that was leaving college and wondering [if] he is on the right path. Is he doing the right thing? And this is a very relatable idea. These are things weve all been through. Am I doing the right thing in life? And, for her character, someone who is away from home for the first time and is falling in love for the first time and who she is and what she does obviously complicates those things, but it takes these two people to get together to learn from each other and it happens to be romantic in the case of the movie, but to see each other through and help deflect each other on the right path.

Weve all experienced those moments in relationships in life, romantic or otherwise, where weve met someone and said, That was a meaningful thing. They kind of pushed me in this direction and it was a necessary thing to have happen at that time. I think thats what these characters do for each other in the movie.

Are you romantic?
Sometimes. Certainly not when Im with a wrench underneath my car but Im not opposed to lighting a candle and cooking dinner either so…