Exclusive: Morena Baccarin on How She Saved Fast Charlie

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Pierce Brosnan sounds unrecognizable as a Mississippi mob enforcer seeking revenge against a ruthless gangster in Fast Charlie, which has the eloquent Irishman guns blazing with a Southern drawl. This latest actioner from director Phillip Noyce surprises with dark humor and breezy pacing. It also marks the final performance of acting legend James Caan. Morena Baccarin costars as Marcie Kramer, a tough taxidermist who becomes a valuable ally and more; Baccarin transforms herself almost as much as Brosnan.


Baccarin, per our interview with Noyce, came to the set a week into filming. They’d lost financing and had to replace the original actress. She was able to “hit the ground running” because “it’s such a phenomenal team.” Baccarin credits Brosnan as “a professional and phenomenal actor” who “allowed me to jump into Marcie’s skin quite quickly.” They “did a lot of work right before the film started shooting” and “were able to have quite a few conversations to figure out the character.” Baccarin praises Noyce as “a true artist” whose “passion for his work is astounding.” She further commends her director by acknowledging that it’s “really hard to shoot a film on a low budget in a place where you don’t have a ton of crew. [Phillip] just compensated for everything.”

Baccarin was firm that Marcie would not be a damsel in distress who needed rescuing. She “fought really hard for this character” to have “her own motivation.” Baccarin wanted Marcie and Charlie’s relationship “to be earned and not feel cheap.” She was “starstruck and really excited to be in a scene” with the late James Caan. He “was very frail, and you could tell suffering, but so present and excited to work.” Baccarin “can’t tell to this day if he was struggling to remember lines, or if that was part of his character. He was just that good.” Read on for our complete interview with Morena Baccarin.


Hit the Ground Running

Morena Baccarin in Fast Charlie
Vertical

MovieWeb: I interviewed director Phillip Noyce a few days back. He said you saved the film by coming on a week after they were already shooting. Talk about that experience.

Morena Baccarin: It was definitely fast. Yeah, it was unexpected. I sort of hit the ground running with this, but it’s such a phenomenal team. I knew it was in great hands. I’ve been a fan of his work forever since Rabbit-Proof Fence. And with Pierce again, it’s not that hard. He’s truly such a professional and phenomenal actor, and being in New Orleans allowed me to jump into Marcie’s skin quite quickly. We did a lot of work right before the film started shooting. We were able to have quite a few conversations, figure out the character, and you know exactly what it meant to be who she is. Everybody was excited, supportive, and we just got the work done that we needed to do, quite frankly.

MW: Marcie’s no damsel in distress. She’s not waiting to be swept off her feet or saved. She’s really tough. Phillip explained that was a little bit from the book, but you didn’t want to see her as someone who needed to be rescued.

Morena Baccarin: Yeah, the age difference, because of who he is and the story, the hitman with the woman who goes on the run with him — you can really lean into many tropes. There are a lot of pitfalls. We worked hard in giving her own motivation, her own life, her internal life. I fought really hard for this character. I thought it’d be really important for her to have a backstory that, even though it’s very subtle in the film, you see her opening a box of photos and seeing a sonogram with maybe her pregnancy she lost.

Morena Baccarin: You see her marriage certificate to a guy that turned out to be not that great of a man. You see her living in this house, isolated up on stilts by the water. All of these things help build who she is. It was something that I thought about the character early on with Phillip. She needs to have a very strong emotional life in order for the relationship between the two of them to be earned and not feel cheap.

MW: Marcie’s a taxidermist for interesting reasons. Were those really dead critters or stuffed fakes?

Morena Baccarin: No, they were real. At first I thought, is that going to be gruesome? What was that going to be like? I spoke to a couple of people and watched taxidermists work. I was really immediately taken aback by the scientific element to it. There’s a very artistic element to it, certain glues, and paints, and brushes they use to give the animal life again. I found that so beautiful and so poetic that you can restore something, but not just like a stuffed version of what it was, but actually make it look alive and in action. I thought it was quite poetic, given who Marcie was.

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MW: Pierce is one of the most handsome guys in the world. He’s famous for his Irish accent. He’s balm and all this stuff. He has a Southern drawl here. You would never realize the guy was not from New Orleans. Did he keep it up the whole time, method acting? Or was he back to being affable Irish Pierce once the cameras stopped rolling?

Morena Baccarin: He’s such an interesting man. I think it shows his craftsmanship. You can believe him after such a large body of work as this Southern guy. He didn’t stay in character in between takes, but he worked very hard. He always had his script open. He was always looking at his lines. And after a few weeks of shooting together, running lines together, and talking about the characters, we deepened our relationship and really got to know each other. It was really nice being more comfortable around each other, knowing things about his childhood, and him knowing things about my life and where I come from.

Morena Baccarin: As the movie goes on, Charlie and Marcie start to see commonalities in their lives. It’s one of the things that really brings them together, despite their age difference and despite the fact that they are on different tracks in life. I really enjoyed his craftsmanship. He’s a very serious worker, a serious actor, but he was also a very open person. I think that allowed us to work nicely together.

Brosnan’s Craftsmanship and James Caan

Pierce Brosnan Fast Charlie James Caan
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MW: Philip’s a legendary action director. He’s made a black comedy that had me laughing in the first five minutes. I wasn’t expecting the dark humor. What was he like to work with?

Morena Baccarin: Phillip is a true artist. I’ve been a fan of his work for so long as well. He is so talented. His passion for his work is astounding. He’s an older man. The energy that he brings to the project is phenomenal. He’s so on top of it in his notes. So specific to the point where I was like, wait, you want me to keep my eyes where? But it works, and you see it on screen. He’s looking at it through the lens of a director and editor. You know, somebody watching the film as a spectator.

Morena Baccarin: It was interesting watching him direct scenes and watching how he works, both technically, and then emotionally with the actors. His passion for this project was infectious. Everybody on set was working doubly hard because they could feel how meaningful this project was to him. It’s really hard to shoot a film on a low budget in a place where you don’t have a ton of crew. He just compensated for everything.

Related: Fast Charlie Review | Pierce Brosnan Sports a Southern Twang in Breezy Crime Thriller

MW: Fast Charlie was James Caan’s last film. I think you have one scene with him and the end of the film. Can you talk about working with him?

Morena Baccarin: He’s such a legend. I was very starstruck and really excited to be in a scene with him. He was very frail, and you could tell suffering a bit. He wasn’t in great health, but so present, and excited to work, and creative. I just remember thinking, this is how I want to go down. Doing what I love. You can tell he did it till the very last. He was playing this fragile character with dementia. I can’t tell to this day if he was struggling to remember lines, or if that was part of his character. He was just that good.

Fast Charlie is currently in theaters, and available to rent or purchase on demand and digitally from Vertical.

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