60 SECONDS WITH STUART TOWNSEND

60seconds
Townsend
Courtesy of 42West

Got a minute? Actor turned director Stuart Townsend opens up about the panic on Wall Street and Battle in Seattle, his new film, starring his long-term love, Charlize Theron, about the violent riots at the World Trade Organization's 1999 Ministerial Convention.

Q: You've acted for film, theater, and TV, and now you're directing. What do like the most?

A: With theater you don't get paid anything, but you really learn your craft. Film is amazing because you get to take a peek behind the scenes—and you make money, which is nice. And I love directing. I don't like the finance or distribution, but I love filming and editing.

Q: What made you pick this project for your directorial debut?

A: It was a very visual event, with colorful demonstrations and mass movements that escalated into riots and a state of emergency. That's very cinematic. But also, the issues the people were fighting about were very important. They've been sidelined by the war on terror and the war in Iraq, but these issues haven't gone away.

Q: Does the recent Wall Street collapse make Battle in Seattle more relevant?

A: The media pretends the financial crisis is a shock, as if it came out of nowhere. A very systematic, designed construct has fallen apart and made the rich infinitely richer. Now we have to bail them out—we have to give money to the same guys who created the problem in the first place. Where's the outrage? The outrage is in Battle in Seattle. A financial crisis hits, and most people can't connect the dots. This film's an entertaining way to connect the dots. We really get inspired when we connect to a story rather than when we're told facts or figures or preached at.

Q: Was it challenging to make a film about such a recent event?

A: Most people have forgotten about it. When I started researching it, I was blown away by what actually transpired. In ways it was easier, because we didn't have to do period costumes.

Q: Are you going to stay behind the camera for a while?

A: Hell, yeah. I have a couple of ideas I've developed. I love political films, horror, fantasy, and thrillers, but it's not about genres to me. And of course, when you're in the business, you have to ask, are you going to make any money? That certainly helps the career a little bit. Ryan Wenzel



The trailer for Battle in Seattle

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