Opening in theaters in limited release on January 5th before being available to buy on digital January 9th is the new action thriller ‘The Painter,’ which was directed by former stunt coordinator Kimani Ray Smith and stars Charlie Weber (‘As They Made Us,’ ‘How to Get Away with Murder’), Madison Baily (‘Outer Banks’) and Oscar winner Jon Voight (‘Heat,’ ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Transformers’).

Jon Voight as Byrne in 'The Painter.'

Jon Voight as Byrne in 'The Painter.' Photo: Republic Pictures.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Academy Award winner Jon Voight about his work on ‘The Painter,’ why he wanted to be part of the project, his approach to his character, working with Charlie Weber and Madison Baily, and collaborating with director Kimani Ray Smith on set, as well as looking back at his work on Michael Mann’s modern classic ‘Heat’ and the possibility of him appearing in the upcoming sequel.

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interviews with both Voight and Charlie Weber.

Jon Voight stars in 'The Painter.'

Jon Voight stars in 'The Painter.'

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about your first reaction to the screenplay and specifically what you are looking for when you are choosing projects?

Jon Voight: Well, I must consider that this is what I look like now. I've gotten older, and so I'm limited in some way to those characters, but they usually give me something that has some gravitas. They think that that's what I am. It depends on the character for me. But the thing that I look for is a good story, a good tale, a beginning, middle, and end that I think is fun for people to go through. So, they have something at the end of the piece that they feel they've spent their time wisely and they've been thrilled or excited or moved or whatever it is during it. So that's the number one. It was a good tale and very interesting with its twists and turns, and it gives the audiences a lot of fun, I think, in the process, and that's why I did it.

MF: How would you describe your character, Byrne, and your approach to playing him?

JV: Well, he's a guy who was a very high up in the CIA and has kind of retired as we see him. But during his time, he kind of adopted a kid who went through a very dangerous time, and he raised him. That's the role of the Painter. “The Painter” has two meanings in this piece. One is as a painter because his pastime is painting, and he tries to get away from the dangers of the CIA aspect of his life. Then on the other hand, he is an artist around actual violence and all of that. So, he's an amazing master of his talent and grade. So, we want him to get back into it because we know he's okay. If he's so great, let's see. We see it and we see how amazing he is. Charlie did a great job with it. Just an amazing job.

Charlie Weber as Peter in 'The Painter.'

Charlie Weber as Peter in 'The Painter.' Photo: Republic Pictures.

MF: What was your experience like working with Charlie Weber?

JV: Well, Charlie and I, we got to know each other during this piece. I didn't know Charlie before that. Of course, Charlie's a very affable good guy and very talented. The guys who have these series, they're real pros. Anyone who's in a series for a long time and develops a character that audiences like, they're real. So, I knew he was going to be professional and gifted, and all of that. Then I didn't know whether he'd be able to fulfill the demands of the action because you don't know that. You don't know how athletic somebody is, and he's extraordinarily athletic. He really is wonderful. So, working with Kimani, who was the director and was a stunt coordinator, they came up with some amazing stuff and very detailed and difficult stuff, and he was great at that. He learned it down to every detail. That's of course, very important because if you miss a movement in a series of movements and people are throwing punches at you and different kinds of things, you're supposed to respond to certain things, and boy, you can get hurt. So, you must be very good at that, and he just happens to be very good at that.

MF: Can you talk about the complex relationship your two characters have together and creating that with Charlie?

JV: Well, that came very naturally to us. For whatever reason, he had a great respect for me, and I had an affection for him. So, we kind of fell into that. That's what happens in a film. You read the script and you're preparing yourself, and then you meet the other character and you're naturally falling into that relationship. You're pressing those buttons. So, it wasn't difficult for me to believe the things we had to go through together.

Madison Bailey as Sophia in 'The Painter.'

Madison Bailey as Sophia in 'The Painter.' Photo: Republic Pictures.

MF: Did you have a similar experience working with Madison Bailey?

JV: Well, I had heard a lot about Madison, all very positive, glowing reports of her talent and her person. When I met her, that's what I felt immediately, and that's what I was primed to feel too. But she's very impressive. I really liked working with Madison very much. She's very real and she has a maturity about her as a person. She's still young and fresh, but she's got a maturity in her artistry. She's real. She's the real deal.

MF: At this point in your career, do you enjoy having a chance to meet and work with a new generation of actors?

JV: Yeah, wonderful, of course it is. But I identify with them. I understand what they're going through. I've been there. When I started out, I remember vividly every step of the way, and I can see where they are. I'm always impressed. I think everybody's got something, everybody. In this area, you must have certain kinds of things that make you right for this. Then certain things that make you right for a specific character. Casting is everything, really. When you see somebody like Madison, she has a natural charm. She's intelligent, and she's got that dramatic understanding. She's the real deal. So, you look, and it doesn't take you five seconds to see what she's all about. I was very happy to work with her, and she's really nice. What a nice gal she is.

Charlie Weber as Peter and Jon Voight as Byrne in 'The Painter.'

(L to R) Charlie Weber as Peter and Jon Voight as Byrne in 'The Painter.' Photo: Republic Pictures.

MF: What was it like collaborating with former stunt coordinator Kimani Ray Smith on an action movie like this, and in general, what are you looking for from a director when working on set?

JV: Every director that I've worked with is very different, one from the other, but they all must have the same kind of talent, just like actors do. Kimani is a very affable guy, nice fellow, down to earth, good guy, smart, used to leadership because he's a stunt coordinator and people do what he tells them to do. He must come up with things. He's imaginative, and he's creative. Stephen Paul, who produced this film, and when I say produced, he produced almost every aspect of it. He said to me, he said, "John, Kimani has a gift for story. He understands story." So not only does he understand the moment of the stunt that he's in, and you must understand a lot to understand stunts, and you must protect these guys in some way, too. Then you must do something creative that nobody has done yet. So, you're putting somebody in danger right way. Also, if he has a story sense, that's another energy. That means he's capable of directing. I’ve found that to be true. He understands the story, where it's going, and especially in this case where there's a lot of different little elements to the story. The control of it is in the director's hands. He's telling a story that's very complex, and what you see on the screen is not necessarily what is going to appear to you several scenes later. So, he's got to orchestrate this whole thing. He was very good at it. He turned out to be terrific.

Al Pacino as Lieutenant Vincent Hanna and Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley in 'Heat.'

(L to R) Al Pacino as Lieutenant Vincent Hanna and Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley in 'Heat.' Photo: Warner Bros.

MF: Finally, you appeared in one of the most beloved movies of all time, Michael Mann’s ‘Heat.’ Last year Mann published a novel that was both a sequel and a prequel to the original film and has talked about adapting it into a movie with Adam Driver playing a younger version of Robert De Niro’s character in flashbacks and even possibly having Al Pacino return. Since your character is one of the few that survived the original, I’m curious if you are aware of the novel and if you have had any discussions with Mann about possibly returning for ‘Heat 2?’

JV: I really enjoyed working on that film, and Michael and I had become friends prior. I've only done two films with Michael. I did ‘Heat’ and then I did ‘Ali’ and I played Howard Cosell. After he'd worked with me on ‘Heat,’ he called me up for Howard Cosell. That was like a crazy idea, but it turned out to be a very brilliant idea. I was the right person for that role. But anyway, I enjoy Michael. He's a completely original guy, very demanding, and very brilliant. So, he asked me to do ‘Heat,’ and I said to him, "I read the script, and you can go down to the barrio and you can pick up a guy who's the real guy and he'll be terrific in this role," because the role, it needed a presence. That's mainly what it needed. There weren’t any tricks to it. You just had to have that. He said to me, "Well, John, if I do that, then I wouldn't get a chance to work with you." Wow, well, you got to accept that kind of love and where that's coming. But anyway, I said, "I'm going to have to change myself entirely to be this character." He said, "Yeah, we'll do it." He was great with me, and I did. I found a person named Kenny Diaz, who was from the barrio. Not that my character's from the barrio, but he was a roughneck, and Kenny came from there. He really knew this area. We worked on this stuff to give my face some character. I've got some padding, and I worked very hard on the character. I think when I finally did it, I think I did achieve what was required and what I set out to do. I was very pleased with it. Do I know about Michael Mann's book? Yes. I looked at the book and Michael did tell me, he said, "John, we're going to do ‘Heat 2.’" I haven't heard anything recently, but I think it might be his next film, but we don't know. I don't know yet. But anyway, ‘Heat,’ it was a great film. It was a great film for people. They enjoyed that journey. The two great actors, Al and Bobby, I mean, it just worked. All the actors in that piece were special. Michael's quite brilliant at that. He casts very carefully. He's an original mind and he put together an extraordinary movie. People love that movie.

The Painter

Not Yet Rated1 hr 40 minJan 5th, 2024

What is the Plot of ‘The Painter’?

An ex-CIA operative turned painter (Charlie Weber) is thrown back into a dangerous world when a mysterious woman (Madison Bailey) from his past resurfaces. Now exposed and targeted by a relentless killer and a rogue black ops program, he must rely on skills he thought he left behind in a high-stakes game of survival.

Who is in the cast of ‘The Painter’?

Charlie Weber as Peter in 'The Painter.'

Charlie Weber as Peter in 'The Painter.' Photo: Republic Pictures.

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