Sk8er Girl in Z-Boy Land

Director Catherine Hardwicke on being the Lady of Dogtown

What'stheonethingatthecoreofeachofthecharactersthatyoutriedtoget?

Stacy would be one of the most difficult ones, because Stacy still is quite guarded with his feelings. As Stecyk says, "He's more interesting than he lets you know about himself." So, I think Stacy was the person I found the most difficult, even though I've known him the longest and the most, trying to understand all the things that really make him tick.

I feel like he has this incredible amount of integrity and morality. His morality is strong. His athletic ability—he does have a lot of competitive edge that he doesn't like to admit, but I watched it, and I loved to watch it when he got that way.

Ilikethekindofinnerstrengththathischaractershowedinthemovie,eventhoughhe'skindoftheoddmanoutalittlebit.

Yeah, he didn't give it up. He didn't change, like, oh,I'msupposedtobeapirate.I'msupposedtosmokedope,or whatever, he didn't do that. He stays true to himself.

And, of course, Tony, you know. Very complex. On the surface you get just all kinds of crazy comments about Tony when you ask people about him, about how selfish and aggressive and maniacal he is. You know, how many girlfriends and how many times he leaves his friends and all that stuff, and that's on one level. And then, the charisma, the magnetism that he has. Every girl falls madly in love with Tony Alva. It's hard to resist him, even though he's an asshole and everybody knows the stories, but he still sucks them in. But it goes back, really, to the core of his father and his relationship to his father. He and his sister started talking more and more about the father and their issues with the father. It's all built-in there. We just kind of layered that all in there. I would have liked to have gone a little deeper.

And then, of course, there's Jay, an immensely compelling person. I didn't know what I'd find—a man in his 40s, after hearing all these stories about him and his youth and his spontaneity. But he was equally spontaneous and crazy and wild. Within minutes of landing in Hawaii, I was eating mangoes with him, getting smashed by mangoes, heisting things from hotels. [Hardwicke startslaughing.]Like he goes up to old ladies, like a fancy old woman, and goes grrrrrrh!and scares her, and we were eating in a fancy restaurant and he smashes mangoes on my back, and I'm like, "You asshole." And he says, "You're getting in the water anyway." He's like a wild animal. His instincts aren't tamed, and that's kind of refreshing and fabulous. You just don't know what's going to happen with this guy, and that's what's so great about his skating. He wouldn't repeat the same damn trick, and he would try something crazy, and he'd turn that into a trick when he fell.

AndyetJay'scharacterinthemoviehadahigherstandardforwhatheexpectedofhisfriendsthananyoftherest.Howmuchofthatwaspoeticlicense?

That's a damn good question, but, no, we built that into the script because that is Jay in a lot of ways. Right when I met him, I just loved him right then. You really love this man, somehow. You feel for him, you care about him. When you listen to him, there's something about him. And you believe him, too, that he's trying. He came from a really harsh environment, and when the film finished, I heard even more harsh stories. Some of which I'd known before.

IguesswithPG-13,youcouldonlygosofar.

We struggled with that because we wanted kids to be able to see this movie. They have a system and rules, and I don't really get it. You're allowed shooting and killing and all kinds of shit, but you don't see honesty. I don't agree with the ratings system, and I don't understand it. But I'm not wasting my life fighting it. I want to make movies instead of battling bureaucracies. I accepted it that kids would want to see it, and I wanted kids to see it, so I tried to find a way to subtly show all the things, to subliminally imply all the things we couldn't really show. And I think we did it. I think you can feel it. There's a lot of little tricks we did to make you feel it. You can read into it.

HowdidSkipevolveasoneofthemaincharacters?

We didn't realize how Skip was going to come across in the film. He's such the heart and soul of the film. I don't think I really realized it. I think, in a way, Heath [Ledger] brought so much to it that it kept emerging stronger and it just emerged, and you felt the strength of the boys having to overtake their master, and that became a sort of other whole story.

Ofcourse,thetimeandplacewasreallyacharacter.Doyouthinkthisissortofatimecapsuleinaway?

Maybe it could be, because I look at the scenes and I'm like, "Damn, I just want to be there."

Intheend,whatareyouhopingthefilmgetsacross?

Seeing the world in a creative way and their story of friendship and trying to come back to what was the core of that friendship before it all got crazy and marketed and sold out, and I think that's something that's an ongoing story for these guys. It's an ongoing struggle for everybody.

Whatareyoudoingnext?

TheMonkeyWrenchGang. . . I went to Moab, Utah, and Arizona and met a bunch of the characters that [Edward Abbey] based his stories on, and they are fucking rad at 80. They're crazy, they're sharp, and they're just nuts. And the land is so beautiful there, and I think it's even more relevant now than then. We've only fucked the Earth up more and more each day.

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