Columbia Pictures releases The Equalizer 2 nationwide on July 20th, 2018.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think are the basic elements that turn an action thriller into a classic?
Kazy Tauginas: Heart. What I mean by heart is getting to know the lead character of whatever action piece it is on a different level than just a superficial one where you just go, "Oh look! That guy can fight really well! He's an efficient killer." Getting into the emotional core of the lead character is what captivates audiences and is able to elevate the action film into something that you would consider to be a classic. I think of a classic like Indiana Jones specifically because you really feel like you know Indiana Jones as a person. A lot of that can get shown through the dedication of the actors to their work. People have liked Denzel Washington for so long because he's so dedicated to the roles that he plays. People are able to connect with him over and over.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If Ari were a senior citizen, would he have any regrets about being an assassin?
KT: Normal people have a moral and ethical code that they live by and there are lines that are just not crossed. I played Ari as one of those people who decided to cross that moral and ethical line and has gone to the dark side, so-to-speak. He has absolutely no interest in coming back. If he were a senior citizen, he would just look back at it and rationalize every decision that he's ever made. He'd just say that he doesn't really regret anything, but as stubborn people tend to be, I feel that deep down in side when he would look himself in the mirror, he would feel that he did make the wrong decisions, but admitting that to people would probably never happen. That would be his own lonely deathbed battle.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What advice would you give to Ari if he wanted to switch to a career that doesn't involve killing people?
KT: I would tell him to take all of that rage and channel it into some kind of combat sport like MMA. At least he could let out some of that anger and some of those evil whims and put them into something that's more constructive and entertaining to the populace. Also, if he was into that, financial gain and he can start some charity.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How would you define charisma?
KT: When I think of charisma, I think of someone who's able to inspire other people. I think of someone who's able to light up a room. I don't think that charisma is something that's developed; I think that it's innate in a person. Perhaps people have it, but perhaps they don't utilize it or don't know how to necessarily capitalize on it or they use it for nefarious purposes. I feel that charisma is a quality in a person that can definitely help make the world a better place. I know that that might sound cliche but that's really how I feel. Mark Twain once said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
NYC MOVIE GURU: Are you able to detect charisma within yourself?
KT: I've never really considered myself to be a charismatic individual. I think that I come across as more awkward than charismatic.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Francous Truffaut once observed that a truly great film ought to have a perfect balance between Truth and Spectacle. Do you agree with him?
KT: I've always felt that Truth comes from performance. It comes from the actors and the dedication that the actors put into their roles. All of us can see the difference as an audience. No Spectacle can mask Truth that comes from the actors. When you see the Truth, it does become Spectacle because you become engrossed in what you're watching. You live that, feel that and empathize with it. I definitely agree with that. It's a really great quote.
NYC MOVIE GURU: I rarely remember the details of a film's plot because I believe that a plot is merely something more important and memorable: emotions. Do you agree with that?
KT: Absolutely. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that for myself, especially when I haven't seen a film in a while, I don't necessarily remember all the pieces of the story, but I remember the memorable scenes and I'm like, "Oh man! That got me!" Especially with The Equalizer 2, there are some moments in this film, when I was at the premiere, that people were wiping their eyes, so they nailed those moments. There are moments that people will remember. Any great film has that quality where you're able to touch people emotionally. Those are the moments that people really appreciate and resonate with because emotion is the human experience. A good story, human emotions and the experience---that's what I really think that audiences relate to. The bigger the Spectacle, the less we can relate to it versus things that happen every day, we can relate to them. The trials and tribulations, the ups and downs---that's what we all have to feel within our own lives.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Artistically, would The Equalizer 2 work in black-and-white?
KT: I'm a huge fan of black-and-white films. I just watched On the Waterfront before I came to LA. It becomes very artistic when you go black-and-white, but I think that they key to putting a black-and-white film out now would involve having wonderful performances. That's definitely something that The Equalizer 2 presents and you have Oscar-winning actors that are all bringing their A-game all the time. If you switch it to black-and-white, it's still going to work.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If The Equalizer 2 were re-cast with actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood, who do you imagine in the role of Robert McCall?
KT: It might sound crazy, but I feel that someone who would've been able to pull it off years ago is Kirk Douglas. He has that grit and hardness that you'd need to play Robert McCall. I don't think that anyone can really match what Denzel Washington does because he brought his own to the characters, but if we were to rewind and cast it back in the 40's or 50's, I think that Kirk Douglas could do it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What about Marlon Brando?
KT: I love Marlon Brando, but I had to reach back and think of alternatives because Brando is always on the top of the list.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would something be lost by seeing The Equalizer 2 on the small screen?
KT: I went to IFC Center to see A Clockwork Orange. I had never seen it on the big screen before. I picked up so many nuances in the performances that I didn't pick up even watching it on a big screen TV. I think that there's something to be said about seeing the film in theaters---especially seeing incredibly talented performers in theaters because that is the medium that it was meant to be released on. Any other medium outside of seeing it on the big screen isn't necessarily going to do it justice. You're still going to understand what happens and get what's going on and empathize, but there's something to be said when you're catching everything on the big screen. That's when actors are at their most vulnerable because you're that close. Anytime any film changes medium to theatrical to whatever it's going to be, a lot of those little nuances are, unfortunately, lost.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you like about playing a very flawed character?
KT: As an actor playing dark characters, it's easier for me because it takes me out of my shell and allows me to use my imagination more. It really helps me to create more because I have to fill in all of those gaps that I don't actually have in my life. It's more of a challenge in a way, but when you are challenged, it forces you to grow. It's a different experience than when you play something that's close-to-the-chest.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is so appealing about dark themes?
KT: It all depends on your definition of "dark." To some people, dark is a Coen brothers movie, but to some people what they consider to be dark is Hereditary, so I feel like it's on a spectrum. People like to be taken from their own lives of whatever is happening to them and they like to just delve into a story on screen that makes them forget about what's going on in their lives while just focusing on what's happening to the characters on screen.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How important is for a character to be likable? Travis Bickle, for example, is an iconic character who has many unlikable qualities.
KT: What's important about a character like Travis Bickle is what De Niro brought to him. He made that person come to life. Whether or not the character is likable or not, he made us empathize with him. That's the power of a committed actor. That's what they bring.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think would pair well with The Equalizer 2 in a double feature?
KT: John Wick because I always hear the comparison between the two.