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CNN LIVE TODAY

Interview With Andy Garcia

Aired September 23, 2002 - 11:41   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, ANCHOR: "The Man from Elysian Fields" is the movie, and it's starring Andy Garcia, and a whole host of other pretty big stars. He plays a struggling writer, who is put in a tempting situation by a fading Don Juan, none other than Mick Jagger. Andy Garcia, who also produced the film, joins us from Los Angeles this morning.
What an interesting and peculiar flick you got here.

ANDY GARCIA, ACTOR: Yes, yes, very peculiar.

We did. I mean, even from the first time I read the script, there was quite a unique experience. The premise was so fresh, and the intelligence of the language and the wit of the screenplay was really quite unique.

WHITFIELD: And, wow, a cast of characters. I mean, this must have been like one big party as you guys were putting this movie together, Mick Jagger, James Coburn, Julianna Margolis. I mean, the list just goes on and on. How in the world did you get all these folks to agree to do this project, and all these devoted to what you call a pretty quirky movie?

GARCIA: Well, you know, when you have great material, you always have actors that show up to support it, and that was evident to me, like I said, from when we first started working on it. I got the screenplay and then we worked on it for about six to eight months before we submitted it to potential financiers and other actors.

WHITFIELD: So you feel you get the greatest gratitude out of being on the producing end, on the acting end, or directing?

GARCIA: Well, you know, you sort of produce sometimes out of necessity when you find a piece of material that you are really attracted to, but no one is backing it, and no one is paying attention to it. It's like a child. You take it on and you want to see it through to its end, to its full potential. So there is a certain personal gratification when it comes to producing something, because you are sort of being the godfather throughout the process.

WHITFIELD: The character you played, Byron Tiller, I want to take another quick look at a quick clip we have here from "The Man From Elysian Fields."

GARCIA: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello darling, what are you doing up so late?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I forgot my insulin shot. I was going downstairs to take it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you feel OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm all right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Darling, I would like to you meet Byron Tiller -- Byron, Byron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So here Byron Tiller is finding himself in this very compromising position here. Here he is a writer, and then he is in a peculiar way kind of confronted with this other writer who he greatly admires, or at least tries to pretend as such. Is this a comedy or is this a drama, or how are you billing this?

GARCIA: Well, I think it as bit of both. It is a dark comedy, you know. It's rooted in the real situation, even though it is a bit of a fable. It's played, you know straight, but the character is sort of in over his head.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GARCIA: In this case, under the blankets. But it is very funny, the movie is very funny, and that was Olivia Williams, a great actor from England, and of course James Coburn, in that scene. She plays the woman who I begin to escort, and I begin to strike a relationship with her husband, who is James Coburn, who plays a great multi- Pulitzer Prize winning author, who is my idol. So, as you can see, being a writer starts getting a bit complicated.

WHITFIELD: Yes, sorry -- and this movie really does kind of showcase the frailties and the issues of moralities as well.

GARCIA: Yes, it is a bit of a morality tale. What are you prepared to do to provide for your family? And when you make certain compromises in life, you realize that you can't go back and regain that dignity that you lost when you do that. But you know, within the context of all that, the movie has an extraordinary wit to it, which I guess which is what is most attractive to all of the actors that participated in it. Mick Jagger is very funny in the movie.

WHITFIELD: It looks like it is going to be real funny, and a good time to see that one. Now you also, in addition to being very creative as a producer and also as an actor, you also find yourself being rather politically involved as well. Many of us remember seeing how you took a stand in the Elian Gonzalez case, and now I'm wondering if you have any particular opinions about Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura making his four-day trip to Cuba, in part it kind of, you know, pump for American food and products, agricultural products and an exchange of gifts in that way there. Do you have any real opinions about his trip?

GARCIA: Well, you know, the problem is that the real problem with the American -- the real embargo in Cuba is really the embargo that Fidel dell has over his own people. He has an embargo of human rights over the people of Cuba. The people of Cuba are not able to participate in a free society. The entire world trades with Cuba. They always seem to blame the economic situation in Cuba on the United States, but the realty is they trade with the entire world, but the people of Cuba do not benefit from that trade. And I think Mr. Ventura will find that there is no real business relationship that you can have with if Fidel Castro's government, because basically they don't pay their bills.

WHITFIELD: All right. Andy Garcia, thanks very much for responding to that, and thanks very much for sharing with us "The Man From Elysian Fields," and when can we begin to see that movie?

GARCIA: I believe it's September 27th, maybe. Fairly soon, in the short weeks to come. I think it opens in Los Angeles and New York first, and then spreads out.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll all be looking for it. Thanks very much. Good to see you.

Thank you very much.

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