On a rain-soaked night in London, the stars of Haribo-coloured motorcar blockbuster Speed Racer could have done with some all-weather racing car tyres of their own to cope with the deluged red carpet. But the troopers that they are (and despite some soggy hairdos), the cast of the Wachowski brothers’ latest big-budget fare were in fine form.
“From pancakes to pathos, that’s what I’m doing, it’s a real emotional journey,” said star Susan Sarandon of her mumsy role in the 60s cult cartoon. “If you’re going to do something in a big action film, these are the guys (the Wachowskis) you want to do it with. I was a big fan of The Matrix films, I thought they were the best ever so I’m very proud to be involved in this.”
It has been a busy year for Sarandon, who, in addition to offering her support to Barrack Obama in the US presidential race, has just finished up her part in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones.
“I just finished that yes,” she said. “I play the comic relief, an alcoholic grandmother – my first grandma – but she doesn’t really seem like a real grandmother because she has a lot of hair and jewellery and nails and liquor. I don’t think I ever talk without a cigarette and a drink in my hand.”
“Peter Jackson is really a nice guy and very interesting. It was really a very different way of working. We had a good time, I’m really curious to see what it’s like because he kept pushing me to be more and more extreme and sometimes that’s when you make your big mistakes so I’m not sure how it will come off - it will be interesting to see it from the point of view of the audience.”
Also showing his face at the Speed Racer premiere was the eponymous star, Emile Hirsch.
“I’m not really a fast driver, I’m probably more of a normal driver who fantasises about being, you know, Speed Racer,” he said of his role. “The Wachowski brothers made The Matrix trilogy which for me was a major part of growing up and I was also a fan of Speed Racer as a kid so to get a chance to work with the Wachowskis and make this movie was an exciting combination.”
Next up, he’s starring on screen with his Into The Wild director Sean Penn.
“Yeah man, we filmed this movie with Gus Van Sant called Milk (a biopic of the assassinated San Francisco-based gay politician). I haven’t seen the film but he’s incredible in it. It’s such an extreme difference from Speed Racer, the films couldn’t be more opposite.”
Speed Racer is released on May 9.