As if there was any doubt before, John Malkovich is a true pro. On the hottest day on record in Los Angeles last week, Malkovich sits next to an open window in the Turf Club of the Santa Anita Race Track for hours speaking to reporters about his new role in the Walt Disney film “Secretariat.” As anyone in Southern California can tell you, if it’s 114 degrees in downtown Los Angeles, tack on at least another 5 degrees in the western town of Arcadia, home to the track. You can feel the heat come through the window like a blast of hot hair, but while Malkovich’s co-star Diane Lane was understandably becoming a bit dizzy by the weather, the “Dangerous Liaisons” legend seemed to take it all in stride. Would you expect anything less from the man who starred in the groundbreaking movie that centered on himself?
“Secretariat” finds Malkovich playing Lucien Laurin, the man who trained the last triple crown winner in 1973. Unlike Lane, who had a still living Penny Chenery (the horse’s owner) to look to for inspiration, Laurin died long ago. As Malkovich noted when we spoke, he is so different from the trainer in height and personality that it wouldn’t have made much sense to try and base his performance off anything else but the script and director Randall Wallace’s vision for the film. Strangely, what really perked Malkovich up though was discussing his time on Michael Bay’s upcoming “Transformers 3.”
The third installment in the bombastic robotic franchise has dominated the city of Chicago for months seemingly turning it into a warzone if you can believe the photos and YouTube clips posted online by residents. A newcomer to the series, Malkovich plays the boss of our hero Sam (the always present Shia LaBeouf) and said he was subject to only one day of action. And he bluntly and slyly describes his “loudmouth” character as, well, a “jerk.” He also volunteers he had a “very, very enjoyable time” shooting with John Turturro, Rosie Perez and LaBeouf. Malkovich ends with, “For me, it was a blast.”
An actor has a good time on Michael Bay set? It is a different time indeed.
“Secretariat” opens nationwide on Friday.