Brad Pitt and director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) are hardly yearning for quality female companionship — they just married two of the world's most famous women (Jennifer Aniston and Madonna, respectively), and Pitt is consistently mobbed by hordes of screaming girls. So there's nothing too worrisome about the fact that the female species is virtually missing from their new, fast-paced caper film, Snatch.
And get your mind out of the gutter — there's certainly none of that on display in the provocatively titled movie, which caused a few moments of discomfort for Sony studio execs.
According to Ritchie, "there was an argument that ensued that consisted of 'We don't want to call it Snatch. We're not going to call it Snatch.' And I said, 'Oh, go on, let's call it Snatch,' and they said, 'All right, then.' And that was it."
Smoking Barrels Actors 'Muck' With Movie Stars For his sophomore effort — a crisscross crime tale involving an 86-carat diamond (the item "snatched"), vicious London gangsters, corpse-eating pigs, inept stickup men, and a Rasputin-like ex-KGB agent who refuses to die — Ritchie reassembled many of the lads he used in Smoking Barrels, his breakout film.
"I tried to incubate a stable, if you like, of original actors," the director said of blokes like soccer star Vinnie Jones and former sidewalk con man Jason Statham, neither of whom had acted before Ritchie recruited them for his first big film.
"At one point, I nearly used the entire cast of Lock, Stock again," confessed Ritchie, who also admitted that his two films do have strong aesthetic and thematic similarities.
"I had to look as though I was making a different film," he said, so he finally added some tried talent to his stable. Puerto Rican-born actor Benicio Del Toro plays a Hasidic Jew with a dangerous gambling addiction, and Get Shorty's Dennis Farina is his diamond-dealing boss.
And then there's the guy whom all the "birds" tried to tear apart at Snatch's London premiere, Brad Pitt, who plays a tattooed, mush-mouthed Irish gypsy boxer named "One Punch" Mickey.
How did Ritchie's stable of actors take to having a big American movie star in their midst? "Brad has an amazing ability to make you forget within five minutes that he is Brad Pitt the Big Movie Star and [realize that] he's just Brad Pitt, another human being," said Statham. "He's the most deflated ego I've ever met. He just mucked in with everybody. There was no 'Oh, there he is again, going back to his trailer.'"
Brad Slips His Character a Mickey Casting Pitt changed the direction of the film, since, obviously, this lean, muscled movie star wasn't exactly the "big, fat, sort of Greek-looking guy" Ritchie had originally envisioned as the bare-knuckled Mickey.
"Somehow Brad [was] almost the antithesis of that, but … perversely, it worked magically, just because it was so extreme the other way," said Ritchie.
The character of Mickey evolved even more when Pitt began toying with an incomprehensible dialect — which became one of several comic punch lines about "One Punch" Mickey. "Brad thought he would try it as a bit of a joke," said Ritchie, "and he and I both thought it was a funny idea. He was very extreme, and the more extreme he got, the funnier I thought it was on set, so one thing led to another," says Ritchie.
With everyone "mucking in" and having fun on the set, it seems like the only real chore in making the film was wrapping it in a reasonable amount of time.
"I made the second film because I just had so many stories while making the first, I thought it would have been a crime not to have capitalized on that," said Ritchie, whose wealth of stories was adding up to a two-and-a-half-hour film, a lengthy running time for a comedy.
"I kept trying to keep [all the stories] in there, but the film was just forcing me to get rid of them," said Ritchie. "So that's why the film rattles along at the speed it rattles along at. I think films do take their own pace. I'm a big believer that films direct themselves. Really, all you have to do is stop it [from] going to extremes one way or the other. You just sort of herd it like a sheepdog, if you like."