Tracy Letts on the making of 'Ford v Ferrari'

The actor talks to Peter Travers about secrets from the set of "Ford v Ferrari."
21:59 | 11/20/19

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Transcript for Tracy Letts on the making of 'Ford v Ferrari'
Especially if your motor had and you wanna see what goes on at a race called toward the Ferrari looks pretty much sets up what it is. My guest today Traci that's I have no idea you act. You write Pulitzer Prize winning planes you are on television shows every time I turn around and how you have time to do all. Are you torn between all this that they have to grab you by the throat and say you're going to play Henry Ford the second and it's. That's James Mangold styles I already by the throat. He yelled at me until I took the job I'm really glad I did these it's a great screen plays great filmmaker and a great time. And I was going to say what you don't get to be race car driver but you do get in the car when. One of the funniest thing yet in the whole movie is when Matt Damon's Carroll Shelby actors. Duke's which is what had its second let's call right Duke's problem that you know he's the grandson got the actual. And you get you go for the ride of your life and the great time it was really it's how they do hope they shoot that giveaway them. Okay I'm in a car yelling about a hundred miles an hour really the truth of the matter I mean James mangled was very good about putting. The actors in real circumstances closest. He could to get us to the point where. But you have to manufacture a lot more and acted against green screens are with tennis balls you know we are. We were in real cars now why not risk the actor's life I think I think that can be done all that well Matt wasn't actually drive and that's the that's the key date they had something called biscuit which is kind of camera car that wheels us around. The tarmac but yet we did get up speech about hundred miles per hour. It wasn't the speed that was the scary part it was the claustrophobia. Those cars are not made we're big guys. And I'm a big guy and two wedge me in that car I couldn't extend my legs. Can open the door caused the cameras there the Rupp the cars about six inches over your heads. Buckled in a minute period suit. Right shall my hair shellacked covered in makeup you can't like sit there for hours. It's those little scary you know you're discomfort shows but I guess what you'll just get the equipment that. Company I think you have to do this quite a few though I think I didn't I was to Wear this when I saw the film but Jim tells me what you see is mainly the first take. That's on in the case actors come on the show an exit well. David Fincher made me do this ninety times and I think which take that that you can say first want. At it was really aren't any right. I've worked with William freak and a couple of times and really freaking he had a wild man he is the only the only does one take I mean lighthouse the fall in the shop for him to do take. We're you at all yet he can't figure in it. Keeps the actors on their toes. But playing this playing this titan of industry. How do you prep for that or is that just the inner tightened in you've traits that make this happen. A big research guy I didn't feel there was a lot of research necessary to play Henry Ford. So much at the Scripps very well written to so much of it is on the page already. You know you get a good haircut you get he has suit that fits you look goodness suit. Ten in the car. Right and everything is riding out all that candidate gets you ready to do thing but it's really it's really on the page you know the truth is I get asked to do a lot of titans of industry and presidents and all those kind of the man behind the desk can I get asked a lot of those parts are you look for the thing that makes it a little bit special little bit different. And for me the idea that. The whole basis of the story both our movie and the real life story was. The reason they win to this race was because of Henry Ford's insecurity got his feelings hurt by Enzo Ferrari. And decided to go to LaMont and B and so it his own game and that's the reason this story even exit because Ferrari was. Winning all of this and he had the fancy car and Ford was doing things on an assembly. Right but to mean mate because that he too many movies that it's part of what it is it's also about any industry. Right and basically Henry Ford the second is trying to buy a youth the honey. He's tired of nobody young buying is cock right. That's wrong or they're excited one of the great things about the story is that. It's complicated it's not black and white. I mean. The movie has. Can miles Carroll Shelby is the underdogs but also worked for the Ford Motor Co. and Ford Motor company's never been an underdog. So there there's an interesting dichotomy there between these guys who are. Mavericks testing the limits of these automobiles and putting their lives at risk working for this giant corporate structure with a lot of financial. Interest in it's it's one of the interesting gray areas this movie exists. You watch basically these guys that are reaching these copper costs and make something work for somebody that they can be killed in the dooming. It's the thing I love about four verses Ferrari it is a human story it's not about cars I'm not a car guy I don't know anything about cars we didn't even learn this too we Rich Rod so nobody's cardinal working as much cargo back and that it. In including traditional single male who goes so deep into the not a card and the card and mangled not a cargo which I think is a good thing I think. If the movie had been made by a car guy he might have. That a shies cars or we're focused more on the cars and on the human story. And I think the human story behind fort vs Ferrari of these these guys thrown into this competition together. Jobs some of them unlikely partners. Henry Ford with these guys. And yet there's something about people coming together to make something that is. It's moving. Week we can identify with that would that idea of cooperation collaboration. Competitions. Did I mean. Cars lined up trying to be each other to the finish line it it doesn't get more. A parent. Competition doesn't that it's just such a concrete way in which to compete a race yet right. But I you know these guys it's a story about their their friendship and there. Cooperation with each other in order to make this happen takes a lot of moving parts to make this thing happen. To pull this off. What does and again it's like the movie mister Wright walked. Or in the theater that's right takes it's never one purpose to and I don't think. I don't think he would admit it mr. mangled but I think. That analogy of making a film mean. Artists. Working for corporate interests. Especially two to do something. Great. Can do something of some size and scope. I think that's something that. Mr. mangled absolutely identified. And like you're calling him if you mango which shows true respect for. Do a lovely guy he's great he's Kate he had I think he's a joyful interactive and to me. Think if I were working for Matt I think that mr. sometimes helps them. He there's something about mr. mangled that is. Were stick and it is something about him that's very inspiring I would. How would go into battle for that man I really would he and inspires that but that kind of camaraderie. Yells he. He curses the he throws a fit but it's kinda restive South Africa but it's not done out of insecurity you can tell the difference and it's done because he's passionate cause he cares about thing because he's excited he's trying to get it done it's his way of communicating and I. I just I love him we had a great time. I could see that it does he say things like more intimidating teacher. Do that because it it would be boring I think I'm pulling somebody who is intimidating with the Los fair. Now but you don't do not ever so he had agreed to far but it's never taken to that point. We think it of this is just crazy these guys crazy he's finished our lifetime but what now. Well that's part of the fun I mean you know if you're the guy in power you don't really have to do a lot right guys in power don't have to -- I don't I don't have to yell to. They had someone else do yeah sure but I'm sure they push a button behind notes behind the scenes you never know. That's the great thing about playing guys like that I or I really enjoy that partners like a line. I'm perfectly comfortable as they in this seat of power at home is that the same vision whack Hussein. They don't try. Popular doesn't work that would really. Like that at all. I'm I'm in the quiet guys that he reading the newspaper and letting your heels run the show I'm sort of art in yeah I supposed to do as well may be. I don't know because you're married to carry Kuhn is one of the best actresses of rap. And you've even dared to work together Yahoo! now. Which is tricky in the marriage and life is so much better when she's Colin all the should really oh my god as that thick. Oh yeah. I heard something the first time we are what the grocery store together beer that's going to pick that it was a we go to the grocery store and I start unloading the groceries. And I'm doing it wrong she tells me I'm doing wrong and Owen gray had hit do grocery shopping. Exactly. Right great I'm done you do it from now Lauren. Don't ever afterward and the great night Everett and that sounds like the guys way. It really have to do it she ought to that I love it. I love the two women shouldn't run everything they should do everything they should run that ol'. But you two met when you were doing Virginia well I. So that's an interesting thing to do it to page what the star who wins a Tony award exit of giving you a degree of authority and power. But it didn't sound no C I'm glad. He's a great start I heard something and they don't get often about your actual wedding ceremony yet. What what can you talk of that a little bit we were married in a hospital. We were gonna go to the court house. And we have one day left on our you know he's on arm Illinois marriage license and she'd just come back from LA in the night before we're gonna go get married I said I'm not feeling well and wound up in the emergency room long story short my. Gallbladder removed. So Carrie went and found the chaplain in the hospital. Who had never performed oh spur wedding service before normally she's there for. Sadder more somber events. She came to our hospital room and she performed the ceremony we were wed in the hospital I was she does take charge absolutes he found this person to do she was she was wearing my T shirt and I was in the hospital gown in the bad. On a lot of drugs that was very drugged up from. From the surgery. I don't remember very little about our wedding sir I want the rights to that movie I can think it would be great athlete great get married and hospital I would recommend it. I think many people won't leap that. It did actually have to have gall bladder certainly nice thing about it yesterday or yellow and you know looking completely. Yes I was the nice thing about it is that. The rest the world shut out and it's really just you in that situation I'll tell you this. Nobody we know who's had a big wedding has told us we did it wrong. Much cheaper. Percy doctor. Right to add to bid you ramp. Well. In that when I was seeing I should say this before. That it the same time Ford V Ferrari's out. You have another shell in New York Linda Vista played that you wrote a couple of years previously to that though it played. It's a play about white dudes our own. Yet somewhere round about a white because they like dude yet Roberts a couple of others but yet you called this guy Wheeler is a special. Yes and when you leave that show your feeling about white dudes this guy is divorced or in the midst of it and he's. He has a lot of opinions yeah Radiohead has that story yet. None of those movies are good anymore right now. And he's torn. He can talk people into bed he can do anything but he's got how much of this guys you. Not much really even though you created him. Yeah I'm not much I mean you know he borrows from legacy borrows for me borrows from friends of mine. Divorced. Kids. Career frustrations. Money troubles. You know he has some things in common with some people I know but. I you know it's not a it's not a take down. And it's not meathead defense it's I know what is it that middle I think yeah. That's my hope that he's a real guy if he's a real guy but some people in the theater. Afterwards were cursing him out sure tremendously oh he inspires. Some sympathy but he also. Inspires a lot of antipathy a lot of people don't like him more calm not like to me it's kind of a challenging thing starts office are. Curmudgeonly protagonists but over the course of that thing he really kind of becomes the antagonist in his own story. Guard yourself rooting against him in the may be he tries to win back your sympathies little bit this as an audience member it's. It walks a fine line. It it inspires arguments which I'm very happy. That's it nobody the thinking I understand this completely. There there comes a point play where people are very invested in the outcome. And yet they want to see perhaps different outcomes and as a playwright that's something I absolutely strive for where people are. Very invested in the story that they're leaning forward they want to see what happens next. But their their viewpoint about it changes depending on who there aren't becomes a kind of rorschach test for the audience liked how did this begin for you this. You're in Oklahoma. Right you're born there yet. What when it's not a bad it and but I don't think it. But you know when those of us who live in New York bank of Oklahoma we go all alcohol you know but we think this is what we think it net write courts. Not how anybody grows up right in quite that way but when did you decide you know and I'm did do I was gonna take my thoughts and I's gonna put down to. On paper. My mind folks were both English teachers they were both creative people. Really Smart people. They taught at a small. University in the small town in southeastern Oklahoma where I grew up. And I think they really hoped that. I would get the hell out. They really did a hope for that and they. So they encourage. Creative endeavor. They encouraged. Writing and then when I got bit by the theater bug the encouraged acting as a Brothers musician they they encouraged all of that. They wanted us to have. Interest in lives and the life of an artist is an interest in life so. That's really where it all comes from but making it happen isn't that easy not easy at all that it not easy for anybody. When I was I spent a couple years in Dallas and then when I was twenty years old like floated up to Chicago and fell in love the theater scene in Chicago and of live there percent. Who were you. What kind of guy where he had. You know. Why all good question why old. You know I got I got sober at 28 I haven't been shy about talking about my sobriety. So yeah I had some wild years. Did of the depressive not a bit of that impressive a pretty major depressive. Hard working though even even then working hard Friday improve mine craft Chicago theaters who. Is it is a great. And very rigorous atmosphere for artists. Still. Is now it was then was before I got there. It's because people are really focused on the work they're not focused on. There's not a star system there right you're not gonna making money in Chicago so people are relief focused on the work. Audiences in Chicago embrace new work we want to see new plays they will venture out to see why these people I want. Them to come and moved here. Chicago immigrated Cardoso we can go find and they act as argue but. But staying there yes trust because of that feeling but what happened to you doesn't happen to a lot of people yes you can be an actor. You can write plays you can make a living but you're not going to become met him reduce. Right dot going to be that but we you have a success like our justice. What happens that does put you on some on the level what happens is that. Head. Yeah I don't know unexpected success and end late success I mean I. I didn't have a credit card till I was 43 years so. You know so kennel late in life. Or later in life than we sometimes thing about these things happening but. Mean fantastic and unexpected and fun and and because I was forty three's. At some perspective about all of that Latin. Enjoyed it but didn't necessarily think oh this is. This is the new way this is you know it I mean as soon as I. Soon as August was open and running and went back to work on my next play like that's the thing to do just keep working. How are you as a critic of you as an act. As an actor you're. You know. Like the film and TV stuff I watch it watch it wants because especially because I'm curious about the work of other people have been working win but I can be objective about myself Garcia. So are watching you know that's the that's what we did. And an of them I don't have to watch you know for the longest time working on homeland. I. Because I had not worked a lot on camera I was just really focused on the other reason you were right there and I just replaying the scene with you and I don't care. And it took awhile before I started to get OK with the idea that there was a camera. In the room it's okay but there's a camera here. You know. It takes one as a theater actor you'd be you'd you don't have that it's not there yet not poking an infinite. Sometimes the cameras big night at that time right we're playing in the audience is there watching the scene that the camera is different things so it takes a while we get used the idea oh it's all right that cameras recording what we're doing in fact. I like that it's here so your Brady and UB US. Car duct they'll put those words put I'm not putting any would air but the fact is that think this is the first time you've been on this show. Do you don't know that we always end in the little bit of the guests giving us a little bit of song. And I know that there's song your heart I know that there's something that drives you every day. And that there's something you whistling. You from Oklahoma and I'm sure you can do the whole score. That's what you've done for Oklahoma what do you look at for here any here. Anything that's actually you. I don't wanna give UN do you hear me so I didn't I didn't even if it's that Haney is more well some. I'm not a singer I don't know that but that's the those are the best but as you think there's a Ross scared I just. I said that you fear us and we and you had sing everybody show they're the ones to get shy but I'd they sound on this show they did everybody does this note every nobody else ever. Go right you narrow street. They push it would. They all look and if we can't beauty deed he. And there's great heart in. In the car on. Of my. I saw you in renewed its view very high you soon or. It was crying disgrace. Days Solio. They needs. You just holding town and the whole time at about what they turned toward aggregate are wearing them. The theater I would that be and here's our. Or. You have been tested. You I'd that was really me. Traci. Great to talk to it's really. Went.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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