The Big Empty - Press Archive - Feeling
blue: Steve Anderson left Las Vegas and came back with The Big
Vegas City Life
20 November 2003
- Feeling blue: Steve Anderson left
Las Vegas and came back with The Big
- By Matt Kelemen
- The idea for a noirish comedy about
an actor, a blue suitcase and UFOs first
- came to Steve Anderson as the New York
native was leaving Las Vegas on
- his way to Los Angeles. "Basically
I just drove straight across the country.
- I didn't even stay in any hotels or
motels along the way; I'd just sleep in my
- car. I remember that I'd stayed overnight
in Las Vegas. I had pulled in behind
- some casino among some trucks that were
parked there and woke up early
- the next morning."
- Anderson's head was filled with pre-programmed,
- expectations as he hit the border: Hollywood,
Beverly Hills, Ventura Highway.
- "It's like this big moment, but
of course you right in the middle of the
- Mojave, so the first town you see is
Baker. I like Baker, but it immediately
- helped lower expectations."
- Baker became the destination for the
protagonist of The Big Empty, Anderson's
- first feature. The finished film comes
in for a landing Thursday, Nov. 20, when
- the Hard Rock hotel-casino rolls out
the red carpet for its premiere.
- Usually an indie film with a limited
release will appear here weeks, if not
- months (or at all), after its New York/L.A.
debut. The Big Empty arrives with
- no critical buzz, a rookie director
and an absurdist plot about a down-on-his-luck
- actor who is hired to drive a locked
blue suitcase to Baker, where he gets
- wrapped up with the space-alien minded
locals before delivering it to "Cowboy."
- But Anderson has some odds working in
his favor. Jon Favreau - white-hot right
- now as the director of the No. 1 movie
in the country, Elf - signed on to play
- John Person, an aspiring actor who works
as a courier to make ends meet. Bud
- Cort (Harold and Maude) plays the crazed
neighbor who offers him $27,000, the
- exact amount he is in debt, to deliver
the suitcase. Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings)
- is the mysterious Cowboy, whose ultimate
goal is hidden from Person, and
- whose ultimate purpose is hidden from
the audience. Daryl Hannah, Rachel
- Leigh Cook and Kelsey Grammar round
out the cast.
- Anderson has spent plenty of time behind
the camera. He has shot seven
- documentaries for PBS, trotted around
the globe on assignment for CNN and
- was on hand to capture the L.A. riots.
"I was intent on writing and eventually
- directing a film, but I got caught up
in the cameraworld. But I never considered
- it my career. I was still writing every
- Inspired by a screening of the low-budget
film Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane
- at Sundance, he decided to write a screenplay
that might be affordable to
- make. " I had a few rules: There
wasn't anything in the script that I didn't own
- or could afford to rent, and I wanted
to set it some place where we wouldn't
- have to worry about permits. The desert
- Once Favreau read the script and liked
it enough to star in it, the rest of the
- cast fell in to place. Then Echo Lake
Productions, who had backed previous
- critical successes such as Allison Anders'
excellent Things Behind the Sun and
- Jill Sprecher's Thirteen Conversation
About One Thing, picked up the film.
- With a $1.9 million budget, Anderson
was on his way.
- The primary reason for premiering in
Las Vegas is to benefit the Lili Claire
- Foundation, a charity for children with
neurogenetic disorders such as autism
- and Down Syndrome, and Anderson expects
most of the main cast to attend.
- But he also figures since he shot the
film in this city's "backyard," it made
- sense to open it here. "We shot
the whole movie in Baker, which is a stone's
- throw from Vegas, and on weekends off,
we made the mistake of thinking, 'Hey,
- we got two days off, let's go rest in
Vegas.' You're up for 48 hours and then
- you come back more tired than before.
But it was still fun."
- The Big Empty premieres at the Hard
Rock on Nov. 20. Tickets are $10,
- and $25 for premiere seating with meet