The Crow, a dark, violent film noir based on James O'Barr's cult comic book (CS #25), was supposed to be his breakaway from the martial-arts movies that made him famous. On this film, Brandon Lee was making a conscious effort to step out of his father's shadow and find his own artistic path. Tragically, this was not to be.
Our interview was intended to take place in the car that took Lee from his rented house to the set - a huge abandoned cement factory. But that afternoon, the actor, his eyes hidden behind dark glasses, could barely utter a word. He was devastatingly tired. He had worked 19 hours the previous day, until 4 a.m, playing the intensely physical part of Eric Draven, a musician murdered by thugs who rises from the grave to avenge his murder so that he and his girl friend Shelly, who was killed with him, may rest in peace. The conversation finally took place after midnight, during a lensing break.
As Eric, Lee underwent a striking transformation: The white paint on his face and dark eye makeup made him look like a member of the rock group Kiss. He has to endure a two-hour makeup session every day, and a leather uniform completed his "look." In a scene I witnessed, he faces several cops who call on him to freeze, and then proceed to shoot him dozens of times. But he doesn't seek shelter: Since his character is already dead, bullets don't harm him.
COMICS SCENE: What attracted you to The Crow?
BRANDON LEE: The purity of the character. It's a very personal story. As you know, it's a story about a man and the woman that he's very much in love with, who are both murdered-and he returns from the dead to hunt down the men who murdered them. It's a very pure story, I've done many things where there has been a great deal of action involved, but I've never done anything where I felt as justified in carrying out the actions I do in this. It also really appealed to me because of the situation that the character finds himself in, which is one that immediately proposes a number of questions to you: It's an insane situation, and if you were given the chance to come back after a year of being dead, you would be faced with some interesting dilemmas.
The core of this piece’s tragedy is that if there was one person that you would want to speak to, one person that you would want to get in contact with again, after a year of being gone (and you must assume that all the people that you knew have had a year now to get on with their lives, to deal somehow with the grief), the one person that you would really want to get in touch with again would be the woman that you loved-your partner. And in this place, she’s not there.
CS: Do you see the hero as a superhuman figure? He displays lyricism, but he obviously has a dark side too-the violence and vengeance.
LEE: He is after revenge, but this is not Death Wish. The situation is very different: He's not a living man who is stepping outside of the boarders of the law in order to take his vengeance. He is something that he does not fully understand, and that is stepping outside the boundaries of everything that he understands, in the course of taking his vengeance. And that makes it a great deal more interesting to me than a vigilante piece would be.
CS: Does he become a sort of "force of nature"?
LEE: I don't think he becomes a force of nature. But there is certainly a very basic good vs. evil theme.
CS: So, do you see him as heroic?
LEE: Not from his own motivation, no. In the film, he ends up becoming involved in a situation that goes outside of his mission, which is simply to find these guys and kill them. And when that happens, he does become something of a heroic figure-because he involves himself in the affairs of the living world. That's what's heroic about him.
CS: Would you say, then, that by his very nature a hero must do something unselfish on behalf of someone else in order to become a hero?
LEE: No, I don't think so. I just saw the best film I've seen in a while, Lorenzo's Oil; I really loved it. And you could say those people were doing everything purely for their son, not for the other children who were suffering from the same disease. However, their actions resulted in a cure for the disease, which helped thousands of other children,right? And there's this wonderful line towards the film's end when Nick Nolte says to Susan Sarandon, "Did you ever stop and think that everything we've done was for someone else's little boy?" And it was heartbreaking, because it was too late for their own son; I mean, they did save his life, but it came too late, whereas it was able to stop the progression of the disease in other children, and allowed them to live a very normal life. That film was certainly very tragic and sad, but there was something very uplifting about the possibilities of the human spirit. And yet those people weren't really doing this they were not just unbiased researchers looking for a cure for a disease; they were trying to save their son. But through their actions they created something which you would certainly think of as being heroic. At the heart of The Crow is the love that exists between Eric and Shelly, the two characters. That is what elevates this beyond a simple vigilante piece, and that is what must work to elevate it beyond an action film
CS: Is there something about the character that you don't like, that you're critical of, or that you consider a character flaw?
LEE: I think the script is weighted a little bit heavily towards the action. The most interesting things are about the script, to me, are the parts where the character is given a chance to try and cope with what has happened to him: the scenes where he's much more human than this "undead" avenger, where he's dealing with his own grief over having lost the woman he loves, his own life, all his friends, all his family. Everything that he had, he has lost. So even if he does kill this man, he's not really going to bring it all back. I'm hoping that the pieces in the film that aren't action sequences will be able to support the action sequences. what I would be most fearful of is that they won't, and it will be too much action.
CS: Do you think that you've brought some thing you learned on earlier films to this one, physically and otherwise?
LEE:Absolutely, I did the fight choreography in Rapid Fire with Jess Yamada, and he and I are doing the same for this one. I certainly learned a lot more about that; I feel much more confident doing that now. Rapid Fire was the first time I had done it; I was much more apprehensive about it than I am on this film. And as an actor, I certainly learned a great deal.
CS: Are you a fan of comic books?
LEE: Yeah, when I was a kid, I was quite a huge fan of comic books-I had quite an extensive collection. Lately, my rapport with comics has been through a couple of friends of mine who write comics. The yalso have a band that plays all over town, but also at some of the larger comic book and science fiction conventions. So I've gone down a couple of those with the band. As a kid, I liked the Hulk. The Hulk always had this tragic aspect about him because it was the classic Frankenstein story, or the Elephant Man. He was this man who hated turning into a monster. It's just something I've always responded to, this classic theme. In Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, you have these vampires who bemoan the loss of their humanity. I have to tell you, personally I've always thought: "Wait a minute! I get to live forever; I'm essentially indestructible; I have supernatural powers; and I'm bitching about it?"[Laughs.] And I think that if Eric hadn't lost Shelly, he wouldn't necessarily be such a tragic character. And there are certainly areas in the script that are a great deal of fun for me, particularly choreographing the action, because you're dealing with someone who doesn't have to play by the same rules a regular man would-you can do some very outlandish things with the choreography, like in this scene that we're shooting tonight. Eric is able to exploit his abilities, and do things a regular man couldn't do.
CS: In other words, he doesn't have to duck when he's shot at.
LEE: He's not particularly concerned about it, you know?
CS: Given that, what did you come up with that was different?
LEE: Well, we've had fun with the choreography-in each of the sequences where Eric has hunted down one of the bad guys responsibly for Shelly's death-having Eric intimidate the living hell out of them by letting them hurt him (almost), just to show them that he can't be hurt, before he finishes them off.
CS: How do you play the living dead? This is not a George Romero-type movie where you're dealing with "creatures". How do you, as an actor, inject just enough life to keep the sense that this is an otherworldly thing?
LEE: Well, there's this quote from [Paul Bowles' novel] The Sheltering Sky, and the quote goes, "Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think about it as an inexhaustible life, and yet everything happens only a certain number of times-and they're a small number. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon with your child? An afternoon that's so deep a part of your being that you can't conceive of your life without it. Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon? Perhaps...and yet it all seems endless..." And the reason I bring that up is because we don't know when we will die. It's only in certain moments-such as having someone close to you pass away, or having an experience [close to] death-that you're really brought face to face with how fragile your life is, and therefore how meaningful each moment of life is. But the majority of the time, so many things pass you by. For Eric, as a character, it's not the least intimately coherent that nothing is trivial; and each moment that he has, in these two or three days that he has to come back, is very precious. And very simple things that a living person wouldn't even notice, or would pass by, have the power to really capture his attention and fascinate him, because he's very aware that he will never see them again.
CS: And in terms of expressing emotion, is he emotionally alive?
LEE: He is emotionally hyper-alive, I believe. Because of what I've just said, every moment, each object he comes in contact with, anything a person says, carries with it tremendous weight because he realises that each of those moments is never going to happen again. That's equally valid for a living person, but we've always focused on some distant goal.
CS: And his appearance, it it just a notion? Not something he wears as an identifying mark?
LEE: Well, we have Eric wearing makeup. When he first comes back, the sheer nature of his situation almost overwhelms him-he almost becomes catatonic, growing completely insane, being unable to function due to his awesome situation. One of the things that is in the story, to help him deal with the situation, is creating this persona of the Crow through the makeup he puts on in order to create someone who's able to deal with the situation.
CS: Can you elaborate on the myth the movie creates, with his coming to life for this particular purpose?
LEE: Essentially, what has to work is that the love that Eric and Shelly had was very special, that somehow it's the power of this love that brings him back in order to redress the wrongs that were done.
CS: Everybody involved in the film says you has a great deal of input into the character. What do you recall as your input or your strong feelings about specific notions? They were all very impressed, and say that by your presence, you helped shape who the character was.
LEE: I don't really recall that kind of input. I just worked on Eric, and perhaps some of the things that I suggested made it into the script.
CS: How difficult is the character to portray, to get into that mood?
LEE: It's certainly a challenge for me. It's the most dramatic piece I've had a chance to do, and I'm grateful for that.
CS: Do you stay in character more than you would have, say, on Rapid Fire?
LEE: You know, I find that I'm always finding ways to work, and certainly fantasy really is the work on this film.
CS: Do you basically discover it by trial and error?
CS: Can you tell me what it is?
LEE: Well, I would really like to keep that between myself and the walls of my trailer. [Gunshots sound in the background] I have certain superstitions about that.
CS: Can you elaborate on the changes in the character from James O'Barr's original comic-book version?
LEE: All the elements of the character [were there]. It's almost as if Eric has two or maybe three very distinct personalities in the comic: There is the Eric Draven who grieves for his loss when he;s alone; then there's the Eric Draven who's this supernatural avenger filled with hate; or an angel wearing the persona of the Crow, who goes on to find those responsible. The challenge of the piece was to make it moving.
CS: Do you feel...[sound of gunshots]...I mean, is this an interpretation of Eric as the Crow? Or do you feel that this is actually the way the script is portraying him? I think this is your analysis of who he is, isn't it?
LEE: Yes, this is my analysis of who he is. Now, now how much of that ends up coming through in the finished product, I mean...I would like for everyone who sees the film to feel the same way about the character that I do, but I know that that's not reality. I can't tell you how much of it is [my own interpretation].
CS: Reading the script, there seems to be a sense of community between Sarah [the little girl who visits the grave], Albrecht [the friendly cop] and Eric as well. Maybe that's the counterpart of that corrupt criminal netherworld that dominates the whole thing. Can you elaborate on that?
LEE: Yeah, I mean, this is where Eric used to live. He knows these people, he knows these streets, this is his neighbourhood. I mean, if you've ever moved away from a place and then come back years later, it's like putting on an old pair of gloves-you remember all the places you used to go, the people who worked there, you want to go by and see if this place is still there...'Oh my God, they've turned it into a laundromat!' And there's certainly an element of this for Eric. he's discovering his old community, and that's also [part of the tragedy] of the character-that, even though it's all right there in front of him, he's not part of it.
CS: What does the fact that he's a musician contribute? His being creative person?
LEE: It's all in your point-of-view. If you were to know what something that you dearly loved-for me, it would be acting; for Eric, it's his music-it you were to know that everything that you had put into it had become to naught in the end... I think the few times that Eric [gets near] a guitar-as I say, it's all in your point-of-view: It;s either terribly tragic, or absolutely wonderful!
CS: Physically speaking, I'm sure you did many of your own stunts again. What did you have to go through.
LEE: Eric endures some real physical hardships.
CS: Did you get hurt?
LEE: No, I've been very fortunate-I haven't gotten hurt yet. I guess the most important thing that I've been dealing with has really been the cold. It's very funny, because I had this idea about Eric that when he first came back from the dead he would be freezing cold, because I thought that his actually physical body temperature would slowly rise as he spent more time in the world of the living and got worse, freezing cold, and almost have a sense of rigour mortis about his movements that slowly wears off, as life came back to him. So when I prepared for the part, I took about 10 or 12 big bags of ice and covered myself with them; then my girl friend stopwatched me-I wanted to see how long it would take to get to a certain place with the cold. I worked with this for a while, and then I came to the set, and I got into this big argument with one of the producers about the bags of ice, because he said that if I were to get sick from doing this, the production would not be able to [continue]. The insurance company would be upset and wouldn't cover us. In the end, it was decided that I would be allowed to do it in my trailer-it would be my responsibility and no one would know about it; and when they were ready to roll, they would come and get me and I would come rushing out and do the scene, freezing to death. So, we got the ice and we were ready to do it, and the first two or three nights that we shot, it was coming out of the grave...and it was about five degrees outside! So, right away the whole thing went out the window. But fortunately, I think it worked really well.
CS: How much are you willing to to risk doing your own stunts?
LEE: I'm really a firm believer that no matter how big the action pieces are, nobody should get hurt. Safety is a very important consideration. I'm not one of those people who think that you have to hit people to make it look realistic. That's a very ignorant point-of-view. And stuntmen, they're so tough all the time: A stuntman can do a stunt and get both his legs blown off, and he would drag himself along the floor with his hands and say, "I'm fine. get ready for the next one!" [Chuckles] I think those guys are great, but I don't think anybody has to get hurt. But, yeah, when when you do that kind of work there's very little margin for error-sometimes you're missing by inches. Sometimes you have a miscalculation, or sometimes something goes wrong and somebody'll get tagged.
CS: What are some of the stunts you did, or insisted on doing?
LEE: I really haven't done anything extraordinary. Most of it is I'm getting shot a lot, but it's not really demanding. Usually, the hero of the piece really can't get shot, you know, or if he does, he gets winged in the shoulder towards the end. In a scene that we shot [recently], I get shot 60 or 70 times!
CS: Arnold Schwarzenegger devised a strategy for crossing over from action films to other types of movies.
LEE: I must say, I'm not that manipulative, I don't like to think, "Well, next I'll do a comedy and people won't expect that, and then..." I find myself in a position-which is very nice-or having people send me scripts for the first time in my career. And I'm really just trying to take them one at a time, and look for something I feel I can give some heart to, not to say, "Next I'll do a comedy"
CS: Would you like to play a strictly dramatic part. say, a business exec?
LEE: Yes, very much so.
CS: Do you feel that The Crow, because it isn't strictly an action movie, is a step in that direction, or doing something different?
LEE: Yeah, I'm pleased with this. As I said, there is still a great deal of action in the film. It's not martial-arts action-not at all. The character is not a martial artist, and doesn't know the first thing about martial-arts. So, even that is a step in the right direction for me. And I just want to say, it's not that I don't like doing martial arts films; it's that I would like the opportunity to do many different types of films, you know? I would be happy to go back and do another martial-arts film at some point in the future, but in between I would like the chance to do other things as well...and this is one of them!
CS: On The Crow, did you turn to the original comic for inspiration, or was the script enough for you?
LEE: No, I did a great deal. You know, comic books are images-they're totally frozen images. And there were some wonderful images that I wanted to try and get into the film. And there are some actual images from the comic book which I tried to duplicate, because I thought they were wonderful. Just as an example, there's a scene where Eric is perched on a ledge listening to a conversation in another room, and just the way he was perched with one leg held up, his arms wrapped around the leg, and he's kind of dangling off to the sides, his head foreword and his eyes looking up...I thought it was a beautiful image, so I played it exactly like that. I put myself in that exact position for the shoot.
CS: There's a great deal of actual (bloody) violence in The Crow. What's your feeling about that?
LEE: It's a very, very violent film, but like I said, it has a justification.
CS: George Romero pointed out that his movies are fantasy violence, as opposed to realistic violence a la Clint Eastwood, say, where the punches are real-you know, you see a zombie take a bite out of someone: This is not real. Any thoughts about the whole notion of fantasy and realistic violence?
LEE: You mean socially conscious thoughts? I think that the violence in a piece should match its tone. If you're George Romero doing a piece about zombies coming back from the dead, you've really crossed over the line into fantasy, and at that point the type of action should be suited to fit the tone of the piece. Rapid Fire, for example, was an over-the-top action movie-it wasn't my idea or Jess's or the director's idea of what an actual fight would look like, it was an artistic attempt to portray martial-arts action in a very exciting, flashy way. This film falls into that category as well. Because we have the chance to deal with someone who has supernatural powers, it gives us a great deal of license with the action.
CS: Does the film's highly stylised quality affect the acting at all?
LEE:I'll tell you what has affected the nature of the acting, which is quite interesting. It's the makeup that I'm wearing. Eric creates this persona of the Crow for himself, and when I'm playing Eric as the Crow with the makeup on, it's just a wonderful opportunity,because the gloves are off-there are no rules. You tell me how somebody who comes back from the dead behaves, you know> As long as it's behaviours that's coming from a truthful place inside you, I don't think that there's anything that's wrong for this character to do. It's very liberating; I mean, the character quotes poetry in the middle of an action sequence! And I don't think that's invalid for him to do. He's not operating on the same principals that a regular person is. I don't think it's invalid for him to burst into laughter or tears at any given moment, over nothing. It's really a wonderful opportunity and I'm doing my damnedest to make the most of it.
CS: Are you saying that the minute you put on the makeup, you already feel the transformation?
LEE: Certainly, yes. It makes you feel a certain sense of otherness. And it's funny, because sometimes you almost forget that you look different! [laughs.]It's always like that: You put on a nice black pair of leather gloves, and suddenly you feel a sense of power on your hands, in your gestures. Whenever I put on gloves, I feel like I can hit somebody, you know what I mean? You put on a big pair of biker boots or something; you can certainly draw on things like that to develop a character.
CS: And the hours a day putting on the makeup?
LEE: It's not really that bad. And when it's on, it's not as severe as say, the actor's mask in The Elephant Man.
CS: How does the costume reflect the character?
LEE: The costume is basically just some of Eric's old clothes that he finds.
CS: What about the element about him where he takes something from each victim he eliminates?
LEE: There's a kind of ritualistic, totemistic feel to it. There's a line that came purely from the comic book, where Eric, after having killed one of the guys, took a spent shell casing and tied it in his hair. And, in the comic, the line was "To build a temple to sadness, he ties a spent casing in his hair. 'One,' he says." And I think that's the influence for Eric collecting an item from each person.
CS: Do you fell there are echoes of Edgar Allen Poe and The Raven?
LEE: The piece touches on many things like that. I mean, I'm quoting poetry from Poe and others, For some reason, I personally remember song lyrics-I always do, I can't help it; if I hear a song once, I know all the lyrics to the song. And when I'm driving or performing some other repetitive, mindless activity, I tend to recite song lyrics to myself that usually seem appropriate to the situation. And, to me, when Eric is reciting poetry in the film, they're just thoughts that come into his mind and seem to match. He was a songwriter in his life, he was a road man, and I think that he has stored up in his mind hundreds and hundreds of lyrics from songs and pieces from different poetry that he has read. And he uses those to express what's going on with him at different times in the film.
CS: Tell me about working with the director, Alex Proyas.
LEE: He has a really, really strong visual sense. he's bringing a truly great look to this film. He's a very stylistic filmmaker, you know-like the early Riddly Scott or Joel Schumacher films had a definite look to them. And Alex is doing a fantastic job in creating a very definite look for this film. It's very dark, both literally and emotionally. He has taken a lot of colour out of the surroundings, except for the certain key times when we use colour, too. For example, any sequence that's a flashback to Eric's life when he was alive, before he and Shelly were killed, we're shooting in a much more colour saturated, light environment than the rest of the film. Another great thing Alex has invented is called "Crow-vision": The character of Eric is able to see the world through the eyes of a Crow, and when he sees the world in that fashion, Alex has created a wonderful effect which is Crow-vision in the film-it's black-and-white, it's distorted and...you just have to see it.
CS: Any other special problems about The Crow?
LEE: I've had to keep reminding myself of the situation constantly in playing this part, simply because sometimes it's easy to lapse into thinking that you are alive , and that the character you're playing is a man-but that's not the case. In the scene we're shooting right now, when cops come in through, and train all their guns on Eric and tell him to freeze, we did an interesting thing late last night (We worked 19 hours yesterday, until about 4 a.m.) The cops trained their guns on me and said "Freeze!", and I did this kind of Loony Tunes dance [giggles] out of the room, as opposed to a more traditional turning and running, Because the fact of the matter is that Eric doesn't have to do that, you know? There's no reason he wouldn't do a Looney Tunes dance out the door. [Laughs.] And we've had many times where I've suggested things to Alex, and he has looked at me for a second like, "Are you kidding?" [Laughs.] And then we've managed to get them into the film.
CS: Given the nature of the part and the late hours, can you take off the makeup after work and go to sleep, or does it take a few hours of unwinding?
LEE: Well, the majority of the time, by the time I get home, I'm so tired that I just go to sleep-to tell you the truth.
CS: But you Feel fulfilled?
LEE: Yeah, most of the time.
Property of The Crow: A Boy and His Bird: http://abahb.crowfans.com
From: Comics Scene Magazine #37 September 1993
"The crow in the film, the bird in the film; you could really look at as a guide...Almost a piece of his own personality that guides him back into his life and reminds him of who he was, what happened to him.
This is a person who has been pushed right to the limits of his ability to cope what is going on. And in a sense is quite mad sometimes... In a sense completely insane, almost in a sense that you might think of an insane person having voices. More rational voices that try to guide him...More irrational voices that come from a more emotional... More deep-seated place. I think that the crow his that rational voice, the crow is his guide.
The crow helps Eric to do what he has to do in a very practical sense; it leads him to places where he has to be, it helps him find people he has to find.
It's a story about justice for victims.
His mission is to find the people who killed himself and his fiancee, and kill them.
Its a wonderful role, it really is a role that you can take risks with, and gives you a wonderful opportunity to take those risks & stretch, because after all can you tell me how someone who has come back from the dead will behave.
That is one of the wonderful things about playing this character, it's a real.... you can really take the gloves off in playing this part because there are no rules on how a person who has come back from the dead is going to behave.
There is a part of him that is filled with rage towards what was done to him. And another of the things that I like about this movie is that all the parts of the character are given balance on the screen. He is torn up really badly, both physically and psychically.
I think the appeal of Eric's mission is that it is a very pure one. He has come back to seek justice.
I have done other films that have had violence in them, but I have never done anything where I felt that the violence was as justified as this. There is very little need to worry about compassion for his victims.
This is justice, and I truly feel that it is, and I truly feel if I was in the same situation I would do the same thing: It is something that he has to do, and he is forced to put aside his own pain long enough to do what he has to.
This film deals with the concept of a solution being struck between good and evil.
Because we do not know when we are going to die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well and yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood? An afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you cannot conceive of your life without it? Perhaps 4 --5 times more. Perhaps not even that.
How many times will you watch the full moon rise ---. Perhaps twenty and yet it all seems limitless.
This is the point of view this character is coming from in the whole film, because it has brought sharply into focus how precious each moment of his life was.
This is the best role I have had the opportunity to get my hands on".
Alex Proyas, Director of the Crow Alex Proyas is a member of the latest generation of Australian filmmakers to burst upon the scene since the New Wave of the `70s was inaugurated by the international success of Peter Weir's aptly named The Last Wave. Proyas' breakthrough as a feature director was the 1994 film adaptation of James O'Barr's cutting-edge punk comic-book novel The Crow. The film, which was not only a commercial hit, was also a critical success for its star, Brandon Lee, who achieved the posthumous status of a legend in his own right for his haunting portrayal of a man who returns from the dead to avenge his own murder. Proyas is currently writing a screenplay for a comedy "set in the real world." In addition, as part of his two-picture deal with New Line Cinema, he is also doing a new version of the climactic film in Hammer Films' legendary Quartermass series, created by esteemed science fiction writer Nigel Kneale, Quartermass and the Pit, about the origin of Evil. Proyas first established himself internationally as a sought-after maker of music videos and commercials. He founded his own Sydney-based production company, Meaningful Eye Contact, during his second year of film school, and subsequently signed with Propaganda Films in Los Angeles, then with U.K.-based Limelight Films, before re-signing with Propaganda in 1990. His videos for such musical bands as INXS, Crowded House, Fleetwood Mac, Joe Jackson, Rick Springfield, Cutting Crew, Colin Hay and Yes, and commercials for Nike, Coca Cola, Pepsi, American Express, Swatch, Nissan, Kleenex, Phipps, Castrol, TDK, Hitachi, Verve, Philips and Dunlop, among others, have won numerous awards all over the world. Born in Egypt, Proyas has lived in Sydney since he was three. Admitted to the Australian Film and Television School at the age of 17, he attracted attention with his short film, Groping, made during his first year, which won the Most Outstanding Short Film Award at the 1982 London Film Festival, the Greater Union Best Short Film Award at the Sydney Film Festival and the Boomerang Award at the 1982 Melbourne Film Festival. In 1987, Proyas made his debut feature, a post-apocalyptic western called Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds, which also won festival awards.
In an acting career that has spanned nearly 20 years, Michael Wincott has appeared in feature films, theatre, and television. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, and attended New York's prestigious Juilliard School of Drama. Since graduating from Juilliard in 1986, his talent has won him impressive supporting roles in films with such directors as Oliver Stone, Jim Jarmusch, Michael Cimino, Ridley Scott, Peter Medak, and Kathryn Bigelow.