Seeing Red: John Malkovich and His Pink Pig

Yesterday, as part of my on-going series of articles directed at the upcoming action comedy Red, I mentioned Helen Mirren’s character Victoria. She’s the kind of dame who wines, dines and then shoots up a parking lot with a .50 caliber machine gun. The kind of character who cuts through a film like a knife. Always interesting.

Today we’re on to yet another character who may be a scene-stealer, Marvin Boggs. Marvin is another former intelligence agent and friend of Bruce Willis’s character Frank. He’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist and the product of many years of drug-induced mind experiments at the CIA. What better actor is there to play Marvin, you might think, than John Malkovich? There isn’t.

“All four of us,” Malkovich explained to us from the set of Red in New Orleans. “Bruce and Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman [are] retired CIA assassins. Mine’s a kind of survivalist type that lives in a swamp and it’s a little bit whacked.” Whacked would be putting it mildly, as it might be with many of Malkovich’s previous characters.

“We know that Marvin as a character—the Malkovich character is one of the wilder characters he’s played,” explained producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “What’s fun about Marvin for instance is everybody thinks Marvin’s crazy or just a complete lunatic and every time Marvin’s right. “So everybody goes, what’s he saying? And then he’ll be like, see that helicopter up there? They’re watching us.  And everybody’s saying, Marvin come on. And of course the helicopter was watching them.”

But Marvin is more than just your average paranoid former spy. Especially when you take into account his living arrangements. As you may have seen in the first trailer, Marvin lives in a home in a backwoods area. But the entrance to his home isn’t the front door, it’s a car parked in the front yard. That’s only the beginning. Inside, his home is like a bomb shelter, outfitted for a nuclear winter and littered with newspapers and weapons. “It’s fantastic,” says the soft-spoken Malkovich. “Weapons and cans of beans? What else could you want?”

And if the paranoia and the wild contraptions in his home don’t round out Martin’s wildness, there is always the pink pig.

When we visited the set in May, we were shown a delightful stuffed pink pig. The reasons why Marvin carries the pig are rather mysterious. “I’m not really clear why it’s a pig and not, like, a duffle bag. When they find out that they’re being followed — that they are targets for something that happened many, many years ago — my character says, ‘I’m gettin’ the pig.’ I’m not really sure why, but that’s a really good idea. A sort of call to arms.”

“It’s the best part of the whole movie,” said co-star Mary-Louise Parker. “John Malkovich with a pink pig is–you can’t get better than that. Than John Malkovich alone and then you add a pink pig.”

So what’s inside the pig? I can’t say just yet — it’s one of those fun little secrets that is best revealed in the context of the film. But it’s fun just to watch him walk around the set with the damned thing, so I have a feeling it might be even more fun on the big screen.

Red is in theaters October 15, 2010. The Red panel at Comic-Con will take place on Thursday, July 22, 2010 from 2:15pm to 3:15pm in Hall H. As you might expect, we will be there. As part of our week-long preview coverage of the film, Summit Entertainment has released another character poster. This time we meet Marvin Boggs, conspiracy theorist and pink pig aficionado. Click it. It gets bigger.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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