Deliver Us from Evil star Eric Bana, writer/director Scott Derrickson, and real life subject/inspiration Ralph Sarchie sat down for roundtable interviews on Friday, June 20, at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills to discuss not only the crime drama/supernatural thriller hybrid but the real metaphysical issues it touches upon.
From Real to Reel Life
"I knew Ralph and had gotten a deep sense of the value of who he was as a film character, as a real cop, as an undercover Bronx hardcore guy, foul-mouthed Italian that he is. [laughs] So coming up with one small element and coming up with a fictional narrative and tying them up was the greatest trick. But I think we did it, and once we started the work, that was the point when I knew I would make it."
A Tale of Two Ralphs
"Eric is at his best playing larger than life characters. Chopper. Hoot in Black Hawk Down. Nero in Star Trek. Munich. These characters are big personalities. He's very good with accents; all of those characters had different accents--even Chopper's not his real Australian accent. I knew that I wanted him to talk like Ralph; I knew I wanted him to be Ralph. You watch the movie, and it's this guy. I think it was also who had the personal gravity and intensity and intelligence and physicality that I could buy as a cop in the Bronx. He just fit the bill; he just seemed like the right choice from the get-go. He was the one guy that we went after, and we got him. Eric was a little nervous at first [meeting Sarchie], but then they got to know each other. [Sarchie] was our police advisor on the set. As an actor playing somebody, it really messes with your head having to have the person you're playing there all the time, and I think Eric got comfortable with it very quickly. But what was important to me was to have a police officer on set all the time who I was confident was going to represent cops in this place in this time properly. It was amazing how often I'd call on him."
"[Sarchie] was there every day. He was there officially as our police advisor, so he wasn't there in my ear telling me how to do things or advise me personally. It was potentially very uncomfortable. I was very mindful of that when I met him. I wasn't going to bust this guy's chops; I'm not going to ask him a million questions. I'm actually going to get more out of it if he's just himself, and I could just be an observer of him--and I stole a couple of things. There's a kind of troubling quality to him, a real intense quality to my Ralph that I partly took from the real Ralph. Obviously being in the Bronx, being on location and having him around was very beneficial for me."
The Truth Is Out There
"I'm not doing it deliberately to get the audience to make any kinds of decisions about [the existence of evil]. I don't try to tell stories that way. I think it's more about trying to be truthful about what my experience is and how I see the world and how the world feels to me. And the way the world feels to me is that it's a magical, mystical place and constantly being told that it's not. Stories like this are a way for me to, I think, consciously resist that. One of the reasons I believe the things I believe is because of evil, because of that inexplicable mystery of evil. But I also believe in the inexplicable mystery of good and this grace that enters into the situations where people should be, given their upbringing and their abuse, junkies and murderers and in jail, but instead they're beautiful people and beautiful parents. Where does that come from? I think all of that seeing that the world is not simple and deterministic and is, in fact, entrenched in these incredible mysteries--I find that experience when I'm looking at good and evil."
"Scott and I think alike. That's why we got along. Scott's got a very good grasp about what primary and secondary evil is. I believe that he as the writer and the director--it was designed to be that way, and the movie proves me correct. I didn't see it yet. [laughs] But I knew it, more times that you can imagine."
"Part of our job is to be open. It's far more comfortable and humorous to be snippy with the subject matter; I get that. But one thing I really did learn by engorging it is that it's extremely rare. It's not like if you decide to believe in this stuff, it's like, 'Oh, this shit's going down in my neighborhood!' [laughs] This stuff is extremely rare cases. But it is more interesting to be open minded. There are plenty of cultures and countries in the world where this is not an unusual subject. The subject of exorcism and people being possessed is a daily occurrence in some cultures."
The Final Word
"I've been out of the [paranormal] work for a number of years. When I got divorced, I retired, and sort of lived the life that I shouldn't have lived. We're not going to go into it because it might not be fit for print. [laughs] Being that I came into the work, I sort of came back refreshed and looking at things from a different angle, which is what I believe what God wanted to be. I'm seeing more of a shift in the way evil is going to affect us in the future. I don't think we're quite there yet, but I believe we're traveling at a high speed towards that. And I spoke to Father Malachi Martin a lot about this, and I think one of the most disturbing things that came out of it was he said that we're going to the point in time where God is going to allow more children to become possessed to chastise the parents for not going to God and not teaching their kids to have a relationship with God. I've been hearing a lot of misconceptions that people believe that if they're Christian, they're safe; they can't be touched. That is so wrong it is not even funny. I doesn't matter who you are. If God allows it, it will happen. The only reason why we're all sitting around this table is because God has not allowed the Devil to molest us in that manner."
Buy the Deliver Us from Evil movie poster here.
Buy the Deliver Us from Evil DVD here.
Buy the Deliver Us from Evil Blu-ray here.
Buy Ralph Sarchie's Deliver Us from Evil: A New York City Cop Investigates the Supernatural book here.
Buy Ralph Sarchie's Deliver Us from Evil: A New York City Cop Investigates the Supernatural audiobook here.
(Special thanks to Screen Gems)