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Health Care Thriller: Inhale

We talk with Inhale's Dermot Mulroney about the newsworthy topics fueling his new thriller about organ trafficking.



Baltasar Kormákur's Inhale opens with a situation that feels too familiar these days. A sick young girl, Chloe and her frantic parents, Paul (Dermot Mulroney) and Diane (Diane Kruger) are in a dire situation. Chloe's dying from a rare degenerative condition and needs a double lung transplant, but she's low on the list. It's a virtual death sentence, and there's no way for this well-to-do couple to beat the situation.


Until Paul decides to chase a lead... in Juárez, Mexico. A blue-hued thriller, Kormakur's film runs on two plotlines—one following the family as they try to save the daughter, and the other one following Paul's journey into the grime, sleaze, and danger of the Mexican underworld. The result is a thriller, that for all its twists and turns, wrestles with ethics and morality in a unique way.


Tribeca talked to Mulroney, who turns in quite the bad-ass performance. The long-time actor, who's been in everything from Young Guns to My Best Friend's Wedding to Zodiac, was genial and enthusiastic, taking the time to give a personal thanks for "supporting a small film." Totally charming.


Tribeca: So just to start, what was it like working with Sam Shepard on this film? He's a hero of mine...


Dermot Mulroney: He's a hero of mine too. I've worked with him a number of times, starting in 1986 or so where I played his son, I was 22 and he was 42. He directed me in a movie called Silent Tongue. Then there was this. The deal with Sam is that he was never very nice and now he is unbearable. Not to me, which is why I can speak freely about this. I know about Sam. Sam's very interesting. He's fantastic, first of all. He's a son of a gun. But he's rough these days. He got cranky. Really cranky. Not with me, but to see him on a set from 20 years after when I first saw him on a set, he has definitely matured in his approach to the business. He took a break for a little while, and now he's back. I saw him in Brothers, he's fantastic, so I say bring it on, to any of the boom guys he wants to yell on set. He's a pain in the ass and a genius.

Tribeca: How did you get involved with Inhale?

Dermot Mulroney: It came to me. The producers had already made The Wedding Date and we knew each other. I knew they were developing this script, but I never though of it for me to be in. I took the part right away—it's a dramatic thriller, where the character is worried about the daughter and goes to the ends of the earth to save her, of course!


Tribeca: Did you do research for this film? It practically is a thriller about health care.


Dermot Mulroney: Right, the lack of a beneficial health care system in the United States and murder for profit. When I first read it, I thought I knew all about these guys that jump the line and stuff, and the script went a completely different way. It really happens, obviously, but it's incredibly hard to document. Nobody's covered it or run an expose on 60 Minutes or CNN. Consequently, it's never really become front page news, like the crime itself, it's kind of underworld still. There are a couple of other movies that touch on the topic, like Dirty Pretty Things—amazing—I'm such a Chitewel Ejiofor fan. that's a version of it. And this is still even worse. They're running kids down on the street. It's sad and by the same token, it's not a documentary. 


Tribeca: Where did you film it?


Dermot Mulroney: We turned some streets in Las Vegas, New Mexico, into Juárez. The director looked into it but you can't get insurance, the bond companies wouldn't even consider it. We couldn't even get exterior shots of the bridge. You put together an Icelandic director in New Mexico with a German lead actress, two Mexican actors, Sam Shepard—[Kormákur] didn't try to homogenize it with a bunch of Hollywood actors, and he cast the film with really strong, manly actors.


Tribeca: What are you up to next?


Dermot Mulroney: I'm in the middle of production on Everybody Loves Whales, it's a really cool production. I've had plenty of days off in Anchorage. It's a great cast, with Drew Barrymore and James LeGros, and that's a reunion from when we made Bad Girls. The story the movie's based on, it's all true. It's one of those stories where you literally couldn't make this shit up.


Inhale opens at the IFC Center this Friday, October 22.


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