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Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Paris Film: Director’s Commentary

Interestingly enough, Shannen Doherty was our original choice to star in the film, but there was a falling out due to creative differences. We’d been through weeks of intensive rehearsal and had just begun our first night of filming when Shannen admitted she ultimately had issues with the “doggy-style” element. She simply didn’t feel it was in her character. At that point, we were already behind schedule, so a rewrite was totally out of the question. Luckily, Paris Hilton stepped in at the last minute, and she turned out to be perfect. Looking back, I can’t even imagine the film without her. I’m not saying Shannen wouldn’t have worked in the role—it just would have been a different film.

Now, here’s a bone I have to pick with our post-production facility. Look at Paris’s eyes. Just look at ’em. We wanted a very delicate otherworldly look to it, and they went way overboard. I even told them during editing, “Less Blargon 7, more Earthling.” And as bad as it looks now, this is actually after they toned it down! You can’t imagine how freaky the eyes were at first. Anyway, we’re done using them for post. They didn’t listen and wound up clouding my artistic vision. It’s something I’d really like to see if we can digitally correct in next year’s Special Edition DVD. Oh, wait. Did you catch that? Look at how Paris instinctively knew just when to look toward the camera. You can’t direct that. It’s just natural. Paris really brings something genuine to the role. Did you know her mother, Kathy Hilton, was an actress in the 70s? It’s clearly where Paris gets it from. It’s in her blood.

O.K., the green night-vision perspective? I was trying to make a statement about our soldiers in the Gulf. You see this shot here? Where I’m railing her and I pan down toward my own penis? That’s meant as social criticism on the fucking that our troops get over there in the desert. I think it speaks for itself. It’s fucking deep, isn’t it? Ha, ha, no pun intended.

O.K., you see that right there, where Paris turns her head toward me, then to the camera, then back toward me, then back to the camera again, and that back to me one final time—we shot that take at least 20 times. It’s very tricky timing, and a complicated staging, and we just couldn’t get the right rhythm right. Paris was a real trooper though. She never complained, no matter how many times I asked her to try again. She gives each and every take her all. A real professional.

Now this scene right here … what can I say? I’m pretty proud of that shot. I love the mise-en-scène here, the way Paris’s breasts obscure my face … it suggests—what? Mystery? Something bad about to happen? Maybe nothing, but it looks awesome. She’s got a hell of a rack, that girl. I’ll tell you what I’m thinking right there: I’m thinking, “Rick, you’ve got this hot 19-year-old heiress riding you like she’s in the Kentucky Derby, her ass is flying all over the place, she’s got more money than God and a body so delicious you could just weep, and you, Rick, you are just a lowly filmmaker who’s barely holding this project together … does life get any better?” That’s what I remember I was thinking right there.

O.K., you’re going to have to watch very closely now. Don’t take your eyes of the screen. Did you see it? It was quick improvisation on my part, but I gave her a nice slap on the ass. Wham! Very quick. And she just went with it. She totally was not expecting that, and she just sailed through the scene. I cannot overstate this girl’s talent. It’s like hamburger vs. steak.

Ah, here, where the phone rings. You’d think it was set up, right? It was real. Paris forgot to shut her ringer and right there, in the middle of the scene, it goes off, but I told the cameraman to keep rolling, because sometimes you catch something extra, something genuine, that you could never have planned for. What’s funny is I had totally reamed a P.A. just that day for the same thing. His cell phone went off, and we totally lost a whole scene. Anyway, we liked how this played, Paris on her phone, but we really debated whether or not to include the scene in the final edit. We almost cut it, because, while it was great character development, we felt that it ultimately distracted the viewer from the narrative. Test audiences went berserk for it though, so we left it in. Funny how things like that just work out.

Ah, and here’s the big climax—you know, we searched and searched for just the right track to use as background for this scene. We really wanted to juxtapose the sensual intimacy with a standup routine from a young black comic. We went through, like, thousands of tapes—Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, even old stuff like Richard Pryor. We almost gave up too, but then one Friday night, I was just pooped from the long editing process, and my wife and I were in a little bed and breakfast upstate, and we flipped on the TV and there was Def Comedy Jam playing, totally by random chance, and we found it. We knew instantly. I looked at Shannen, and she said, “Rick. This is it.” And she was right. It was perfect.

You know, my wife really never liked the end … the whole oral scene, she felt, was too much to cram in there in the final reel. I don’t know if I agree. I’ll say this, though: you really have to respect a woman who will spend hours and hours getting fucked sideways and then turn around and blow the guy that was fucking her. There’s something about that. The Germans have a word for it: It’s called “class.” And Paris Hilton is class from top to bottom.

One Night in Paris is Mr. Salomon's first film.