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homeland security
status : TBR.
more information
in the land of women
status : in theatres.
more information
against the ropes
status : released on DVD
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Meg Ryan : an interview with CNN | 2004

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's my lucky day here at CNN, not one but two Hollywood stars just dropping by on LIVE FROM to give us a preview of the upcoming movie "Against the Ropes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AGAINST THE ROPES")

MEG RYAN, ACTRESS: Oh, that was beautiful. That was beautiful! Nice work on the jab. Did you see that right hook, Felix? Did you see that? It was great.

CHARLES DUTTON, ACTOR: Yes, he did all right.

RYAN: Oh! Hold on. Hold on one second. Listen, whoever it is, nobody act surprised that we won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: You should have worn that outfit.

Meg Ryan and Charles Dutton, welcome to LIVE FROM. That is something. Great movie. Great movie.

RYAN: Hi, Miles.

O'BRIEN: I had a chance to see a preview.

Good to see you both.

DUTTON: How you doing, Miles? Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for being here. Thanks for dropping by.

This is sort of like "Erin Brockovich" meets "Rocky," I guess? I don't know. But there is a real-life person at the root of this.

RYAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: A promoter from Detroit.

RYAN: Right.

O'BRIEN: And you've got a Detroit accent going.

RYAN: That's right. Her name is Jackie Kallen. She's the first woman who ever successfully managed a middleweight boxing champion.

This is the land of Don we're talking about. There are not a lot of women that do this, right?

DUTTON: It's the land of Don King and Bob Arum.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

DUTTON: Can't leave out Mr. Bob.

O'BRIEN: There you go. There you go.

But so, when you saw this script, did you immediately say, this is for me?

RYAN: Yes, it was exciting. First of all, she's a remarkable story. Then she showed me one of her scrapbooks. And it was kind of extraordinary, because she had all these pictures of her with her matching outfits. She made sure that they matched her boxers' trunks.

O'BRIEN: Oh, really?

RYAN: Yes, you just can't go back from knowing that.

O'BRIEN: No, that's pretty much the clincher right there.

RYAN: Right.

O'BRIEN: Did you feel the same way when you saw it? Is this something that was right up your alley?

DUTTON: Yes, well, when I got the script, it was like a great debut for the director film, a major film with a major actress and a fight game that I knew something about. So it was a natural.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Now, for you, first directing gig in a big feature film. How hard was it to direct yourself? Did you listen?

(LAUGHTER)

DUTTON: I had some serious debates.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Yes. It can be hard, can't it?

DUTTON: Oh, it can be very difficult.

But, you know, if you're with other good actors, you know, you just kind of bounce off them. And you kind of fix in your head how you want to play it and you go ahead and stick with it.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

What's the early buzz on the movie? You heard good reaction so far? Are you feeling good about it?

RYAN: Apparently, yes, very funny and touching and all kinds of things.

DUTTON: Yes, we think people like it. We think it's, you know, a movie experience seeing the film.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

Do we have a clip we can just play for one second? Is this it? Don't know. Do we have a clip?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AGAINST THE ROPES")

RYAN: Hey, Luther. This is Felix Reynolds.

OMAR EPPS, ACTOR: This old man is going to be my trainer? Lady, I thought you said you had a plan.

DUTTON: Let me see your stance. He ain't worth it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: All right. That's Omar Epps. Tell me about him.

DUTTON: Oh, Omar was terrific, terrific. It was great to have an actor who already knew how to box. So we didn't have to take a guy in the gym and teach him. He could sick some serious butt, Omar.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

DUTTON: And so that made the boxing scenes great to shoot and very authentic, because he knew how to take care of himself.

O'BRIEN: Now, what did you know about boxing before you got into this film?

RYAN: Oh, absolutely nothing.

O'BRIEN: So how much do you know now?

RYAN: Quite a bit, because I hung out with Jackie a lot. And Roc is a big fight fan. And all I had ever really seen was this tremendous documentary called "When We Were Kings." So as soon as it was -- sports drama is interesting once I understood the personalities and the history of things.

O'BRIEN: Yes. And are you left a fan of prize fighting through all of this?

RYAN: Actually, yes. There's a real purity to it that I hadn't -- wasn't -- I hadn't seen before. And it's sort of juxtaposed with this incredibly, sort of impure, very corrupt world. And that's a lot about what our movie is about, this pure thing that happens amidst this.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but I wouldn't necessarily associate pure with prize fighting.

RYAN: Yes, but it's a pretty-stripped down, pretty...

DUTTON: There's a certain purity about it.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Well, there's something primal about it, I guess, right?

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: Primal, right. There's no helmets or masks. It's pure competition. And it's just two guys wanting to knock each other out. How much more pure do you get?

O'BRIEN: Now, how about you? What's your experience with prize fighting?

(CROSSTALK)

DUTTON: Well, I amateur boxed for a while.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you, I wouldn't go in the ring with you, no way.

DUTTON: Now -- I'm retired now. I'm an old man.

O'BRIEN: I still wouldn't.

DUTTON: I'm older than Charles Barkley. So...

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: But, nevertheless. So, I mean, you have some experience with it.

DUTTON: Yes. And I've been around the fight game a long time. I know all the players and the fighters. And so, when I got this script, my only fear was, how do you make another good boxing movie? There's been many, some great and some not so good. But it was a fresh idea coming from a perspective of a woman. And there's some great action scenes in the film, really great.

O'BRIEN: All right, and just a final thought. This is the girl- next-door image, long gone now, isn't it?

RYAN: Apparently.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: And are you pleased to bury it?

RYAN: Well, I'm -- I'm a woman now. (LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: It's quite evident, yes.