The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
In ‘The Card Counter,’ Tiffany Haddish brings the light
Tiffany Haddish may have Martin Scorsese to thank for her role in Paul Schrader’s “The Card Counter,” at least indirectly.
It was Scorsese who opened Schrader’s eyes to the power of the comedic actor when he cast Albert Brooks in a vanilla — seemingly plain — role in “Taxi Driver.” Schrader asked him why and he said he thought Brooks would find something in it.
“You cast a comic, they will break
something in a role, even if it isn’t laughs. They will make themselves interesting,” Schrader said. “It’s in their DNA.”
And it’s a theory he’s often gone back to, from casting Richard Pryor in his debut “Blue Collar” to bringing Cedric the Entertainer to his last film “First Reformed.” So when Haddish’s name came up for the role of La Linda, a gambling agent who gets entangled with Oscar Isaac’s mysterious card shark William Tell, he was intrigued.
“She brings a little joy, she brings her charisma,” Haddish said Thursday at the Venice Film Festival before its world premiere. “Every good drama, no matter how dark it is, needs a little light so people can take a breath, that’s what I was looking to do.”
The 41-year-old actor consulted with some professional gamblers she knows to learn more about what their agents are like. She wasn’t impressed with what she heard.
“It sounded like a bunch of slimy people to me,” she said. “I wasn’t feeling that. I was like, ‘I’m not making her slimy, that’s for sure.”
Though she’s dabbled in some serious roles, it was a bit of a learning curve for Haddish at first. But it was one that she was game for.
“For someone with Tiffany’s background one of the hardest things to learn is you don’t have to hit every line,” Schrader said.
“The Card Counter” opens in U.S. theaters on Sept. 10.