casThis interview (actually a press conference) contains a special surprise guest – Earl Dittman! More on him in a minute.

Opening this weekend, Derailed stars Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen in a noir thriller about a couple of married people who begin an affair that has unexpected consequences. I can report back to you that Clive Owen has a hell of a handshake, with these big hands that just swallowed my grubby mitts. Jennifer Aniston looks exactly like Jennifer Aniston, and I suppose the recognition factor from seeing her on the cover of every magazine for the last year turned her from a celeb into just another person in my mind’s eye.

There were questions about Jennifer’s split with Brad – I didn’t transcribe them. Because honestly, who cares? Instead I included an outburst from Earl Dittman, where he displays a self-deprecating sense of humor that almost makes me love him.

If you don’t know who Earl Dittman is, you can do one of two things – look at any ad for a rotten movie and see his glowing quote about it, or visit the Hollywood Bitchslap two parter expose and interview. It’s fascinating.

Q: How did you feel being known as America’s Sweetheart? And do you think this role will finally kill that for you?

Aniston: God, I hope so!

I don’t know. The America’s Sweetheart label gets put on a lot of people; I don’t pay any attention to that. I’m not trying to shake any label, I’m just following my instincts and doing work that I feel is coming to me. I am grateful for it, and I’m just trying to do my job as best as I can.

Q: How would you describe your character at the beginning of the film?

Aniston: I would describe her as a normal woman who is in a very mundane phase in her life who meets this very intriguing man on the train and succumbs to temptation almost and they both have to figure out a way to get out of the horrible consequences they have made for themselves.

Q: And how would you describe the movie?

Aniston: This is a sexy psychological thriller. [laughs]

Earl Dittman: That’s my quote!

Q: This is Mikael Håfström’s first American film. Can you talk about working with him?

Owen: I don’t know if anyone here has seen his first film, Evil, but I was completely blown away by it. I think it was a beautifully directed film. I think Mikael is a great choice for this film because it is a psychological thriller with lots of twists and turns, and in certain hands it could have had a simple, bombastic style, but Mike was so clever and nuanced. The thing about his films is that they’re always psychologically clear; they’re always delicate and subtle, and I think that was important for a film like this.

Aniston: For me this was uncharted territory and I felt such a trust in everything that he said. You have that instinct; there was never debate, there was never questioning. For something like this it was really important. Also having seen Evil, and meeting with him and getting his take on how he wanted to play this, it was incredibly intriguing. It’s a discomforting experience, watching this movie, and put in the wrong hands it could easily have gone high concept glossy slick thriller, and it’s just not. It’s far from it.

Q: Was it scary for you to take that plunge into this type of movie?

Aniston: There is definitely a moment of, oh gosh, I hope I can pull this off. But then I had enough people around me and Mikael believing in it. And thank god for directors like him where it was interesting to him to take this persona and put it in this part. That doesn’t always happen and I appreciate that.

Q: The Rachel persona?

csaAniston: Whatever the persona is that has not granted me the opportunity to do other types of roles such as this.

Q: The film has a sex scene that has to not only convey the relationship of the two characters but build into a shocking moment of violence. Can you talk about that?

Owen: It’s a very important scene. You don’t want to be in a position for condemning these two people for falling into the hotel room together because otherwise you’re going to be too judgemental when the nightmare starts going. I think Mikael played all that very delicately and very beautifully, the coming together of these two people. In other hands you might have judged them later too much, you might have thought, ‘Well, they’re getting their just desserts.’ But this is two people with a strong mutual attraction and they know they shouldn’t go to that motel room but they do. They’re flawed, fallible human beings who fall for each other, a terrible thing happens, and there are huge consequences.

Aniston: In terms of filming it, from this to the rape was over a week, so we were able to block it out. It was so choreographed and it was so technical, but it was not as hard to do as it was to watch.

Owen: And then Vincent [Cassel] comes in, who is such a phenomenal actor that there’s no acting required. He scares the shit out of us!

Aniston: It wasn’t so hard.

Q: Clive, you have a number of scenes with RZA. Were you familiar with his music? What was it like working with him?

Owen: It was fantastic. I did know RZA’s work, yeah. He is fantastic in the movie, I think. It’s a very important relationship in the movie, and I think sometimes when people cross over from the music business to the movies it can be a little gimmicky, but I think in both RZA’s and Xzibit’s case, they deliver great performances. They were right for the parts and they play them brilliantly. RZA, I think, is a huge talent in a number of areas, and a smart guy.

Q: Jennifer, you talked about wanting to do something different. Are there more dramatic roles you’re looking at?

Aniston: You’re always just looking for good work – dramatic, comedic, whatever it is. As far as what I’m doing next, nothing is definite. I’m probably going to take some time off unless something wonderful comes along, and nothing has yet.

Q: Clive, this character is almost the polar opposite of your character in Sin City and Croupier and the BMW films. Were you looking to get away from the guy who is totally in control?

Owen: There was definitely something very attractive about playing a very reactive part, as opposed to somebody who drives the narrative forward. Somebody who the story comes at, and they have to respond. It always struck me in terms of the old Hitchcock movies about people who were thrown into nightmare worlds where nothing is as it seems. For the world to be convincing and work, you have to be in that nightmare. It’s all about reacting as opposed to driving it. I was excited by that challenge.

Q: Are you coming back for a Sin City sequel?

Owen: They’re talking about doing it next year. I was a huge fan of Sin City 1; I think Robert Rodriguez is a genius and that was one of the most ground-breaking, exciting movies I have been a part of.

Q: Have you and Robert talked about the idea of you playing Dwight when he had a different face?

Owen: Well, he’s doing A Dame to Kill For, isn’t he? That’s the one where at the end the bandages come off to reveal Dwight’s new face.