Interview with Crispin Glover
I just got finished interviewing Crispin Glover. I know this doesn’t mean much coming from me, but I found him to be the most lucid, sane and focused celebrity I have ever had the chance to talk to. I didn’t include everything in this interview because we talked for a long time and I am pretty sure that some Chronicle reporter is pissed at me for sucking up Mr. Glover’s time — but to hell with them, let’s get on with the interview.
Darren Mckeeman: How did you come to work with Adam Parfrey?
Crispin Glover: Adam and I met when he asked me for a piece for his book tortures and torments of the Christian Martyrs. We became great friends and he had a large role in the production of WHAT IS IT?
DM: You have a lot of disabled people in this movie. Were there any concessions that you had to make to their disabilities in your direction?
CG: No, there wasn’t. The major thing about acting, with any actor, is that they be enthusiastic about the project. All of the actors working on this project were very enthusiastic, and they were very easy to work with as a result. I’m glad I got to make this movie – I actually was working on it when I got the call for CHARLIE’S ANGELS. Originally they gave me lines, but after I read the script I didn’t like what they gave me to say, so I kind of asked if the character could be this fighting guy who never spoke and the director, who was very enthusiastic, jumped up and down and said “YES! YES!” So, that nailed down that part for me, and when all was said and done I took my earnings from CHARLIE’S ANGELS and put it into this film, which was money well spent.
DM: I understand that WHAT IS IT? is going to be part of a trilogy. Can you tell me anything about these movies?
CG: Yes, we’re currently on tour for WHAT IS IT? We have a traveling show where I give an hour long presentation with slides, a slideshow of my book. Then we do the movie, which is about 90 minutes, and then we do the Q&A and autograph session, which takes the longest. WHAT IS IT? Is the first film of a trilogy, I have part of the second film shot. On the second film, I took a screenplay by Stephen C. Stewart about his experiences. Stephen was 63 years old and had cerebral palsy, and he had this experience where he was trapped in a hospital and labeled as mentally retarded, when that’s not the case (with victims of cerebral palsy). The whole screenplay is about that, and it’s got some sexual themes in it too – Stephen had a hair fetish. We came to shoot the movie because as things dragged on, Stephen suffered a collapsed lung and it became obvious that if we didn’t start shooting that it would never get done. So, we shot a bunch of it and he died about a month later. That movie is called EVERYTHING IS FINE. The last movie is going to be called IT IS MINE. WHAT IS IT? Was originally going to be a short film that highlighted working with people with Down’s Syndrome to the corporate folks – as I pitched this project, it became obvious that they were wary of the taboos… taboos, is that the right way to say it? Taboos and/or preconceived notions of working with people with Down’s Syndrome, that’s what they were scared of. Now it’s a feature length film. There are a few films in my life that I look back with fondness on, and WHAT IS IT? Is definitely one of them.
DM: I’m curious about working on Beowulf–if the filming was any different than your “average” film since they’re doing the performance capture style animation, and how he liked playing Grendel.
CG: That was great. There are a lot of great actors involved with that project, and Robert Zemeckis too. I never thought I’d work with Robert Zemeckis again after BACK TO THE FUTURE – you know I sued them over the use of my image. They took an actor, gave him face and chin prosthetics and interspersed footage of me with him to try to fool people into thinking I was in the movie. The suit I filed is a legal precedent in Hollywood, and when all that went down I never thought I’d work with him again. It’s turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Working on a green screen with the motion capture is quite different from regular moviemaking – they have about 246 cameras aimed at you at once, and they kind of morph or blend in the best shots, and it’s like everyone has a close up in every scene. I think it’s a neat way to do it.
DM: Neil Gaiman has nothing but good things to say about your performance.
CG: Oh wow, yeah, Neil’s a great guy. I worked with him and this professor of Old English on my part – you know, Grendel doesn’t speak anything but Old English. That was definitely a learning experience.
DM: How’d you get hooked up with Trent Harris (director of THE ORKLY KID and RUBIN AND ED)?
CG: Let’s see… I went to school at the AFI, and Trent was there too. He did the original film of THE ORKLY KID as a first year project, except it was called THE BEAVER KID and he had Sean Penn in the lead role. At AFI, they have you do your first year project over as your second year project, and he had to reshoot it as THE ORKLY KID. At this point, Sean’s career had taken off and he brought me on to star in it, and we’ve been collaborating on and off ever since.
DM: Finally, how do you like San Francisco?
CG: I love San Francisco, I wish I could spend more time here. I am touring for this film series and the only way that I can figure out where I am sometimes is to read the website (Darren’s note: http://www.crispinglover.com) but I always know when I’m in San Francisco. If you’re going to be down at the theatre tonight or tomorrow night, come on up and say hi!
See CRISPIN GLOVER tonight at the CASTRO THEATRE in San Francisco, as well as tomorrow night and Sunday. He’ll be signing his book, doing a slideshow based on his book, and presenting a cornucopia of his movies for you including his new film WHAT IS IT? This show is a must-see!