2010: A Look Back at a Lot of Interviews

At the end of 2009, I took a look back at 100 interviews I’d done over the course of the year, and it was exhausting…not only for me, but possibly also for you, the reader. Oh, I still think it was a heck of a piece, but I believe I made a mistake by numbering them. I mean, you get about 20 – 25 into the proceedings, and it’s, like, “Oh, geez, I’ve still got 75 left to go? Screw this, I’m out of here.” So this time, I’m not going to tell you how many quotes are in the piece. I’ll just say that I talked to a lot of really funny, fascinating, and decidedly forthright people during the course of 2010, and I’ll let you dive in. Hope you enjoy the chance to reminisce as much I did, and here’s to a great 2011 for us all!

Big Shots at the Box Office

“I was in Australia, touring with my films and live show, and I got an E-mail from my agent, saying that there was interest in me for Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ I thought, ‘Okay, that sounds good.’ I thought it would be for a day or two, maybe a few days or something, and I would’ve been very happy to do that. But then the offer came in, and it was for virtually the entire run of the film. I didn’t even know what part it was for, so I asked my agent, and he said it was for the Knave of Hearts. So I looked up the Knave of Hearts in the original book online and…it didn’t really seem like a character that would require the run of the film. I thought, ‘Something must be different.’ And then I got the actual screenplay, and it was extremely different. I could see that it was written as a sequel. But it was a great part, and I was ecstatic to be in it…and I’m still ecstatic to be in it!” – Crispin Glover, Alice in Wonderland

“They called my agent and said they were auditioning for (‘Inception’), so I flew myself back, I read for Chris (Nolan) once, and I left. I think it was later that day that I heard from my agent, saying, ‘They’ve cut everyone except you. Now, they’re going to go to London to see some people, and then we’ll know more after that. So don’t get your hopes up, but…this is great!’ Then I came back and read again, and I got the job. And then, as you might expect, I freaked out completely.” – Dileep Rao, Inception

“I was actually down at my ranch in South Texas, and my guys called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re trying to get you a meeting with Sylvester Stallone. He’s casting a movie called ‘The Expendables.’’ Several months went by, and he’d already cast ‘The Expendables,’ but he still wanted to meet me for potentially playing the part of Dan Paine. So I went in to meet Sly, it was the first time I’d ever met him, and I’m a huge fan. I remember watching ‘Rocky’ back in ’76 or whenever it was, then getting up the next morning, drinking eggs, and running down the street…and now here I am meeting with this guy!” – Steve Austin, The Expendables

“I was privileged and honored to work side by side with Sly (Stallone in ‘The Expendables’). Most of my scenes take place with him, and I’m telling you, man, he took me under his wing, and it was a brilliant thing. I don’t know what else to say. ‘Rocky,’ ‘Rambo,’ just everything he’s done is iconic, and it wasn’t lost on me. I love the man, and I can’t wait to do another one, ‘cause Sly’s the king of the sequels…and in my whole career, I’ve never done a sequel to any one of my projects. So I’m, like, ‘Sly, I’m ready for ‘Expendables 2,’ okay?'” – Terry Crews, The Expendables

“Jessica (Pare) was just about to disrobe…we were in the (hot) tub…and they were, like, ‘Ready!’ And she took off whatever was covering her in the tub. And somebody asked the boom guy a question just as she was disrobing, and all he could say was, ‘Yesssssss…’ He could only whisper. I didn’t make a joke about it, though. I was just, like, ‘Okay, Craig, keep it cool, keep it together…’” – Craig Robinson, Hot Tub Time Machine

“I made the mistake of using one term loosely and saying (filming in 3D) was a tedious process, and somebody made it sound really bad. The bottom line is that it took a little longer, and the one that suffered more than anybody was (director Kevin Greutert) and the camera guy, because they have to get it right. You know, calibration and being specific with lights and all that stuff. For me, it was a good excuse to go play with the crew that wasn’t on set and crack a couple of jokes, so I got to socialize a little bit more.” – Costas Mandylor, Saw 3D

“Usually, when you’re coming in completely blind with who you’re working with, you don’t know if you’re going to get along, nor do some people put the time in to try to get along. We were all in Pittsburgh, and we did do, like, two weeks of rehearsal before we started shooting (‘She’s Out of My League’), and in those two weeks, we hung out a lot…and, luckily, it went good rather than bad. Because sometimes it’s just awful, and you’re going, ‘I can’t stand that guy!’ So we were lucky. I know a lot of people always say this when they come off work, because they’re kind of trained to say it, but with this one, we all really got along, and I think that’s what helps our chemistry on screen so much: we thought each other were funny, we even liked to hang out afterward, and that played well. ” – Nate Torrence, She’s Out of My League

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Back to “Back to the Future”

It’s the 25th anniversary of the science fiction comedy from Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. As you might also expect, a 3-disc Blu-Ray set is also hitting stores today featuring the original film and it’s two-sequels.

So, to go with Will Harris’s interview with Gale which includes some more interesting casting details in addition to the ones you’ve probably already heard about, Universal has made available a series of short clips from yesterday’s press conference at New York’s Waldorf Hotel featuring a lot of the cast — Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Mary Steenburgen (from “Back to the Future 3”) but not Crispin Glover — as well as Gale and Zemeckis. A lot of them are very brief and I would have been happier if they’d edited it into one clip, but you take what you can get.

We’ve got a bunch of more these after the flip for you diehard “Future” fans.

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Johnny Depp or John Cusack as Marty McFly? It could have happened…

With the release of “Back to the Future: The 25th Anniversary Trilogy” preparing to hit DVD and Blu-ray on October 26th, Bob Gale – co-writer and producer of the films – has been doing a lot of press, providing him not only with the opportunity to wax nostalgic but also the chance to dispel a few rumors, some of which are more ridiculous than others.

For instance, I can now confirm definitively that, despite what you may have read on Wikipedia, it seems very unlikely that Corey Hart, the man who made a career out of wearing his sunglasses at night, was ever really in the running to play Marty McFly.

“I don’t think so,” said Gale, chuckling. “I don’t have any memory of that. Somebody said that he was our first choice, but that’s insane. I don’t know where that one came from. C. Thomas Howell was the other finalist at the time. John Cusack was somebody we considered. Johnny Depp read for this, believe it or not. I don’t remember the screen test. I looked through the notes, and I said, ‘Geez, I don’t even remember that we read Johnny Depp!’ So whatever he did, it wasn’t all that memorable, I guess! And there was a kid called George Newbern who flew out from Chicago for an open casting call who was pretty good. I think he’s on some TV series now. I don’t remember what it is, but I remember him. But Corey Hart? Nope. Don’t think so.”

There have also been rumors that John Lithgow was in the running for the role of Doc Brown, but according to Gale, any such discussions didn’t get very far.

“That was just kind of in passing,” said Gale. “The only other guy we really seriously considered for Doc Brown was Jeff Goldblum. Jeff came in, and…I’m certain we talked about John Lithgow, but I don’t remember if he ever actually came in, or if we met him. But I vividly remember meeting Jeff and liking him.”

In regards to the long-unreleased Eric Stoltz footage that has finally emerged within one of the documentaries on the 25th anniversary set, one can’t help but notice that we never hear so much as a single line of dialogue uttered by Stoltz.

“It was Laurent Bouzereau, who directed and produced the documentaries, who really badgered us about putting that footage in,” said Gale. “So if you like seeing it, he’s the guy to give the credit to and the thanks to.”

“Look, we don’t bear any ill will to Eric at all,” Gale continued. “We don’t want to make him look bad. We don’t think this makes him look bad. We hope it doesn’t. We figured, ‘Let’s just soft-pedal it and not put a whole lot of that in there,’ because, you know, the story’s about how the movie got made, not about him. Maybe in the 35th or 45th anniversary edition, we’ll put the actual scenes in. We never destroyed that footage. We recognized at the time that there was historical significance to it, so the footage exists. But Eric’s a working actor. We don’t want him to have to answer questions about it…not unless he comes forward and says, ‘Hey, I wanted to talk about that!’”

  

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Crispin Glover: Not the greedy bastard “Back to the Future” execs made him out to be

Uh oh. Marty McFly’s on the warpath.

Well, as warpath-like as a guy like Crispin Glover can get, anyway. In fact, Glover is the first celeb we ran into at MGM’s (awesome) press junket for their upcoming time-travel comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and it’s in the ski shop, of all places. He had just done some skiing at Diamond Peak (yours truly was renting skis to hit those slopes the next day), and we made small talk about the movie, which we were seeing later that day. “I like it when people throw up,” he told me. Yes, but how did the squirrel feel about it?

As we gathered in the press room to talk to Glover – I was grouped with three other writers, whose names and publications I cannot remember except that one of them writes for Dark Horizons – we all expressed concern that we would not have enough questions to fill a 20-minute interview slot with him. Never fear – Glover would take care of that for us by giving us lengthy answers to even the simplest of questions. Towards the end, though, one of the other writers was feeling ballsy, so he went for it:

“Is there a bitterness at all on your part with the “Back to the Future” series, that you’re so recognized for that, and then what happened with the sequel, and them using your image and everything?”

What happened for the next seven minutes was, well, spectacular.

“On the DVD to the “Back to the Future” trilogy, Bob Gale, who’s one of the writers and executive producers, has said something that’s totally fabricated,” Glover told us. “What he said is that I asked for twice the money that Michael J. Fox asked for. I didn’t do that.”

Ah, but wait. Crispin was just getting warmed up.

Crispin chainsaw

“The way propaganda works, you hear the phrase, ‘the bigger the lie, the more people believe it.’ Basically, what was done was to obfuscate the fact that they had done something extremely wrong by taking another actor and putting him into false nose, chin and cheekbones in order to fool people into believing that I was in the film. This very specific lie that Bob Gale told on the DVD was specifically to not address that what they did was totally immoral and illegal.”

So why did the producers take such an aggressive stance towards their negotiations with Glover? As far as he’s concerned, it was for making an independent film after the runaway success of “Back to the Future,” rather than a studio film.

“In negotiations for the second film, they offered me less than half than any of the other actors that were being asked to come back, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Tom Wilson. But I was offered…they had all done studio films, and they had made a lot of money. The film I had made between ‘Back to the Future Part I’ and ‘Part II’ was ‘River’s Edge,’ and I did that for scale. So they seemed to argue that it’s okay to offer me far less than any of the other actors that were coming back because I had done this independent art film – which I really like, I’m still very proud of it – but I was being penalized.”

So now we have a culprit and a motive. But Glover wasn’t finished.

“It was not fair, it was not a normal negotiation. And in fact, what normally happens is they’ll make an offer, you’ll make a counter-offer, and then you’ll meet in the middle, or something approximate to that. In this situation, they made an offer, and I didn’t even make a counter-offer. I just said, ‘That’s too low.’ At which point they came back at a lower offer. To me at this point, what was apparent was that they did not want me to be in the film or, if I was going to do it, that it was essentially a punishment that I was going to have to take less than half what everybody else was going to take in order to make the film. It just didn’t seem fair on any level.”

And he still wasn’t finished with Bob Gale.

“Bob Gale didn’t do this just on the DVDs, but he’s been going on radio shows [telling the same story]. I don’t know why.”

While we’re trying not to take sides here, it is important to consider that Glover has since gone on to work with Robert Zemeckis again (in the motion capture clusterfuck “Beowulf”), so clearly their working relationship was decent enough to earn a second go-round. Also, Glover has never had a problem finding work within the studio system since his falling out with the makers of “Back to the Future” – indeed, he just appeared in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” reboot – and in fact uses their money to finance his own films. His crackpot reputation may precede him, but the man we met in Lake Tahoe couldn’t have been more gracious or candid. And we wore a bitchin’ suit to the party Saturday night.

  

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A Chat with Christopher Lloyd (“Knights of Bloodsteel”)

Whether you know him as Rev. Jim Ignatowski from “Taxi,” Dr. Emmit Brown from the “Back to the Future” Trilogy, or even from his brief but memorable stint as Harold March on Fox’s “Stacked,” the face of Christopher Lloyd is familiar to most of us. His latest gig finds him playing an elf named Tesselink for the Sci-Fi Channel’s two-night event, “Knights of Bloodsteel,” and we were able to wrangle a few minutes with Mr. Lloyd before he had to run off to a photo shoot.

Stay tuned for…

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