Random Roles Rewind 2012 – Pt. 2

A few days ago, I offered up the first part of my look back at the Random Roles interviews I’ve done for the Onion AV Club this year, and rather than leaving you hanging for too long, I figured I’d go ahead and offer up Pt. 2 before the weekend begins. Pt. 1 took us from January to April, while this chapter of the saga covers May through the 10th of August, and when I return for the final installment sometime in the middle of next week, it’ll cover from Aug. 14 to the end of the year. Heck, I might even include a token role from each of the handful of Random Roles interview that either got sidelined because of a series being canceled or because I started them in person but couldn’t get the actor back on the phone to finish up…and if you follow me on Twitter or frequent the AV Club comments section, then you almost certainly know who at least one of these actors is.

Okay, on with the show…

Annie Potts
“I’ve had some pretty serious bona fide success with roles within groups of Southern women.”

Toy Story (1995) & Toy Story 2 (1999)—“Bo Peep”
Annie Potts: Well, it was just fun. Fun and crazy lucrative. Who knew? [Laughs.] I get tons and tons of fan mail that I sign for the doll. They ask me to sign a picture of an animated character. It’s not even me! Which is so unbelievably bizarre to me. The people who collect Pixar and Disney animation things, I have come to learn, are legion. But I do feel really stupid signing for a doll.

AV Club: Bo Peep’s role was decidedly smaller in Toy Story 2, and then she was basically written off in a single line of dialogue in the third film. Do you know if there was ever any talk at all of bringing her back for Toy Story 3?

AP: I don’t know. I mean, if they’re talking about not bringing you back, they don’t generally bring you in on the discussions. “You know, we were thinking about it, but we finally just said ‘no’ because the character wasn’t—and, frankly, you weren’t, either—all that interesting.” [Laughs.] So I wasn’t brought into those conversations, so I don’t know, but I just assume that they thought that Woody needed to move on. You know cowboys. But those people are great. They’re geniuses, those Pixar people, and if they didn’t think that Bo Peep needed to be in the third one, then she didn’t need to be in it.

Jackie Earle Haley
The Bad News Bears child actor who went on to Little Children and Watchmen talks about Dark Shadows and getting drunk with Danny Bonaduce

The Day Of The Locust (1975)—“Adore”
Jackie Earle Haley: That was an interesting experience. It was this huge movie at the time—or at least it seemed like it—and John Schlesinger was directing, and I was playing Adore, who was based more or less on Little Lord Fauntleroy, that character. His mom was a stage mom, trying to get him into acting, and… I think a lot of people thought it was a little girl. [Laughs.] They didn’t realize it was actually a little boy, because they bleached my hair strawberry blonde and put curls in it every day. And I remember that very last scene, where Donald Sutherland stomps on the character, stomping him to death. I remember John Schlesinger coming up and saying [British accent.] “Awright, here’s what we’re gonna do. Now, your character’s gonna fall down here, and Donald’s gonna come up. Now, he’s gonna hold himself up on these planks, so you have to trust me, and he’ll fake like he’s pounding his feet on your back. Are you okay with that?” And I’m like, “Uh, welllllll… I think we should ask my [on-set] teacher.” [Laughs.] And then the teacher comes over, and he says, “Yeah, that’ll work.” And I sigh, and I’m like, “Okayyyyyy…” Still not really sure. And, sure enough, when they did the close-up of my head, where he’s supposed to be stomping on me, some grip is, like, jerking my body a little bit, and I’m trying to look like I’m dying, and… my head is literally coming off the floor, which is that tarmac stuff, about two or three inches, and, man, it was really pounding afterward. I still remember that. Funny how I remember getting slapped or having my head pounded around. [Laughs.]

Ted McGinley
A longtime TV staple talks about Happy Days, The West Wing, Sports Night, The Love Boat, and more

Herndon (1983)—“Shack Shackleford”
Ted McGinley: [Laughs.] Now that is genius. You’re the first guy who’s ever brought that up. That show—it was a pilot—was directed by Garry Marshall, it was written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who are two of the most successful film and TV writers in history, and it had Michael Richards, who basically played the same character he played on Seinfeld. And that was just amazing. What happened was, Paramount and ABC were at war at that time, and they wouldn’t pick up each other’s stuff, so nothing ever happened to it. But it was awesome, and so much fun. Michael Richards did a back-flip out of a chair, but someone had moved the couch and didn’t tell him that they’d moved the scenery around, and he went right into the arm of the couch and broke, like, two ribs. So we had to take off something like three weeks in the middle of the pilot, which didn’t exactly help things. We had stupid issues like that. But that thing should’ve gone. I think somewhere in this pile of junk I still have the pilot. I hope I do, anyway.

So yeah, Michael Richards was very, very similar [to Kramer]. These were two guys who had grown up together, gone to high school together, and I was the king of the football team and Mr. Everything, and he was this total nerd. But we were friends, and now we were going to room together, but life had changed, and like most guys like that, I was sort of ebbing a bit, and… I’m trying to remember, but I think he was giving me a job, ’cause he was this genius guy who’d become very successful, so he was giving me a chance. It was a good concept, and it would’ve been a good show, I think. I remember that I didn’t look as old as Michael—because I wasn’t—so they had me wear a fake moustache. That did not help. [Laughs.] I do not look good with a moustache.

Jack McGee
“Verhoeven says to me, ‘You wanna come up for three weeks to Tahoe and look at 56 breasts a day?’”

Players (2010)—“Hickey”
Jack McGee: [With a cigar clenched between his teeth.] Take the money and run. [Laughs.] Take that money and run. One of the guys on the show, a guy who produced it, he’s now a big shot at USA. That came through a guy named Matt Walsh, who’s the founder of the UCB. You know, the Upright Citizens Brigade? They started in New York. It blows me away, they’re out on Franklin Street, over near Beachwood Canyon, and they have 150, 200 kids lined up every night. Every night! And they’re only a 60-seat theater! You can buy a ticket online for five bucks, but you have to wait, and they only let a certain amount in. And then the kids wait the full hour, and then the other ones come later, their last show’s at 12 o’clock at night, and they still got 150 kids out there waiting. So that came from the guys from the UCB, and it was really not good at all. [Laughs.] But I met a bunch of people, it was a lot of fun, and they paid me. And, you know, a lot of guys get their chops on shows like that, then all of a sudden… like, Matt Walsh, now he’s got a series with Julia Louis-Dreyfus [Veep]. There’s a bunch of guys that come out of the UCB. Amy Poehler, she’s another one of the founders of that. We were talking about this before, but you just never know what’s gonna happen. You go to work for somebody, all of a sudden they remember you ’cause you did a good job. There’s something about the power of that box, man. Film’s one thing, but the power of that box, being in there every week. Plus, I like going to work! What was I gonna do, take a month and a half off, or let them pay me? I said, “Let’s go to work!” [Laughs.]

Bill Paxton
The veteran actor talks his way from his early Roger Corman days to his roles in Big Love, Aliens, Weird Science, and the new miniseries Hatfields & McCoys

Boxing Helena (1993)—“Ray O’Malley”
Bill Paxton: [Laughs.] I couldn’t remember that guy’s name if my life depended on it. Oh God. You know, that was a crazy movie. By Jennifer Lynch, who I hear is kind of making a comeback with her new film. I remember that was a very controversial film, and I got cast to play the boyfriend, and it was a chance for me to do a little bit of my Lizard King kind of thing, all pumped up and wearing tight leather pants, tight shirts, and stuff. I had kind of a bouffant hairdo. It was shot in Atlanta, and I remember it was steamy. It was the summer, and it was just steaming down there. I really liked Jennifer Lynch a lot. She really egged me on. And I really enjoyed Julian Sands. Great guy, great actor. But Julian was a bit of an exhibitionist. We were shooting in some big old house in Buckhead that had been built for a governor years ago. Beautiful ’20s-style house. We’d kind of taken it over, and that’s where his character lived and kept her in the box. I remember him just walking around, completely naked, with a book in his hand. [Laughs.] Yeah, he was quite an exhibitionist. But we had a lot of laughs. I also remember Sherilyn Fenn. We had to do… [Sighs.] Oh, we just had to do this interminable love scene, and Jennifer kept playing “Wicked Game,” the hit song by Chris Isaak. So every time I hear that song, I’m taken back to suckling on Sherilyn Fenn. [Laughs.] It was kind of a bizarre deal.

AV Club: God bless you for having that memory, though.

BP: Yeah, well, it’s a good memory. [Laughs.] I’ll take that one with me.

Bruce McGill
“I feel like with what I know and what I can deliver, if I look enough like the guy, and they don’t use me, then that’s their shortcoming.”

The Hand (1981)—“Brian Ferguson” / W. (2008)—“George Tenet”
Bruce McGill: Oh, my God! Have you seen everything that you’re asking about? [Laughs.] God, this should be a two-hour, in-depth TV show! [The Hand] was Oliver Stone’s first directing effort. He had written the script for Born On The Fourth Of July in the incarnation when Al Pacino was going to play Ron Kovic, who was eventually played by Tom Cruise, and I was cast in that movie. That was the first time I met Oliver. We had a table read, and we read the first half, and then there was a break. And I walked into the men’s room, and Oliver comes in, and he’s bouncing off the walls, he’s raging about how they’re ruining his script, and he’s really throwing a tantrum. And it was so over the top that I assumed he was kidding, and I was waiting for the punchline. He stopped, and he looked at me—I’m at the urinal in a somewhat compromising position—and I looked at him and said something kind of flip. I really didn’t think he was serious! It was just so over the top. But it stopped him. And he said, “You’re not scared of me at all, are you?” And I looked at him, and I said, “Well, I am now!” [Laughs.] But we got along.

So when he called to do The Hand, at that point, I was looking for any A-features, and Michael Caine really made it an A-feature. So I thought, “Well, sure, that’d be great!” And it was a great experience. I really loved working with Michael Caine. He’s a really skilled and experienced actor. I learn something from everybody, but when you work with somebody like that, you actually learn things you can put in your toolbox, things about craft. Not necessarily life lessons, but actual things he knows that you can pick up. To watch Oliver direct his first film—I wouldn’t change anything. I was really glad to be there, and then I was glad to see him again when we did W. He’s a really smart guy, he’s a really good writer, and… [Laughs.] He has a certain kind of personality. But I really enjoy him. He’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I like him a lot.

Ernie Hudson
“After all these years, almost 30 years later, whenever I’m on the street, someone will call out, ‘Who you gonna call?’”

Oz (1997-2003)—“Warden Leo Glynn”
Ernie Hudson: Oz was a great experience. The cast on Oz is the best acting troupe I think I’ve ever had the good fortune of working with. A really talented group of people. Tom Fontana’s an amazing writer. Unfortunately, we only did eight episodes a year. I think when you’re on a series, you get a chance to learn and grow every time, with some amazing guest stars coming in, but we only did eight a year, which made it impossible to make any real money. But I loved doing it, and there are fans, no matter where I go, who show up because of that. I really appreciate that.

AV Club: There were a lot of disconcerting moments during the run of the show. Is there anything particularly horrific that sticks out for you?

EH: Well, when it comes to moments that stick out, I have to go back to when my son was on the show. He was a recurring character during the third season, playing Hamid Khan—the Muslim who took control from [Kareem] Saïd. He worked that whole season, and at the end of the season—we knew this early on—his character was killed, in the ring with Cyril. It was a boxing thing. I didn’t think much about it when we were doing it, but when I saw the episode—in the next episode, I had to go and dress the body—it was just… When he was a little kid, he always used to say, “Dad, if you’re gonna die in a movie, let me know, ’cause I don’t really want to see it. I know it’s make-believe, but I don’t want to take my head there.” And I would laugh at that. Later on, though, I was like, “Okay, I get it.” Make-believe or not, you just don’t want to think along those lines.

Brent Spiner
The actor discusses the many iterations of Star Trek and his other roles

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)—“Corrine Burns’ Boss”
Brent Spiner: Oh, wow! Actually, I had a really nice part in that movie. I mean, I have, like, one second in the final-cut version, where I say “You’re fired” to Diane Lane. That’s about all you see of me. But I actually opened the movie with a hilarious scene, and… [Laughs.] You know, show business is bizarre, the things that happen. I was in New York doing a play at the time, and I auditioned for this part for Lou Adler, who directed the movie. He flew me to Vancouver, back in 1981, I guess, when Vancouver was unbelievably beautiful. They hadn’t done the whole high-rise rape of the city, as they’ve now done in Toronto, too, where everywhere you look, it’s steel-and-glass high-rises instead of the beautiful city it was. So I was thrilled to be there, and then I had this really funny, great scene. It took place in a McDonald’s, where Diane was employed by me, but I was being interviewed by a TV station and… Well, I won’t go into what the scene was all about, but it was a really fun scene. But somewhere, something happened.

The woman who wrote the movie, her name is Nancy Dowd. She’s a wonderful writer. She wrote Coming Home. And when I read the script, at that time, I thought, “This movie is going to do for girls what Breaking Away did for boys.” I thought it was going to be huge. It was a great script. So I had two days of shooting on the film, I finished, and then I get a phone call from Nancy. “Can you join me for dinner?” I say, “Sure!” So I met her for dinner, and she said to me, “How would you like to stay on the movie?” And I was shooting on the first two or three days of the shoot, but she said, “How would you like to stay on the whole movie—we’re going to shoot here and in London—and coach Diane?” Remember, Diane was 14 at the time. And I said, “Well, yeah, I’d love to do that!” I mean, my God, to go to London? So she said, “Okay, great! Well, you have to ask Lou.” Because they weren’t getting along at the time. And I said, “Uh, okay.” So right before I was leaving, he took a break and was playing basketball, as he tended to do between scenes, and I said, “Hey, Lou, how would you like me to stay on the movie and coach Diane?” And he was not happy with that question at all, which I understand now, but, hey, I took a shot. I was young, and I wanted to stay on the movie.

But then the movie came out, and… A lot of people had seen early cuts of it and had told me how good the scene was, so I was really excited. But then the movie comes out, there I am saying, “You’re fired,” and that was it. And that’s what happens in movies. People shoot movies that are 10 hours long, and they have to cut them down. But I thought for sure that scene would stay in the movie, because it was just such a great piece of writing. So I called his office to see if I could at least get the scene, because I didn’t really have much of a reel at the time, since I was pretty new in the movie business. And they informed me that that scene had been destroyed. [Laughs.] I was, like, “Really? He was that offended by my asking to stay on the movie?” I don’t even know how it would’ve happened, but, yeah, they told me they didn’t have a copy of it and said that it did not exist any longer. Which is a real shame, because I’d still like to have it. But there you go. [Laughs.]

Phil LaMarr
The voiceover star talks about worrying that Larry David was going to dump his corpse in a ditch

Mister T (1983-1985)—“Woody”
Phil LaMarr: That was my very first professional job. That was over 25 years ago, and it was a really crappy Saturday-morning cartoon from the ’80s. I’m not ashamed to say it. It was bad. The premise was that Mr. T is the coach of a gymnastics team that travels around the country solving mysteries. Come on! [Laughs.] It’s like, “Let’s take the general premise of Scooby-Doo and jam in somebody who’s popular! Okay? Let’s do the math. This’ll work.”

AV Club: Did you ever actually get to meet Mr. T?

PL: Never did. We worked on it for three years and never got to meet him. The first year, they said, “He’s a little embarrassed about his reading skills, he doesn’t want to do it in front of the kids.” The second year, they said, “He’s so busy. We have to fly to Chicago to record the cartoon with him. There’s no way we can get him here.” And by the third season, nobody really cared. [Laughs.] So they didn’t bother. Interesting trajectory of popularity.

AVC: The first season of the show is now on DVD, courtesy of Warner Archive.

PL: Is it really? Wow. I’m curious. But only enough for someone else to watch it and tell me how it holds up. [Laughs.]

Barry Corbin
The Anger Management character actor talks roles from WarGames to Modern Family to No Country For Old Men

Stir Crazy (1980)—“Warden Walter Beatty”
Barry Corbin: Oh yeah, that was a lot of fun. We shot that in maximum security in Florence, Arizona, in the Arizona State Prison, and all the extras were actual prisoners. [Laughs.] So it was kind of interesting to watch the interaction between. Richard Pryor was nervous every time they’d bring us in, ’cause we had to go through three different gates, and they had to slam one gate shut and then open another one. Then we got in there, and Richard was quiet and didn’t say anything. He’d just sit in a corner and watch. But Gene Wilder would be out there playing basketball with these murderers and people, all of ’em playin’ tough.

There was one old man there; he’d be out there lifting weights every day. And nobody spoke to him, nobody talked to him, people’d leave him alone, and he’d just stay out there, lifting weights. And I thought, “Well, what in the world?” So finally I went over to him, I was the only guy wearing a suit there in the yard, and I said, “’Scuse me, sir. I’ve been watching you, and I just wondered, how long have you been here?” He said, “Forty-six years.” And I said, “Forty-six? Oh my God! Well, how long are you here for?” He said, “They’ve got to release me in four years.” And I said, “Oh! Well, what are you gonna do?” He said, “I’m not sure. But I’m gonna be the strongest 72-year-old you ever saw.” [Laughs.] He never looked at me. He just kept lifting these weights. So I’m sure what he did, he got out and realized that the world had changed a whole lot, and the first guy that smarted off to him, he probably pinched off his head and went back to prison. [Laughs.]

Ed Asner
The ubiquitous character actor talks roles from Lou Grant to Elf to Up

Curb Your Enthusiasm (2001)—“Mr. Weiner”
Ed Asner: [Grumbles.] Well, that’s a sore point. I did that show, and I had a wonderful time working with Larry David, improv-ing and all that, getting it all down. And then a year or two later, I ran across Larry, and I said, “How come you don’t have me back?” He says… [Impression of Larry David stammering nervously.] “Well… you died!” And I thought, “What the fuck’s wrong with you? Do you ever watch TV?” I mean, I came up in TV doing three characters in one year on the same show! So I don’t know, I guess he never watched TV…

Ronny Cox
The sensitive folkie from Deliverance discusses playing villains in RoboCop, Total Recall, and Dexter and the lost glory of Cop Rock

Captain America (1990)—“Tom Kimball”
Ronny Cox: We all know it wasn’t a very good film, but I will tell you this: Captain America remains to this day maybe the finest script I have ever read. Stephen Tolkin wrote the script, and it was a brilliant, and I mean brilliant script. Funny, naïve… It captured that whole sort of World War II naïveté, the innocence, as well as what it’s like to be a superhero. And it had a good cast. Ned Beatty was in it, Melinda Dillon was in it, Darren McGavin was in it. It had really good people involved with it. It was a fine budget. We shot it in Yugoslavia, in L.A., in Alaska, in Canada. All I can say, and I won’t cast any aspersions on the director, but he obviously didn’t understand what it was. He was more fascinated with the Red Skull than he was with Captain America, and it took that film two years just to go to video. [Laughs.] But I’m telling you the truth: The script was brilliant.

Ed Lauter
The Artist’s Butler talks True Romance, The Longest Yard, and the best advice he ever gave Patrick Swayze

Family Plot (1976)—“Maloney”
Ed Lauter: Oh, now that’s a great story. Burt Reynolds’ agent… There was a part in the film that eventually went to William Devane, but it was open, so they sent over the film that I’d just finished with Burt, The Longest Yard, for [Alfred] Hitchcock to look at. Now, prior to this, he had told his secretary, Peggy Robertson, “I’m not going to do this film until I get Maloney cast.” So time went on, and he went in to see the Burt Reynolds scenes in The Longest Yard, and—Peggy told me this later—she said, “For things like that, Hitch normally went in there for about 15 minutes and then would come out, having seen what he needed to see, but this time he was in there for 45 minutes. He came out and he walked into the office, and he said, ‘Well, he’s very good, isn’t he?’” And she’s thinking he means Burt Reynolds, and she says, “Yeah…” But then he says, “What’s his name again?” And Peggy’s confused. I mean, everybody knows Burt Reynolds! And he starts saying, “Ed…” And she said, “Lauter?” He says, “Yes! Ed Lauter! We’ve got our Maloney!” [Laughs.] So much for agents: Mine didn’t even send me over, and I still got the part!

AV Club: So what was the story with you and The Short Night, which was to have been Hitchcock’s next film? The story goes that you were considered for a major role. Did he actually discuss it with you?

EL: Oh, yeah! I was going to be in it. They were having a gala honoring Hitchcock, and I was invited to it. And my wife and I were a couple of tables away, so I brought her over to introduce her to him. He looked up at me from the table—he didn’t get up so much by then—and he said, “Oh, Ed! This is my wife, Alma.” I said, “Hello.” Then he said, “By the way, I want you for my next film. It’s called The Short Night, and you’ll be getting the script. We’ll be going to New York and then to Norway. You’re going to play the part of…” Well, I forget the part, but I was gonna be the third lead.

AVC: The character’s name was Brand, reportedly.

EL: Yeah, that sounds right. It was gonna be Sean Connery, Liv Ullmann, and then I had the third lead. Then Hitch’s health gave out, so he never made that film. It sits there somewhere, that script. It would’ve been nice. I would’ve had two Hitchcock films in a row. But Lenny South, the cinematographer who did Family Plot and worked with Hitch on a bunch of other films, I saw him at a gathering one time, and I said, “Hitch wanted me for his next movie.” And Lenny said, “Oh, geez, Eddie, you woulda been in his next 14 movies. He thought you were great.” [Laughs.] He told his secretary I was the best character actor he ever worked with. So whenever I’m down in the dumps and out of work, I think of that. It always picks me up a little bit.

Ralph Macchio
“I walked in [to Funny Or Die], and I said, “Okay, here’s the title: ‘Wax On, Fuck—’” I didn’t even finish saying the “off.” He’s like, “Where and when?”

The Three Wishes Of Billy Grier (1984)—“Billy Grier”
Ralph Macchio: Laura Dern! I did two films with Laura. One was Teachers, the other was The Three Wishes Of Billy Grier. The irony of that one, though, is that I played a character who had an aging disorder where he aged aggressively quickly, whereas one could argue that I have the antithesis of that disease. [Laughs.] I just turned 50, and I can’t hide it, because you guys could look it up, but I look… a little younger than that. Some would say freakishly so. I always say I’m a man-child. But considering the alternative, I’ll take it.

That film was on ABC, and that’s when the networks, everybody had a disease-of-the-week movie, or the affliction of the week. It was written by Corey Blechman, who wrote this movie called Bill. Mickey Rooney was in it, and I think he might even have won an Emmy for it, so the pedigree of the writer and everything, it just felt like it was something. It was weird, though, because the original Karate Kid was just hitting, so there was a big question of, “Should we do a television movie?” Because those days were much different from now, where the best writing is arguably on television. But we felt like it was such a stretching kind of role for me. [Hesitates.] There are moments in it that are really good, like the makeup, Mike Westmore was doing that. But to have me as a little boy who looks like he’s 90, that was kind of weird. But it was of the times.

I think that premise, done as a fully realized film, not just as a TV movie they just sort of threw together, could be really fascinating. I think it would be more fascinating if it was done in a docu-style, though, because the truth of those people who actually have that disease, it’s disturbing, and it’s not very attractive. Whereas with me, they were making me into someone who was aging, but was still a halfway decent-looking guy. So no, it wasn’t true to reality, but it was a job at the time, and it was a good role. And what a stretch for an actor, to try to play that. From a pop-culture standpoint, it’s hilarious that I had an affliction that makes someone age aggressively quickly. [Laughs.] The irony’s kind of ridiculous.

Wayne Knight
“I think most people’s careers in theater are based on delusion. It’s just that mine started early.”

Dirty Dancing (1987)—“Stan”
Wayne Knight: I mean, what a surprise this was. Because I went in to audition for this thing, and I kind of ad-libbed some jokes or whatever, and… Stan was going to be this small, nothing role in the movie, but it’s a movie! I’m gonna be in a feature! But I had to have my own car and drive up to the Catskills, which is where I thought we were gonna shoot it. As it turned out, we went to Lake Lure, North Carolina, and to Virginia, to shoot at a replica of what would be Brown’s in New York. It was a fantastic experience, though, because we’re trapped in these lodges in these dry counties in the South with Jack Weston and Jerry Orbach and Kelly Bishop and all these dancers. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. All of us are staying in the same place, in this lodge. And they have trucks going down the hill to other places to bring back alcohol, ’cause there’s nothing to do there except to just watch what happens when you mix young dancers with alcohol. Lemme tell ya, it’s fantastic! [Laughs.]

But, you know, nobody anticipated that this was going to be anything other than a fun enterprise that would come and go. And it just turned out to be such a phenomenon. It was unbelievable. I was a little upset at one point, though, because Cousin Brucie had these lines, and I was like, “Geez, I should have those lines!” [Laughs.] I also remember one time on the film when I had to hand her a live chicken as a prize. “Here you go!” And the film had an actual chicken wrangler. I mean, how often do you run into a chicken wrangler? He was kind of a strange guy. He grabbed the chicken by the neck and he swung the chicken around and over his head. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “This is what you do. You get the blood to rush to the chicken’s feet, and he will be subdued.” I was like, “Okay… I’m glad you’re not handling actors!” [Laughs.] But I have to admit, the chicken was subdued.

Lou Diamond Phillips
“You know what? I’m gonna play the bad guy. He seems like a lot more fun.”

Hollywood Homicide (2003)—“Wanda”
Lou Diamond Phillips: Well, first of all, there was more of her in the movie. They actually cut two or three scenes of mine, a few more in drag, one where I actually got to ask Harrison Ford if this dress makes my ass look fat. [Laughs.] So that’s a shame. And there’s one where they actually reveal me as a guy who’s a cop. But there’s so many amazing supporting players in that film, and all of us lost scenes that were not part of the A-storyline. I know Dwight Yoakam got cut down a lot, Lolita Davidovich got cut down a lot, Bruce Greenwood got cut down a lot, even Martin Landau! We all lost a lot of scenes. And that’s a shame, because I think there was probably a lot of really good work left on the floor. My agent says, “Well, listen, they’re inclined to go with you, but [writer-producer] Ron Shelton has to see everyone up for this role in drag.” So I thought, “Oh God, here we go…” But I bought a dress and a pair of black panties, and I used to drive a Ford Bronco, so I slip into this stupid dress, get into the full drag, and it’s the only time in my entire life I’ve ever driven 55 miles per hour in the slow lane, because there was no way I was getting a ticket or getting into an accident dressed like that. [Laughs.] But the funny thing was that this semi truck kept pulling ahead of me and slowing down. And I’m going, “What the heck? What is this guy doing?” And I finally realized that the dress had scooted up—because I’m not used to wearing one—and was basically a cummerbund at this point, and the little black panties are showing, and all this truck driver could see was what he thought was a long-haired woman with her dress hiked up around her waist. I thought, “You bastard!” [Laughs.] Now I know how women feel…

Timothy Spall
On playing Winston Churchill, a rat, and a wanker

White Hunter Black Heart (1990)—“Hodkins, Bush Pilot”
Timothy Spall: Oh, my goodness! How do you remember that? You’re obviously a buff. That, or you’ve just looked at my bloody CV. [Laughs.] Clint Eastwood was fantastic. I still relish the time I worked with him. And what a wonderful experience that was. That was just sort of… He was, like, three films in on that one as a director, but was an actor in that one as well. The wonderful thing about being an actor is when you work with other actors who are particularly decent and intelligent human beings, and he was just wonderful. I mean, to work with someone that you’d grown up watching on the television and in films, and then to find out that he’s a great guy, and then to realize that he’s a great director as well? It was a delight. These are the rare and cherishable moments in one’s life with which I’ll be able to bore shitless my grandchildren and great-grandchildren when I’m no longer capable of stepping out and pretending I can act.

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