Can you hear my ‘Heart Beat’? Well, not exactly…


If you listened to any or all of the first six episodes of my podcast, Obscurity Knocks, I’d like to offer my formal apology for the fact that you haven’t yet had the opportunity hear a seventh episode.

It hasn’t been for lack of desire. It’s mostly been for lack of time combined with the lack of payment for doing Obscurity Knocks, but in addition to these things, I also experienced some frustration when I had a case of equipment failure whilst recording my interview with John Heard. This would’ve been upsetting no matter what, but it particularly upset me because I’d set up the episode with the specific intent of using it to help promote Heard’s then-upcoming film, Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero.

Unfortunately, for some reason the program I’d used to record the previous six episodes didn’t work properly. Part of this can probably be attributed to the fact that he was very late calling in – so late, in fact, that I didn’t expect that he’d be calling in at all, so I didn’t even have Skype up anymore – or it may have been because he called in using video mode, which no one had done before. But in the long run, the fault is mine, because I’m the one who was recording it, and I felt so badly about it that I kept putting off trying to do another episode because I wanted to see if there was any way to make the quality of Heard’s interview worth downloading, because – sound quality aside – he’s got some absolutely amazing stories.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when I finally had an opportunity to finish my Random Roles with Nick Nolte and began transcribing the two conversations we’d had. When I hit the point in the interview where Nolte started discussing Heart Beat, I found myself remembering how I’d talked to Heard about the film…or, to be more precise, how I brought up Heart Beat and let Heard loose to say anything and everything that crossed his mind about the film. And that’s when I realized, “Okay, maybe I can at least hear Heard well enough to transcribe what he had to say about Heart Beat, and then I can post those remarks on News Reviews Interviews along with an apology about the disappearing act that Obscurity Knocks pulled. If I do that, then maybe I’ll feel like I’ve got enough of a clean slate that I can start the show back up again.”

Well, I transcribed what Heard had to say about Heart Beat, and now that I’ve offered my apology, I’m going to post them. I guess all I need to do now is figure out who’s going to be my next guest, huh?

So here’s Mr. Heard, and I hope you’ll be hearing from me soon…



Heart Beat was Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek. Sissy was serious, Nick was always laughing and joking around, and I was…playing Jack Kerouac. John Byrum directed it, and it was about the ménage a trois between the three of them: Kerouac and Neal and Carolyn Cassady. And I had read Maggie Cassidy and other Kerouac stuff, and I was taking myself much, much too seriously. I was all about authenticity in Jack Kerouac, and I have the build for Jack Kerouac. I was self-conscious. But I did have the kind of mood and the subjunctiveness or the moodiness of Jack. So I was sort of being always serious. And John Byrum was going, “What the hell’s the matter with you, Heard? I mean, this is, like, a comedy! I want this to be fun! These people loved each other! They jumped on each other!” He was always prodding me to lighten up. And he actually went out one time and got my girlfriend, put a ladder behind the camera, and had her sit on top of the ladder and make faces at me so I’d stop taking myself so seriously.

Nick had a buddy named Billy, and Billy and Nick and I would ride through the dark of night in L.A. after work every night, we’d hit every bar, and we’d end up somewhere at some girl’s house, with pajamas on and hair curlers. The women would go gaga over Nick. But one night we got the idea that we were going to break into John Byrum’s house. Byrum had a wine closet in his cellar, and Nick and Billy said, “Let’s go over to Byrum and get into his wine closet!” And we did. But while we were busting into his home, Byrum was actually upstairs! And we thought it was funny, but…we never knew whether or not Byrum was scared to death because someone was breaking into his house. He comes downstairs, he’s tippy-toeing downstairs, and all of a sudden he sees it’s us, and he’s, like, “A-ha-ha! You guys, huh? Well, you didn’t fool me! I knew it was you!” And Nick was, like, ‘Nah, you didn’t!”

Nick and John Byrum always had this running thing all the time of trying to out-punk each other. [Laughs.] Nick would put some powder on his nose to look like he’d been snorting up a bunch of cocaine or something, and he’d stand in front of the camera with his nose all white and powdery, and he’d be waiting for Byrum to say, “Cut! What the hell’s going on? You know, Nolte, you got a little something there…” And I was just standing there, trying to be serious. But Byrum would never go for it. He’d just say, “That’s funny, Nick,” and Nick would be, like, sniffing away, rubbing his nose, and drawing as much attention as possible to the fact that he looked like he’d just found an ounce of coke. But Bryum wasn’t going for it. Nick would just keep sniffing and sniffing and blowing his nose, ruining the take. Finally, Byrum looked at Nick and said, “You know, Nick, that’s funny, because when I have a cold like you do, it usually slows me down, but it seems to be speeding you up!” So it was funny, because we never knew who’d gotten who.

Well, after we broke into the house, he called the cops, and he had us arrested. The cops showed up and cuffed us! We didn’t know if he was going to let us go, if was going to suddenly go, “Ha-ha! Who gets the last laugh now?” But we were pretty sure he was going to have to let us go, because we had to work at six o’clock in the morning!

So that’s some of the stuff that I remember. And I remember Sissy getting fed up with us. [Laughs.] One time we were down at the Roosevelt… We were downtown at an old hotel, and the table was literally covered with glasses ‘til two in the morning. Nick and I were sitting there with Billy, and Sissy had joined us, but it was late. Nick was going on about something and teasing her and stuff, and here’s little Sissy Spacek, she jumps up and lifts up the end of the table – the entire end of the table – and every one of the glasses slid down across the table into Nick’s lap. And she said, “Well, bless your heart. Now who’s laughing?”

I don’t think the movie did too well, for some reason. But I remember Jessica Lange came in to read for that movie, and I thought she was fantastic, but Byrum said, “Ah, she’s just a model!” You never know…

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