Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Interview: Troma's Lloyd Kaufman talks with TV STORE ONLINE about The Toxic Avenger and the state of the Hollywood remake

Troma's own Lloyd Kaufman talks about The Toxic Avenger, Poultrygeist, Return Of The Class Of Nuke'Em High, Stan Brakhage and the state of the Hollywood remake with TV STORE ONLINE.

TV STORE ONLINE: Lloyd how are you doing?! I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to give me this interview. I've been a huge fan since I was basically sucking on my mom's tit!

KAUFMAN:  Ha! Thanks for being interested... You can suck on my tits anytime you want! The older I get...I'm starting to get pretty nice man tits! When my wife and I had our first child... My wife was breast feeding. I tried to put the baby on my breast and it went for it! Then it screamed "Ahhhh!" and rejected it.

TV STORE ONLINE: Doesn't that cause possible complications in the female to child rearing process?

KAUFMAN:  Well, I have four kids and that is the only one of them that is in jail!

TV STORE ONLINE: POULTRYGEIST (2006) is one of the greatest cult films of recent years. The ending with the stock Troma car flip is the best. However, I've always wanted to know since you've used that in so many of your films... Where in the hell did that footage originate from exactly?

KAUFMAN: That's a good question. That footage was shot originally for SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D (1990). We shot it for KABUKIMAN first and the stunt actually looked good. The stunt men actually did what they said they were gonna do. The only fly in the ointment was that the guy driving the car, took it on the ramp faster than planned and the car flew faster and came really close to the camera I was using. When we do stunts, I'll usually do the camera work, simply because in a danger situation if someone is gonna get hurt, I'd rather it be me. The car came so close to the camera, that I really thought when the car came down that I had missed the shot. I thought my inner soul left the state of New Jersey and when down to Mexico. That car looked just like it was gonna come down on me as I was standing there. But I must have stood there cause I got the shot and it was perfect. In fact, other movies have asked to use that footage cause it's a great shot, and also as a homage to Troma. In fact MTV just called up and said that they wanted to use it as well.

TV STORE ONLINE: Do we know how many films the footage has actually be used in?

KAUFMAN: Well, we aren't keeping track, but I know I've used it for sure in at least six films that I've directed. I've given it to some other companies to use, we've even given it to some student filmmakers to use for free. You will see it from time to time in other films to this day as well.

TV STORE ONLINE: Did you always plan to finish off the characters in POULTRYGEIST or was there a alternate ending?

KAUFMAN: Well, we always planned to kill them off. But the car flip wasn't the first thought on how to do it. Then it was just too perfect. I didn't wanna use it at first, cause I thought everyone was gonna expect it, so I thought, let's NOT put it in. Then we just decided it was just too perfect NOT to use it. And because it comes at the ending, people have pretty much given up on seeing the car flip, so I figured it could get the audience's wheels spinning, giving them a surprise. It's the perfect place for it in the film. A lot of people have never seen the car flip, so it's exciting on that level, but for those who have seen it, it's makes them even happier.

TV STORE ONLINE: Do you feel the VHS boom and the Pay Cable empire of the 80's and 90's was an important aspect to your success over the years? With it gone, how has Troma been able to continue on with its success?

KAUFMAN: The playing field has altered. Back then, if you have something that the public wanted to see - the conditions were fair enough. You could get your movie to the public. Around 1990, two things happened. First, in the late 80's Ronald Reagan got rid of the rule which prevented movie studios from owning movie theaters. Then Bill Clinton, got rid of the financial syndication rule. So he got a lot of money from those media companies and he got rid of the F.C.C rule, which stopped the networks and the stations from being consolidated. Also, from owning the content. When that happened -- HBO, CBS, NBC, Showtime could all be a little club with each other and own the movies they were showing, and they could sell their content back and worth between each other. The old rule, used to mandate that those companies had to buy 35% of their content from independent companies. So when those went away, that was the end of Troma on television cause then they could make their crappy reality shows, crappy sci-fi movies, and their piece of shit Lifetime movies. 

SyFy Channel is owned by NBC Universal. HBO makes it's own movies now. So those companies only buy from the majors now. Troma is blacklisted from American television. CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL (1993) has never been shown on television, even though it has sold hundreds of thousands of home video units. CANNIBAL THE MUSICAL contains no nudity, and it's made by the South Park guys, so why hasn't it ever been thought that putting the movie on Comedy Central wouldn't be a huge success because of South Park. Because it's Troma or independent -- they won't touch it. It's a ridiculous situation.

TV STORE ONLINE: With THE TOXIC AVENGER (1984)...How long did it take you from start to finish to create that character, write the script, and get it committed to film?

KAUFMAN: It took about a year to come up with concept. We were making raunchy comedies. We got in early on those and were making those before PORKY'S (1982) came along. The studios started making these movies as well, using good actors and good scripts. So we saw something in Variety or Hollywood Reporter that said that horror was dead. 

So my partner (Troma Co-Founder, Michael Herz) said, "Let's go into something that's already dead". I always loved Frankenstein and I always wanted him to live. And I always loved Charlie Chaplin a lot too, that's where the 'Blind Girl' comes from...From Chaplin's CITY LIGHTS (1931). And Preston Sturges too. He does a very good job satirizing village life, so that's where Tromaville comes from. And of course, all our films have political themes. I became interested in the environment as well. My wife and I used to go camping and we'd see all these McDonalds plates and cups that were not bio-degradable, just laying all over the place. And I was reading about toxic waste dumps all over the word that were ticking time bombs. 

Children in Buenos Aires playing with pixie dust, which turned out to be Uranium and stuff like that. So I decided let's make a movie about the environment. And at the same time, the trends were people spending a lot of time at sports clinics and workout gyms and they were taking vitamins. So I thought that it was really interesting how we were destroying the planet but at the same time trying to make our bodies beautiful. Finally, I was at the Cannes Film Festival and getting extremely drunk, and it hit me. Let's not make a horror film, let's make the bad guy, the Frankenstein the good guy. And then everything fell into place. We made the movie, no one got it, no one wanted to show it. Then finally we got a theater in the Village in New York City to show it. The theater was owned by one of Andy Warhol's friends. And it caught on like wild fire all over the world. It's not a horror film, it's a satire using the Grand Guignol format.

TV STORE ONLINE: I read somewhere that you're a big fan of Stan Brakhage?

KAUFMAN: Yes!!! Not only was I a fan, but when I was in college I brought him to Yale to interview him on the radio station there. And near the end of his life I was reunited with him. If you got into the archives on under the section "Lloyd's Roids" there is an essay I wrote about him and his influence on me.

TV STORE ONLINE: Including Brakhage...While at Yale what films did you discover that you feel had an direct influence on your work?

KAUFMAN: Certainly, anything by John Ford, Chaplin, Keaton...Buster not Diane. Sam Fuller, Robert Aldrich. For the most part, the great American auteurs are my greatest influence. At the same time, I love Jean Renoir, Fritz Lang, and Ernst Lubitsch too. All those guys knocked me out.

TV STORE ONLINE: As Lloyd Kaufman the actor, you have a long history of playing drunks and bums in other people's movies. At this point, do you feel that you are being type-cast?
KAUFMAN: I am! For years I've been type cast as a drunk or a doctor. Which is no surprise because I actually am a drunk! But that goes back to me being in ROCKY (1976). In CRY UNCLE! (1971), I played a drunk on acid back in 1970. And I had taken a lot of acid so I knew how to do that role. Recently I've been getting some more interesting roles though. James Gunn just put me in his movie a while back. I was in a scene with Kevin Bacon and Ellen Page. And in GAMER (2009) I played a cyborg.  My range is expanding for sure.. But for years, you're right, I was type cast as a drunk or doctor aka dirty Jew. A dirty Jew with a bow tie. That's what you want? You get Lloyd Kaufman. I still do movies if there is no budget for free, but lately I've been getting better and better roles and fees.

TV STORE ONLINE: So your kids can eat?

KAUFMAN: Not my kids! I only care about me. I live my life like that movie DEAD RINGERS (1998). You ever see DEAD RINGERS? Me and Michael Herz are twins!  

TV STORE ONLINE:  I really enjoyed reading your book "Sell Your Damn Movie"...

KAUFMAN:  Today you don't need a lot of money to make your own damn movie. There is economic blacklisting now. Now the way it's going a lot of productive citizens are making movies. Teachers are making movies now in their spare time. It's possible now to make a quality movie in Detroit now with the technology that's available. So what I did was write a book about selling and distributing your own movies. It explores giving your movies away to advertise them. Film piracy isn't such a bad thing. It gets into the hands of thousands, advertises the indie movie, and copyright laws are so fucked up anyhow. They are there to help Disney, and keep the property in the hands of these big evil companies. 

The book talks about how Troma is successful, and how with the help of our fans we've been able to stay in business for over 35 years. It also talks about how to get around these big companies. How to distribute your movie. 100% of the time your distributor will fuck you. It almost seems better to be a no budget filmmaker. The key to this system is that you have to have something that's good. It has to be good. So what if movie people start doing like what musicians are doing where you give your movie away online and you ask for donations, or you give it to them, and then ask for them to buy a real DVD version as well once they've seen the movie or even buy a t-shirt for the film. 

TV STORE ONLINE: As this point in your career...What is your proudest moment?

KAUFMAN: My proudest moment in my life is when I am with my family and we're together. I get to show them off. Also, Michael Herz and I just marked 35 years in business two years ago. No one gave a shit. No one in New York gave us any coverage. 35 years of making movies in New York and no one gave a shit. Michael Herz and I have been partners for 35 years! I am very proud of that. I've been with my wife for 35 years as well. I am very proud of that as well. I am working on TOXIC AVENGER PART 5: TOXIC TWINS by the way. Another exclusive for you! Maybe we'll make it in 3D.  Or maybe we'll make Toxie's twin blue like AVATAR (2009). I've been researching movies about twins for the script. I watched TWIN FALLS IDAHO (1999), and I watched Lindsey Lohan in THE PARENT TRAP (1998).  I just directed three new films too!  RETURN OF THE CLASS OF NUKE'EM HIGH VOLUME 1 (2013), OCCUPY CANNES! (2014) and RETURN OF THE CLASS OF NUKE-EM HIGH VOLUME 2 (2014) which we're in post production on the later two currently. 

TV STORE ONLINE: Mentioning your family. Underneath your crass humor... I get this strong sense that you're really just a family guy. Have you ever had any troubles balancing family and work?

KAUFMAN: I went to Yale. I actually majored in Chinese studies. I was interested in Taoism. You can't have good without evil and you can't have pleasure without pain. It's not that weird, that I'm kinda normal. I believe my children should be properly educated. They should speak well. They should have a liberal arts education. Meanwhile, I've got this crazy alternate life of hard bodied lesbians, people getting their ass kicked, and people have explosive diarrhea. Thomas Jefferson was a duelist. He had a similar view to the universe, but I could be wrong. I get him confused with The Jefferson's from the TV show. 

The fact that I'm still around is amazing. How many filmmakers make one or two films and disappear? How many companies spend millions in advertising and then they are gone. We're still here. We put out movies from the heart, movies we believe in. Michael Herz and I have never had a contract. I haven't even looked at the Troma check book for ten years. I mean there's no money Whatever Michael wants to do is fine with me, and vice versa. If he tells me not to do something I'll listen to him, he doesn't ask much of me, and vice versa. I'm nuts, but I'm not stupid. There hasn't been another studio in the history of cinema that's had the same management for 35 years. And there hasn't been a partnership where one of us is rarely seen and the other is always drunk! Michael is much crazier than I am but everyone thinks he's the straight edge guy. But he's a strange guy without a doubt, and he's seen every movie ever made but he just doesn't want to be in the limelight.

TV STORE ONLINE: How do you feel about remakes of your films?

KAUFMAN:  Listen, we are gonna get a big fat check for THE TOXIC AVENGER (20??) remake. That is going to help us stay in business. Not everyone has heard of THE TOXIC AVENGER And if these younger people go and see it, and it's great, than that's great.  But if it's bad, then those kids are going to go out and buy or download TOXIE on The Pirate Bay and it is going to expose a whole new generation to THE TOXIC AVENGER. Fans are really pissed about the TOXIE remake. In fact there is a Facebook page where people are signing up on the "Don't Remake" page. The point is: Some remakes are better than the original. For example, A STAR IS BORN (1954) with Judy Garland. The last one was way better than the original. The remake of THE FLY (1958)...Croenberg's THE FLY (1988) was amazing. A company has even already approached us about remaking POULTRYGEIST!

TV STORE ONLINE: You know the best remake of all time was Gus Van Sant's shot for shot remake of PSYCHO (1998)...Did you like it? 

KAUFMAN: That was a terrible remake! Hitchcock was a very romantic heterosexual guy making movies. He was darkly romantic. Gus Van Sant is a homosexual, isn't he? Why would you have a homosexual remake a dark romantic heterosexual director's masterpiece.. That was just stupid. Michael Bay's remakes are horrible. There are horrible sequels too. 

Darren Bousman, who made REPO: A GENETIC OPERA (2008) re-made Troma's MOTHER'S DAY (2010). Bousman is a great director. He's seen the original MOTHER'S DAY (1980) over two-hundred times. If the remake of TOXIE isn't good, then fans can go and watch the original. It's not a big deal. A bad remake of any of our films isn't gonna hurt us. We're blacklisted.  None of our films will ever be on television again. A remake will never hurt us! The guys remaking TOXIE all went to Harvard. They aren't dummies. If they do the remake our little company is gonna get paid. We'll be able to make another movie that all our fans will respect and appreciate or at least respect!

TV STORE ONLINE: What are Troma's plans for 2014?

KAUFMAN: We are hoping to stagger along. We never make plans. We wanna make more movies from the heart. We want to develop more scripts that we believe in. My plan is make another movie. Whether it makes money is to be seen. Troma has a library. We have over one thousand films, cartoons and TV shows in our library, and we get a few crumbs from that which keeps us going. We love movies. The playing field is very un-level now. It's against the indie movie company right now. You can speak to several indie movie companies that say they are doing great. And the next thing you know they're gone in six months. If things are so great... Where are they going? They are making good movies but they can't get their movies out to the public. Their only option is to take it to the big guys, and they make just enough money to survive. Troma has a cult following. A very loyal fan base, and our fans support us. That's how we continue to thrive, and that's how we continue to make movies of the future! 

Interview Conducted By:  Justin Bozung
For more with Lloyd Kaufman please visit:
Troma Official Website HERE:
Lloyd's Official Website  HERE:

Follow Lloyd on Twitter HERE:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Design A Jason Hockey Mask Contest and Charity Fundraiser: Wrap Up

TV Store would like to thank those who assisted us over the last ninety days in raising funds to help children in need via Toys For Tots.    TV Store managed to raise almost two-thousand dollars in seven days on Ebay with their Design A Jason Hockey Mask contest.

Artists from the SyFy Channel's hit reality television series Face Off as well as cast members from the F13 film franchise took part in the charity fundraiser.   Each was sent a blank white Jason Voorhees Hockey Mask and asked to create a one-of-a-kind piece of horror inspired art for a Toys For Tots auction.

In addition, TV Store Online also held a  Best In Show vote  via social media and on their blog.   Here are the voting results:

Friday, November 22, 2013

INTERVIEW: Suspiria's Jessica Harper talks with TV STORE ONLINE about Dario Argento, Woody Allen and cooking

She's a singer, songwriter, author and actress. She's worked with Woody Allen, Brian DePalma and Dario Argento. Chicago native, Jessica Harper has been a cult movie fan favorite over the course of her forty plus year career. After appearing in such films as SHOCK TREATMENT [1981], INSERTS [1974], MY FAVORITE YEAR [1982], PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE [1974], and SUSPIRIA [1977], Harper transitioned into television work to allow herself the availability to be close to home after the birth of her first child. This allowed Harper a Cable Ace Award for her work on the ground-breaking FOX comedy series, It's The Garry Shandling Show [1986-90]. From there, Harper continued her work on television appearing in everything from Crossing Jordan [2001-07], Ally McBeal [1997-2002], Chicago Hope [1994-2000], and HBO's Tales From The Crypt [1989-1996].

Over the years, Harper's remained HIGHLY active. She's written a slew of children's book, recorded children's music albums, done theater work, raised her family, and maintained a film acting career appearing in everything from Todd Haynes amazing SAFE [1995], to Steven Spielberg's MINORITY REPORT [2002].

Recently, Harper has been active on the internet with her fun cooking blog - The Crabby Cook. In December 2011, she released a new cook book The Crabby Cook Cookbook: Recipes and Rants.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What were you like you as a kid growing up in Chicago? 

HARPER:  I had five siblings. We spent a lot of time having food fights. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where does your interest in performing and music come from?

HARPER:  I saw BYE BYE BIRDIE [1963] when I was eleven and after that I believed that doing musical theater was likely to be the most fun profession I could pursue.

TV STORE ONLINE:  As a kid or young adult who were some of your direct music influences?

HARPER:  Harry Belafonte, Dionne Warwick and The Beatles...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Can you talk about your experience being directed by Woody Allen?

HARPER:  He's brilliant of course, and his collaboration with Gordon Willis, the Director Of Photography, yielded a gorgeous movie...I am very proud to have been a part of it...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where do you think your character in STARDUST MEMORIES comes from?

HARPER:  Woody came to my house and snooped around looking for clues. He noticed I had a violin.  So he made me a violin player. He has a way of taking some of an actor's qualities and applying them to the characters they play, which lends the characters an exceptional realism.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Moving toward PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE... What was your first impression of the concept and what was it that convinced you to become involved with the project?

HARPER:  I needed no convincing: I was thrilled at the possibility of working with Brian DePalma, and singing a Paul Williams' score. I felt incredibly lucky to get that part.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you have any idea at the time that the film would become such a cult sensation thirty years later?

HARPER:  No, I didn't...You just never know what will become of a film. But it deserves its status; it's a wonderful movie.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How does it make you feel to be known as a "cult icon"? Is it something you have embraced?

HARPER:  I love it, because of my fondness for the movie. I love hearing from PHANTOM fans, and I do, a lot. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Can you talk about the directorial differences between Dario Argento & Brian DePalma? Was working with one or the other more satisfying as a actress?

HARPER:  They were both great to work with. They were very supportive, and very skilled at getting good performances out of actors, which many directors are not.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you get involved with SUSPIRIA and Argento?

HARPER:  I met him in Los Angeles, and was very intrigued because his previous movies were so interesting and highly regarded in their genre. He'd seen PHANTOM and liked me in that, so it all worked out.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How was the overall experience working on that production? Are you comfortable with your performance in SUSPIRIA as being the work that you're most known for?

HARPER:  I loved working on SUSPIRIA. Dario was great, and I loved the whole crew, the Italian experience, and the quality of the movie. As with PHANTOM, I love that it has achieved such a cult status. People contact me more in reference to this film than to any others.

TV STORE ONLINE:  As an actress are you able to watch your own work in the aftermath?

HARPER:  I am very critical when I watch my work; it makes me somewhat uncomfortable, and miserable if I don't think I did well.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Going into SHOCK TREATMENT... At the time had you seen THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW [1975] prior to the project?

HARPER:  Of course...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you think SHOCK TREATMENT will become an even stronger cult film over more time?

HARPER:  Hard to say, but I'm told it has a lot more followers now than it did five years ago. I doubt it will surpass ROCKY HORROR in cult status, but it seems to be gaining some momentum. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you become involved and cast on Fox's It's The Garry Shandling Show

HARPER:  The same way we actors always get a part... Meet and audition.

TV STORE ONLINE:  As an actress how do you approach a comedic role, for a show like that?

HARPER:  As the man once said, dying is easy, comedy is hard. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Over the course of your career you seemed to transition into doing a larger bulk of television work vs. film work. Was that a conscious decision?

HARPER:  Well, doing the Shandling Show came at a time when I had a new baby, and there was no way I was going to take her on location. So doing television, which in that case was a day job in my home town, was what suited my life for many years. 

TV STORE ONLINE: How did you get involved with the producing and writing of children's programming like music and books? What was the inspiration?

HARPER:  My inspiration came from my two daughters. I'd always written songs, and when they were young, it became an exercise in expressing my connection to them. The books were a logical extension of the songs. In fact, some of them have text that is lifted directly from the songs.

TV STORE ONLINE:  On projects of that nature, as a creator, what's that process like for you and how long do you spend on them prior to their release?

HARPER:  The time those projects take varies greatly. A book can take a year, or two weeks. A song is the same. I just tinker with things till they seem finished. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where does your passion and interest in cooking come from?

HARPER:  I really don't know, but I suppose it's from an interest in being creative, as well as a desire to eat good food...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Are you a fan of the Food Network? 

HARPER:   I love to watch The Barefoot Contessa. That's about it. I watch her while I exercise. 
TV STORE ONLINE:  What was your motivation for releasing your cook book 'The Crabby Cook Cookbook?'

HARPER:  I thought it was high time there was a book that acknowledged that not everybody experiences the joy of cooking, that sometimes cooking for a family on a daily basis can be really irritating! This book, with 135 easy recipes, is for those people, crabby cooks like me! It's a collection of humor, survival tips and recipes, for the kitchen-challenged!

For more information on Jessica Harper, or read her cooking blog, and order her new book, The Crabby Cook Cookbook: Recipes and Rants - please visit her official website.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

INTERVIEW: Actor/Comedian Fred Willard sits down with TV STORE ONLINE

 Actor/Comedian Fred Willard from ABC's Modern Family sits down with TV STORE ONLINE to chat about his early career in exploitation film and the films of Christopher Guest.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Are you surprised that people recognize you from the Jerry Gross exploitation film, TEENAGE MOTHER [1967]? 

WILLARD: Well, I think people are more interested in it, because that originally came to light, when I appeared on The Conan O'Brien Show. They hunted the film down, sent me a copy of it, and then they showed a clip of it on the show. It's an early exploitation film. It's an exploitation film, cause it shows an actual baby's birth. I played the high school coach. I really have no memory of doing the film actually, but I can remember going to see the film once it was done out on Staten Island. My wife and I took a ferry out, and saw the film. I can't remember what I got paid on the film, I can't remember anything about the director of the film, even. It was my first movie.

TV STORE ONLINE: On that note.. You also worked on another exploitation film called CHESTY ANDERSON U.S.N [1976].  Didn't you work with nutzoid actor Timothy Carey on that film?
WILLARD: Yes, I did that movie. I have no clue though how I got involved with that project. I think I played an undercover detective didn't I? I thought it was a good idea. Didn't the actress who played Chesty Anderson do some Russ Meyer movies? I was sort of a fan of Timothy Carey. I had originally saw him in EAST IN EDEN [1955]. He was a very nice guy. He was also very eccentric. He talked really fast. He was quite an interesting character for sure.

TV STORE ONLINE: You grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Growing up, did you have any experiences with any of the amazing cultural things that came from there like the television and radio personalities Alan Freed or Ghoulardi?

WILLARD:  Yes, I did. As a kid, I used to love to listen to "Moondog" on the radio in Cleveland. It was cool, it seemed like big record companies would introduce their records in Cleveland. Back then, you'd look at the major cities across the USA and see their top ten records list, and it was always different in Cleveland. There were theaters in Cleveland that I used to go to during the weekend, and see some of the country western shows. I love country music. I just learned that Elvis actually played Cleveland around fifty-five or fifty-six as well, and I have no idea how I would've missed that. I've always been a huge Elvis fan. 

I think Ghoulardi was after my time in Cleveland. Strangely enough, my wife and I are good friends with his ex-wife now. Of course, Ghoulardi was Ernie Anderson. He is the father of the film director, Paul Thomas Anderson. He did that movie BOOGIE NIGHTS [1997]. But we met Ernie on several occasions when he was alive and he was a nice guy. He had this gruff voice, like a chain smokers voice. Over the years I've met a lot of people, that grew up in Cleveland who have told me about how influential he was for them. 

TV STORE ONLINE: Growing up in Cleveland... What were you like as a kid?

WILLARD: I was just a normal kid. I loved baseball. By the time I got to be a junior in high school my parents sent me off to a military prep school. So I wasn't around Cleveland too much at that point. But when I was a kid, I saw something in Cleveland that really influenced me. I saw Spike Jones on stage in Cleveland. And I had never seen comedy like this before. It was all new to me. I remember musicians on stage, and they'd do take-offs of popular songs. There was this one bit they did with a women on stage with a harp. She sat their the whole show and never played it, and no one on stage drew any attention to her. I couldn't believe just how hip this type of humor was. It was cutting edge for back then. Just recently, I got to meet Spike Jones son at this year's Emmy Awards, and I got to tell him about seeing his dad back in Cleveland all those years back.

TV STORE ONLINE: Do you think seeing this type of humor was a direct catalyst for your type of comedy?

WILLARD: Yes, for sure. I can remember back in grade school we did this variety show. And I put together a bunch of guys who played instruments, and we did this type of Spike Jones show. I didn't play any instruments though. We did The Case Of The Missing Key. The missing key.. Being a musical key. But seeing Spike Jones.. He was a direct influence and it's probably the whole reason I decided to go into show business.

TV STORE ONLINE: I know you're a big baseball fan. Having grown up in Cleveland... Do you still follow the Cleveland Indians?

WILLARD:  Well, I've kinda stopped following them for now. I was invited back to Cleveland for the 100th anniversary game. I went back to the new Jacob's Field, and I was impressed. I have so many memories of the old Memorial Stadium, cause as a kid, my dad used to take me to games all the time. I'd wait after the games to get player's autographs. But anyway, so the current team owner is very nice, and he invited my wife and I to have dinner with him in the stands. It was a night game. And he explained to us that he had to get rid of some of the players because of money issues. Then he announced to the fans, that the team wouldn't be competitive for five years. So I said, 'How can you do that to the fans?' Every season, the fans have to expect that their home team has a good chance of winning. So I gave up. The last time the Cleveland Indians won a World Series was in 1948. 

During this 100th anniversary, I got to meet a pitcher that played on the '48 team, Steve Gromek. I was so thrilled to meet him. And after I met him, we stayed in contact. Eventually he passed away, and his family contacted me, and sent me a video of the 100th anniversary event. And I wrote them back, thanking them, and told them, that '48 will probably be the last time the Indians ever win the World Series. So I've really just given up on the Indians. 

TV STORE ONLINE: Are you a movie fan?

WILLARD: Sure. I wanna say that the first movie I ever saw was SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS [1937]. My favorite comedy of all time, is THE COURT JESTER [1955]. I'm a big fan of horror movies as well. I can still remember the first horror film I saw as a kid. It was FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN [1943]. I can remember bugging my parents to take me to it, and they wouldn't. One day we were driving to see my Grandma, and they stopped in front of our local movie theater and they dropped me off and said, "We'll pick you up in 2 hours". I can still so vividly remember that day. Over the years, I've loved films like THE EXORCIST [1973] and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [1974]. In fact, I worked with Tobe Hopper on a film he did called SALEM'S LOT [1979]. Tobe Hopper is a great director. He was very sweet, and I got to know him socially. He's a real talent, he does an a amazing job at getting scary things on film.

TV STORE ONLINE: After getting out of school you went into the military. That seems like something very out of character for you to have done?

WILLARD:  Laughing....Well it was in the days of the draft, and I served two years. I was stationed in Fort Riley Kansas, and in Oklahoma at Fort Sill. It was an interesting experience, cause you get to meet a big cross section of people. You learn a lot about human nature. You meet all types of guys. Guys who graduated from Harvard, and then guys that didn't have a brain in their head. But they were all funny. I was stationed in Germany for a while as well. I got to play on the baseball team there, and I saw Berlin. I've got a lot of great photos of those days. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I should've though. I really think that a draft should be in place now. I think everyone should spend at least one year in the military, cause you get so much discipline. It would clear up a lot of the problems we have today I think... 

TV STORE ONLINE:  After you got out of the military you moved to New York to become an actor? Didn't you get involved in comedy improve in NY?

WILLARD: Well, once I got to New York City I went to acting school. I made some friends, and we started writing jokes, and we did some comedy shows together. We did The Ed Sullivan Show even. After a while we broke up, and my agent got me a audition for Second City. I was really nervous, cause I really hadn't done any improvisation before. So I really had to force myself down to that audition, cause I didn't think I could do it. I had NO experience. The funny thing about this audition was that I actually auditioned with Robert Klein, and he was hilarious. So they offered me a spot at Second City Chicago. I told them I'd think about it. So I called a friend of mine in Chicago, who owned a book store, and I asked her, "Is Second City still hip?" And she said, "Oh God yes..." So after that I moved to Chicago, and I found that I could improvise. It was a lot of fun, I stayed a year, and that was the end of it. I didn't improve again, until Christopher Guest asked me to be in WAITING FOR GUFFMAN [1996]. And since then, I've been back for a few things at Second City here and there.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where do you think your comic nuances come from?

WILLARD:  I think from two things. When I first moved to New York City I worked in a credit office. I was instantly amused by the business mentality. And also, when I was in the army, the mentality of people doing things for no reason. Doing things just because you're ordered to do it. I've been amused by people that make up senseless rules. I've always been fascinated with the 'boss' type. I love to observe people as well. People always tell me that I'm quiet. I'm really just observing. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Can you talk about how you got involved with the television show Real People [1979-84]?

WILLARD:  One day I was sitting at home and my phone rang. It was a guy named, George Slaughter. I remembered his name from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In [1968-73]. So he told me, he was a fan of mine. He was watching me with Martin Mull on Fernwood 2 Nite [1977]. He told me he was doing a new show called Real People were they'd go out and interview crazy and eccentric people, and they wanted me to ask them straight questions. The first season, I did six stories. And after that, I didn't really wanna do any more. I just didn't think it was as cutting edge as I originally thought it was gonna be. So I Quit. Then, I started kicking myself, cause the show got super popular a couple years after I left. Then I stumbled onto this story about an old one armed baseball player, named Pete Gray. He played baseball during World War One. I read this story about him, and he was still alive and living in a little town in Pennsylvania. I called George Schlatter up, cause I thought this story was perfect for Real People. To make a long story short, Pete Gray didn't want anything to do with the show, but George convinced me to come back to the show, and I signed on part time for two seasons.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Of all the Christopher Guest films you've done.. Do you have a favorite film or character?

WILLARD:  Yes, my favorite film is the first one, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN. But, character wise, I'd say my two favorites are my characters in BEST IN SHOW [2000]. It was a take on.... It was a spin off on Joe Garagiola the old baseball player. Then of course, the "Wha Happened Guy" from A MIGHTY WIND [2003]. My wife and I came up with the look of that guy. It was my wife's idea to dye my hair blonde. I actually went in to audition for that wearing a Zoot Suit that I actually bought at a trendy upscale shop in Cleveland. And I thought he should have a earring, but Christopher Guest said, "No". And by the time FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION [2006] came around, Christopher suggested my character have an earring. So you see, if you want to impose something into a character, you have to make the director think it was his idea.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where does the Wha Happened Guy comes from?

WILLARD:  Well, Guest told me he was a guy that managed musicians, or a former club owner. I thought about it, and I thought it would be fun if he was a guy that did a television series for one year that no one saw or was forgotten, but he thinks that everyone's seen...Wha Happened?...

TV STORE ONLINE:  How does it make you feel as an actor to get all the accolades you've gotten from the likes of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy for your performances?

WILLARD: Very nice. I really admire those guys so very much. Guest is a genius. He's the kinda guy you'd love to hang out with. He's a genius in film, and in the music he does. When we were doing GUFFMAN, I'd try to explain to him what I was gonna do improve wise, and he would look at me, and say, "Fred, you generally don't wanna know what the other person is gonna do that you're improving with, but in your case, I wanna know".. laughing... I get nervous when I'm doing improvisation. But for Guest it comes from his gut. Someone told me that Guest said in an interview once, that "Fred comes from another planet." Really, it's Guest that's from someplace else, he's just not from this earth. He's a genius.

TV STORE ONLINE: One of my favorite films of all time that I grew up on is MOVING VIOLATIONS [1985]. How you'd get involved in that project?

WILLARD:  Oh my god...That's a film that was ahead of it's time. It came out just before the first oil crisis. I remember when it came out, people were roller skating to work...I got involved with the director of MOVING VIOLATIONS cause he was involved with one of my partners from my improvisation comedy group, Ace Trucking Company. I played "The Doc". In fact, the writer took that one scene of myself with Wendie Jo Sperber at the Repair Shop from a sketch we actually wrote for improvisation. They actually tried to get me to audition for it. I told them no, and said, "Look I'm not gonna audition for you with a scene I wrote!" So they just gave me the part. It was a fun production. It was a funny and crazy film. There's that one really great scene were we're all running down the streets of Los Angeles, being chased by like two hundred police.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You've done so many projects with Martin Mull... Can you talk about your chemistry together?

WILLARD:  Well, that goes back to Fernwood 2 Nite. They wanted me for the show, and I really didn't wanna do it. I was just busy with some other things. But the producers convinced me to just sit in for the week. I had first seen Martin on stage in Los Angeles when he opened up for my friend Robert Klein, and I was blown away by his act. He's got this amazing dry humor. So after a week of sitting in, I really discovered that I enjoyed it. So I went to the producer, who was of course, Norman Lear, and I was on the show.

Originally the concept was for my character to be a Ed McMahon type, but after a few tries the producers decided that it just wasn't working. So they decided to put us together side by side. It was then that we started to play off of each others comedy. I would say something stupid, and he would just stop. He's a very generous comedian. And too this day, I'm a huge fan of his. I love being around him. Every time we get the chance to do something, it's just so wonderful. Oh..and Martin is also an amazing musician too!

TV STORE ONLINE:  Do you prefer television work or movie work? 

WILLARD:  TV work is a lot easier of course. But all work is great. Film does give you a sort of immortality however. TV Shows tend to disappear. I still get approached by fans of the Wu Tang Clan because I worked on that movie HOW HIGH [2001].
TV STORE ONLINE:  How does it feel when you get nominated for an Emmy Award?

WILLARD:  Great. I've never taken it too serious. It's just an honor to attend. But this past year I was nominated for appearing on ABC's Modern Family.  And I really thought I was gonna win it, but they gave it too Neil Patrick Harris. We'll try again next year maybe... Being nominated is great.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You've had so many wonderful supporting roles. Do you think you've gotten all the roles you should have or wanted? Do you think you could alone carry a feature film or television series in a lead role?

WILLARD:  Yes, I have always wanted too. But on the other hand. Even if you have a television series that runs for a few years then get's canceled, then you have to suffer the "Whatever happened to that guy?" thing. I'm getting older, and I'm finding that I don't wanna work that hard any more. Remember when I did that show with Kelsey Grammar called Back To You [2007-08]? We did 18 episodes, and all the reviews said I was under-used. Then it disappeared and it's barely remembered now. When I was doing Everyone Loves Raymond [1996-2005],  I worked with an actor named Chris Elliot. And we had a very interesting discussion that I think will answer your question. We were talking about this and that and he told me that he was just offered his own show but that he turned it down. When I asked him why he would do that, he said, he was scared it would get canceled and it would be forgotten. He said, not having his own show meant that at least he could continue on working on a regular basis...

TV STORE ONLINE:  Well, I would totally agree with that statement. But.. Doesn't that frustrate you?
WILLARD:  At times, Yes. But other times, I'm just happy to be working too. There are spells were I don't do anything. Then there are times where I'm very busy.   I've taken the easy road so many times. I've came up with great ideas for projects, and then someone would say, "that's stupid", and I'd give up on it. So throughout my career, I've been lacking tenacity. Over the years, I've written film scripts, and television pilots. But I haven't done too much with these ideas. I wrote a movie a few years ago, that I really loved about a guy that goes down to a fantasy baseball camp and befriends Mickey Mantle. I thought it was a funny script. But then Mantle died. A friend of mine is trying to convince me to do it but with Pete Rose. But it's just not the same. I've got a comedy that I wrote a while back about triathletes as well. Maybe I'll do something with those soon. I don't know.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung

Thursday, November 14, 2013

INTERVIEW: Actor Chris Sarandon talks with TV STORE ONLINE


TV STORE ONLINE: Chris, I read online that you grew up with parents that were in the restaurant business. I was just curious to see if working in a family business... Do you learn anything or get some sort of unconscious preparation for being a career actor?

SARANDON: Yes, absolutely...I started working in their restaurant when I was nine years old. My parents started me out washing dishes, clearing tables, that sort of thing - then I graduated into a sort of glorified host and cashier, but I was basically doing everything there from age nine until I left for college.

The restaurant was sort of kitty corner from the county courthouse. So we had a lot of people come in who were lawyers, judges, doctors, but also people that were there on trial or there representing people that were on trial. Also, it was a coal mining town. So we had a big cross section of different people coming in from the area.. I think I got a slice-of-life type of education from growing up in the restaurant, and experiencing all these different types of personalities. 

 TV STORE ONLINE: So you grew being interested in music as well, right?

SARANDON: Sure...But I can't take any kind of credit for being a musician though. I was interested in jazz music first of all, cause I had an older cousin who was really into jazz music, and he was sort of my hero growing up, cause he had this cool MG sports car, and he listened to this really cool music. I thought he was the greatest guy around.

So by the time I got to high school, music was changing and you were seeing rock n roll really taking off. I had been taking drummer lessons, cause I wanted to be a jazz drummer. Some guys from a class I had approached me cause they were starting a band, and they needed a drummer. So we started practicing, playing Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry song and other early rock n roll songs, and we sorta became a cover band. So from like age 15 till the time I left for college, I was in this band.

It was a sort of semi-show biz in doctrine for me, cause we were on stage 2 or 3 nights a week, backing up these musicians that would come into our West Virgina town.. I played with Bobby Darin, Danny and The Juniors and a whole other bunch of people when they came into town.

It was a great experience. We even cut a record. We had a couple original songs that we had written, and the record kinda took off regionally, it was really great. I did that until I went to college and that was pretty much that.. It was really fun though, a while back we had a high school class reunion and we got back together and played the dance, we had a lot of fun with that.. It was great.

TV STORE ONLINE: So where do you think your initial interest in being an actor comes from?

SARANDON: I have no idea....laughing I have to be frank. I've always had a very good ear. I sang in the church choir, and I sang in school. So I think I've always had a musical ear. That's a very good tool for an actor to have. I could always pick up accents easily. I could tell jokes. I could do characters. So I don't know. I was just a natural talent that I had, and it just always seemed like something that I fit in. It's all I've ever been able to think about doing.

TV STORE ONLINE: I know you're done your fair share of work on the stage as well as working in film? Do you find one is more rewarding that the other?

SARANDON: Working on stage is rewarding in a different way. Your performance can change every night, cause your audience changes every night. Even though you're doing the same play every night, it changes with your relationship with the audience. So it's really interesting that way.

Now with movies, you're part of this huge machine. You somewhat have control over your performance, but on the other hand - it can be edited, cut and pasted, altered into an end product that wasn't your original intention necessarily. Basically, you have to go into it thinking that you're gonna have a good time, and that you're gonna get the opportunity to try things a bunch of different times and in different ways, then you have to move on. So it's exciting in that regard, and your challenge is to make it interesting and fresh for the camera. So both are alot of fun, and I enjoy both of them extremely.

TV STORE ONLINE: So how did you get cast for DOG DAY AFTERNOON [1975]?

SARANDON: I just auditioned. I went in and auditioned for Sydney Lumet, and Al Pacino was there. They asked me to come back again and make a couple adjustments, and I did, and they hired me. That's how it happened, it was basically through the audition.

TV STORE ONLINE: With DOG DAY AFTERNOON....Where do you think "Leon" comes from inside you?

SARANDON: I don't have any idea...laughing I guess on one level, I understood the character as an outsider. Growing up in West Virginia and being Greek, I was the only Greek kid in my school. I was a first generation kid with parents that came to the United States from Greece. They spoke Greek around the house, and my father had a very thick accent. So in many ways, I always felt like I was outside the environment, even though I was popular in school. There weren't exactly a lot of ethic kids growing up in rural West Virginia. When I was at home I was a Greek American, and my parents used to tell me that - I was 100% American and full blooded Greek.

While this isn't a unique experience in the United States, it was a challenge to me to try to fit in on the one hand, and at the same time - to be who I was while at home. I was always proud of being Greek, but at the time I was wanting to be someone else.

So I think I understood 'Leon', in terms of how he felt uncomfortable in his own skin. Also, I had friends in the gay community. I spent some time with a friend who had a dinner party one evening, and he invited some people in the trans-gender community over, and I got to talk to them for hours and listen to their back stories. That's what an actor does.

I take credit only from the standpoint that I was a channel through whom the great screenwriter Frank Pearson and the director Sydney Lumet were speaking. Also, I had the advantage of having photographs of the real person, from which I was playing for the camera, plus I had the opportunity to listen to a couple taped interviews with him, but I never got the chance to meet him.

TV STORE ONLINE: A little off topic... But with your family background today are you a good cook?

SARANDON:  I've always had an interest in cooking, but I wanted to avoid the restaurant business cause I saw how difficult it was on my dad and my uncles. But, I've always enjoyed it. I enjoy baking bread and cookies. Growing up, I was always helping my mom in the kitchen, cause I had no sisters in the house, so that gave me the ability to take care of myself. It's a family thing, in fact my son now is going to culinary school to be a chef.

TV STORE ONLINE: Going back to DOG DAY AFTERNOON how gratifying was it for you... It was your first film and your nominated for an Academy Award?

SARANDON:  It was great. DOG DAY AFTERNOON is something I've always been very proud of. I loved doing the film, and it was just such a high for me, that whole process of being nominated and then going off to the Academy Awards.

TV STORE ONLINE: So do you remember who you lost out to that night?

SARANDON: Of course...laughing Are you kidding? George Burns! He won for THE SUNSHINE BOYS [1976].

TV STORE ONLINE: Onto your next film, LIPSTICK [1976]. I was just curious to see if you had any reservations in getting involved with the project given that you knew in advance when you read the script what you would have to do as that character?

SARANDON: Actually, I thought the opposite. I thought it was a great way to go in the other direction if you will...going from a would be transsexual to a rapist...laughing 

Also, the group of people involved in the film was amazing. Anne Bancroft was in the film and the director Mark Johnson had a great reputation as a director. I thought it was subject matter that was very timely. It was at a time when women that were raped were not treated kindly by the justice system. They were treated as if they were somehow complacent in the rape, which I'm sure is still happening in other countries even though the laws have changed in this country through selective reality. Also, it was a study of what rape is really about - power and male dominance. I felt very strongly that it was an important project that I wanted to be involved with.


SARANDON: I was asked to come in and meet Sam Peckinpah. I went in, and we talked together for ten minutes and he hired me right there. I think that's the only time in my life that's ever happened.

TV STORE ONLINE: So what was it like working with Sam Peckinpah on the film? 

SARANDON: He was very gracious and just a lovely guy. By THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND, Peckinpah was in somewhat frail health. He had a pace maker for a heart condition. He was not the sort of rip snorting crazy cowboy that his reputation indicated him to be. He was to me, a very straight forward gentlemen with a great sense of humor. I had a great time on that movie.

TV STORE ONLINE: With FRIGHT NIGHT... What was the process for you in terms of approaching the "Jerry Dandridge" character, how do you prepare?

SARANDON: Tom, from the very beginning was very insistent in our being very grounded in terms of the characters behavior and life as we could be. He asked us all to write out biographies for the characters, we did rehearsals. He approached it in such a serious way that it was very respectful to our process as actors. Because of that, we brought to the genre and film a real humanity to those characters.

TV STORE ONLINE: Didn't you have some creative input into the Jerry Dandridge character?

SARANDON: Along the way if you had any ideas for the character, you could always bring them to Tom, and he'd incorporate them if they made sense. Most bats, are not vampire bats, but fruit bats. So I had an "what if" idea that in Jerry's genetic vampire line there was this genetic craving to eat fruit. So I took that to Tom, and he said, "Great, let's work that in."

Also, with that whole bit where Jerry takes the bite out of the apple outside, and rolls it on the ground toward Charlie Brewster who's spying on him in the bushes. Tom really liked that, and took the idea and expanded on it, and got these great shots of it, that you see in the film now. So Tom and I worked in a very collaborative way in a lot of respects.
TV STORE ONLINE: So how did you get involved or cast in THE PRINCESS BRIDE [1987]?

SARANDON : That was just an audition. I went in to audition for it with Rob Reiner and the writer William Goldman.

TV STORE ONLINE: So how do you approach a comic role like that?

SARANDON: Very seriously. Comedy is serious. When you watch the movie, what's endearing in the film is that the characters are deadly serious about their objectives, and what they have to deal with. The humor in the film comes from the situations and the wonderful William Goldman dialogue.

TV STORE ONLINE: Working on THE PRINCESS BRIDE... Did you spent a lot of time off set with Andre The Giant?

SARANDON: Yes I did actually. We were all on location in England for six weeks. So we were all in the same hotel in this little town, we all ate dinner together every night, we hung out together. Andre was one of the sweetest human beings I ever met.

TV STORE ONLINE: What attracted you to the character "Charles Dexter Ward" in the Dan O'Bannon film THE RESURRECTED [1992]? 

SARANDON: Well, I was just offered it. I read the script and thought it was very interesting. I knew Dan's work and I wanted to be part of it.

TV STORE ONLINE: So were the dual roles required of you a challenge?

SARANDON: Yes, it is but it isn't.. Again, you approach it very seriously, and try to bring as much to it as you can. I tried to do as much historical research of the times as I could. Then you sorta have to go with the conceit of it. The idea of someone resurrecting life in a very macabre way. As long as you stay true to the reality of the characters, you'll hope that you can do right by it.

TV STORE ONLINE: How did you get involved in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS [1993]?

SARANDON: They were looking for somebody that was a good vocal match for Danny Elfman, cause he was doing Jack's singing voice. So i guess I was a close enough match, and I guess they liked what they heard in the audition and I was hired.

TV STORE ONLINE: So, for you how different or new was it to have to focus on working more with your voice than with your physical body for THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS?

SARANDON: Well, I had done little bits and pieces of animated voice work prior. But this was obviously the first feature role I'd had done in animation. I guess I'd say the challenge was not working with other actors for the most part. I'd fly up to San Francisco from Los Angeles and I'd go into the studio with the director Henry Selick and I'd spend the better part of the day laying down the tracks for one or two scenes then I'd go home and they'd start the animation, and then I'd come back a few months later for more. We did that for the better part of a year and a half.

TV STORE ONLINE: Going into a project like THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS..Did you ever have any thoughts that what you were doing would be something that would turn out to be very special?

SARANDON: I only knew that the end result was going to be pretty amazing visually. Because I had seen the story boards, and I also saw the sets that they were shooting on as well as the animatronic renderings of the characters that were used for the stop motion process. I saw all that, and I thought it was just amazing. So when I saw the final result, I was just blown away.

TV STORE ONLINE: Onto a personal favorite of mine...TALES FROM THE CRYPT: BORDELLO OF BLOOD [1996]... Cult classic or just a bad idea?

SARANDON: I'll have to leave it to others to decide if it's a cult classic or not. I will tell you that I had a fun time doing it. I liked the guys who produced and directed it. I have fun working with the other members of the cast. We had a fun time making it. Also, it was a fun character for me. Growing up in West Virginia, my parents would go on vacation and leave me with a babysitter. She was this women that would take me to these Pentecostal holy roller church services. So I knew this character, I had seen him before as a kid. You would see these televangelist's, and you realize that they are these great performers and remarkable communicators.. So this character was a lot of fun for me. I had a good time getting into that mode.

TV STORE ONLINE: So the accent you use in the performance... It must have been pretty easy for you considering where you grew up. Was that something you ever had trouble getting rid of?

SARANDON: Right, the accent is from my home town. Neither of my parents had the accent. I had it a bit, but as soon as I left home it was gone.

TV STORE ONLINE: Are you a big movie fan? Do you a favorite film?

SARANDON: Yes, and there are so many favorites. I could give you fifty movies that are on my list as the greatest movies of all time. I love David Lean. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA [1962], GREAT EXPECTATIONS [1946]. I'm a big fan of Howard Hawks and Billy Wilder. I love TOOTSIE [1982]. Silent movies. Fellini. Steven Spielberg. RAISE THE RED LANTERN [1991] is a favorite. I could go on and on.

TV STORE ONLINE: With your of love of directors... Have you ever had any aspirations to direct a film yourself?

SARANDON: I sort of did at one time. I produced a movie that a friend of mine and I put together, and I was in it as well. It was called ROAD ENDS [1997]. It went straight to cable television. I'm happy were I am at this point. But if an opportunity arose...sure I'd love to direct. But I'm not pining over it.

TV STORE ONLINE: Of all the great performances you've turned in over the years... Do you perhaps have a favorite one or maybe one that you're the most proud of?

SARANDON: Not really. The last one...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE: So we've just talked a lot of about some well known movies. Are there any performances that you've done that you don't get asked about in an interview, but wish you would be asked about?

SARANDON: Not really. The ones that are out there, that are remembered - people are big fans of. Those are the ones that I am most proud of. The ones that I'd just as soon forget about, have been forgotten. History has a way of making judgement's about things that you weren't sure of when you did them.

TV STORE ONLINE: So what's one thing that no-one knows about you?

SARANDON: If they don't know, I'd rather they didn't...laughing I'm not trying to be coy or difficult so I'll tell you why. I think these days people know too much about actors. There was a time when actor's private lives were kept very private. We've entered into a period with reality television shows, and major celebrity worship. So actors have become public figures because of their work and even more because of their lives.

So in a way, I'm glad that I didn't become so famous, that I'm followed around all the time. I'm happy that I keep working and that I don't have people prying into my private life. For that I'm grateful. In that respect, I'm glad that people know what they know and that be it.

Interview Conducted:  Justin Bozung