Actor Dan Shor [John Huston's WISE BLOOD, BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE] talks with Justin Bozung for TV Store Online about the 1984 Warner Brothers maudit MIKE'S MURDER...
SHOR: What I remember now about it was that I auditioned for more than one role. I first auditioned for [actor] William Austrander's role, but I ended up getting the role that I got.
TV STORE ONLINE: I have an earlier draft of the screenplay for MIKE'S MURDER and your character has much more to do...
SHOR: Yeah, and we did a lot of improve while we were shooting the film...
TV STORE ONLINE: So how did you find the character?
MIKE'S MURDER was based on a real guy that [director] Jim Bridges knew. The film was an investigation into the gay community of Los Angeles of that time. Debra Winger was really playing a guy in the film, and Mike, Mark Keyloun, was essentially playing a male hooker. The character that I played, I based him on Peter Ivers
, the guy that did a show on Los Angeles television around that time called New Wave Theater.
I was doing him. That's the whole interview scene in the film. We're having a party and my character is walking up to people and asking them what the meaning of life was. He'd ask people ridiculous questions, acting really like he wanted to know the answer. I think he was asking people that had absolutely no idea--but that's beside the point. It was this whole new wave movement. It was a minimalist art movement. The movement wasn't completely gay nor was it completely straight--which was what my character was. He was completely omnisexual. You got the sense that my character was unsuccessful with everyone, compared to the character of Mike--who was like the Brigitte Bardot of the film..
TV STORE ONLINE: And that party sequence in MIKE'S MURDER features 'Spazz Attack'...
|"I based him on Peter Ivers...I was doing him.." |
SHOR: Damn, yeah, he was real. He was a real L.A. character of that time. I remember I invited a few other L.A. characters out for the shooting of that sequence in the film. David Schweizer, who is a major New York theater director, I brought him with me that night. I had at least five friends come out for that party sequence, all of which were fine artists.
TV STORE ONLINE: Then we have the other scene with your character and Debra Winger...That scene in the sushi restaurant.... You line in that scene, for me, sums up the film: "The ephemera is eternal..."
Right, and Lord knows if I made that line up or not. I don't know. I don't know what was scripted and what wasn't. Because I don't believe that the scene was completely improvised, but that doesn't mean that crap didn't come out of my mouth, because Jim Bridges encourages me to go. Debra Winger didn't like that, but Bridges encouraged me to improve in that scene.
TV STORE ONLINE: How did Jim Bridges and Debra Winger work together?
SHOR: They were like father and daughter. At that time Winger was a fragile creature. She wasn't normal. She was touchy, erratic and uncomfortable--but that was her character in the film. The thing is, she would live the inner-life of the characters that she played, and in way that I've never anyone do before or since. If you've seen her work--she's always brilliant. But she made a huge sacrifice for that brilliance. She allowed herself to be that freakin' neurotic, and that neuroses shows on-screen, but also expressed itself also off-screen. So, Jim Bridges--to Winger--it felt a bit like Bridges was Judd Hirsch in ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980). Bridges, who was a erratic character himself--he was nurturing our oddness. He was pushing Darrell [Larson] to take his closes off and to be a dangerous cocaine fiend, he was pushing me to be this horny little nerdy character.
TV STORE ONLINE: To me, MIKE'S MURDER is about time and memory and anguish... In a way it plays like it's an Ingmar Bergman film like THE SILENCE (1963) or something like that...
SHOR: I think it's almost a great film.
TV STORE ONLINE: Were you privy to to all of the fuss about the test screening of the film and the re-cutting of the film before it went into theaters?
: I only heard about all that post-haste. I never saw [editor] Dede Allen's first cut of the movie
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung