Crispin Glover of Willard
Exclusive interview by Adam Swiderski , senior editor

Crispin Glover Given Crispin Glover's reputation as an extreme eccentric, a guy operating somewhere on the lunatic fringe of Hollywood, one hardly knows what to expect when given the opportunity to interview him. It's not that I thought he'd rant and rave or anything, but…well, I didn't have any idea if he'd even been coherent given the rumors you hear out there. But nothing could be further from the truth; Glover was actually articulate, forthcoming and just plain pleasant to talk to…even if he wouldn't tell me why Hitler shows up in his latest music video.

Crispin Glover's latest project is Willard, a remake of a 1971 film starring Bruce Davison in which a lonely, put-upon guy befriends the swarm of rats that live in his basement. Bad things ensue. But good things ensue in this interview.

Click here to read a review of Willard and watch Crispin Glover's video for "Ben."

UGO: How does it feel to have your name above the title of a major motion picture?

Crispin Glover: Yeah, I'm happy about it, in that way.

UGO: What specifically about Willard attracted you to it?

CG: Well, I got the part. My agents called me and told there was interest in it for me. I was working on a different film at the time. I had never seen the original film. They asked me about it, if I was interested. I thought it sounded interesting. I vaguely knew what that original film was, so I wanted to see the script, and I saw it, it was an excellent script and a great part to play so I said, of course, very much, I want to do it.

UGO: Do you prefer making smaller films, or big event films like Charlie's Angels and Back to the Future?

CG: Something that's very much happened in the last couple years is I've been directing and producing some small films of my own. And I have a strong interest in counter-cultural art, counter-cultural cinema and I've realized the whole time I've been acting, I've wanted to be part of a counter-cultural film movement that hasn't existed. So I've been making my own small movies that have counter-cultural content and this is an expensive venture. So it's made sense to me, just in the last couple years I've decided, I need whole-heartedly in the pro-cultural film state that exists and consequently I've had some very interesting acting roles as well as being able to fund my own small films. It's an interesting duality, and Willard being one of these very interesting roles.

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Crispin GloverUGO: For the smaller films you've been doing, have you found a movement starting to form?

CG: None of them have been completed yet. I've shown the first one in a kind of 'before it's finished' cut. Very close to being done, but not done. No, I do not believe there's going to be a film movement for quite some time to come, and I don't think that even when my films come out, that will spur it on. I believe it's a much larger phenomenon than things like that that cause a counter-cultural film movement. The last one that existed was when there was the hippie counter-culture. And when I'm saying a movement, I mean corporations are able to see, visibly, with material evidence, that there is a group of people that will buy this point of view, that's counter to the popular or the culture at hand. The last time that happened was the hippie counter-culture. There isn't anything like that going on, and there doesn't seem like there's going to be anything like that. On top of which, the specific hippie counter-culture, what the moral tended toward being, having to do with love as a cure-all, and that's been consumed in the pro-cultural film state that exists. So it's no longer really a valid counter-cultural moral. There are new morals that need to be delved into, so there can be things that repeat that moral, but that's no longer a relevant counter-culture.

UGO: Back to Willard…which is scarier to work with, the rats or R. Lee Ermey?

CG: Neither of them. Both R. Lee and the rats were great to work with.

UGO: R. Lee comes off as very intimidating.

CG: Of course, and that's his persona. But he's a gentleman and an excellent actor and I was very glad to work with him.

UGO: Since you obviously don't have a problem with the rats, is there a creepy crawly that bothers you?

CG: No, I've never been a really phobic person. Yeah, it's not my nature. I know there's a lot of people that-I feel that most people aren't afraid of rats, but it's apparent that quite a few are, but I'm not one of them.

UGO: Can you talk about your work on the "Ben" music video from the movie?

CG: I directed it. Yeah, I directed that and the fellows that did the sets, named David Brothers, and I came up with the concept for it.

UGO: We were trying to figure out what's going on. Is that supposed to be Hitler sitting in the back?

CG: (Laughs) Well, some things just kind of happen. It wasn't necessarily written like that. It just kind of comes off like that. It is supposed to be inspired by a 1926 Berlin cabaret.

UGO: We were just trying to figure out why Hitler would hit someone over the head with a bottle in a cabaret.

Crispin GloverCG: Well, what did you piece together when you were watching it?

UGO: When you take the first woman on stage, the guy is applauding, but then he has a sudden change of heart. We were trying to figure out where that came from.

CG: Well, if you look at it closely, I think it becomes apparent, but I don't want to explain too much.

UGO: Since your 1989 album, have you planned on getting back into music at all?

CG: I've recorded a whole other album, other than that album, and it may be that it's an appropriate time to put this song on to this other album. I've just been busy, so it's been hard to get everything figured out.

UGO: How did the process of you recording "Ben" come about? Was that the studio's idea?

CG: Glenn Morgan, the director, had thought of it. But it was a coincidence, because I had this other group of recordings I had done. I had talked with my co-producer about recording it well before making this movie, because it just fit in conceptually. Then, when Glenn Morgan mentioned it, I just thought, "Wow, that would be great." I probably even thought of it before, because it was something that I had really thought of before doing the movie. So I'm sure I thought of it while I was working on the film, but it wasn't something I mentioned, or anything. Then Glenn said, "Yeah, I would like to do that." And I double-checked with my co-producer to make sure that I really had talked with him about recording the song "Ben" before doing this movie. and he said I had.

UGO: What's the concept behind the new album you have recorded?

CG: The first one was called The Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution, The Solution Equals Let it Be. The new recordings would be called, The Big Love Recordings.

UGO: Where would you be coming from in terms of style?

CG: Well, some of the style is not too dissimilar. This particular "Ben" song is very well produced, but some of it is not dissimilar from this song.

UGO: You've covered Nancy Sinatra and Michael Jackson. Who else is out there that you might be interested in covering?

CG: I can't remember right now what I've gotten. Probably I shouldn't reveal some of those things. Part of that is the fun of what comes out.

UGO: We've been curious about the long list of actresses you thank in your previous album's liner notes.

CG: Oh, OK. I don't remember who exactly is on the list, but I think they were probably friends of mine that I played the record to and had gotten comments from.

Crispin GloverUGO: You're very well connected.

CG: (Uncomfortable laugh) Hehe, OK.

UGO: For Reuben and Ed, in one interview, you said that you based your character in that on something you came up with during an audition for Real Genius.

CG: Yes…that is correct. Before I did Back to the Future, that was the name of the film, but I didn't go in on the audition because I got Back to the Future, but it was something I came up with, a look, for that. There was a character that was locked up in a basement, but I never went in on the audition.

UGO: You're back in the sequel to Charlie's Angels, Full Throttle. What kind of situations are you finding yourself in? A lot of fighting?

CG: There is some fighting. There are two big fight sequences in it for me. One of them got cut before we shot it, while we were doing the film, which I was kind of disappointed about. But there are other interesting things that happen for my character, so we shall see.

UGO: Did you do a lot of training for that character?

CG: Oh yeah, definitely. And I enjoyed it, too. Working with the Chinese team that does that stuff is really…I really like them.

UGO: You seem pretty comfortable in the video working with the wires when you're decending. It looks very natural.

CG: Good, good.

UGO: Was that really Lucy Liu's hair that you got to play around with in Charlie's Angels?

CG: I don't think so. No, it was not.

UGO: 'Cause we were going to ask, what does it smell like?

CG: (Laughs) No. I think it was real human hair, but…

UGO: As a movie-goer, is there anything big coming out this Summer that you're really excited for?

CG: I don't really concentrate a lot on the popular media, so I don't really know what's going on. I do hope people will go see Willard, which I'm trying to get across right now.

Crispin GloverUGO: If the movie's a success, is there any talk of a sequel? Would you be interested?

CG: Yeah, if the film does well and New Line would be interested in remaking the movie, I'll bet anything Glenn Morgan, the director/writer, and Jim, the producer, would come up with something interesting.

UGO: And you'd be interested in doing it?

CG: Oh yeah, definitely. I liked those guys. I liked working with them a lot.

UGO: You've mentioned that you've shown What Is It? in an incomplete form.

CG: Well, incomplete is really the wrong word. It was a full cut of the film, but there were things still being done to it when people saw it. But it's very close to being absolutely done. I've kind of not have wanted to show it until it's absolutely finalized. It's frustrating on a lot of levels, because I want very much to be done and out with it. But I've been away and working and stuff like that to help finance that. And I also directed the sequel to it, or co-directed the sequel to it, which is called, Everything Is Fine, and that was written by a fellow who had cerebral palsy that was in the first film.

UGO: Did you find, in directing and producing, that you have a problem cutting the cord at all?

CG: No, I haven't had that difficulty. What I've had difficulty with, in terms of the length of time it's taken, is just technical stuff. If the film basically was going straight to video, it would have been done a number of years ago. I've had technical difficulty having to do with film stuff. Normally, when you have a film project, you have a crew of at least 8 people doing various jobs full time, and I've been doing it on my own. I've recently had some interns coming in to help things sometimes. It is very close to being done. If this were a normal film, that was corporately financed, the amount of work I would have to do would be less than 2 weeks of work.

UGO: Was it shot on film or video?

CG: Film, yeah. Like I say, if it was video, it would have been done a long time ago.

UGO: How hard was it to find a full cast of actors with Down's Syndrome who were actually able to act and do the parts?

CG: Oh, that wasn't hard. They were great. There was some difficulty with finding people. The people that wanted to do it were so into it that there really weren't any problems at all. They were great.

UGO: If the studio came to you with a bunch of money and an offer, but they would need to dull the edge of what you were doing, would you do it?

Crispin GloverCG: It depends on the project. I am interested in becoming corporately financed. I'm certain there are projects that I can do. I'd want to talk with the company beforehand and find out about that stuff. Get the climate of what really is going on. You want everybody to genuinely be on the same page. There probably are certain projects that I know would be going beyond limits of what would be a corporately finance-able film. I've written screenplays that I believe could be corporately financed vehicles and I'm not against corporate financing. I'm very much interested, in fact, in having a counter-cultural film movement so that they can be corporately financed with full gusto. But it really is difficult to say. On one hand, I want that because it's so much faster and so much easier on your own personal being on a lot of levels, when it's produced by another entity. But I also know, even just from the little experience I've had when other people are in control of money, there can be difficulties with that, as well. I'm used to controlling the money myself and knowing exactly what I want and doing it and being very satisfied and comfortable with that. So it's a hard question to answer, but ultimately I would like to be corporately financed, without a doubt.

UGO: Has there been discussion about this film getting corporate financing?

CG: Well, What Is It? is not a film that would necessarily…well, it would be a film, when it's done, that would be shown to corporate financiers on the level of just being that I've completed the film. I don't think it will be shown to inspire corporate people to say, "Hey, this guy is going to make a film for us that we're going to be able to sell really easily." But I'm not concerned about that level as much as I am about how I know that with the film, and the counter-cultural state that it is in, that I have a market that I can personally go out and sell to. And there are genuinely people that are interested in that. These films are strictly art house films, and that's because if they were rated, they'd be rated NC-17, and those films you can't show in cineplexes. So, this is something that is a benefit for me, because I'm planning on going around and touring with my films, and go to these various art house theaters personally. And I know I can do well with them that way.

UGO: Which of your interests, acting, music and directing, do you enjoy most?

CG: Yeah, directing, probably so. The complete making of the film, really, especially when you get in the editing room, and it's completing. It really is a tremendous sense of creating something beautiful from nothing.

UGO: If you could have superpowers, what would they be and why?

CG: Uh…all of them! Because, of course, it would be great.

UGO: Great. Thanks a lot, Crispin.

CG: Thank you, too.

See more stills of Crispin Glover in Willard


Do you understand the "Ben" video? Tell us!

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