Is Everything Fine? An Interview With Crispin Glover
Glover has continued to appear in mainstream Hollywood films (Willard, Hot Tub Time Machine), but his greatest passion for the last ten years has been touring the country with his Big Slide Show (described by his web site as "a one hour dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books he has made over the years") and the first two films in his It? trilogy, What is it? and It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. Both films combine confrontational and sometimes shocking subject matter (actors with Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy, imagery reminiscent of Buñuel and Fellini) with the feel of classic Hollywood films, and are sure to elicit a wide spectrum of reactions.
Glover will bring his cinematic/vaudeville/live action production to the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park Saturday night. I welcomed the opportunity to ask him about his work, and he is...a very thorough interview subject.
HOUSTON PRESS: The film you're presenting here in Houston - It is fine. EVERYTHING IS FINE! - is the second in your It? trilogy. But I understand you won't be filming the third for a while. Are you still making a movie with your father first?
CRISPIN GLOVER: Yes I am doing all in my effort to shoot the film with my father next. I should not go in to detail for IT IS MINE. yet and I will not shoot that next. There are other projects outside of the trilogy that I will shoot next. I own property in the Czech Republic and am making a small soundstage out there to continue making my own films. It is another culture and another language and I need to build up to complex productions like What is it? and the existing sequel It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. IT IS MINE. is an even more complex project than those two films were so it will be a while yet for that production.
I have been working on three screenplays to work within the constraints of shooting on sets at my property. One of them is a screenplay for myself and my father to act in together. He is also an actor and that is the next film I would like to make as a director/producer. This will be the first role I write for myself to act in that will be written as an acting role as opposed to a role that was written for the character I play to merely serve the structure. But even still on some level I am writing the screenplay to be something that I can afford to make. There are two other projects I could make before that depending on set costs. I am currently working on two screenplays that may be more affordable to make first.
HP: It is fine. EVERYTHING IS FINE! was written by and stars Stewart C. Stewart, who suffered from cerebral palsy. He died shortly after you finished shooting. Did he get to see any of the finished film? If so, what did he think?
CG: Steven C. Stewart wrote and is the main actor in part two of the trilogy titled It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. I put Steve in to the cast of What is it? because he had written this screenplay which I read in 1987. When I turned What is it? from a short film in to a feature I realized there were certain thematic elements in the film that related to what Steven C. Stewart's screenplay dealt with. Steve had been locked in a nursing home for about ten years when his mother died. He had been born with a severe case of cerebral palsy and he was very difficult to understand. People that were caring for him in the nursing home would derisively call him an "M.R." short for "Mental Retard". This is not a nice thing to say to anyone, but Steve was of normal intelligence. When he did get out he wrote his screenplay. Although it is written in the genre of a murder detective thriller truths of his own existence come through much more clearly than if he had written it as a standard autobiography.
As I have stated, I put Steve in to What is it? When I turned What is it? in to a feature film. Originally What is it? Was going to be a short film to promote the concept to corporate film funding entities that working with a cast wherein most characters are played by actors with Down's Syndrome. Steve had written his screenplay in the late 1970's. I read it in 1987 and as soon as I had read it I knew I had to produce the film. Steven C. Stewart died within a month after we finished shooting the film. Cerebral palsy is not [de]generative but Steve was 62 when we shot the film. One of Steve's lungs had collapsed because he had started choking on his own saliva and he got pneumonia. I specifically started funding my own films with the money I make from the films I act in, when Steve's lung collapsed in the year 2000 this was around the same time that the first Charlie's Angels film was coming to me. I realized with the money I made from that film I could put straight in to the Steven C. Stewart film. That is exactly what happened. I finished acting in Charlie's Angels and then went to Salt Lake City where Steve lived. I met with Steve and David Brothers with whom I co-directed the film. I went back to LA and acted in an lower budget film for about five weeks and David Brothers started building the sets. Then I went straight back to Salt Lake and we completed shooting the film within about six months in three separate smaller productions. Then Steve died within a month after we finished shooting.
I am relieved to have gotten this film finally completed because ever since I read the screenplay in 1987 I knew I had to produce the film and also produce it correctly. I would not have felt right about myself if I had not gotten Steve's film made, I would have felt that I had done something wrong and that I had actually done a bad thing if I had not gotten it made. So I am greatly relieved to have completed it especially since I am very pleased with how well the film has turned out. We shot It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. while I was still completing What it? And this is partly why What is it? took a long time to complete. I am very proud of the film as I am of What is it?
I feel It is fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. will probably be the best film I will have anything to do with in my entire career. People who are interested in when I will be back should join up on the email list at CrispinGlover.com as they will be emailed with information as to where I will be where with whatever film I tour with. It is by far the best way to know how to see the films.
After Charlie's Angels came out it did very well financially and was good for my acting career. I started getting better roles that also paid better and I could continue using that money to finance my films that I am so truly passionate about. I have been able to divorce myself from the content of the films that I act in and look at acting as a craft that I am helping other filmmakers to accomplish what it is that they want to do. Usually filmmakers have hired me because there is something they have felt would be interesting to accomplish with using me in their film and usually I can try to do something interesting as an actor. If for some reason the director is not truly interested in doing something that I personally find interesting with the character then I can console myself that with the money I am making to be in their production I can help to fund my own films that I am so truly passionate about. Usually though I feel as though I am able to get something across as an actor that I feel good about. It has worked out well!