James Woods is a great man. Even if you don't agree with his politics or opinions, his honesty and candor is not only entertaining but refreshing, especially in PR-driven Hollywood. There's no BS with Woods, and after speaking with his colleagues on the set of the STRAW DOGS remake, that seems to be a quality that everyone loves and respects about the guy. ("When we shoot with him we call it 'being in The Woods,'" says director Rod Lurie.)
Despite it being his day off, Woods came to the set eager to speak to us about the film. What was supposed to be a short chat turned in to a nearly hour-long discussion about his career, his worldview, his passion project with Kristen Stewart and some choice words for his former agent that made the publicist open a new bottle of Tums.
Beware some SPOILERS for the original STRAW DOGS if you haven't seen it. And also please note that the interview was done with three other websites, so if a question seems random or inappropriate, you can trust it did not come from JoBlo.com.
[Ed. note: We rarely do this but this interview is presented completely unfiltered.]
You’re one of the older actors in this movie and you’re probably more familiar with the original.
You know I was surprised. You start to realize how long 20 years seems to be if you’re really young. I’m 62 and to people my age, they’re as familiar with Susan George as I am with Edmund O’Brien. It just seems like another century to people. But I was surprised because it’s such an iconic, graphic film. But don’t forget, it came out at a time when women's images were changing. And people don’t remember, but that movie didn’t do too well in the United States, but it did phenomenally well foreign. And one of the reasons was it was the beginning of the women’s movement and the fact that she sort of liked the sex scene, you know. The "rape/sex" scene. It’s like he had beaten her up on purpose and the reaction was horrific among the audiences, of course. And Peckinpah was trying to tread on the razor's edge on everything. He made everything more complex in that movie. The moral decisions were more complex. Everything he did, he did the provocative version of it.
What kind of effect did it have on you, the original movie, when you first saw it?
I remember being blown away by the fact that you always think things are going to be okay in a bad situation. It’s the same metaphor in poker. They say the most dangerous emotion you can have in poker is hope. “I sure hope that ace comes up in turn.” It’s not going to, so shut up. It’s like you hope these guys aren’t as bad as they are, but then they hang the cat and it's all over. That’s the turning point. That’s actually probably the end of the first act. This is a big action film and it’s a terrific sort of Friday night movie. I was talking to Rod about it…Rod and I have different politics but we’re really close friends and we really like each other. We have the same sort of views of what we want in life. I always say, the difference in politics…when people have political differences and they're good people, it's just a matter of the approach to getting a good result for the country or for the things we believe in. You believe in a different tactic or strategy but you have the same values in common. He was addressing the issue of what happens when people invade another people and how they resist and so on. And I interpret the same thing as how if you're attacked for no reason, how are you going to defend yourself and to what degree you should do that. It's funny; you look at the same situation through a completely different lens depending upon your predisposition towards human behavior.
You mentioned that this movie was controversial in the United States when it was released. Do you think times have changed enough?
Interestingly enough, I think they’ve actually changed a critical scene to accommodate a newer consciousness so it's not the same. What provoked people then has been removed from the story now because no person in their right mind could imagine a woman would want to be beaten up and think it's cool. It’s like “What?!” It’s so preposterous. But back then the world was a little tilted and we hadn’t been enlightened in these certain areas. I guess that fantasy was promoted and maybe in some parts of the world was still thought of as something a woman would like. Why, I can’t imagine but that was probably why – that was somehow part of an ethos or a culture that’s obviously been amended because it's such a preposterous presumption. But I still think it’s controversial in terms of the extreme nature of the violence on both sides.
Why do you think southern culture—macho culture—down here results in bar fights and blustery machismo. It just doesn’t manifest that much in New York.
Really? Try going to a rap club some nights and see how that works out for you. Try going there without packing a f*cking 9mm. You’re asking the wrong question. It’s like asking “When’d you stop beating your wife?” I find everybody down here incredibly gracious. I mean, the sheriffs have to close down West Hollywood half the time on Saturday nights. I think that’s a presumption.
In the '71 film there’s something really primal and ferocious about those guys, really seething out of their pores. And when I first heard that Rod was transferring it to the south, it seemed appropriate because I felt that same vibe here.
To address your question, I feel it’d be appropriate for a person who judges everything from an ultra liberal point of view, which is everyone not sitting around discussing liberal issues are all savages, rather than realizing that a republican freed slaves for example, while democrats weren’t at that point. It’s kind of a preposterous presumption. It’s always easy to pick on the deep South, but then you come here and you realize how gracious people are. People say to me, "What’s it like shooting in Louisiana?" And I say I don’t know; right now the country’s suffering economically but if you want good manners there’s no better place to be than the deep South. People are so incredibly gracious. And women are so gracious to women. There really is just genuine southern hospitality. People are just well mannered.
I’m a big believer in manners. I was well-bred and well-mannered as a child and came from a well-mannered and well-bred family and it served me greatly in life and so I think it’s just a Hollywood stereotype of the deep South and probably due to the fact that there's just such lemming politics in LA where everyone believes exactly the same thing without thinking about it much in many cases. So they make presumptions. I mean, to say that about the original picture set in England, you think of England as a place of sophistication and manners, so isn’t it odd that these guys are all thugs. You could just set it up any way you want and make them thugs, but this is more about an outsider coming to a place and about a non-violent guy coming to a place and—it’s a Seargent York story really. It’s like, “I’m a non-violent guy but everybody’s trying to kill me so I guess I gotta kill everybody else.” That’s all.
Can you talk about how your character is different from the original? I know you’re a football coach…
You know, I chose not to watch it again. I can’t wait to see it again when we’re done shooting, but I just didn’t want to be influenced. But all I remember is that the guy was a big drunk, kinda thuggy guy going around—“Where’s my Janice?” But this was a great idea, I thought, because the inciting incident is the accidental abduction of Janice, who’s my daughter. And of course this thing is done in broad strokes. It’s entertainment on one level, so of course my character’s kinda drunk and tough and kind of a clichéd Southern redneck character and I said to Rod, it’d be interesting if he was a guy who was successful as a coach. He wanted me to flirt with one of the waitresses once and I said, “I don’t want to do that." I think this was a guy who was really happily married. Strong guy, tough guy—the kinda guy that if you came from LA or West Hollywood, would probably think was a bad guy because he was accomplished and very firm in his beliefs and he didn’t agree with yours. Scratch a liberal find a fascist every time. [laughs] I said it might be more interesting if the guy had been a good guy and maybe he got fired because he made some kind of comment that’s no longer politically correct and called a kid a name that now is unfashionable so of course he got fired for exercising his right of free speech, even if it’s distasteful. And then feels unfair about it and then his wife dies and he just goes off the deep end and starts drinking and was never a bad guy but just turned sour somehow. And all he’s got is his girl, who feels unloved because he lost his way. I always think it’s more interesting if people behave badly because they’re human and they go bad for their humanity. Tragic flaws turned ugly.
There was one part in the beginning where I was just really out of line and she’s there and I said I’d just like to turn to her and say, "Every time I look at you I see your mother in your eyes." And she says “I know, Dad.” And you see that he really cares about her. People always forget in this thing, the guy who’s mentally challenged does kill the girl. It’s an accident, but his daughter is murdered. God knows, if I had a child and she’d been abducted, I’d kill everyone between me and wherever I thought she was that stood in my way. And I’d do it happily.
There’s that wonderful ambiguity thanks to Peckinpah that…
That's all it was was ambiguity. That’s what he was interested in. That’s why he had her smiling with Charlie after he beat her.
Did you find this role different or challenging for you?
What’s challenging about it is, I’m not that interested in working unless it’s something I really like. And I really like Rod. Rod and I are just really good friends, even though we don’t seem like a likely pairing because we think about things differently, we just have really wonderful and vivid discussions about stuff. He went to West Point. I came from a military family. My dad had Purple Hearts and died in the Army, God rest his soul. And I was nominated to the Air Force Academy. So we have an interesting view on life. You know, Rod’s a complex person as I like to think I am.
I think one of the challenges of this character was to play a cliché. Not only in the perception of the environment, but a cliché in what I’ve done in my life. I don’t want to do too many more snarling bad guys, but this guy was the epitome of that. And I was like “I think I’m going to jump in feet first and do what I’ve done before.” There are no shadings in this movie. There are no subtleties in this movie. One thing about this movie is that it’s balls out, right in your face. And I thought if I’m going to do this, play a snarling southern football drunk, angry violent man then that’s what I'm going to play. There’s not going to be any subtlety to it. I’m gonna go right over the top. The scene where he breaks the glass… man, I was smashing shit, throwing things around, pushing guys, punching, getting in fights. I’m just a lunatic and that’s the way it should be. I’m having a ball doing it and of course it gives energy to the picture. We’re not making THE BELL JAR here.
How’d you prepare for that? To get that inner rage out.
It’s actually hard. Everybody in the south likes everybody. Like this is the scandal free center of the universe. It’s the nicest people and we all have the same sense of humor and we all like each other. So it’s really hard to do. You can’t get mad at anything or anybody. You can’t even get a launch pad for pretending to. So you just kinda rely on old time skill. It’s just a really fun film to do. The people are great. Kate’s fabulous. Jimmy Marsden is so funny. You wouldn’t expect it. Tom’s great, my buddy. The kids are fabulous, the Straw Dogs.
You referred to this as an action movie earlier and a Friday night movie. Do you feel that if it’s more of a straightforward thriller it’s going to lose some of that subtext or the ambiguity you mentioned?
I think there’s a lot of that there. But every time they try to sell a big Hollywood movie they go, “Well, you know it’s really about the Oedipal struggle for…” It’s like, "Go f*ck yourself." It’s bullshit. This is a really good entertainment film and I’m all for that. But you know, it's also—Peckinpah wasn’t just a guy who wanted to make entertainment. There was always some resonance in there. It was really pretty philosophical. Rod says this is really a metaphor for what happens when you invade the space of others. And I can just as easily see it as a metaphor for when other people provoke you with unwanted attack and how you should respond. So he sees it as, “Well, if you invade Iraq they’re going to fight back!” And I say, “They knocked down the World Trade Centers…kill them all!” So which way is it? That’ll provoke a nice conversation.
Rod’s gotten some great performances out of his actors in his other movies. Is that because he lets the actors add stuff, like you mentioned?
I’ve always noticed that the best writer directors, like Oliver Stone and Marty (Scorcese) writing with Nick Peleggi, Rod, the Polish Brothers…ironically the people that write are the people most open to improvisation with actors. The first little film I did, I did a little 7 minute film I wrote, and I was all for everybody trying different things because if it’s better, you know, I get the credit. One thing Rod does, one of his techniques that I absolutely love and that I’m going to borrow if I get to do this film with Kristen Stewart called AN AMERICAN GIRL, and we’re trying to get the financing but of course it’s about a woman who’s a hero in Iraq so who in Hollywood would want to make that movie? … Maybe I’ll make her a lesbian. Juuuust kidding. Just being provocative.
But seriously, Rod’s very good at—he was a critic, so he’s very prolific and voracious watcher and student of films, and he’ll often in a scene borrow a shot or an idea from another great movie. Like he says, “You can call it borrowing, but I guess I’m just stealing.” And then incorporate it and use it to kinda launch that scene. So he’ll pick just a classic shot that you might not have seen in some little foreign movie that works great for us. And I think that’s a great way to work because it's so situational when you make a movie that even if you borrow something…like the tone of our film is much like CAPE FEAR, the Scorsese version. Very big music and kind of odd in-your-face shots, very kind of expressionistic feel to this movie.
Will kneejerk liberals like myself think that AMERICAN GIRL is a rightwing patriotic film and not…
I have to say…You know, I was always a democrat until Clinton lied under oath. It was just unbelievable.
I thought that was a moment of honor. He was basically saying, "F*ck you, I’m not gonna tell you what I did in the privacy of the Oval Office. Go f*ck yourself."
Good point! That was what the President of Mitsubishi wanted to say when they had a sexual harassment lawsuit. It's none of your f*cking business if I’m banging my secretary.
But he had to pay $3 billion, so you know…
Yeah, you forgot about profiting from sexual harassment. From the party that invented it. And now all of a sudden they forgot it. That’s how it's defined in the law, okay? A person in greater power taking advantage of a person in lesser power. She can’t fight back because, what’s she gonna do? You can always say "he said, she said" but that’s okay. You can justify it.
The only person in the showbiz community who’s said anything about Polanski was Luc Besson and he said…
Let me say something. I have nothing against liberals. I was a democrat my whole life, okay. I have a problem with people lying. I was a conservative for a while until the Republicans lied about going in to Iraq. I’m not a big believer in lying.
So you’re a Dennis Hopper Republican.
I’m not a Republican. Sorry to disappoint you. It’s hard to imagine in LA that you can be an absolute moderate middle of the roader and people think you’re a f*cking Nazi or a communist. All kidding aside, I don’t like a kneejerk anything. Here’s the big scam that goes on in politics. They found a way to get everybody at each other’s throats for nonsensical issues that are not presidential issues. And if we had a flat tax and we all had the same money invested I’d turn to you and say, “Hey, do you really wanna be over there in Afghanistan for all your money?” No. “Do you really wanna be paying for abortions over there in f*cking Lichtenstein or whatever the f*ck we’re doing, or paying for midnight basketball?” No. “Do you really want food stamps to go out to people that aren’t registered that they can sell and go to the casino with? Or would you like to make them register so you can make sure the people who really need them get them?” No. We’d agree on every single f*cking thing on the face of the earth.
But what they decided to do is get all the talking heads on to a team to root for. It’s all bullshit. And then they bring up issues that aren’t remotely presidential issues. With all due respect, gay marriage, abortion—just not presidential issues. They really aren’t. If I were running for president I’d say these are very important issues to a lot of people but they’re not presidential issues. I’m gonna run the country and I’m gonna do this: I’m going to care about our national defense. I’m going to care about the health and the well-being of our people. I’m going to make sure that no people die of starvation or sickness without being taken care of. And we’re going to rebuild the infrastructure of this country and become a competing nation once again. And this other stuff, for all intents and purposes will never be discussed by me again. You can all argue about it on your own time. Let’s get back to rebuilding the country and that would be that. And what Democrat or Republican wouldn’t want that? But instead they got us arguing over nonsense. I’m not saying that those things are nonsense. Please make sure you don’t quote me as saying they’re nonsense. They’re not nonsense. They’re just not what we need to be focused on right now. They’re important to the people they’re important to on both sides of the issue and they’re very passionate issues. But those are social issues. Right now I think we need to deal with pragmatic issues. Let’s get some factories going here and get some people some real jobs, not on the government dole. Let’s get some healthcare for people. Jesus, I sound like a liberal. Let’s get out of wars that aren’t to our benefit or be involved with them if they are to our benefit.
Do you think public option is a good idea?
You know, I don’t want to get in to this. I could dance on a pinhead with all this political stuff.
[The publicist gives us a three minute warning, which Mr. Woods proceeds to ignore for another 30 minutes.]
Here’s all I think. I think the original Constitution, aside from the obvious slavery and women not being able to vote nonsense, was a pretty valuable document. If we’re going to have a war, let it be approved by congress. Let’s not address issues that just aren’t… Government was set up just to be there and kind of keep us together and have some laws so that people don’t go around killing each other on our property and so on. It was written by a bunch of capitalists basically. They would never… do you think George Washington ever would’ve addressed gay marriage, for example? I’m not saying it’s an important issue one way or another. I’m just saying we’re in to areas where it’s like "Okay, let's get back to the basics." How do we defend the country? How do we keep people fed? How do we get people working? And how do we stay out of their lives? It’s simple. Not so hard.
All I’m saying is you’d be amazed how much liberals and conservatives have in common. If you didn’t take these hot button issues that people almost manufacture, you’d be amazed how much we have in common. It’s astonishing.
You brought up AN AMERICAN GIRL, which started all this. Is that something you’ve written also?
No, no. Tim Metcalfe, who wrote KALIFORNIA and THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT and so on, he had shown me this beautiful script that I bought called AN AMERICAN GIRL. And I called Kristen Stewart before she was famous and said I won’t make this movie with anybody but you. She was Canadian but a wonderful actress and I wanted—
Had you worked with her before?
No, but I knew her because I know Sean (Penn) and she was in INTO THE WILD. And I was talking about directing a movie called WINGED CREATURES that I felt should be cast in a certain way and I tried to buy it from the writer and it got done and it ended up going straight to DVD and the producer wouldn’t listen to me, which is fine. Revenge is sweet. [laughs] But it had a 15 year old girl in it and I called Dennis Quaid and he said I just worked with this girl named Kristen Stewart, and Jodie Foster…they all talked about how fabulous this girl was. I saw her films and I thought she was phenomenal. So I called her up and we talked for an hour. She read the script and she flipped out. If you look at her when she talks in the press and they ask her, "What do you want to do?" She always says, "I want to do AN AMERICAN GIRL. I want to do AN AMERICAN GIRL."
Are you just going to direct it?
Director-producer. She wants me to play her father in it but I don’t want to do that as well because I’ve got a lot to do already.
What’s the movie about?
It's about a young woman who’s really destructive. It's that magical time when you’re Kristen’s age, right after you're out of high school. She was the top swimmer and dive champion in school and all this stuff. Now it's a year later and she lives in a little town in Indiana and the place is dying, rust belt, NAFTA, recession, all that stuff. And she's working in a grocery store and drinking and drugging too much and she's showing off in front of this guy who likes her, and gets involved in a big sex thing with two guys drunk one night at a quarry. And it’s a big inciting incident where she gets taped doing it on somebody's phone and in a small town, her reputation is ruined and on a drunken whim, she joins the Marines, which is ridiculous. The ironic thing is that along the way she starts learning these values she doesn't expect. They're just values like you take your brother, they take care of you. It's not like she's a gung-ho Marine. She starts to sober up and then she starts to do very well and she gets into the Lioness Program because she's smart. The Lioness Program is where they teach these women to speak Arabic, so when they're in combat situations—women in the Muslim world were not comfortable talking to men soldiers but they'd talk to the women soldiers, so these women learned to speak the language and would ask if there were arms or snipers in the house. And she does it. Well, a terrible tragedy happens over there and when she comes back to the town where she was a disaster, she rebuilds her life and finds through this tragedy a greater value in herself. It's COMING HOME, BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES—it's part of that trilogy. It's a phenomenal story and a slam-dunk Oscar script for her.
It’s so not a right wing picture because everybody who reads it—Renee Missel and Jodie Foster read and Renee said, "Oh we’ve gotta call MoveOn.org. This is such a great anti-war picture." The head of the Marine Corps read it and said, "This is such a great marine picture." I said, I’ve finally done it. I’ve found the magical brew.
Why is there trouble getting financing for it?
I’ll tell you what happened. It was just before TWLIGHT came out. I want to tell you how this happened. It’s kind of a fun story. I had just had a terrible personal year. My brother died, God rest his soul, which was the biggest tragedy I could ever imagine. "Shark" got cancelled, which I was fine with because I was just working too hard. I loved the show but it was just… Everything just started happening at once. I had some surgeries. My brother had died. My mom was not doing well. I’d broken up with my girlfriend.
There’s a David Mamet line in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS: “It comes in streaks.”
Exactly. So I get on the road and David Nivens, who was the head of Imagine Television. I kinda really wanted the series to be over because I thought, “I’m 62 and I’ve got a 7 year contract. Shit.” And I didn’t like the way the show was being run and the hours were just too long. Anyways, long story short, I was waiting to get the news and I said I’m going to drive across country. So I have my little dog, got in my car and 50 miles in to the trip he calls me up to tell me the show was cancelled. And I said, "That’s too bad. Gee, that’s horrible." So I’m completely free. Where’s my life going. For the first time in 40 years in this business I thought "Where am I going?" I’d sold my house, was living in a hotel, so I was a homeless unemployed millionaire movie star. Ex-star. So it was a really funny situation to me. I thought, how can I pull myself up by my bootstraps? And I did what I always did. Be good to my family. Be good to the people I know and cherish and hope they’ll be good to me. Stay in touch with people I admire, not just if they’re successful. Some of my best friends aren’t even in the business. Just staying with people I like. One guy I liked was Tim Metcalfe, who by his own admission thought his life was a struggle. He moved to Vermont because some lunatic guy tried to kill him at a gas station so he said, "F*ck this shit" and moved to Vermont. And he was still writing and he directed this little movie I did called KILLER: A JOURNAL OF MURDER that Oliver Stone produced about the first serial killer in 1929. And we got along great. We had a connection.
So I’m driving through Indiana. Do you remember when Obama couldn’t make it to the Iowa debates because it was raining so horribly Anyways, that's the storm I was driving in. So it followed me from Iowa to Indiana. As I’m pulling in to Indiana I call Tim and he says, "Well, do you remember Melinda Jason, the associate producer on KILLER? Well, I wrote a script for her." And I said, "Well what is it?" And he said, "Well, about a year ago she says 'I want a script about a girl who loses her legs in Iraq. And I want to have a moment in it the first time she makes love, her father walks in and we see the look on his face watching his daughter make love for the first time. The confusion, the sadness, the sweetness, whatever, I just want that moment in the movie.'"
Actually, the first thing he said was, "Nevermind, you wouldn’t be interested. Nobody’s going to want to make or see this movie." Well, now I’m interested. So he said "I’m not going to tell you anything" and he emails me the script.
So I pull in to a Holiday Inn. It’s f*cking raining sideways. I’ll never forget, it was 20 minutes to 10 on a Wednesday night. Freemont, Indiana. I go to this Bennigan’s down the road to get something to eat. And this is a commercial for the iPhone. I’m sitting at Bennigan’s just twiddling my phone and I check my email and there’s the PDF of the script from Tim Metcalfe. And it was too small to read on the phone but I thought I’ll just see what the title is. I see AN AMERICAN GIRL and I f*cking love that title. I say, "Well, I’m going to read one page.” 119 pages later I’ve got f*cking tears coming down my face. I call Tim and I go "What are you doing?" And he said, "Well, I’m 54 years old and I’m married and it’s 2:30 in the morning in Vermont: I’m getting blown by the Rockettes, what the f*ck do you think I’m doing? I’m sleeping next to my wife who’s really pissed off you're calling." I said, "Tim just so you know, I’m directing and producing this movie. That’s all there is to it." He said, "Well I sent it to Jodie Foster" and I said, "I love Jodie, she’s a friend of mine. She’s not making this movie. I’m directing this movie." We talk for 5 hours and we worked it out. I paid for it out of my own pocket and I called Kristen Stewart.
Actually I called my casting director from "Shark," Rick Millikan and I said "Rick, do me a favor. Who’s Kristen Stewart’s agent?" And he said “Ken Kaplan at Girsch.” Now I was at CAA at the time. Hadn’t had a job in 10 years. Just kidding… So I said, "Okay, call Ken Kaplan. Tell him that Jimmy Woods has a script that’s an Academy Award part for the girl, but of course Ellen Page will probably get it. (Because it was right at the time of JUNO.) But slip it to him and say you better read this, because if you’re client hasn’t had a chance to read it and Ellen Page wins an Oscar, it’s not going to be good. But whatever you do, don’t let anybody know you read it because you know Jimmy Woods; he’s a lunatic." So he calls him up and her agent says, "No, no. She’s not going to do an independent film" and he says, "You don’t want to have to explain to her like how Jimmy Wood’s agent had to explain why he was never told about RESERVOIR DOGS at CAA." It’s a legendary story. So he says, "Yeah you’re right." He reads it and he calls Rick back he says "Aw, shit. She’s going to want to do this movie."
So he sets up a conversation and she calls me. And I said, "I’m going to give you ownership of the film, because I own the film. You will be my partner in every way on this movie. So feel free to say what you want." And she says, "Oh my God, thank you. I love this movie."
And we spent months together working on the script. The greatest thing I’ve ever heard in my career, she said, "Why am I enjoying this so much? I’ve never been treated this way. You treat me like an equal." I said, "Who understands the mind of a 19 year old girl better than you. You're 19, you’re a girl, but you're an artist as well. You’re at that perfect stage.” And she’s so smart and worked so hard. I wanted her to meet the writer just so he could hear her voice. She was supposed to meet them for 5 minutes. She stayed for 4 hours. She’s absolutely committed.
And Ken Kaplan at Girsch was so helpful. I was at CAA at the time. And I said to him, Geez, why don’t I have an agent like you? He said, "Well…" So I left CAA and went with him and the rest is history. I instantly got 3 offers in the first week. And I realized that CAA was just doing what CAA does: If you’re over 40 they just destroy your career. I’ll say it on tape. Here. [bends down in to the microphone] “CAA DESTROYS CAREERS!” So they can turn you in to—and this is a CAA expression, a friend of mine was at CAA when this was said—"series fodder." They purposefully will not help you make anything, get a movie made, cuz they want you to be so disgruntled that you’ll say, "Fine I’ll f*cking do a TV series." So they can sit there and get the checks. And once a month have to listen to you gripe about your trailer. That’s all they do.
By the way, it took me 3 days to get my CAA agent on the phone to fire him. I thought this would be a difficult conversation, but since it’s 3 days later and I’m really kinda busy, you’re fired goodbye. 3 days to return a call. You made this easy.
And he [Ken Kaplan] has put this all together. He got me STRAW DOGS, gets me all these movies and now I’m back. If you get out of the CAA Deathstar, you’ll be okay.
Serendipitously, a great thing happened. I pulled away from Hollywood. I live in New England now. With an iPhone and an airline ticket, you can live anywhere. To this day, people say, "I’m on Rodeo Drive, want to have lunch?" People don’t even know I left. The great thing about LA is that they’re so involved with their own narcissism. And if you’re hot they love you, if you’re not they don’t. Staying out of the line of fire is a really good thing to do.
You think you’re stronger now in your focus and in your career?
Without a doubt. Well, my focus isn’t on my career. It’s like anything else. You stop chasing a girl and you just become a decent man, all of a sudden she’ll start liking you. I’m not a chaser. I have a good life. I get up, exercise, see what my mom needs, hang out with my friends. I’m writing a script with Tim. I’m doing this movie because I like the people involved. You couldn’t pay me a billion dollars to work with certain people in the business. The nice thing about being older, accomplished and rich is I can say, "I don’t wanna work with that asshole." It’s that simple.
Well, I’ve earned it. I spent a lot of years in some lonely hotel rooms getting enough money and enough prestige that I don’t have to… You know, the sad thing about life is that the only thing you get from eating shit is a bigger bowl of it the second time around. And the nice thing is, I’ve learned not to even take that first f*cking pellet. Simple.