INT: Troll 2 folks

(1) One of the most buzzed about films to play the Fantasia Film Fest this year, was Michael Stephenson's BEST WORST MOVIE- his doc about TROLL 2, a film he starred in as a youngster, that is widely considered one of the worst films ever made. Stephenson, and his TROLL 2 co-star, George Hardy, who's really the central figure in BEST WORST MOVIE, were in town to show the film (and also host a special TROLL 2 midnight screening), and agreed to sit down for an interview...

CB: So TROLL 2 came out in 1990- and went straight to video. How did you guys find out about it?

Michael Stephenson: It was maybe a year and a half after we made it, and I'd always imagined we'd see the movie at the local cineplex- but it disappeared. When we filmed it- it was called GOBLINS, and my parents wanted to see their son's film. So they found out the name was changed, and then it went to VHS. Christmas morning comes around, and I was unwrapping presents- and the last gift was a VHS tape. I was staring at the cover puzzled, and my mom says, "it's your movie- let's put it in!" So we all sat around, and about 7.2 seconds into it- jaws dropped. My dad turned to me and said- "Michael, this is REALLY bad." No one even pretended to like it. And that was the beginning of it all.

CB: And George- you had a whole other life as a dentist going on at the time. Had you ever acted professionally before?

George Hardy: No, no, I was just a general dentist, and I did it on a whim. It was my first, and only film. I had a patient who kept telling me I should go to an audition in Salt Lake City, so I went, and auditioned. I had an agent at the time- she called me, and told me I had the part- second to the lead. I was both excited and terrified. I was not a professional actor, and I had no idea what I was doing, but I thought- why not? I had been in a high school play, when I was a freshmen, or sophomore in high school. I had taken some acting classes in L.A, doing scene analysis, and conflict situations- but I took a shot at it. Really- life's just too short not to take a chance and try something different.

CB: What tipped you guys off that it might not be the next JAWS?

MS: Well, I thought I was making a great movie. I was ten years old, and I got paid to show up, run from little people in potato sacks, and ride skateboards, and I thought it was the next GREMLINS or LABRYNTH. The director Claudio was a really authoritative guy, and we all thought we were making a serious horror movie. I think because of that it has a real unintentional charm. it's not like "hey, we're making a bad movie", while winking at the camera like SNAKES ON A PLANE. We were trying to make a great movie, and WE FAILED!.

CB: It does have a certain charm, as it's very earnest. It wasn't intentionally bad- the heart was in the right place.

MS: Exactly, and that's why it worked years later. That sincerity is lacking in many films- but while we were missing everything else- we had THAT.

GH: You look at something like THE ROOM, which has come along recently, but it's more cynical. Our film is more genuine, as we were trying to make a good movie.

CB: Well, it says something if the movie is around twenty years later.

MS: It says a hell of a lot! Think of all the big movies that never leave an impression. Bad or good, a theater full of people having a good time is really something.

CB: George, is it true the director didn't speak English.

GH: He could speak a bit, but it took a lot to understand what he was saying. His English is better now, but he still has trouble.

CB: Does he come out with you guys?

MS: Oh yeah, he's a great character.

GH: A great guy- we both adore him.

CB: Well, it sounds like you both had a fairly good time making TROLL 2...

MS: Well, it was fun- but it was A LOT of work. When we say we love him, he's also a big personality, so it was chaos on set, with him screaming. It was hot, we ate stale pizza two weeks in a row.

CB: How did it become TROLL 2? There's a TROLL 1, but it has nothing to do with your film...

MS: No, it has EVERYTHING to do with our film...No, no, no- just kidding. You know, the film was originally called GOBLINS, and what we learned was that the Italian distributor, who liked to rip off other sequels. Claudio actually made a TERMINATOR 2, years before the real one came out. They thought we'd ride the coat tails of (sarcastically) this American TROLL movie that's been soooooo successful. Never-mind that there's no TROLLS in it.

CB: Was it successful. George- did you have people come to your practice that had seen it.

GH: Oh yeah! In the nineties it hit HBO, and Showtime, so people saw it. They would tell me they'd seen me- but in 2003 it came out on DVD with TROLL 1 through MGM- and then it went worldwide.

MS: It never played a theater, all the reviews were bad. My uncle would call me and harass me about it, and I HATED it. I wondered why it would NEVER go away. There must have been a programmer somewhere who loved it or something. When the DVD came out, MGM had no idea what they had, and they slapped the TROLL movies together, and that made it more accessible, and then the Internet...

GH: YouTube...

MS: Exactly, and then it took up.

CB: Did you guys see each other much in the years between.

MS: No, I called George when I was making BEST WORST, and up to that point a few journalists, and and a few other were doing things with it. i never wanted anything to do with TROLL 2, but then I saw kids were having these parties in their basement celebrating it. Then George and I talked...

GH: Five years ago, we would have never dreamed we'd be in Montreal talking about it.

MS: For sure- I mean, I always wanted to be a filmmaker, but I had NO CLUE I'd someday make a documentary about it that would play festivals like this.

CB: How did the movie come together?

MS: Well it started very grassroots. I originally wanted nothing to do with TROLL 2, but I started getting emails through Myspace, and I would see people listing it on pages as their favorite film. I thought, "what's going on with this movie?" Then I'd see pictures people dressed up and having parties celebrating this film,and then I realized something special was going on with it. One morning- I was living in LA pursuing acting, and writing, I woke up and realized I AM THE STAR of the worst film ever made. Then I thought of making BEST WORST MOVIE- I hooked up with George, and I was interested in how this movie- that should have been forgotten about, would get this kind of following. I went to a big New York screening with George, and and we saw a line around the block. People went crazy when they saw George- his face lit up, and I thought- this is the guy. The star of my story.

CB:George, how did this feel to you?

GH: It doesn't feel real, and there's only a certain group of people that like it as we found out going to different conventions. BEST WORST MOVIE has a completely different feel, and we'll see what happens...

MS: I'm so grateful that this story has resonated to people, and the film is being received well, so I'm thrilled that it's crossing over. Also- just reconnecting with George again, is priceless.

CB: Well, there's a question I have to ask both of you that the readers will demand to know. Is there going to be a TROLL 3, and will you both be in it?

MS: Claudio is working on it. TROLL 2 PART 2. They've said they want everybody back. I think George was born to be an entertainer, and I'd love to see him in it. If I ever got another chance to work with him in a movie, I'd do it. However, TROLL 2 is kinda lightening in a bottle, and it'll be difficult to recapture that.

CB: Well, it feels like they'd be deliberately making a campy film, which is completely different than the approached to TROLL 2.

MS: Right, but they're working on it, and we'll see...

GH: Right.

Source: AITH

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