GOLDTHWAIT TAKES NEW RISKS IN ‘DAD’ DRAMA
by Paul Fischer
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Bobcat Goldthwait is one of Hollywood’s most idiosyncratic filmmakers, who is both irreverent with a savage sense of himour. The abrasive stand-up comedian has starred in several cable TV comedy specials. Goldthwait made his screen debut as Cadet Zed in “Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment” (1985) and appeared in the subsequent “Police Academy” sequels as well as “One Crazy Summer” (1986), “Burglar” (1987), “Hot to Trot” (1988) and “Scrooged” (1988). He made his feature debut as screenwriter-director with “Shakes the Clown” (1992), an offbeat black comedy about clown subculture in which he also starred as the alcoholic title character. In 1995, Goldthwait began providing the voice for Mr. Floppy on the WB sitcom “Unhappily Ever After”. His second directorial feature, Sleeping Dogs Lie won critical acclaim, and now his latest film, The World’s Greatest Dad, is winning rave reviews for Robin Williams’ searing portrayal of a high school poetry teacher and failed novelist, yearning for fame andf fortune, both of which come knocking in very unexpected ways after he lies about a tragedy involving his son. Goldthwait discussed the film with PAUL FISCHER in this exclusive interview.
QUESTION: Is this your most controlled piece of writing, the most linear, and it’s the most interesting character –study you’ve done?
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Yes, I would agree. I mean – and you know what – as I keep writing – and I hope I can keep writing – is trying – it sounds funny, but, you know, just trying to keep things really simple. And it’s funnier the simple you keep it. It seems like you end up saying more.
QUESTION: What was the inspiration for this character? Where did he come from?
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: You know, about a day in, Robin goes, “Oh, I get it. I’m playing you.” And I’m like, “Yeah, okay.” but the events aren’t—the people, and – you know, recently, in my life, I just said, “Oh, you know, I’m not going to pursue celebrity, and I’m not going to pursue women that don’t treat me right, and I’m not gonna” – you know, I just said no to toxic relationships. Which sounds very buzzword kind of psychobabble. But, yeah, that is true, though. I kind of grew up about three or four years ago.
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Right. And it was very collaborative, though, even though it wasn’t a situation where Robin was ad-libbing. It would be he and I going, “Oh, let’s try this, let’s try that,” you know? And I made Robin a promise, and I actually make this promise to all the folks I work with. It’s like, I’m not – even though it was a short schedule and everything, I won’t move on until I know we have it, you know? So, they – you know what I mean?
QUESTION: The scene where Robin finds his son’s body is very interesting in its framing I thought.
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: It was interesting when we shot that. I mean, maybe someday I’ll be the kind of director that storyboards everything. But when we got there, even, it didn’t seem right for Robin to rush into the room, you know? And so Robin did this – you know, it’s kind of always like, fleshing out things a little bit at half speed before we film them. And he stepped back, and it was like, “Oh, yeah. That’s what you would do.” And – you know. I mean, finding out things that way. I think if I was one of these guys that storyboard, I would blow that, you know? I mean, I wouldn’t have Robin step back. I would have had this over-designed shot.
QUESTION: What do you see as the integral theme in the film?
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: The theme in this movie is kind of a theme that I’m learning. It’s like, “Am I enough? Really, just me being me? That’s enough? Wow. You mean, I don’t have to do this persona, or I don’t have to overwrite a screenplay, or I don’t have to”— you know what I’m saying? Like, “Wow.” And it’s a scary, scary question to ask.
QUESTION: How has the industry reacted to the film?
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: It was really funny, you go to a screening in Los Angeles – you know, and to have people laughing. And then afterwards, they all went to the party. And people were just really animated, and were having a good time. And I haven’t ever had that experience, really. You know?
QUESTION: I don’t know – I mean, people don’t expect this film to be what it is, I think.
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: I don’t think so either, because the movie was green-lit twice, because Robin was attached. And I walked away from it, because they were interested in changing things. I said, “No, it’s not that important to me to make a movie. It’s more important to me to make a movie that I can watch.” I went through that a couple times. And they started telling people – they told his managers that I was crazy, and the movie was never going to make – blah blah blah. Sour grapes. But this company, they go, “You know, we work with Martin Scorcese, and he’s always happy. And you should work with us.” And I go, “Well, will you give me final cut?” And they go, “No.” And I go, “Well, you give Martin Scorcese final cut.” And they go, “Well, he’s Martin Scorcese.” I go, “Well, that’s why he’s happy.” [LAUGHTER]
QUESTION: Are you writing something else?
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Sure, yeah. I’m finishing up a screen killer movie, and trying to get a musical going with Ray Davies.
Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.
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