Quint interviews John C. Reilly about PRAIRIE HOME livin', PTA, return of Sasquatch and more!!!
Published at: June 5, 2006, 7:39 p.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a bit of a chat I had with one of the best known faces in Hollywood, Mr. John C. Reilly. For a long, long while I've enjoyed Reilly's character work and it does my heart good to see him popping up in so many flicks each year.
Perhaps his most endearing and memorable work comes from his partnership with Paul Thomas Anderson. His childlike glee as porn star Reed Rothchild in BOOGIE NIGHTS is infectious and the almost pleading innocence of his romantic cop character in MAGNOLIA is probably my favorite roles that he's done.
Anyway, here's the chat I had with the man himself, on a deck overlooking beautiful Lake Austin, when he was in town to screen A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, Robert Altman's new film in which he plays one of a duo of singing cowboys. Enjoy!!!
QUINT: So far in your career you seem to have been really privileged with the directors you've gotten to work with. Paul Thomas Anderson, Brian De Palma, Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese...
JOHN C. REILLY: Yeah. (laughs) I've been really lucky, you're right.
QUINT: And now Robert Altman. Do you seek out these directors or do they seek you out?
JOHN C. REILLY: At this point I suppose they seek me out. That's how I ended up in this movie. Bob called me. The De Palma thing (CASUALTIES OF WAR)... that was a total fluke. That was my first movie. Once you start, out of the gate, doing a Brian De Palma movie with Sean Penn you wanna, like, try to do as good as that. (laughs)
So, I actually had a big job when I was starting out. I couldn't just do any crappy movie when my first movie was CASUALTIES OF WAR. So, that was a lot of pressure. I managed to do alright. I worked with Sean again with WE'RE NO ANGELS and STATE OF GRACE.
I'm lucky and I also know what I like, so I try to gravitate to people are in it for the right reasons, you know?
QUINT: I remember watching CASUALTIES OF WAR when I was a kid and it messed me up.
JOHN C. REILLY: (laughs) Yeah, it's pretty intense. It's not really a war movie. It's really more about a rape, which I suppose Vietnam was, in a way.
QUINT: I had the opportunity to spend a couple days visiting the set of Altman's last film, THE COMPANY, and...
JOHN C. REILLY: Lucky you.
QUINT: It was great. I just sat with the sound guy and observed him working for two days. I like just watching sets work and on this visit the condition was just that I sit back and watch, no forced interviews or anything and...
JOHN C. REILLY: You can't be where the dancers are changing into their unitards... (laughs)
QUINT: Yeah, they wouldn't let me in their dressing rooms for some reason.
JOHN C. REILLY: Yeah, there were a lot of beautiful people on that movie.
QUINT: Well, you know a lot of times the publicists will try to pull a director or actor away from their work to do a quick interview or something and that's never comfortable. This time they were like, "Bob is comfortable with you being there, just stay out of the way" was pretty much the gist of everything. So, I just got to hang out with the sound guy who had worked with Kubrick and did sound on ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and all this great stuff and just watching how Altman worked...
JOHN C. REILLY: That's how I felt! (laughs) I mean, I had days when I actually had to do something, but I was hanging around all the time on this movie, even when I wasn't working, because it was just so entertaining to watch, between what was going on onstage and watching Bob work. I mean... I'm no dummy. You realize you're in a pretty special spot when you're working with someone like that.
QUINT: I noticed he had a rather unique way of shooting when I was him work. He had one camera that was always with the blocked action, but he had a second camera that was constantly floating around the whole set, going from face to face of the extras, looking at any part of the set not covered by the first camera, hoping to catch some unplanned magic. Did he shoot that way on PRAIRIE as well?
JOHN C. REILLY: Yeah. I think he just kinda combined the two to tell you the truth. I mean, he'd have his lock-offs, but then the camera would start lurking or we'd be shooting in a room, like the make-up room, which was lined with mirrors, so you never knew just where the camera was. So, there was a certain freedom in that, you know. I've done close to 40 movies now and at a certain point you become aware of, like, where the lens is, what it's doing, what the frame's going to be. To a certain extent, sometimes you have to play within that frame.
But on this, the camera was moving around so much... I mean, they had all these floating cranes and stuff coming onto the stage... It was really liberating to just live in the world we were creating and not worry about that stuff. That's what Bob does. He creates these beautiful environments of controlled chaos. You feel completely unprepared and way out of your league, but at the same time everything's okay. You can't make any mistakes. No matter what you do, he's going to find a way to use it and he's going to have a sense of humor about it and no one's going to be coming up to you screaming about the next take.
QUINT: You're a singing cowboy in the movie. I take it that's a new one for ya'...
JOHN C. REILLY: Well, yeah! I've never played a singing cowboy before, but I think we all like to fancy ourselves singing cowboys, don't we? Somewhere deep down? I've played guitar for a long time and I've been a fan of this type of music for a long time, so that was actually what made this job really, really special was being able to sit down between takes... I mean, making the movie was amazing, but between takes me and Woody (Harrelson) would just being going back and forth. He'd do an Elvis number and I would do a Roy Orbison number and then I'd do some bluegrass spiritual thing. You'd have a shoe band behind you and a captive audience in front of you.
There's a scene in the movie where we do all those bad jokes. The spirit of that number and what we ended up doing in it was sort of based on jokin' with the audience in between takes while making the movie.
QUINT: Did you like the films of Gene Autry growing up?
JOHN C. REILLY: Umm... not really. You know, as a kid I didn't have, like, a film mentor. I watched movies and I just thought those people were just like that. I didn't have the awareness of the craft of filmmaking that I do now. So, when I saw cowboy movies I just thought, like, "Oh, yeah. They went out to the desert and these guys were out there and they made a story." (laughs) So, I was just into cowboys like all young boys are, to a certain extent.
Gene Autry... no, I didn't really know those movies in particular, but I was into, like, JOHNNY WEST. Remember JOHNNY WEST, the little action figure? And Sam Cobra, his arch-enemy. That's it, in terms of cowboy movies... Well, John Wayne. He was sort of a cowboy in every movie he did, you know?
QUINT: Just about... He only did a couple movies set in the then present day. I think they were both cop flicks after DIRTY HARRY, one called MCQ and once called BRANIGAN. I guess they were like, "Who can we get that's as cool as Clint Eastwood? Ah ha!"
JOHN C. REILLY: I stumbled across THE GREEN BERETS. It was stunning. Their point of view about the Vietnam war in that movie... And then you see the year it was made... I think the war was still going on! At the end of that movie, there's a shot where this little boy... I don't remember exactly the story, but I think they murder his family and then they adopt this little boy at the end, which is so perverse!!! And the last shot is John Wayne standing with the little boy watching the sun rise over the sea, except it's shot in Malibu... so, it's gotta be sunset! I don't know... I caught that. They were at Paradise Cove or something up in Malibu... anyway...
QUINT: I'm a big fan of your work, especially your collaborations with Paul Thomas Anderson.
JOHN C. REILLY: Thank you.
QUINT: Are you going to have a part in THERE WILL BE BLOOD?
JOHN C. REILLY: I don't know. We're still talking about it. I don't know. We'll see. It might be all faces you haven't seen before in a Paul Anderson movie, actually, starting with Daniel (Day Lewis).
QUINT: I don't know how much I'd like that... I'll feel... I don't know, alone, without any of the regulars coming in. It's like watching a Coen Bros film without someone like Buscemi popping up.
JOHN C. REILLY: Alone? (laughs) You'll be in good hands with Daniel Day Lewis, trust me.
QUINT: You also have a cameo in the upcoming TENACIOUS D movie, right? We'll see the return of Sasquatch?
JOHN C. REILLY: Return of Sasquatch? Is that what it's called?
QUINT: No, it's called THE PICK OF DESTINY, but I was...
JOHN C. REILLY: I actually am not in that movie. I was hired as a Sasquatch researcher. You'll see in the film, like on the credits I'm credited as the Sasquatch researcher. I actually don't play a role in the film. My personal belief is that Sasquatch is real and there's lots of scientific evidence to support that.
QUINT: So, you went into some seriously deep research for the movie, then.
JOHN C. REILLY: Yeah. Yeah. Jack and Kyle turned to me when they needed someone to really be a technical consultant to make the Sasquatch stuff as real as it could be. Luckily, we found a Sasquatch to appear in the movie. I wouldn't want to give that away, but Sasquatch actually appears in the film. And I'm not talking some grainy, Zapruder shit. I'm talkin' you get to know Sasquatch in the movie.
QUINT: I'm also looking forward to TALLADEGA NIGHTS. Who do you play in that movie?
JOHN C. REILLY: I play Cal Naughton Jr., Ricky Bobby's best friend and racing partner. Yeah, I can't wait for that one to come out, too. I saw a test screening the other day and really enjoyed it. I don't know, it's a great rise and fall and rise story in the world of Nascar.
QUINT: Did you pull on your DAYS OF THUNDER experience?
JOHN C. REILLY: That's right. I had total street respect when we rolled up into Charlotte! In fact, the drivers on the movie, the teamster drivers who drive the vans for the transportation, were all the same guys from DAYS OF THUNDER. So, it was like deja vu. It's literally 15 years later, which is kind of amazing that I've been doing movies that long... Except DAYS OF THUNDER didn't really have a sense of humor about itself. It was a very earnest... hard drivin'... "This Summer, Drive Like Thunder." Isn't that what it said? Cruise like Thunder! That's what it was. "This Summer Cruise Like Thunder."
There's certain shout-outs in TALLADEGA NIGHTS to DAYS OF THUNDER that the astute film fans will notice.
[At this point the publicist comes up and tells us "You gotta go into a wrap... you know, wrap question..."]
This is the rap segment of the interview... I'm gonna do something by Wu Tang. What are you going to do?
QUINT: Tupac, baby.
JOHN C. REILLY: Alright. You go first.
QUINT: ... You don't want to hear me rap.
JOHN C. REILLY: (laughs)
QUINT: I know you give a lot of bad jokes in the film, but I have to ask what your favorite dirty joke is.
JOHN C. REILLY: C'mon! I've given you so many today! I gotta go deep dish. I wish you would have warned me, I would have come prepared. I have a really corny one. I don't know if it made it into the movie, but What's the difference between boogers and broccoli?
QUINT: Kids don't like to eat broccoli?
JOHN C. REILLY: Yeah... no, what is it? I blew it! Kids won't eat broccoli. That's lame! That's just a cast-off from the movie!
QUINT: That's a classic. You can't go wrong with that one.
There it is. As you can see, Reilly was just as jokey and kind as he appears, which is always refreshing. Thanks a bunch of Mr. Reilly for chatting with me and I hope you guys enjoyed reading the interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it. Keep your eyes on the site, squirts! Lots of set visits coming to you very, very shortly. 'Til then this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu!