AICN Exclusive: Hear who is filling Elvis' jumpsuit in BUBBA NOSFERATU from the mouth of Col. Parker himself, Mr. Paul Giamatti!
Published at: Oct. 30, 2008, 3:16 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a last minute chat I had with Paul Giamatti today. I was told going into the chat that Giamatti wanted to talk to AICN on the record and announce something regarding Don Coscarelli’s follow-up to his great indie hit BUBBA HO-TEP.
You might remember this film being teased at the end of the credits… Elvis will return in BUBBA NOSFERATU!
Paul Giamatti (who I'm sure most of you know by now, but if you don't... um... SIDEWAYS, SHOOT 'EM UP, JOHN ADAMS, etc) has been attached to this film for a little while, awesomely cast as Col. Parker, I might add, but then the movie seemed to disappear.
The only word we’ve heard lately was Bruce Campbell commenting that he’s passed on the movie, which, obviously, doesn’t bode well.
Now, we have the exclusive news out of Paul Giamatti’s mouth about who has been tapped to fill Elvis’ jumpsuit and take on some blood-suckin’ sumbitches.
I’ll let Mr. Giamatti tell you who it is in the interview below. Enjoy the chat and keep an eye out for a little insight to how Giamattis is approaching Col. Parker and quite a bit of loving up on Don Coscarelli from the both of us.
Paul Giamatti: How are you?
Quint: I’m doing really well, enjoying the season. This is my favorite time of year. Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down.
Paul Giamatti: Yeah, absolutely. You’re in Austin, right?
Quint: Yep, that’s right. Austin and it’s finally getting nice and cool over here.
Paul Giamatti: Has it cooled down a little bit?
Quint: Yeah, it’s brilliant. I love this time of year, everybody likes horror movies all of a sudden and…
Paul Giamatti: (laughs) Yeah I know. I feel the same way. I have always liked it, too, but now it has gotten freezing here for some reason.
Quint: Oh yeah? Are you in New York?
Paul Giamatti: Yeah.
Quint: I love New York. I’ve been there about a dozen times or so over the last few years and I’ve been through all of the seasons, but there’s nothing like winter in New York. It’s miserable, but at the same time it’s one of the most beautiful things.
Paul Giamatti: Oh, it can be amazing…. We’ll see if we have one anymore…
Quint: (laughs) “Who needs snow? Who needs polar bears?”
Paul Giamatti: Exactly! Sarah Palin’s going to have them all killed anyway.
Quint: Yeah, well if there are enough helicopters.
Paul Giamatti: Exactly! (Laughs) I’m sure she has plenty.
Quint: (laughs) Congratulations, by the way. I know everybody must have been congratulating you for the Emmy, but I loved JOHN ADAMS. I was addicted…
Paul Giamatti: Oh good, I’m glad you liked it. Cool!
Quint: It’s weird, because it’s one of those things that became kind of an event within my family, like it was something that my mom watched, that I watched, and something my little brother watched. That doesn’t always happen.
Paul Giamatti: No, I think that happened a lot with that thing, which is great and I’m really glad, because you know, we were making that thing and I thought “Nobody is going to care about this…”
Quint: “This will run in elementary schools…”
Paul Giamatti: Right! “Who’s going to care about this stuff?” But no, I’m really glad it went over well. I’m glad to hear it.
Quint: Cool, so I guess you have an announcement. That’s the whole point of doing this, so let’s hear it.
Paul Giamatti: (laughs) No, definitely. We want to get this thing done, BUBBA NOSFERATU. I saw HO-TEP when it came out and I used to say in interviews when people asked me which director I wanted to work with I would say “Don Coscarelli” and nine times out of ten, they would go “Who the hell is that?”
Quint: Which makes you fucking badass, by the way.
Paul Giamatti: Are you kidding me? He’s fuckin’… and a lot of people thought I was kidding when I would say it, too. “I’m not kidding. I’m totally serious!” I saw BUBBA HO-TEP and it’s one of my favorite movies. I loved it and then somebody finally showed him some interview in which I said that and he called me up. I went and met him and he’s a great guy, you know?
Quint: Yeah, on top of his movies being fantastic, he’s the nicest person in the world, hands down.
Paul Giamatti: And his movies are amazing. They are totally unique, you know? So then he asked me if I was interested in doing this one and I was just like “You have got to be kidding me. Yeah, absolutely!” I said, “I have a little production company and we can help you guys do this” and he brought me in onboard and now we have got Ron Perlman interested in playing Elvis.
Quint: Nice. Perlman is awesome. Have you gotten the chance to talk much with him?
Paul Giamatti: Oh yeah. He’s a great guy. He’s an amazingly great guy and I’ve always loved him as an actor, so when he actually was interested, I couldn’t believe our luck man, like “This is fucking great!” He’s a really terrific guy. Have you met him?
Quint: I’ve met him a few times, yeah, in the oddest places… always. I went to visit a movie in Romania called BUNRAKU, which he was in.
Paul Giamatti: He’s always making movies in eastern Europe.
Quint: Apparently he’s like Elvis over there… Well literally, but there you go… hence the connection.
Paul Giamatti: That’s perfect man, but yeah it has all worked out so great and I don’t know, I just… I’ve never been so excited about doing something and being able to throw… trying to put my production company in on it, too. I mean I’ve never wanted to do something like this before, but I like this thing so much that I really want to see it get done.
Quint: The immediate question, especially from the fans is going to be “What happened to Bruce [Campbell]?” You know fan bases. You break continuity and there’s going to be a lot of questions.
Paul Giamatti: Oh sure, absolutely. I’m sure everybody is going to want to know that.
Every effort was made by us, he just didn’t want to do it and he was cool about it. He just didn’t want to do it, which is a bummer, because part of the reason I love that movie is him… a big part of it. He’s fantastic and I’ve always loved him. I’m a big fan of his, but he didn’t want to do it, which is totally cool.
Quint: It’s surprising to me, because I kind of got the feeling that for the longest time he was just trying to shake the character of Ash and then he does BUBBA and I think that out of everything that I’ve seen him in, this really tested him as an actor. It was a very meaty role.
Paul Giamatti: Absolutely, I know! And he’s fantastic in it.
Quint: He knocks it out of the park, yeah.
Paul Giamatti: Absolutely, he’s great in it. He’s totally great in it, so yeah I don’t know. I’m not sure what his reasons were particularly. I think he’s doing a lot of his own stuff now like directing stuff on his own and he just wants to do that, I guess. It was a disappointment and we really tried and then after a while it was like “Now we are just going to start pissing the guy off! He’s being totally cool about it, I mean, but I don’t want to piss the guy off.”
I our thinking was kind of like, “Well who the hell do we find who is a really good actor and a guy who is going to fit right?” You know what I mean? It was sort of like, for a while we let the thing sit and then all of a sudden we were like “Well, maybe we should go to Ron Perlman,” which just seemed like a great idea and he was up for it.
Quint: Perlman’s also very talented at acting through makeup and I think he would actually be attracted to this, because unlike a lot of his other projects, he’s not completely buried in prosthetics, but he’ll…
Paul Giamatti: Yeah! (laughs) He’s a really, really great actor and incredibly flexible, so I really can’t wait to see the guy do it.
Quint: Yeah, well that’s great man. So let’s talk a little bit about the movie. You are on board playing Col. Parker, right?
Paul Giamatti: Yeah, playing Col. Parker and you have got Elvis and there’s a bunch of… I don’t know if Don has told you much about it particularly. Have you talked to him about it?
Quint: Not much…
Paul Giamatti: I don’t want to give too much of it away! So yeah I’ll be playing Col. Parker, who… You know part of the great thing about this is not only are these wonderful genre movies, but he’s actually taking a weird, interesting take on the whole Elvis myth and kind of investigating the whole Elvis myth in a really interesting way, so it’s got a lot of stuff about Col. Parker being responsible for a lot of what happened to Elvis and kind of literally making him a vampire in some ways, you know? A kind of a blood sucker… It plays on a lot of things, this movie, in a great way and it’s got Sitting Bull in it and there’s a peyote trip in it that is amazing and it’s just a big leap beyond the other movie. It’s ten times more insane and bizarre and it’s great and hilarious, too. It’s funnier than the other one is even. It still ends up being this great character study of this Elvis guy.
Quint: What’s fascinating to me is that you don’t really see this often, especially with movies that are made based off of a short story or a novel, you don’t usually see a lot of continuations that aren’t direct sequels from already written material, so I think it’s kind of a fascinating approach that Don has taken with this, where he is coming up with his own story.
Paul Giamatti: He’s just getting to stretch the myth out more now in his own direction, but like I say, he’s basing it now in his own take on Elvis and Col. Parker and what happened to him and it just amplifies what was already there. Col. Parker himself is a completely fascinating. He gets into Parker’s back story, which is a whole weird thing and the weirdest thing about him is that all of these people and the paths in their life lends themselves to this kind of thing so well. Do you know what I mean? (laughs)
Col. Parker is a completely bizarre, shadowy weird figure. He’s like something out of a horror movie or something. Nobody really knows much about him and I didn’t even know that he was Dutch! He’s not American! He’s this sort of quintessential American huckster character and he’s not American! He’s Dutch! He escaped the Nazis and it’s just completely bizarre. So it has this larger than life, grotesque weird lovely thing going on anyway and that Elvis was obsessed with astrology and the occult and all of this stuff. It just makes so much sense, these movies. It’s great.
Quint: It’s going to be the new Nazis: Elvis mythology.
Paul Giamatti: (laughs) Exactly! You can tie anything into him in a way, so that makes sense.
Quint: Yeah, and like you were saying, it’s kind of tragic that a lot of the people that Elvis surrounded himself with were the people that kind of led to his death and led to his lifestyle and led to him kind of becoming a prick in a lot of ways. They fed the monster.
Paul Giamatti: Yeah, they created a monster out of this seemingly sweet and innocent guy, but this is what’s also nice about the whole… I mean playing with the “Elvis is still alive” thing is great, too, because it gives you this whole… It’s what makes the first movie so weirdly poignant and moving, this sense that you want to believe that the guy could have lived beyond all of this horrible ravaging of fame that he went through and came out okay in the end. It’s why Bruce is so great in that first movie and why he’s such a great character and so he’s kind of a mench, you know? He’s an okay guy. You go “Thank God, maybe he got away from all of this crap and was okay in the end.”
Quint: He’s a grumpy bastard, but he’s the likable grumpy bastard.
Paul Giamatti: Yeah, he’s a likeable guy. I don’t know… And you feel like Elvis probably was actually an okay guy underneath all the insanity that developed around him.
Quint: I think having Perlman in the role is a very interesting casting choice. It’s going to be something that I think a lot people are going to have to see, because it’s…
Paul Giamatti: Well, that’s what I also think is nice about it. I think a lot of people, the fans and stuff will be able to say “Well, this is an interesting choice. This is an interesting direction to go” and he’s a heavyweight real actor and it will be interesting to see what he does.
Quint: Yeah, I mean you look at him in any of Guillermo [Del Toro]’s work or his (Jean-Pierre) Jeunet films, it’s like I just love the complexity that he can play with his eyes. The dude likes to work, so you see him in all kinds of movies ranging from miserable to awesome, but he’s great in every one that he does.
Paul Giamatti: Exactly! He’s always good, he’s always the best thing about whatever he’s in.
Quint: He was even good in an Uwe Boll movie, so… (laughs)
Paul Giamatti: Yeah and he’s got huge balls as an actor, too. He takes big risks. The first thing I ever saw him in was THE NAME OF THE ROSE, where he plays that bizarre hunchback in that thing and I remember sitting there going like “Where the fuck did they find this guy?” I was like,“They found a real hunchback. They found this bizarre little hunchback to be in this thing” and it’s him! He’s got real balls. He will go out there and do completely off the wall shit, too. I’ve seen him on stage, too. He’s a great stage actor and he takes real risks on stage and I love that.
Quint: I think if you also consider just how inventive just Don is visually as a filmmaker, I think he’s kind of perfectly set up to point Perlman in the right direction.
Paul Giamatti: I think so. Absolutely!
Quint: That’s one thing that I think is one of the tragedies of Hollywood, that Don never became an A lister, because in my mind, if you go back and you watch PHANTASM and PHANTASM II, especially PHANTASM II, you can see he was on the same track that Sam Raimi was, but the fates gave him a different road.
Paul Giamatti: I suppose so, but I don’t know. I think he’s even more interesting than Sam Raimi. I think he’s kind of more inventive and something more… I don’t know… there’s something deeper and stranger actually I think than Sam Raimi has going on. Maybe that’s why.
Quint: Yeah, maybe.
Paul Giamatti: It’s weird or something and in a way, maybe that’s what it is. Maybe he has got too much integrity about his weirdness, which is fantastic, you know? I mean his movies… I don’t know, man. They’re genuinely eccentric. They are utterly their own thing in a way that I can’t think of many American filmmakers.
Quint: And he keeps them entertaining, so he’s not up his own ass, which is what you see a lot of people do when they are trying to do something bizarre.
Paul Giamatti: He somehow manages to get across exactly what he wants to put across and it’s entertaining. I think the guy is kind of amazing. It’s funny, when I would say his name and nobody would ever know who he was and then I would mention PHANTASM and people would go “Oh, with the silver ball?” I’d be like “yeah!” “Oh my god, it’s such a bizarre movie.” I would be like “Yeah, but great!” Somebody occasionally, and it was usually the British journalists who would have seen BUBBA HO-TEP for some reason, but the reaction was always “Oh my God I loved that movie.”
Quint: I spent about half of the production of BUBBA on set and it was…
Paul Giamatti: Oh really? It must have been great.
Quint: It was weird. I mean you talk about… It was definitely so very stressful for Don, because he was making this like sub million dollar movie and just watching him roll up his sleeves to get it done, I had never seen… You know, I’ve been on hundreds of movie sets since I started this Ain’t It Cool gig since back when I was a teenager, but I had never seen and still haven’t seen to this day the degree of how hands on he got.
Paul Giamatti: I haven’t even worked with the guy and I could tell that he’s that kind of guy and, to me, I admire that sense of intense work ethic and just getting the fucking thing done... I admire that more than anything else pretty much when I work with people and it’s really rare to encounter somebody who is genuinely grounded like that and just fucking does the thing.
Quint: And he kept his head. That was the surprising thing. I saw Bruce fly off the handle a bit, granted he had a lot of pressure… Like, with Don… as much pressure as he had, he was still behind the camera, you know? But Don was just level headed and calm.
Paul Giamatti: He seems like an incredibly steady guy and like I said man, I admire that so much.
Quint: If you have seen the documentaries on the PHANTASM DVD, you just see how inventive he was back then and I think he’s even more inventive now and he has to be. And the fact that he is so business savvy too… instead of selling BUBBA HO-TEP to video, he spent two years of his life self-distributing before it went to video. Not too many people would make that choice.
Paul Giamatti: There’s practically nobody that I can think of that would make that choice. The word “maverick” is getting thrown around a lot these days, but there really is a quality of somebody who is really just doing things how they want to do them. That’s incredibly admirable about the guy and that’s also why I was sort of like “Well shit, if I could help you get this thing made, I would love to.” I would like to see the guy get a hand this time making his movie instead of fucking having to sweat blood to get the thing made. It’s like he should just be making these things all over the place, it’s ridiculous.
Quint: Are you producing the movie as well?
Paul Giamatti: We are going to help him out, I mean, yeah… I’ve got a little company and it will be a part of the thing absolutely. Me and my partner here are just trying to help him out and we are shopping the thing around now, but I can’t imagine anybody who is not going to want to do it.
Quint: Yeah. I think it’s one of those no brainer scenarios I think.
Paul Giamatti: I think so. I think they’d be fools not to.
Quint: All they have to do is look at the fan base for BUBBA HO-TEP. It’s a movie that even when Don was self distributing, he made money and then on DVD it’s been really big… and it’s already gotten toys, you know? I mean, come on…
Paul Giamatti: Totally! Yeah, it’s an easy thing. I just can’t wait to actually be doing it. I don’t know, man… The script is just so much fun. I’m just dying to do it. He’s the kind of guy I have wanted to work with for years and never got the chance to.
Quint: When do you think you guys would look to shoot it?
Paul Giamatti: I would like to do it next Springish. That’s when Ron has a window to do it and that’s when we are aiming to do it, so hopefully soon, you know hopefully pretty soon.
Quint: That’s great man, well I just wish you guys all the luck in the world.
Paul Giamatti: I appreciate it and I appreciate you talking to me and helping us put this out there, too, I really do.
Quint: It’s my pleasure. Don’s one of the good guys, a very genuine guy in a line of work where that’s not very common. And he’s a talented filmmaker on top of that.
Paul Giamatti: Yeah, and an incredibly humble dude, too. He talks about himself like “Meh, I’ve made some of these movies…” and I’m like “But, you have made incredible movies! You have made real unique fucking movies! They are great.”
Quint: Exactly. Listen, man. I’m eager to see what you guys do on this movie, so you guys will always have my ear if you need it.
Paul Giamatti: Well thank you very much. I really appreciate it. Thanks!
I told you we ended up with a Don Coscarelli love-fest, but I’m dead serious about the guy. He’s one of the best independent filmmakers ever… Look at his early work, the coming of age comedy KENNY & CO. and his most famous stuff, like the PHANTASM series and BEASTMASTER, which has aged incredibly well.
The man has the talent it was so great to see him hit it out of the park with BUBBA HO-TEP.
Like a lot of you I’m sad to see Bruce not attached to this project, but I’m also giddy to see what Coscarelli, Giamatti and Perlman do with this story, which sounds incredibly fun. I’ve heard Coscarelli describe it as his favorite thing he has ever written.
Perlman has the comedy chops and the dramatic chops to pull of the character. I guess time will tell how they integrate him into this universe.
Hopefully we’ll have more on this project soon. What do you guys think?