AN INTERVIEW ASKEW: BRIAN O'HALLORAN
MM: Will you be appearing in Dogma?
BOH: Um, Kevin said that we're going to work something with Dogma. I'm not one of the featured characters, but he says we're working on something.
MM: Have you and Kevin discussed the possibility of you playing a lead in one of his future films?
BOH: The only future films I know he's working on would be the Clerks sequel, which he's told me they plan shooting after Dogma. Now, things change all the time. Dogma was supposed to be shot a year and a half ago. Things get pushed back in film. The end of last summer, they were thinking of doing it at the end of summer [this year]. But, you know, they're starting to shoot Dogma come March. If it lasts like a month and a half, almost two months of shooting, then by the time they do post, they might not be ready to start up another project as big as the Clerks sequel. So, that might not start shooting until probably next year. And who knows what'll happen then?
BOH: I don't know. I don't know whether it would be cheesy to have him succeed at something. Like, oh, yeah, see, that's what happens in sequels--everybody succeeds, yada, yada. I would just love to see the comedy be just as raw and just as funny again. The bizarre situations that were done in Clerks that were so unique, that made it so memorable. Trying somehow to continue on that theme. Maybe moving out of clerking at a convenience store. He's given me a rough idea of his idea as to what happens to Dante in the sequel, which I thought was hysterical. So, I'm confident that Kevin can bring out this situation of Dante's life just as funny.
BOH: That phrase is thrown around that office a lot and I'm trying to think . . . You know, from what he's told me, what Clerks the sequel's going to be, where it's located and the idea of where it goes, can easily encompass that. I think that here is the vehicle for which you could make the Ultimate Jersey Movie. And then I've heard other people's ideas as to what the Ultimate Jersey Movie would be, doing this, doing that, the Jersey Devil, all this type of stuff. So, I don't know if there's a specific, actual Jersey movie being talked about separate from what might be the sequel to Clerks. Who knows?
BOH: I did a film last January--and actually last February and March--called Groupies. It's an independent film. I did it with Ally Sheedy, Justin Henry, Jason Frank and another newcomer called Fred Hazelton. This writer/director called me right out of the internet and offered me this role. I was the first person he had offered the role to. It's finished now. It's been edited and went to Sundance. It wasn't in the actual Sundance Film Festival. The director held his own screenings and started his own festival called Slam Dunk. It recently screened other films, such as that Kurt and Courteney, that documentary that was kind of banned from Sundance.
MM: Something to do with Copyright issues with the songs.
BOH: Right. So, they came to him really quick. Like, all these studios said, look, can you just screen this for us here real quick? He was like, sure. And that's something he did there. Right now, we're looking for distribution for this film. It's a comedy about these four child actors who were part of a superhero show called The Junior Defenders. Pretty much like a Power Rangers. And they got canceled within their first three years. Before their last episode--before knowing the ending, if they died or not. Ten years later, these two guys--these two groupies--kidnap one of the main guys, who's down on his luck and now living in a mobile home in Vermont. And they go across the country kidnaping the four child actors to tape the new episode--the final episode. It's pretty hysterical.
Last summer we did Vulgar, which [was part of] Kevin's three picture deal for small budgeted films through Miramax. Where last year he did A Better Place and Drawing Flies, this year he did Vulgar. It was myself, Ethan Suplee and a few of the other regular people that you see in the View Askew films. Vulgar was the mascot of View Askew, that clown. Vulgar's pretty much about a guy who's a professional clown--this kid's party clown--trying to make more money. Trying to make his life a lot better. He decides to do this bachelor party type of clown. It's just the harsh reality of trying to do something like that. It's written by Kevin's best friend, Bryan Johnson, who's in Mallrats as Steve Dave, one of the comic book guys. That's in editing right now. They have a rough cut, now they've just got to clean up the sound a bit. Then they'll hopefully hit the Toronto Film Festival or Telluride or the Dallas Film Festival. And that looks--Kevin has said it himself--that looks really, really good. It's like something you've never seen before.
MM: Did you play Vulgar himself?
BOH: Yes, I did.
BOH: I did Godspell, the musical, here in New Jersey, but I've been helping out behind the scenes in some theatres here. My girlfriend is an actress and she just ended a run of Sylvia, that off Broadway play that Sarah Jessica Parker did, where she plays a dog, and I also helped her out with some other roles as well.
BOH: I would say senior year of high school is when I started to get into acting. I actually was looking into automotive engineering. My father was an automotive engineer and I used to go with him to work as a kid all the time. He worked on race cars for his company, things like that. I was very much into that. He passed away when I was fifteen and that whole thing put me into a funk for like two years and I did very badly in high school, educationally. Then I started getting involved in the school plays. After I left high school I went to county college here. I took all the acting that they offered. All the theatre courses. Did their shows. And then I stopped for two years because it was that time of your life where you just need your car and money to hang out with your friends. I worked for a supermarket chain for like four years and that's how I could easily have related to Dante's character. I worked doing deli clerk, I did seafood clerk, meat clerk, any kind of clerk you can think of. And then I just started bitching and moaning. I would see people on TV and be like, man, I could do that so much better. My best friend was just like, quit your bitching, man, put up or shut up. And he actually found an audition at a local theatre doing a production of Dracula. He's like, we're going to audition for this, and you're going to get back into acting. I went and auditioned and got the role of Renfield the Lunatic. From that point on, I've actually been nonstop since. I got great reviews in the paper with that role and then I did Charlotte's Web, where I was Templeton the Rat, and I got more great reviews. Went on from there and did some other really serious drama. So, I enjoy the theatre a lot. There's nothing like hearing the applause and hearing that you're doing a good job. And the fact that you can change your approach on a character. If something ain't working, well, you know, let me take it this way. With film, you have many chances to do it right, but you only have one time to have an interpretation. After it's released, if the people don't respond to what you're doing, there's no way of stopping it and releasing a different version.
BOH: Oh, yeah. It's the best training you can do, as an actor. To be in front of a live audience. There's no stop, wait, oh geez, what was that line again? It just sharpens your reflexes. It sharpens your interaction. And it definitely sharpens your memory because you have to know an entire show from beginning to end.
There's good things and bad things in every aspect of acting. TV's another thing where you can change it because you have ratings coming in and surveys that tell you, well, I like this character, I wish he could do that. You can have the writers write in those aspects. In film, you go in, do it, you're done, that's it. There are people who are just TV or film type of people. I think if you took a bunch of these people on successful TV shows and tried to put them in a stage play, they couldn't. They can't perform in front of an audience. They wouldn't be able to hold that much dialogue with consistency and character for that long. And vice versa for people who do theatre who really wouldn't be able to bring themselves down to the realistic edge of film or TV. Theatre has to be that slight bit more overboard, just so it can come across that far of a distance.
BOH: A lot of people I've talked to when I work on films tell me I have a great ability for problem solving as a producer. I believe that just comes from my years in the business world. I've worked for million dollar corporations and I've dealt with negotiations a lot. That's why it was only two years ago that I had an agent. Otherwise, I pretty much negotiate my own deal. And I just have no patience for--if it's not right, well, let's do it right and let's do it right now. That's what I liked about when we did Clerks. It was like, this is it, we have the film, we're doing it this way, and that's the end of it. So, I've been told I have a very good producer's head. As far as something I want to do? I don't know. Producers make a lot of money, but they have a lot of work to do. Right now, I just want to concentrate on my acting. Let me be able to be stable with that.
BOH: Really, really want to work with? I would love to work with Martin Scorsese. A lot of people say that, but I hear he's just fantastic to work with. Geez, who else? I wouldn't mind working on something that perhaps Cameron did. Not just because of Titanic. Because I loved his earlier stuff, actually. Lucas, of course. Spielberg, just for the simple fact that I'd love to see what a film over 100 million dollars would feel like. I'd love to work on a film where there's actually a few months of having to submerge yourself in a certain atmosphere to get a feel for the character. Like, some people have to submerge themselves in a hot, sweaty jungle to do a jungle type of film. Something like that. I wouldn't mind doing an Ivory Merchant film. I love those huge period type of films like Howard's End and all that. As far as actors, I'd love to work with Emma Thompson or Anthony Hopkins. People like that. And I'm hearing now that Emma Thompson's actually going to be playing God in Dogma. If and when I get to work on Dogma, just to meet her once would make my life a very good thing.
BOH: To nail someone down specifically, it's hard. Leonardo DiCaprio, to see where he's gone with his stuff, it's great. It just shows that there really are people out there, in our generation especially, who go from one extreme up to another and do characterization great. Just absolutely great. It's nice to see that the ability to do that is still out there. And then there are people who start late in their acting careers. How great they did. Anthony Hopkins started late. It just gives you hope. If things are slow now, just wait a couple of years and you'll be able to do older parts, which are usually better written.
BOH: The trend I see with people--with celebrities who got to that point-- is they all started young. Personally, I think something went wrong in the foundation. There was a crack somewhere that lead to this, to get where it's at. The fact that they were catered to, being an actor. Everybody's like, are you all right, can I get you a drink, can I do this for you? Especially as a child actor and then leading up to this. You're surrounded in that culture. I've gone to some parties where it's been kind of . . .You're thinking, Jesus Christ, what are they doing here, man? I've got to get out of here before I'm just guilty by association. I can see how easy it would be if you're constantly in that. And that's, in a way, why I like being on the east coast. Don't get me wrong--there are many people in New York who go nuts like that, too, but it's just like, I don't know . . . I come from a very poor family . You just have a strong sense of don't throw your opportunities away because they're far and few between. But when you grow up in that life where there's no such thing as opportunity far and few between--when opportunity is nothing but there for you--and you're catered to, you can start taking things for granted. I think it's a basic thing like that. And it's unfortunate. If they really did see how the other half lives, they'd start going, shit, you know? And I don't even think jail time is going to do anything. If anything, they're just going to get even more resentful and get even more out of bounds with it. That's just my own opinion on it.