Exclusive Interview : Eric Stoltz Part. II


Clint’s conversation with the actor continues

In this second part of his exclusive interview with Eric Stoltz, Clint Morris learns about the actor’s fondness for horror films, his love of Tarantino and the joy of playing Dr.Bobby on TVs “Chicago Hope”.

Speaking of DVDs, I just watched “The Fly II: Special Edition”. That scene with the dog still gets me
That was a tough scene. It was all puppets…. I haven’t seen that in years. I haven’t done that many horror films, they’re fun in a disgusting way. That was a blast.

Did you look at Jeff Goldblum’s performance from the first film?
Sure, yeah. I actually had dinner with Jeff – who was living with Geena Davis at the time – and they were wonderful, lovely people. Sure they still are. He’s a nice guy. He’s a lovely piano player too.

Do you have any skills like that?
I play Piano.

Ever do any composing for any films?
Just for the short film I did, the Bulls. I did some of the music for it, but only out of necessity because I couldn’t afford recordings. It was fun. I rented a little studio in New York, and played the piano.

I admire the way you’ve worn many hats.
I think that’s the way of the future. There’s that great documentary on Coppola, about the making of Apocalypse Now, called Hearts of Darkness, where he says ‘The next Mozart is going to be a fourteen, fifteen year-old girl in Ohio’. I really think there’s something to be said for that. I always love looking at short films that people send me – I think they’re much more interesting than film school stuff. Untrained. Passionate. People like Tarantino and Avary. There’s something behind it that’s not very prefab…that’s not very slick.

How did Tarantino find you for “Pulp Fiction”?
I knew Quentin from the Sundance Festival – we were both there in 92 or 93. He was there with Reservoir Dogs, and I was with Waterdance, and they were sort of the two films in competition. We met there and became friends, and stayed in touch. I was walking down 6th avenue one day. It was a sunny spring day – cos it was cold, but it was sunny – and it was early in the morning, like 9-9:30, and I looked across the street and from about half-a-mile away I saw this limbering figure sort of walking like a madman.
Once I saw Chris Walken walking towards me at 6am. Anyway, I saw this giant red watch, from some comic book or something – and I knew, that had to be Quentin. I walked across the street, and he was like ‘Hey man, I was just thinking about you – I’ve got this script I want to give you’. I was like ‘Here I am’. He was staying with another director, and he gave me the script for Killing Zoe. I met with Roger at a midtown restaurant in New York, and agreed to do the film. After Killing Zoe, I produced a film called Sleep with Me and I hired Quentin as an actor. Quentin came down, and I think that’s when he gave me the Pulp Fiction script.

How was it being involved in “Pulp Fiction”?
That was a blast! We had two weeks of rehearsal on the sets, which is very rare – it was a low-budget film, about $8 million at the time – but we had to really have our act together. We would go out and eat together, and it was lovely. A lovely bunch of people. It was so much fun – and I think that comes across in the film. Fast Times had a similair vibe. When you’re doing something challenging and fun and everybody is in it for the right reasons it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a hit or not. The experience stays with you. Whenever I see anything from Pulp Fiction, a wonderful feeling just comes over me. Very good times.

How was it working with Travolta?
He was hysterical. Silly guy.

Stephen Tobolowsky – who just did “Wild Hogs” with him – was telling me that. He said ‘he’s funnier off-set than he is on’.
He’s hysterical – he does these little voices, he’s always dancing, teasing, and telling stories. He’s just a very wonderful fella.

“Killing Zoe” came after, right?
We shot it first, but it was released second.

Was that filmed in Paris?
I wish. It was all in Los Angeles, with one day in Paris. Roger had a miniscule amount of money, and he found this bank that was going out of business in downtown LA and I think he wrote the heist film around that location so that he could make his film. Incredibly creative guy. He and Quentin are really connected in a deeply, creative way.

I caught up with Peter Berg recently – your co-star on “Chicago Hope” – and typically outspoken Berg was telling me how he couldn’t wait to give off that show.
He was on there forever. But now, of course, he’s doing a series.

Yep, “Friday Night Lights” – that’s his thing…his baby. It’s different I guess, because he’s now calling the shots. How did you feel about doing “Chicago Hope” after doing film for so long?
You know, I loved it. I only signed on for one year, so I didn’t feel that it was going to be the rest of my life. I had a great time. I love the cast and the crew, I’m still friends with most of them.

My wife loved “Chicago Hope” – but she didn’t catch it first-time around, she only started watching it in repeats, which were on like two years back. I’d have to record it for her every day. I told her I was getting up to meet you this morning, and she was – in half-asleep voice – ‘Bobby’?
That’s hysterical [Laughs]

You were the ladies man on that show.
Was I really?

Yeah. I always found that kind of surprising.
I thought I was like the sort of new-age doctor.

Yeah, but you were flirting it up with the docs, like Christine Lahti’s character – who went ga-ga for you early on.
Oh god, that’s right! That was a lot of fun.

How is TV different than working on films?
Scheduling is much quicker but, more so, I did 20 episodes or so of the show, in a year, and you feel like you’ve had 20 opportunities to flesh out the character. That’s entirely different to a film, or a play, where you’ve got to do the entire story and character in an hour-and-a-half of two-hours. Knowing that you’ve got all that time with TV, you’re really able to invest a lot of detail in it, which is a lot of fun.

Why only a year?
I didn’t think I had the strength to do the character for any more than a year. I think the longest thing I’d ever done was a play that ran for nine months – and I started losing my mind. It takes a great deal of fortitude and concentration to be the lead of a television show for years and years. Its really hard work, and I didn’t know whether I could hack it.

I loved your final episode, where Mandy Patinkin comes back and fires everyone.
That’s right! That was hysterical. God he’s a funny man, Mandy. It was a big shock. I loved the way he also put everyone down, in addition to firing them, in that episode. It was very funny.

The show only lasted another twelve months after that. I guess the plan was to shake things up, by getting rid of the cast and bringing in some new blood, but it didn’t work.
I think David E.Kelley does that with his shows.

It worked for ‘The Practice’ obviously, which is now ‘Boston Legal’.
Yeah, it did.

And you’re directing an episode, you said?
Yeah I am. November. I met William Shatner last week, or the week before. He’s an interesting bloke.

Can you believe the comeback he’s had from this show?
He’s pretty happy. What’s interesting is that – and I think few people know this – he use to do Shakespeare, up in Canada. That’s always a good basis for any career.

It’s great that he’s been able to find another character that people love him in just as much as Kirk.
He’s fantastic in it too. He really is.

Who is going to be guest-starring on your episode?
They don’t tell the director whose going to be on. We don’t have scripts or anything – not yet. Probably won’t until the week before he start.

Then you’ll go wow ‘Wow, Pauly Shore!’
[Laughs] Pauly Shore.

You did guest-spots on shows. I recall you on “Mad About You”.
I think I did one a year- maybe two a year. That’s because of Helen Hunt.

You dated her, right?
Dated her? No.

Must’ve been Paul Reiser.
[Laughs] Paul Reiser. He’s a funny guy, he would’ve loved that joke. No, Paul and I didn’t date, although Paul’s wife is lovely. No, Helen and I did a play and later, a film together – The Waterdance – and just called and asked whether I’d be on her show.

I was talking to James Van Der Beek the other day about “Rules of Attraction”…
He’s a sweet guy. He was terrific in it. I’m sure he’ll get something just as good soon.

I think people just need to see past ‘Dawson’ and see that he can do other stuff
It’s interesting, I never saw Dawson’s Creek, and so I was able to just sort of accept him in that role.

You had a role in the film too. Did you enjoy it?
It was a blast. It was a lot of fun. It was a wonderful collection of freaks – Roger was like a circus master. It was a great time. I think Roger and Robert [Brinkmann] should make a series of films about anarchy and the disruption of our society. They should be in charge of the dismantling of western society. We should just hand it over to them.

In most recent years, you did “The Butterfly Effect”…
Oh yeah, sure. That was a fun role. Everybody’s a bit of a bastard, it was a nice to be able to act like one and get paid for it. They were a fun bunch of people – Jonathan and Eric, wow, they’re maniacs! They are maniacs! Clearly, I’m drawn to maniacal directors. I can appreciate the passion behind it.

The last two films you’ve been in were “The Triangle” and “The Honeymooners”.
The Triangle was a lot of fun. The director, Craig Baxley, was hysterical. It was interesting doing all that green-screen –because I’d never done that much of it. I was later able to use it in my short. I was nice having Dean Devlin down there and Bryan Singer’s people….Bryan never showed up because he was doing Superman. I enjoy the ol’ sci-fic horror film. It’s a genre I really do enjoy.

And “The Honeymooners”? – Which didn’t come out in Australia
It didn’t? That’s a shame. We should all go down and act it out for you at the Sydney Opera House. Ya know, I think it turned out pretty good. I had a great time making it, anyway – we shot it in Ireland. It’s just not the Honeymooners that people wanted. Jackie Gleason.