What is Caffeinated Clint’s Greats?
I’ve had plenty of emails from you guys asking such questions as “Who were your favourite actors growing up?”, “Do you have a favourite movie?”, “You’re producing films now, any particular film that inspired you to take that road?” and “Hey man, Got Kristen Stewart’s phone number?”, and it gave my an idea – why not profile some of my favourite films? (It saves me from flaming a pimply, unintelligent publicist or another fresh-from-junior-high exec over some harebrained remake he’s just greenlit for a couple of weeks, after all) and in doing so, why not make contact with some of the people from these films?
Title : Office Space
Year : 1999
Director : Mike Judge
Starring : Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole, Stephen Root, David Herman
When you’re talking ’90s comedies it doesn’t get much funnier than “Office Space”. Working in an office myself at the time (One about the same size as ‘The Bob’s’ did their interviewing in), at Disney, I got a real kick out of watching someone (in this case, writer/director Mike Judge, of “Beavis and Butthead” fame) take the piss out of the mundane nine-to-five office job – and tell you what, I cheered when the guys beat the bejesus out of that printer! Tears of joy as they smashed it’s loading tray into a few pieces. But there’s so many great moments in “Office Space” – if you haven’t caught it, run! don’t walk to your nearest DVD rental store today.
Look up the word ‘versatile’ in the dictionary and you’ll likely see a picture of Gary Cole – or several pictures of Gary Cole; one as the proud and perfect family patriarch of The Brady Bunch, another as the smarmy TPS-loving boss-from-hell Bill Lumberg, and one in which he dons a law enforcer’s garb, devilish smile beaming just above the brown vest’s collar.
For 30 odd years, Cole has been a regular staple of my must-watch diet. He’s always been there. Be it in film or TV -but mostly TV – he’s like the birthmark on my forehead, I just can’t seem to get rid of him. Though unlike the skin freckle, I don’t want to. It’s comforting to know Gary Cole is never too far away from a picture tube or projector.
I…we…first discovered Gary Cole in the seminal ’80s fave ”Midnight Caller”. Remember that one? I’d catch it just before bed (I was in my infancy years of highschool at the time). Great show. Cole was a former San Francisco police detective, Jack Killian, who was recruited to host a late-night talk radio show in which he’d answer listener’s problems. Those calls would frequently take him back into the realm of police work. “Good night America…wherever you are”, Killian would sign-off at the end of each episode.Gold.
Film wise, I think Cole first caught my attention when he popped up – albeit briefly – as that secret service asshole, Watts, in the Clint Eastwood-starring Wolfgang Peterson-directed ”In the Line of Fire”. He was fab in that-and the character a total 180 from Jack in ”Midnight Caller”. Great move. Great movie.
And soon enough Cole was everywhere – playing Mike Bradly in the highly underrated ”Brady Bunch” Movie (itself a riotous piss-take on the classic series) and it’s sequels, Jonathan Taylor Thomas comedy ”I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (another underrated comedy), and Sam Raimi’s ”A Simple Plan”. But it was with the role of Sheriff Lucas Buck, a mysterious small-town law enforcer with a direct line to the devil (or was he the devil!?), in Shaun Cassidy’s ”American Gothic” (1996) that they allowed Cole to get loose from his chain and collar and give his best bark.Cole’s performance on the short-lived but very popular series (in the same way ”Twin Peaks” was) was a howl!
“American Gothic”, I remember, was the show I’d watch when I’d come home from radio school. I believe it was a Tuesday evening. Or was it a Wednesday. Regardless, I’d watch it. You couldn’t help but watch it. It was a magnet of a series. I’d be straight through the door from radio school, would be placing my reels and tapes back on the mantelpiece, when its eerie theme would fill up my TV speakers. Even if I didn’t plan on watching it, I did. To this day, my wife credits it as one of her favourite shows.
Most – Cole included – probably didn’t think it’d get any better than that for the Illinois-born actor.
(Sound buzzer) Wrong!
In more recent years Cole has continued to work in both TV (”The West Wing”, ”Entourage”, ”Family Guy”) and Film (”Office Space”, ”The Joneses”, “The Gift”, ”Talladega Nights : The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”, “The Pineapple Express”), hitting it out of the park each and every time. As popular as the character of Lucas Buck was/is, he’s now also given us such memorable character as Bill Lumberg (”Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too…”), Ted Jones (“Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too…”) and David Duncan (“There’s a saying about letting sleeping dogs lie. You think you’re in danger now? Look at it logically. The real danger begins if this case gets reopened and someone starts worrying that you’re gonna have another one of your damn dreams. “) too. When someone writes that inevitable pop icons of the noughties book – Cole may very well be asked to write the foreword.
I had a chance to talk to my screen stalker, and one of today’s most exceptional and adaptable actors, earlier this morning.
Caffeinated Clint :Gary, you were on the small screen for a lot of the eighties -appearing on, of course, ”Midnight Caller” but also on various other television shows like ”Miami Vice” and ”Moonlighting”. But I don’t believe we saw you in film until the early ’90s?
Gary Cole : It took a while. About a decade actually.
Caffeinated Clint:Any reason for that?
Gary Cole:I think the business was different than it is today. I started doing television in the early 80s, and there was more of a separation between TV actors and film actors.
Caffeinated Clint:Even when you did break into film, you didn’t let TV go altogether – soon enough you were back playing Sheriff Lucas Buck on ”American Gothic”. It was a hugely popular show, but it only lasted one season.
Gary Cole:I wish American Gothic would have premiered 5 years later.
Caffeinated Clint:It might have survived, yeah. There’s a real hunger for shows as different, and as, dare I say, wacky, as it nowadays.
Gary Cole:I think Shaun Cassidy,who created the show, was ahead of the curve.A large number of lead characters are anti-heroes in today’s TV landscape, and Lucas Buck was certainly that.
Caffeinated Clint:Fun character to play?
Gary Cole:I never had more fun playing a character.
Caffeinated Clint:Surely Bill Lumberg would be up there though? How many times a day does someone approach you in the street and recite a line from ”Office Space”!?
Gary Cole:Office Space is still relevant after a decade precisely because people quote it….which I am grateful for by the way. When someone stops me, 90% of the time they tell me they “need me to come in on Saturday”
Caffeinated Clint:Won’t be long and they’ll be quoting your lines from ”Entourage”!
Gary Cole:Doug Ellin is a great writer. Andrew Klein was one of the best written characters I’ve ever played.
Caffeinated Clint:How do you keep up with Jeremy Piven though?
Gary Cole:Jeremy Piven is in a “zone” with that part. You know he’s doing something right because when people talk about the show they don’t refer to him as Jeremy Piven they call him “Ari”.
Caffeinated Clint : True. I see you do a lot of voice work over on ”Family Guy” – how did that come about?
Gary Cole:I suspect Office Space had something to do with that. It was right around the time when people started coming up to me quoting lines from the movie that I got a call from Family Guy!
Now let’s have a look at some ‘classic’ Gary Cole!