That used to be a much bigger thing in the ’60s and ’70s. Now they only really do that with animation, like all the Studio Ghibli stuff. You have a very recognizable voice, too. I’m sure you’d be great at that.

I’m now the new villain of Call of Duty, which comes out the 2nd of November. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going now to Spain with the film (Brawl in Cell Block 99). I will get a lifetime achievement award in Spain in two weeks. From there I fly to Santa Domingo, if nothing has happened with the hurricane, and I will be starring with Geraldine Chaplin in a film. Then I fly to New York to do a film with Jeff Goldblum then I fly to China to do Iron Sky 3

So, you’re keeping busy is what you’re saying.

Well, nobody forced me! It’s all interesting. I did a Gus Van Sant film in Phoenix… they’re all interesting stories. Normally, I like my privacy in the high desert. I have a barn, I have a ranch and I work in the garden. I plant trees. I don’t wear gloves when I work in the garden. I rescue dogs. That’s my world, but when I get good stories, like Brawl, or with Mel Gibson now, then I fly to Canada for a couple of days and do that.

I get people wanting to work with me and I say no. I’m not saying yes to everything. People say to me “on the internet it says you made 250 films!” I say, “Yes, but 150 are bad, 50 you can see with a couple of drinks and 50 are good.” If you can say you made 50 good films that’s a lot. I made 11 with Lars von Trier alone!

So, what was it about Brawl in Cell Block 99 in particular that made you decide it was going to be one of the good ones?

I never think that. You can’t. I made films, like Shadow of the Vampire, and I did not like the work I did on it and then Willem Dafoe was nominated for the Oscar. I made films like The Adventures of Pinocchio with Martin Landau. I thought I would get nominated and it flopped. You never know. If there was rule then everybody would only ever produce, direct and act in good films, but there isn’t.

What I liked about the film when [director S. Craig Zahler] offered me the role… I saw his first film, Bone Tomahawk, and I liked the details and the brutality. When I read [Brawl] I thought “Oh, I’m really the messenger of death.” I’m secure. It’s not me doing it. I’m just telling him what my boss is going to do and I’m safe because I talk to him through a glass wall.

What I particularly liked about your part is that you get to be the face of the threat. You are delivering messages on behalf of your boss, but we don’t see him much. You get to be that visage.

That’s a nice way to say it. In Toronto at the festival they did something special. They programmed the movie and at midnight exactly I am on screen. They had it exactly timed. I like it. Variety writes that the film is very realistic and when Udo Kier comes on screen the film becomes insane. My friends said “That’s horrible!” I said, “No! It’s a compliment.”

When [Zahler] called me and said “I’m writing Puppet Master and I want that you play Mr. Toulon,” I did. He didn’t direct it, unfortunately, but he found directors from Sweden (Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund) and then he called me and said I’m doing a film with Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson (the upcoming Dragged Across Concrete) and I wrote a part for you.

I like Brawl in Cell Block 99. I think Vince Vaughn is incredible and I’ve never seen Don Johnson like that. It is very realistic. Some people say it is a horror film. It is not a horror film at all. It is very realistic. If people are in cell block 99 they never get out for the rest of their lives, so they can do what they want. They can kill people, they can beat people up. I think it’s very, very well done and not because I’m in it. It’s 130 minutes, but it doesn’t become boring. Sometimes you feel in movies they could cut 10 minutes out.

To Variety’s point, you have a big part in that. The second you show up with the threat the movie accelerates and doesn’t slow down until the end.

Because I have a very strong message I’m telling. The way I was talking to Zahler about it was that I wanted to deliver it like “I’m sorry… I don’t want to say this, but I have to because I get paid for it.” Two more questions.

The next film you’re doing with Craig Zahler is called Dragged Across Concrete, right?


Have you already shot it?

Yeah, I’m done.

Is your role in that similar to this film, where you get to be a little intimidating?

No. I own a shop. There was a possibility [I could play another character], but I chose a big scene with Mel Gibson and me alone. I’m not with gangsters or other people. He just comes to my shop because he asks me for a favor. He did me a favor [regarding] my son and now he asks for a favor in return.


Brawl in Cell Block 99 bows theatrically and on VOD October 13, 2017. Even /Film’s own Jacob Hall, who didn’t like the film, thinks it is worth checking out.

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