“At this point in my life, I love making these conversations crazy detours of sh*t.”
This is David Gordon Green, who has directed indie favorites like All the Real Girls and the studio comedy blockbuster Pineapple Express, early in this interview that was supposed to be about his new film, Manglehorn. We do eventually get to Manglehorn — which stars Al Pacino as a lonely key story owner in his best performance in years – but boy we really did take some “detours” getting there. (I’ve been involved in some esoteric interviews over the years, but this one probably tops them all. Once Wesley T. Owens from Mr. Belvedere is discussed at length, you’ve got yourself something pretty out there.)
When I met Green in Midtown Manhattan, before I could ask my first question, he started talking about his favorite interviews with directors, which of course leads us to, of all things, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie…
David Gordon Green: Have you seen the Garbage Pail Kids movie?
Not in a long time.
Here’s what you should do. The greatest interview with a director ever written is an interview with the director of Garbage Pail Kids about his experience on The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. It’s an incredible interview. I’ve read it a number of times. In reflection, talking about the experience of making the The Garbage Pail Kids movie is hysterical.
Are there any surprises?
He did not have a good time on that. It’s amazing, it holds up. I have a VHS copy and it’s creepy to watch.
So you are recommending that people watch The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.
Absolutely! It’s a totally different experience now.
It’s dark and creepy. Did you ever watch The Facts of Life?
You know the kid, Mackenzie Astin? Sean Astin’s brother? He’s the star of it.
Wasn’t he on the episodes when they all left to open a bakery?
No, it was after the bakery, it was Over Our Heads, the knick-knack shop with Cloris Leachman.
Right, after Edna Garrett left.
What’s her name? Who played Edna Garrett?
Charlotte Rae, of course. So Mackenzie showed up with Clooney — so it was George Clooney and Mackenzie Astin as the kind of hangers-on of Over Our Heads.
It’s now famous that Clooney was on The Facts of Life, but Mackenzie Astin was much more memorable.
Wasn’t his name Andy? He has a little attitude.
He was supposed to add spunk.
Yeah, he was like Wesley on Mr. Belvedere.
Yes, amazing. What happened to that guy?
I know his cousin.
Really? Does he still act?
I believe so. You should get him to be in your next movie.
It will be his big comeback.
Brice Beckham’s going to love this when his Google alert goes off.
“Who’s talking about me? David Gordon Green?”
There are a whole slew of them. Do you remember Barret Oliver who was in Cocoon? He was awesome. I think he was the kid at the beginning of The NeverEnding Story.
What about Danny Cooksey?
You know, Danny Cooksey was in that second Terminator movie. That’s an interesting cameo. And he’s in a metal band.
He’s in a metal band?
Cooksey is keeping busy.
After Diff’rent Strokes he was on Salute Your Shorts.
Do you know where he started? I think it was That’s Incredible.
The first time I saw him, he was doing a hoedown on That’s Incredible.
How has That’s Incredible not been rebooted yet?
Yeah, exactly. You can YouTube them, there’s some really good ones. I think Tiger Woods was on it when he was like 6? Did you ever see The Aurora Encounter? The kids with Progeria were all on That’s Incredible, then they made this movie about aliens and used the children with the condition to play the aliens. You’ve got to see The Aurora Encounter.
So the takeaway from all this is to watch The Garbage Pail Kids Movie and The Aurora Encounter and That’s Incredible.
At this point in my life, I love making these conversations crazy detours of sh*t.
After Our Brand Is Crisis comes out, then you make the That’s Incredible movie.
There’s got to be something there. Like a behind-the-scenes of what really went on.
Oh, so you would cast someone as John Davidson?
Yeah, something fictional. Because they tried to spin it off, they did Incredible Sunday.
In your upcoming Our Brand Is Crisis, you made fictional people out of real people. Why not use the real names?
Well, we wanted to make the hero a female and she wasn’t on the journey.
Played by Sandra Bullock.
But, also, in the climate of politics and international personalities, it can be very difficult.
But in your That’s Incredible movie, you’d cast someone as Cathy Lee Crosby?
Yes. That would be fun to cast.
Maybe Sandra Bullock again?
Yeah. She’d be back in the ring. That would be amazing.
And get Tom Brady to play Fran Tarkenton.
Not the Brett Ratner movie, but have you seen a movie called Money Talks? The Alan Funt movie?
A really long time ago. I had to sneak around my parents because they thought it was “dirty.”
It’s on Netflix now. It had pranks with Muhammad Ali. But pre-reality TV, there was amazing reality television. Money Talks is good because it is kind of dirty and funny. Alan Funt, he was amazing. Have you heard this story? This is the last detour. Alan Funt thwarted a hijacking.
He was on a plane getting hijacked, but everyone on the plane knew he was on it and thought it was a joke.
Is this real, or an urban legend? (Note: It’s real.)
I don’t know. I saw an interview with his daughter and she told the story.
Now there’s a movie.
That’s a really good movie. Looking into the life rights of Alan Funt sounds amazing.
We have your career planned for the next 10 years. After That’s Incredible, you will make Funt.
I have a lot of good times ahead.
I enjoyed your movie.
Yes. And Funt.
Alan Funt, as Manglehorn.
First Nic Cage in Joe and now Al Pacino in Manglehorn, you are doing interesting things with great actors who have been misused in recent years.
Are you looking at them and thinking that?
And these are two of my favorite actors in all of cinema history. These are guys I’ve always dreamed of getting in the ring with. With any actor, you like some things, you like other things less. But, for me, it’s the opportunity to really be able to design something with someone in mind … with Manglehorn, it was all engineered, every word, as a strange love letter to Al. The signage in the bank was inspired by signage in Dog Day Afternoon. The lion that he carries is a flashback to his character in Scarecrow. There are all of these woven in that only Al knows; we sent it to Al and Al was just like, “These are guys that know my career very well and are playing with it.”
As the audience, I just want to see these two in good movies.
It’s an honor to be in the ring with them. These guys are pros and have been around forever and have won Oscars and for their lifetime are going to be icons, but to find that there’s a playful, beautiful, naïve, juvenile quality to them? These are essences of masculinity and also epic intimacy.
In Mangelhorn, there’s a cat having surgery. Do I want to know how that was filmed?
It was getting spayed.
I assumed it had to be real.
It was interesting, because I just appealed to the MPAA because they rated it R.
Because of the cat?
Because of that and “sexual suggestion” and the watermelon wreck — with the watermelon wreck, there’s no violence or blood, they just smash watermelons. There’s no profanity, drug usage, nudity – it’s like, you show a surgery on a cat and and a car wreck that was watermelons and weird music on it? But I won; it was great.
Well, best of luck with That’s Incredible and Funt.
[Laughs] One of these days!
(ED. NOTE: We did some digging and found this interview with Garbage Pail Kids director Rod Amateau, and while we’re not 100 percent sure this is the interview Gordon Green referred to, we’re fairly convinced that it is, because it’s an absolute riot.)
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.