Tag Archives: Clint Eastwood

THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY – A REVIEW BY J.D. LAFRANCE

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I’m not a huge fan of westerns. I could count my favorites on one hand but at the top of the list is Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966), an epic story about three men’s pursuit of a chest of gold during the American Civil War. In fact, this film is one of my favorites of all-time. Instead of doing my usual in-depth examination of the film’s production, which has been covered in definitive detail in Christopher Frayling’s excellent Leone biography Something to Do with Death, I’ve decided to take a look at some of my favorite scenes.

The way Sergio Leone introduces the film’s three main characters says so much about them. Tuco a.k.a. The Ugly (Eli Wallach) is the film’s wild, uncontrollable id and the humanistic character of the three in the sense that he has all of the foibles and weaknesses that we all do. He is one of the most lethal, yet ungraceful characters in the western genre. His introduction sets up what a formidable opponent he is as he quickly dispatches three men come to kill him. Tuco crashes through a storefront window with a gun in one hand and a huge chunk of meat and bottle of wine clenched in the other, which perfectly captures the wild, untamable essence of his character. Not even a freeze frame that Leone employs at one point during this sequence slows Tuco down. He is a character of extremes.

Angel Eyes a.k.a. The Bad (Lee Van Cleef) is a cold-blooded killer and Leone captures the menace in the man’s eyes in his first close-up. With this shot Leone establishes that Angel Eyes is pure evil. He visits a man that knows the identity of someone who helped steal a box of gold. He spends a few minutes staring the poor man down, never taking his eyes off him, even while eating, which has to be pretty damn unnerving. The film’s first bit of dialogue is finally spoken in this scene, ten-and-a-half minutes in (including opening credits), which demonstrates Leone’s mastery of visual storytelling. For me, the key bit of dialogue in this scene is when Angel Eyes tells the man, “But when I’m paid, I always see the job through.” He then proceeds to kill the man and his youngest son without hesitation. If that wasn’t bad enough, Angel Eyes goes back to the man who hired him and kills him too because the other man paid him to and, of course, he always sees the job through. There’s a fantastic last shot of Angel Eyes blowing out the room’s lamp and in doing so, disappears into the darkness with a bit of ominous scoring by Ennio Morricone.

Blondie a.k.a. The Good’s (Clint Eastwood) introduction has to be one of the coolest in cinematic history. Three men capture Tuco, who is a wanted fugitive, and one of them says, “You know you got a face beautiful enough to be worth $2,000?” And then a voice off-camera says, “Yeah. But you don’t look like the one who’ll collect it.” Blondie then steps in view, coolly lights a cigar and guns down the men with brutal efficiency. Leone prolongs a shot of Blondie’s face as long as possible until we find out that he and Tuco have a deal. Blondie captures Tuco and brings him in for the reward money. He then rescues Tuco before he’s hanged to death and they repeat the process as the reward money increases. When Blondie brings Tuco in to the authorities, the fugitive lets loose a hilarious string of insults and curses directed at his captors. No one can quite say the word, “bastard” with the same kind of passion and venom as Eli Wallach does in this scene.

Later, as Blondie and Tuco split up the reward, the two men talk about the risks each takes in their endeavors. Tuco gives Blondie a warning that says a lot about his character: “Whoever double-crosses me and leaves me alive, he understands nothing about Tuco.” He laughs and in a nice bit, chews on one of Blondie’s cigar. I always wondered if that last bit was improvised by Wallach as it has a spontaneous feel to it. However, when Blondie decides to end his partnership with Tuco, he foolishly does not heed the outlaw’s warning and leaves him alive, even if it is the middle of nowhere. Blondie is a fool if he thinks that will kill Tuco, or maybe he just doesn’t care and figures that they will never meet again.

Angel Eyes witnesses Blondie and Tuco’s routine and responds to a woman who expresses relief that Tuco is being hanged by telling her, “People with ropes around their necks don’t always hang.” She asks him to explain and he replies, “Even a filthy beggar like that has got a protective angel.” Blondie is only heroic in an ironic sense. Leone underlines this notion at one point when he uses a faux angelical musical cue by Morricone to play over a shot of Blondie about to “rescue” Tuco from a hangman’s noose. Angel Eyes tells the woman, “A golden-haired angel watches over him.” Blondie is a mercenary but he does have his moments of compassion. He may be an efficient killer but unlike Angel Eyes he only kills when it is absolutely necessary or for profit.

Leone plays with our notions of good and evil with these three characters. Blondie isn’t truly good in the traditional sense but he is within the context of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Angel Eyes is truly bad, a pure killing machine in it only for the gold and not above repeatedly and viciously slapping a woman around in order to get information out of her. There is a glint in Van Cleef’s eye that suggests Angel Eyes enjoys making others afraid through physical intimidation. He is also very cunning and smart. He knows it would be pointless to torture Blondie when he is held captive at the Union Army Prisoner of War camp because he would never talk, as opposed to Tuco who will do or say anything to save his own skin.

Tuco is actually the film’s only sympathetic character. Sure, he is a liar and he’s crude but he also straddles the line between good and evil — at times he is one or the other — much like most people in real life. He is also quite smart as evident in the scene where he expertly assembles his own custom revolver. The others underestimate him and think that he’s stupid, but he’s quite cunning. If anything, he’s a survivor that repeatedly escapes death during the course of the film. While Angel Eyes is pure evil, Tuco is just out for himself and therein lies the crucial difference between the two characters.
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is a marvel of editing. For example, the scene where Tuco and his three henchmen ambush Blondie is edited in such a way that there is an incredible amount of tension created from cutting back and forth from Blondie cleaning his gun, Tuco’s men quietly approaching his room, and the army marching outside. We are left wondering if the sounds of the army will make it impossible for Blondie to hear the approaching ambush in time and if he will be able to re-assemble his gun in time. Almost no music is used during this scene, just ambient sounds and this helps ratchet up the tension even more.

A lot of people forget that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is also a devastating critique of the American Civil War. For example, there’s a scene where Angel Eyes walks through bombed out ruins and finds all kinds of wounded Confederate soldiers. He talks to their Commanding Officer who accepts a bottle of alcohol in exchange for information. We see this again when Tuco takes Blondie to a mission to nurse him back to health after nearly killing him in the desert. They go through a room full of wounded Confederate soldiers – more casualties of this costly war. There’s also Blondie and Tuco’s time spent at a Union Army P.O.W. camp where Angel Eyes poses as an officer who tortures prisoners for information. Finally, the harshest commentary on the Civil War comes when Blondie and Tuco are captured by the Union Army and meet the Captain who is a jaded drunk. He tells them about the “stupid, useless bridge” that his men fight over with the Confederate Army two times a day because it is a strategic spot, but he dreams of seeing it destroyed. And that’s just what Blondie and Tuco do in a brilliantly choreographed sequence. At this point, the Captain has been mortally wounded but before he dies, he hears the bridge detonating and gives a smile before dying. It was Blondie’s idea to blow up the bridge for the Captain and this act is not only a nice thing to do for the man but also allows him and Tuco to cross the river as the two armies leave, no longer having anything to fight over.

Even though The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is operatic on an epic scale it is the relationships between the three main characters that makes the film so good. In particular, the relationship between Tuco and Blondie is one of the film’s strengths. They often double cross each other and have a real love-hate relationship but at the film’s end, Blondie shows mercy for Tuco’s fate. It goes without saying that it is the talent of the three lead actors that makes these characters so interesting to watch. Clint Eastwood comes from the less is more school of acting and suggests a lot from doing or saying very little. In sharp contrast is Eli Wallach’s flamboyant, over-the-top performance as Tuco. If Eastwood is all about minimalism, then Wallach lets it all hang out. Finally, Lee Van Cleef is a confident, malevolent force of nature — the pure essence of evil.

One of Eli Wallach’s finest moments in the film is when he tries to get Eastwood’s character, who is near-death, to tell him the name on the grave that contains the chest of gold. Wallach goes through a whole range of emotions as Tuco tries every trick that he knows to get the name (including using a friendly approach, begging and even crying) but no dice. It’s a wonderful scene and one that shows Wallach’s range and skill as an actor. Even more revealing is the next scene between Tuco and his brother, which provides all kinds of insight into his character. Tuco’s brother condemns his sibling’s wicked ways and past, but Tuco replies passionately, “Where we came from, if one did not want to die of poverty, one became a priest or a bandit. You chose your way, I chose mine. Mine was harder!” For all of his bravado, this is a moment where Tuco shows a vulnerable side and it adds another layer to this fascinating character.

What I’ve always found interesting is that we never find out if Tuco could beat Blondie in a gunfight. At the film’s climactic showdown, Blondie beats Angel Eyes but he tricks Tuco by not having any bullets in the outlaw’s gun. Is it because he knows that Tuco is faster on the draw? Or is he simply hedging his bets knowing that he could outdraw Angel Eyes but that would leave him little time to shoot Tuco before he shoots him. Alas, we will never know. Living up to his moniker, Blondie doesn’t kill him even though he could. He messes with him a little bit by putting him in a hangman’s noose just like Tuco did to him earlier in the film. However, he gives Tuco enough slack so that he doesn’t die and leaves him some of the gold. Blondie can’t kill Tuco because, despite everything he does in the film, he is easy to like. Again, Blondie only kills when necessary. Of course this doesn’t stop Tuco from shouting out one more curse as a parting shot and a great way to end the film.

The three men system that Leone applies to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of the best plot devices ever. While it’s true that Blondie is no saint he is as close to the traditional definition of “good” as you’re going to get out of a bounty hunter. Angel Eyes is pure evil and Tuco has worked with both of them so what does that make him aside from the “ugly” moniker? He has aspects of both Angel Eyes and Blondie. It’s true that Tuco robs a store for his gun but it is done from a perspective that makes is somewhat sympathetic. Tuco is like most of us, forever unable to decide if he’s all good or all evil. He allies himself to both so that he can call on either depending on the situation. Hence, his shifting alliances with Blondie and Angel Eyes. He knows that Blondie and Angel Eyes will never become a team because Angel Eyes is only using Blondie for the name on the tombstone and Blondie is just looking for a way out.
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I think that one of the things I love most about this film is how Leone takes his time and lets scenes play out, using editing only when necessary, when it fits the tone and mood of a given scene, like the aforementioned climactic duel where we get all of these insane close-ups of each man’s hands, eyes, guns and so on. The tension builds and builds for what seems like forever until you’re ready to go insane and yell at the screen, “shoot already!” And then, of course, it all plays out in a few seconds. How brilliant is that? The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of those rare films that works on several levels, some that only reveal themselves upon subsequent viewings. While many champion Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) as Leone’s greatest achievement, I have always felt that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was the best thing he ever made – a perfect marriage of epic scale and an intimate, character-driven story.

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A PERFECT WORLD – A FILM REVIEW BY J.D. LAFRANCE

apw059In 1993, Clint Eastwood was enjoying a resurgence in popularity. His revisionist western Unforgiven (1992) won three Academy Awards and he received critical and commercial acclaim for his performance in the action-thriller, In the Line of Fire (1993). When he was approached with the screenplay for A Perfect World (1993), he was still making Line of Fire and doing promotion for the Academy Award nominations for Unforgiven. As a result, Eastwood anticipated only directing A Perfect World. However, when Kevin Costner came on board, he felt that Eastwood would be perfect for a smaller role in the film. Eastwood agreed because it wouldn’t require him to spend a lot of time in front of the camera.

A Perfect World is essentially a road movie set in Texas, 1963, three weeks before the John F. Kennedy assassination (an event that subtly hangs over the film with ominous foreshadowing) that recalls a simpler, even more innocent time. Thematically there is much more going on as the film wrestles with father/son relationships, child abuse and religion. The film begins with two convicts making a daring escape from prison only to take refuge in the neighboring suburbs. Terry Pugh (Keith Szarabajka) is the more amoral one as he wants to kill the driver of the vehicle they commandeer to leave the prison. He then later tries to rape a woman whose house he breaks into. The other convict, Butch Hayes (Kevin Costner), steps in before things go too far with Pugh and the woman. Butch even convinces her little boy, Phillip (T.J. Lowther), to give him the handgun that was dropped during the ensuing scuffle.

This is a crucial moment because it establishes early on the instant bond between Butch and Phillip. Despite the circumstances, there is something about Butch that Phillip intrinsically trusts. What this is will become more apparent later on in the film. When a neighbor intervenes unexpectedly, Butch and Pugh kidnap Phillip and take off in a stolen car. Texas Ranger Red Garnett (Clint Eastwood) is called in to track down and bring in the fugitives. However, the Governor (Dennis Letts) assigns him a criminologist by the name of Sally Gerber (Laura Dern). He immediately resents her intellectual approach to the situation as opposed to her being a woman, which would have been the norm at the time. He tells her, “This is not a penal escape situation, this happens to be a manhunt. And no talking around in circles is gonna fix all that.” Eastwood immediately establishes an antagonistic relationship between Red and Sally, which parallels the antagonistic relationship between Butch and Pugh. In no time at all, both conflicts will be resolved – one amicably, the other violently.

Like many of Eastwood’s characters, Red works on instinct and common sense. He resents authority figures and bureaucracy. He likes to be left alone and do things his own way. He sees Sally as an annoyance and a possible obstacle in his path. However, she clears the air pretty quickly, letting him know that she’s no pushover when she tells him, “But the one thing I won’t do is be your straight man so you can play hero to a bunch of morons who think you’re some kind of hillbilly Sherlock Holmes.” These lines deflate Eastwood’s traditional stoic lawman façade and Red even offers a compromise of sorts. He encourages Sally to speak up and even though he might not agree with her theories, he’s willing to listen. A Perfect World proceeds to cut back and forth between Butch and Phillip’s developing friendship and the partnership between Red and Sally with the two storylines dovetailing finally at the film’s conclusion.

One of the hallmarks of Eastwood’s directorial efforts is an emphasis on character and the relationships that are created between them. This film is no different with John Lee Hancock’s superbly written screenplay. He would go on to adapt Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil for the film of the same name that Eastwood also directed in 1997. Sadly, they haven’t teamed up since but these two efforts are proof that they were a good match for each other. Hancock’s screenplay is filled with clever dialogue, like when Butch tells Phillip his theory about how a car is a time machine. Everything behind them is the past, everything in front is the future and inside the car is the present. “We’re time traveling through Texas,” Butch proudly proclaims. And in a way that’s what the film is doing – taking us back to a time that doesn’t exist anymore, to a time before President Kennedy was killed and when people were more hopeful and optimistic. His assassination (and that of other key figures of the 1960s) changed all that and we watch these events transpiring with the knowledge of how radically history will change in a few short months.

Hancock’s screenplay should also be noted for how well it develops the relationship between Butch and Phillip. Early on, Butch puts his trust in the boy by leaving him and Pugh in the car with the gun while he goes into a store for supplies. Pugh is able to get the drop on Phillip and take the gun away from him only to find out that there are no bullets in it. Butch assumed that this would happen and did not want to see Phillip get hurt. He may be a convict but he is not as heartless as Pugh. In turn, Phillip trusts Butch and stays with him even when he has the option, on a couple of occasions, to escape. Butch makes Phillip feel important and needed. Once they are on the road, having ditched Pugh, Butch refers to the boy as the navigator of the car. Later on, he asks Phillip to scout a car that he is interested in stealing. Butch doesn’t make Phillip feel like a passive observer but encourages him to become involved in their adventures.

Another significant factor in their friendship is Phillip’s lack of a father figure – something that Butch can also relate to and this provides common ground between them. Butch also speaks honestly to the boy. In one scene, when Phillip says that his mother told him his father would return, Butch replies that she lied and that he is never coming back. He doesn’t come out and say it but we sense that Butch knows this from his own personal experience. He also broadens the boy’s horizons by allowing him to experience things that his Jehovah’s Witness practicing mother would never condone, like drinking soda or wearing a Halloween costume and going trick or treating.

The relationship between these two characters works so well not just because of the excellent script but also because of the strong performances from Costner and T.J. Lowther. On the surface, Butch seems like one of Costner’s cocky, cool characters that he is often known for (i.e. Fandango, Silverado or Bull Durham), yet underneath lurks a dark, dangerous streak that surfaces when he sees a child being abused (the sure sign that Butch was probably abused when he was a child as well). Eastwood never lets us forget that Butch is a criminal. Costner is able to balance this element of danger with his trademark charm, like when he helps Pugh differentiate between a fact and a threat in a scene that is slightly threatening because violence is involved but is also funny as well because of the absurd tone. If Costner had any doubts about his character going into this film, Eastwood assured him that movie stars like Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney weren’t afraid to play convicts and “have a bad side,” the director said, “and I had Kevin play a much harder edge than he has played.”

Lowther matches Costner’s performance with his superb take on a shy, young boy who develops a strong bond with his captor. He has such an expressive face, which he uses to great effect during emotional scenes, like the internal conflict that becomes apparent when Phillip is given the chance to escape or stay with Butch. He has been cut off from everything and everyone he knows. He has little choice but to stay with the convict. Lowther doesn’t have too much dialogue but he is able to convey so much with a look and with his expressive eyes. He is more than capable of holding his own with Costner and their scenes together are well-played as we see their friendship develop over time. Eastwood was never interested in playing the sympathy angle with this friendship. He said, “You can’t have him treat the kid as if he’s paternal. I didn’t want it to come off like he’s cuddling the kid.” Above all, the director did not want the boy to “become precious. I wanted an un-Disneyesque kid.”

The script also provides motivation for Red’s personal interest in this case. We learn that the lawman put Butch in juvenile hall when he was young in an attempt to save him from his abusive father but it turned him into a career criminal. Red even paid off a judge so that Butch would stay in longer and so he feels guilty and responsible for what happened to him. Even though he never comes out and says it, one feels that Red wants to be the person to find Butch and try set things right. This backstory also explains the convict’s hatred for any kind of child abuse (Pugh hitting Phillip or a mother physically scolding her two children) and this manifests itself in a particularly strong way towards the end of the film when he and Phillip take refuge in a poor family’s house in what is surely the darkest scene in the film. After witnessing the father repeatedly abusing his little boy, Butch hits and threatens the father, his own rage threatening to boil over. A scene that started off warm and inviting turns into one that is uncomfortable and filled with tension as Phillip sees just how dangerous Butch can be. He ties up the entire family and we see how this affects Phillip as he observes the fear in the eyes of the mother and her child as Butch threatens the father repeatedly.

Phillip stops Butch before anything fatal happens to the family but the question lingers, was he going to kill them or just tie them up so that they couldn’t get away? Regardless, Phillip shoots Butch and runs away, setting the stage for the film’s climactic showdown between Red and Butch. Even here, Eastwood defies our expectations by drawing out the stand-off. The relationship between Butch and the boy continue to play out as he apologizes for shooting him. They have one last emotional conversation and because we have gotten to know these characters, we care about what happens to them. Their final moments are very touching, even moving. Costner and Eastwood finally have a scene together and this is what we’ve been waiting for the entire film. Not much is said between them and this is because we already know their motivations, Eastwood has been building to this moment. Visually, A Perfect World begins and ends the same with a slow motion shot of Butch lying in a field with money floating around him in the wind but by the film’s conclusion we know how and why he got there.

These sequences feel like something out of a dream and coupled with the leisurely pace probably didn’t endear it to mainstream audiences who were expecting another crowd-pleasing popcorn movie like In the Line of Fire. A Perfect World is closer to Unforgiven thematically as both films explore how the sins of the past affect the present with Eastwood playing tortured characters that try to fix old mistakes that had life-altering consequences but end up resolving things violently. In the case of Unforgiven, Eastwood’s character takes an active part in this resolution but with A Perfect World events spiral out of his control. This film is one of his most underrated efforts to date with its almost lyrical approach making it ripe for rediscovery by another generation of filmgoers receptive to an Eastwood film with complex relationships and a tragic conclusion reminiscent of more recent efforts like Mystic River (2003) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).

A chat with veteran film and voice actor Keith Szarabajka 

I’m proud to present my recent interview with accomplished actor Keith Szarabajka, who has many wonderful appearance in films including The Dark Knight as Detective Stephens, Argo, Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World, We Were Soldiers, Staying Together, Billy Galvin, Missing and many more. He’s shown in up in television shows including Sons Of Anarchy, Prison Break, Charmed, 24, CSI, Archer, and more. A huge portion of his prolific career consists of an absolutely staggering amount of voice work, including video games and animated shows such as Halo 4, Bioshock, Fallout, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, L.A. Noire, Dead Space, Mass Effect, Darksiders, Metal Gear Solid, Batman: Arkham Knight, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Spider Man, Batman Beyond, and so many more. He is currently directing a play entitled Watching OJ  the Ensemble Studio Theatre in Los Angeles. He’s a great guy with a storied career. Enjoy!
Nate: How did you get into acting, did you always know it was something you wanted to do, or did you stumble into it? 
Keith: I was an altar boy for six years in grade school and high school, plus I was an officer in military school so I became accustomed to performing ritual in public. Then when I was 14, I discovered that being small left you out of a lot of school varsity sports, sports in which I participated vigorously prior to high school. I drifted into acting, as I had a knack for reading things well aloud. My first performance in public was at four when my mother made my cousin, Joyce, and I sing a duet of “I’ve Been Working on The Railroad “ in a talent night at the Bedford Park Community center near Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been hooked on applause and laughter ever since.

Nate: A Perfect World: Your character was extremely intense, and leaves a vivid impression despite only appearing in the first half. How was experience creating that character, and working with Clint Eastwood? 
Keith: Terry was very intense. I just reached into my inner self and pulled out my rage demons. It was fun, but as I said, very intense. I loved working with Clint. He’s one of my favorite directors ever. No B.S. with Clint. Two, maybe three takes at most. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it (and when he got it). I hope that I someday get the chance to work with him again. Though probably not, because he’s not big on working with people with whom he worked previously, especially villains (and who aren’t stars like Morgan Freeman or Gene Hackman.)

Nate:  At a certain point in your career, voice over work became a huge component of your work. How did you get into VO work? Do you enjoy it as much as in front of th camera in live action? How are they comparable? 
Keith: It was a natural segue while I lived and worked in New York. People in New York come to the theater, including ad execs and other creatives, so it just happened naturally. Of course I had a wonderful agent in New York for VO, Carole Ingber, who still represents me there. I have a long time VO agent in L.A. too, Tom Lawless @ VOX, Inc. , through whom I do most of my video game work.The great thing about VO work is you don’t have to learn lines or wear makeup. But don’t get me wrong, I like doing both acting and VO work. I like movies because you get to go on location and travel. I often confused my theatrical agent and my travel agent.
Nate: You mentioned that you have a play in the works that you are directing, when we spoke online. Care to speak about that? And any projects coming up that you are excited for. 

Keith: I just directed a new play at Ensemble Studio Theatre- L.A. Project, called WATCHING O.J. by David Mc Millan (where I am also interim co-artistic director). It’s a wonderful worms’ eye view of the O.J. verdict set in a small white-owned dry cleaners and its environs in a mixed urban neighborhood in L.A. on the day O.J. Simpson murder verdict came out, October 3, 1995. It was avery polarizing subject both in L.A. and the while US. It still is. We opened on the 20th anniversary of the verdict. (At this writing, last Saturday night. Still waiting on the reviews.)
Nate: You have a very distinct voice that stands out in the best possible way. It sure lends itself to voice over,  and I can see why that has been a major factor in your work. Have you done voice work, as in theatre classes or training? Or did the video game/animation work just kind of happen? 

Keith: As I said previously, it just kind of happened. I haven’t taken many VO classes. The one time I did, a promo and trailer class, I ceased working in that sector of the VO world. I guess it’s bad luck. I had the good fortune to live in the same building as the man, Isaiah Sheffer, who ran the Selected Shorts program at Symphony Space in NYC which aired on NPR here(our BBC Radio). We read short stories before live audiences at Symphony Space in NYC and at the Getty Center in L.A. That was in 1987, and I did Selected Shorts for as long as it ran until Isaiah died two years ago. The first time I did it, it was a cold February evening. I lived two blocks from Symphony Space, so after I did a sound check at 6pm there, I went back home and ate dinner. I expected very little from the show. When I returned for half hour at 730pm, people were lined up around the block to see it! I swear they were hanging from the rafters when we did the show! The atmosphere was electric. A lot of people in the industry in NYC came to see it and/or listened to Selected Shorts on the radio, so that’s a lot of the reason I made it into VO work.

Nate: The Dark Knight: you have an iconic exchange of dialogue with The Joker; how was your experience filming that with Heath Ledger, working with Chris Nolan, and portraying a Detective in the Gotham universe? Nolan has a reputation for seeking out actors. Did he come to you/your agent or were you submitted? 

Keith: I was submitted by my agent and auditioned. I didn’t hear from them right away, as initially they were trying for another actor, but ended up not making a deal with him. I received a call on Tuesday six weeks or so later, asking if I had a valid passport. I said yes, and by that Friday i was on a plane to London for a month. Heath was a complete pleasure to work with. Very friendly , very hard-working, very creative. It’s a loss for the industry and the world that he’s gone. Chris Nolan is … a very intelligent, very creative man as well. I would love to work with him again.
Nate: Some of your work is in some iconic games and franchises. Have you ever been asked to attend any conventions,  or comic con type things? Would you if asked? 

Keith: Sean Harry of Star Fury brought me to various UK venues twelve different times between 2003 and 2013, mainly for my work as Holtz in Angel. I loved meeting the fans and doing talks, and I got to see a lot of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on those trips. I have never been invited to a com for video games. I would go if invited, but I don’t attend these things on my own dime. I once went to Dusseldorf, Germany on a Star Trek convention invitation in 2013.
Nate: from film work, what else do you like to do in life? Hobbies, interests? 
Keith: I love to cook. I used to parachute and rock climb, but have given those hobbies up for tamer interests, like mountain biking and scuba diving (Advanced Open Water certification). I also coached baseball and soccer for 16 years, but my sons are now aged out of my league. 
Nate: Thanks so much for chatting, Keith!

PTS Presents PRODUCER’S NOTES WITH BILL GERBER

BILL GERBER POWERCAST

bill gerber (2)Podcasting Them Softly is proud to present a chat with feature film producer BILL GERBER. Bill has some huge credits under his belt — Clint Eastwood’s GRAN TORINO and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT are major feathers in his cap — and over the past 30 years he’s etched himself into the Hollywood landscape with a diverse background that includes work in the worlds of both film and music. Attracted to exciting material and excellent filmmakers, he spent time at the studio level working as an executive on both Oliver Stone’s JFK, Michael Mann’s HEAT, Clint Eastwood’s UNFORGIVEN and Curtis Hanson’s LA CONFIDENTIAL, before branching out as an independent producer with a first-look deal at Warner’s. Passionate, insightful, and beyond knowledgeable, we had a great time chatting with Bill, and we hope you enjoy!