The actor: For someone who professes not to be very good at what she does, Margot Kidder has had an impressive career filled with iconic roles and memorable movies. After Kidder moved to Los Angeles from her native Canada, the legendary Nicholas Canyon beach house she shared with Jennifer Salt became the epicenter of New Hollywood, a place where future industry giants like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, producers Michael and Julia Phillips, and Kidder’s onetime boyfriend/collaborator Brian De Palma gathered to smoke pot, party, and dream. Kidder’s first starring role came in Brian De Palma’s 1973 cult classic Sisters. She followed that with another horror film, 1974’s Black Christmas,but it was 1978’s Superman and its sequelsthat rocketed her to international superstardom. Kidder scored another hit in 1979 with The Amityville Horror,but struggled professionally in the years that followed, gravitating toward character parts and television, as leading roles in movies disappeared. In 2008, Kidder landed a juicy supporting role as a small-town lesbian in On The Other Hand, Death, an adaptation of a popular mystery series about an openly gay detective. It’s just been released on DVD.
MK: I was with Brian De Palma at the time, and he said he wrote the role specifically for me. I don’t know what that says about the way he saw me, since the role was of a castrating killer. Brian came one morning to the house that I shared with Jennifer Salt, who is still a good friend and is currently a writer-producer on Nip/Tuck.He said “Here’s your Christmas present.” He wrote the character to have a Swedish accent, but since I couldn’t pull that off, he switched it to French-Canadian. It was such a romantic time in my life. Everyone was young and passionate and convinced they were going to change film forever. Brian and Marty Scorsese and Robert De Niro would come over and hang out, and we’d all work together.
AVC: That’s a cinematic period that’s been romanticized and documented in books like Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.
MK: Yeah, but [Biskind] missed the whole essence of that. He made it seem sordid. I was saying to Paul Schrader that he missed the idealism and the passion of that era in Hollywood, but also in American life, that ’60s sense of optimism and hope. He made it all about drugs, when to most of us, that just meant pot and magic mushrooms. He made it seem like we were all shooting heroin into our eyeballs. But that’s part of the whole ’60s and what it represented: feminism and civil rights and trying to stop the war. Hopefully we’re starting to see some of that optimism again, through the excitement around Obama.
The Gravy Train (1974)—“Margue”
MK: I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen that one. I had a blast hanging out with Stacy Keach and Freddy Forrest. We were all trying to keep it together because the director [Jack Starrett] was out of his mind on drugs. I played a prostitute, so I was dressed like a prostitute, and one of the other actors [Richard Romanus] tried to sell me, and I had to wriggle out of that transaction.
Black Christmas (1974)—“Barbara ‘Barb’ Coard”
MK: That was fun. I really bonded with Andrea Martin, filming in Toronto and Ontario. Olivia Hussey was a bit of an odd one. She was obsessed with the idea of falling in love with Paul McCartney through her psychic. We were a little hard on her for things like that.
AVC: Franco Zeffirelli apparently toyed with the idea of casting Paul McCartney in Romeo And Juliet, so he would have played opposite Hussey.
MK: I did not know that. I’m not really into horror movies.
AVC: I’m guessing you didn’t see the remake.
MK: No, I don’t see that many films.
The Amityville Horror (1979)—“Kathy Lutz”
MK: What a piece of shit! I couldn’t believe that anyone would take that seriously. I was laughing my whole way through it, much to the annoyance of Rod Steiger, who took the whole thing very seriously. At the time, my agent proposed sort of a “one for me, one for them” policy. That was one for them.
AVC: Yet it was a big hit, in part because it was supposedly based on a true story.
MK: It was the crazy Christians who made it a hit. They wanted people to believe in the devil and possessions and haunted houses and all that hooey.
AVC: You’ve been in some seminal, iconic horror movies, but it sounds like you’re an accidental scream queen.
MK: The only movie that ever really scared me was The Exorcist,but even then, I was laughing part of the time.
The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)—“Maude”
MK: I was pretty hopeless in that, so they should have cut me out. I wandered around not knowing what I was doing and feeling pretty lost, and they rightly cut my part down. I don’t think I was in very good emotional shape. I think I was a bit of a mess. I’d done about six movies back-to-back, and was in a state of complete exhaustion. Mostly, I remember the lovely Ed Herrmann befriending me and taking care of me. I was crying a lot. I was a real mess when we made that. But this is all such ancient history, Jesus Lord. Was this before or after The Sting?
MK: Yeah because Julia and Michael Phillips, who produced The Sting, and [co-producer] Tony Bill were visitors to the famous house on Nicholas Beach, and that’s how we got to know them. So everything was kind of very incestuous.
AVC: It seems like a lot of great art was coming out of all this interbreeding.
MK: It was, because it wasn’t all about making money, and because the studios still had development programs for young people. Because you weren’t talking about the budgets of small nations the way you are now when you make a movie. There was a lot more freedom to fail. And if you have freedom to fail, you have freedom to do unusual and good things. Now there’s just this stuff being churned out, except for the few things people fight for. It’s no accident that all the awards are for smaller movies. When you have $100 million in the budget for a movie, there’s something obscenely wrong with the picture. But we didn’t in those days, so it was fun.
92 In The Shade (1975)—“Miranda”
MK: Well, I fell in love with the director [novelist-screenwriter Thomas McGuane] and moved to Montana and had his baby, so that was kind of what I took away from that experience. [Laughs.] Warren Oates was great. He was. Well, again, it was Harry Dean Stanton; Warren Oates; Burgess Meredith, who was so wonderful; Peter Fonda; and Thomas McGuane, who was intellectually very exciting. It was fun. I was so in love I couldn’t see straight, so I didn’t notice that it was being incompetently directed and didn’t make a lot of sense.
But I do remember when I first read the script. I was in the house at Nicholas Beach, and that gang was starting to break up, and I read this terribly well-written dialogue, not figuring out that films are about structure and the thing was totally unstructured, and I thought, “Who is this writer? God, he’s great.” I insisted on getting a meeting, and then walked in for the meeting, and that was it. I just fell in love with the guy the minute I saw him. He was the handsomest guy I’d ever seen, and gorgeous and sexy, and he had long hair and cowboy boots and tight jeans. So it was truly an act of love, to say the least, and it ended up having a permanent impact on my life, obviously.
AVC: Was McGuane friends with Peter Fonda at that point?
MK: No. He cast Peter. He wasn’t really good friends with him at that point. He just cast him.
AVC: I’ve read in Peter Fonda’s autobiography—
MK: There’s a lot of bullshit in Peter Fonda’s autobiography. A great deal of it is complete fabrication.
AVC: It seemed very self-aggrandizing.
MK: Well, it’s not only self-aggrandizing, it’s not true. So there you go.
AVC: Have you ever thought about writing your memoirs?
MK: I have. In fact, that’s what I was working on when you called, because I have no choice, because I, like everybody else, have lost most of my pension plan in this economic crash. So I have to. I’m going to call it I Slept With Everyone On Television. I was in the airport in Minneapolis, and I thought, “Shit. What you have to do is have something that catches the eye of people going from Minneapolis to New York that looks like a good, easy read on a plane.” So that title would sell out right away. I need to make some money. And if I put it all in the title, then I don’t have to spill the beans, really. And also, it’s funny.
AVC: I would totally buy that book.
MK: Yeah, there you go. See? My point exactly. [Laughs.]
Superman (1978)—“Lois Lane”
MK: There you go. I’ll have that inscribed on my damn grave. I still get stopped for being Lois Lane, and I’m 60 and have two grandchildren. So it’s kind of weird.
AVC: The casting of Superman is legendary. It seems like every actor in the world tested for it.
MK: Which I didn’t know, because I was living with Tom on a ranch with my little baby. I didn’t have a clue. I just knew that I had to get back to work, because this ranch-life shit was not my cup of tea. So I had called someone in the business and said, “Please, you don’t know me, but could you get me a job?” And he said, “Well, they’re casting for Superman.” I’d never read comics, so I didn’t know much about Superman. But I read this very funny script, and I went in and did a couple scenes, and next thing I knew, I was being flown to England to screen-test, and that was that. It was also the end of my marriage. Thomas wanted me to be a subservient writer’s wife. Which was never going to happen, so our relationship had a distinct expiration date on it. “Subservient” is not something I’ve ever really been.
AVC: What was it like making Superman?
MK: Well, it’s so hard. We were a year over schedule. We were there a year and a half, the first time. And in a year and a half, you go through everything you go through in a life. So you can’t really go, “Oh, it must have been fun to work with Chris Reeve.” In a year and a half, you bonded like a family, so you know someone far too well to think something as simplistic as “Oh, it’s just fun.” You know their secrets. I mean, it was everything. It was truly—it’s a cliché to say we were family, but we really were. Especially those of us from the States, who were over in England all that time, and away from home. It was wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful. I love Dick Donner with my heart and soul, and I always will. It was a whole big hunk of life, for all of us. And we grew up, and I went through a divorce. And Chris had his first baby. You know, we shared a lot of stuff, all of us. So not only did we end up with a hit movie, which surprised the hell out of me, but it was—I don’t know how to describe it—a big turning point for a lot of us. When you finally end something like that and then find yourself world-famous, it’s pretty weird, lemme tell ya. Fame is weird, is what it really is. It’s the weirdest thing in the world.
AVC: Doing a shoot that long and intense, it’s almost like you’re fighting in a war, and you have that kind of a bond with the people around you.
MK: Yeah! And it was! We were fighting the producers, and Donner was exhausted. But we shared birthdays and marriages and divorces and Mother’s Day and Christmas. You know, it was big stuff.
AVC: Wasn’t it filmed at the same time, or back to back, with Superman II?
MK: Well, it went Superman, then Star Wars would move into the studio, then Superman II would come in, then Star Wars II would come in. Umm… it was… wow. And it was London, which in those days was extraordinary and fun and lively. It was—I don’t know, it was kind of everything. It was our lives for a long time.
Superman II (1980)—“Lois Lane”
MK: Well, that wasn’t a bit—the parts we went back and shot with Richard Lester weren’t as much fun, because we were all pissed off that Donner had been fired. You can see it in our faces, where the tension is just… [Loud, emphatic disgusted sound.] Did you see Donner’s version of Superman II? Go see it. It’s so much better. It’s breathtaking. It’s so good. We would have finished it, except for a couple of scenes. I mean, it’s a far superior movie. So them firing Donner was such a betrayal to this family we’d constructed, to the script, to the notion of how it was being filmed, which was with great love and verisimilitude. We all really believed in it. And then Richard Lester, who’s a wonderful director and a very witty, delightful, charming guy, did it all kind of tongue-in-cheek and making fun of it as he did it, because I think he was slightly embarrassed to be making—Brits! He’s a Brit, you know—to be making a movie of an American cartoon character. So it was snide. Also, the producers wanted it done cheaply and fast, so it was done cheaply and fast. Three cameras at once. So all the love kind of went out, and thus all the air out of the balloon. So we were not very happy campers. And boy, did you ever see it in our faces. And you can tell which scenes in that were shot by Donner, and which weren’t. But they just released, a couple years ago, Donner’s version, which is so superior, it’s breathtaking. Go look at it. Oh, I’m so wonderful, too. God, I was heartbreaking. I thought, “Fuck, Kidder, you could have had an Oscar nomination.” I’m so good in Donner’s version, and I’m so bad in Lester’s.
AVC: Is that because the tone was so different?
MK: I think we were all in a different space. The tone is different. And Lester’s known for being clever and hip, and Donner was being, not reverential really, but really true to his vision.
AVC: There’s definitely an element of American mythology to Donner’s Superman.
MK: Yeah. So why would you hire a British director? Hel-LO!
Superman III (1983)—“Lois Lane”
MK: Well, I wasn’t in that one, of course, except for 12 lines, because I said the producers were beneath contempt as human beings to Time Out magazine. So they cut me.
AVC: Which has to be incredibly frustrating.
MK: Ehh. You know, it wasn’t a very good movie. I was having my fourth go at romance with Richard Pryor on that one. So that was okay. I got to hang out with Rich in London and drink a lot of Cristal champagne.
AVC: The year before, you had been in Some Kind Of Hero with Pryor.
MK: I fell in love with him in two seconds flat.
AVC: What about him appealed—
MK: About Richard? Oh, I defy any woman in those days—in fact, I just watched him last night. Oh, what the hell’s it on? You know Henry Heinsberg, Hesiman, the guy who writes for The New Yorker? Heisberg? [Hendrik Hertzberg. —ed.] There’s a thing on the New Yorker blog where you can click on Richard in 1977 in a sketch about the first black president. It’s wonderful. I just watched him this morning, dear Richie. He was smart and funny and sexy, and you wanted to take care of him. He was wonderful. Oh gosh. [Whispers.] This is why we’re calling the book I Slept With Everyone On Television. He was just—Richard was irresistible.
AVC: He had a vulnerability—
MK: Yeah, to say the least. I remember when we were doing the love scene in Some Kind Of Hero, we got in bed nervously. Then he looked up, and it was very genuine, and he went, “[Gasps.] Richard Pryor’s in bed with Lois Lane!” And it was so cute! [Laughs.] He was really adorable. He was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man. Much underrated as a human being. I mean, he was really generous and kind and thoughtful, and I think the best actor I’d worked with, in the sense of when you were in a scene with him, it was like doing a dance. He didn’t miss an eyelash-flicker. He was so in the present. And I remember saying to him, “God, you’re really a good actor. Why does everybody insist you be funny all the time?” And he said, “Yeah, I know my craft.” I mean, he was really a good actor, but everybody wanted him to be funny, and that didn’t work. Halfway through, the powers that be at Paramount decided he had to make [Some Kind Of Hero] funnier. And he was heartbroken about it.
AVC: He was a great dramatic actor, but he got so few chances.
MK: Nobody would let him. And most directors didn’t direct him, they just let him go, thinking suddenly he could turn in a brilliant performance just by—I don’t know what they thought. They were a little intimidated by him. I remember visiting him on The Toy, and my dear Donner was directing it, and Richard was really frustrated, because Donner wasn’t directing him. Donner had directed me so meticulously, I don’t think I could have failed with Donner. But I think he, too, was a little flummoxed as to how to approach Richard. So they didn’t get along, which broke my heart.
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)—“Lois Lane”
MK: Oh, God! [Laughs.] What a dreadful piece of shit.
AVC: You must have been a little relieved that the Salkinds weren’t in charge anymore, and Golan-Globus had taken over the franchise.
MK: I was, and I actually loved Menahem Golan, who was outrageous! I don’t even know if he’s still alive. Is he? A wild, outrageous human being, who’s sort of irresistible. [Laughs.] I think he’s probably a crook. I mean, he’s all sorts of things. But he was just bigger than life. But the movie was not good, and Chris [Reeve] was really full of himself because he’d written part of it, and thought it was going to be a hit. So Chris and I were really bickering on that one. I was yelling things like, “Don’t tell me how to act!”
AVC: I guess the idea was, to get Reeve back, they had to give him a bigger role behind the scenes.
MK: Yeah but once it was a flop, Chris pretended he hadn’t written it.
AVC: It had a very heavy-handed sort of anti—
MK: It certainly did. It was a bad one.
AVC: Quest For Peace was so much cheaper than the other movies. At what point did you realize, “Okay, this isn’t what I signed up for”?
MK: Well you realized it when you read that dreadful script, for starters. So you got paid, and you went and did it. I don’t regret it. I usually have fun in bad situations, because things make me laugh that don’t make other people laugh. I’m a little bit sick. So it was probably another one—you know, you were in London. You were getting paid enormous sums of money. What’s to complain about?
AVC: Golan’s kind of a fascinating figure. He—
MK: He’s outrageous! He is really outrageous. I did a version, a very bad version, of Crime And Punishment that he directed in Russia, with Vanessa Redgrave and John Neville and John Hurt and Crispin Glover. Now, he was not a good director, but again, you had this humongous personality. [Laughs.] Just this humongous, humongous personality, who took it upon himself to rewrite Dostoyevsky, and got very flustered whenever Crispin Glover would point out that the script was betraying the book. At one point, I remember he screamed my favorite line in movie history, when we were arguing about a scene. I had this great death, initially, where I died in great sobbing heaps on a bridge, and I go mad and die of tuberculosis, blood spurting out of my mouth and lungs. Every actor’s dream. And we got there, and there was some demonstration and then a counter-demonstration by the communists that day, and it was really exciting coming to Russia. And I’ve always loved Russia, and Russian history. So I was kind of, again, having a really good time. But I remember getting to the set, and Menahem said, “I’ve cut the death. We can’t do it anymore, because the communists are demonstrating,” or something. And so Crispin said “Cut the death? You can’t cut the death, it says right here in the book—” and he brings out this dog-eared copy of Crime And Punishment and Menahem says “This book, I’m sick of hearing about this book. I wrote the script!” Which was just my favorite thing I’ve ever heard. I mean, it was just fabulous.
And then he tried to cheat people, as Menahem will do. There was some lawsuit going on where he’d taken some American ship that he’d rented, shot it full of holes for a movie, returned it full of holes, and said it had been shot up in one of the many Palestinian-Israeli skirmishes. I mean, he’s one of those characters that would only be in movies, and who is delicious. And I don’t have a clue what he’s doing now. I’m living in a little town in the Rocky Mountains, so all this is very, very, very far from my immediate life.
AVC: But he always had a bit of con-man—
MK: Well, in a cheerful way! Remember when The Producers first came out, Zero Mostel? There’s a bit of that. I mean he’s just—yeah, sure, he’s a con man. But he’s so much bigger than life that you just laugh. You kind of can’t resist him, even when he’s conning you. [Laughs.] I don’t think I got paid for that, and everybody’s checks bounced. And he told me I should have been honored to be working with Vanessa Redgrave, and that was true, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have to pay me.
Willie & Phil (1980)—“Jeannette Sutherland”
MK: Ohhhh, that was a great experience, cause [director] Paul Mazursky is just heaven for any actor. Just heaven, very sensitive and really knows what actors do, and he really taught me a lot. He made sure he took a part in every movie, so he remembered how scary it was. I remember him telling me that.
AVC: Have you seen Blackboard Jungle? He’s a juvenile delinquent in that one.
MK: Oh, fun! I’ll have to go rent it.
AVC: You’ve said you aren’t a big movie buff.
MK: I mean, I love good movies. I love them, I just don’t, I’m not like—Brian [De Palma] used to go see movies all day everyday, and I’m sure he still does. And I’m… Well, for starters, I live in a town with one theater, and it’s usually Bruce Willis or something. So when I got Netflix for a while… But I always forgot to return them, and you know… I just… It really has nothing to do with my life anymore, really. Not much. So all this stuff is from a time when they were so central to my life, it’s funny.
AVC: The whole group you came up with in Los Angeles were known as big film brats.
MK: Yeah it was really another life entirely. I mean, I’m an old community organizer now who’s politically active in our little town, and that’s kind of what I’m known for. Usually people know that if I approach them, I’m going to hit ’em up for money for some cause or another. And I have my two grandchildren and my three dogs and I’m needed in my community, and I’m very much part of it, but my life is so entirely different than these days you’re bringing up… It’s kind of fun, that feels like really ancient history.
AVC: Were you at all intimidated that Willie & Phil was kind of a remake of Jules And Jim?
MK: I never had the sense to be intimidated. I should’ve been. Yeah, no. You know, the guy that Michael Ontkean played was originally John Heard, who I married very briefly. And John behaved so badly about something. Oh, I know. I had become his girlfriend, and he didn’t want me to do a love scene with someone else, it was Ray Sharkey or something. So he quit.
AVC: That doesn’t seem terribly professional.
MK: No. So there was a bit of a brouhaha about that. But then I married him for a month after the movie ended.
Trenchcoat (1983)—“Mickey Raymond”
MK: Mmm, that was not a fun experience. Except Malta was fascinating. Have you ever been to Malta? Oh my God, it’s amazing. I mean, it’s one of the most ancient places. It’s been conquered by every civilization known to man, going back to the Greeks. Of course, the Maltese say “We’ve never been conquered,” but the Greeks and the Romans and the British and the Spanish did. And then it had pre-Christian temples all over the place, many of which were discovered when they were bombed in World War II, and bombs blew up great caverns, and suddenly there would be these great temples revealed under the earth. So I found Malta itself absolutely fascinating. Making the movie was a horrible experience. I didn’t get on with the director [Michael Tuchner], and my idea of what we were doing was entirely different from his, and I’m sure I was a complete crazed pain in the ass, and so I mostly hung out with the Maltese and checked out Maltese history. The best part of the movie was getting to work with David Suchet. Inspector Poirot. He, too, realized I didn’t have a clue about acting, so he tried to teach me. I’ve never been held back by my own inadequacies.
AVC: Have you studied acting?
MK: I studied it from time to time. At this stage of the game, darling, I’m not going back to acting class, although I’ve thought of it. You know, the classic training that people get usually when they start out, I never had, and I always felt and still feel the lack of it, so there’s a lot of basic stuff that I just don’t have a clue about. And Suchet, who was trained in the British National Theater, really got that. He became a great friend. He was wonderful. I liked him enormously. But Malta—I’ve always approached things like, “If you can’t get a good adventure out of a new set of circumstances, you’re a fool.” So it’s all been this big adventure to me. Getting to spend three months in Malta was a very cool adventure on a movie that obviously wasn’t working.
Pygmalion (1983)—“Eliza Doolittle”
MK: Oh, that was fabulous. That was something I’d wanted to do for years, and I’d finally just pushed through and did it myself, and found a co-producer in Dan Redler, who had been a friend for years. I was just stubborn and pigheaded, and I did it, and it was a great, great, great experience. I kind of identified with [Eliza], in a way. And also, it’s [George Bernard] Shaw. To say that it’s great writing is an understatement. It examines stuff. It’s a timeless story and a timeless character going through an enormous transformation, and in the process of undergoing her transformation, the guy gets to expose the hypocrisy of the upper crust of society. I mean, how good can it get? And I had Peter O’Toole, who kept saying in rehearsal, “Just dig for it.” And I remember the first day saying, “Oh, Mr. O’Toole, I’m so nervous about working with you.” And he went “Oh, you’re nervous. What makes you think you’re special?” He was just the best. So that was lovely. That was a great experience.
AVC: It seems like perfect casting.
MK: It was. And then I started dating Prime Minister [Pierre] Trudeau at about the same time, so some say that I was living out my Pygmalion fantasy in real life.
AVC: He was a bit of a Henry Higgins figure?
MK: Well, he was extraordinary, one of the great men of all time. Yeah.
The L Word (2006)—“Sandy Ziskin”
MK: Yeah, that was weird casting. I played a repressed Hasidic Jewish mother who hated gay people, and was a mousy thing who believed you had to give in to your husband all the time. It was the worst casting in history. This director, this lovely lady kept saying “Could you take the Montana out of your walk?” ’cause I kind of lumber like a bear. She was very funny, actually.
Smallville (2004)—“Bridgette Crosby”
MK: Yeah, a very nice bunch of people. What a great bunch of kids—really smart, good actors. It’s a good show, I think, Smallville. But my character is really boring. You know, I’m 60 and I live in this little town in Montana, so when you’re suddenly flown from—my town’s full of hard-drinking writers, writer-writers, not screenwriters—you’re flown to these movie sets for a day or two’s work, it’s really culture shock. So I don’t know how well I do. I liked the people involved in making Smallville very much, but I thought my character looked like she was IV-ing Valium. I mean, I just, ’cause they wanted me to be mysterious. And I’m just not mysterious, you know? And so I was trying to act mysterious, and they kept getting me to go down, down, down, ’til I essentially was dead. So I didn’t think she was very interesting. But again, just a super bunch of people making that thing. I really was impressed with them.
On The Other Hand, Death (2008)—“Dorothy Fisher”
MK: Just the dream of every aging has-been actress who slipped out in public is to work with a bunch of gay boys. I mean, when you’re out in public, you’re up there with Liza [Minnelli], honey. So I had a great time. And I just loved the director, and all the producers, who were wonderful, and the crew. There was so much love on that set. It was wonderful, just wonderful.
Little Treasure (1985)—“Margo”
MK: Oh yes. The less said, the better.
AVC: Burt Lancaster was in that. That had to be kind of exciting.
MK: Yeah, he beat me up! Yeah, there were great stories. Stars and stars. I virtually whacked him back and said “You washed-up old fag!” or something horrible.
AVC: What was the context?
MK: Oh, it was a whole—I wanted to do something in a scene he didn’t want me to do, and I said, “No, you don’t understand,” and he started whacking me. It was really quite a scene.
AVC: Obviously he was pretty old at that point.
MK: He was indeed, yeah.
AVC: He played a lot of boxers in his day.
MK: Yeah. And a trapeze artist, if I remember. [In Trapeze. —ed.] That director [of Little Treasure] was interesting. Allen? What the hell is his—
AVC: Alan Sharp.
MK: Alan Sharp. He was interesting. [Little Treasure co-star] Ted Danson was about as sweet a guy as you’re ever gonna meet. What you see is what you get. He’s lovely.
AVC: You did a lot of television after that.
MK: Well, then I got a reputation for being sort of nuts and difficult, because I was at that point, so I wasn’t much in demand. And also, on the basic level, I’d made a lot of movies that didn’t make money. And if you make movies that don’t make money—I mean, it is a business, after all—you are not in demand.
Tribulation (2000)—“Eileen Canboro”
MK: Oh! I didn’t even know it was a Christian movie. Me and Howie Mandel were sitting there going “What happened to my character?” You know, they just offered us lots of money to do these things. I thought it was a mystery. So I’m on the set, and I’m going to Howie, “My character disappears. I don’t know what happened. I can’t find her in the script.” I was pretty cynical about that one. I was broke, so I needed the money. These people offered me a bunch of money to go to Toronto for a few days, and then suddenly this big limousine pulls up, and out walks this guy with about nine tons of hair, like [disgraced Illinois governor Rod] Blagojevich, but white-haired. And I said, “Who’s that?” “Oh,” say the producers, “that’s pastor such and such and such and such, and he gets a part in the movie, ’cause he sells them in his church.” And Howie and I went “What?” And then the penny dropped. It was like, “Oh my God.” And I said, “Wait a minute, what happens to my character?” And they went “Well, straight up in the Rapture.” And I went “The what?” And they explained the Rapture and the end times to me, and I went “Oh shit. I’m in one of these movies.” And I was with Howie, I believe. So that was pretty funny. I went “Oh my God, the joke’s on me here.” And I still get stopped by those freaky fundamentalists going “Oh, I’m so glad you did Tribulation.” And I wanna go, “Don’t count me into your group, honeybuns. I’m not one of you.”
AVC: Was filming an explicitly Christian movie different?
MK: I had no idea what we were doing ’til I was almost done, so it wasn’t different. Wasn’t Gary Busey in that one? God, what a pain in the ass he is.
AVC: Really? Did you have any scenes with him?
MK: Yeah, I think he killed my brother. Oh God.
AVC: And he was not a joy to work with?
MK: No, not at all.
AVC: Was he sober at that time?
MK: I don’t know. I didn’t ask him. I have no idea.
AVC: It probably didn’t make that much difference at that point.
MK: I have no idea. But it was odd. [Laughs.] That’s how I learned about the Rapture. It’s where my character went.