The actor: W. Earl Brown, a Kentucky-bred bull of a man who will likely always be known as Deadwood’s hot-tempered yet gregarious henchman Dan Dority. A graduate of the Chicago theater scene, Brown got his first taste of film work as a vocal coach on Backdraft then relocated to L.A., where he landed small parts on shows like Seinfeld and movies such as The Babe. A fortuitous meeting with Wes Craven on New Nightmare (in which Brown played a morgue attendant) led to roles in the director’s Vampire In Brooklyn and eventually Scream, playing the doomed camera assistant to Courtney Cox’s demanding reporter. Although he scored two breakthroughs early on—starring in the VH1 biopic Meat Loaf: To Hell And Back and playing Cameron Diaz’s mentally challenged brother Warren in There’s Something About Mary—Brown was so thoroughly immersed in the parts that they didn’t do much for his own profile. Nevertheless, Brown has amassed a solid, diverse career of film and TV roles over the years, often inhabiting strong-armed yet lovable outlaw types, and he continues to work steadily while also performing in L.A. with his band, Sacred Cowboys. Like many others on Deadwood, Brown was also a contributing writer, a talent he fully explored by scripting the new movie Bloodworth (based on William Gay’s novel Provinces Of Night), which stars Kris Kristofferson as a rambling alcoholic reuniting with his grown and bitter sons, played by Brown, Dwight Yoakam, and Val Kilmer. It was recently announced that Brown will reteam with Deadwood creator David Milch on his new HBO series Luck.
Deadwood (2004-2006)—“Dan Dority”
W. Earl Brown: When I was in acting school, my friend Jeff Still—who was in August: Osage County, written by his roommate Tracy Letts—said something gold. He said, “I don’t really care about money, fame, and that stuff. What I want to do is something that has an impact. Something that will last beyond the two hours that somebody’s watching it.” And Deadwood was that for me. Franklyn Ajaye said it best when he joined the cast in the second season. He said, “You know what? I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and this is the first show I’ve ever been on that when people sign out, they stick around.” It was that kind of creative cauldron. It wasn’t all happiness and butterflies—you know, there was a lot of stirring of the pot and sometimes contention. Not in a negative way. But we knew we had something unique, and you wanted to be there at every turn, because you didn’t know what was going to happen. And ground zero for that is Milch, the mad genius.
When Ricky Jay left after season one, I got the actor-slash-writer chair. So I got to be there for the process from the very beginning of episodes, and David would be writing today what we were gonna shoot tomorrow. Truth be told, everybody wrote on every episode. You were always pitching ideas, you were always writing things. And then David would reprocess—you’d get “Milched”—and you never knew how it would go through that brain. So it was exhilarating. Which made it all the worse when we got our knees cut off like we did. None of us saw it coming. I did Justified with Tim [Olyphant] recently, and we spent the whole week and a half bemoaning, like, “Can you fucking believe that?” [Laughs.] I still keep in touch with pretty much all those guys. I talk to Ian [McShane] occasionally. I think it was, for everyone involved, something really, really special.
AVC: As far as “everyone had their input,” did that go for every actor?
WEB: David Milch, twice I got lectures from him about the theory of writing. I told my wife one night when I got home, “I feel like I’m being paid to sit at the feet of Aristotle.” He was trying to sell me on a future to focus on writing, because you’re a vessel. Stories have a way of telling themselves. He said, “You gotta set your ego aside and listen, and that story will tell itself through you.” [Whenever Brown quotes Milch, he does a pitch-perfect impression of Milch’s voice. —ed.] And knowing David the way I got to know him, the part that he loved was the thrill of not knowing where the story was gonna go. He really felt like whatever was happening in his subconscious at the last minute was the way the story wanted to be told. He listened to everybody.
Richardson—you know, with the horns? He was a background guy, Ralph Richeson. David saw one take where Ralph responded naturally instead of acting, and Ralph had that hangdog look and David just loved it. He goes up to Ralph and says, “Who are you? I mean who are you in Deadwood? Come up with a background story. Write two pages. Let me see that.” David, the whole horns thing and all of that—he loved the idea of Iago having a whipping boy. E.B. [Farnum] wasn’t really Iago, he was the Fool. But the Fool in [King] Lear—shit rolls downhill, so there’s someone for the Fool. So that’s how Richardson came about. With David’s mind, that was part of the story that wanted to tell itself. Absorbing everything from everybody. There was no disagreeing with David. You could make your case, and you’d sometimes, you know… And then some days you just stayed away, because David was really leading the pack. That said, he was open to input from everyone. And what made it exhilarating was that it was alive at every moment. It was a live process. Because he’s writing it, and 12 hours later, we’re shooting it.
AVC: Dan is a tough guy, but he also has a childlike vulnerability. Was that something you brought to the role?
WEB: When I was sent the script, I was committed to do a play in Nashville that Steve Earle wrote. Steve is my friend and one of my heroes—artistically, I put him on a pedestal. They had sent me the script to Deadwood and said, “We want you to read for Dority.” I had guest starred on Six Feet Under. Same casting people, same production team. Well, I read it, and as I said to my agent, Jack McCall was the role that jumped out—because I knew McCall was only going to be three or four episodes. He was going to kill Wild Bill and be gone. I said, “You know what? I want to audition for McCall. It’s more fun. I don’t want to be the thug in the shadows for seven years. I’m really not interested.” So I go in, and Libby Goldstein, the casting director, came out and she said, “Okay, you got Dan.” I said, “Yeah, I got it. But I want to read McCall.” [Laughs.] She goes, “Hang on.” She goes in and comes back out and says, “Okay, do McCall and then we’ll do Dority.” So I read McCall. Then David, I see him stick his head out and he goes, “You got Dan right? Let’s do that scene.” There’s little dialogue, next to nothing. So we do it. And I see him look over at Walter Hill, who was directing the pilot, and he says, “Think about this.” And he starts giving me this whole litany of my history with Swearengen. And what dawned on me—it sunk into me, sitting there in that room—is that David doesn’t write thugs and shadows. There are no simple thugs and shadows in anything he creates. That was the point where I just gave over, like, I can trust this guy.
So I was back in Nashville doing the play when they called and offered it to me—I was staying at Steve’s studio. He was there when I got the phone call from my manager with the dates, and it conflicted with one night of the play—and the play only ran for two weeks. And she said, “Look it’s a drop dead. If you can’t work on this date, they’re moving on.” He hears it. And I hang up and he’s got this look on his face. I said, “Look, I’m committed to this play. This is first. So if this can’t work out…” And he says, “But I’m gonna feel like shit if I cost you a TV show, man.” [As with Milch, whenever Brown quotes Steve Earle, he does a dead-on impersonation. —ed.] Long story short, we cancelled one performance of the play. Of course, the producer milked it for all it was worth: “It’s cancelled because of a pilot for HBO.”
Then, a year later, Steve is a Deadwood fanatic, and I introduced him and Milch. We had breakfast together. They’re a lot alike. They got this mind—this voracious mind that just goes 180 miles an hour—and both of them were junkies for years. And within five minutes, they start telling junkie stories, and they hit it off. We had like, a two-hour breakfast. At the end of it, Milch goes, “So Steve, I know you did The Wire. You did some of [David] Simon’s show?” Steve says, “Yeah, like four episodes or whatever it was.” “Would you like to do our show?” “Yeah!” “I’m gonna write something for you. Next season I want you to come and do an episode or two.” So next season rolls around, we’re a few episodes in, and he comes to me and he goes, “Hey, call your buddy Steve. I got this idea. He’s Hooplehead Steve. He’s a guy that’s been screwed out of his claim, and they want to tar and feather Jarry, but they can’t ’cause he’s a rich connected white guy, so they find Franklyn. They’re gonna chase down the General and they’re gonna tar and feather him. It’s funny, but it’s creepy.”
So I call Steve. He had, like, a week and a half available between the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and the beginning of his tour. I mean, touring is how he makes his money. So I gave David the dates—didn’t work out. So David brought in Michael Harney, who he’d worked with before, and Hooplehead ends up being on all the rest of that season and the next season. So the next episode rolls around. I was at home. I wasn’t in for that—I don’t know if I had taken the afternoon off, ’cause I was usually there every day, either in the trailer or on set, in the writer’s trailer. I get the sides sent to me, and I call Steve and say, “Hey man, what’s going on?” “Oh man, just got the night off. Just stayin’ on the bus. We didn’t get a hotel.” And I say, “You might be glad your schedule didn’t work.” He said, “Why the fuck would I be glad? I ain’t glad. I want to be on that show, man. Why would I be glad?” I said, “Because at 7 a.m. tomorrow morning you’d be going to work to fuck a horse. Bullock has humiliated Hooplehead, and Hooplehead Steve can’t face him, so he goes to the livery and fucks Bullock’s horse for revenge.” “You shitting me?” I said, “Well, he can’t bring himself to actually stick it in so he just beats off on his haunch.” [Pauses.] “What kind of impression did I leave on Milch at that breakfast?”
So I tell anybody if you ever encounter him, call him “Hooplehead Steve the Horse-Fucker.” And he said it’s happened to him twice, that somebody’s come up and said that. And he goes, “Yeah, you know Earl Brown.”
AVC: Did your experience working as a bouncer help you prep for Dan?
WEB: I was a bouncer, when I was in DePaul in Chicago at the theater school. I threw drunks out of bars—unless I had a play running that weekend. But I only had two actual fights. Some were like out of old Westerns.
AVC: How was it taking over the scriptwriting reins on “A Constant Throb”?
WEB: Well, like I said, everyone wrote on every episode. [Milch] had already conceived the idea—we were over budget.
AVC: Like all the time, right?
WEB: Yeah, but we were way over at this point. He said, “All right, episode 10 is yours. I got a problem. Come up with a way to solve it. Keep as much of the episode inside the Gem as you can, because we’re so far fucking over budget we can’t afford to shoot outside.” He already had Alma being shot at. He said, “We’re gonna start with where they’re trying to bait Ellsworth, so Pinkerton’s gonna fire at her. She needs to talk to Al about it.” So all of the stuff in the Gem—again, everybody’s pitching ideas. Someone once commented, “That speech of Jane’s at the end is so beautiful.” Well, Regina Corrado wrote that, I didn’t. Likewise, there were things in other episodes that I had conceived that got twisted and turned.
AVC: Anything you want to take credit for?
WEB: No. Because again, David twists it. Example: that eyeball fight. David told me two weeks in advance, “We’re gonna have this fight with you and Turner. You’re gonna almost die, but it’s gonna turn at the very end. You’re going to survive and kill him.” First of all, I put my fat ass on a treadmill. [Laughs.] We had three days of rehearsal with just me and Allan Graf, Mike Watson the stunt coordinator, Dan Manahan the director, and Milch. Milch says, “I got three rules. Number one, I want it completely realistic. I don’t want cowboy roundhouse, flying-through-plate-glass bullshit. Number two, every time the audience thinks they’re gonna be able to draw their breath and relax, I want it to escalate and go to the next place. Just when they think they can’t fucking take no more, you give them more. Third, I want something I never seen before. Make it up.” So Manahan goes, “We’ve never been in the meat market. That is such a great set, and I love the primacy of fighting amongst raw meat.” I said, “We’ve gotta drown in horse piss.”
But we didn’t have an ending. I had written a thing in season two called “Son Of A Bitch.” It’s based on my grandfather, who would not allow anyone to call him a son of a bitch. And my mother’s first husband did. Long story, but my grandfather hit him. My uncle witnessed it when he was 9 years old. He hit him so hard his eyeball popped out. And then my grandfather grabbed a chunk of coal and was about to brain him. And my uncle, who was 9, grabs him by the chest to make him stop. Because my grandfather’s eyes would go black, man. His pupils would dilate. I witnessed it three times—the devil comes. He was dangerous. He was loving—again, I love my grandfather. I worshipped him. But there was a broken part of him. A lot of that was in Dority.
So I had written “Son Of A Bitch” for me and the soap-seller, who Milch never got around to using. We had some old rodeo cowboys who were advisors on the show. There was one guy who shall remain nameless, but he had been Benny Binion’s enforcer. When you owed serious money to Binion, that’s who came to visit you. He used to remove people’s eyeballs with his thumb. That’s what Milch told me: “Some people that were in serious trouble lost one of their eyes to him.” That’s how this cauldron of eyeball-ism starts. [Laughs.] We had rehearsed for two days, and we still didn’t know what we’re gonna end it with. I play cards with Jerry Cantrell, the musician. Jerry’s in it—he’s in the first season. He and Rex Brown are in the background in one scene. Like Billy [Gibbons] and Dusty [Hill] are in it, Lemmy Kilmister’s in it, Scott Ian—all my metalhead buddies. So Jerry, I told him about the fight, about the eyeball gag. He goes, “You know, that happened to my brother David. He’s in a biker bar in Oklahoma, he got into a fight, this guy’s got him on a pool table by the ear, and he’s cracking his head. David said it was like tunnel vision—he was just trying to push the guy off of him and he felt some soft tissue, and he jammed it, and he popped the guy’s eyeball.” The next day I go to work and I say, “I got an ending!”
AVC: There’s never going to be a Deadwood movie, is there?
WEB: You know, it took me 14 months to stop beating a dead horse. I was the guy who literally, on a notebook, kept track of who was doing what. Because how do you just stop? It threw me for a loop. It threw a lot of us for a loop. Personally and every which way, because you feel like, “This is seven years!” Only in the third season did the money start being pretty good. It had a huge impact on my family, it had a huge impact on my career. You wanna talk about the worst fucking 12 hours of a career? Bloodworth, we were in pre-production, so I’m riding high, man. I’m in pre-production on the first movie that I’ve written, we’ve got a $5 million budget, we got some attachments from stars, and I’m a writer and one of the supporting leads on the hottest thing in television, which I think is sheer genius.
Within a 12-hour span of time, right after I left a casting session for Bloodworth, I had a message from Milch: “Hey Earl, call me at home when you get the chance.” He didn’t like to be bothered at home. Fuck. Dority was actually murdered, but not until 10 years later, and I thought, “I bet he’s gonna up the murder. Dority’s gonna die next season.” So I call him, and he says, “Earl, I hate making these calls, but the show’s over. It’s cancelled.” I pulled over to the side of the road and said, “What’d you say?” “Yeah, we were offered two movies or six episodes to wrap it up. But I don’t want to mess with what we’ve already created by this truncated timeline. Fuck it, it’s over. It’s cancelled.” I got a tattoo that night, and the whole time I’m getting the tattoo, I’m focusing on the pain. Have you ever gotten a tattoo? You take your mind elsewhere so you don’t think about how much it hurts. But not that night. It was like, bleed. Fucking hurt.
The next morning, I called our line producer on the movie. Gibson was getting us some guitars, and I said, “I need a check to cut to Gibson.” He says, “Problem. Can’t cut a check.” “Why can’t you cut a check?” “We’ve lost our money.” We’d lost one of the actors that got us the money. So within 12 hours I go from, like, “Look at me!” to completely unemployed. [Laughs.] That was not a good 12 hours. It was 14 months of depression. It was like, you can’t wait to go to work, you know you’re doing something, it’s a hit, it’s the second-biggest show on the network, Golden Globes, Emmys, we’re about to step up, we got the nominations, we’re gonna win—and then the rug’s pulled out from under you.
Where it really ended is, I went to visit the set of John From Cincinnati, because they shot their interiors up on that lot. Sean Bridges [Deadwood’s Johnny Burns] and I both met. I didn’t want to be on John From Cincinnati, because it felt like our show was killed for that show—even though it wasn’t. David planned on doing both. It was much more complicated reasoning than that. But Sean and I sat on the steps of the Chez Amis—because we had built the Chez Amis. That exterior, we added it to the back lot. We sat there for half an hour, never said a word. Literally, we met in the parking lot, we walked up the main street, and we sat there on the steps of the Chez Amis. That was my morning. I was in the graveyard and the last shovel of dirt had gone in. And after that, the burden lifted.
There’s always talk and rumor and who knows. David’s doing the new show [Luck] with Michael Mann, which is a nitroglycerin combination of personalities. If it ever happens, I’ll be the first in line to say, “Count me in.” But I’m not ever holding up hope for it happening. But Michael Lombardo, the head of HBO, in a recent interview they were talking about the success of True Blood, and how HBO now, with Boardwalk Empire—which is phenomenal—they’re becoming a water-cooler network again. He said, “Looking back, it was a mistake to stop Deadwood. I felt like there was more of that show to go.” And it was the first time anyone had acknowledged, on any level, that it was not a good decision. So that was kind of healing. To read that and go, “Okay. Yeah, it was.” And now I’ve let it go. Like I said, I would gladly be back. But I don’t have a lot of hope of that happening.
NYPD Blue (2000-2003)—“Mike/Terry Parkhurst,” “Bruce Rhodes”
WEB: The first time, I had just done a film called Dancing At The Blue Iguana, which was an improv film with Michael Radford. We literally created the whole script through two months of improv. That was exhilarating. Two weeks after we finished, I’m guest-starring on NYPD Blue. I had just spent the last six months making it up. [Laughs.] And I had a line: “Good, ’cause I think I’m gonna be looking for a new job.” In the take, I said, “Good, ’cause I think I might be looking for a new job.” The script supervisor comes over and says, “You got the line wrong. You said ‘might.’ It’s ‘gonna.’” Literally. I go, “Seriously?” Later she comes over and goes, “Look, you got the words right, but there’s a comma here. You have to play the comma.” That meticulous crafting of the language Milch has—and it wasn’t until I started working with him on Deadwood, and seeing the process and seeing how he worked language and molded language. It’s like Shakespeare—well, it is Shakespeare. Deadwood was in iambic. I don’t know if all of NYPD Blue was, but there’s meter to it. And you do have to follow that punctuation.
At lunch that day, I didn’t know I was sitting next to David Milch, but I was. Years later, when we were doing Deadwood, we’re all having lunch together in the tent, and he’s talking about NYPD—because everybody was on NYPD—and he turns to me and says, “How the fuck were you never on NYPD Blue?” I said, “Um, I was, David.” [Laughs.] ’Cause I had the blonde hair and I looked a lot different. Anyway, the second one I did was at the end of the first season of Deadwood. A completely different character, and it was for Mark Tinker, who ended up becoming our directing producer on Deadwood for the third season.
AVC: You were there for the Rick Schroeder era and the Jimmy Smits era.
WEB: I never dealt with Jimmy. My storyline was Gordy Clapp and… I can’t remember the other guy’s name. Really good-looking, tall guy. So I didn’t deal with Jimmy. I did have stuff with Ricky. With Ricky and Dennis [Franz].
AVC: I thought you weren’t allowed to call him Ricky.
WEB: Well, I did. [Laughs.] I guess it’s “Rick.” Years later he directed a video for Billy Joe Shaver, and then Billy Joe had asked me and John Hawkes to come, because we were big fans. We did cameos in his video, and Rick remembered me. Rick. [Laughs.]
The Alamo (2004)—“David Burnet”
WEB: It was actually a much, much bigger part. There was so much that John Lee [Hancock] shot that was not in the film—and I guess in the first version. I never saw the complete first version, which is about 20 minutes longer, but there was much more in it. The whole speech that every Texan middle-schooler has to memorize in seventh grade, I delivered the entire thing. It was one of those heroic moments of rallying the troops, that “We must come to the rescue with all haste!” It was a little disappointing, personally, seeing the final version. It’s pretty much all gone. That said, I had a great time doing The Alamo. It’s not like I was massively crushed or embittered. It was just like, “Fuck, that was a good day. I wish I had more of it.” In the end, I think the studio had some different expectations than what John Lee had. His was a different take, in the same way that Deadwood was really an inversion on the Western.
The Cherokee Kid (1996)—“Calloway”
WEB: [Laughs.] Well, it’s not a very good movie. My dad traveled a lot, so I only usually saw him on weekends, growing up. His favorite actors in the world were Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. If Clint or Burt had a movie out, we would go to the movies. He didn’t like movies, generally, unless Clint or Burt were in them. My dad died July 16, 1996. The last conversation we had, two days before, he asked, “What are you doing now, business-wise?” And I said, “Well, there’s this comedy Western I’m gonna do. It’s a small part.” He said, “Oh! You’re doing a Western!” Literally, one of the last things we ever said to one another. Burt ended up being hired right afterwards.
My first day there, it’s two scenes—if even that. It’s a relatively long scene, but Burt’s supposed to kill me. I’ve been cheating him for all these years, and Sinbad figures out, because he can do math, that I’ve been cheating the illiterate Burt. Well, they’re trying to figure out how to do this knife scene. He’s supposed to flatten me with a knife from like three feet away. Burt pulls me aside and goes, “Look, you got the thick leather vest, this is a rubber knife. Is it all right if I just throw it at you?” And I said, “Yeah, sure, no problem.” So Burt goes, “Hey, look, fuck all that. We got an answer.” So we run through one. Burt’s like, “How dare you!” Throws the knife, hits me right square in the balls. Dead on in the balls. I collapse. My knees go out. [Laughs.] He comes over, “Oh man! I am so sorry!”
From that point on, I became Burt’s little buddy. When Burt’s chair was brought over and they got coffee for Burt, it was, “Get Earl’s chair! Earl, you want some coffee?” That afternoon, he’s like, “So how did you get into acting?” And I told him the story of my dad. He goes, “That makes me feel good that even those silly movies meant something to people. Is your dad still with us?” Well, my dad was two weeks dead. From then on, Burt was my surrogate daddy for two days. That’s my greatest memory—and, well, the movie turned out to be what the movie was.
There’s Something About Mary (1998)—“Warren”
WEB: You know, you do this so long, and you get so much fucking rejection. And even when you get accepted, still there’s a caveat that you might get dumped. [Laughs.] That was just one of those kismet things. I worked out at the gym with Lin Shaye. Gary Ushino was a camera assistant who had shot Scream and New Nightmare and Vampire In Brooklyn. Gary had been hired out for this miniseries I was doing called Bella Mafia, where Jennifer Tilly was my wife. We started making fun of the script, playing it tongue in cheek. The director loved it, because it gave some levity to the seriousness. I don’t want to say that we became the clowns, but our relationship was a little different. One day Gary goes, “Man, you’re funny! I’ve never seen you do comedy. I’m doing this new Farrelly Brothers movie. It’s called There’s Something About Mary. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read.” At the gym that weekend, I’m on the Stairmaster next to Lin Shaye. “So what are you doing now?” She said, “Have you seen Dumb And Dumber?” I said, “Of course I did.” She said, “The Farrelly Brothers are doing this new movie. It’s called There’s Something About Mary. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read.” So I tracked the script down.
Rob Moran and I, we were part of this improv group that would meet informally at Amy Pietz’s place on Sundays. I kept thinking I knew Rob from Chicago. I couldn’t place how I knew him. Well, I’m re-watching Dumb And Dumber and Kingpin, and that’s the dude. That’s Rob. So the following Sunday I said, “I finally figured out how I know you”—we’d been working together for two months—“You’re Stanley, the evil bowler in Kingpin.” He goes, “Yeah, and I’m in Dumb And Dumber.” I said, “So you know the Farrellys.” He said, “Yeah, known them since I was a teenager. I’m from Rhode Island.” I said, “I’m trying to get in on Mary.” He said, “Warren? Are you interested in playing Warren? ’Cause they can’t find anybody. They’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of people.” He calls Bobby [Farrelly], and two days later I’m in there.
I was the only person to play it straight. They were bringing in comics. Chris Farley was one of them—Chris died while we were shooting the movie. The studio wanted a name and a face. The Farrellys’ argument was the audience has to believe he’s retarded. No matter how good somebody might be, it’s Chris Farley playing retarded. Of course, Chris was uninsurable at that point, anyway.
At the callback there were four people, and they were all stand-ups except me. I could hear them in the room and I just knew, that’s not the way. Because I played it straight, that’s why it was funny. You couldn’t goof on that and amp it up to play funny, because it was a commentary on the character instead of being honest. So that was how it came about. It was the last time I think I was giddily excited when I left. I remember in the elevator afterward I was like, “Fuck yeah!” That’s not happened to me since.
And shooting it was an absolute joy. The two really good studio films that I’ve been involved with on some level were Scream and Mary. But they were both low-budget for studios, they were under the radar, nobody was paying attention, they were gonna be essentially a modern-day B-movie. And both of them were this incredible, fun experience, and both of them became what they became. I was very fond of saying in the late ’90s, “You know, in the mid-’90s there’s two movies that came absolutely out of nowhere and changed horror movies and changed comedies, and now everyone’s impersonating both of them—Scream and Mary—and what did they have in common?” [Points to himself.] But did that catapult me to great big paychecks? No.
You know, I went through a recent agent change. It was a year and a half for us on Bloodworth, man, and we essentially had to work for no money, and then I get back into L.A., and it’s like they’d forgotten I even existed. And I was angry. I was pretty fucking bitter. And I was dredging up like, “Mary! How could I blow that fucking chance?” I used to audition against Jack Black for TV guest-star shit—he probably wouldn’t even remember who the fuck I am. But I knew he was the guy from Bob Roberts. High Fidelity broke him wide open—deservedly so, because he was fucking phenomenal in that movie. But it wasn’t Mary. Mary was The Hangover. And so there was bitterness. Like, “How the fuck? I’m struggling to pay my mortgage when there are people that have Warren tattooed on them.”
AVC: Wait, really?
WEB: Yeah, there’s been two Warren tattoos. I was sent the photos. One guy had it on his shoulder, I don’t even know where the other one was. A part of me’s like, “Cool,” and a part of me is like, “Uhh….” But my wife goes, “You know what? You’re right in one respect. But in another respect, you never would have done Deadwood. You wouldn’t have had that opportunity because you would have been beyond that.” And that really sunk into me. Because Deadwood is the pinnacle. It is everything I dreamt of, when you can give yourself 100 percent to a project and know that you’re doing something that’s gonna last. I mean, there are college courses taught on it now.
AVC: When Ben Stiller wrote the script for Tropic Thunder later, he said to “never go full retard,” but it seemed to work okay for you on Mary.
WEB: To some degree. [Laughs.] When I saw that, I sent an e-mail over to [Stiller’s production company] Red Hour. Some gag, like, “That’s what fucking happened! That’s why I’m not making $5 million a year! ’Cause I went full on!” They actually sent me that script to audition. But I knew he and Jack go back a long time, because they had done Heat Vision And Jack, one of the greatest unseen pilots ever. They sent me Tropic Thunder for that character. But I’m like, “That’s Jack.” That’s what Jack was going through at that point in his life. He didn’t have any drug problems. I think he liked to party a lot. But I just knew it was going to be Jack. So I already knew the “full retard” gag. I could not believe that Ben pulled it off, because I thought [Robert] Downey’s character was gonna be so offensive, and yet it worked like a dream. He found the perfect tone.
AVC: It’s a lot like Warren, where it could potentially cross over into caricature and be really offensive.
WEB: That’s a thing I learned early on. I love watching really good documentaries, because in a great documentary you capture some really explosive, honest moments. It dawned on me when I was watching this movie about these people who were obsessed with Elvis—it was made five years after Elvis died. It had these two twin girls stoned out of their fucking gourds—not the brightest bulbs in the pack to begin with—but they believed they had these fantastical connections to Elvis. They believed this shit. I was in acting school at the time and it really sunk into me: You can be as broad and outlandish as you want, and if you believe it, if it’s rooted it truth, it’ll work.
Like with Dority. With Dan, there’s funny shit with Dan. To make the violence all the more horrific and unsettling, if this guy that’s kind of affable and funny in certain instances—who on a hair-trigger will kill you—that makes him far more terrifying than the thug in the shadows. And with Warren, because you believe those human moments, you believe that connection—and I can’t take all the credit for that. I give a lot of credit to Cameron [Diaz] especially. She did not react to me like, “This is my retarded brother.” Rather it was, “This is my brother.” It was in the way that I was reflected off of her that made the audience buy into it and believe it. I had to explain to myself, “Why does Warren freak out when somebody touches his ears?” I had an explanation. I knew. Nobody else had to know, but it made sense to me. It made sense to me internally, so you’d see the trigger click in Warren.
The Woman Who Loved Elvis (1993)—“Pete”
AVC: Speaking of Elvis...
WEB: [Laughs.] Yeah, uh, well. That was a job when I was in Chicago.
AVC: Bill Bixby directed this movie right before he died.
WEB: Yes he did. I’d forgotten that. He passed away not long after he finished that movie. He was a nice guy. And I mean, [The Incredible] Hulk—I was in the eighth grade when Hulk came out, so I loved Hulk. That’s the cool thing, when I get to work with people I love. The biggest has probably been Kris Kristofferson on Bloodworth. I was a fan of Bill’s, but not like, as an artist. Kris Kristofferson is a great artist. Steve Earle’s a great artist. When I get to work with people like that, to be accepted as a creative equal, that’s the fuel, man. Those are the “pinch me” moments.
AVC: How were Tom and Roseanne Arnold on that shoot?
WEB: They were still in love. And they shot in Tom’s hometown. So he’s the small-town loser that’s come back a billionaire. He pulled a prank—I guess he did some streaking thing back in high school. The first shot of the movie, when the whole town is there, he’s supposed to ride his motorcycle down the hill into the town. He stripped naked as a gag. Back then he was the stupid loser going nowhere, and then he’s the movie star billionaire, riding back into his hometown naked.
AVC: You worked as a vocal coach teaching the actors how to do a Chicago accent. Any tips?
WEB: [In Chicago accent] It’s, uh, a little bit of Chicago comes out when I do Milch, ya see—but Milch is actually from Buffalo. The role was initially the bartender in the first scene of the movie, when Billy [Baldwin] comes back to the old neighborhood. I didn’t know if they were going to make him a kid Billy grew up with—because Billy and I are the same age—or if they were going to make him older. So, if it was going to be the young guy it was going to be me. So I go to meet Ron [Howard], and I heard him in the [audition] room, trying to get the guy. He goes, “You know, there’s a very unique Chicago dialect, and that’s what we’re looking for.” [In Chicago accent] So from the time I walk in the room, I put on this really thick South Sider dialect, y’know? So we finish, and Ron says, “So, you’re obviously from Chicago.” And it was like, “Lie or tell the truth?” I always tell the truth, so I broke the accent. “Nah, I’m not.” “Where you from?” he says. I say, “I’m from rural Kentucky.” “Really?” That’s how I got hired. I didn’t even have my SAG card.
I knew they were all big basketball fanatics, and I had a game twice a week at DePaul. I knew the athletic director, so I called him and said, “Look, on Sundays, could we rent the gym?” So every Sunday was basketball day. A lot of the crew, Ron and them, would come and play. That’s how I got to know them. And they threw me a bone, one line—in the pan and scan you can’t even see me. But that got me my SAG card. It was my first step toward legitimacy.
Six Feet Under—“Pete” (2002)
WEB: That was another one of those shows like Seinfeld. I was a rabid Seinfeld fan. Then I did the show, and it ruined the show for me. Not that it ruined the quality of the show, but I had seen behind the curtain at Oz. So it was kind of like that in Six Feet Under. I really loved the show, and I remember having that Seinfeld feeling like, “This is going to ruin the show for me.” It didn’t, not to that degree. They were just really hitting their stride as the water-cooler show when I came on. I’ll tell you one thing: I auditioned four times. And they had, like, Gary Busey audition for that. They kept bringing me back, and they never gave me any direction.
It was Alan Taylor, who ended up directing a bunch of Deadwoods—and I’m friends with Alan. Never met him before. Alan Taylor, Alan Ball, Alan Poul—the Alans. They kept bringing me back! No direction, no “Could you try it this way?” I love that. I can think on my feet. I love it when they go, “We’ll throw you a curve,” because I know that’s right in my strong spot. But none of that. I called Jim McBride, who I had worked with; he directed the first episode of the first season. I called Jim and said, “Are these guys the biggest dicks on the planet?” He goes, “What’s the problem? I find them incredibly collaborative. I loved working with them.” I just thought it was like an ego thing, you know, manipulating you because they could. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
That also peppered my perception of the show. It’s going to ruin the show for me if I think the guys running it are assholes. They weren’t at all. My initial perception of what I thought the show was going to be was the opposite. And it led to Deadwood. And, you know, I’m a big True Blood fan. Took me a couple of episodes. The camp—it’s just a couple of clicks to the camp side. I watched it because Billy Sanderson and Kristen Bauer are close friends, and now it’s one of my favorite shows on TV.
AVC: Are you angling for a role on it?
WEB: I’ve actually already auditioned. Didn’t get it. I think if I looked better naked, I’d probably have had a much better chance. [Laughs.]
AVC: Just hit the treadmill again.
WEB: [Laughs.] No, to get to that would be like, stay away from the pantry for three months and on the treadmill for three hours every day.
AVC: You’d have to do the Drew Carey diet.
WEB: Yeah! [Laughs.] Oh, man. I used to see him at Bob’s Big Boy all the fucking time. He’d just be sitting there at the counter. Then he disappeared. So there’s why.
The X-Files (2002)—“Robert M. Fassl”
AVC: You were on The X-Files with your old DePaul classmate Gillian Anderson.
WEB: Yeah! When I first moved to L.A., I knew one guy out there: Steve Fitzpatrick, from Knoxville. I knew Gillian because she and I had done A Flea In Her Ear in school. Amy Pietz—they were both undergraduates. We were all in the casting pool together, and I was grad and they were undergrad. And the star for the serious roles was Amy Pietz, while the star for the comedy stuff was Gillian. She played the maid in A Flea In Her Ear, this door-slamming farce. We had done scenes from American Life together. So I just knew her as a comic actress. She was a punk-rocker—like, pink and purple hair…
AVC: Nose rings.
WEB: Oh yeah. A lot of things pierced. [Laughs.] So when I moved to L.A., I looked up Fitzpatrick and I said, “I heard Gillian is out here.” He goes, “Yeah, man! I talk to her. She’s gone up to Vancouver to do some stupid fucking science-fiction thing. She’s still staying in New York mostly, but she said she may move out here. Depends on that fucking show.” It was The X-Files. I used to tease Fitzpatrick about it: “That dumb fucking science-fiction show bought her the house in Malibu.” It wasn’t until season two or three that I was hooked as a fan. It went through its periods—sometimes it would be great, sometimes ehh—but I always wanted to be on it. By season 10, of course, Gillian was only doing half of them and I think David [Duchovny] was gone, but I got to be on it.
And I met Shane Black there. Shane Taylor, my partner on Bloodworth, his mentor was Shane Black. We shot in Shane Black’s house. We’re in this house in Hancock Park—really nice house. And I’m in the library, and there are all these first-edition comics, like The Shadow. Really fucking expensive comics just lying there. And I see these shelves with all these first-edition books and these comics and I go, “Whose house is this?” “Oh, the screenwriter, Shane Black.” As we’re shooting, he just comes wandering in, in his house robe. That was in his fallow period, where he didn’t write for three or four years. I was like, “You wrote Lethal Weapon!” [Laughs.] “You’re the highest-paid writer in Hollywood.” He’s just wandering through his house in a bathrobe: “How you guys doing? What’s this scene about?” I brought it up when Shane Taylor introduced me to him. He goes, “It’s nice to meet you.” I said, “Actually, I’ve been in your house.”
WEB: Eh. You know. “You’re gonna be a demon. It’s gonna be like full-body prosthetics.” “That’s going to be so fucking cool. I get to be a demon!” It took four-and-a-half hours to put on and two to take off. It was sheer hell. Like those Star Trek guys? There wouldn’t be enough money on the planet to pay me to do that. Tony Todd [“Vyasa”] and I had both done Excessive Force together years ago in Chicago, so I sort of knew him. But just the misery of sitting in that makeup chair for hours on end every day. I made a ton of money. It was standard pay, but the overtime. I literally had four or five hours off. I’d get home, sleep for a few hours, get up, go back, and then sleep in the chair. So, I made a ton of fucking money for a guest star. And then we shot in the [Gene] Autry Museum, which was fun. I was a big fan of Buffy, because I’m a Joss Whedon fan. But doing that show was the one that kind of spoiled it. I did not get along with a certain actor on the show.
AVC: David Boreanaz?
WEB: I’m not saying that! Anyway, it’s not like how it was with Seinfeld—I wasn’t rabid about the show, but I was a fan. And then after doing it, things changed. Not that the quality of the show went anywhere, it’s just that the experience was ehh.
AVC: You played a cat who turned into a warlock.
WEB: [Smiles and nods.] Yeah. I did. Next! [Laughs.]
Meat Loaf: To Hell And Back (2000)—“Meat Loaf”
WEB: [Laughs.] Not exactly the top of my totem pole of career prestige, but that was where I got to know Jim McBride before Six Feet Under. I saw Meat not too long ago.
AVC: You get to call him Meat?
WEB: “Meat” or “ML.” Yeah, everybody does. When I was in the eighth grade, I was the fat kid. I was never that big. I look now at my daughter and her classmates, I’m like, man, I was kind of just chubby compared to kids now. [Laughs.] But when puberty hits you and you’re the fat kid with bad acne and crooked teeth… I remember on the Midnight Special seeing a video with Meat Loaf. I think it was the “Bat Out Of Hell” video. It was like this raging huge fat guy, and he’s really sexual, and he’s really sweaty, and it’s really kind of sexy. Like, a fat guy can get the chick. I still am a big fan of Bat Out Of Hell. After that, the first Bat sequel record is pretty good. The second one? [Makes face.] I actually remember buying the album. I was in Daytona Beach at the mall on vacation, because I couldn’t get albums back home because Kmart would not hardly stock what I wanted. So when we would go on vacation, I would ask my parents to take me to a local mall and let me buy records.
Some of that shit [from the movie] I remembered, because I subscribed to Creem or Hit Parader or Rolling Stone from the time I was 11 on. It was cool to remember reading in fanzines some of this shit, and here we are doing it. The movie is Jim [Steinman] and Meat and then David [Sonnenberg], whatever the manager’s name is, and all these years of litigation and bitterness. Everybody had to sign off on every word of the script. You could not change anything. It was the template for Behind The Music—the same way the story unfolded is exactly the way they edited it. I watched every Behind The Music, because I’m a music freak. And we talked about, “How do we make this scene active?” Because it’s not active. Or it falls to bland melodrama. “How do we play against it?” So, that was the fun creative part of it. Some of those scenes really came alive. The one I most remember is with the lawsuit—“They want to take my name!” It was originally written [melodramatically], “They want to take my name!” But we played the opposite of that. We played it like he was drunk and arrogant, like, “Fuck them.” There were other instances where I felt—I don’t want to say handcuffs, because the writer did his fucking best with what he had to work with. It was just this litigation. It had to go through lawyers just to change one word. We had to get all three of them to sign off. We did the best with what we could.
It turned out, that got me movies. I did Cameron Crowe’s movie [Vanilla Sky] because [VH1] were going to do a movie about Heart, and they had sent over all their original productions. And Cameron loved me from that movie. And then I was at the Led Zeppelin reunion in London in ’07. John Paul [Jones] is a big Deadwood fan, and he invited a whole bunch of bluegrass pickers from Nashville who I’m friends with, The McCoury Brothers and [David] “Fergie” Ferguson. We stayed for the after-party—and dude, I’m hanging out with Led Zeppelin! [Laughs.] So I’m staying as long as I could stay at the party. Later, a bunch of us load into a cab. Turned out some of the other guys were programming guys from VH1. I said, “I’m Earl.” One of ’em goes, “I know who you are. We’ve played you on our channel more than we’ve ever played Led Zeppelin.” I forget, they aired that movie 60-odd-something times within the first year of the release. I do feel like we made a watchable movie out of something that could have easily been not so.
AVC: It lives on with YouTube. Your concert scenes still get great reviews.
WEB: Well, I’ve always played. I have a band now and we play—although we’ve been kind of mothballed for a year. And that was really the seed of what led me to do it. I’d never played outside of my garage in high school. There used to be this monthly club, Club Makeup, in L.A., and it’s a glam club hosted by drag queens. 1200-seat club, sold out every month. And they got like Gilby Clarke, all these rock-’n’-rollers. They did a Rocky Horror show, and they called and asked me to do it. So that’s what got me in. Like, I played music with Dee Dee Ramone—and Dee Dee died two days later. I saw the very last thing Dee Dee ever did—hell, I was onstage with Dee Dee Ramone. That led to me saying, “This is so much fucking fun, I’m gonna keep doing it.”
The Last Shot (2004)—“Willie Gratzo”
AVC: Not much to say about that one? Bad experiences?
WEB: With one person. And I will say, he is a phenomenal actor. I’ll never take that away from him.
AVC: So… Buck Henry is a total asshole?
WEB: [Laughs.] No. Not him.
The Big White (2005)—“Jimbo”
WEB: That movie deserved better than it got. I knew it the first time I read it: It’s Fargo. Fargo is absolutely brilliant, and [The Big White] is really, really good, but it was compared at every turn to Fargo. And it’s just not Fargo. It barely got released. It was a great adventure, though. We hung out in Skagway, Alaska, where all the tourists come in. During the winter there’s only about 400 people there. Well, they opened up for us early. We were shooting up on the glaciers, like right over into Canada. We got to go helicoptering, I snow-shoed through the Tongass Forest. They took me on a helicopter down the face of—I forget what glacier—but literally we’re 10 feet away from this glacier going down. We had all these really, really cool life experiences. And when we shot at night, it was absolutely sheer fucking misery. It was so cold.
AVC: Is this the movie where you smoked pot with Woody Harrelson?
WEB: [Pauses.] Where did you hear that? Did I tell you that?
AVC: You talked about it in a Deadwood fan-forum Q&A several years ago.
WEB: [Laughs.] Oh, man. Well… Yeah, it was.
AVC: So how is it smoking pot with Woody Harrelson?
WEB: That’s kind of an iconic moment. That’s like jammin’ guitars with Eric Clapton. And I did jam with John Paul Jones, so I can say it’s like playing guitar with John Paul Jones.
Project: ALF (1996)—“Ernie”
AVC: Speaking of pot, the first time I ever smoked pot, I watched Project: ALF.
WEB: [Laughs.] Well, I wish I had. I had never watched ALF. It was what it was. Actually, looking back on it, it was kind of witty. Funny. But when I first got it, I was like, “Really? I gotta do a puppet movie? That’s not with Jim Henson?” But it is what it is.
AVC: It’s a good movie to get high to.
WEB: [Laughs.] I’ll track it down. Maybe I could find an old VHS and fire up the bong.
AVC: You did several of your earliest movies with Wes Craven—Scream, New Nightmare, Vampire In Brooklyn. Would you say he was sort of a mentor?
WEB: He was. When I went out to L.A. from Chicago to test the waters, I got a TV pilot within two weeks of being there. It was a guest star, but they were going to make me a regular if it got picked up. We went to New Orleans and did it, and then I go back to L.A. and I get a TV movie—like three, four scenes, but a decent job. So I called my wife up: “We gotta move here. This is fucking easy.” So then we did move, and it was seven months of nothing. Like, nothing. No auditions, nothing. And I start to second-guess. We left all of our friends. Our family was a 400-mile journey, but still nearby. Suddenly we’re on the other side of the country. Well, I get a call. The casting director that did the pilot wanted me to come in. He was doing a new Wes Craven movie. I thought the first Nightmare On Elm Street was brilliant, and I thought the sequels were horrible. They kind of ruined the first one. After about the third or fourth one, you know, “wisecracking Freddy.” I didn’t know that Wes executive-produced the third one, Dream Warriors, but he didn’t have anything to do creatively with what happened with that franchise.
So I go in, and it says Nightmare 7 on the doors. I’m like, “I don’t want to be in this.” But I needed the money. I didn’t throw the audition, but it wasn’t anything special. Then I go do my background research and find out that Wes didn’t do those [sequels]. And then I was eager, because I did think the script was very witty. Then Wes and I just hit it off personally, and he brought me back with Vampire and gave me his home number, which is what led to Scream.
I haven’t seen him in a few years. We used to have lunch every three or four months and catch up. He was the first person that was like an established Hollywood guy—even though he’s the antithesis of a Hollywood guy as a personality—but he was the first really established person in the business that took me under his wing, and I’ll always be grateful, because it gave me more of a sense of, “Well, this guy keeps using me and he believes in me. And if he’s in, then I must belong here.”
AVC: What do you think about him rebooting the Scream franchise?
WEB: Well… Brinks trucks haul a lot of money.
Bloodworth—writer and “Brady Bloodworth” (2010)
AVC: We actually did a Random Roles with Kris Kristofferson recently.
WEB: How was that?
AVC: Good, but he doesn’t remember much. For example, he blanked on working with Martin Scorsese.
WEB: Yeah, well, you know. He’s starting to lose something. He lived hard for a long time. He said what drew him to Bloodworth were the parallels to his own life, that it was like an alternative version. Things worked out in his life, but he said, “That could have been me.” He wrote a song—first time he’s ever written a song for a film. He wrote it, T-Bone Burnett produced it. And it’s one of the best things Kris has ever done as an actor—the best thing since Lone Star, and that’s one of my all-time favorites. That’s been my argument all along: Hollywood loves a comeback story.
I got some stories from him. Our apartments were right next to each other, so we’d hang out every night. My mom, back in the ’70s, she had all his records—big, huge fan. I remember my sister went to see A Star Is Born seven times. I remember having Jesus Was A Capricorn because I used to listen to “Why Me” all the time. He would regale me with all these stories from back in his early days in Nashville. But yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that’s lost to the dustbin of memory.
Bloodworth was very, very difficult to pull together, but the plus to it is, we had no artistic interference from the money people. We got to make the movie we wanted to make, so we will stand or fall on our own. And you can’t say, you know, “This guy made me change this.” That’s an exhilarating experience and it’s a scary one, too. When we started the process—now again, we had the book back at the beginning of Deadwood, so we had it for six years. We were in pre-production three years prior, and we lost our money. The wheels started to turn again because [director] Shane [Dax Taylor] was friends with Hilary Duff, and she wanted to read it. The huge surprise is, she’s wonderful. She’s wonderful as a person, she busted her ass, and she’s really good in the movie. Her [character’s] mother’s a trailer-park whore, she’s a high-school dropout that’s essentially becoming a trailer-park whore—you don’t think of Hilary Duff when you think of that. Can’t say enough great things about her. That’s what kind of got the ball rolling again is that here’s a big name that kind of wants to do this.
AVC: Since you were also the writer and producer, did you always know you were going to play Brady?
WEB: Well, I had to prioritize my hats. I tell Shane, “Look, the producer hat comes first, because that’s what’s got to get this film made. The actor hat comes second. There’s three or four parts in this movie I can play, so we get names, whoever, and then I’m the first guy off the bench, because I know the producer can make the actor work cheap.” That’s really what it was. We’ve got this much money to use, it’s going to take us this much money to get this guy, and so on. I actually offered my part to John C. Reilly, because I went to school with John at DePaul. And his schedule was busy and he couldn’t do it. So we bandied about other names, because we knew it was such a juicy part. And just as luck would have it, when Val [Kilmer] stepped in to do Warren, that was the last piece of the puzzle we had to have to justify the money we needed.
The stress of that whole thing was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through, emotionally and psychologically. Both Shane and I, we couldn’t sleep at night there was so much to do. His fingernails were falling out, my back got fucked up seriously, and when I had to wear that leg brace as Brady, it just made me worse. I had days where I couldn’t hardly move. I had an acupuncturist—twice he came out to the set, just so I could move—and then it took me three, four months after the movie to start working with this doctor. He’s a chiropractor but he’s not; he’s a “healer.” It made me sick, but the flip to it is, I’m very fucking proud of it. Of both the movie and the performance. And the only thing that we went over budget on was the cost of T-Bone Burnett—because we didn’t know we were going to get T-Bone, and that cost considerably more than we had planned for our music.
The next thing we’re doing, I’m not even in it. I’d love to be, but I’m too old. It’s an original story based on two life experiences—one of Shane’s and one of mine—that we just started. The characters are 29, 30 years old. I can’t pass for 30 anymore. If I were just 10 years younger… We put 40 as like the break, because we had a lot of actors on the list. If you’re 29 and you’re still pretending to be a frat boy, it’s kind of sad. If you’re 45 and you’re still trying to be a frat boy, it’s just fucking creepy. Needless to say, there’s a part of my ego thinking, “Fill in the bald spot, do the makeup.” But dude, you’re 47.
AVC: That’s like the salt-and-pepper sweet spot for actors though, right? That’s a good, solid, Brian Dennehy age.
WEB: Oh, for character guys, yeah. But see, this writer that wrote the story doesn’t see it that way—and that writer is me. [Laughs.] I remember reading an interview with John Sayles years ago where he was talking about style. He was comparing himself to Spike Lee and Oliver Stone, where style comes first—not first, but style moves the story. He said, “Story comes first for me.” All the style elements have to fit the story, and that’s the way that I prefer to look at things. We’re all just telling stories. Whether you’re doing it with a guitar singing a five-minute song or doing a movie, it’s all the same thing to me. It’s whatever excites me creatively—and again, acting comes first, because that’s how I pay my mortgage. That’s the way I kind of look at what I do. I’m the dad and the homeowner first—got to take care of that. Then, creatively, that’s just my goal: to do shit that I care about and I can invest myself in, and make a comfortable living… [Pauses.] Man, you know, my joke is that my megalomania knows no bounds, and when I talk about this shit I’m very proud of it on one level, but on another level I’m the fucking guy that, if I was sitting there listening to me talk, I couldn’t stand it. This is not a psychiatrist’s couch!