Christopher Lloyd interview (Back to the Future, Taxi, Who Framed Roger Rabbit)
Christopher Lloyd has one of the most notable careers out of any actor in Hollywood. Christopher started his career with his well known role on “Taxi” as Reverend Jim, and starred in such films as the “Back to the Future” franchise, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and the list goes on and on. He is a man who does not need any introduction and will always be known and loved for his roles in his films. Movie Mikes had the absolute pleasure in talking with Christopher about his various roles and got a chance to pick his brain.
Mike Gencarelli: What was it like working with such a wonderful cast on “Taxi”?
Christopher Lloyd: It was my first real job. I grew up in New York. I gravitated to various theater work in New York for many years before I did “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, which was my first film. When “Taxi” came along it was an area I did not expect to be in. I remember I was so astounded by the cast. They were all so wonderful and they worked so well together as an ensemble. They are all such good actors and brought such good personality to the show. I was amazed and really privileged to belong to that cast.
MG: What was your inspiration for your portrayal of Reverend Jim on “Taxi”?
CL: When I did the show, I would run into people and they would say that they knew somebody in their lives that was a “Reverend Jim”-type. During hiatus, sometimes I would come back after time off and it would take me a little while to get back into the character. I found I would start thinking of my oldest brother, who was 22 years older than me, and there was just something about his character that would help. Maybe it was his attitude or his facial expression but I would always then find myself back as Reverend Jim. My brother was a complete non-drinker or smoker. So besides a character resemblance, he bore no other likeness to Reverend Jim. But somehow I would think of him and I would get my character back.
MG: Looking back now 25 years at the “Back to the Future” franchise, what has been the best part for you being apart of it?
CL: With celebrating the 25th anniversary, certainly myself I never expected it to have the life that it has had. We all hoped it would have a good opening and be well accepted. What impresses me the most, which is also the most rewarding, is that how much it means to some people. Even young people, for instance someone who liked it back then is now making their children watch it. Once they watch it the first time, they are just completely hooked and they love it. It has lasted generation after generation and it still means as much as it did to the first audience back in 1985. I run into people from various walks of life and various countries, they have told me that in one way or another it has inspired them to do something special.
MG: How has it been reprising the role of Doc Brown in Telltale Games’ recent video game?
CL: It was a lot of fun. The game picks up where “Back to the Future: Part III” ended. It goes back to the story and develops new parallel lines of time and more adventures with Doc Brown and Marty. I liked having the chance to go back and reprising that role once again.
MG: One of our readers, Jim Baldassi, would like to know, do you have any good behind the scenes stories to tell about filming “Back to the Future”?
CL: Hmmm, I wouldn’t know where to start. Just after “Back to the Future” was shot and months before its release to theaters. We went up to Northern California to shoot the music video for the soundtrack with Huey Lewis. It was an all night shoot. Huey didn’t know anything about the film…or whether it had a future or not. I remember Huey Lewis coming up to me and asking me “Is this film ever going to do anything”? I looked back and shrugged at him because none of us knew. We were all just hoping it would have a decent run. I do not think anyone could have anticipated how popular it would become.
MG: What can you recall about playing Judge Doom in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”? Due to the animation, was it a difficult project?
CL: It included a lot more preparation than a non-animated film. They made a dummy Roger Rabbit. It was the actual size…probably about hip height and it had a certain weight to it. When we rehearsed the film, we were able to get a sense of the Rabbit and its weight when we were holding it. We would rehearse with and without the rabbit to get the feel and adjust our performance. When we shot the film, it would appear we were actually working with the rabbit. We also had Charles Fleischer, who did the voice of Roger Rabbit off camera. He even dressed up as Roger Rabbit and came up with the crazy voice. He really helped us so much to believe what we were doing and made it work. It was a lot more time rehearsing than regular movies but we had a lot more help from animators and the voice actors.
MG: How does it feel to be a part of the “Star Trek” universe from your role of Commander Kruge in “The Search for Spock”?
CL: I LOVED it. Commander Kruge was so evil and so nasty. He did not have passion or any kind of moral sense of any kind. It was just fun to play that kind of a character. It was a lot of fun. I loved the look of the character…its costume and the makeup. He even had his own language in the movie….Klingonese. They have even formulated a book with Klingonese vocabulary…verbs…the whole thing. It was just so great.
MG: How did you get involved with the fake trailer “Gobstopper” as an evil Willy Wonka?
CL: Yes, I just got a call. It was only one day’s work down in an abandoned warehouse in Downtown LA. I loved it. It was essentially a preview of a movie that hasn’t been made. I have been hoping that they would make a film out of it. I would jump all over that, I would love to do that. It was just so much fun. I think it would work great as a movie.
MG: Tell us about working on “Piranha 3D”? Do you think you will be reprising your role of Mr. Goodman in its sequel “Piranha 3DD”?
CL: Oh yeah! [laughs] “Piranha”. I thought it was a good film within its genre. They set out to do what they wanted to do…and they did it. I was at an award ceremony last year and “Piranha” was awarded the Best/Worst Film of the Year [laughs]…and I think they deserved it [laughs]. I had a lot of fun with that. I have no idea about the sequel, I haven’t heard anything about a sequel but I will be there if they want me back.
MG: We have a celebrity question from actress Sean Young: Who is your current favorite actress? Which actress have you had the most laughs with?
CL: I had a lot of fun working with Mary Steenburgen in “Back to the Future: Part III”. I worked with her before and she is such a wonderful actress and is very engaging. We did a film together before called “Going South” and we had a lot of fun and had real good chemistry between us. My favorite actress today really comes and goes with what I see currently. I do have a lot of admiration for Judi Dench. I have seen a lot of her work over the years and I just really appreciate her commitment and her daring to take on really interesting roles. She just does it so well and has continued to keep working. We all hopefully have our big moments but the real goal is to hopefully keep working.
MG: You recently starred as Willy Loman in the stage production of “Death of a Salesman”, how was that experience?
CL: That was wonderful. Willy Loman is not a role that I am normally considered for. I do not have a lot of credits for doing dramatic roles. The opportunity came up to do that and I jumped on it. It was one of the greatest experiences I have had in my career. It is such an amazing play…still very relevant and pertinent for today. For me it was a challenge to tackle that role but I felt I did it justice and I gave it everything I had. We also had a wonderful cast and director. Again, it was just a great moment for me and I was very grateful for it.
MG: What else do you have planned next?
CL: It just depends as to what comes up. Whether it is TV, film or stage. I just take it day to day as to what I am going to do next.
See the interview here: http://moviemikes.com/2011/02/interview-with-christopher-lloyd/