The enigmatic filmmaker, actor, and musician, will be appearing at two screenings of his self-directed films this weekend, at the Lightbox.
Crispin Glover is many things to people. To some, he’ll always be everyone’s favorite nerdy dad in Back To The Future. To others, the remarkably effective creepy guys from River’s Edge and Wild At Heart. A younger generation is more likely to recall his appearances as Thin Man in the Charlie’s Angels films, or as the one-armed bellhop in Hot Tub Time Machine. Between songs about especially clowny clowns and classic interviews that double as performance art, Glover has always been—and continues to be—nothing if not fascinating.
This weekend, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, he will present the first two parts of his It trilogy—movies he directed himself. (They’re about as bizarre as you’d expect. Here’s an extremely NSFW trailer.) In typically irreverent fashion, Glover will present the second part, It Is Fine. Everything Is Fine! on Saturday and close things out with the first part, What Is It? on Sunday night.
Our interview with Glover, in which we discuss casual matters like clowns and cerebral palsy, is below.
Torontoist: With What Is It? having been released in 2005 and It is Fine. Everything Is Fine! having premiered in 2007, when can we expect It Is Mine, the final part of the “It” trilogy? [Which has yet to be completed.]
Glover: I should not go in to detail for part three of the “It” trilogy, titled It Is Mine, as I will not shoot that next. It Is Mine is an even more complex project than those two films were, so it will be a while yet before that production.
The sets for my next film productions have started construction. At the same time the sets are being built, I am in the process of continuing to develop the screenplay for myself and my father to act in together on these very sets. He is also an actor, and that is the next film I am planning to make as a director/producer. There are two other projects I am currently developing to shoot on sets at my property in the Czech Republic. The cost of the set building will determine which one I actually shoot next.
Are there any plans to record more music?
There are some more recordings that have been made since The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be [in 1989]. There is another album’s worth of material that has small finishes that need to be made, to release it. My mind mostly is on making and distributing my films and acting in others’ films.
“Clowny Clown Clown” has had more attention than the rest of the album in the last several years because YouTube has made the promotional video available and many more people have seen that than heard the rest of the album. I am glad I made the video for that song, but of course a lot more has gone in to making the films.
Having been to Toronto previously to screen films, what are your impressions of the city?
Not only have I shown my films in Toronto but I have performed one of my now two different live shows. I will be premiering “Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show Part 2” in Toronto this time. I have always had a great time when working in Canada and in Toronto specifically. I have toured with my shows and films in Toronto multiple times and I have acted in a film there shot in the late ’80s. Toronto is a great city.
What was the genesis for the trilogy?
I am very careful to make it quite clear that What is it? is not a film about Down’s Syndrome but my psychological reaction to the corporate restraints that have happened in the last 20 to 30 years in film-making. Specifically, anything that can possibly make an audience uncomfortable is necessarily excised or the film will not be corporately funded or distributed. This is damaging to the culture because it is the very moment when an audience member sits back in their chair, looks up at the screen and thinks to themself, “Is this right, what I am watching? Is this wrong, what I am watching? Should I be here? Should the filmmaker have made this? What is it?” And that is the title of the film.
Steven C. Stewart wrote and is the main actor in part two of the trilogy titled, It Is Fine. Everything Is Fine!. I put Steve into the cast of What Is It? because he had written this screenplay which I read in 1987. When I turned What Is It? from a short film into a feature, I realized there were certain thematic elements in the film that related to what Steven C. Stewart’s screenplay dealt with. Steve had been locked in a nursing home for about ten years when his mother died. He had been born with a severe case of cerebral palsy and he was very difficult to understand. People that were caring for him in the nursing home would derisively call him an “M.R.”—short for “Mental Retard”. This is not a nice thing to say to anyone, but Steve was of normal intelligence. When he did get out, he wrote his screenplay. I feel It Is Fine. Everything Is Fine! will probably be the best film I will have anything to do with in my entire career. People who are interested in when I will be back should join up on the e-mail list as they will be e-mailed with information as to where I will be with whatever film I tour with. It is by far the best way to know how to see the films.
After Charlie’s Angels came out, it did very well financially and was good for my acting career. I started getting better roles that also paid better, and I could continue using that money to finance my films that I am so truly passionate about. I have been able to divorce myself from the content of the films that I act in, and look at acting as a craft that I am helping other filmmakers to accomplish what it is that they want to do. If, for some reason, the director is not truly interested in doing something that I personally find interesting with the character, then I can console myself with the money I am making to be in their production. Usually, though, I feel as though I am able to get something across as an actor that I feel good about. It has worked out well.