Friday, August 21, 2009

Exclusive Robert Picardo Interview: Part 2

Picture 1: Robert Picardo as werewolf Eddie Quist in The Howling
Picture 2: As Wade Mixon in the movie Sensored

In part 2 of this interview, I wanted to talk about one of Robert Picardo’s most recent characters, Alphonso, from the Acme Brand Comedy sketches ''Ask Alphonso.'' An hysterically funny Italian gigolo, the character ressembles one the actor's most famous movie characters, the Cowboy, from the movie Innerspace.

An extraordinary actor, Mr. Picardo played a very different range of characters. From the very funny characters such as the Cowboy and Alphonso, to the very dark and scary such as werewolf Eddie Quist on The Howling, and most recently Wade Mixon on Sensored.

I also wanted to know a bit more about his upcoming movie project called The Legends of Nethiah, on which he is currently working, as well as what he loves to do when he has a some time off.

Without further ado, here is part 2:

IT: I have to know about Alphonso …

RP: I love doing sketch comedy and I have guessed-hosted with a sketch comedy group called Acme Comedy Theatre, and one of the characters I played was sort of an Italian gigolo who does not know that he’s completely [laughs], he’s out of touch with the fact that he’s not entrancing women. He either never has, or he certainly isn’t anymore, but he’s very self-absorbed. So I wanted to play a completely self-absorbed character who thought he was God’s gift to women. It’s a little kind of a variation on my character in Innerspace, who was the cowboy. So it was just a character I played in a sketch and everybody loved him so we decided to do sort of advice for lovers from this completely self-absorbed guy, and his advice usually was, [laughs] ''it’s a shame you’re not me, guys, ‘cause I’m better than you,'' and for women it’s like, ''it’s a shame you’re not with me,'' so that’s the kind of advice he gives people. It’s really just for fun.

IT: Are you going to do more of these sketches?

RP: I would love to, I would love to do more. Until our Union comes with an agreement for the internet, now that we’ll have a contractual agreement. There was just an interruption of somebody’s websites because they didn’t know if they could keep making this programming. I was just doing it for fun. I was not doing it to get paid, it was just joy for me. But they stopped making programming pending the new agreement with the Screen Actors Guild, so I hope that when the website’s back up I will do more.

IT: So we know you’re a funny guy and we also know you’re a great dramatic actor. You’ve played some very dark roles and your recent film, called Sensored, just premiered in Sacramento. Can you tell [us] more about it?

RP: It’s a psychological drama more than a horror film. I play a character who is doing weird things in his basement. He looks like the guy down the block who just keeps to himself – who seems kind of nerdy but he’s also quite frightening when you see this other reality. But then as the movie progresses, you come to doubt his own sanity and how much of what he’s doing. Is he really doing or he thinks he’s doing? And is he torturing people or is he just brainwashing them? Or is he imagining that he’s doing? So it’s an interesting character study and a really cool role for me. But he’s a very dark character. The movie, I’m sure, will get a distributor. In fact, we’re talking to a number of them now. But whether or not it gets a feature release I don’t know. But it will come out on DVD and it’s pretty creepy.

IT: I want to talk a bit about The Howling. You mentioned that you scared the casting director Susan Arnold during the audition and that she was so freaked out that she didn’t want to see you again. Is that mended?

RP: Oh, I may have joked that she didn’t want to see me. She auditioned me for other things and I think cast me in other things, but I think I did creep her out a little. I think her reaction to me is what got me the part. Because she reacted to me and the producer saw how I creeped her out, so they thought ''yup, this guy will do this to our audience!'' She’s a lovely person. I haven’t seen her in years, but I have very fond memories of her.

IT: You have a movie you’re working on right now, The Legends of Nethiah. What is your role?

RP: I’m rehearsing and I start shooting it in about a week. It’s a really sweet little family movie. What I liken it to structurally is The Princess Bride, but it’s not a comedy – like a dramatic version of that. The wrap-around story is a grandfather telling his grandson a story. In this case, I’m the grandfather and my ten-year-old grandson is having trouble at school; his parents are divorcing, he’s acting up a lot, and he’s having just trouble in this transition in his life. And I tell him this story about these science-fiction characters and you cut to that world. So you see this wonderful little back-story that’s very futuristic and cool. We’ve shot that footage already. I even play a part in the story within the story, so it’s the ideas that when I tell my little grandson the dream, he dreams that his grandfather is a hero in the story. So you see me in two roles; you see me as an old warrior in the science-fiction story, The Legends of Nethiah, and then you see me as the grandfather telling the story to his grandson in order to teach him how to man-up and really deal with his problems, even though he’s so young. It’s a sweet little story and I’m looking forward to finish. We’ve done the first part; now we’re gonna do the part when we don’t have to jump around [laughs], the talking part.

IT: What does Robert Picardo do on his time off?

RP: I love to cook. I’m a serious cook. I recently got a wood-fired pizza oven outside; so I like to cook, have friends over, or just for my family or even for myself if I go out of town to work. When I was working in Canada, I made dinner for myself pretty much every night after work just because I enjoy eating my own cooking [laughs] because I know what’s in it and I’m pretty darn good. So that’s my main hobby, cooking. I like to read, I like to workout, smoke the occasional cigar, hang out with my friends – pretty simple stuff. I’m not a scuba diver or a skydiver, anything that I can hurt myself at, because I’m a little clumsy. Cooking is dangerous enough! I cut my finger shaking hands with someone last night, so you know, I got to watch it! It was a fan with a very sharp fingernail last night.

The conclusion of the interview is coming up in part 3.

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