In addition to his quirky roles in past and current films (like Hot Tub Time Machine and Alice in Wonderland) Crispin Glover has embarked on his own trilogy of movies beginning with What Is It? (2005) and It Is Fine! Everything is Fine (2007). The third installment Glover plans to direct, partially using his house located outside of Prague.
“I moved into this 16th century chateau and next door was a stable for horses that I’ve reconverted into a small studio,” Glover tells Free Press Houston by phone from the Czech Republic. “I like sets,” Glover continues, elaborating on his vision.
Glover has been around some of the biggest and best movie sets over the last 40 years. Our conversation turns to his father Bruce Glover, who like played Mr. Witt in the early-70s James Bond flick Diamonds Are Forever. Glover recalls: “I was eight years old, we went to England for the summer. I was on the set when they were shooting the scene at the end of the movie where my Dad tries to strangle Bond with the sommelier chain.”
Glover appeared on several television shows in the early 80s including opposite the Fonz in the latter days of Happy Days. “It’s on youtube,” Glover says concisely. While Back To The Future was his highest profile role he’s also known for more unconventional parts like Layne in River’s Edge or his participation in The Orkly Kid a second-year AFI film project that was eventually incorporated into The Beaver Trilogy.
Glover’s infamous appearance on Letterman in the late-80s (then on NBC after Leno) now seems legendary because of its bizarreness as well as the Andy Kaufman factor (Kaufman also punked the Letterman show). In an interview I conducted with Glover in 1990 he said he wanted the whole thing to remain a mystery while admitting that the character he paraded on Late Night that night was actually an idea that had come about during an audition for the film Real Genius. “There’s a character that lives underground at the campus, and that was my idea of how he looked although I never actually did the audition because by that time I had gotten the part in Back To The Future.” Glover found an outlet for the character that appeared on Late Night in long stringy hair with bell-bottoms and platform shoes when he worked the character into the movie Rubin and Ed. Despite not being in the sequels to BTTF Glover has recently worked with that film’s director Robert Zemeckis in the recent Beowulf.
There’s a link between Grover’s roles in physically demanding roles like Charlie’s Angels and Beowulf and now Alice in Wonderland. Admittedly those films require a lot of stamina and exercise. “What you see of the CGI Grendel, that’s me doing it.” At one point in Alice he’s actually on stilts.
There’s a seditious side to Alice in Wonderland that’s mirrored in the narrative that places Alice (Mia Wasikowska) in a prim and proper background before thrusting her into a world that’s a bit more perilous than the Wizard of Oz. Remember Dorothy kills two witches before all was said and done. Alice has some dragons of her own to slay in the Tim Burton film.
We discuss the acting concept of the “psychological gesture” a technique from Michael Chekhov’s To The Actor. It involves using body motions that accentuate traits of the character one is trying to achieve. Glover found occasion to use it in his portrayal of Stayne, the Knave of Hearts. Plus all of Alice, which comes out on DVD today even while it’s grossed over $1-billion worldwide in its 13 weeks of release, was shot against a green screen.
“Your eyes literally develop a green haze that stays with you after you wrap,” laughs Glover. “The color’s not natural, it’s a neon green that tends to seep into your brain.”
Glover constantly tours with his films from the It Trilogy. He mentions his first show in Texas was at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin but expresses interest in Houston. “On my website there’s a contact link for the manager’s of theaters,” mentions Glover who likes to book on an individual basis after finding the corporate theater route often didn’t pay enough to cover the cost of making the trip.
– Michael Bergeron