Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst has always wanted to be a filmmaker. He just happened to get sidetracked by the whole rock star thing. After making a conscious decision to take a break from the multi-platinum selling band, he decided to get serious and focus on making his dream come true, and he came across The Education of Charlie Banks, set in the early 80′s against the backdrop of Greenwich Village. Feeling that he could relate to both the Ivy League Charlie (Jesse Eisenberg) and the violent, dangerous Mick Leary (Jason Ritter), Durst was passionate about bringing the script to the screen the way he envisioned it.
In person, Durst is well-spoken, laid-back and very clear about what he wants, both personally and professionally. Reuniting all the original members, Limp Bizkit is getting ready to tour together for the first time in eight years, but once that tour is finished, the 38-year-old from North Carolina has set his sights on directing Psycho Killer, starring Mickey Rourke.
Check out the interview below….
Once you finish up this tour with Limp Bizkit, do you know what your next directorial project will be?
I’m going to direct Andrew Kevin Walker’s new movie, Psycho Killer. He wrote Seven. It’s a very smart, amazing script about a serial killer that’s incredibly unique. Right now, Mickey Rourke is attached as the psycho killer. It’s not a cliche slasher genre film. It’s very significant. He’s an incredible writer.
Why Mickey Rourke?
He’s fascinating. I love him! After meeting him, I saw that there’s layers to him. He’s the real deal.
When did you decide that you want to be a filmmaker? Was it difficult to get people who may have only been familiar with your stage persona to give you a chance?
I’ve wanted to be a filmmaker since I was a teenager. I never wanted to be a rock star. I’m not a singer, and I never saw myself as one. The journey to be a filmmaker is very interesting for me, especially having had some success with Limp Bizkit and being known for that, and then it inevitably became an obstacle to be me. So many times, in Hollywood, over many, many years, people in one genre, just because they’re successful, get the opportunity to do something else. It isn’t necessarily something that should happen, and that’s ruined it for a lot of people. A lot of people don’t like actors who become rock stars, and vice versa. There are the exceptions, and those become significant. But, for this always being my passion, I got the meetings because of the success of Limp Bizkit. My foot was always in the door. It was the people taking the meetings who said, “Let’s just meet this guy,” probably thinking the worst, and then leaving the meetings with me thinking the worst, and them thinking, “Wow, this guy is very serious. He’s different from what we thought. Limp Bizkit was a character of his. It’s part of him, but he has this other side to him, too.”
How did you know when you had found the right project?
(Producer) Michael London introduced me to (director) David Fincher, who I was a big fan of, and we hit it off. He started to give me advice and mentor me, and he told me some things that were very, very important, significant and essential to my evolution of understanding how to be a filmmaker and what to do to take it seriously. So, I pulled back from Limp Bizkit and waited on the right material, and did a lot of studying and apprenticing, and luckily the material came that I felt I could apply my passion to. I had to make sure there was a story that I thought I really could tell.
Tons of scripts were coming through, and I got offered lots of jobs, but they were very typical. They wanted me because of my success with all of the Limp Bizkit, Korn, Staind and Puddle of Mudd videos, and they wanted MTV music video style directing for these throw-away genre scripts, and that’s just not what I’m attracted to in cinema. I had to wait on the right material and, when this material came across my plate, I was very impressed with it. I just felt strongly that I could dance on both sides of this coin because I’m Charlie Banks and I’m Mick Leary. I identify with both of these guys, equally, and I’ve lived both of these guys’ lives, and that really helped me to give a good perspective, without it being biased or just from Charlie Banks’ point of view. A very wealthy person who’s never had to struggle for a penny or who never had to worry about making a dollar, doesn’t necessarily understand what it’s like to not have money.
Having been on both sides and understanding that, I thought I could paint a picture for a wealthy person and for a person that has nothing. The class struggle with Mick and Charlie is somewhere that I’ve been. It was just a very significant, important script and, once I met Peter Elkoff, hearing why he wrote it just really brought a new life to it. And, he really liked my take on the movie, so we just started to work on the script. Ideally, I got to cast the people I thought were right for the movie and not people who were right for the wrong reasons, like financing, or because they were popular, or whatever. That’s what made it feel so special and organic.
Did you have any hesitation about casting Jason Ritter in this role because it’s so different from what he’s done before?
No. I was very open to the idea. Living a life where people are very hesitant of me because of who I am, makes me more open to other people. I was aware of his work and I was aware of who his father was, and I thought it was an interesting idea. I wanted to meet him, but I couldn’t be in New York at the time, so he put himself on tape. A couple weeks later, we had lunch and I knew he was it. I offered him the part, by the end of that lunch. I just sensed that likeability and charisma that Mick Leary needs. There’s this vulnerable element to him, and then there’s that menace behind it. When Jason was talking about his take on the character, I just knew he was the guy.
Did you spend a lot of time working on the fight scenes to make them so realistic?
We worked hard on choreographing the fighting. Jason, Jesse Eisenberg and Sebastian Stan trained for it. I knew how I wanted to shoot the movie, and that I wanted it to be still and wide. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we needed some scope to it, and I really loved that beautiful, elegant, cinematic quality. With the fighting, it was more about it being believable, not being cliche and not using trick camera moves to create the suspense and action. We choreographed real fights. It was so amazing!
What were you able to identify with specifically, in Mick?
You have to get out of your own way, at certain times, and there are moments in your life where you can’t get out of your own way, for whatever reason, whether it’s the wrong upbringing or a bad mother or abusive parents. You’re just dealt the wrong hand. Given another life and another chance, with a little bit more understanding and nurturing, Mick might have been a different person, but his own psychological baggage, from being raised how he was, where the streets were his family, inevitably became an obstacle for him. He couldn’t get out of his own way, and I’ve had moments in my life where I couldn’t get out of my own way. I’m always true to my heart.
One of the problems that people have with people is that they don’t conform to your idea of things, and I was always, “I’m going to do things my way, the way I feel it, and keep it true to my heart, so I can sleep at night.” That side of Mick is what I identify with. He’s reactive, in certain ways that he’s just conditioned to be. He’s a survivor. He’s not a fight starter, he’s a fight finisher. He is not a bully, he beats up bullies. I was an underdog and I got beat up a lot, and my parents were abusive. The irony is that, when I was on stage, there were a lot of bullies out there, using my music as fuel to beat up the underdogs who were there, listening to music for the right reason. That was the epiphany I had, and that’s when I stopped and said, “You know what? I have to pull back.”
Now, the 14- to 17-year-old demographic — this big surge of people discovering Limp Bizkit again — was four and seven years old when Limp Bizkit was out. They don’t know Limp Bizkit. And, through my constant contact with them, through the Internet, and through blogging and video chatting, I’ve realized that the audience is back to being a lot of underdogs and people who are identifying with the music for the right reasons, and it’s making me feel good about going out there.
Which side of Charlie did you identify with?
I’ve been in situations where, being an underdog and being bullied around a lot, I’ve had guys come in and steal my girlfriend, and I’ve had guys that were menacing and threatening that, for some reason, I found myself around. They could have turned on me at any second, but I continued to entertain the idea that this guy was still being cool to me and I was not turning my back on him because there was something about him where I thought, “Maybe he won’t turn on me. Maybe we’re cool.” I remember a guy coming in and stealing my girlfriend, and taking it on the chin and hanging out with him, and going, “Maybe she’ll like me after. She’s making the wrong decision and she’ll see that she’s with the wrong guy.” There were a lot of different subtleties that I identified with. It wasn’t just generic and surface. It was very personal things that happened in my life.