Talk about sitting down with two of the most outrageous men in cinema. Bobcat Goldthwait and Robin Williams both joined a room full of about a dozen journalists to talk about their upcoming film World’s Greatest Day. At first, the two men appear completely different, Williams is practically jumping on the table and singing songs, while Bobcat appears far more reserved and selective about what he says, but don’t be fooled. Both united through one sick sense of humor and a love for films.
To set the mood, Williams starting us off with a little routine he’s been working on called “Julia Child does Porn”…
Williams: “Smack your bum, take your cock, hold it up, addd the crums, push it around, spread its little legs and work your cock. Take your cock and smack it around and then move it around and shake it around until the bread crums are all put on. [Breaks character] Julia Childs does porn. [Back to Julie Child...] Yes. How warm is your oven? Yes. Gently dust me. Yes, yes. Who wants more? Yes, yes.”
What makes Williams so impressive is his ability to jump from a completely comedic character to complete seriousness within a drop of a hat, and how clear he can convey both sides of himself. With that in mind, now we can begin…
So what is this movie for you, is it an experiment, is it a statement you want to make?
Robin: Experiment! (laughter)
Bobcat: Thank you.
Robin: Is Bobcat’s movie an experiment?
Well it’s so different that…
Robin: Well, for me, I just read it and went, “This is really interesting.” I mean after I saw his Sleeping Dogs Lie, I went, he’s not afraid to take an unusual subject like “girl blows dog”, “Oh, let’s see what happens with this.” So this movie, I read it and went, he’s got this really difficult thing, right off the bat, but I knew that he could handle the humanity of it. So I went, when I read it, I initially read it because I thought, “maybe I’ll play a small part” and I read it and I went “No, wait a minute I want to play Lance, because it’s really interesting.” Experiment for me? No, it was one of the best scripts I read, up until that point…
Bobcat: Thanks. So yeah, I guess he was going to read it and offer to do a small part to help me get it made and then (Robin: Help little Bobby) so everything changed you know, ‘cause I think Rob is, well I don’t think, I know he’s one of the best actors in the world so the fact that he (Robin: Please tell others) wanted to be in the movie changed everything because people say, “Did you write it with Robin in mind?” I think if I was going to write a movie for Robin I would stayed away from poetry teacher, I think that was handled pretty well in the past.
Robin: We can call this “Dead Penis Assignment.”
Bob, I read the New York Times feature that you just did. You had a wonderful quote where you said that the movies you did that started your career are the ones that most people do at the end?
Bobcat: Yeah, yeah.
Now as you break into this transition, what is it about directing that has re-enlivened your excitement about being in Hollywood.
Bobcat: Well, I don’t know about the excitement about being in Hollywood but it has made me, it’s so exciting to make these movies, they’re way more personal. I think it’s funny that these movies, one stars a woman and then one’s this character, the way, these are more about me than anything I’ve ever done on stage, it’s so funny. I’ve always hid behind a persona and this really is who I am.
Robin: The Bob that I know, is I mean, this really intelligent, film-savvy man who is also so humane. That’s what I think these movies are. The idea of tackling these subjects, but what is at the core is also a great humanity which is a weird thing because at the end you come away kind of like, even with Sleeping Dogs Lie you come away with, there’s a kind of tenderness to it, kindness. And as nasty as the subject matter is, there’s still this idea of humanity about it. And if one movie is about the truth might not be the best thing, the other movie is about it setting you free in a weird way. For me, I was like, why would you do this? ‘Cause it’s really good. And it’s worth taking the chance and is an experimental film? No, I think for me, it’s the one thing that keeps me going. If you get to do something interesting, that’s worth taking the shot for. ‘Cause anytime I’ve done things that “Let’s go make a shit load of Cash. Whoop!” Cut to me living off the merchandising from Bicentennial Man (laughter) but it’s the idea of “Why you going back on the road?” “ ‘Cause that Bicentennial Man didn’t pay the bills. Got to get back out now and hustle that comedy, come on now.”
Bobcat: Like I said, I go “look man, no art’s been made in a mansion” and he goes “Really? You mean, I got to get rid of my mansion?” No, no I just meant that you come stay with us in Seattle in a chain quality hotel for five weeks.
***SPOILER*** Over the summer when the news about David Carradine came out, were you worried that it would be too soon for an auto-erotic asphyxiation comedy?
Bobcat: No, because…
Robin: For a musical yes. (laughter)
Bobcat: But not a comedy.
Robin: (singing) Stroking, sitting around and joking, got twine around my balls…(laughter)
Bobcat: I wanted to say this, the comedy in the movie doesn’t come from the person’s death, it’s not that kind of Farley Brother’s comedy where you have disgusting and weird things happen to people and we all laugh and then at the last ten minutes we decided to put a ending about we’re all the same or some bullshit. But with all that said and done, of course, I feel sad for anyone’s family who suffered this way, that they lost a member of their family but outside of getting hit by a car full of clowns, it is the funniest way to die.
**SPOILER***Well, I don’t even think we want to say that there’s a death because that’s halfway through the movie, it’s just an element in the story.
Robin: It is an element in the story. But it is a shocking element and the fact that we deal with it in a way that he hits it hard. When people see this and anybody who has a kid sees this, it hits hard. I know anybody who watches this, they’re going, the loss of a kid will flatten you. There’s no way we can come out of that going “HAHAHA he lost his boy.” It’s like, no, it’s devastating, it’s dark, and then, I like the fact that he takes the shot and he goes, he’s in shock and the whole audience is in shock and he comes out of it and then the beginning of this thing of, then the comedy starts slowly. But surely when they said, not many people showed up in the funeral, it’s a Wednesday.
Bobcat: Yeah, don’t blame yourself, it was a weekday. But that to me was such a relief because when I was at Sunday school, are we going to get him back? You know, and then when that happened, you know, the audience started laughing again and then I was relieved.
Robin: It’s also like the thing that happens when someone dies, the edification of people. He went through an amazing experience when his brother died ‘cause all of a sudden his brother was…
Bobcat: Everyone was re-inventing him. My brother was a very colorful man and very interesting man but he also was a little shaky. He was a little sketchy dude but…
Robin: The priest was going, “Tommy loved animals.”
Bobcat: He was like “he loved the wilderness, he loved the animals,” and I went in the church and I said, “Umm, father I don’t want to be rude but my brother loved to kill animals.”
Robin: So there are a lot of deer right now…
Bobcat: A lot of deer in the woods going “Whoof… guess we’ll make it through the winter.” Some people re-invent people and what that is, is a very juvenile like thing. Like when someone dies, instead of going “oh, I wonder how the people who are the closest to these people really care and feel and all that, they go how can I make this tragedy about me” which is very shallow thing and I can’t ever imagine it happening in America.
Robin: (Fakes a cough) Michael Jackson.
Are you surprised that you’re getting good word-of-mouth for this film?
Bobcat: I’m really shocked and happy. The whole movie’s been a, you know, first of all, the last movie that I wrote with a mind, I shot it in two weeks with a crew from craigslist and with an actress (Robin: This movie was shot with Facebook) with an actress who’s agent said “This movie’s not even going to be a DVD, don’t do it” so I was really happy when that one went to Sundance. So this movie, I didn’t think I was going to have one of the greatest actors in the world starring in it and I didn’t imagine I was going to shoot it on film, so now that I’m here at the Four Season’s talking to you guys, trust me this is blowing my mind because I’ll be playing Go Banana’s in two weeks in Cincinnati, you know, so.
Each one of your movies just keep getting more funny and dark. How did you get it past pitching it, just because there was so much dark, twisted shit in this movie…
Robin: Once I got cast it doesn’t mean people want to make it, even with Independent movies or co-dependent movies, where you get people going “Oh, so this is the movie where there’s a lot of asphyxiation, can you give us a moment?”
Bobcat: I feel like the funny thing is actually the Indies, in a strange way is becoming a studio system. They were actually supposed to finance the movie once Robin was attached and then all of a sudden, as we are drawing up the paperwork, they’re saying “Hey, does he have to, you know, they started giving notes…”
Robin: It was almost like, can the kid die playing Twister? (laughter) No! It’s like giving studio notes about Hamlet. Does he have to die? (laughter)
Bobcat: In an actual note, I actually had some on the other movie, “Can you just jerk off the dog?”
Robin: That’s nice. Here boy (whistling). That dog comes every time.
Bobcat: So I actually, we were all set to go and once they started, I realized they were going to start giving me notes, I actually turned them down and they proceeded to tell everybody that I was crazy and that the movie was never going to get made, so if they hear this or read this they can just fuck off.
What is your favorite curse word because this movie has some great ones?
Bobcat: It’s dog cock actually and three out of the four movies I’ve made, there is dog cock in it. I didn’t mean to do that.
Robin: That’s my English poem then, “Johnny Dog Cock.” Hello, Bobby, my favorite poem, I actually said.
Robin, you use them so much, can you even have a favorite?
Robin: No, I can’t really. It’s hard to pick one child you love. My favorite word is…(Bobcat: Which one do you sacrifice?) Which one, pick one. I don’t know. I was riffing the other night with a friend and I said, “This idea…” There’s women here so I don’t know if I could say it. They’re begging me, ok. You know if you go to England, the word cunt is a greeting, you know “Hello cunt.” You know, I was just going, there must be an island somewhere that the English say it funny “Hello” and then on an island somewhere off the coast of India, (with Indian accent) “Hello your a very great cunt”….
Bobcat: Well, my daughter came in and she was like “Dad, what’s a cunt?” and she was little and I just told her this song, (singing) “My cunt, my cunt, my country is calling me…” and she was little tiny and I took away the meaning of it for her so I always envision now that she’s an adult, some guy is going to cut her off in traffic and go “You cunt” and she’s going to go, “I got to call my dad.”
Robin: And then start singing that song, (singing) “My cunt, my cunt, my country is calling me.”
Bobcat: She’ll have this fond memory of me.
Bob, how did you want this movie marketed, because you both have had experiences, where all of a sudden the marketing people taking away the shine?
Robin: The one thing we didn’t want, and I think they did a great job with the redband trailer — is to misslead people, to say “It’s going to be quite funny” and they go “no.” The hard part for them is given the language, given the subject matter.
Bobcat: I don’t blame them but I think the green trailer is a little misleading and then I really help matters by calling it The World’s Greatest Dad which really does sound like Fred MacMurray is going to make a cameo. And then not wanting to give away the plot, but you know, I think at least the trailer’s done a good job with the tone, like when Robin says he’s going to stab the son in the face, you know, I’m hoping that will scare away the RV families. I’ll be like Bill Castle, “families are protesting this motion picture!” So, I’ve been grateful that they didn’t put together a trailer, ‘cause you could have just put together a bunch of goofy comedy. I really hope the folks go to the movie and are surprised, I mean, you know that’s the goal.
Bob you’ve said that these movies you’ve directed are more representative of you and yourself and in you bio it says something about you’re embarrassed by your 80’s comedy hits. Is that a funny exaggeration for the bio or do you really think that?
Bobcat: Oh, no, no, no. I really look at Police Academy as my porn past and I know that there’s a lot of folks who grew up on those movies and they have a soft spot and they do mean something to them and I don’t mean to diminish them and when I meet these people, I’m polite and stuff but honestly, if someone never asked me about Police Academy again I’d be pretty happy. (laughter)
Robin I saw this doc not too long ago, Remembering Walter Cronkite.
Robin: Oh, yeah. For me, he was a great friend and Walter, and people “Oh, you hung out with him,” big time. The wonderful thing about Walter is, you remember this man who made history but I also remember him telling the nastiest jokes known to man. You know, “And then she blew him…” (laughter) “It’s not so funny when it’s your dad, is it?” But knowing him and knowing what an amazing man he was but also knowing him, the man was… And you think about him and you think about the thing that he basically witnessed history and at the same time commented on history. I miss that now in times when you have people who are essentially opinions and you miss, I mean, Lyndon Johnson used to call up in the middle of the night going “Get that son-of-a-bitch off the air” ‘cause Walter was basically commenting, and when you saw him talk about, “Today in Texas, so and so whatever time in the afternoon in Dallas President Kennedy has been shot.” And he took a moment, he took his glasses off and you realize at that moment he’s devastated but he’s a man who’s been through WWII and all this other things, but he’s devastated. For him to stop in the midst of that going, “I think we have to take a moment now” and realize, that’s what’s missing in some ways. We have a few, we still have a few people with that kind of integrity, but you want more of that, especially now. I loved him dearly and I miss him, I’m going like, he’s kind of like one of the last vestiges of that, when they disenfranchised Dan Rather, it was like all of a sudden that’s gone and it was like, “where do you go now?” You go and, do you go online? I go, somewhat but then where’s that voice where you go, it’s not right, it’s not left, it just is.
You had a heart attack as soon as it was done. Was there any correlation?
Robin: None at all. No, no, it wasn‘t. I mean mine was genetic, mine wasn’t all of a sudden, “My Bob movie.”
Robin: Maybe it might really help out the movie if I die.
Bobcat: I did think I broke him but umm, but thank goodness it was genetic but yeah.
Robin: We worked hard. I was working like, we worked like crazy ‘cause it was five weeks of really intense, I remember telling him, we would do 10-15 page of dialogue a day and then I went from that to A Night At The Museum 2 where I had three days of doing one page of dialogue. I would call up Bobby and say “Bobby, I did half a page of dialogue” (laughter).
Bobcat: There were calling, he would call me up and go “They’re asking me if I could do a half a page of dialogue tomorrow and if that would be ok” and he goes “I didn’t tell them that you know on a Bob Wood movie you do about seven scenes by then.” Poor Robin would be like, “What’s going on? Is the kid in this scene, where are we?” And I’d go…
Robin: It’s one of the most, it’s funny, I’m really proud of this movie. It’s really small but it’s beautiful in a weird way and some of the stuff, ‘cause I trusted him, and I’m very happy I did, came out as being something kind of one of the most open I’ve ever been and maybe that’s weird that I had open heart surgery after that but I was feeling really, really open before that happened and thanks to homie here, that it was like, I feel good. And it is the idea, is it experimental? May I keep experimenting in that way, keep experimenting in the memory of Walter.
Bobcat: Every time, you mean, we don’t know that every time you jump and you don’t know what’s going to happen, that’s when everything seems to work out but it’s just that terrifying, we all trying to cling to what makes us…
Robin: Yeah it is that thing. Because you’re also getting people going “Oh, this is going to be huge!” And you go, “that’s the most dangerous thing you can say to someone.”
Robin, can you give us your thing on the one-man show for HBO.
Robin: It’s back. Now after surgery, three months off, I’ve just started doing the warm ups again, I’ve been able to do hour-thirty, hour-forty minute shows, I went “Ok, I can go the distance, now let’s see how it will be back out on the road. I have another month locally in San Francisco, just to kind of get back out. It feels good to be back up and doing it again because just before the surgery it was like “Ok, thank you…this has been really” it was that thing of “owww how you going to do it?” And then after the surgery, you do get that weird kind of “ohh” I had the surgery in Cleveland and I woke up going “Where am I?” “Cleveland” “Why?” “You had heart surgery” “Oh, cool, cool.” And then I got so emotional, it was like this weird thing of, because open-heart surgery, I don’t know about for women but for men it’s literally like they crack the armor and go inside.
[Bobcat] gave me a good line, I said “It’s not like I got a new valve but a tiny vagina” because you get like “Oh, God,” people go [Feigns crying] “How are you?” and you go “Thanks, thank you so much.” And now I got to go out on the road and do stand-up comedy, “You got to toughen up pussy boy. Come on you got to go back out and get ready to work.” That’s, the idea of going back out on the road is exciting, it pays the bills but it’s also, what’s going on in America everyday is a gift.
I mean,what’s going on in all of these town-hall meetings is pretty amazing. I loved the guy who yelled out, “I want the government to keep their stinking hands off my Medicare” Too late Klan. (laughter) It’s a government program. “Obama scares me” I’m going to guess why. Umm-hmm-hmmm. Obama, it’s an old Kenyon word for Kennedy. (continues humming) It’s going to be the ultimate affirmativeve-action family, yeah every white family has to have an older relative to report to me, going to be a maid in a black family, good luck now. Yes we pile-em’. So there’s a lot of talk about.
Check out The World’s Greatest Dad in theaters August 21st.