Film Fetish interviews Extract’s Clifton Collins Jr. about the art of acting, working with Mike Judge, getting into ‘R-Rated’ trouble in the heartland and more

Clifton Collins Jr. plays Step in Extract
Clifton Collins Jr. plays Step in Extract

I recently interviewed actor Clifton Collins Jr. and some of his answers may surprise or even shock you. He claims to have a cousin named Chris Craig. I personally don’t believe Clifton is English or that his cousin was in involved in the landmark legal case or the film Let ‘Em Have It. More research needs to be done. When asked to simply weigh in on the likely outcome of a murderous fight between a monkey and a liger, Clifton adopts the notoriously Swiss position of just wanting to give peace a chance. Thanks hippie, but you had your chance to solve it. Apparently three necessary components for a happy yoga session for Clifton and Academy Award Winner Adrien Brody are: Geese, Sunshine, and Hip Hop. Go on wit cha’ bad self rude boy. Clifton weighs in on a range of issues and becomes almost Rainman like when asked about the current music scene as he seems incapable of producing answers other than Jamey Johnson and Jimi Hendrix. Plus: PETA parties in the Caribbean, the new Sony EX3 is way better than the EX1, Boondock Saints II is the shiznik, mums the word on his secret development projects, I can’t tell the diff betwixt German and English, and he can’t speak Iowan even when just trying to find a CVS in the heartland. Plus a ton more Clifton Collins Categorizations for the real heads. Dinner is served – dig in childrens.

Jerry Quickley

Artists seem to take many different roads on their journey. What was it that first attracted you to acting…?
My Grandfather Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez being into the biz first exposed me. I was always around it, and he got both me and my cousin Chris Craig tap dancing at the age of 7. It wasn’t until late high school did I realize that I could make a living at just being a class clown, later evolved into real entertainment and craftsmanship.

…and what do you do to keep your work fresh and fully engaged?
That’s a great question. I ask myself the same question, sometimes I feel like I get so busy actually working that I don’t really have any time to experience REAL life, which is where I like to pull so much of what I do, then there is YOUTUBE. Life is always the best examples, of well, LIFE :). Also studying other artists who I admire / look up to, to recreate a slice of life in a believable interesting way is inspiring.

I understand that you’re in Iowa currently working on the Paul Scheuring re-make, The Experiment. Can you tell us a little about the film, and what differences audiences might expect in the re-make?
Err; for starters, it’s in English. It also has the great Adrian Brody and the powerhouse of an actor Forest Whitaker…need I say more? 🙂 There are some changes to the piece that I believe will keep fans of the original “Das Experiment” interested.

Give us the secret scoop on life in Iowa. What are two of your favorite places to go in Iowa? What PG rated (or perhaps R rated?) trouble have you and/or your cast mates gotten into out in the heartland?
hahaha love THESE questions, you rule dude! I honestly was working soo much, trying to flesh out my character, trying to find a deep honesty and reality in my character by constantly talking to my convict friends. Going to comic-con the first weekend I was there for Boondock Saints 2 etc etc. I missed the first outing which I heard was epic, bars and Lumber Yard!!! Knowing myself, I probably woulda stayed home and worked anyways. We eventually got to working 6-day weeks, which ain’t really fun and certainly limits play time. Walmart ended up being the fun thing to do, there is so much to see there all in one stop. I’d have to say the most fun was when I got to spend a free Saturday to do Yoga in the park by the lake with Adrian Brody (old friend) and his crew. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful, Geese flew overhead, wind rustled through the leaves, and suddenly we all heard TONE-LOC’S “Wild Thing” blaring in the distance. I also began shooting another video. So, after a 12/14 hour day of acting, I’d go out and actually see the country side, shooting the full moon time lapse stuff like that. I really love going out and finding things visually, that stimulate me and my vision for songs that inspire me. I really think that was one of the highlights of Iowa. And then of course going to the Lumber Yard with Jamey Johnson’s crew after their first show at the Iowa State Fair, waking up on a tour bus in Missouri!

What’s up with Boondock Saints II? Tell us about your character and what drew you to the role?
Troy Duffy is the Shit!! I first met Troy on his 25th birthday June 8th right before the first BDS. The role of ROMEO was written for me by Troy. He’s an incredible writer and a gifted artist in every since of the word. Cinematically, musically, this guy built his own electric guitar, granted it weighed like 20 lbs, but man he could sure make her sing!!! My buddy Troy drew me to the role, I told him years ago that I would do it. Through all the good time and struggles that he had to go through to get this made, I wasn’t even sure about it when it actually came through in the end. But as my friend and my word I had to follow through, not to mention I had to jump, run, shuck n jive like never before in my 20 years in this biz, and for a role that was written for me, the things we do for friends 🙂 . And Thank God, this movie is sheer cinematic epicness!!!! Beware all BDS fans you got a totally sweet one coming your way!! I haven’t been this excited in a long while! And Mr. Duffy is back and here to stay!!!

Mike Judge’s films have developed such a strong following and the characters are often wildly memorable. Tell us about your character in Extract and whether or not you think any of your character’s lines might end up in late night dormitory drinking games or punchlines.
Anything Mike Judge does is going to end up in those places, and I sure hope I get some of those reactions. Went to the premiere two nights ago and it was a real treat. Just to hear how everybody loved it, all the laughter, also the love and support that a studio like Miramax is giving it is really special. The cast is amazing and all the actors deliver, it’s a great MJ piece. I’m really proud to have been a part of it.

If you were given a magic wand and could control the outcome of a fight between a very strong angry monkey and an anemic Liger, who would win and why?
I don’t know what an ANEMIC LIGER is 🙁 But if I had a chance to, I’d use this magic wand to get them to be buds and hang out, have a good time, write a script and tell a good story.

What’s next on your horizon?
Beautiful Sunrise… soon I’ll be starting a film with the passionate Tony Krantz, this guy knows his films!!!

Do you have any interest in producing or finding material that you’d like to develop?
I have been. 🙂

If there was a bidding war that broke out for you between three bands (living or dead) what bands would they be and who should win?
Jimi Hendrix would win, regardless of who the bands were.

What was the last song you listened to today when you were controlling the music?
THE HIGH COST OF LIVING, by musical genius Jamey Johnson

Most overplayed song on your mp3 player?

Best gift you ever got as free actor swag?
Trip to barbados, thank you Peta!!!

What’s the last book you read that hit you in the collarbone and made you deeply reflect?

What was the last time you were shocked and why?
When I was in Iowa and I asked somebody where a CVS store was and she was like “uh…hmmm…yea, I know where one is….down by the…ya know… over there… I think over there by the cornfield”….

Favorite Beach, Favorite Quiet Place, and Favorite gadget?
Venice beach, caged mountain top at the end of the BEEHIVE TRAIL in Griffith Park, my SONY PMW-EX3

Interview by Jerry Quickley for 2009