Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some rumblings from the Lab.
First, before I say anything else, I have to thank Persona from our AICN Chat Room for coding this piece into HTML for me. She volunteered without knowing how insanely mammoth this piece was, and I was just cruel enough to let her. She is a divine being, and I owe her massive favors.
Second, Quint is a giant geek. And so is Wil Wheaton. And so am I. Wil joined a group of us for dinner in San Diego this year at the ComiCon, and he was a great guest. Funny and normal and bright, and truly at peace with his place in the fan community. This interview is NOT NEWS... but it is a lot of fun, and completist to a fault. Enjoy.
Ahoy there, Constant Readers. Quint, the crustiest of the crusty seamen here once more, this time with an interview with Wil Wheaton.
All right, all you haters out there. Give the guy a break. He just might surprise you. I know he surprised the hell out of me. I met him when Harry, Father Geek and me went on our excursion out to San Diego Comic Con and found out that he is a geek, just like you and me. He ended up being a fan of the site and conceeded to an interview.
In this rather lengthy interview, done partly in person and partly over the phone, you will get to know Wil as he really is, not what he portrayed on that star show. He's got some really important things to say about himself, about what really happened behind the scenes at Paramount and about the real life issues as well. Plus some cool-ass stories from his experience doing Stand By Me, most of which you won't hear anywhere else, being that he was denied a commentary track on the super special Stand By Me DVD that's being released at the end of the month. He also lets you know where you can go to talk with him in person if you happen to live in or around Los Angeles.
A special note: Wil and I conducted the bulk of this interview over the phone on, of all days, his Birthday. So, not only was he talking to me, but he was also getting ready for his party. Every once in a while, he'd break off whatever he was talking about to address some pressing need on his end. Usually that kind of stuff gets cut out of an interview. I thought it was funny, so I left it in. I know it's not journalistic, but I'm not a journalist, so it works out. I do understand that some of you don't want to read that, so I put everything he said during those break off times in italics. If you don't want to read it, then just skip over them.
Without further ado, here's the interview:
WIL, FIRST THINGS FIRST. GOTTA KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE BARF-A-RAMA SCENE IN STAND BY ME.
Here's my favorite thing about that scene. When Stand By Me plays on TV, they cut out the word "ass." So, the audience is yelling "Lard! Lard! Lard! L-l-l-lard." So when Stand By Me plays on TV, it's turned into this slapstick comedy.
WHAT'S THIS SANDMAN PROJECT YOU AND ROGER AVARY WERE WORKING ON? WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT?
I did a movie for Roger Avary called Mr. Stitch. Roger and I became friends. I don't recall how it came up, but we started talking about comics. I mentioned as a kid I read Batman and Fantastic Four, etc., but the title that really changed the way I looked at comics was Sandman. Somehow Roger and I started talking about Sandman and I told him to write it as a movie and he did. He and Neil Gaiman wrote it together. Roger talked with me about being in the movie as Morpheus. It was like a dream come true. He's the one comic book character, comic book hero, I could play.
Long story short, the studio didn't get the movie. They wanted Morpheus to be an ass-kicking super hero, Death to be a femme fatale or they wanted Death to be played by Julia Roberts. So, Roger just walked away from it.
The thing is, I read something about it on Ain't It Cool News, which brings up an interesting point. I consider myself to be really nerdy. I like things that are traditionally nerdy, like role playing games. I love Sci-Fi, I love Star Wars, I love comic books, Monty Python, Rocky Horror Picture Show, all that stuff. I'm really among my people at these events. I consider myself a geeky person and I revel in it. Geek pride and all those things.
Something that really sucks is that I consider myself a member of this community and I absolutely hate it that... it doesn't really bug me now, but it really hurt me when I was young and I read "Wesley must die!" It doesn't bother me now like it did then, but I wish people separate me, the actor, the person, the fellow geek from a character I played 10, 13 years ago.
So, I saw this post on AICN that just vilified me. "He's totally wrong for the role, blah-blah-blah" and it made me sad that the only post on the entire web site, that I read regularly, was one that took a big steaming shit all over my life.
HOW ABOUT SOME STAR TREK STORIES? OK.
There's a couple of things that are actually really cool that a lot of people don't know about. The number one thing that people are unaware of, that I miss the most, is Patrick Stewart's incredible sense of humor. You know, he carries himself as this really stern "Captain of the Enterprise" kinda guy, but in real life he's incredibly warm and incredibly charming and unbelievably funny. It's one of the things I miss the most is being around him all the time. I think I may have talked with you a little bit about this when we were in San Diego. One of the things that I benefited the most from by working on that show was that I got to become a better actor, a stronger actor, because I was working around him all the time. It's sort of like if you're playing hockey with Wayne Gretsky, you have to play as hard as you can and be as good as you can possibly be because you wanna be ready if he throws you a pass sometime. You don't wanna make him carry the team. It was like that when I was working with Patrick. I always wanted to be sure that I brought my A-Game, as they say, so that I could really be the best that I can be. I miss that. I miss being around him and being around the other guys.
SO YOU DON'T KEEP IN TOUCH, OR ANYTHING?
Well, it's interesting because now we live in completely different worlds. You know, they're all big, huge multi-millionaire movie stars and I'm not. So, we live in completely different worlds and our paths don't cross as often as I'd like them to.
I also have this personal emotional baggage about the whole experience because I was like a loud-mouth teenager when I was on that show. If you can imagine just being 16, 17 years old and have everybody tell you how great you are, sooner or later you start to believe it. There were many, many times when I really should have just kept my mouth shut and learned something and benefited from the people that were around me, but I actually didn't more often than not and anybody who saw me at a convention back in those days can vouch for that. There were times when I probably said some things that I shouldn't have said. I probably offended a lot of people.
These days when I offend people it's because I'm ranting about something political or about something socioeconomical or something intelligent and the people who I offend I actually want to offend. Back in those days, I just offended people by being a pain in the ass teenager. As a matter of fact, I ran into Patrick about 2 or 3 years ago at this big Screen Actors Guild award show. It's the first time that I'd seen him in a very, very long time. I came up to him and said, "It's so wonderful to see you and it's always so weird for me... I feel like when I was working with you, I feel kinda like I was a loudmouth pain in the ass and I feel like I kinda need to apologize to you for anything I said that may have upset you back in those days or for not being professional." Patrick looked at me and took one of those, Patrick never wastes a moment, he takes this really wonderful dramatic pause, he puts his hand on my shoulder and he says, in that beautiful voice, "My darling, I always related to you as an actor, there never was any question about your age." Pretty nice, you know? Because at that time, I had been acting about as long as he had. He just happened to be many, many years my superior and had also done quite a few things. I sorta miss that. I miss being around that.
Actually, you know, I'd like to come back to the Star Trek thing later because I can tell a story that you will print that none of the official outlets will print. They're sorta censored by The Man.
YEAH. WE'LL GET BACK TO THAT AT THE END. TO KEEP THE FLOW OF THE INTERVIEW GOING, I HAVE TO JUMP INTO GALAXY QUEST. OBVIOUSLY, THERE'S A WHOLE CHARACTER BASED ON WESLEY CRUSHER. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE MOVIE?
I loved Galaxy Quest. It made me laugh out loud just about the entire time. In many ways it was kind of a love letter to Star Trek fans. People who are offended by that because they were all "Ohhh. You're making fun of our show," those people need to go away. Honestly. Those people are going to grow up to be the comic book guy on the Simpsons. I don't care. I hope I offend them because those people are lame. The people who saw it and got it and understood the jokes and stuff, Bravo! You're my best friend. I absolutely loved Galaxy Quest.
What's funny is a lot of my friends thought I was going to be bugged by it, or offended by it and I really don't see why. I thought it was hysterical. I thought it was really well done. I thought it was well acted. The story line was great and it had stuff in it that if you're a Star Trek fan or a Sci-Fi fan or whatever you can totally relate to it and totally get it and appreciate it. Even if you're not, it's still a good movie. I actually had such a good time seeing that movie that I got on the phone when I came back from the movie theater and I actually called a bunch of Star Trek convention people that I know who I have been putting off for years and said, "You know, I think it would be fun to do a convention again." I forgot! I forgot how fun it was. You saw how I was interacting with the people at Comic Con, imagine that, but to the Nth degree because I'm actually on stage with a microphone.
I WOULD IMAGINE THAT YOU GOT MORE OUT OF IT THAN JUST THE AVERAGE FAN. I'M SURE THERE MUST HAVE BEEN MANY IN-JOKES TO SOMEBODY THAT ACTUALLY BEHIND THE SCENES.
You know what was nice? They captured a little bit of Next Gen and a little bit of the original series and they blended them together seamlessly. I really respect them for doing that. The thing with Alan Rickman's make-up falling apart and all that stuff towards the end, all that stuff was just... It was so brilliant. I don't remember anything that jumped out to me where I got it and nobody else got it, but I was in there watching it as a Sci-Fi geek, not as a former crewman on the Starship Enterprise. Should I put the bowls and stuff outside with the ice, or is it too early?(Wil's wife says, "I think you should do it now.") (Pause) Hold on a sec, somebody's calling me... All right, I'm back. Good to go...
TO WRAP UP THE STAR TREK THING UP, AT LEAST FOR NOW, THIS ISN'T NECESSARILY A STAR TREK QUESTION, BUT SOMETHING I NOTICED IN TREKKIES... JUST THE TALES I WAS HEARING. YOU MUST HAVE GOTTEN SOME SORT OF ODD FAN REQUEST. ODD OR SCARY. SOME OF THE STUFF I HEARD ON THERE WOULD JUST PLAIN FREAK ME OUT.
Occasionally I'll run into people who don't realize it's just a TV show. I don't say that with malice. An example I often use from my own point of view, I love The Prisoner. I am a goonie freak for the Prisoner. I am just absolutely out of my mind for that show. I love it. If I were to meet Patrick McGoohan, I'd ask him some questions about it. I wouldn't ask him how he escaped from the village as if it were real. I've encountered people... one of my favorite questions was... I'm at a convention and I'm doing a little question and answer thing and I go, "Ok, who's got a question for Wil?" This guy holds up his hand. Here's something I've learned, if they hold up their hand in a live long and prosper thing, it's probably best not to call on them. So, I say, "Yes, sir," and the guy says, "Um, I was wondering 'cause you have your own quarters now... what's that like?" 'Cause apparently Wesley like moved out. I wasn't even aware of this. I guess I hadn't been paying attention on the show, but Wesley had just stopped sharing a room with his mom, like sorta moved out on his own. So, I looked at him for a second and said, "Well, it's had a profound effect on my personal life, sir..."
And then there was another time when I was at the Royal Albert Hall in England and this woman gets up and she's dressed up as Dr. Crusher, you know. All in costume and everything, with all the red hair and everything, and she says, "Wesley! Say hello to your mother!" So, I say, "Um, well, I'm not supposed to call her for another couple of hours, but I'll let her that you say hi." Then I kinda felt bad. I hope these people have a sense of humor about it. I hope they realize... It's never fun, it's never ever fun for the audience if the person on stage goes, "Hey everybody! Look at the asshole!" It's never fun for anybody. You just don't wanna do that. So, I hope these people have a sense of humor about it and understand that I'm just goofin' on them. Not everybody does. You can't make everybody happy, so why bother?
ALL RIGHT, JUMPING BACK IN TIME A LITTLE BIT...
Oh wait! You know what I do want to tell you? There is one really cool thing that happened because of Star Trek. I do a lot of things for the Make A Wish Foundation. It's an organization that grants wishes to terminally ill children. There were a number of times where I was very, very fortunate, and I consider myself to be very blessed, that I was some kid's wish. I was asked to show this boy around the set at Paramount. The wardrobe department built him his own space suit that they let him keep. We took him over to Universal Studios because they had this whole Star Trek ride thing over there for a while, back in the 80s. This kid was dying and for me to have been part of something that was going to be one of the highlights of his life and knowing he wasn't going to survive for another year, I felt really lucky to be a part of that. And that wouldn't have happened if it wasn't because of Star Trek, you know? That's one of those times where I can use my super powers for good instead of evil. I got a couple of requests like that. I understand that there are some people that refuse to do it.
Like The Backstreet Boys refused to let a little girl, through the Make A Wish Foundation, come backstage at the end of one of their concerts. So, I'd just like to say right now, on record, fuck them. Fuck them. I mean, honestly, was it going to kill them to take 15 minutes away from sitting back there, drinking beer, patting themselves on their collective back, talking about how great they are? Honestly. There are times when you get an opportunity to do something, to really make a difference. Not the way everybody says, "I'm going to make a difference." I mean really, right now, directly make a difference in somebody's life. You gotta seize those opportunities and if you don't, then fuck you and I hope you fail. OK. Off the soapbox now.
THAT'S ALL RIGHT. ISN'T THAT THE WHOLE POINT OF AN INTERVIEW, SO YOU CAN GET UP THERE?
I'll climb up on the soapbox again before we're done, I'm sure.
THAT'S FINE. ALWAYS THE MOST INTERESTING READING THAT'LL GET YOU THE NICE, JUICY TALKBACKS.
Most people wear platform shoes, I wear soapbox shoes.
ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE THEM ON HAND. NOW, WE TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT STAND BY ME IN SAN DIEGO. SOMETHING I'M CURIOUS TO KNOW, WHAT IS THE SCENE, THE ONE SCENE YOU CAN LOOK BACK ON IN THE MOVIE THAT YOU'RE EITHER REALLY PROUD OF OR YOU JUST REMEMBER THE SHOOTING OF IT...
Wow, you know... I could start at the beginning of the movie and go all the way through, which is why I wanted to do a commentary track on the DVD, but they wouldn't let me. God... That whole movie is such a memorable experience for me and for a long time... how long's it been? 15 years since it came out?
AROUND '84 WASNT IT? Maybe longer. About '84. So, 16 years and it was in post production for a year. So, I'll say 17 years ago. In all that time, for a very, very long time, until about 5 years ago, I had this feeling like I was trying to get out of the shadow of Stand By Me, I was trying to run out of the shadow of its success and prove to everybody that I could do more, that it wasn't a fluke and all that. What I realized since then is I have done very, very good work in other things, but for a movie like that to come together and have the perfect mix of screenwriting and directing and casting and cinematography... for all those elements to come together is very rare. It's extremely rare. It's probably happened, I'd say, 200 times since the invention of the motion picture. Just to have been part of that is incredibly fantastic. To be part of that was tremendous and the entire experience I can look back on... I'll give you a couple of things that are really cool.
I was watching it with my kids and we were in the sequence where we're running across the bridge, away from the train and my younger stepson, Nolan, turns to me and says, "Were there computers?" I said, "No, this is 1985, before computers existed." When the most complicated computer in the world was in my wristwatch. (Mumbles in the background) Yeah, like my wife says, in her Atari. State of the art. There's a shot [in the movie] where they used a long lens, like a long, wide-angle lens. And they put... Do you want me to take everything out? (Mumbles) You know what, I actually just went through it a little bit ago and there's really not a lot of old food in there. I took out the hamburger buns and stuff. We have cream cheese in the fridge... OK... Sorry...
A WINDOW INTO WIL'S LIFE. IT FEELS A LITTLE LIKE BEING JOHN MALKOVICH HERE.
Exactly. Now I'm going to quit my job and become a puppeteer. So, I'm standing on the train tracks with Jerry O'Connell and the train is rolling towards us, very slow, like 3/4 miles per hour at most and it's far away, like 30 or 40 feet. I tell you what. When you're a little kid... I don't care if you're a little kid, when you're an adult, when you're a human being, you're on a train track and there is a train rolling towards you and you're facing away from it... I don't care how many stunt coordinators are standing there telling you it's fine. It's the scariest fucking thing ever. I remember standing there and the stunt coordinator is standing just off camera right and he's saying, "Wait.... wait..." because they're letting the train roll up so it looks really close and then Jerry and I go flying away, like we run away from it. The shot's in the movie. It's the shot right before we jump. So, the stunt coordinator is standing off to our left, to the camera right side of the tracks, just out of frame and he's standing there going, "Wait... wait... wait... wait..." Jerry and I are standing there and in the dailies you can see our faces, scared to death, tears running down our face, looking over our shoulder going, "Can we go now... can we go now?" Finally when he said go, we took off so fast, they almost lost focus on us because we were running so fast. That was a lot of fun.
Then that scene down at the body was obviously my hardest scene in the movie because I had to sit there and cry and blubber like a little bitch. You kinda have to work yourself up for something like that, you have to get yourself in a particular place. As I've gotten older, it's become easier, but when I was younger I was in that 12 years old, boys don't cry sorta phase. It was difficult for me to do that. You know what a cover set is, right?
UMM... WELL, I DO, BUT YOU BETTER, AHEM, LET THE READERS KNOW... YEAH.
A cover set is, when you're shooting a movie and you're doing a lot of exterior work, you always have to be prepared for there being bad weather and you always have a set where you can go shoot inside. It's always some sequence that's important to the film, but not a big acting thing because you have to be prepared all the time throughout the entire movie to go shoot the cover set at a moment's notice. Well, in Oregon, where it rains like 400 days out of the year, we were out there for the 2 and a half months it doesn't rain at all, in July and August. We were up there waiting for the rain to show up so we could go shoot this sequence. Well, that was our cover set, the scene at the body, where every single day I'd have to go to bed knowing that maybe tomorrow morning I'd have to go cry my guts out.
Finally, the time came for us to do that sequence. We had run out of shoot days, it was time to shoot that sequence, there was no rain in sight. So they spent a lot of money buying big silks and tents of stuff to cover up this area of the woods, so that we could shoot there. They silk in the whole thing so it's dark and gloomy and the day we go to shoot it a storm blows up out of nowhere. Huge storm out of nowhere. Pouring rain. They had to tear holes in the silks and stuff for us to shoot that. After we shot it, Rob watched it and Rob was unhappy with his placement of the camera. We had to shoot it again like 2 weeks later. I was like, "Ugh... why is this scene haunting me?" That was pretty intense for me, that whole sequence. God... there's so much stuff. Is there a scene in the movie you really like? I promise you I can tell you a story about it.
WELL, YOU CAN SAY ONE LINE FROM THAT MOVIE AND EVERYBODY WILL KNOW WHICH MOVIE IT¹S FROM. DO YOU KNOW WHAT LINE I'M TALKING ABOUT?
Is it the barf-a-rama line?
NO, I WAS THINKING MORE ALONG THE LINES OF "CHOPPER, SIC BALLS."
Chopper, sic balls. You know my favorite thing about Chopper, sic balls? When they put it on TV, they change it to "Chopper, sic kid." Then I get all terrified and I'm running away. I think it's so funny... I mentioned this when we were sitting down [at San Diego Comic Con] where they change the dialogue and Stand By Me becomes this screwball comedy. That's a great example of it. "Chopper, sic kid!" The extra word of "Kid" would send you over the top.
Interesting story of when we shot that... Get off the wall!!!... Interesting story about when we shot that sequence. We go out to this junkyard in Oregon, just on the outskirts of Eugene. Somebody finds out that we are shooting a movie there, so they went into their backyard and decided they were going to use their chainsaw to cut some wood. We were there for like a week and a half and every day the location manager would have to go out and give this guy some money so he wouldn't chainsaw his wood. After the third day, he stopped even putting up a chainsaw, stopped holding up the chainsaw, stopped cutting the wood... Hey, Manni! Wanna let him in, Nolan? Just put it up in the same place as last time. The bounce-house is here. That's right. For my birthday, I'm having a Monster Truck Bounce-House... So, by the third day, he dropped the whole charade of I'm gonna cut anything down and he just started putting up the chainsaw motor, without even the cutting device on the chainsaw and would just sit there in his backyard with like a beer, a cigarette and his radio and listen to a Trailblazer's game or something. Probably not, because it was in the middle of summer... with his beer and his radio and his chainsaw he'd just sit there and gun his chainsaw until somebody'd come over and pay him off and make him go away, which is pretty funny.
In that sequence when I'm actually racing with River Phoenix, I could faster than him, a lot faster than him. It was very hard for me because I had to run and seriously pump my arms to look like I was trying really, really hard to keep up with him, but he was handily defeating me, but I could run faster than him. I totally punked him. I was all like talking trash in rehearsal, "You ain't nothin'! You got nothin'! You can't bring that on me!"
I'D SAY YOU COULD PROBABLY STILL BEAT HIM TODAY.
I DON'T KNOW, THOUGH. IF YOU GOT A FAN OUT THERE, MAYBE...
Ok, now I've taken my cordless phone out in my car, so now it's a car phone. I gotta move my car out of the way so the bounce-house guy can put the bounce-house up. I'm surprised my phone reaches this far. If it cuts out, I'll call you back.
But that's really funny, the fan line, good line. Bravo. Hat off to you.
I TRY. YOU KNOW, IF WE HADN'T HUNG OUT IN SAN DIEGO AND I HADN'T FOUND OUT WHAT A TRUE GEEK YOU ARE, JUST LIKE ME, THEN I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN COMFORTABLE SAYING A JOKE LIKE THAT...
Oh, please! We have geek bonding! Nicely done.
ALL RIGHT, HOW ABOUT THE LEECH SCENE?
There's a funny story about that. Just in case there's that one crack-smoking freak who still wonders, they were fake. Ok? Just to clear that up right away. The really funny story about this is up in Oregon, we had been going to this waterpark all the time during the summer we were making the movie. We kept going to these things... they called them Hydro-tubes. I don't know what they call them these days. Basically you go pay your $10 or whatever and you get a wristband and you go sliding down this thing that looks like a giant acrylic large intestine, you sorta go around in it and it's a lot of fun. Chlorine scented fun, I might add.
We had been doing that everyday after work and it had been great. Well, the day that we shot that whole scene in the swamp... Actually, I have two stories, I'll tell you the other one when I finish this one. When we were in the swamp, which was built, it was pretend and everything, of course, they built the whole thing. Apparently a few guys from Scandinavia went back there a few years ago to do this sort of retrospective on Stand By Me and they found our location and the big hole we dug for the swamp is still there. That's kinda cool.
So, anyway, we went to go to the hydrotubes after we shot the sequence in the swamp and we couldn't get in because that day we had done everything with the leeches. What they originally had... they were these latex sort of things, these polyurethane things, I guess, that they going to use like natural suction to hold them on. That wasn't working. They were falling off every time we took our shirts off. So, then they tried to figure something else to do, so they started using grip tape, like what you'd use on the deck of a skateboard and they cut it out in the shape of these leeches and stuck them all over our bodies for the long shots. If you look real closely, especially if you have a DVD player and can freeze-frame it, in one of the long shots you can see that it's grip tape, it's not an actual rubber thing.
Finally, what they ended up doing was they ended up using this rubber cement mixture kinda stuff, spirit gum wasn't working because the water was so cold it kept falling right off. So, they used this rubber cement kind of stuff and they mixed red make-up into it to make it look like these little bloody bites and stuff. At the end of the day, our skin was covered with these rubber cement kind of lesions and it looked like we all had leprosy. So, we went to go to the hydrotubes and they were like, "You can't come in with that skin disease." We were like, "We don't have a skin disease, we're actors!" And they were like, "We don't believe you." And I'm like, "Look! I can pick it off!" Then I started picking it off and they're all like, "Now you really can't come in."
Another funny story... well, not so funny story... but it sort of illustrates what kind of person Corey Feldman was back at that time. They all sort of dogpile on me. Corey jumps on all of us and intentionally digs his knee into the back of my knee. I don't know if you've ever played any sports or ever had the occasion to do any Greco-Roman wrestling, but when you're laying on your stomach and someone digs their knee into the backside of your knee, the pain is equivalent to passing a kidney stone. It's awful and he did it on purpose, you know. I was trying really hard to act through it and Rob cut and said, "Wil, what's wrong?" And I'm starting to cry because it hurts so badly and I said, "Corey's knee is in the back of my leg," and Rob got super pissed off at Corey. By this time Corey had been pulling shenanigans and it was kind of a pain in the ass. It was the first and only time I saw Rob get really, really mad. He just blew up at Corey and told him it was such a shitty thing to do and we gotta stick together and all this sorta stuff. I don't recall if Corey ever apologized or not, but I'd like to think that... well, in my version of the story, he did.
If you watch that sequence, there's a point where I go by in the foreground and my head is completely dry because it was cold and I was a wimp back then. This is going to be difficult for you to believe, I'm sure, but I was not the big, tough guy I am now and I was cold and I didn't want to get my head wet. So, there's this one shot where I walk by in the foreground... it's actually on the Internet Movie Database as like a mistake.
I DID DO MY RESEARCH BEFORE THE INTERVIEW AND I LEARNED TWO REALLY INTERESTING THINGS.
BESIDES ALL THOSE EROTIC STORIES WITH WESLEY CRUSHER...
Did you track those down? Have you seen the fake comic book?
NO, I HAVEN'T SEEN THAT ONE.
It's pretty funny. There's an erotic Star Trek comic book where Wesley gets a blowjob from Tosha Yar in the turbo-lift...
RIGHT.... BUT THE TWO THINGS I FOUND THAT WERE INTERESTING WERE YOUR JELLO COMMERCIAL...
All right! My Jello commercial was the first thing I ever did. It was actually Jello Pudding Pops and it was butterscotch flavor and the commercial never aired because the butterscotch flavor did not test well. They bailed it.
YOU GOT A COPY OF THAT SOMEWHERE?
(PAUSE) Yeah, I do. As a matter of fact, you know what?
We'll probably MPEG it and put it up on my web site.
ALL RIGHT. THE OTHER INTERESTING THING I FOUND OUT WAS YOU HAD A ROLE IN ONE OF MY FAVORITE TELEVISION SERIES AND THAT'S TALES FROM THE CRYPT.
Oh, right! Have you ever seen that episode?
YEAH, I THINK SO. IT'S THE ONE WHERE THEY END UP BEING CHAINSAW SORORITY BABES AT THE END, RIGHT?
Yes! Boy was that fun! I knew like every actor in that because Jason London, Brian Krause and I had worked together on this movie December. I knew Meredith Salinger from when we were kids, from what I like to call "The Old Days" and I had actually had never met Kevin Dillon before, but boy was he a cool guy. They were all really great people and that was tremendous experience. I had a really good time doing that. You know when they air it on TV, the best part of the whole thing they cut out, which is the very end when I hold up Kevin Dillon's severed head. They cut it out at the end. It's just totally gone.
WHEN THEY AIRED IT ON HBO, OR WHEN THEY AIR IT ON OTHER CHANNELS?
No, like Fox.
THAT'S RIDICULOUS. TALES FROM THE CRYPT DOESN'T BELONG ON ANYTHING BUT CABLE... WAIT A MINUTE... ISN'T THAT THE ONE WHERE YOU START OFF IN YOUR UNDERWEAR SCRUBBING THE FLOOR?
Yeah, boy. That's a very popular video capture shot for all the dirty old man web pages. Yeah, I got a really wide fanbase. I go from like 14 year old girls to like 45 year old sex offenders. They really enjoy that stuff. Those are the people who need to get a life. Actually, I'm sorry, but people who get off on that, looking at young boys in their underwear, I would like so very much to shoot them all.
OK, WELL A FRIEND OF MY MOM'S, WHO'S OBSESSED WITH POKEMON, WANTED TO KNOW IF YOU KNEW THAT YOU'RE REFERRED TO IN POKEMON YELLOW.
No! Oh, in the Gameboy game, right? Yeah, my stepson told me about that. Ryan, you told me that Stand By Me is in the Pokemon Yellow game, right? Cool. I've been characatured by Hershfeld, satired my Mad Magazine and immortalized in Pokemon. Who needs an Academy Award? I asked the Magic 8 Ball if I was ever going to win an Academy Award and it said, "Absolutely Not." I said, "OK, will I win an Emmy?" And it said, "Signs point to No." I said, "Will I ever win any award?" And it said, "Concentrate and ask again later." That Magic 8 Ball... let me tell you something. Those things really shatter well. 8 Ball didn't see that coming.
WELL, I HEAR YOU MIGHT HAVE SOME BIG NEWS. WHAT MIGHT THAT BE?
I haven't heard yet. I'll update you next week. Basically what it is is I'm up for the lead in a movie. Hopefully, this time, they're not going to go with some flavor of the month off the W fuckin' B, instead of TV's Wil Wheaton. It's been happening a lot lately, a lot of these movies, it's been coming down to me or some one who happens to be really, really hot and really, really popular who's on some WB show. That's fine, really, as an actor it's hard enough to get work, you know, so if these guys happen to be like... if their star is rising right now, go nuts. Congratulations, I'm happy for you to get the work. I just wish it wasn't coming at my expense.
What's so frustrating and what I keep hearing from directors and producers, from everybody across the board is "You are the best actor we've seen for this role. This is the best reading you've ever given." I auditioned for Glengarry Glen-Boiler Room and the director told me that I gave him the best reading he'd had, that nobody else had come in and had done such a good reading before. Then they ended up not casting me.
There was another independent movie... I just ran into the casting director last week and I said, "Now, what happened with that, because the director told me I had given the best reading he'd ever seen, then he went on and on and on about how much he loved my work and what a great actor I was and thank you so much for coming and whatever happened with that?" She said, "Um, you know I think they cast somebody off of some Fox TV show." That happens all the time.
I read on some message board somewhere that someone was saying that they were pretty sure Star Trek had killed my career, because I had had this great movie career and Star Trek had absolutely killed it and I wasn't getting anything after it. That's actually not entirely true. Star Trek was in danger of destroying my film career, which is why I left, but I was... hey, be careful!... wait... I've gotten all sidetracked because one of my kids just hurt himself... backing up.. backing up... so I was saying they thought Star Trek had sorta destroyed my career because he hadn't seen me in very much stuff, but the truth of it is I took a lot of time off. I took years off to go and do other things. Since then, I've come back and consistently heard over and over again, "You're terrific. You're a great actor. We're very impressed with you and we'd really love to put you in this film, but we have to cast someone who's a big name right now." It's sorta like a Catch-22. The only way you get to be a big name is by being a big name, but the only reason you get to be in a movie is if you're a big name. These days, because studios are run by finance people, not creative people, you know, they're owned by corporations, not individuals... Can you imagine going up to a board of directors and asking them, "OK, what should we put in this movie?" Because they're more concerned by the financial bottom line than they are with making good art. Because of that they're only going to put these huge, huge movie stars in roles. That's why we often complain about these movies, where people who are horribly wrong for these roles are cast simply because they're big, big movie stars. I mean, that was the big problem with Sandman. They were just like, "Let's put Julia Roberts in it." No! She's not right for this movie. That was a lot rambling. Sorry. I'll try to keep my answers more succinct and to the point.
HAVE YOU EVER READ ANY OF THE INTERVIEWS I'VE DONE?
No, I haven't. I read your thoughts from the Comic Con and read your review of Battlefield Earth. I thought you were far too kind, by the way.
THE ONLY REASON I ASK IS BECAUSE I WORK IN ONE PARTICULAR QUESTION INTO ALL MY INTERVIEWS. I ALWAYS ASK WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE DIRTY JOKE?
Great! Let's do that! Hold on, someone's calling... (pause). It was my sister calling to tell me Happy Birthday!
AND YOU TOLD HER TO SCREW OFF, THAT YOU WERE TALKING TO SOMEBODY COOLER?
I said I'm doing a very important interview for a very important and meaningful news outlet.
I CAN LIVE WITH THAT...
To tell you the truth I kinda don't like to tell dirty jokes, 'cause I think they are kinda cheap and easy, you know. As an improviser and as a comedy writer, I try to stay away from dirty jokes, just because I think they're too easy... Having said that, understand that I really don't have a favorite dirty joke, but I'll tell you just the one that comes to mind right away. This is not my joke, I'll tell you right now I got this out of Maxim Magazine about a year ago and I think it's really funny.
This fella gets fed up with big city life and he decides he's going to go live alone in the mountains. So, he goes up to the hills of Montana and he lives way back there, you know, back where the Unabomber lived and he's really just had it with big city life. So, he's up there, he's alone. After about four months the first person he's seen in four months comes up to his house and it's this old mountain man who introduces himself and says that he lives down the road and he says, "I'm having a party tonight and I'd like you to come." Then he says, "Well, OK. When and where is it?" [The mountain man] says, "Hold on, there are a few things you should know first. There's probably gonna be some drinkin'." The guy says, "Well, OK. I use to have a drink or two when I lived in the city. I'll bring some beer along with me. That's fine." And the guy says, "Well, there's probably gonna be some fightin'." The other guy says, "Well, OK. I don't have to get involved with the fight, I can just watch the fight. OK, all right. I'll still comin'." [The mountain man] says, "Oh, all right. And there's definitely going to be some fuckin'." And the guy says, "Oh, really? I haven't been with a woman since I left the city... what should I wear?" And he goes, "Oh, it doesn't matter, it's just going to be you and me." That made me laugh when I read it.
YOU'VE DONE SOME INDEPENDENT FLICKS RECENTLY. TELL US ABOUT THEM.
Matter of fact, one of them is called Foreign Correspondents and it's got a web site, www.forcor.com. Apparently we sold to Turkish Television. Whoo! So, look out for those Turkish TV bootleg videos at your next convention. I also did a movie called The Girl's Room, which is at www.thegirlsroom.net This movie is terrific. It stars me, Soliel Moon Frye and a newcomer named Kat Tabor, who's just brilliant in this movie. I'm insanely proud of it. We're getting tremendous reviews at film festivals and I expect it to get a wide release before the end of next year.
I just finished a short film, which apparently we're going to have an answer print for in the next couple of weeks, called The Good Things, that my friend Seth Wiley directed and that does not have a web site yet, but it's a remarkable movie, I'm incredibly proud of it. It's me, Christian Campbell, Katie Wright, Pat Mastrionni, who was on Degrassi Jr. High up in Canada, which I guess is a big deal, sorta the Melrose Place of Canadian Television.
I GUESS WE'RE PRETTY MUCH AT THE END HERE, IF YOU WANTED TO PUT IN THAT EXTRA STAR TREK STORY AND YOUR PLUGS...
So, I'll just tell you what I've been doing for the last couple of years. You haven't seen me very much on TV or movies, because I've been doing a lot of Independent movies. Because I'm not a big, big name right now, the big, big studio movies, they just don't have me in them right now. I haven't hit it big just yet. These days it seems they're casting movies out of television shows. To be quite honest, until very recently, television kinda sucked. It was pretty vanilla, pretty lowest common denominator. Television has really changed since then, thanks to shows like The Sopranos, Oz, Sex in the City... Basically the shows that are cable are forcing the networks to be more intelligent, I think. And give us a little more shows like The Practice, a little less shows like Family Matters. A little more Dr. Benton, a little less Uncle Joey. So, TV's gotten a little better, I think, so you're probably going to see me on TV next year on something. One of the reasons you'll see me on TV is the last two years I've done lots of comedy work. I improv in LA and I write sketch comedy and by the time this interview comes out, I'll actually probably be in a sketch comedy group. I'm just waiting to hear if I got advanced into this one particular group. I also perform improv a lot. I've found that I've kinda got a knack for comedy and people who know me will comment on the fact, people all my life have commented on the fact that I've got a good sense of humor and people who know me have always said, "You should be doing comedy, you're really, really good at it." I always thought, "Oh, God. Comedy is lame. What am I gonna do, Three's Company?" Then I thought about the kind of comedy I like, you know, like Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Monty Python, you know, things like that. I decided I'd give comedy a try.
So, for the last couple of years, I've taken a lot of improv work and I've taken a lot of sketch comedy work. I improv regularly in Los Angeles, I write sketch comedy all the time and I've found it's something I'm pretty damn good at. You got to see a little of that side of me when we were in San Diego. So, I have more confidence then I use to going into sitcoms and stuff. Because sitcoms are better written than they use to be, I'm more willing to go in and try to get into a sitcom. So, you'll probably see me in something like that next year as my career kinda regains momentum. You have to remember, I took five years off just because I needed to get away from the evils of Hollywood for a while.
That actually is what I wanna plug a little bit, is I do this show, the J Keith show at the Acme Comedy theater in Los Angeles every Saturday night. The Acme Comedy theater is on La Brea, between 3rd and Beverly and the show I do every Saturday night is a late night comedy talk show, like the Tonight Show or Late Night with David Letterman, we have big-time celebrity guests and musical groups and that sort of thing. I do characters and I do satire and I do all sorts of different things like that on the show. I've been doing it for almost a year now and it's really a lot of fun. If people are interested in the show, they can go to www.jkeith.net and that's got information about the show. I'd love it, if anybody reads about the show on the site, I'd love for them to find me after the show, I'm always in the lobby after the show, just let me know they've read about it on the site, so I can sort of track and see how many people came and checked it out.
I will have a web site up at the end of August and the web site will be www.wilwheaton.org. There will be no wilwheaton.com because some jackass is squatting it and I'm not going to give him the satisfaction of paying him for my name... Hold on... I'm signing my life away for the bouncy-castle... great, thanks Manni! See you around 11 or so tonight? (Mumbles from Manni) OK, that's fine. As late as we can have it would be great. See you later, man! Oh, the bouncy castle is in full effect! Last year my bouncy-castle was Simba. What's funny is somebody... because every time someone jumped in Simba, his little lion head would sorta bounce up and sorta bounced back a little bit and it sorta looked like somebody was sorta trying to... it looked like Simba was in prison, if you get my drift.
So, the thing I wanna tell you that I know you will print that nobody else will print is the absolute truth on why I left Star Trek. What the last straw was for me. Nobody else will print this. I say this in interviews all the time and nobody ever does. Here's the absolute truth why I left Star Trek. I left Star Trek because it was seriously interfering with my career in feature films. I was in a situation where I was constantly having to pass on really good movie roles because I was on the series. I had a film career before Star Trek. People knew me before Star Trek. As a matter of fact, at Comic Con, a lot of people came up to me and said, "I started watching Star Trek because you were on it and I was fan of yours from Stand By Me and I stopped watching it after you left." I had a lot of people say that to me.
After something like this had happened a lot of times, this was finally the last straw. I had been cast by Milos Foreman to be in Valmont. I had gone through lots and lots of callbacks, I had met Milos personally a number of times and he was really supporting me and telling me, "I want you in my movie." I was going to go to Paris and I was going to be in this movie and stuff and what happened was we were going to shoot it during the hiatus and the shooting schedule for Valmont would have carried me over about a week into the regular season schedule into Star Trek. I would have had to sit out the first episode of the year, right. That's not a big deal, it's not like I'm the fuckin' Captain, you know. At that point, I was the guy who pushed buttons and said, "Yes, sir!" So, I said to the people on Star Trek, "I need to be written out of this particular episode, because I'm going to do this movie and my film career's going to take off." This is after Gene Roddenberry had died. Had Gene been alive, it would have been no problem at all, because Gene was that kind of guy. Gene would have said, "Great! Go ahead, you do what you need to do," because he was that kind of person. After Gene died, a very different type of person took over and they said, "We can't write you out because the first episode of the season is all about you. It focuses entirely on your character and it's your story..." (Mumbles in the background) Almost done!..... So, she said to me, "The story is entirely about you, we can't write you out." I said, "Well, this really sucks, but I'm under contract to you guys and if that's your call and if that's what you say I have to do, I have to do." I had to pass on the movie.
A couple of days before the season was ready to premiere, they wrote me out of the episode entirely. What they were doing was they were sending me a message. The message was, "We own you. Don't you ever try to do anything without us." That was the last straw for me. I called my agents and said, "They don't own me. It's time for me to leave this show, it's time for me to be gone." That's what really pushed me over the edge. It's not worth it anymore. That's why I left.
I've said pretty much that exact story to I don't know how many different people and they never print it because Paramount gets mad at them, but that's the truth. That's the story. It'll probably destroy any chance I have of being in the next movie, but sometimes the truth is more important than Star Trek. That's profound.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANNA ADD?
Yeah, since May 1st, I've been really active in the Screen Actor's Guild strike against commercial advertisers and I encourage everyone who reads the interview to go to www.sag.org and get the facts on the strike. The advertisers are portraying us as greedy multi-millionaire actors who are trying to get more money out of them when actually the reverse is true. The people that are getting hurt by the advertisers proposals are actors who barely make $15,000 a year. Fifteen thousand dollars is a lot of money, but when you spread it out over a year and you figure out how many times you miss jobs and how much money you spend trying to get to auditions, it's crazy what they're suggesting to do to us. I don't want to go into all the specifics of it, but I would encourage you and everybody reading to go www.sag.org and look at the facts on the strike. Please, let people know. We're sort of losing in the court of public opinion because the advertisers have portrayed us as greedy actors and this strike doesn't affect the cast of Friends or Scientologists and Greg, this really affects the normal working people, who are sort of the blue collar actors in SAG. And Adam Corolla can go to Hell. He's been terrible. He's said a lot of really terrible things about actors, that bothers me quite a bit.
Also, the Stand By Me (Deluxe) DVD comes out August 29th and I'll be doing a live chat at Fandom.com that day to promote it and I'll be selling autographed copies of the DVD. So, I'll be expecting you to come in there and harass me.
SURE, I'LL GO IN AND START YELLING "KILL WESLEY!" OF COURSE YOU WON'T KNOW WHO I AM BECAUSE I'M GOING TO BE AMONGST ALL THE OTHER "KILL WESLEY" PEOPLE....
No kidding, I'm sure they'll all show up.
JUST WAIT FOR THE TALKBACK. IF I POST IT, THEY WILL COME... HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS LENGTHY PIECE, CONSTANT READERS. UNTIL NEXT TIME, FAREWELL AND ADIEU. -QUINT email@example.com