TR Interview: Harry Dean Stanton

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies, Music
Monday, September 9, 2013 at 8:00 am

LYT: My dad took me to that movie when I was young - that was a trip.

HDS: Was it Repo Man?

LYT: Yeah.

HDS: Yeah, yeah. That was a brilliant satire. I did that and Paris, Texas in sequence, and they're my two favorite movies.

LYT: Wow. That's a hell of a double header!

HDS: Yeah.

LYT: How did you come to be in The Avengers?

HDS: I can't remember now. My agent called me. I'm still pissed off about that. In the original movie, they cut part of the scene out there.

LYT: Oh yeah?

HDS: It was the best scene in the movie. Still pissed off. [chuckles]

LYT: I believe it.

HDS: But they put it in the Blue version - Blue what?

LYT: Blu-ray.

HDS: Yeah. Yeah, they put it back in. And even though they cut it down, it still scored. I'm amazed.

LYT: So you said earlier you were kind of tired of being famous, but yet you probably still have all of these big movies and guys like Joss Whedon calling you up, wanting you to be in their movies. How do you...

HDS: Who?

LYT: Joss Whedon, The Avengers director.

HDS: Yeah.

LYT: All these people still want you. Do you find yourself in a place where you're turning down roles now, because people want you too much?

HDS: Sometimes, yeah. Occasionally. I can't remember the instances.

LYT: Philosophical question here, but I guess everybody asks this at some point or another: As someone who has lived a life that I think some people would be extremely proud of, is there a secret to living a long, productive life, as far as you can tell, or is it just happenstance?

HDS: I have no answer to that. There's only the moment. Right here, right now, as we speak.

LYT: Well, that might be the answer - to live in the moment.

HDS: If there's an answer, that's it. [chuckles] Fall in love, intimately in love, with the gift of presence. With what "is". Here, right here, right now. The seeds of everything you've ever longed for. It's simple, and ordinary, and magnificent. See you all the way home. Tony Parsons. [chuckles]

Harry sees a waiter walking in the dark background.

HDS: Hey, who's that? [calling out] Who is it?

[speaker]: You forgot my name, huh?

HDS: Yeah, who is it?

[speaker]: Giovanni Pizzochiare.

HDS: Huh?

[speaker]: Giovanni Pizzochiare. Nino - your friend, Nino.

HDS: Nino, I haven't seen you in a long time.

Nino: I know, because you don't come here when I'm here. How have you been? How you doing?

HDS: I don't know.

Nino: All right. How's the Manhattan?

HDS: Good.

They shake hands, as Nino realizes everything is being recorded. He makes his exit.

LYT: Popular guy!

HDS: Yeah.

LYT: Are there any career goals left for you, or have you achieved pretty much everything?

HDS: Any what?

LYT: Do you have any career goals left, anything to still...?

HDS: I have no goals.

LYT: Have you ever desired to put the acting and music together, maybe do musicals, or are those things you like to keep secret?

HDS: No, I have nothing to do with it. Just whatever happens, happens.

LYT: Has that always been your philosophy?

HDS: For a long time, yeah. Long time.

LYT: Do you remember what it was like doing Alien?

HDS: Oh, yeah.

LYT: The story goes, and I never know if this is a true story or not, that when they did the scene where it bursts out of John Hurt, that they didn't tell you guys what was going to happen. Was that true - they didn't tell you?

HDS: Yeah, that was - that was - actually that was traumatic. Blood running all over was - it was a trauma, in real life, as an actor - on screen or off.

LYT: So was it pretty much one take, just to capture that reaction, and then on?

HDS: Yeah, one or two, I can't remember.

LYT: Did you ever have a favorite kind of movie to make? You seemed to have an affinity for Westerns early on, or was that just coincidence - that's what you happened to be cast in?

HDS: I can't hear you.

LYT: Was there a genre or type of movie that you liked better? Certainly you were in a lot of Westerns to start with. Was that because they were your favorite, or just because it happened?

HDS: It doesn't matter about the genre. It's the writing, the director, the actors, if they're all - if they're all talented, it doesn't matter.

LYT: What was it like living with Jack Nicholson, back in the day?

HDS: That was fun. We were close friends - forever. [chuckles]

LYT: He seemed pretty wild back then.

HDS: Yeah...yeah...yeah - he did Easy Rider, right? That's what got him started.

LYT: Yeah, although Little Shop of Horrors - he's wonderful in that too.

HDS: Yeah, he's good.

LYT: Is he retired now? Did he say he wasn't doing any more?

HDS: I don't know.

LYT: What do you have coming up next? Are you working on any movies right now?

HDS: No, I'm just dealing with this documentary right now.

LYT: Is it hard talking about yourself so much?

HDS: Yeah, it's tiresome after a while.

LYT: Yeah.

HDS: It's taxing, because you do it so much.

LYT: Yeah.

HDS: I've done it, and for so many years.

LYT: When you do interviews and you've got people asking you about all of this old stuff, has it ever made you look back on things in a different way?

HDS: I don't know. I can't answer that. This is what it is. Right here, right now.

LYT: With that in mind, would you give any up-and-coming actors any advice?

HDS: Yeah - play yourself.

LYT: Play yourself.

HDS: Yeah. [chuckles]

LYT: Sometimes that's a hard thing to do, to just play yourself in front of the camera...

HDS: Who else are you going to be except yourself? No matter what you're doing, you're still yourself, whatever that means. [chuckles]

As a publicist indicates the time is up, Luke is offered a picture with Harry, something that would generally be woefully uncool for him to actually ask for at a press day.

He does not turn it down.


Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction opens in limited release this weekend.

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