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10/29/07

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I interview Fuego's director and star Damian Chapa

Luke: "Is a Latino film any different than a non-Latino film?"

Damian: "We're more passionate. We're a little bit more intense and dramatic. The Latino culture is filled with vibrancy and life. If a director's passionate in the white world or whatever you want to say than the non-Latino world... We're filled with fire. That's why I call this movie Fuego."

"I'm used to doing films where everybody is a gangster. This time I'm a hero."

Damian's ex-wife (from Belfast) brings their nine-year-old son Presley to the premiere of this R-rated film (but he's not inside the theater when it plays, he's outside playing with his dad).

Damian: "We're all becoming more similar because all the films are generated for us to become more similar. I'm trying to break out of that and say, 'Here is a Latino film that everybody can enjoy. There's some Spanish in the movie. It's a crossover film.'"

Luke: "Thank you. I don't want to take up all your time."

Damian: "Good interview, man. Intelligent man. Finally got asked some [intelligent questions]."

Lorielle New introduces me to David Carradine (Wikipedia entry). She says I've interviewed all the big names in Hollywood.

David's skeptical. "When someone tells you they've interviewed all the biggest names in Hollywood, don't say that anymore because it all does is create an air of non-credibility. Because I know you haven't. I know you're just trying to build him up but reality works better."

Lorielle: "He has an impressive list of interviewees."

David: "Well, that's a little better. That's better than a statement that can't possibly be true. 'He has interviewed all the best people in Hollywood.' That's an impossibility."

Lorielle: "Well, he's interviewed two big people in Hollywood."

David: "You don't want to say that. 'He's interviewed some of the most important people in Hollywood.' That would be a true statement. When you say the other thing, I just know you're lying. I don't think more of him. I think less of him. Don't do that anymore."

Lorielle: "OK."

After two minutes of this, I get to ask my first question. I feel under pressure to make it good.

Luke: "What do you love and hate about these things?"

David: "What things?"

Luke: "Premieres."

David: "I'm just looking for a place to take a nap. I hope the movie will provide me that. I don't like places where you have to stand up. I'm 70 years old. I need a rocking chair."

Luke: "What do you love and hate about being interviewed?"

David: "I suppose I love the attention. I hate the fact that aside from you, everybody asks the same questions they've been asking for 20 years. I try to give different answers. It tests my creativity. I don't hate anything. I can get irritated or bored."

Luke: "What's the best interview you've done?"

David: "The one I wrote myself [for a website]. I started out with, 'What's your favorite color?' I answered a whole bunch of questions about philosophy and religion and what do you do in your spare time."

Luke: "Where do you find meaning in your life?"

David: "Mostly with my family and with my kids. Watching them learn and becoming aware of what's really happening in the world. They need a lot of help and I'm there to give it to them... It's certainly not in any part I play. I've been in 222 feature movies and 166 hours of my own TV series, a bunch of movies of the week, 35 plays, 11 of Shakespeare's plays... It's hard to find inspiration in my work."

Married six times, David has seven kids and three grandkids. "I figure I'm responsible for all of them."

Luke: "Did your parents help you with your homework?"

David: "Nobody ever helped me with anything."

Luke: "What do you most want from your children?"

David: "That they be happy. With the older children, I had dreams of them carrying on the acting dynasty... I let 'em. Every single one of them went some place else."

David says he's happy. "I met this widow [less than seven years ago]. I discovered I could make her smile."

"I've had some happy moments [before the widow]. By and large, I was the one who ruined them. I think I don't do that anymore."

Luke: "Were you a happy kid?"

David: "No.... It was mostly boarding schools and a reform school. I was farmed out."

The publicist has been hanging over David for the past couple of minutes. He waves his hand over his neck signalling me to end the interview.

Publicist: "David, I need you over here...with Damian."

David: "I'm right in the middle of one of the deepest interviews I've ever had in my life."

Publicist: "Oh really?"

David: "It's kind of ruining the whole reality of it."

David turns back to me.

I'm flattered.

Luke: "Wow! You blew him off!"

David: "Yeah, well, I thought it was rude. Who the f--- is he? I don't even know him."

"Next question."

Luke: "At what point did you achieve happiness on a consistent basis?"

David: "When I met Annie [less than seven years ago]. I had just been divorced. She'd been widowed. I'm not sure it was the first time we found each other. Past lives and all."

Damian Chapa walks over. "Why are you talking to him more than me?"

David: "Because he asks interesting questions."

Damian: "I was saying that earlier."

David returns to talking about his wife. When he met her, "she was all dressed and black and everything. She never smiled."

Regarding young women, David says: "I can talk to them but they can't talk to me. I like to talk... I'm a great storyteller. Either one of us can put the other one to sleep just by yapping away. That's good too."

"I don't usually talk about my day. There's an internal monologue going on all the time with me quasi-philosophical. I read two newspapers every day."

Luke: "Are you a good listener?"

David: "I can pretend to be. I'd rather be talking."

He tells me a few jokes including: "What do you get when you cross a seven-foot black man with a groundhog? Six more weeks of basketball."

David says he "applies no other criteria [to deciding right from wrong] other than my own conscience."