Matthew Lillard: Filthy Talk and Fault Lines

Prologue: On Fringe Eve, two men, alike only in uniqueness, gather at their laptop screens ready to commence the Skype of their lives. We hear knuckles crack before the curtain rises…

Feature by Fred Fletch | 06 Aug 2015

Dramatis Personae:

Matthew Lillard – a thespian from the New World who has come to Edinburgh with several rich theatrical confections (Fault Lines and Filthy Talk For Troubled Times)
Fred Fletch – a mercurial journalist destined for the Pulitzer Prize or, failing that, prison

Act I

FRED: Can I check a few things before we start?


FRED: Can you actually understand me? Because technically I'm what's known as 'very fucking Scottish.' I ask because when you guys in America got our movie Trainspotting, you needed subtitles to work out exactly what the hell we were saying.

MATTHEW: Aye, I'm fucking Scottish 'n shite.

FRED: Holy shit. Now I'm convinced I'm talking to a classically trained actor.

MATTHEW: Aye. You guys say 'aye' a lot don't you?

FRED: Mostly when we're drunk, and I've only had half an hour's notice and four shots of vodka... so, aye. Anyway, our comedy editor just messaged me an hour ago and said, "Do you fancy interviewing Matthew Lillard?" I couldn't say, "Fuck yes!" fast enough. But I asked, "Is he doing a stand-up act? Is he promoting a wacky new movie?" And he said, "No, he's directing some really personal and serious theatre productions, Fred, and they are very close to his heart and soul." And I said, "So not a sequel to 13 Ghosts then?"

MATTHEW: They're not 'that' serious.

FRED: Fuck off. I read your interview in The Stage where you describe art as a river and talk about the process being like antelopes in the Serengeti. I am seriously out of my depth on this.

MATTHEW: They were asking about art and I answered in an artistic way.

FRED: I own three copies of Roadhouse on DVD. We should probably stop the interview right now.

MATTHEW: No, no. We can, um, play to the lowest common denominator if you'd prefer [laughs].

FRED: I'll be gentle... and not mention Scooby-Doo.

MATTHEW: [Groans]

Act II

FRED: When people heard that I was going to be interviewing Matthew Lillard, I got around 26 messages saying, 'Ask him if he feels woozy.’

MATTHEW: Yeah. I hear that like every day. God bless Twitter.

FRED: Fucking philistines. Man, don't they know you're a serious actor? Fuck those guys. I was like, "I'm not asking him that, I'm only asking him sensible questions about art and acting." So tell me about the 'moon roller-skates' you invented?

MATTHEW: My Mom and Dad started their own business as a kid, so we would spend every waking hour, when we weren't at school, in the office where they worked. Somewhere in the delusion of my imagination I crafted these roller-skates that would, you know, go on the moon. Basically it was a man in a spacesuit, with rocket ships under his roller skates. And when I showed my Mom and Dad they said I should get it copyrighted, which, I thought was validation that my moon-skates were pretty excellent. But it turns out they were just busting my chops at the age of seven.

FRED: Did you send the blue prints to NASA?

MATTHEW: Oddly I didn't.

FRED: This is exactly why we're doing so fucking badly in outer space right now. They're a bunch of stuck up assholes at NASA anyways. They never return my calls about renewing their search for lost astronaut Buck Rogers.

MATTHEW: Bastards. They don't understand the importance of Buck Rogers.

FRED: You also talked about, as a child, spending a lot of time worrying about nuclear war.

MATTHEW: Yeah, that was a big thing back then in Southern California... well, everywhere really. Weren't you guys scared over in Scotland?

FRED: Naw. You're talking to a man of a generation raised on Mad Max. The threat of nuclear war was just a promise of an exciting post-apocalyptic future of jazzy clothes made of mudflaps and hubcaps.

MATTHEW: I guess at the age of nine, I kinda thought I'd not survive it if it happened. When we moved from Detroit to California we lived 20 minutes from Disneyland. Every night at 10 o'clock, the Disneyland fireworks would go off and the first time I stayed up past my bed time and heard those fireworks, I was convinced it was nuclear armageddon.

FRED: Fucking Goofy.

MATTHEW: Yeah, so at the core of my fear... It's really just Disneyland.


FRED: If you survived the apocalypse, do you have a strategy for Thunderdome?

MATTHEW: Um, I can honestly say I've never contemplated a strategy for Thunderdome but ok, I'd say I'd just have to give it my best shot and maybe hope the guy they make me fight would be old and also very weak. Listen, I think if you get to Thunderdome the best technique is to strike first. Get vicious. Gouge the eyes. Grab the testicles and eventually hope to God you have more water than he does.

FRED: Have you seen the movie Reign of Fire?

MATTHEW: With Christian Bale and the dragons?

FRED: Yes. Fucking awesome movie, right?

MATTHEW: Very fucking awesome movie, yes.

FRED: You know there's about 10 minutes in that movie where Matthew McConaughey isn't shirtlessly murdering a dragon and where the survivors of the dragon-related apocalypse entertain themselves by staging theatre productions of classic movies. So I'm throwing it out to you. You survive the apocalypse. You survive Thunderdome. You decide to direct a theatre production based on a movie. What show do you put on to distract everyone from the dragons?

MATTHEW: Ok, if I was king of a post-apocalyptic world and I could dictate what movies people get to watch on stage... I'm pretty sure I'd make everyone watch every movie I've ever been in on stage. And I would convince everyone living in post-apocalyptic Matt-world that every one of my movies was considered a classic, and I would forbid the right to anyone producing any art that wasn't Summer Catch, Scream or Scooby-Doo.

FRED: I notice you didn't mention Wing Commander.

MATTHEW: Some things sadly don't survive the apocalypse. Some things have to die.

FRED: Oh, don't worry. I'm bringing it with me... through the wasteland... to your kingdom... and I'm bringing 13 Ghosts too.

MATTHEW: Every Christmas we'll do Serial Mom - the musical.

FRED: Oh shit yeah.

MATTHEW: You went deep man. You went deep on the research.

Act IV

FRED: Hey, on this interview you describe yourself as 'an aspiring mime'. What's that about?

MATTHEW: That was my attempt at theatre humour, but I'd actually make a good porno mime.

FRED: Would you do a sex tape?

MATTHEW: That would be the highlight of my life. My career would take off immediately if I did a sex tape. No really. I've often tried to convince my wife that we should release that shit....because that’s what the world wants. A middle-age man, and his pasty white ass, having sex with his wife.

FRED: If it's good enough for Tom Sizemore, it's good enough for you.

MATTHEW: Oh God man. Nothing, nothing is good enough for Tom Sizemore.

FRED: Let's smoothly link that topic to your shows. Tell me about the shows you have at the festival.

MATTHEW: The European premieres of two great playwrights: Fault Lines by Stephen Belber and Filthy Talk For Troubled Times, which is the first play Neil Labute wrote, so it's interesting to see where he came from and got to. I don't know if you know Labute?

FRED: I'll lie and say yes.

MATTHEW: He's a prolific writer and he’s done a lot of movies, like In The Company Of Men. He's known for pushing the boundaries on relationships and the horrible things people can do. You know, it's all the horrible shit that goes on in people's minds, but out loud. Fault Lines is kind of a more traditional play: there's a beginning, middle and end. It's got a bunch of plot twists. Both plays are amazing and are the voices of American playwrights right now. There's such excitement in the Edinburgh streets and for theatre this is as good as it gets. There's a joy about this that is unparalleled for any kind of experience and it's an amazing thing to be a part of, to take an adventure into and to attack.

FRED: Like Thunderdome?

MATTHEW: [Laughs]

Act V

FRED: You're so passionate about it. You've given me the pickles. You're completely awesome.

MATTHEW: At the end of the day, when you're jet-lagged and you're grinding and you're getting your ass kicked in the theatre, hour after hour, day after day, the only thing you have is passion. If you don't have it then you're just going through the motions. It's like weird moments where you come in and out of experiences. You live like you know you're in the middle of a memory.

FRED: Dude, you're blowing me away. Shit, I've got limited experience in theatre. I saw Paddington Bear the Musical when I was nine and vowed never to watch any of that bullshit again, but you've whipped me up. I'm caught in that river of art with you. You're amazing.

MATTHEW: Well thanks buddy.

FRED: I'm not flirting with you... well maybe a little.

MATTHEW: [Laughs]

FRED: Ok, one last question... The big one...

MATTHEW: Go on....

FRED: 13 Ghosts.....What did F. Murray Abraham smell like?

MATTHEW: Roses and glitter.

FRED: Do you fancy doing some Karaoke?

MATTHEW: Did you say, 'Do you fancy doing some Peyote?'

FRED: Actually, yes.

– The End –

Matthew Lillard directs both Fault Lines and Filthy Talk for Troubled Times, as part of Phantom Owl Productions' roster at the Fringe