By Chris Gore | April 30, 2001

But even when you play a bad guy, like you do in Dirt, an extremely loathsome cop, you’re still very likable. Is that something you bring to the character? ^ Michæl (Dirt‘s co-director) and I go way back and Dirt was favor time. Big time. He wanted me to go to Sanderson, Texas, which is very cold in December. Most people in Texas have never heard of Sanderson, Texas. There’s nothing in Sanderson, Texas. No grocery store. There was a little gas station across from the little motel where you can get beef jerky sticks and, uh, I don’t know, Hostess pies, which is much to subsist on. And in my little motel room, there was an old boot nailed to the wall that was their idea of art. Really! The TV didn’t work. There was no phone. I was out rock counting sometimes in the 38 degree afternoons because there was nothing else to do. The idea was that it was going to be guerilla filmmaking at its best because the budget for this whole film was next to nothing. But Michæl is very resourceful and he had a great cinematographer and hopefully, one day down the line they’ll make a buck or two.
Even when your character in Dirt is beating a guy in prison, you’re simultaneously having this sensitive conversation about the problems in your life… ^ About masturbation. (Laughs)
It’s hysterical. ^ I’m glad you like it.
I think that’s where I spotted your parenting instincts. You know, it’s like “Dad’s going to spank you, and I’m not happy about doing this. Where does that come from? ^ Well, I’ve never laid a hand on any of my children. Never even spanked them. And I’m not saying I believe in corporal punishment, which I believe is the formal term for disciplining your child with a spanking. We can go a little too extreme in other directions when something happens in our own lives that we didn’t like. Now, we used to get “the belt” growing up. And I would consider that to be a form of abuse because you’re a big parent with a weapon like a whip essentially to your a*s. That’s scary. I want my kids to respect me. But I don’t want them to be scared of me. Now, I find it’s just as effective to let your kids know you’re disappointed with something they’ve done than actually inflict pain. There’s nothing that gets to my son more than if he’s done something bad and he says to mom, “Are you going to tell dad?” What he doesn’t want is my disapproval. I think as long as your kids love and respect you, they strive for the right reasons not to do bad things or mess up.
Your kids are obviously a big part of your life, do you think you bring anything from parenting into your acting? ^ Maybe a certain sensitivity in some areas. I think there can be humor in most everything. But there’s not a lot of humor in beating. There is one scene with the sheriff in Dirt is now going to “beat his woman.” There’s not a lot funny about that. I think that there is some absurdity there.
I think the filmmakers made the right choice, because you don’t actually see the beating. It takes place off screen. ^ Right. You know what happens.
Although, beating the con in prison is funny. That one works because of the ludicrousness of the conversation mixed with your intimate confessions about your life. Do you have a certain fondness for independent films? You’ve appeared in numerous indies, yet you do some very mainstream television which I’m sure affords you the opportunity to go out and act in a small movie. ^ You really hit the nail on the head. I have a responsibility of taking care of a rather large family. So I do have to make money, which is why I’ve done some commercial work because that can be the most lucrative part of this business. But you do have to limit that or you won’t get hired to do anything legitimate. I’ve done my share of independent work and had some good fortunate to work with some great people in that area. And I’m working on some more mainstream films. I’m in a film called “Big Trouble” coming out this summer with Rene Russo, Tim Allen and Janeane Garofalo, it’s a Touchstone Picture. I’m doing a little something in “Men in Black 2,” so these are good commercial projects that I’m not getting the opportunity to play a role like Richard Hudson in The Woman Chaser. If you really want to get to dig in to something, you gotta jump on those opportunities even when you’re not getting paid.
When you’re just watching movies for fun, what indie films do you like? ^ I’d say my favorite film of the last decade was an independent picture called “Sling Blade.” It just doesn’t get any better than that. There are so many great ones little indie pictures like Chasing Amy. There’s something special you only get in an independent picture.
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