CBFC Interview with Clancy Brown
Gearing up for the “Carnivale” Premiere
Interviewed by Beth Blighton • 9/6/03
[WARNING: CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS! Do not read this article if you do not want to hear possible plot points! Answers stated within the context of this interview are solely the opinion of the interviewee.]
CBFC: So we’ve been seeing the previews for “Carnivale” and, of course, everyone is starting to speculate on what everything means… And a couple of us are wondering if you are the Tattooed Man – at least in the previews?
Clancy: Well, ya know, they did shoot some tattoo of me, and they shot… They had three different tattooed men. So it might be me, or it might be one of the other guys. They don’t really know who the Tattooed Man is yet… They’ve just decided that the tattooed man is the “Tattooed Man.” I don’t know what the Tattooed Man represents, I really don’t…
CBFC: That’s okay, cuz enough of us will be sitting around soon enough, asking each other, could he be this? Could he be that? A few of us have had that conversation already.
Clancy: Nah, hopefully, that’s what everybody is going to be doing soon. And, ya know, I do it, too. I don’t know why they have the Tattooed Man there, so I… I mean, it’s startling and it’s interesting.
CBFC: All the art references on the tarot cards that they’re showing, I think, are going to be an interesting source for speculation, too. If they continue on with the things they showed in the previews, at least, it will gives everyone a chance to try to identify the art they’re showing and try to read possible meanings into it or whatever.
So how was it working with Amy Madigan, as your sister on the series?
Clancy: Oh, that was great!
CBFC: That looks like a really interesting character… They look like they have kind of a scary relationship, he and the sister.
Clancy: Oh yeah, it gets really twisted!
CBFC: Oh, I bet!
Clancy: I can’t tell you anything about it, but Amy’s like the greatest. She and I kinda figured out that we’ve done three pictures together – the most I’ve done with anybody. Anybody! So it was great to see her. First of all, she’s such a terrific actress. So that’s good. Second of all, she’s like one of the guys, she’s fun to be around. And thirdly, she’s really supportive. There’s not a mean bone in her body, and she’s always telling you you’re doing a great job. And then, when I drive home and I’m feeling good about the compliment I got from Amy, I realize that’s she’s driving home to Ed Harris – who can do anything better than anybody else! So, she’s just a good egg.
CBFC: I always felt that “Female Perversions” would have been a lot more interesting if she had been in the starring role.
Clancy: I agree! I think that was the whole point of that feature, that her character was the most interesting.
CBFC: Exactly, the lead was just kind of twitchy, which got tiring, and it was a lot more interesting when the story turned to Amy playing the kleptomaniac sister. And what was the third movie you and Amy were in together?
Clancy: “Laramie Project.”
CBFC: Oh, yeah! That’s right! How’d I forget that one?
But getting back to Amy’s character, Iris… She looks like she might be the power behind the throne a little.
Clancy: She is a little bit, but she’s also not so much that way. I mean, she is, but it’s very much a brother/sister relationship. It’s very family -- there’s nobody either one trusts more, and finally, blood is thicker than water. So they’re definitely a team, and… You’ll have to see what happens.
CBFC: Now, are they real brother and sister, or were they just raised together in an orphanage or a situation along those lines?
Clancy: (evil grin voice) Well, I can’t tell you!
CBFC: D’oh! (laughing) Oh, Clancy, that’s just so mean…
Clancy: (laughs) Well, also it’s that I just don’t know. It could go a lot of different ways… I could say something, but I really could be wrong!
CBFC: Or they could just up and change it on you before they’re done.
Clancy: I mean, I really could be wrong. They’ve changed it from the beginning, from what they first started out with. They’ve changed a lot of stuff around to make things more interesting and take advantage of the characters and stuff.
CBFC: It was interesting to see Ralph Waite back onscreen again as a minister. That’s some very believable casting. You’d believe him in that part.
Clancy: I think he was a minister, actually, at one point. Whether he was a seminary student or an actual ordained minister, I’m not sure.
CBFC: It’s also nice to see that they didn’t just run out and cast only “beautiful people” in every part.
Clancy: It’s really interesting in that way, that there isn’t really one typical “Good Looker” type in the bunch.
CBFC: And that the girls in the Cooch Show aren’t a bunch of reed thin models…And yet, they’re the sexy ones!
Clancy: And Amanda, I’ve seen there’s been a lot of discussion about this… I didn’t realize she was Meatloaf’s daughter! Of course, now I see it!
CBFC: Yeah, and she’s got a wonderful, interesting look.
Clancy: And Cynthia, who plays her mother, she’s the real deal.
CBFC: Didn’t you work with the gal who’s playing the bearded lady, too, in “Patron Saint of Liars?”
Clancy: Yep, yep! That’s Debra Christofferson.
CBFC: Though I think Tim DeKay is going to be somebody to watch in the show, too. I think he has real potential to kind of break out and be a favorite character.
Clancy: Oh, yeah, he’s good. He’s sort of the most “normal” person of everybody.
CBFC: Yeah, I think he’ll probably become a fan favorite.
Clancy: Yeah, he’s definitely the “beefcake” of the piece.
CBFC: In the “Making Of” special we got to see the lady with the coins spilling out of her mouth… Were there any other miracles, or not-so-nice miracles, that you got to perform?
Clancy: That’s K Callan, and she’s been around forever and ever, and she’s written a bunch of books about acting and stuff, and being in the business. She’s like the type of person who would go skydiving for her 80th birthday and jump out of an airplane or something. She’s had quite a life in Hollywood, and she’s really quite good. They kept trying to write her in. The writers kept putting her in every episode and then taking her out again because of scheduling conflicts and all of that stuff. But hopefully we’ll get the chance to see more of her.
But what other things does Brother Justin do? I basically show one character… In one episode, I ask him to donate his building, and he asks me, “Are you out of your goddamn mind?” And at that point, I show him his deepest, darkest sin – and it’s a pretty terrible sin, and he shoots himself later on. Which, I maintain that his shooting himself was not the intended result, that Brother Justin did not intend that the man go out and kill himself. But this was early on, so we had an episode where Brother Justin is angst-ing about that, but they took that part out. But I think a lot of what Justin does he does for a reason, but then there are other things that happen as a result of what he does that he doesn’t necessarily have control over, and I think that’s part of what tortures him.
CBFC: The thing that impressed me, at least in the preview, was with the Nick Stahl character – when he goes to heal the crippled little girl, and you see her healing yet everything else dying around them. It reminds me of a “Monkey’s Paw” sort of dilemma, where you’ll get your wish, but it may not come to you as the wish you’re looking for.
Clancy: Exactly. And it’s not so clear… His rules, the rules of his particular abilities are pretty well spelled out over the first season. But Brother Justin, who he is and what the intent will be about how those powers will be used is still very unclear. And somebody was asking me, “So you’re the bad guy…” And I said, “Ya know, if you’d asked me that a few months ago I would have said definitely. If you’d asked two months ago or a month ago, I would have said yeah, I think I am. But now…? I don’t know.”
CBFC: Do you think this will be a bit like “Twin Peaks” where the fans will be watching trying to distinguish between the red herrings the writers are putting in on purpose and other things that they’re really trying to say? For example, just based on the previews, the three cards they show at the end, it looks like God on one side, the Devil on the other, and the archangel Michael in the middle. Which made me wonder, if you don’t end up being the Devil himself, could it be that your character turns out to be the archangel Michael of the piece?
Clancy: Ya know, I don’t know, and I’ve talked to Dan Knauf a little bit, and they’re trying to develop the book for next season, in case they ask them for a next season, and he’s really starting to back off a little on some of the more strident positions he had about the characters. So I’m just not sure… I think overall the plot will be the same, but I think they’re constantly juggling who is what, and what is what. I think it all connects up the same, but Dan and all the writers are very proud of saying that this isn’t “Twin Peaks,” we don’t present something that doesn’t mean anything. So everything has a reference, everything ties in. It’s not going to be some dead end…
CBFC: There won’t be any red herrings dangled or dead plot points that don’t get answered?
Clancy: Right, they want to make sure that everything that’s in there ties in with the rest of the story. It seems to me like the whole story is being cast to revolve around whatever’s going to happen in the future, around season four or whatever.
CBFC: Is there anything else you can tell us right now about “Carnivale” that wouldn’t entail you being shot at dawn for spilling show secrets?
Clancy: Not really. I’d tell ya, if I could, but then I could be wrong about it. All the critics have seen the first three episodes, but what I’m sort of dyin’ to see is when we get to like eight or nine, and hear what they think then.
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Saturday, September 13, 2003
CBFC Interview with Clancy Brown