Twelve Episodes of their
New Original Series "Carnivale"
This Interview first published in the July, 2002 issue of The Official Clancy Brown Fan Club Newsletter.
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
[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.]
PLEASE NOTE: This interview was conducted in the spring/summer of 2002, BEFORE changes ere made to the Brother Justin character, and his part from the pilot completely reshot. A lot that is said in this interview may or may not apply any longer, but it is worth reading for the possibilities!
CBFC: What can you tell us about your recurring role in the upcoming HBO series "Carnivale"?
Clancy: I'm playing Brother Justin...
CBFC: And he's not a nice man...?
Clancy: Like the Kurgan, he is part of a protocol of behavior, in which he represents the darker side. I can't say he's non-human because he's very human! The Kurgan had a prescribed game that he was playing, and Justin is also involved in a competition -- the game between God and the Devil. Brother Justin is the proxy for the forces of darkness on earth, and so he has certain goals and behaviors that he does in order to achieve his ends.
CBFC: He's rather a sinful preacher, then, and doesn't practice what he preaches?
Clancy: Not necessarily... He's a very righteous guy. He's Brother Justin, so he doesn't necessarily indulge in any earthly delights -- unlike the Kurgan. The thing that's interesting about this is the question of what is godliness and what is evil, in this situation.
CBFC: So he's using his piety as his weapon?
Clancy: Right, and it's very right-wing righteous, mean-spirited piety. The God of Brother Justin is the angry God of the Old Testament. But Brother Justin himself is not angry, he's just a "Brother." He's full of compassion. Where Kurgan was all action and violence, Brother Justin is very different. He's more subtle. He'll use everyone's weaknesses against them.
CBFC: Which is always the way...
Clancy: Right, which is what the Devil does. He's makes temptation available, then turns it to his advantage.
CBFC: By using logic and the like?
Clancy: And love, and all that stuff. That's where he's really insidious. It's that he preaches a kind of love that is very demanding and very rigorous, with the promise of salvation and whatever else.
CBFC: Is Patrick Bauchau's character Brother Justin's nemesis then?
Clancy: In the camp of the good guys, this Carnival -- and I don't even like saying "good guys/bad guys" cuz there's really more "darkness and light"-- and this camp of light is this Carnivale, with all these bizarre people with strange gifts.
Samson is the midget who runs the thing, and he's as strong as can be. He's played by Michael J. Anderson, the fella I worked with in "Snow White." He's sort of in charge of the Carnivale, and he's got huge strength. There's actually a Strong Man in it that we think is retarded or has Down Syndrome, but he's actually quite brilliant. He just keeps quiet, he's like a mute. There's the Snake Lady, which is Adrienne Barbeau... I'm not really sure what her power is except maybe she can talk to animals or something. Bauchau is blind and he can do the mind thing, kind of lay on hands. He's an empath and, at one point, he lays hands on our hero and goes into one of his dreams, gets this vision.
And then there's another one that we never see, called "The Management," and this is the guy who was the main hero of light, the dominant creature of light, that I battled early on and nearly killed. For all intents and purposes I defeated him and he's barely alive. He's sort of the mysterious God figure of this Carnivale. We never see him, and he's always referred to as "Charlie" (laughs), and they're all kind of his "angels."
So everybody has their little powers. Together they're quite formidable, but individually they're not as powerful as I am. And they're looking for the ascendent creature of light, which is our star...
CBFC: Which is the kid that kinda shows up?
Clancy: Right, the Nick Stahl character. And Nick joins the troupe, and their mission through the season is to protect him as he masters and gathers his abilities. My mission, of course, is to find them and destroy them.
CBFC: Of course! What else would be your mission?
Clancy: Well, I'm the avatar of darkness, so that's my goal! It's nice to have it so clear! Ya know, many people go through life not knowing... (laughs) They don't know what they were put on earth for, but I am absolutely certain, at this point.
CBFC: And what is Brother Justin's look? Is he going to be the typical preacher, man in a black suit, Johnny Cash type?
Clancy: He was a magician in a Carnivale with these people at one point, and he was a tattooed magician. So he has tattoos all over his body, which we only see suggestions of because he's always covered up -- since, as we know, the religious right doesn't really sanction tattoos. But the tattoos are pretty significant, since they're sort of my protection. They make me invulnerable to all earthly attacks.
CBFC: And I'm guessing that somewhere there must be a weak link in all that. There's gotta be somewhere not protected by the tattoos or something.
Clancy: It'll be somewhere on my body... That might even be the nature of the tattoos. I don't know how much I'm supposed to give away, so... But they are my armor, and they get stronger with each soul that I subsume.
CBFC: This sounds really interesting and different.
Clancy: The guy who wrote it, Dan Knauf, has incorporated all sorts of things... He's incorporated tarot cards and some astrology, not much, but whatever works with the tarot cards, a lot of Catholic myth and Judeo-Christian stuff...
CBFC: Do you think the real Religious Right will get all freaked out over this series? Do you think they will be protesting and such?
Clancy: Well, the idea is that, even though the rhetoric is reminiscent of some of the Religious Right rhetoric, Brother Justin never actually quotes Scripture. He doesn't really have a denomination. The art direction they have sort of melded Nazi symbolism with religious symbolism, but nothing specific, either way. Just enough to go, "Oh yeah, man, that's a Nazi jackboot uniform, and that sort of looks like a cross." But it's not really a cross that we recognize... more like a "T" on steroids! So their studiously avoiding any direct link, although the obvious historical corollary is this guy, Father Coughlin, who was rabidly anti-FDR.
He was a radio preacher and he got a big following during the Depression. He wasn't an actual force for evil or anything, he just wasn't a big FDR fan. He eventually ran for office and got whomped, and sort of disappeared off the face of the earth. But, for a while there, he was in the court of kings... Kings would pay him court. He was pretty well known. He preached a lot of brotherly love and stuff like that, but he also preached individual responsibility, which was really what his problem was with FDR, in saying that the government can't solve all our problems for us, we have to do it ourselves. But then he just kinda let it get to him and he thought that maybe he should run for president or something.
CBFC: Is there any idea yet when the series might air? Sometime in 2003?
Clancy: The idea is that they'll start shooting it sometime in September. And I imagine they would have to have a few in the can before they start airing it, but I don't really know what HBO's turnaround time is on this specifically.
CBFC: And Nick Stahl is the young guy who is gonna be playing John Connor in the new "Terminator 3" movie? I guess that kind of connection can't hurt the series!
Clancy: Yeah, I think that was probably one of the reasons they picked it up, cuz it's a very expensive thing to produce. I think that was a big reason why they decided to go forward with it. As much as everyone loves me... (laughs) They're not gonna bet the big bucks.
CBFC: Well, they just don't know what they have with you... But I did think, when I saw that T3 connection, that it couldn't hurt, and maybe they'd see dollar signs and greenlight "Carnivale."
Clancy: Yes, exactly. And so they have, and so they shall... and bless them forever. (laughter) I think it'll be interesting. It's supposedly gonna get a web site, and the guy who wrote it, Dan Knauf, is pretty web savvy and everything. He's got his own web company, so he's no dope. I really love him... He's a complete kook and this is one of the most creative things I've ever read. It's just extraordinary, what he's made up! And he's good at making it up as he goes along, too.
CBFC: Well, we're definitely looking forward to it!
Good luck and happy filming!
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Wednesday, October 01, 2003