Clancy Brown Interview
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
Beth: I’m starting to see some parallels between Sofie and Brother Justin…
Beth: Though I may be alone in that. (laughing)
Clancy: Well, it was certainly hinted at in the first episode. And then… Sofie kinda disappeared. Then we kinda went on that weird journey. I mean, it looked like Ben & Sophie were gonna kind of get together – or at least hang out and kinda solve their problems together and everything – but then, these great characters emerged, the Dreifus family, and the writers fell in love with them, and Jonesy, and so they decided to work those guys into the whole fabric, and they just kinda ended up taking over. (chuckling)
Beth: Now, by the end, they seemed to be the vehicle to sort of get Sofie to where she had to go character-wise, in a way.
Clancy: Yeah… But I thought that was a little forced, especially in light of her little trip to the Mexican town, when the Templar guy came out…
Beth: Oh, yeah. We’re still waiting to find out about those Templar guys and what they have to do with everything.
Clancy: Yeah, we’re still waiting to figure that out! And he says to HER, “Every prophet in their house.”
Beth: Hello! There’s a hint!
Clancy: It probably happened the way it should have, but I gotta tell ya that I feel a little cheated from the whole Sofie story. She’s a really interesting character… And she went and got laid by that guy, and then that was it. Then it was just, like, arguments with her mom.
Beth: Well, maybe we’ll find out soon what we’ll reap from that whole situation.
Clancy: So, maybe I’m wrong about that, too, cuz she did see her mom raped and everything.
Beth: Yeah, and what was that all about?
Clancy: So she’s got mysteries to solve…
Beth: Yes, she does.
Clancy: But I guess I’m disappointed because I really thought that her and Ben were gonna at least carry some portion of the narrative and the theme together, that we were at least gonna have a couple scenes of them together everyday going, “Man… What’s going on? How’s your quest comin’? How’s your journey?”
Beth: I think her story, or at least where I think her story may be going, I think her story may work out that she comes to the fore a little bit in the future. Cuz if I had to bet on whose dead in that fire, I’m betting on Apollonia.
Beth: I think Jonesy will get out and I think Sofie will get out. But Appy? I dunno…
Clancy: Jonesy will come out… (evil voice) and he’ll be all scarred…
Beth: More scars? (laughing)
Clancy: Horribly scarred… So Rita Sue can just lick him all over. (laughing)
Beth: Oh, I dunno, it would depend on how bad his boo-boos were. But they’d have to leave his face alone! (laughing)
Clancy: Nah, he’ll have to be completely deformed, and Sofie will be catatonic like her mom. Her mom can become like Obiwan Kenobi, and she’ll show up on her shoulder every now and then. (chuckling)
Beth: There ya go…
Clancy: You’re the one who thinks she’s pregnant?
Beth: Yes, I am.
Clancy: Hey, your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea about that story! And that’s a story that, again, is tremendously well acted. I think it’s clearly tremendously important to the show, but I think it got a little marginalized by the soap opera, and could have used a little more action. But, ya know… That’s just me.
Beth: And do we think Lodz is playin’ possum with Management there, manipulating Ben into only thinking he’s mostly dead?
Clancy: Well, ya gotta figure that Ruthie’s alive, so somebody died.
Beth: Somebody died!
Clancy: And whoever is dead, then the other person could be alive in some respect.
Beth: Right. And I’m wondering does Management have the same gift as Ben, so Management could have said, “Okay, I’ll bring this one back. There’s another one dead, so I can trade…”
Clancy: Oh, that’s a good point. I dunno.
Beth: I mean, that power of resurrection thing could come in pretty handy, ya know? Somebody messes with you, you off them, then raise them back up and warn them, “Now, don’t do that again…” (To paraphrase an old Eddie Griffin routine.) Maybe that’s a little lesson Management is giving Lodz, while he’s at it.
Clancy: Yeah, there ya go… Perhaps. I think Management has a whole sort of portfolio of powers, and can do lots of things that potentially Ben can do. I mean, we saw Ben stop the dust storm, at one point. So he can definitely do a lot more than what he’s doing. And you’ve got to presume, if that’s the case, then Justin can do a lot more than what he’s diddling with now.
Beth: Because that was something I wasn’t sure that Lodz was making Ben see or if it was real – the stopping of the dust storm.
Clancy: I have no idea…
Beth: Oh, and we have to talk about this, too, since we brought up Apollonia’s rape. What is Brother Justin’s face doing on the Tattooed Man in a few frames in that scene?
Clancy: All I can say about that is that way, way, way, in the beginning, I played the Tattooed Man for an instant. But that’s an old storyline and I don’t think that’s the situation anymore.
Beth: Interesting… Because I’m very curious as to what the Tattooed Man is about.
Clancy: I am too.
Beth: He seems to be some kind of a manifestation of…. whoever… maybe anybody could be the Tattooed Man.
Clancy: It could be… I’m sure there’s some mythology that’s being referenced, probably something to do with Templars or something to do with the tattoo. Somebody online was talking about the Tree of Life, the Norse Tree of Life… The tree and the snake…
Beth: The one Day of the Dead ritual that I found has got something to do with a specific area or a specific tribe in Mexico where they actually took the human sacrifice out into the fields and cut them up, and made that blood sacrifice to the gods for their crops.
Clancy: So, there ya go…
Beth: So, if you got taken out there, you got fed to the field! And the field grew because of it…
Clancy: Maybe it’s the revenge of all those sacrifices…
Beth: Yeah, the Children of the Corn rising up. (laughing) But I’m the one that usually gets asked if that’s Clancy’s face on the Tattooed Man in that rape scene, and I’m saying yes, mostly because I’d recognize your profile anywhere. (laughing)
Clancy: (laughing) Well, in a certain light, we do kinda look alike, that guy and me. And I think that’s intentional, cuz he doesn’t look like me. He’s much better lookin’!
Beth: Is that Patrick Swayze’s brother playing the Tattooed Man?
Clancy: Yeah, Don Swayze. A nice, nice guy… really a great guy. A real sport to do this. But I don’t know how that whole thing is gonna pay off, and I think that might be a real running theme in the show – that when you string it all together, depending on how many seasons there are, if you string it all together it might be one of those things that actually does tell a story on it’s own.
Beth: Ah… Interesting. And ya know, I was wrong when I was saying that Lodz took on the point of view of the Tattooed Man in that vision he stole from Ben, when Scudder snarled, “He’s mine!”
Clancy: Oh, yeah?
Beth: After watching it for a third or fifth or whatever time, the Tattooed Man’s point of view is not Lodz’s point of view. It’s actually…Ben is running away from the guys with the clubs, or whatever they are, who are chasing him. And he sees the Tattooed Man, and turns from the Tattooed Man, but then you see whatever it is… I think Ben. Somebody fell, and whoever fell, that’s who became Scudder. So I’m not sure that Lodz was seeing through the eyes of the Tattooed Man in that scene or whatever, when Scudder talked directly to him. But it was a freaky little scene, the way they shot it.
Clancy: Yeah, those are the moments that I really love the most, where it just screws with your perception… Like the diner with the mirror, and that little scene. I really think those are great. I really like those moments.
Beth: So the Tattooed Man is kinda a mystery, and Daniel’s not telling that secret yet, is he?
Clancy: No, he’s not telling us much. And you don’t wanna hear it from me, anyway… I’m not privy to the whole story, and I don’t think I want to be! (laughing) You just want to discover it, that’s the game.
Clancy: But I really don’t know… If I’m saying I don’t know, I really don’t (chuckling) I mean, I’m still not sure that Justin is the Avatar of Darkness! I think, at the end of the show, he thinks he’s a deeply sinful man. But I don’t think that’s any different from what he thought before.
Beth: He’s still got a lot of the same characteristics, and he’s leaving with what he brought with him…
Clancy: Yeah, it’s just kinda on a different level now. And there’s plenty of time to have him rationalize that, as we human beings are so good at doing.
Beth: And he’s never really… I mean, for a minister, he’s never really taken on the idea of his own redemption.
Beth: And I’m not sure if that’s a carrot that Iris holds out to him or what.
Clancy: Oh, absolutely, she holds that out to him. She’s always talking about redemption to him, and I don’t know how much that has to do with the overall deal.
Beth: And it would appear that the whip is not a secret he keeps from his sister.
Clancy: No, not anymore, anyway…
Beth: No! That was sort of surprising, cuz I thought that was his kind of guilty secret.
Beth: But now it’s all out there!
Clancy: It’s all out there. Everyone knows… And Iris and Justin know an awful lot about each other, that’s all there is to it – as sisters and brothers do. That’s not unusual. But you have to assume, if you’ve got a brother or you’ve got a sister, then you’ve gotta assume that their relationship is very similar, and you know some stuff about your sibling that not everybody else knows. You don’t need to discover certain things. That’s family stuff!
Beth: I have no experience with siblings, so I’m flying blind on this…
Clancy: Well, there’s certain things you don’t need to discuss.
Beth: You’ve just got that shorthand… You know that they know that you know…
Clancy: Right. If the audience needs to know it, then they’ll tell Tommy Dolan or someone.
Beth: How fun is that working with Rob Knepper, who you went to college with?
Clancy: Oh, that’s fun. It’s always fun to catch up with somebody after so many years, and see that they’ve progressed and matured according to plan. And I know that he gets the same kick out of it that I do, and it’s just a goof that we’re actually doing this together.
Beth: So, do you think that Justin is operating under this idea that he is a demon now, or does he still have doubts about that?
Clancy: I think, at this point… The question I have is, at the point when he’s looking at that whip, and he says that maybe “God has other plans for some of us.” Is he being Judas at that point? Does he know that he’s been foreordained to test humanity to a Godly end, and that’s what he has to face? Now THAT is a frightening prospect! Or… Does he think that he’s still a good man and doing God’s work, just in a way that isn’t widely accepted, ya know? (chuckling) Sort of a “No Excuses!” kind of religion…
Beth: Well, it’s definitely “No Excuses!” The sermon there, at the end of the finale was kind of interesting, too, because you can read it both ways.
Beth: Because you can look at it as him just sucking in the power now, or you could look at it as him being right about certain things. It all depends on your viewpoint. It seems to me that he’s… Well, we’ve talked about this before. In HIS mind, he’s got to believe that what he’s doing is righteous. I don’t think he does anything just for the heck of it.
Clancy: Right. And one of the things that continues to baffle me, is the fact that Ben consistently does things… As much as everyone loves him, and he’s got a huge following and an incredibly intricate rationale going on for his place as the Messiah… It’s just getting a little hard to buy! Not a little hard to buy… I mean, REAL hard to buy! He doesn’t really do Messianic things. And he’s definitely not… I mean, Samson is a better guy than he is, and Samson takes the rubes for all they’re worth. So, that’s part of my consternation, and part of my… I won’t say hope… cuz I’m not sure I necessarily hope that Justin’s the good guy. But it’s one of the reasons you’ve gotta take pause. Cuz in relation to his opposite number, Justin is a much better person. Definitely flawed… HUGELY flawed! But definitely living his life in a much more responsible, and proactive, and positive way than Ben is! (laughing)
Beth: (laughing) Well, I wonder if, in the end, it’s not actually going to turn out to be a battle between the good and evil in each person.
Clancy: Or we’re two parts of the same entity. Yeah, all those theories are valid, at this point, I think. But that’s what’s great about the show. It really… It says it’s about good and evil. It says it’s about black and white, darkness and light, BUT… Is darkness really darkness and is light really light?
Beth: And it’s kind of a motley crew Ben is surrounded by… If these are all the people who are supposed to be on the side of Good, then you’ve got some pretty flawed people on the side of Good, too. We’ve got some pretty dark things going on there.
Clancy: But then there’s that curious thing he says about Wonder and Reason…
Clancy: And there’s the idea of Humanity and Divinity…
Beth: Or Order and Chaos…
Clancy: Order and Chaos… There are all sorts of opposites that are not quite as stark as black and white and good and evil, so…
Beth: So it’s gonna be interesting to see where they go with it. Do you think they’re going to want to keep building Brother Justin up with his power base, or are they going to have to keep him almost marching in place until Ben catches up a little bit?
Clancy: No… I think we’ll probably see Justin’s acumen grow. His ability will grow. The first season was really about a teenager growing up, it was sort of about his adolescence. Cuz he starts out very petulant and sort of whiney and idealistic, and kind of self-absorbed. And then, by the end, he’s a completely different guy. That’s one of the things I love about the role, is that he is everything that the critics got so nasty about in the beginning, without… The ones who were nasty played right into our hands! (laughing) I mean, that is what he was, but that’s not what he continued to be.
Beth: There were critics who were specifically nasty about the Brother Justin character?
Clancy: Oh, somebody said there was some B-movie pathos, ya know, and all he does is scream and yell. And that’s true, he’s very much a teenager in a lot of ways. He’s a petulant, whiney guy! He reacts very predictably to extraordinary situations. I won’t go so far as to say he was a stereotype of the evil minister, because he certainly wasn’t. But he was definitely not reacting in a sophisticated way, a mature way, to what was going on. He’s a very immature man, at that point. But then, then… he changes. He changes from the time he imagines jumping off the bridge, that’s when it starts to go. Actually, from the time he leaves the burned out church. He’s sitting there railing at God, “Tell me what you want me to do! Tell me what you want me to do!” It’s like a little teenager yelling at their parents, (angry teen voice) “Just tell me what you want me to do! You’re not being clear” Well, you gotta learn that on your own. I’m not tellin’ ya!
Beth: Go and figure it out!
Clancy: Yeah, life’s not fair, and you gotta get to a place where you can deal with that and go! I can’t tell you what I want you to do, cuz then you don’t grow up. So Justin’s growing up.
Beth: And you could say that Sofie & Ben are taking that same journey…
Clancy: Yeah, a little bit. But that’s the problem. I think Ben doesn’t take that journey as much.
Beth: And he needs to…
Clancy: I think he gets shoved into the situation, so he still has a justifiable out. And the fact that some of these people online are kinda embracing that as the reason -- you have to give him an excuse -- is a little bit much, cuz then you accept a character that’s not full, I think. I tend to think it was intentional by the writers. But if it wasn’t, then it’s something that has to be developed.
Clancy: Sofie, on the other hand, she kinda rests through the whole thing then, all of a sudden, has this scene where she’s mad at her imaginary lovers! I mean, that’s kinda weird. I’m wondering why Jonesy and Libby didn’t just say, “Man… She’s kinda weird. So, you’re naked now… What’re YOU doing?”
Beth: (laughing) “We’ve got some time!”
Clancy: (laughing) Yeah! “I’ve got some time, obviously. That Sofie’s a weird one… So, whaddya think?”
Beth: “Let’s just forget all about her and just…”
Clancy: In the context of it, in what actually happened, she was also very much a teenager.
Clancy: So she’s sort of somewhere where Justin was in the beginning.
Beth: Exactly. That’s what I’m thinking, too.
Clancy: Yeah, yeah… And Ben is… Ben, I don’t think is even there yet. I dunno, Ben’s kinda on his own thing, I guess. But he really has to be allowed to grow a little bit more than what they let him do. And Nick can handle it, man. Nick is… I don’t think there’s anything that guy can’t do.
Beth: I think the irony with that character is that he spent so many episodes this season turning on his heel from Lodz, saying, “Go away, I’m not listening to you, leave me alone.” And not listening to Samson, either. But then, when he NEEDS them, neither of them can or will tell him anything.
Clancy: Right. They can’t help him.
Beth: “Sorry, kid, ya shoulda listened to us the first time…”
Clancy: Right, right! “Cuz we coulda gotten you to this point where we CAN help you faster.”
Beth: But, noooo…
Clancy: Maybe Ruthie will clue him in.
Beth: Yeah! Though I’m not sure how much Ruthie actually knows.
Clancy: I dunno… She’s seen the light a couple of times, apparently, so she’s gotta be somewhat enlightened.
Beth: And she’s not too fond of Lodz… There’s some bad blood there.
Beth: And I’m thinking poor Lila there, she’s just gonna be out of luck!
Clancy: Well, if he’s really dead, she is. That’s for sure! (laughing)
Beth: That’s right. Her little plans for being Queen of the Carnivale are gonna be right out the window. And I also was just thinking about this… They’ve got a dead body to explain now, if Lodz is indeed dead. I mean, I can see Samson getting one look at that situation and saying, “Well, John Q. Law’s been nosing around, better throw that body into the burned out bus, and light it on fire, too” I mean, that is a wrinkle for someone in the carnival to worry about.
Clancy: Yeah, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think that’s as much of a problem since the powers-that-be, the establishment, didn’t really care all that much what happened to people like carnies.
Beth: No, probably not. But still, this might be an instance where Carnival Justice might come into play, because they have to say something to his fellow carnival folk….
Clancy: Oh yeah, the carnival folk, in terms of explaining there, yeah!
Beth: I’m wondering how they’re going to keep Ben out of facing Carnie Justice on this one.
Clancy: Lodz is an old guy…
Beth: True, it might have been a heart attack.
Clancy: And Apollonia got caught in a fire that was a terrible accident. So, ya know, if those are the two people who are dead. Nobody knew that Ruthie was dead…
Clancy: Except those people who were in on the bigger joke.
Beth: Was I the only person who was alarmed by how long her body was laying in that hot trailer -- dead?
Beth: I’m thinking, this isn’t gonna be smelling too pretty soon.
Clancy: Yeah. I think the guy at Television Without Pity, it crossed his mind a couple of times…
Beth: (laughing) I just sat there watching, thinking oh, boy… That can’t be good! It’s gotta be getting a little stinky in that trailer, and poor Gabe is sitting out there all alone keeping guard. He was such a pitiful figure in this last episode…
Clancy: Yeah, I wanna see more of him! Here’s an interesting thing… This is something that sort of occurred to me in a flash. He’s got a broken arm, and Ben healed his arm. But he’s also got another handicap – he’s also mentally deficient. So now, if Ben heals his arm, what’s to say that some of that residual healing power that Ben is so immaturely using…
Beth: Just throwing around…
Clancy: What’s to say it won’t go up there and tie together some of those loose neurons in his brain, or whatever they are.
Beth: That’s true! I hadn’t thought of that!
Clancy: He could be a real interesting character, if they… I mean, this is just like me being a fan-boy, ya know? (laughing)
Beth: Well, we’re glad that you’re a fan-boy. That’s fine. (laughing)
Clancy: He could be really cool. He could really emerge as somebody interesting, if they wanted to go down that path. They could do it very easily, and tie it in with Ben quite well.
Beth: People are landing on the idea that maybe they’re half-brothers, too.
Clancy: Yeah, maybe… I dunno.
Beth: I think maybe they’re getting a little of that Princess Leia/Luke Skywalker nostalgia going.
Clancy: Yeah, see, and that’s what I think is boring – sort of tying it all up in a “Star Wars” kinda way. That’s a little…
Beth: Nah… we don’t need that.
Clancy: A little too neat.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Clancy Brown Interview