Clancy Brown Interview
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
Beth: People are picking up on the idea that Ben’s middle name is Krohn, and I guess that means crane or bird in German. And does that mean that Crowe is somehow the Americanization of that old German name?
Clancy: I have no idea… Not a clue. No reference to it… nuthin’. I have no insight to offer on that. It could very well mean something, and it might mean absolutely nothing. That’s something I don’t know.
Beth: Do you think the chain-gang past is going to come more into play in the next season?
Clancy: Yeah, THAT has to! I mean, I gotta presume, is there’s something that I wanna know about – and I know a lot already about what’s happening – then there’s some significance to it. And I wanna know about that, I wanna know what that story was. And I wanna know about it mostly because Management said, in that speech, “I know you have the ability to make this decision, because you’ve done it BEFORE.”
Clancy: And it’s like… Something like THAT I wanna know about! Something about what happened in St. Louis, THAT I wanna know about.
Beth: Oh, yeah!
Clancy: These are the things that I wanna see at least addressed. I don’t know if I want to see them all spelled out, but I do wanna see them at least addressed.
Beth: I wanna see what made mama Plemina Crowe take off with Justin and Iris…
Clancy: Yeah, there ya go…
Beth: And I want to see the train wreck. I wanna know was the father really an evil man? Or was mama evil and trying to take them away from the man who was trying to save them?
Clancy: There ya go! Those are the things… I mean, I’m much more interested in those things than the fetus in the jar.
Beth: Yeah, me too. (laughing)
Clancy: Those are kinda the little side references that I just totally dig! I wanna know WHY we’re all the way back in medieval times?
Clancy: With heads on pikes and feet in baskets!
Beth: You gotta love any show that gives you heads on pikes! (laughing)
Clancy: Yeah, and I want to see what that’s about. I wanna see how that plays out.
Beth: And back to Management’s line about how Ben has made this decision before… Does that mean that, again, they’re bringing in the notion of judgment? I mean, a lot of people think Justin’s the judgmental character, but if this is Ben’s power, he’s gonna have the actual power of life and death, deciding who deserves to live and who deserves to die!
Clancy: Right. And you can’t have that power without exercising some pretty hubristic characteristics.
Beth: As soon as Management said that, I thought, well… Lodz is a goner! Because, if I was Ben, and I had to pick someone in that carnival who was doing me dirty, Lodz would be it!
Beth: But instead he goes down there and drags that tubercular drunk out of the Cantina. I thought, wait a minute… Are there no jails with actual murderers and rapists and such he could pick his victim from – some actual vicious, guilty people instead of some poor pathetic drunk?
Clancy: Well, right! But that’s not insignificant, too. That, to me – and again, this is just Clancy talking as fan-boy… That, to me, was the greatest argument for him being a creature of light -- was that he wouldn’t execute someone so pathetic as that to achieve his own ends.
Clancy: But then he goes and tries to kill himself, which is a complete copout, and that’s a bunch of crap! We already know that you can’t kill yourself. Justin already tried it, and you can’t do it. So it must be that somebody else has to kill you… There has to be an X-factor involved, and you can’t just do this sort of whimsically, you can’t just kinda escape it. You have to conspire with someone else. And I think that’s why Justin asked Balthus to kill him, cuz he already knows he can’t do it himself. If it really is gonna end, then someone has to do it. Someone has to kill them, cuz they can’t kill themselves.
Beth: I know people have argued that Justin is so evil or demonic that all he’s doing is trying to turn Balthus into a murderer by asking him to kill him.
Clancy: Yeah, that’s a bunch of crap. Yeah, I’m so evil I’m trying to turn him into a murderer and, ya know, this show is all about compassion for murderers! What are you talkin’ about? (laughing)
Beth: Yeah, that’s true! (laughing) We’re more worried about the incest angle than we are that Iris burned down a church and killed how many kids?
Clancy: Exactly! We’re more worried about that sin, which some people have pointed out online was completely culturally acceptable in some cultures, in fact was part of the protocol of some royalty for much of human existence, but it doesn’t really matter that she fried the kids!
Beth: (laughing) I guess that part is just the cherry on top of how evil she is.
Clancy: The really awful thing is that the brother and sister might have libidos for each other?
Beth: And I’m still not 100% convinced they’re actual brother and sister, either. But that could just be me… Cuz I look at you two and think, that’s not the same family tree, I’m sorry!
Beth: I’m sorry, no-no… There’s a BIG branching off somewhere in that family to make the two of you!
Beth: I was actually a little afraid you might pop her head off in that Iris confession scene.
Clancy: They kept telling me not to do that, cuz we finally shot one where I didn’t do that. And I thought, nah, this is the right thing to do. If this is gonna end in a kiss, you’ve have to think I’m gonna kill her!
Beth: Oh, yeah! Yeah! It had that whole, “I know it was you, Fredo…” feel to it. He was gonna kiss her or kill her, one of the two – and maybe both!
Clancy: Yeah, I mean, she’s pretty awful to have fried those kids… Even if she didn’t intend to do it, the fact that she harbored it was pretty terrible… and that she’s rationalized it and quoted Scripture to justify it!
Beth: That was the best line, when she was looking at him and says, “I did it for you…”
Beth: I think that one line says everything you need to know about Iris. “I did it for you.”
Clancy: “Like the lambs of Abraham.”
Beth: Right! And just pushing that final button to see where he’d go, what he’d do with that information. That was a wonderful scene!
Clancy: Ya know what she is? She’s the anti-Eleanor Roosevelt!
Beth: There ya go! With her sensible shoes… But what I find interesting is that it seems like Justin has never actually tried to take a little peek inside Iris’s soul. Is that because he doesn’t wanna know? Or is he afraid of what he might see there?
Clancy: Yeah, he came awfully close there in the church in episode ten, though, didn’t he?
Beth: Yeah, he did!
Clancy: (laughing) That was pretty close! He almost made it up to her…
Beth: And then… U-turn!
Clancy: He almost made it up the aisle, and she was a little bit worried about it.
Beth: Yes she was! She had quite an alarmed look on her face.
Clancy: But fortunately, he turned around.
Beth: Yeah, can you imagine what he would have seen?
Clancy: That was great, that was just great… great acting, great directing, great story. But it wasn’t in the script. We didn’t know what the story was at that point, that she eventually copped to it. It was great, I just thought that was inspired.
Beth: I loved the final ten minutes or so of the season finale, too. I think that’s some of the best television I’ve seen… ever!
Clancy: It was pretty good.
Beth: The music, and the sermon, and the visuals going with it – it was just…
Clancy: You should see it on a big screen. Man, that’s just amazing!
Clancy: I saw it when they were doing the final dubbing, and they have this big ol’ projection of it and everything is a hundred feet tall… Well, not quite that big but, ya know… big! The sound systems is… dogs can hear it, it causes earthquakes in San Francisco… It was just amazing that sound system! And the subtleties that come out when it’s all blaring at you…And the imagery that’s there is pretty remarkable. It’s a big screen epic that’s confined to your little screen. And that’s one of the reasons that television critics don’t get it.
Beth: And I think you really have to play them back to back. If you get the chance and the time to just sit and watch the marathon, all in one long sitting, it’s impressive. It’s just so impressive when you see them that way, back to back. So I’m definitely looking forward to a DVD set.
Clancy: Well, let’s hope that Dan Bishop comes back.
Beth: And he’s…?
Clancy: The designer.
Clancy: And Jim Glennon, and the photographers. Let’s hope they all sign up again.
Beth: Do you have anything you’d like to say to the fans about the renewal?
Clancy: Well, ya know, especially the online groups… You should be patting yourselves on the back. You don’t own this show, first of all…
Clancy: But you should definitely… And Beth, you really should, because you really rode herd on these people.
Beth: (laughing) Well…
Clancy: For the first time, I think, for the very first time that anyone would care to acknowledge, I think the online presence made a huge difference in their decision making process, made a huge difference for their show. And Dan agrees with me on this… and it’s not just because we’re Internet geeks. But there’s no question that the online community spoke loudly and often, and were heard in this show. So, you know… You should definitely feel like you deserve some credit for this. I won’t say all of it, cuz some of it really has to be reserved for the people who finally made the decision, they get the lion’s share. And we’ll take some of it, who made it. But it’s ultimately HBO’s sandbox, and you have to give them their props and credit. Make sure that everybody writes in and says thank you, and tells them what a great decision and what a great network it is for doing something like that. Cuz I’ll tell ya right now, there is NO other network that would have signed this show up again. There’s no other network, first of all, that would have made it!
Beth: No, I don’t think so either!
Clancy: There’s no other network that woulda signed it up again. It did better than any other show they had on at that time, but still, their expectations were monumental and they didn’t achieve their expectations. Even when they’re unrealistic, if these execs don’t achieve their expectations, then that’s just one more reason for them to pull the plug. And they’ll do it at the drop of a hat, and I know that to be true.
Beth: Yes, you do.
Clancy: So I give them major props. I just think that HBO is the bee’s knees. But I also think this online community is pretty remarkable, too, to make a difference the way they have. And you, especially.
Beth: Aw… thank you.
Clancy: How you’ve taken the bull by the horns and managed it. Especially to focus it the way you did for these last few weeks, that’s made a big difference, believe me.
Beth: Well, thank you. And you’re right, as much as we fans love and support the show, we always have to keep in mind that ultimately, we don’t “own” it -- no matter how much we love and support it. That much, I know to be true.
Clancy: And you don’t WANT to own the show because, if we disappoint, you want to be able to say, “Ya know, you ruined my show!” and “Why didn’t you listen?” (laughing)
Beth: (laughing) Exactly.
Clancy: But ya know what? It is what it is, and you can only be an advocate for what you’re given. And I appreciate the advocacy and the enthusiasm.
Beth: Well, we’ve had some big fun.
Clancy: And I sure hope we live up to the expectations. But don’t be too quick to take ownership (laughing) cuz… if we mess up, then you have to take the blame, too! (laughing)
Beth: Well, Clancy, we owe YOU big time, too! Cuz nobody else -- NOBODY else – would be getting up at quarter-to-five every Monday morning to talk to two radio guys in Michigan!
Clancy: Aw… they’re fun guys.
Beth: I mean that… Just the amount of participation you’ve given the fans and the promotion of this show, and getting online to chat with the fans, etc., etc. has been amazing. And as you’ve seen, your radio interviews have been getting cross-quoted all over the place!
Clancy: Yeah, but it’s easy for me, because I love this show. I think it’s tremendous. And I’ve loved every show I’ve done… But I really think it’s great. I’m astounded by it. So I’m happy with what I do, but then I watch the stuff I’m not involved in and my jaw just drops! I mean, the actors are SO good! The writing is so good! And the look of the show is just…
Beth: Oh, yeah, the look is amazing! And ya know, now that’s it’s over, I’m really missing that quality. I switch around the dial, and there are a lot of MOVIES that just don’t hold a candle to the series, you know what I mean? The production values are just that high!
Clancy: Yeah. And I agree with ya.
Beth: It’s just amazing. And I gotta say, it makes me smile every time I’m snooping around, hither and yon, on the Internet, and I see the words, “Clancy says…X,Y, or Z about the show.”
Clancy: Oh, yeah. Though I might have to shut up here pretty soon. You’re asking me questions I don’t have answers for, but I love the questions! And even if I don’t have answers, I’m also formulating theories and everything. And sometimes that line gets blurred as to what I actually know and am telling you and what I’m just speculating on. You can safely say that I’m speculating on about 99% of it.
Beth: Right. Then again, that’s pretty much what all of us are doing, only you have that one extra 1%! (laughing)
Clancy: The only thing that I won’t speculate on is what I already know to be happening. And the proof of that is that, ya know, I got the call – the unofficial official pick-up call – and I was like, “Oh, yeah… right.” And I was still full of speculation until I read the articles in the trade papers.
Beth: Well, you’re like Ruthie… You’ve survived two snakebites with good series getting cancelled already.
Beth: You’ve seen the light a few times…
Clancy: I’m very cynical about stuff like that. But also, I’m full of speculation and theories, and all the rest of it. But I don’t know anything more than anybody else.
Beth: So hard was it to be looking at all the theories and conversations on the Internet and not join in?
Clancy: Actually, it was kinda hard at the beginning, cuz you want to steer people away from stuff that’s just wrong, and maybe show off a little bit, and pretend you know something more than you do – and sometimes you do know something more. But then, after like the second week, it became fun just to see what people were coming up with. And many times, people were ahead of the game – like with the TAVATAR/AVATAR… Everyone got that right off the bat!
Clancy: (laughing) And that was one of the big series pay-off jokes!
Clancy: So it was like, “Well, I guess they got THAT about a month ago…”
Clancy: It was… It was cool. It was cool! There was never any temptation to deliver any misdirection or anything. Cuz enough misdirection was going on just in imaginations. And some of that misdirection was kinda more interesting. But it just became fun after a while. And then it became kinda a chore, just because there was so much to wade through, so I had to stop.
Beth: (chuckling) Tell me about it. Volume? What volume?
Clancy: (laughing) Yeah… Yeah, I’m sure!
Beth: But now things have quieted down a little, and folks are just involved in friendly back and forth – where we’re all just a big group of friends kinda hanging out.. There’s still discussion of the show going on, but not to the degree there was while it was on the air. It’ll probably stay that way until a couple months before the second season begins…. And then the posts and the speculation will really take off again!
Clancy: Yeah, that’s great! And I’ll be right in there speculating with them. I’m not gonna post anything, but I’m speculating like anybody else until I get that first script. I’m as much in the air as anybody else. I’m just dying to see where it goes. I’m SO psyched! I just really wanna get on it and get started!
Beth: Well, we’re just tickled that we’re getting this second season. That’s a good thing! We’re very happy.
Clancy: That’s a good thing… that’s a great thing!
Beth: I’m also glad that whatever help we were able to give, we could give…
Clancy: Well, it was real. It was significant. And I’ve never seen it happen before.
Beth: I’ve never seen a fandom grow in quite this way, quite this fast. I mean, I don’t know that “Carnivale” is the kind of show that’s going to ever be as popular as “Survivor” or something like that. Probably not. But it seems to me that the people who do like “Carnivale” like it intensely.
Clancy: The whole marketing machine of showbiz is so behind all those reality things, “The Bachelor” and all that stuff. You’ve gotta figure that there’s some high margin involved, cuz it always traces back to bucks. They’ve made it for nuthin’ and they’ve created these stars. They’re getting their pictures taken for nothing, and the magazines are selling for the same amount of money. It’s all about how much cash, how much profit they can generate, so it’s not really about the quality or anything of a piece, unfortunately.
Beth: Speaking of magazines, do you think they’ll be doing any interviews with the cast or on the talk shows.
Clancy: Well, we’ll see… The news [about the renewal] is just hitting the stands today. We’ll see if there’s any of that. I doubt it, I really doubt it, because it didn’t make the kind of noise that “The Sopranos” made, or “Oz” or “Six Feet Under.” Ya know, “Six Feet Under” really hit at the exact right time for HBO. That show definitely benefited from the HBO mojo. Our show benefited, but also it’s an old story now. Critics are getting tired now of HBO being so successful, to the point where they’re almost resenting it. And I think that hurt us a little bit, but the proof is in the pudding. The bottom line is, HBO just does things better than anybody else… And that pisses people off! There are people who don’t like the Yankees, cuz they keep winning championships.
Beth: And I think the critics kinda vented their frustration at David Lynch and “Twin Peaks” all over you guys, like you had anything to do with that!
Clancy: There was a lot of “Twin Peaks” resentment going on, which I blame Michael Anderson for! (laughing hard)
Beth: (laughing) Yup, it’s all his fault!
Clancy: (laughing) All his fault…But they’ll get over that and, pretty soon, they’ll forget about “Twin Peaks” because they just don’t compare. There’s nothing similar about them.
Beth: I did see something in one of the newspapers where they’d named a scene from “Carnivale” as one of the Ten Best Things on TV of last year, or something like that.
Clancy: Oh, yeah…. Easily! Easily one of the ten best things on TV this year. But “Carnivale” is always gonna have this problem… Because all of the critics who dissed it and let their own little stuff get in the way of doing their jobs, and weren’t enthusiastic about “Carnivale,” they’re wrong now! So, it’s always gonna be a reminder that they were wrong. So they’re gonna work extra, special hard now to prove that they were right.
Clancy: So… It’s just gonna be one of those shows that, I think, after it’s off the air – and maybe before it’s off the air – it’ll be regarded as one of the seminal moments of television, cuz it’s just such a good show. But it’s gonna take a while for these people who were just blatantly wrong to come around. We’re just gonna have to be patient with them.
Beth: I seem to recall there was an awful lot of predictions of cancellation and snarking from the TV pundits when the “X-Files” was wrapping up its first season, too.
Clancy: Right, and that being said, there were far more positive reviews than there were negative reviews. I mean, it was really a consensus “best” before it hit the air. But the negative reviews were the squeakiest, and the only people who wrote reviews of the finale didn’t necessarily have good things to say about it. So, it’s just a pain in the ass.
Ya know, you go on rottentomatoes.com, which I do every other year, and one day “The Bride” is the worst movie ever made, and the next day it’s one of the best. Actually, it’s not quite THAT volatile (laughing) cuz it is “The Bride.” But “Starship Troopers” was just called awful when it first came out, and now there’s people who think it’s the best thing Paul Verhoeven ever did.
Beth: Yeah, so times change, opinions change…
Clancy: As soon as we forget that they were wrong, then the critics will be able to say, “I knew it all along!”
Beth: That’s right. And as we wrap up here, let me just say, thanks for doing this, Clancy.
Clancy: Thank YOU for doing this!
COMING SOON: Our Exclusive Interview with Daniel Knauf!
Friday, January 23, 2004
Clancy Brown Interview