I got a call from one of my favorite publicists in New York. She was promoting a new western called: The Last Rights of Ransom Pride starring Lizzy Caplan, Kris Kristofferson, Dwight Yokum, Cote de Pablo and Peter Dinklage….would I like to interview any of the talent?
“Of course, I’m here for you. Who did you have in mind?”
“Well, Lizzy is available and she is the star.”
“How about Kris Kristofferson?”
“I also think Cote de Pablo is up for it.”
“Do you think Mr. Kristofferson is up for it?”
“And possibly Dwight Yoakum”
“Gee, I dunno if he’ll be available.”
“Let’s give it a try. If not, no worries, I’ll interview anyone available.”
“Thanks, JAM. I’ll get back to you.”
BTW, that is entertainment-speak for “Not a chance and you’ll get whomever takes the least effort to get on the phone”
But as I am learning, people will surprise in a good way more often than not. And sure enough, on a Thursday a couple weeks later I get a hurried phone call:
“JAM, Kris Kristofferson is on tour in Ireland. Would you be able to talk to him on a Saturday at 10:30 am?”
“For you, Darling, anything”
It’s not that I have anything against Lizzy Caplan. She’s a good actress and she kicks a fair amount of ass in the the film. But there are people to who have captured my attention throughout the years and Mr. Kristofferson is one of them.
LONE STAR is one of my favorite films and Kristofferson plays a real bastard in it. Charlie Wade is a “Bullets and Bribe” kind of sheriff in a small border town of Texas who may, or may not, have met up with the wrong end of bullet 40 years ago. When a skeleton is found in present day, it sparks a series of seemingly unconnected events that lead to the town’s many mysteries being uncovered. Directed by John Sayles, this movie weaves the past and present together as if they are happening at the same time.
Simply put, this movie is a pleasure to watch.
Kris Kristofferson had never played a bad guy before. Sure, there are plenty of flawed characters in his filmography, but Lone Star marked the first time he played a truly despicable character.
Did I want to talk about it with him? Hell to the yes.
And I did. I will post the whole interview here soon, but for now, let’s just say that he has voice of a road weary traveler of the world that could tell you stories of greatness and shame… if you are worthy of such a tale. And on this subject…I was.
We talked about how Sayles sought him out for the role. Kris had even asked what Sayles saw in him that made him feel like he could even play the character. Shrewdly, Sayles danced around the question and never really answered it, instead, he just reassured him that he could do it.
The thing we didn’t talk about was that Lone Star was pivotal moment in his film career, which had been floundering up until that point. He was working, but his last film that got released theatrically was the box-office flop Millennium, seven years before. Lone Star’s Oscar win for best screenplay gave the film critical awareness and re-established Kristofferson as serious and viable actor.
Then we got on the subject of voice. As we spoke about what it takes to be a bad guy, I mentioned that both he and Johnny Cash have a distinct quality to their voices. An authenticity. I argued that it helped give his bad guy more more sincerity onscreen. He agreed. He also related it to his music. About seven years ago he went on stage for a performance with just him, his guitar and a harmonica. This stripped down version of his normal stage show was an epiphany for him. He felt the audience had a stronger connection to him and he to the audience. From then on, it’s just been him and the audience… no band.
It was only then, as he was talking about his music, that I had my own epiphany… At his soul, Kris Kristofferson was not actor, but mostly a musician with the soul of a poet. He is not a poet because he writes songs. He is a poet because he can recognize a moment, reveled in it and share it with an audience: me.
It never hurts to ask because you never know what you might get.
I asked for interview, I got an Unexpected Poet.