SEEING WITH SNAKE EYES
Kurt Russell Interviewed by Carol Allen
I don't want my kids to do it, I didn't want to smoke but there are some pleasures of life I think are worth that, at least at this age. Hopefully I may get to 90 and I may say, God I wish I hadn't done that, but I hope I don't, I hope I have the courage to stand there and say, you know, I had a lot of fun.
If you live your whole life in fear, you're never going to get round to living.
One of the things that I've talked about when I've been talking about this movie (Escape from LA) is, I really do think we need a minister of fun, as much as we need a minister of safety. The country is swamped in living more safely, living longer, the quality of life - the quality of the individual's desire seems it's just not at the moment what the world's about to a lot of people in America. I'd rather do what I wanna do, I mean I thought that's what that place was about (laughs).
Let's come back to that. First when did the film open in America and how's it done?
It opened up August 9th after the Olympics. It's gone down interestingly, it's doing ok. It's doing better than the original Escape from New York) did in it's initial release. I think it's going to go down exactly as the original did. It's a picture we made because over 15 years the audience for the other one grew. We meant to make a picture that would feel the same, that is to say that it would not be totally accepted at the time it comes out, because it's not a picture that is made that way, but I do think that the sensibility of the picture and the way the picture's made and the character in the piece are fairly unique and as time goes by I think that once again it will gain an audience. We were talking earlier about political correctness and stuff as in the movie, through the main character does not concern itself with but the background is sort of all about that. So the movie came out at an interesting period of time, it couldn't have picked a more politically incorrect time, it came out like immediately following the Olympics which was nicely enough, you know, in Atlanta in an American city and for all the reasons concerned it became kind of patriotic in a certain way, a good feeling of America winning gold medals and overcoming adversity, whatever, and our picture is I think seen by many as somewhat subversive. You either have a sense of humour or you don't - sometimes you need a little time to sit back and have a laugh.
It's the subversiveness actually I love about it. Coming hard on the heels of Independence Day, it's one of the few American action movies I've seen where the American way of life is not worth saving.
The movie is typically American in that it - I think it's a great arena, the science fiction arena, it allows you to look at subject matter in a very very broad manner, and so this examines a concept, the concept being I think that what the left fears most is the right and what the right fears most is the left. What the left fears about the right is there'll be total control, what the right fears about the left is there'll be total anarchy, so I said let's just divide the two up, take them to their extremes and throw this guy down in the middle who doesn't care about either side, either one of them equally and I think that character is truly American, that guy is singularly American. Don't tread on me and I won't tread on you.
Is this why you wanted to play Snake again?
I suppose part of the reason, but I'm just an actor. I did co-write this with John but I've worked as a writer on lots of things I've worked on and I just always work to try to get the best movie and the best screenplay we can get to make the best movie so I like the character, due to certain aspects of playing him but it wasn't to espouse any political view that I wanted to play the character, it wasn't any of that stuff. I like the feeling of that world, the Escape from New York/Escape from LA world and I think it's unique and I think the character's ultimately unique. He's a socially unredeemed guy who just wants to survive another sixty seconds - that's how far the world has taken him. I think he's fun to be in a scene playing. I enjoy it as an actor.
It has been suggested that there's some of you in him and some of John Carpenter in him?
I think that's true. John is by nature I think anti-authoritarian. I am by nature libertarian and I don't understand not being able to accept somebody's point of view just in conversation, any more than John can accept being told what to do when he doesn't want to do something. I don't have that much of a problem with that, the character is a combination of some thoughts. Ultimately he's all of those things - he can't stand authority, he has no regard for it, but he has no regard for it because of a simple incorruptible belief which is exactly, as I said earlier, don't tread on me, just leave me alone, that's all. If you just leave me alone, you don't have any problem from me, but if you're gonna f**k with me you're dead and that's the feeling that I have.
How did Snake lose his eye?
That's something John and I have talked about. We reserve some things to ourselves, we always hold that one to ourselves. We've always felt there's many possibilities, one of them being that his other eye's fine (laugh) - he just decided to put an eye patch on one day! We had lots of fan letters as to what happened to Snake's eye and one guy felt that earlier in World War 3 in Siberia or somewhere I forget he had some gas warfare or something. John and I have some thoughts on that, but some things we keep to ourselves about Snake's personality and statistics.
Can we talk about the America, the LA you've created for the film. It does go back to this anti political correctness idea. It sounds like LA's going to be a load of fun because nobody outside is having any fun.
That's the idea. The incorrect take on the president is that he's a right wing president, Christian coalition guy. I preferred my original thought which was that he was politically correct - it's a strange mix of political bedfellows. If you take a just left of centre president who happens to be politically smart enough to hook up with the christian coalition,he would have a pretty broad political base. Now let's just take that guy. First of all it's science fiction so you're allowed to do as far as I'm concerned anything you want. I think you're challenge should be that you should take what's possible and take it to the improbably. Let's take that guy and let's give him a vision of a catastrophe in Los Angeles, a religious vision, which he really has. He has that vision and it comes true, bang. Not only does he think he's right, everybody in the United States thinks he's right, so they make him king for a day, bang. Well in his dictatorship, which that statement is a right wing type statement but it's not a right wing guy, it's a guy who says, I'm gonna do what's good for you. Smoking's not good for you so you're not gonna do that. I'm gonna do what's good for you. Wearing fur is not appreciated by a lot of people so we're not gonna allow that. Red meat is eventually going to get you, so I'm gonna help you out. So he takes it from the left side of the scale. The biggest fear that person has is he's tired of the crime and fed up with that so he just takes control of the place to try to clean it up which he does. Probably very successfully, a very boring place now because a lot of control and off breaks LA in the earthquake and the gangs take it over and he says, fine, to hell with it, wall it off and anyone here who's found guilty of a moral crime, cos we're gonna keep this place clean, boom, we'll throw over there. LA is not a prison, as the character says, Taslima (Valeria Golino) says, this is the only free zone left in the world, that's the prison. So LA now is this anarchistic state which is the exact opposite. It's just out of control but if you want action it's going on there. I always felt like it was what if were in America in this movie in 2013 if you lived in Phoenix you kinda wanted to peek over that wall and see what's going the other side of the Berlin Wall and say, God, sounds like they've having a big party over there, I'd like to see it, and then the president's daughter, you notice, can't stand that ,she's a teenager, she wants to see the party so boom, she goes. She's been told all her life it's hell on earth but when she gets over there it's way worse than she thought, so it's like the existence is so bad in either place. Into the middle of that walks the man who just doesn't care.
There is some lovely dark satire on America today. Beverly Hills as a slum with Map of the Stars Eddie but he ain't got an air conditioned coach any more.
Yeah he shows you how to get around. And the guy who runs Beverley Hills now is the Surgeon General. Now that for me is possible and improbable!
All those face lifts gone wrong.
He discovered this new way, which was fabulous for about ten years and then things started to fall apart and he realised the only way to keep it going was fresh body parts and hey, you gotta do what you can do to survive.
I don't know where the guys here get there food from and I didn't see much sign of booze, cigarettes or drugs or rock and roll.
In the movie you mean? It's a free zone so they get it from anywhere they want. Again, it's not a prison. One of the misconceptions of this movie is that LA's a prison (like New York was). It's not, it's Hotel California. There's a big difference between a prison and Hotel California. Hotel California you can check out any time you want but you can never leave. Why is that? That was my thinking when I was talking to John. I said, when we dealt with New York, the concept of New York as a prison is one that people totally understand because many people feel that way. But the way people feel about Los Angeles is that you go there and you talk to people and you say, you talk about not liking it, why don't you leave? And it got me to thinking about Pompey because the natural catastrophe that took place in Pompey always fascinated me. 20,000 buried in the rubble there. They all knew that volcano was going off, every one of them knew, and I always used to say to myself, why didn't leave? So here I am living in Los Angeles and years ago, went to Rome with the family and I said, hey look Pompey's just down the road, I'm going to see Pompey. Went down to Pompey and looked at it. There's that man you know and his wife, they're running away and you can see them looking back and they're frozen in ash and I looked these quite beautiful homes that were there. You look up on the top of the walls in the homes and you see this pornographic art, really interesting and beautiful pornographic and I said, oh there was a party going on. They're having fun, that's why they didn't leave, they went into denial. Obviously the guy turned to his wife and said, honey, don't worry about that volcano, it won't be going off today and if it does we may be in Rome shopping that day. Don't worry about it, it's not gonna happen. Whoa. Here it comes! And I think that in Los Angeles we have to do the same thing. We have these mud slides, riots, fires, we have the earthquake. Eventually we are all going to have live with and die with this monstrous occurrence that's gonna take place. The only way you can deal with that is, as with cigarette smokers do, jumping on the other side of the scale, I'm not gonna get cancer from smoking cigarettes - you are. So I live in Los Angeles, just like every other Los Angelino and it's the only way you can survive there. But it is fun
Getting down to getting the film off the ground, came out of the earthquake of 1994?
In a way. Debra (Hill) said that and that's partially true, partially not. We talked about this back in 1983. I had an idea, Escape from LA, the earthquake had happened, broken it off, so I had this concept a long time ago. I had that idea for a story that I ran past John, he liked it, we continued the process, we didn't really have time to commit to it so we gave it to a writer, the writer came back a year or so later. It was ok what he wrote but it didn't have the same - the character wasn't quite, that guy, the story didn't quite work, didn't really turn us on and we had other things that we were doing so it just didn't happen. Then years went by, we approached it a couple of times, and then in 94 I was doing publicity in Europe and for the umpteenth time people kept asking me, do you think you'll ever play that character again, do you think you'll ever do another Escape. And actually, exactly at that time the North Ridge earthquake happened. In the meantime the Rodney King riots had taken - the rise out of the Rodney King verdict take place, mud slides were just happening yearly, San (?) winds blow, the fires burn the city, all that drive by shooting, it became a city that was being increasingly defined by its violence and natural catastrophes and I came back and told John that more than ever this place is perfect to escape from and put Snake into. I think we should commit ourselves to doing this and John, I think you and I should sit down and write it and if you guys want to do it, I'm interested and we'll go to a point where we look at the script and say, do we want to continue this or not. That was what we did.
You and John wrote it together. Was that a real co-writing thing, both of you contributing dialogue, action, story?
You said you'd done this before on other films?
I've written on the last ten years I've worked I've written on them. Not as much as I did on this because I didn't do it from scratch. I always took a project that already existed and worked with the writer and the director but on this one we started from page one.
Do you usually get credited as a writer?
No I never cared about it. People say why don't - As far as I'm concerned the only thing that matters is what's on the screen. I don't care how it got there. I don't care if the craft serviceman took over the role from leading lady who died the day before shooting. It doesn't make any difference. What matters is what's on screen. I've been involved with many productions, one in particular where I've had to wear different caps. I had a lot of pressure from a lot of people to take credit for that. It didn't matter to me. I'm an actor for hire, that's what I am. As long as my input can help the movie, whether that be in a producing effort, a directing effort, whether that be in a writing effort, it doesn't matter who does it, I am experienced at it and if I can sit down with each scene with the director and the writer and the actors, be part of making the scene better, however I can do that to help the picture, that's what I do. In this instance, because we were starting from scratch, we felt it was important that my involvement and the commitment be displayed for the studios that were going to become involved and therefore, writing and producing, because I was going to be involved and was involved with both of those things. We just started out as the three of us together, this was our project, this was our project, this was who was directing it, who was writing it, who was producing it, here's the screenplay, we'll walk in the door, who wants to do it, who wants to buy it, it anyone going to be interested? That was the only reason I took credit on this?
How about the producing element. Have you been involved in that before?
Is this first time officially?
First time I've had a credit, yeah. You see people are fascinated by that. You guys make people like me want to take credit because it puts some sort of importance on it. It doesn't matter that I didn't get credit for producing Tombstone.
No but it does matter that you had some power and input?
I did. So did the craft serviceman. So did the wardrobe man. My make up man helps me come up with lines. I don't how to explain that except that all that matters is the movie. The individual effort should be thrown out the window in terms of ego, so that you can combine as a team on a movie. Cos everybody on a movie is equally involved and I don't care how small or large your job is in terms of what the media wants to know about what you did. Sometimes the finest moments of the movie can come from the set photographer - one simple idea that suddenly becomes the defining moment of the movie, it doesn't matter who does it, it matters that it got done. So yeah, I've spent a lot of time producing, I've spent a lot of time directing, I've spent a lot of time writing and on this picture, because I started from the beginning, with John and Debra, I decided to do that. I worked hard on Breakdown in terms of writing with the director, in terms of helping the producer get the movie produced. I don't care to take a credit, it doesn't matter. What matters is whether the movie works or not for an audience thirty years from now.
I guess what I'm getting and why we're so fascinated by it, is there have been stars in the past, certainly in the old studio days,who were just pushed around?
Well there's also been stars who just can't get enough. It just ain't enough to star in a movie, now they've gotta write it. It's not enough to write and star, now they've gotta direct it. I don't criticise - I criticise to the point where I say, how much do you want? How much do you have to let the world know what you did? I don't get it. It's just not a part of what makes me interested in the process. The only thing that makes me interested is just down at the end - because it's all - All we do on the set is just gather garbage to throw in the mill to be edited - that's where you make the movie and we're just out there putting stuff that's going to be put together and I dunno. I've a real personal problem with the need for lots of recognition. I also think it's pointless - it's pointless to me. I understand it, I guess everyone wants to be Orson Welles and no-one is Orson Welles. You can be as effective as you want to be on a movie and by either way if you get to the point, I understand, if you get to the point where you're disappointed in the outcome of the movies, you get to that point, you know what? Absolutely. Hopefully, you're knowledge will be strong enough, it's time for you to direct, because it's a director's medium, that medium is a director's medium. He or she is responsible ultimately for the outcome of the movie.
Is that coming next - do you have a desire to direct a movie?
No, the input I have on them right now is fine.
In the opening scenes of the film you're wearing the same costume that you wore 15 years ago when you were only 30 and now you're 45, that seems to imply you ain't put no weight on?
I had it because I helped design the first costume and I just had a special affinity for the character and I thought, you know, I'd like to know where it started. I put it on, I was able to get into it. I've been fortunate I guess that I haven't altered that much. Probably next week things will start to change drastically. (laugh)
Do you work out and all that stuff?
I don't work out that much or take care of myself to the degree that workout people do but I don't indulge, I don't get more than five or six pounds overweight, I do get in shape when I have to do certain roles and then other roles I don't do that. For Escape I knew we were going to do seventy nights in a row and I knew it was going to be long and I knew I'd do a lot of physical stuff in the movie, so I said, yeah the character's supposed to be - he's a tough guy, he's physically tough and he's got to be in shape so I worked out for about three months before we started I started to work out.
As a European I get the impression a lot of Americans are obsessed with working out, diet, exercise, the whole healthy lifestyle. It doesn't sound like it's quite your thing?
Again I know a lot of people who like to feel as good as they can feel. I find the media obsessed with writing about it. (GETS PASSIONATE)The media's obsessed with it. I don't find the people I know who work out obsessed about it. But the media's obsessed with pinpointing. They must know what that is, they must know how to write about that, they must know how to write about that person, and all they can do is pigeon hole that person as an idiot who works out, a blockhead who works out. I know people who are in relatively good shape, they feel good, they're fit, but intelligent people they seem to me. It's a far cry from photo ops with President Clinton running and then dropping into a Macdonalds for three or four big Macs. That's not what it's about no. I think that it's not a phase or a fad or a craze. I think that it stems from fear and America, my generation being this big fat number of people is obsessed with fear of death now and they're gonna stave it off as best they can. I would assume that's normal behaviour, except that they're doing it in larger numbers now and those people who were ten years old and wanted to be writers are now 45 and they are writers and those people who started working out 25 years ago got a leg up on them.
You had Hollywood childhood didn't you. Your dad was a baseball player turned actor and you were a young (child) actor.
I didn't grow up in Hollywood. I grew up in Thousand Oaks, California and then I moved to outside of the valley and then I moved to Colorado, I started playing ball when I was nine, I started playing semi pro ball when I was 13. I grew up in the world of baseball not the world of Hollywood. I don't know what town we could call baseball to be able to pinpoint that but the motion picture industry is centred in Hollywood, baseball is centred in Southern California. So I grew up in Southern California, with those guys in that world, that mind set and I was fortunate enough to be able to act from the age of nine and make money. Then when I got injured out of baseball then I joined my career and then I began to pay attention to my career and to pay attention more to what Hollywood was about and three years later I moved out of Hollywood and moved to Colorado.
So through your childhood acting was a nice way of earning lots of pocket money?
Well for a nine year old kid to be able to earn $110 in one day compared to $10 for a paper round, the economics were even obvious to a ten year old. I forfeited a lot of money in my teens and early 20s to play baseball, cos I was making 600 bucks a month playing ball but I was hoping for the big league which by the way it still runs in the family. My nephew just got called up to the Mets the day before yesterday, he's there. That means a lot in our family. I can think of no other job that is as much fun and pays you that much money as that business and that as they say is great work if you can get it and I've been fortunate enough to get it.
How did you get into movies? Through your father?
I got into movies because of my dad, because he was an actor. He went on an interview for a job with Micky Mennel and Roger Meris, two very famous New York Yankees in 1961 and he came home and told me there was a part for a ten year old kid in it and I said, you mean the kid who gets that part gets to be with Micky Mennel and Roger Merris all day, they were legendary ball players, and he said, yeah, and I said, boy I'd love to meet them, so I called his agent and I went to his agent and I got an interview and I was able to get a reading. They'd already cast the movie but they felt bad for this ten year old kid, so they let me read and I read, and I said to my dad, is that what you do and he said, yeah, that's all there is to it and I said, boy I see why you like doing this. So I called his agent and I said, look I wanna do this, I want to get a commercial or small parts or something and you understand, it only takes, in those days it took 3 days to shoot a half hour show, it took 6 days to shoot an hour's show, so if I did three or four shows during a year, I was not in my normal element as it were for a grand total of three or four weeks a year, so that was the offshoot. Of course that's the only thing people can visualise about my past is that I was working when I was 9 so obviously I must have been living the life of Shirley Temple. I didn't really have much to do with it except that I got the script, I 'd learn my lines, go on the set, have a good time for three days and make more money than I could possibly imagine. That continued to expand and grow but I never really to my detriment I suppose became involved in Hollywood or any of what the perceived Hollywood perception of life is. It just wasn't part of my life.
So you were more interested in baseball?
I was only interested in baseball at that time. But as I got to acting I did get an increasing appreciation of what was fun about - I always liked making a show, that was fun and I got an increasing appreciation for the fun I could have as an actor so when I was 23 and I was injured out of baseball I in a short period of time did consciously transfer my feelings of desire about doing something to acting and in that regard I do love watching and recreating life and people and I became very interested in acting and for the last 20 years now I've involved myself with that world and learned about it and became very appreciative of the fact that you can do some great things in entertainment.
When you had that baseball injury your first major was playing Elvis for John Carpenter, wasn't it?
Actually yes, it was my first major role but there was a role before that - it was a tv movie called Deadly Tower that was really more effective on my career. I played a role that was a man in Charles Whitman (??) who shot 46 people from a tower in Texas, he just went nuts, and I got cast in that role. That really was truly casting any form of type and it opened up Hollywood's eyes to me, they said Woah, that was really, we really didn't see him in that role. A couple of years after that was when Elvis came along and that was an opportunity to do an acting job that was very splashy and colourful and could have been disastrous and all that. They like that when you could be disastrous and it worked and then they said Jeez, that was quite a surprise. And then I did Used Cars after that which was again extremely different from anything like Elvis and they were honestly confused and my agent, I remember talking to me at the time, saying, this town really doesn't know where to put you any more. And John had Escape from New York and the studio really did not want me for that, John fought for me and I did it and when that came out, then, as my agent again said, they've just thrown their arms up, they don't know what you are, they're realising they had you all wrong, they just don't know where to put you. This is a very dangerous place to be because in this town they like to be able to know what you are and I said, I'll tell you what I am. I'm an actor. I'm going to make my living for however long I make it in this business playing different people. There will be times when I hopefully will play the kind of person that they're able to put their finger on and call for instance, "a leading man" or call for instance "an action actor" or call for instance "a dramatic actor" or "comedic actor" and so it's been throughout my career, whatever job I did last, that's the next 25 scripts I get.
Isn't that so with everyone though?
No, it's certainly not true for Schwarzeneggar, Stallone, Bruce Willis, Do you see Tom Hanks in Escape from LA?
Well it would be a very different interpretation.
You're not answering the question. They like to find specifically what you do, then they can promote it, they're able then to say, ok we know how to promote this person as well as the movie to the audience. It's more difficult for them to take an actor who is basically at heart a character actor. There's no persona they can promote. In the last three years they've been far more comfortable in trying to promote me as an action actor, when in fact what I did in Executive Decision was play the guy who was not the action man. I don't care, it doesn't make any difference to me because I'm still fortunate enough just to keep on going and enjoying myself and getting paid lots of money and all that so I've not complaints. I've been completely satisfied.
Have you and John been friends since Elvis?
Yeah we struck up I think a unique friendship at that time and it has remained.
This is only you fourth film together, one gets the impression you've made lots but it is only four?
Five (Elvis, Escape from New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from LA).
Here you are in this rather anarchic film playing this guy who doesn't give a shit either way and yet in many ways, going to your private life, apart from the fact that you haven't married - an unconventional thing - you have about one of the most stable partnerships in Hollywood (with Goldie Hawn)- the epitome of family values. That's how it appears.
Well my particular of family values and Goldie's particular view, that's the thing doesn't make sense there. We've been together for almost 14 years, we're extremely happy together, we do not live our lives like any other married couple that I know. We are very happy (lots of laughter) for one. I don't pretend to think I have any magic potion or any corner on the market on how to do that. I'm just as capable of blowing it off as she is. We're aware of that, maybe that helps us. But we don't - I just think it's sometimes there's people who meet who really are destined to love each other forever and be together regardless of how good or bad things are. I feel that's kinda the way Goldie and I are. I've no explantation for it except that I think she's great, great time.
You also have what could have been a difficult family situation mixing your kids, her kids, the kid you have together, there was also I believe Goldie's mum until she died a couple of years ago. That could have been a tricky situation. A lot of people have fallen foul of that one. How did you manage it?
Day to day. Again it always depends who the people are, that's all that matters. And I think ultimately if you love each other, that's all that matters too. There's things about me Goldie doesn't like, vice versa, not enough so I would ever at the moment want to be without her. That's the way we look at life. I don't pretend to speak for next week, neither does she, so I take it for right now and right now has suddenly been 13 and a half years. It doesn't seem like any time's gone by. I wish I had an answer. Maybe it's good that I don't, I don't know.
Looking for the secrets of these things is actually a load of bullshit, because...
Yeah that's all there is. It's who the two people are and there's everything that goes into that. Are you still attracted to each other. Do you care to still be attracted. Do you still make each other laugh. Do you still deeply care about the other person's feelings etc etc. Then you've got your children and do they matter to you, is it your responsibility, is it what you want to do in life. There's a million things and all - it comes down to what kind of person are you and how do you do it?
Goldie had this image of being a pretty powerful lady. I seem to remember was one of the first women who started producing her own pictures and since her mother died she's been very quiet I believe. But she's got a couple of pictures coming out now hasn't she?
Yes she did, for about three years I think she took some stock. Part of it was her mother dying, part of it was the age of our youngest child, part of it was her own desires to not do what she was being offered, part of was not being offered what she wanted to do, so again it was a million different things. As fortune would have it time went by and she got into a frame of mind slowly I think of wanting to work for other reasons that she wanted to work for before and so now she's got First Wives Club that she did with Bette Midler and Diane Keaton and I think that comes in America in a couple of weeks. I've got a feeling that's going to be a pretty big number. And she did a picture with Woody Allen, actually before that, an ensemble piece that - he's an interesting director, an interesting writer, very well respected by the critics of America so therefore someone who an actor likes to work for. Yeah, these two things have come together for Goldie and so boom, she's gonna jump back out there again which I'm really happy about because I know that she wanted to work when she did work.
You've mentioned you live in LA.
We live in LA most of the time, we have a place in Colorado and I just built a place in Canada recently.
When you say in LA, in the middle, suburb?
Suburb. There is no LA, no centre, it's one of the pieces of LA, over by the ocean. Waiting to fall. One of the first to go!
Have you got another movie coming up?
I finished a movie right after Escape, I started one about three weeks later, a picture called Breakdown, which is about a man and his wife - she's kidnapped. He's a man at the beginning of the movie who very much I think in a realistic fashion questions his own courage and remains that character throughout the picture as he very impotently tries to somehow prevent this awful terrorist act from reaching its inevitable conclusion and I finished that a couple of months ago.
Written and directed by a man named Jonathan Mostow. He's a young guy from Harvard, very smart and I think he's done a good job. I think it's a very good suspense picture.
© Carol Allen
A slightly shorter version of this interview was originally published in Talking Pictures No. 18, Spring 1997.
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