John Carroll Lynch [Interview]

Some actors simply have the most recognizable face.  A charming persona that never lets you down.  And it’s not that they are simply captivating to look at based upon Hollywood and societies definition of “sexy”.  It’s simply the fact that whenever you see them on the screen, you know you are not going to be upset because they are there to light up the screen in one form or another.  And for me, John Carroll Lynch is one of those actors.
Everybody is going to remember John for one role or another, considering he’s done a wide variety of roles.  Trying to decide what John is “best known for” is sort of incredulous.  If you watched a lot of TV in the 90’s, you might remember him as Drew Carey’s cross dressing brother on The Drew Carey Show.  If you are an art film geek, you’re probably going to remember Mr. Lynch as Norm in the Coen Brother’s classic film Fargo.  If you’re into television crime dramas… see where this is going.
John Carroll Lynch is not only a very fine actor, he is also a hell of a nice guy.  So nice in fact, he took some time out of his hectic schedule to talk with us for a moment about a number of topics and to discuss the amazing career he has had thus far, and what the future holds for one of the most lovable character actors ever to perform.  Enjoy!
You were a co-star in what is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated comedies of all time, Beautiful Girls as Franky Womack.  The film was so much fun to watch, was it a shoot as well?  With such a fantastically casted ensemble, were there any memorable experiences with the cast?  
My favorite memory of shooting the film was playing Uma Thurman’s cousin in the film and greeting her with a hug as she came into a bar. Over and over again. Not a bad day of work.
About a year later, I made a complete ass of myself at Chicago film critics awards ceremony. You see, I was cast in Beautiful Girls in Minneapolis. I was working as a theater actor there and never imagined I would see anyone I was working with or for again. Anyway, Fran McDormand was receiving an award for Fargo, couldn’t attend, and they asked me in her stead. So at the event, this very nice guy came up to me and said “John, great to see you, man.” he must have noticed the blink, blink as I looked at him. He said, “it’s Scott.” more blinking, “Scott Rosenberg, I wrote Beautiful Girls.” Ugh. Let me apologize here again. Sorry Scott.
How did you manage to pull off playing one of finest supporting husbands ever in Fargo.  What were you thinking about when you were developing this character?  Did the Coen Brothers give you much leeway in how it should be done?

Their words are so amazing what leeway do you need? While Fargo wasn’t the first film set I was on, it was the first role with a name, you know? Not Skipper, or moving man. Joel and Ethan, Fran, Roger Deakins, everyone couldn’t have been more collaborative.

Frances and I met before hand and chatted about the characters, how they might have met. “Maybe, Norm was on the force”, etc. Which made good sense to me. There were several scenes where she conducts work while he is there. It made sense that he would be interested in that. But on the first day of shooting, Joel and Ethan threw all that out. They knew that the key to Norm and Margie was that he was her safe haven and had nothing to do with her work.
Was it in any way disturbing to play a homicide detective during your stint on Body of Proof?  Was there some research involved in preparing for that role?  Anything haunting?

I rode along with a Sargent of detectives in Providence RI, where we shot season one and he was great. It was funny because he was actually embarrassed that nothing really happened while I rode along. I was cool with it. He talked about how Providence had a detective bureau but didn’t have a dedicated homicide division. I asked if that was because there weren’t enough murder attempts and he said “no, people get shot all the time, we just have really good trauma unit here.” sounded particularly great with the Rhode Island accent.

That matter of fact relationship with the violence, was really telling to me. You have to be ok with it. Murder is a pitiful act. It is filled with sadness to me. That is what I imagine as the burden. How sad it is to see over and over what we are capable of.
And the trade off is the doing something about it. He said that the interrogation room is a place where you have to be a salesmen for a prison sentence. You have to convince people that telling you what they did is good for them.  and the important thing is, to Always Be Closing.  That’s last part is me. Not him.
Have you been asked to do any more drag related roles such as your famous performance as Drew Carey’s brother?  And did you receive much praise from the cross dressing community?
No one has asked since. But it was fun. Size 22 dress by the way. The show was nominated for a GLAAD award for it as I recall. I did an interview for a cross dressing magazine and that was fun. Interesting to be interviewed by someone who is truly living that way. Steve’s desire to live life as he wanted seemed a lot braver after that.
I love getting into the shoes of the character. In that case it was the pumps.
Your scenes with Clint Eastwood in his film Gran Torino were beyond classic and some of the best stuff in the film.  Was it strange swapping racial slurs with the legend?  Awkward?  And what was it like working under the direction of Clint?

I have been so fortunate to work with amazing directors. Clint Eastwood has a set where everyone works with everyone else all the time and has done so for 50 years in some cases so there is no bullshit. Simple, clear and without stress.

And he works so intuitively. As an actor and as a film maker. He wants to shoot the movie as written. He wants to capture what is happening at that moment and nothing else interests him. I put that down to his love of Jazz.  Bee Vang was very nervous and Clint said, “tell the truth and you’ll be fine.” Boil it down and that is it, isn’t it?
As far as the slurs I loved how you couldn’t have chosen two worse role models about how to be a man than these two. Very funny stuff.  My dad told me a story after seeing the movie that growing up in Pueblo, CO he heard everyone define everyone else by these racially loaded words. As a kid, he didn’t know for a long time that they were slurs. I think that is what the scenes captured. Not that they aren’t hateful but the shock of how easy it is to use them.
Needless to say, it was too fun. Great words, great set, great director, a barber smock, what more can you ask for?
We will be seeing you next year in Janee LaMarque’s new film The Pretty One.  Can you tell is about that project?  What will you be doing in the film?
The Pretty One is a beautiful story about two young women, twins played by Zoe Kazan. I play her father who is emotionally remote in the extreme. It is a charming, funny, moving script and Janee is a beautiful writer. I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
I am really interested in doing parts that I am not sure how to play. That was one of them. I want to be surprised. I want to surprise.
What would you say is your favorite role you have done thus far?  

The next one. Because it means I am working. I love to work.

If you could portray any famous dictator in world history, who would it be? 

Dick Cheney. Psych. I would like to play him though. Fascinating certainty.

Okay, dictators? I’ve always wondered why there isn’t a movie about Vladimir Lenin? It’s always Stalin, Stalin, Stalin! What about Lenin?
What was the last thing that made you smile?

My nephews. Ben and Michael. They live in Oak Lawn outside Chicago. I visited them.  We had a great time. Thanks, Michael and Ben. (assuming they’ll read this. trying to win an Uncle contest)

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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