Larry Bishop [Interview]

Today’s interviewee is a very special person to me personally, and somebody you are all sure to love to all end. He’s one of the most recognizable badasses the cinema world has ever known, and an absolutely delight to see on the screen. If you are a normal human being and started at the top of this post, you know it is Larry Bishop.

That’s right, THE Larry Bishop! One of the original kings of the biker film world, and a regular in the Tarantino universe. He is the mastermind behind the Quentin Tarantino presented film Hell Ride, which we have talked about previously when we spoke with one of the film’s associate producers and actresses Laura Cayouette, who remains a dear friend of ours here at TWS, and remains as one of our favorite films of all time. He has also had some amazing roles in films like Kill Bill Vol. 2, The Sting II, and his brilliant breakout performance in 1968’s The Savage Seven.

This is an interview that has been literal years in the making, but it was SO worth the wait. We finally have some amazing words from Larry that we are so excited to share with you all right now. So, please Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy some amazing words from the legendary man we know and love, the great Larry Bishop!

When did you first realize you wanted to join the world of acting? Was there any sort of inspiration stemming from living around your father’s career?

From the time I was 9 years old, I had the opportunity to see and be around Dean Martin in person many times. I knew right then that I definitely wanted to be in show business.

Around the same time, my parents took me to the movies one night. We saw a Stanley Kubrick film, Paths Of Glory, starring Kirk Douglas and featuring Timothy Carey. I left the theatre thinking that’s exactly what I want to do one day: act in motion pictures.

When I was 15, my family moved to California. At Beverly Hills High School, I met Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner, and Al Einstein (Albert Brooks). We bonded in a big way… and we encouraged each other big-time. That was the year I knew I’d be an actor.

And what keeps you in the business? What keeps you striving to create art?

The idea that I will unveil something about the nature of the universe that no one else has ever thought of.

When I was 6 years, I was very influenced by The Emperor’s New Clothes — the Hans Christian Anderson story.

In my teens, I was intrigued by the philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer (The World As Will And Representation), Nietzsche, and Jacques Derrida (the “Deconstruction” guy).

Regarding actors, Marlon Brando broke ground — he did things that no one else had ever even thought of doing.

What they all had in common: they were all rebels… which led me into the one “rebel” genre in films — the motorcycle movie.

Your role in Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2 was absolutely fucking phenomenal, to put it bluntly. I was seriously awestruck. Can you tell us a bit about working on this project? What drew you to take this part?

Quentin wrote the part for me. And… he was naming the part “Larry”. And… he told the Wardrobe Dept. that he only wanted me to wear my clothes from my closet. And… he allowed me to do the part exactly the way I saw it.

I wanted my character to connote Power, even though his office is the smallest office I’ve ever seen in any movie. I felt my character — in his world — was as big as Sinatra in his world. So I slowed down my movements and line-deliveries, particularly at the beginning of the scene.

When Michael Madsen walked into my office, I stared at him for 12 seconds — every take, every angle. After awhile, Michael came over to me and said that he couldn’t believe Quentin was letting me eat up 12 seconds of film in every take — knowing, of course, it would never be in the film. But… Quentin used all of it in the film!

Two other things that made it such a perfect day. #1: When we were going through the first rehearsal, Bob Richardson — the great cinematographer — turned to Quentin and said, “Who the fuck is this guy?” Bob didn’t know anything about me but I guess I definitely got his attention — Quentin immediately launched into a ten-minute film history of who I was! #2: After the first take, Michael Madsen strolled over to me and said, “Larry, the scene’s all yours.” I felt it was a generous thing to say to another actor. In the spirit of reciprocal generosity, I wrote the role of “The Gent” in Hell Ride for Michael.

And shortly after that came the phenomenal film you wrote, directed, produced AND starred in Hell Ride, which happens to also star our dear friend Laura Cayouette who was also an associate producer. This film is still one of my favorites to date. What made you want to make this picture? What were you hoping to accomplish, and do you feel like you did?

At Quentin’s house — after he screened The Savage 7 (a 1968 biker film I starred in) — he told me it was my destiny to write, direct, and star in a brand new motorcycle movie. That was enough for me — I started writing Hell Ride the moment I got home.

I trusted Quentin’s word that we would make the film. I knew he would keep his word. (In Hell Ride, it came into play — Pistolero keeps his word to Cherokee Kisum)

Generally speaking, I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of my movies; if I feel like I got to do them the way I wanted to. In the case of Hell Ride, I felt I owed Quentin and hoped he’d be happy with what I’d done. At our first Sundance screening, Quentin told me that I had hit the ball out of the park.

He particularly liked how far I went with my character, “Pistolero” — he said he’d always wanted the lead character (“the good guy”) to be badder than the bad guys.

In the 1950’s & 1960’s, there was a limit to how far you could go with the eroticism, violence, language, and moral ambiguity in a biker film. A motorcycle movie should be untamed. 40 years after my first biker film, I got the opportunity to make an untamed one.

If you had to choose one performance from the plethora of work you have created what would you say you are most proud of and why?

The performances I like the most are the ones I got to do exactly the way I wanted to:

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Q.T.)
The Big Fix (directed by Jeremy Kagan)
Angel Unchained (directed by Lee Madden)
The Savage Seven (directed by Richard Rush)

Naturally, when I started writing and directing films for me to star in, I got to do everything exactly the way I wanted to — so I’m going to include Hell Ride and Mad Dog Time.

I got lucky with Underworld (1997), which I wrote and starred in. Roger Christian was the director and he was hell-bent on making the movie exactly the way I wrote it.

In your obvious professional opinion, how has the movie industry changed since you started, and in what ways do you feel like we are in a better place? Or worse place?

Of course, I’ve seen many changes in the movie industry since I started.

I never worry about it.

I stay in my own narrative — my brain stays in my own movie.

Having said that, there’s very little in this world that I couldn’t get used to.

What is next for you? Anything you would like to promote here?

The One-Way Ride is up next. I’m doing the 4 jobs again: starring, writing, directing, producing.

It’s sexy, funny, and philosophical.

If it works, I’ve already written 3 more scripts to follow it up with – all within the framework of Eros & Thanatos.

What is the last thing that made you smile?

It never fails: every time Dean Martin pops into my brain.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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