For more info on my book, you can get it online from Amazon (I released a new edition this year). It's not one of those personal bios, it's strictly a film guide which focuses primarily on Malcolm's work.
Here is the interview with Charlie I did all those years ago...
(Cue everything turning slightly sepia...)
I set up Cloudbreak Productions around five years ago. It was more of a way to motivate myself, do things outside of writing and directing, so producing as well. Eventually I’d like to expand it to a level where I’m producing, directing and writing TV and film. It’s not a fully working company right now, it’s more for the future. I’m working on the script for my first feature now, it’s called Fighting Jacob. This kid wrote it, well I say kid he’s only a year younger than me. But I found this short film he wrote and the writing was so interesting, it was kind of Woody Allen esque, so I basically called him up and said ‘what else do you have?’ He sent me this feature and no one had even seen the script before; he’d moved to LA and he didn’t know anyone in the business. We worked on it for a few months, polishing it, and now we are in the process of casting the lead actor. Then we’ll go from there to get the money for the film. It’s getting a good response from big names too, so it’s exciting.
Which directors have really influenced you then? You mentioned Woody Allen before, is he a big influence?
Yeah. I was asked this question at a film festival once and I said the three Andersons; Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson and Lindsay Anderson. All of them have influenced my style and hopefully will continue to in the future of my career. I love the world Wes Anderson creates; it’s stylised and I love that he creates this world that’s different from the real world but we connect with the characters. Lindsay, obviously, I’m a big fan of. I grew up a big fan of his; he is the master of the wide shot and conveying stuff simply, but at the same time directing some of the most amazing scenes on film.
Lindsay is good because he is real without being realistic.
Exactly. I like thinking outside the box but at the same time making it feel real. There are so many films out every year and I want to see something different. Still the main reason people go see films is to connect with characters and stories and I feel those three directors are kind of masters at that.
Did you ever meet Lindsay Anderson?
I did yes. He was my sister Lily’s godfather. I grew up seeing him all the time. I just wish he’d have had a lot longer because I would love to have known him more when I got older and got into film, so I could have picked his brain. I didn’t get into his stuff until later on. I didn’t reject who my parents were but when you’re a kid you’re not interested in what your parents do. If your dad’s a dentist you couldn’t care less, so it was kind of the same for me growing up. People would say ‘Oh my god your dad was in the greatest film ever, Clockwork Orange,’ and I was like ‘Really?’ and they would say ‘You gotta go see it.’ So it took me a while to accept what they did for a living and be interested in it. I was 17 when I started getting into film making; making little short films and editing them. I first watched Clockwork Orange and it blew my mind. I went out and rented If... and O lucky Man.
So was it these films which inspired you?
Oh yeah, definitely. Clockwork was one of the first ones where I went ‘Holy shit! Look what you can do with film!’ Whenever I watched a film with my parents in I’d just be like ‘ oh there’s my mum or my dad acting,’ but when I saw Clockwork that was the first time when I completely didn’t see my dad. I saw Alex. That was a powerful moment for me; his performance was so incredible. I was completely in the film; part of it was Kubrick and part of it was my dad.
Oh definitely. But you have to give credit to Kubrick too. My dad once told me that he would beg Kubrick for direction and Stanley said, ‘I don’t know what I want but I know what I don’t want.” I have always remembered that as a director; you got to keep going until it naturally comes out. Kubrick’s style and the way he worked got the best out of people. I think they had an amazing duo, my dad and him.
On to your thesis film for AFI, Bye Bye Benjamin. It has quite a cult following now.
(Laughs) I was surprised but it’s great. I’m sure people got into it that were fans of my dad. It was really fun to do. It came from a short film I never released about a 35 year old in the fifth grade. It starred Jason Segel, do you know who he is?
No I don’t know him.
He’s big over here; he was the star of Forgetting Sarah Marshal. He’s in England now doing the remake of Gulliver’s Travels. He was in it and I just loved the story of a fish out of water character. I went back to that for Bye Bye Benjamin and reversed it to a ten year old in a corporate world. That was my thesis.
Will it ever be made into a full length movie?
You know a lot of people talked about it. I met with Disney and Nickelodeon about doing it, but once you’ve done something it’s a bit like ‘you’ve done it, move on.’ If we could figure out the right way to do it, it would be good. I love that story; it is an issue in our society, kids are growing up too quick these days. I’m not sure about overseas but in LA you have people going to college at 13. 13 year olds shouldn’t be doing that; they should be out playing sports. That’s where this came from, that idea of growing up too fast. Some of my own experience was in there too; I grew up in this Hollywood world where I was forced to grow up quick. There are definitely aspects of myself in it too. It made it more personal.
What was it like directing your step dad and dad in one film?
(Laughs) It was fun. Luckily they are very good friends; they love each other and have a lot of respect for each other. It was cool. To me film making is supposed to be fun, so I put in the most fun, talented actors I could. I always saw my dad as Mr Coleman, because he plays such a good bad guy. Ted is just a funny lovable guy, so I thought it would be funny to have a kid firing him for sexual harassment. I called him up and said ‘you’re in it.’ He didn’t even read the script; he just came and did it which was really nice.
My mum was upset I wrote parts for everyone but her. But I had her come in and do the voice of the mother, the most critical moment in the film. It’s the lowest moment in the film when he realises he has truly lost his childhood. I knew my mum could do that really well, that she could capture the tone of it really well.
I thought another side to it was it was showing the kid in all of us.
Oh totally. It does play with that but ultimately you need to experience a childhood. If you don’t go through that you won’t be a happy adult.
It is dangerous not to have a childhood. Look at Michael Jackson.
Yeah, you saw it with Michael Jackson. He is the perfect example of it. He started so young, he never got the chance to experience being a kid. It’s the most important time of your life; where you learn about morals, what’s right and wrong.
Can I ask you about an obscure film from the 90s you were in with your dad? 2103...
The Deadly Wake. (Laughs) Oh man, no one’s gonna know what that is. You know what; it was actually a pretty fun experience. Everyone in my family has gone in front of the camera and I was the smart one that went behind it. But they needed a cook’s assistant in a scene and they put me in it. It was one of the most horrible experiences I have ever had. Firstly I had never acted before so I was all nervous in the costume. There was a close up of me and I had a couple of lines. But my dad was standing behind the camera making faces at me, trying to make me laugh. I started cracking up and the director was like ‘Charlie this is important!” And I was like, ‘my dad is making me laugh.’ And of course they’d turn round and he’d just be sitting there not doing anything. Then they’d turn back to me and yell ACTION and he’d be making faces again.
I once saw a thing with you and your mate playing gardeners who were assigned to Malcolm’s house. I can never find it again, it was really funny.
Oh! That was for Will Ferrell’s comedy website. It’s on there. It was a little web series we did for fun. My little brother was in it too.
Do you have anything to say on this book? Do you think it is worthwhile and overdue?
Oh yeah it is such a cool thing you’re doing. Obviously I think my dad has had an amazing career. He has been in some of the most incredible and controversial films of all time. Entertainment Weekly did a thing where he was the one of the top villains of all time. Every time he is recognised I am very proud of him and I think it’s such a cool thing especially with you doing a book on his work. He has done some amazing films, some which haven’t been recognised with awards and all this kind of stupid stuff. But I think it’s really cool and I can’t wait to check it out. I think with my dad’s acting, it’s all about humour. No villain is totally bad and I think my dad brings a level of likability.
You seen Caligula?
No man. I have heard so much about that, I draw the line at watching it. (Laughs)
It would be like watching your parents’ home made porno.