The summer movie season is here, which means the next few months are going to be filled with actors hitting the press circuit to talk about their big budget efforts. For the most part, stars will smile for the camera, talk about how they were really engaged with the material, and all the fun they had working with their colleagues. It’s all about keeping up appearances and greasing the wheels of the machine, but Ian McShane doesn’t pretend that collecting those paychecks doesn’t mean stooping to work on some really silly material.
The actor, who is on small screens right now with “American Gods,” sat down for an extensive and pretty amazing interview with Vulture, where he provides a rather graphic metaphor for what it’s like to make a blockbuster movie.
“Oh god. God. It’s a just a … You can’t … You have to be patient, but they go on forever, you know, just go on forever. Johnny [Depp]’s a great guy, I love Johnny, he’s a great guy but at one point when you’re shooting those [‘Pirates Of The Caribbean‘ movies], you go [rolls eyes]. I remember I was doing a movie with Ava Gardner, at Pinewood, back in 1969, called ‘Tam-Lin,’ directed by Roddy McDowall, and at the same time, Billy Wilder was shooting his ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ movie there. He’d been there about 20 weeks. I was at the bar and there, outside, was Wilder, with a martini. I go, ‘Mr. Wilder, I just want to say, I’m a huge fan of your movies, and how’s it going?’ And he said, ‘Thank you. How’s it going? After 20 weeks, it’s like fucking after you cum.’ On those movies, that’s what it’s like. When you’re doing ‘Hercules,’ it’s, like, Well, I’ve just cum, but I’ve gotta keep going. Because that’s what they’re like! They’re relentless, they’re machines, because they shoot so much material,” McShane said.
“I did a so-called artistic one called ‘Snow White [struggles to remember the rest of the title]…. And the Huntsman.’ We were the best things in it, the dwarves, but by the time we had 6,000 prosthetics and our false asses put on, they could only shoot with us for three hours. So it was a bit sad, that,” he added.
It’s not just that trio of movies that McShane hilariously dresses down, but also Bryan Singer‘s fairy tale flop, “Jack The Giant Slayer.”
“When you’ve got gold armor with a 50-foot train and a fancy beard, that’s the part. You don’t need to do any acting. It’s like, ‘Can I just cut all my lines and stand here? And sit on the horse?’ [Director] Bryan Singer used to say, ‘Can you give the lines to the guy behind you?’ and I said, ‘I can’t fucking turn my neck! I’m in gold armor, and every time I turn my gold armor, it squeaks! What the fuck is that?’ Half the time, you’re giggling in those shows; and half the time, you’re thinking of the very large paycheck at the end of the day. What does it do? Diminish you? No, I don’t think so. But you have to be prepared because it’s a completely different way of filming,” the actor explained.
So hey, McShane will gladly take the movie, and continue to roll the dice on whatever project that crosses his desk, with the full knowledge he really can’t control the destiny of the pictures he works on. “Milton Berle once said a great thing about so-called stardom. He said, ‘Better to be shit in a hit then a hit in shit.’ “