Rob Schneider Talks About 'Big Stan', 'SNL' And His Famous Feuds
Mike: So, how was the transition to directing?
Rob: Not a big transition because I always felt I had a hand in directing all my movies. So, I really knew what I wanted and it took so many months to finally get the money because it's an independent film. I had a good cinematographer who helped a lot, Victor Hammer, so he did a good job. You know, if you hire the actors ... and I had always heard that as an axiom in show business but it's really true: Directing is just hiring the right people.
Mike: What was it like working with David Carradine?
Rob: Well, he's a legendary guy but he loved the script; he thought it was really funny. He was instrumental because initially I changed the ending -- because I listened to a friend of mine -- and I asked him how he liked the new draft and he said, "You know, to be honest I think you f--king ruined it. You took the f--king dance out at the end and nobody learned anything." So, I changed it back.
Mike: And who knew that your wife in the film (Jennifer Morrison) would someday be Captain Kirk's mom.
Rob: Yeah, isn't that crazy? She's a really good actress. She's going to pop and I hope this helps her. And I'm sorry this didn't get a huge theatrical release but it got caught up in a company that went bankrupt. So, I had to get the movie out there and HBO was nice enough to put it out on DVD.
Mike: Do you feel like it's going that way anyway? You hear, for instance, Watchmen will not make its money back until the DVD release. Or, even if a movie's in the theaters it might be on DVD the same day.
Rob: Well, (Steven) Soderbergh did that but I don't think it's a great idea. The movie theaters are going to stay but you're going to have a movie you can go see it Friday, Saturday or even see it Sunday. But Sunday night or Monday if you want to download it or watch it on pay-per-view you could.
The problem with what happened to [Big Stan] is a problem with the industry. The first movie to make a lot of money was The Godfather. By the time Jaws came in and did $250 million ... they realized if we can make that much money, let's only try to make movies that make that much money. Executives do not work like artists, or reporters to be honest. They work from a negative. In other words: They know they're going to be fired eventually so they act from "what will delay my firing the longest." I don't take it personally, you just know that's part of the game.
Mike: And if a movie doesn't perform well the first weekend they will give up on it.
Rob: Yeah, well they don't want to throw good money after bad and they're worried about getting fired. What I'm hoping is that a small movie like this will make enough money so I'll get a theatrical release on the next one.
Mike: Your character is a corrupt real estate agent...
Rob: Yeah, we were a little ahead of the curve.
Mike: Your father was in real estate, right?
Rob: I just thought it kind of related to people, a guy who was a scoundrel. I love the time shares, they have a new term for it -- I ended up cutting it out of the movie -- but it was called fraction ownership. F--k you, it's a time share!
My dad was a really honest guy. He was the first guy to rent to African Americans in San Francisco in '54, before the civil rights movement and he's a good guy. He would never allow people to buy the homes if they couldn't afford to pay. He would never give loans via a second mortgage company. His clients never lost money; though, I don't think he would have been able to protect them in this kind of (climate). Anybody who lost money, he would absorb it. He was that good a guy.
Mike: How much physical training did you have to do for the part?
Rob: You know what? I was only going to do three months of training but it took so long to get the money for the movie I ended up getting seven months of training. As a filmmaker I was really frustrated but as a martial arts student I was like: Yeah ... I got more time to work on stuff. I ended up being very good with the sticks, nunchucks, and I did my own stunts the whole movie. I tore my rotator cuff, I broke my ankle and David Carradine broke my finger.
Mike: The set looked very hot.
Rob: It was f--king miserable. I worked out beforehand for months. I was about 20 pounds lighter than I am now; super skinny and I was doing three hours of martial arts. It was only two weeks before we filmed that I got the flow of the sticks.
Mike: You can hurt yourself if you don't know what you're doing with those.
Rob: Oh yeah. I tore my rotator cuff. So I would go in and spend an hour a day in 145 degree heat in my house ... I have a big sauna. So when I would get to (the set) and it was 120 degrees it was like a vacation. What happened was the refridgerators on the trucks couldn't keep the food cold enough so it poisoned me. I had five eggs a day, that's what Bruce Lee ate ... then I get f--king sick.
Mike: There's one question I've always been interested in -- I'm a SNL junkie -- but I found Jay Mohr's book (Gasping for Airtime) fascinating...
Rob: It was good.
Mike: But if I was on the show at that time I don't know how I would feel about him writing the book.
Rob: Well, I didn't mind it at all. I mean, he called me "a very interesting asshole." I don't mind that. You have to be an animal to kind of survive there. And he didn't have the most positive experience and a lot of people don't ... I did.
Mike: In an interview I did with Bobby Moynihan he called it his handbook on what not to do as a featured player.
Rob: Oh yeah, yeah. Well, first of all (Mohr) had some anger issues. That's one thing he doesn't admit in the book. I think that got in his way; not just in his career at Saturday Night Live but in his career after Saturday Night Live. He should have been a big star, he's very talented and he's extremely funny. But he has some shit that comes in the room with him. And that's why. And you have to write your own shit; his first thing he ever got on I wrote with him. The Christopher Walken...
Mike: The Skittles sketch.
Rob: I f--king wrote that ... with him. And I don't know if I wrote most of it but I would guess that I did. But, I definitely structured it for him and he still called me an asshole. But, I don't mind it. He said the thing in the book about me -- the loop. My friend sent me some jewelry and he sent me the loop and when he came out I started looking at my sushi (with it) just to f--k with him.
Mike: I was going to mention that. I'm scared of sushi in New York now because of that quote about the worms.
Rob: I was just f--king with the young guy on his first week there.
Mike: Well, thanks to his book you f--ked with me, too. I don't know how many people I have told that there are worms in New York sushi.
Rob: There is! But, I was just doing that to mess with him. You don't want to look at your food to closely when you dine in New York City.
Mike: In your career you haven't shied away when you've gotten criticism.
Rob: You mean why I write back? The whole idea that just because I'm an actor and I get attacked personally that I don't have to respond ... it's like: f--k you. If you're an asshole, I'll go after you. And I know for a fact Patrick Goldstein -- scumbag who just slams people all the time from the LA Times -- he's a dirtball. And when he went after me, he went after me in bold type on the front page above the fold as a reason why Hollywood movies weren't getting Oscar nominations ... before my movie even came out. So I said: f--k you. I know he got made fun of at the LA Times when I took out that ad.
Mike: And then Roger Ebert got involved.
Rob: I think he was offended that I would go after another reviewer and he took umbrage to it. Him and I had a very mean exchange on the Howard Stern show -- because Howard tried to set that up -- and I think he took umbrage. His last book was Your Movie Sucks with his review of my movies. But, I wear that as a badge of pride. I don't make movies for reviewers, I make them to entertain people.
Mike: Didn't you send him a get well basket when he was sick?
Rob: What happened was he got sick and I heard he was really sick. I was always sad that when Gene Siskel got sick I never got the chance ... I met him once and thanked him for how he inspired me to go see independent films. So, when Roger was sick I got scared. I have to thank this guy while he's still alive because he was very ill and one of the reasons I got into foreign films is because of Roger Ebert. I wanted to thank him for sharing his love of cinema with all of us. And he wrote a really nice thing back. And it's true: you've got to step back and realize these are human beings and we all love movies. I said in the (letter), "Thanks for sharing your love of cinema with all of us and I'm glad you're better and back doing what you love most, watching your movies and sharing your love with all of us." Signed, "Your least favorite movie actor, Rob Schneider."
And you know what? He was touched by it. And I didn't do it for any other reaction than to say thank you. Do you know how many careers of people he has boosted? He's gotten Academy Awards for people and I don't know if those people would have sent him flowers ... I did. I need to thank people why they're alive, I'm tired of people being thanked posthumously.
All of the people saying nice things about Charlton Heston after he died but they never said it to him because he was in the National Rifle Association. He was one of the nicest guys I have ever worked with. And he marched with Martin Luther King in '61 before it was a celebrity cause ... I met him and he's a great man and I think what Michael Moore did to him was criminal.
Mike: It was kind of an ambush.
Rob: It was a low blow to a guy that wasn't all there. Michael Moore is a douchebag. Nobody says nice things about Michael Moore. He screams at his assistants and his publicists. Michael Moore's a scumbag; capital "S." I like Michael Moore's work but I wouldn't lift a finger if he came in this room.
I've been in this business too long than to mince words with people. (Leans into my microphone) Roger Ebert, I love you and I'm glad you're feeling better. Michael Moore, you're a douchebag, but keep making great movies.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Mike on Twitter
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