God Bless America Interview
God Bless America Interview
Bobcat Goldthwait is probably best known to a certain generation for playing officer Zed in the Police Academy films from the 80s and 90s, and his acerbic standup comedy routines. More recently he has become an independent filmmaker and directed films such as Sleeping Dogs Lie and World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams. His third film features the character of Frank (played by Joel Murray), who is suffering from a terminal illness and decides to go on a killing spree with his equally twisted teenage accomplice, before he bows out for good.

Talking to View’s Matthew Turner alongside actor Joel Murray, Goldthwait spoke about creating his dark comedy film, how to make babies cry on set and whether or not he’s proud to be American.
Where did the original idea for God Bless America come from?

Bobcat Goldthwait

One of the big things that kind of influenced it was, I was in London and they were having a My Super Sweet 16 marathon. I was really disappointed that this was what we were projecting to the rest of the world and I thought, “Oh, these children should die!” I think that was part of the germ of the idea.
How did it progress from there?

Bobcat Goldthwait

I wrote the screenplay as a Christmas present for my wife. You know, I think people think I’m a misanthrope but I think she’s more the misanthrope of the couple.

Joel Murray

You’re the cockeyed optimist.

Bobcat Goldthwait

Yeah, I’m the plucky one. No, because she actually thinks if you kill certain people the world would be better. [Laughs] I’m more just kind of say, “Kill ‘em all.” I’m more like an old Metallica album.
Do you think you’re an angry person?

Bobcat Goldthwait

I don’t think I’m angry at all - you’d have to ask Joel that!

Joel Murray

The kids that play on your lawn think you’re angry! I don’t think you’re angry, I think you’ve just got something to say and you say it. And I got hired to say it.
Would either of you say you’re as pessimistic as Frank is in the film?

Bobcat Goldthwait

No, the reason the ending is pessimistic is because I was trying to make a movie that kind of threw it back onto the audience and asked, “Are you part of the problem? Or are you part of the solution?” And if I’d had an ending that was all kind of upbeat I think it would have been kind of a cop-out. It wouldn’t be challenging people, it would just be preaching to the converted and pandering.

Joel Murray

Well, there would have been a much better chance of a sequel.
What is essentially the message you’re trying to convey to the audience?

Bobcat Goldthwait

I was trying to ask the audience, “Where are we going as people? What it does it say about us that we have such a huge appetite for these kinds of distractions?”

Joel Murray

Why can’t we be nice?

Bobcat Goldthwait

And why can’t we be nice at the end of the day? You know, these shows and things don’t really bother me - the list could have been anything. I picked American Idol because it was something that’s universally known. I don’t watch these shows, so they don’t bother me.

Joel Murray

As an actor, they kind of bother me because they take work from other actors. They’re hiring non-actors because they’re cheaper and they’re taking work from writers and producers who aren’t getting regular salaries. I think it’s a complete scam.

Bobcat Goldthwait

With reality shows, beside the writers and actors, it’s all the people behind the scenes ...

Joel Murray

If I want to work for nothing I’ll work for you!
Was the part written with Joel in mind? Have you known each other a long time?

Joel Murray

It was on One Crazy Summer we met, the John Cusack comedy.

Bobcat Goldthwait

I didn’t write the part with Joel in mind but I had back pain and he was kind enough to give me a box-set of Mad Men when I was high on pain medicine and my wife said, “You should use Joel.” I would have said yes even if I wasn’t high! But it was one of the coolest things I’ve had in regards to casting, it just finally made sense. I thought, “If Joel will do this, then it will work,” and I gave him the script but I forgot to tell him I wanted him to be the lead.

Joel Murray

I read the script, I was like, “Yeah it’s great, am I the guy in the office or who? Wait, THE GUY?” [Laughs]

Bobcat Goldthwait

It’s kind of funny, if you watch the movie, whatever you think of it, it’s clear that Joel is a Bill Macy or a Phillip Seymour Hoffman, you know? I don’t understand why he’s not leading other pictures.

Joel Murray

I’m not like those guys. Bill Macy is a much nicer guy.
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Content updated: 27/04/2018 03:32

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