Men Who Stare at Goats opens in Tri-Cities on Friday, Nov. 6.
It is based on a “true” story of a reporter who heads to Iraq to do something of note to impress the now ex-wife. There, he encounters a former military psychic who was involved in Star Wars-like Jedi knight training.
I lobbied Overture Films for a shot at interviewing the film’s stars George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Ewan McGregor or — most prized of all — Jeff Bridges who I think is one of the best actors on the planet.
No go. But the studio did arrange for me to interview the stared at goat. Goat — as you will note from my first question — has a small but very critical part in this most interesting movie. My review will be posted on Friday morning.
Gary Wolcott: Your part isn't very big yet is integral to the story. How did you prepare for the role?
Goat: It was [Steve] Buscemi that taught me it only takes one scene to steal the whole movie…so just don’t get cut out. I am a method actor so I’m pretty in it when I start a project. This role was so interesting to me because my character is very vulnerable and a little skittish which is so different from my own nature. It was fun to get to stretch as an actor like that.
Gary Wolcott: You are tied up in all of your scenes. You seem like a free spirit and your species is known for its stubborn independence. Was it hard being tied up like that?
Goat: Not really. It’s just all part of being an actor. One day I’m tied up the next I am being asked to pilot a submarine. You never know where the day will take you.
Gary Wolcott: What's it like to work with George Clooney?
Goat: George is great. A total pro. I really respect the way he is so giving of his fellow actors. Not afraid to let us shine. And I’m sure you’d agree that I really did shine in my scene with him.
Gary Wolcott: I definitely agree. You were amazing. Cross your fingers, You may have given an Academy Award winning Best Actor in a Supporting Role performance. Did Clooney have any acting tips for you?
Goat: Just to go big or go home. But that is how I live my life so we were already on the same page.
Gary Wolcott: I'm probably not giving anything important away, but when you died, how did you ever learn such a realistic fall? It was brilliant. I almost thought you really died.
Goat: Thanks man. That really means a lot. I don’t want to give all my secrets away but let’s just say all those years of watching WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment] and perfecting the sleeper hold weren’t wasted time after all.
Gary Wolcott: Did you try different styles of dying, you know with leg kicks and spasms, that sort of thing, or did you just stick with the one?
Goat: I just had to feel it. Do what I felt was right for the character. If I had gone very over the top with the death scene would have I been a lock for an Oscar? Yes, of course. But it didn’t feel honest. So I went what was right for the project.
Gary Wolcott: I still think you’re a lock for an Oscar. When I was a kid — oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to offend — we used to have a blast seeing who could outstare the other. Whoever blinked first lost. Did you and George have fun doing stare downs?
Goat: At first it was really competitive. But then [Jeff] Bridges reached an incredible level of focus so we all sort of lost interest after that.
Gary Wolcott: How long did it take you to shoot that scene?
Goat: Time is so relative. Until you get it right who cares how long it takes. One take or one hundred.
Gary Wolcott: And your chewing was exceptionally well done, by the way, you can hear it over everything. What were you chewing?
Goat: Grape Big League Chew. I’ve discovered you can still get it abroad. My agent orders it in cases.
Gary Wolcott: Not everyone thought your performance was as amazing as I thought. How do you handle critics that say you are a baaaad actor just so they can use the play on words?
Goat: I say that sheep say baaaaa not goats, so I guess it makes me a bit maaaad!!!
Gary Wolcott: The other goats in the film. Friends of yours?
Goat: I love all my fellow Goat actors. But sometimes it can get awkward being the only principal goat in the film. I don’t want to say that there was jealousy but lets face it…there was.
Gary Wolcott: I thought the ending left room for more. Is there anything to the rumor there may be a sequel?
Goat: We really want to get the script right for that. I mean I am so vital to the story but I can’t commit to it until I am assured my resurrection won’t be too cheesy.
Gary Wolcott: By the way, are you and George on good terms? Can you get me an interview with him? Or Jeff Bridges who may be the best character actor on the planet?
Goat: Maybe for the sequel!
Gary Wolcott: Not counting Matthew McCoughnehy who is you favorite animal actor?
Goat: I’ve always been a huge fan of Arnold from Green Acres, he’s a true legend in the farm/actor community
Gary Wolcott: How did Arnold inspire you?
Goat: As a “kid” I would watch episodes with my mom and think, it really is possible for a farm animal to make it in Hollywood, if he can do it why can’t I. I decided then and there to leave the small farm in Colorado and pursue my dream of acting.
Gary Wolcott: What gets your goat?
Goat: Ha ha, that’s a good one! I hate fake people, paparazzi and cats
Gary Wolcott: Any ambition to produce — not reproduce so don’t look at me like that — and direct?
Goat: I’d love to write, direct and produce the big screen adaptation of Three Billy Goats Gruff. It’s a true dream, we’re talking to some people, but I can’t say anything yet.
Gary Wolcott: When you are not acting what do you do for fun?
Goat: I love going to farmers markets on the weekend, it’s like being home! Everyone is so welcoming to me and I love the fresh produce.
Gary Wolcott: Who are you dating now?
Goat: No comment, I don’t comment on my personal life, but you know I’ve been so busy, who has time to date!
Gary Wolcott: Rumor has it you're In a new hip hop band Billy and the Goats Gruff?
Goat: Ha ha, definitely a rumor, I’m no musician. I did play in a band back in school called Goats Eat Oats we would play the local barn parties! We were terrible.
Gary Wolcott: Did I ask you this before? Any chance you can use your influence to get me an interview with George Clooney or another of your co stars?
Goat: Ha ha, I wish I could, they are great guys!!!!! Truly was an honor to be among that cast!
And with that, Goat and I concluded our conversation. So how about it George, Jeff, Kevin and Ewan? You guys are always connecting with the elite press — the TV people and the larger newspapers, magazines and publications.
My readers would love to hear from you in the place they most like to read about your movies and lives.
I’m easy to find.