Interview: WORLD GREATEST DAD Writer/Director Bobcat Goldthwait

Back in 2009, during the days, I interviewed Bobcat Goldthwait for his then new film, World’s Greatest Dad, starring the late, irreplaceable Robin Williams. I thought I lost this interview when the site went down in a blaze of glory but just recently unearthed it, transcribed, and what you read below is that interview.

I remember us talking about Williams a lot, but forgot he mentions that he wanted the late, equally irreplaceable Philip Seymour Hoffman to play the lead. Little did Bobcat or I know two of the greatest actors of our time would pass away way too soon a few years later. Life is strange. But this interview is now a treasure.

Bobcat:   Hello, Hi, how are you?

Chase Whale: Hey, what's up Bobcat? How you doing?

I'm okee-doke (dok) (laughter).

How's the awesome press tour going? Bored of answering the same shit, yet?

You know, it's, it's ah, it's putting the press in the word depress. Uh, no, it's going very well. 

I'm pretty bummed, I was supposed to actually do an in-person interview with you, but I missed my flight because I am dumb.

Yeah, that's what I heard man, it's a drag.

Let's delve into the movie. First of all I gotta say dude, great film. My new favorite of your strange catalog. 

Ah no, I appreciate it, you know, and, it, it's important to me, because, um, it means a lot that it works for some people, because you know, I know that like the, you know, there will be folks in the street who will not enjoy this movie, you know, so...(laughter) that means something.

Yeah...their just not...

I think it's funny, you know I get annoyed, you know I get annoyed in reviews with other people that go, "this is a comedy, there's no jokes, duh!" I think, you know, "Watch 'Two and a Half Men', you dumb Twat!".

Yeah, it's good humor but for smart people.

So you know you cast Robin Williams in the movie, you worked with him on your other film, Shakes the Clown. When you were writing this, did you write it for Robin?  Or, did you write the script and then, you know, think, "I want to get Robin in this."

No, I, ah, you know, if I was writing this for Robin I really would have stayed away from a poetry teacher that that deals with some tragedy (laughter), but, um, still, still, I kind of wrote it with, in my head I'm always writing, with different people in mind, but in my mind it was Philip Seymour Hoffman. It's like when I wrote Shakes the Clown I thought of John Goodman, I really should have had John Goodman play it, I think it would have been a better movie, but Robin wanted to read the movie, because I just found this out, he was looking to do a cameo to help me get it made, then he called me up the next day, and he's like I want to be Lance and I didn't know he wanted to be in the movie to begin with, because he really liked Sleeping Dogs Lie and then he was just trying to do me a solid as a friend. And then, when he wanted to do Lance, it really changed everything. For me it meant I could shoot it on film and, and we could have permits (laughter). Because Sleeping Dogs Lie really was shot in like two weeks with a crew from Craigslist, and, and we had permits some days, but not every day.

Right on. Um, oh yeah, I mean like the casting for it was great as that movie, you know, on point, you know, you got got Daryl [Sabara] and Robin. They are really great chemistry in the movie. Whenever Daryl was reading for the part did you have Robin reading with him?


They are natural together on screen.

No, but with a couple things, like Daryl came in and he was supposed to audition for the part of Andrew, the sweet boy and then he kind of lied to me and, and so I could tell that he really wanted to do that role and audition for it and then once I saw him act, I was like if I can get this kid to be in the movie, I think it will be a realistic person to people. You know, ...


And then, he and Robin, you know, I didn't really have the, you know, there was some time which was weird for me, and I don't' usually have the luxury of a rehearsal, but there was a couple days set aside for rehearsing and I didn't spend the time having people run lines, or doing theater exercises or anything, I really spent the time just people getting to know each other, so they could get over that thing of, you go oh I'm making a movie with this guy, either you grew up with, or only knows is one of the biggest stars in the world.


And then Daryl and Robin, kind of, once they started doing the scenes they would kind of be those people and stay in character a little bit and some of that stuff creeped into the movie, which I thought was really great, you I'm really happy when that stuff showed up in the movie.

Did you intend that any part of the movie you were writing for Daryl's character to be gay?

Hmm (short pause). Um, no I didn't. That's an interesting question. I don't see him as that deep (laughter). 

It would have been, it would have been a really good, it's a good idea, you know, because, you know, you know, as they say is the fake name of the book, you are what you hate and that's who he hated, but, I, ahh, ahh, sometimes Daryl would add-lib things that were actually almost too smart for Kyle and Kyle needed to be just so dumb, that everybody is a fag, and everything is retarded, like that's his first reaction to everything. He's just like, he's just this fucken load, you know, uhhh (laughter).

Most people going into the film may not know the movie is really perverted with dark, dirty. You've screened it a lot already. What's the worst thing that someone said to you about how they feel about the film? The worst offensive thing they've said to you if they really hated it? 

Nothing to my face, but last night I had a screening with this old guy, he waited for the screen.., uh, he waited for the Q and A, then he gets up and he walks out the door during the Q and A and he's mumbling (rah, rah, rah) and he's talking to people, and I go "I'm sorry sir, what are you saying?" and he says, "I think think your movie is a C!" And "I go why, he goes because of all the cursing?" He said, "If you took out all the cursing, I'd give it a B!" And then I said, "I'm going to keep the fucking cursing in, I don't want your B!" (laughter)

That's amazing! (laughter) So awesome.. So, with the, uh sex stuff, you know World's Greatest Dad revolving around a weird sex act. This is also the theme for Sleeping Dogs Lie. What's makes you want to to choose perverse sexual acts as like major foundations for your stories? 

 I think it's because, you know,  I'm interested in things that make people awkward, you know. I just gravitate to them. I don't like go, "Oh this is really uncomfortable." You know, this is, not...I don't think of myself as being cute and edgy. It is the kind of stuff that I'm interested in and I also think of the shows as like, you know, Ricky Gervais' humor, like on Extra's and the Office and stuff. You know, I mean, that's because it makes me laugh. 


And those are the topics that I go to, you know, but there's other things, that be it will probably show up in the other movies, so I'm just this one trick pony, because eventually I'm going to start running out of perversions soon (laughter).

I'm sure you can squeeze out a couple more.

A couple more perversions..(laughter). You know, we did flirt with the 'fisting' musical idea.

Well that's something new. (laughter) 

All right, well I mean, so um, you know, which, Robin's character is like in the high school like poetry teacher, why have you decided to use, that like an English teacher for the main character? Verses you know, any other subject, I guess because of the writing, I mean...

Yeah, because, because, Robin's character, Robin's character is a failed writer, but if you want to know the truth, it would have been kind of funny if he was a failed writer who was a gym teacher, that's a pretty funny idea actually, but um, (laughter), I wanted, you know it really is, if you think about it, but I uh, that would have been even funnier if he had been a failed writer as a gym teacher and the English teacher would have been the guy who got all the heat in the school, you know, and uh... 


...and that's the thing that he wanted to do the most. That would have been pretty funny, but I'd already written it that way and I just, I guess it was because he was a teacher and I also had written it, with the idea, I needed an environment where Robin and his son would have been hanging around in the same world and that's the other reason why Robin's character is a teacher.

Yeah. That makes sense. One thing I thought was brilliant was bringing in Bruce Hornsby (laughter). When I first saw it, I didn't know who he was and I was like, "No way that guy is a real composer," and then I looked it up and of course he is. Was it, you know, like whenever you are like calling him to be in the movie, were you like, you kind of sound like you were kind of making fun of this a little bit, but, you know, just you said screw-it and go with it a little bit. How did you, how did you have to, like, explain...

Well, you know, and this, this is an actual scoop, because I haven't said this before. But, the way I did explain it to him was, I said, you know Daryl's character, you know Kyle, you hates everything and one of the key lines for me is when he says I hate all music. And once I explained all that to Bruce, he realized that, that, that, whatever Kyle said wasn't insulting to his character, do you know what I mean? So, so, when Kyle is saying I hate Bruce Hornsby, I hate that, you know he hates everything and, and, I did like the idea, I did meet an artist that, that, it was believable, that Robin's character did listen to, he was a fan, so, so, I was glad that Bruce had a sense of humor.

 But, when I was initially thinking this idea, I was also thinking it would be really great to have someone's music keep coming up through the movie, because one of the movies I had in mind when I was writing this movie was Harold and Maude, you know, and, and, that has, you know, that has all that Cat Stevens music in in and I kind of even think that's kind of the movie I'm thinking of in those terms when I'm making this, be it, something like, you know, a movie like the Graduate, or the Midnight Cowboy, or stuff like that, you know?

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay, so you have like, you had a small little cameo in the film, are you planning on going back to having like bigger parts?

No, no, no, no. No, I had written that part for Guillermo Rodriguez, the guy who, is on the Jimmy Kimmel show, the security guard, really, so Guillermo is my friend, and I used to direct the show and he really is the parking lot security, by the way, which would be really funny, because when I was directing the show, I'd be like Guillermo I need you on camera, he's like no I gotta be in the parking lot, I go, dude you are on the show, I don't give a shit about the cars. (Laughter) So, um, I wanted him to do it and he couldn't get out of work that day and it ended up being me, because I held auditions in Seattle and all the people would come in, it was just bad times, all the people would be doing 'cockney' accents and stuff, Well, Mr. Craten it's time to go to the show (laughter), so, um, and I'm not even kidding by the way, so, I'm gonna do it, but I did go up. When I walked thought the door, and there's Robin and I and he goes "You forgot your line didn't you?" and I go, yeah I did! (laughter)

(laughter from Chase Whale because he laughs a lot and wrote this sentence.)

Yeah. I didn't forget it. I just thought my character of the limo driver would take a big long pause and look at the ground (laughter).

[Bobcat pretending to tell Robin] "And you just ruined the scene Robin!"

[Robin pretending to tell Bobcat] "Why do you break character all of the time?" (laughter).

Cool, well I guess my last question is what's next for you? I mean you are not doing a Police Academy 8, so...

No. I'm finishing up the Spree Killer's [later changed to God Bless America] script right now.

And then I spoke with the, the, you know there's a Kinks musical that I want to try to make from an album called School Boy's into Space and I spoke with Ray. And you know we didn't make any deals, we, we, he just gave me my blessing to uh, to go out and develop the screenplay. It went really well. I was very nervous, you know, definitely one of my heroes and I was just sweating the whole meeting. He says to me, well who would go see this movie? because it's a musical a high school and I go all the kids that fucking hate High School Musical.  

Wow, that's a lot of lot of people.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I hope that there would be kids, you know I mean, it's umm, I don't know, uh, I don't know with these kids today with their Mormon-vampires [referring to Twilight] and their... (laughter)

We need Bobcat to change the way they way American kids see cinema, so.. 

Well, maybe it'd be nice to make one where I'm not so hostile towards them. (laughter)