Did you study episodes of “Hogan’s Heroes”?
The movie doesn’t cover a great deal of “Hogan’s Heroes,” it’s sort of a background element of the film and we definitely covered some of it. But Paul (Schrader) sent me a small library of “Hogan’s Heroes” episodes one thru 100 and I watched as much as I could to get Bob Crane’s mannerisms down when he was working and his vocal inflections and tried to incorporate those as best I could.
Were you a fan of “Hogan’s Heroes”?
I was very young when the show was on. I think my mom and dad watched it when it was on and I would see bits and pieces occasionally. But it’s one of those shows that’s lived on in re-runs for 40 years, so certainly I’ve gotten to know it since then. I don’t know that anybody would look at it as a stamp of great American sitcom comedy, but I do think that they had a good cast and did some charming episodes.
I have to say that my favorite episode of “Hogan’s Heroes” is the one where Schultz says, “I know nothing, nothing…” which was, actually, every single episode now that I think about it.
My favorite episode was where Hogan and the guys dress him up as a Colonel and go into town and parade around as Colonel Clink (laugh) for the entire episode. And pretty much anything with Schultz won my heart.
Did you have any reservations taking on this role?
No, I didn’t. I read the script and was blown away by the story. I knew a little bit about what happened to Bob Crane, but not much. I’d seen some of those “Unsolved Mystery” bits and pieces over the years, but had no idea really what the personality of the man was. And what would cause somebody who is so ambitious like he was, to give up his life, career and his family in order to follow what was clearly, a very addictive lifestyle. There were a lot of different facets of his life that were very strange and difficult to examine, but interesting.
In a way, Bob Crane was a kind of pioneer, because he was doing amateur porn before it was even popularized on the internet.
(Laugh) That’s right… He was kind of doing a lot of stuff before anybody made it fashionable. I guess he was fascinated by the technology of home video. He was fascinated by photography, y’know, those elements. It was something he pursued right up to the point where he was murdered. And he’s also an amazing character. Because not only are you dealing with this element of sexual addiction, but he had this sort of codependent relationship with this guy John Carpenter, not the director John Carpenter, who was sort of this techie – a person who comes into your life who you think will enrich it, but is really kind of destroying it. That aspect of it, as well as the corruption of celebrity and what that can do. There are a lot of things working against him at the wrong time of his life and that had a lot to do with his demise.
Do you have any of your own theories about the mysterious death of Bob Crane?
Well, it’s not really that mysterious. The Scottsdale Police Department brought Carpenter up on charges, and really on a lot of technicalities, were not able to get a conviction. Robert Graysmith, who wrote the book and researched it endlessly, is pretty convinced Carpenter is the guy. At the same time, when you have a guy who’s out there having liaisons with thousands of different women, women who have husbands and boyfriends, a lot of theories are available to discuss. Who knows?
You don’t like to make things easy on yourself. You seem to be attracted to difficult roles. Can you tell me what attracted you to this part?
I thought, um, to find a guy who was as distracted with sex as Bob was, and destroying his life the way he seemed to be doing and being oblivious to it, was kind of the most fascinating aspect of it. But I think it’s the truth. I talked to his son Robert Crane Jr., who was a consultant on the film, and he let me listen to early recordings and documentation on his dad. And Bob wasn’t ashamed of his lifestyle. He was fully engaged in it and he couldn’t imagine being judged by it. So the fact that he was unaware of his circumstances and what he was doing is, in some ways, the most revealing thing about the character.
You almost snagged a naked gold man for your performance in As Good As It Gets. Are they talking Best Actor Oscar for “Auto Focus”?
Ah, one of those easy questions. I think that, y’know, this is a really good movie.
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- GREG KINNEAR: FOCUS ON MISBEHAVING
- WILLEM DAFOE: MONSTROUS KINKY
- PAUL SCHRADER: SET ON “AUTO FOCUS”
- AUTO FOCUS
- CITY OF CRANES
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