CHRIS MCKENNA: “ANTS” EXTERMINATOR

How does someone as sweet-tempered as Stuart Gordon make such dark films?
Stuart is absolutely insane. He’s “Grandpa Santa Clause,” with dimples. He’s the sweetest man on earth, with a wonderful family. They’re really tight. I was expecting him to be some terrifying guy with a limp, a cape and a cane. He was not like that at all. I don’t know how it is that someone can find it in himself to be so dark and twisted. I visited him once, when he fed me ants with cream cheese on crackers. His wife Carolyn was mortified. They were actually quite good. He’s got a twisted sense of humor. His brother is a famed insect chef, who does talk shows and has books out.

On the subject of food, there’s one scene in King of the Ants where I bite someone’s neck, where I actually had a piece of Carolyn’s Rosemary chicken in my mouth.

In your own life, have you experienced anything similar to the awful experiences that Crawley endures in the film?
I certainly have not had any of the experiences he’s been through. It’s been a pretty “Leave it to Beaver” life. I got jumped once on a basketball court, and had my teeth knocked out. It occurred after an argument with the wrong guy, and a bunch of friends he had with him. I was beaten up and threatened. I remember going to the doctor. A week later, I went out there and played basketball again. It felt good to be back out there.

Is King of the Ants symbolic of Gordon’s being a “King” of independent movies in a big-budget, studio-oriented industry?
You’d have to ask him, but I can see the parallel. He is the master of the small, independent genre film. One definitely has to admire Stuart for not going for the easy buck, but going for what he’s passionate about. It’s hard to find the money for projects like that, and he’s a master at doing the most with what he has. We had mechanical problems, a concussion, and other things occur on the set that might have thrown off another director. But I never saw Stuart lose his temper during the shoot.

Will King of the Ants receive a wide theatrical release?
Right now, nothing is guaranteed. Stuart claims we have a shot at wide release. We have to do the film festival circuit to see what kind of reaction we get. While I honestly don’t think it’s for the squeamish or the weak of heart, it has a wider application than most of Stuart’s films, and there’s enough going for it to appeal to a receptive audience.




Posted on July 10, 2003 in Interviews by

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