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The Weird Stuff Crispin Glover Has Been Up To


Crispin Hellion Glover was born into an already eccentric Hollywood family, following in the footsteps of his character actor father (probably best remembered for his turn as hench-villain Mr. Wint in the Bond film Diamonds Are Forever), and entering the industry at age 13. Similar to his contemporary/multiple time co-star Nicolas Cage, his manic energy was noticeable even in these early days. Like a lot of child actors, he would grow up to be... quirky.

He got his first bit of real attention for a convulsing, awkward dance he performed in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (it was not the final chapter). Since then, the public mostly gets to see him in typically bizarre, but committed supporting roles. These include: Back to the Future as Marty McFly's hopelessly weird and nerdy dad, the Thin Man in Charlie's Angels who screams bloody murder into a tuft of Drew Barrymore's hair, and Andy Warhol in The Doors. He seems, at least in his most popular roles, to have a clear type, but no-one could say he isn't fantastic at it. His presentation for all of these characters is like a car crash, disasters calculated so precisely you can't take your eyes off of them. These are not performances that can be ignored, but Glover earned his peculiar reputation not only for his film roles, but his off-screen antics.

There was his only album (actual title: THE BIG PROBLEM ≠ the solution. The Solution = LET IT BE), suing Steven Spielberg for using prosthetics to disguise another actor as him, reinterpreting public domain books by rearranging or blacking out passages and adding images or prose, buying and maintaining a historically significant Czech chateau, and his infamous appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, featuring an apparent meltdown and karate kicks. There is an explanation for that last one, sort of. Glover appeared in character as the deviant shut-in Rubin, from an upcoming film that would only be released four years later; Rubin and Ed. Letterman did not know, the audience did not know, and everyone who witnessed the show was convinced that tales of Glover's antics had been undersold. When asked about it, he has had the same answer for years: “I can neither confirm, nor deny, that I was on the David Letterman Show.” Still, he continued and continues his tradition of nut job roles, most recently in American Gods, but, as he'll have you know, despite his dedication to them, he only takes these gigs to raise money for his real passion: Surrealist art films. Of course.

Crispin firmly believes that due to the corporate structures involved in the making and distribution of films, the industry squashes the potential of anything with content that would make an audience uncomfortable, or asks difficult questions. This not only limits the potential for artists to explore, but also for audiences to be moved to question the validity, value, honesty, etc. of the films they are watching. This has spurred him into directing the aforementioned experimental films; What Is It?, It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine! and the yet to be made It Is Mine. What Is It? concerns a young man with Down's syndrome and a disturbing, racist inner persona, starring actors who really had down syndrome. Similarly, It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine! stars its writer, who has cerebral palsy, as a version of himself in Freudian and sexual visions. Both films incorporate heavily surreal imagery and received mixed reactions. Although those reactions are few and far between, because Glover insists that the film only be screened in his presence, so that he can conduct Q & A's, and often give slideshows involving material from his books. If nothing else, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City programmed a showing of his films, describing him as a “vital and singular talent of American cinema”.

And regardless of how into Glover's more unconventional outings you are, in his art or in his life and views on film, his talent remains undeniable. He's a magnetic presence, there's no one else like him (with no hyperbole), and we can only hope that the budgets of his directorial efforts skyrocket, so that we might see a bit more of him on camera.