Exclusive Interview: Christopher Lloyd on Dead Before Dawn & His Career

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest Christopher Lloyd

CraveOnline: How big has The Oogieloves been for you?

Christopher Lloyd: Oh yes. I loved playing that Spanish guy with the drums. He didn’t talk much, but he was a character I very much enjoyed playing. He says one thing at the end, “Good luck in your adventures” or something like that, but I loved playing that part. Maybe it didn’t resonate.

Oh no, I think it did.

Oh good, good. You’re a fan, great. I thought it was a wonderful little film.

You were also in a Lone Ranger movie in 1981 and this year they had trouble making a new Lone Ranger movie. Why do you think that they have so much trouble making The Lone Ranger into a movie?

I don’t know. I haven’t seen the new one, the latest one. I know that they had a problem in the one I was in perhaps with Klinton Spilsbury, the guy who played The Lone Ranger. I don’t know. I don’t know exactly what’s been going wrong with that.

Was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s a big film to debut in?

Oh, it was enormous. I had been trying to get into film for some time. I was doing theater a lot but I wanted to do film and I just didn’t seem to be cutting it. I went up for a lot of interviews and a few auditions and they all went flat. Then Michael Douglas, Milos Forman and Saul Zaentz came to New York casting and the casting director, who was aware of me, sent me up and it worked out. I was just so excited. It was incredible story, incredible script, working with Jack Nicholson who I had already been idolizing in his work with Easy Rider, Carnal Knowledge, The Last Detail and a couple of others. I just thought he was great, and to be on the same set working with him was a thrill. To be working with Milos Forman, an amazing director, I was overwhelmed. To be my first film, I was just tremendously excited. I’m often asked, “What was, for you, your greatest film experience?” And it always comes back to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, aside from being a film that really handled subject matter in such a brilliant, brilliant way.

Would you have wanted to do another Roger Rabbit?

Yes, definitely. And for a long time, I’d run into Bob Zemeckis or some of the people who worked with him and they kept saying, “We’re going to do another one.” For whatever reason, it hasn’t worked out. I’d love to do another one.

Do you think there might be another Dead Before Dawn?

I hope so, I hope so. I would be thrilled. I would love to do another one.

Who are some of your favorite movie characters or favorite movies?

Hamlet was the first movie I saw. In 1948 my mother said, “I’m going to take you to see Hamlet with Laurence Olivier.” She was worried about taking me to it because she wasn’t sure I was old enough to understand it or to maybe be adversely affected by it, but I got recordings of it and memorized all the soliloquies. I was just totally blown away by it. And Laurence Olvier who was definitely one of my idols, and Charlie Chaplin was somebody I just could not get enough of. I just thought he was a total genius, as a writer and as a performer. The characters that he developed and his skill with his body, the way he used his body to play so many of his characters, I was just totally enthralled with Charlie Chaplin.

Can you imagine there are young people watching your work and your characters and getting inspired like that?

Yeah, Back to the Future has been so amazing because kids that saw it when it first came out in 1985 have grown and they have kids who are seeing it for the first time. It’s multi-generational and it just keeps going. Quite often somebody will come up to me and say they are now today engineers or doing things that they were inspired to do because of Back to the Future. It’s wonderful. It feels very good to be a part of something that had such an impact and changed young people’s lives to choose what they wanted to do with themselves. I’m very delighted about that. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.