Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Congratulations are in order – Be Cool is your
biggest opening ever in America...
A. Thank you.
Q. You’ve said that Chili Palmer is an American
Sean Connery. Perhaps you can tell us more about what appear to
be two very different indiduals.
A. When Get Shorty came out, I received a call from Sean.
He said, 'John, Get Shorty, I loved it', and he liked it so much
he was going to the theatre to see it again.
I said: "Well, Sean, I think you liked it so much because
it reminded you of you."
I think the character is fearless - he’s cool, he’s
dapper, he’s elegant, he’s fun, he’s romantic.
That’s all the things the Bond character is.
I thought, if he’s [Chili] got all these attributes, why
not make him the US’s answer to James Bond? A street version,
So, that was my own connection with it, in my own mind. The character
loves the movies, loves the arts, loves music and it was a great
way to incorporate that to make an original idea.
Q. You’re still a mover on the dancefloor –
was the dance in the movie already built into the script or was
that something that developed?
A. I actually wanted to dance in Get Shorty but Barry
Sonnenfeld didn’t think it was fitting, but the second one
being about the music industry, it seemed a natural.
And I always, always wanted to dance to the Brazilian sounds.
So, at first, F Gary was resisting that sound but when the Black
Eye Peas did their rendition of that song, they decided it was
Hip hop was not something I grew up with but, you know. I had
the same issue with Pulp Fiction.
I told Quentin that there were other dances other than the twist.
Where I grew up there was the Batman, the Swim, the Hitchhiker,
the Cowboy. I said, 'we could mix it up'.
Basically, I did the same thing here with these traditional fifties
and sixties dances. Samba, foxtrot, cha-cha.
Q. And was that agreed before
Uma came on board?
A. Yeah, we were going to do it anyway because I wanted
Chili to dance, but Uma was a bonus, no matter what way you look
Q. I've heard that the dancefloor from Saturday Night
Fever is up for auction – I wondered if you were going to
put in a bid for it?
A. If I was smart I would, because I’ve given everything
else away. The suit I wore, Jane Fonda bought and sold it to Jean
Sisco and then Jean Sisco, before he passed on, sold it to buy
a new cabin for $150,000.
If I’d kept it, I’d still have something. So maybe
it would be wise [to buy the floor], I just don’t know how
much they’ll take me for on that.
Q. Like yourself, Chili is an icon of cool – at
home is it possible to be cool to your kids?
A. There’s a lineage to cool. Cool initially was
to keep your cool and was associated with film icons like Brando
and Dean and all that and then it derived into being hip, dressing
hip and listening to cool music, and then it developed into being
comfortable with yourself.
Now it’s got many definitions. I’m probably more the
last definition, I don’t know if I’m the first two.
In the movies, I’m cool because it’s all contrived
but at home… Planes are cool. Two days ago I kissed the
kids goodbye at the pool and walked 20 steps, got in my plane
and flew to London. Now that’s cool!
Q. Aren’t there times when the kids find you embarrassing?
A. Oh, God, yes. I’m a silly father. My daughter’s
four and a half and she goes, 'Oh, Dad, stop it'. If I do anything
like sing or dance, just like I did with my mom and dad.
Q. You made your name in musicals – are you ever
tempted to go back?
A. Well, believe it or not, I have been offered the role
of the mother in Hairspray.
Q. Are you going to take it?
A. I have no idea, I want your opinion.
Q. Take the Sean Connery route – he’s never
A. Oh, this isn’t drag, this is playing the mother.
The Divine role.
Q. Is there any truth to the rumour that you’re
going to be reunited with Olivia Newton John for a Grease remake?
A. No, we’re leaving that alone. It must be left
alone. You must stop asking me that question.