CMR recently interviewed James Wilder (Melrose Place, The Coriolis Effect, Murder One) about his new movie, Three Holes and a Smoking Gun (formerly “Three Holes, Two Brads and a Smoking Gun” where two brads was dropped as it was confusing and the consensus was only writers would understand the connection; however, this interviewer followed the reference as related to the movie of a screenwriter and a script with three holes held together by two brass brads in the top and bottom holes where smoking gun, the real metaphor, has didactic meaning). The movie won awards during the 2014 Red Dirt International Film Festival for “Grand Jury Prize” and “Best Lead Actor” (Wilder) in addition to “Best U.S. Narractive Feature Film” at the 2014 Laughlin International Film Festival and “Best Screenwriter” (Scott Fivelson) at the Los Angeles 2014 Downtown Film Festival. Wilder will be honored with the Independent Spirit Award at the 13th Annual Garden State Film Festival on March 22, 2015 while attending with this newest venture to be featured.
The interview starts with a deep discussion of the movie, beginning with how is a movie like this prepared for. Wilder explains the need to “hook” those important individuals behind the scenes at the onset revealing his cold reading memorization of more than 76 pages of script prior to that first day of shooting…he obviously succeeds as the movie comes together in a very fluid manner emphasizing what Wilder describes as “organic.”
Along the way, the interview veers a little to methodology in the details about thought processes and overarching effects of several central scenes like the accidental shooting of Sailor Stewart (Rebecca Mae Palmer) by Bobbie Blue Day (James Wilder) and the over-the-top almost psychotic drama on the rooftop between Day and J.F.K. “Jack” Ariamehr (Zuher Khan). Wilder attests to the authenticity of Khan’s reaction in the rooftop scene of “Are you nuts? Have you lost it?” to Day’s “That’s what it takes to write something really great!” While Wilder states he usually approaches scenes with contrast in mind (dynamic scenery meets subdued action), he felt the larger-than-life expectations of a New York backdrop compared to the generic apartment demanded exaggeration to captivate the audience as the script progresses through the it own existence.
On the flip side is the emotional (and raw) performance in the shooting scene which Wilder describes as the pinnacle moment where organic acting turns dark comedy truism and preparation would have diminished the effect of spontaneous realism. It is at this point the film becomes almost a farce in a literacy sense.
Shifting gears is easy for Wilder as the conversation turns to reflection to which he states he does not watch movies he has performed in. When asked what the craziest movie he ever made was, the reply is Murder One where he went to the actual penitentiary housing the man he portrayed in which sitting across from the shackled inmate drove home the realization this man did not plan to be in this place molding the characterization Wilder wound up playing. It was almost serendipitous when asking if Zombie High was his biggest regret as he confides it is the movie he would select as it was not the Gothic rage it is today.
This reference leads to his divulging of an event on the stage of Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 1994 where his history of juggling chainsaws became a challenge to juggle machetes. Wilder said he would only do it if someone was lying on the floor beneath him figuring no one would volunteer and that would be it; however, Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), brother to Virginia Madsen (Sideways, Zombie High) spoke up and the performance went on while Wilder says he was thinking “I hope I don’t screw this up!”
The interview winds up with a short discussion about his fantastic architecture which is award-winning as well having received recognition by HGTV as one of three outstanding LA properties alongside Frank Lloyd Wright. Wilder is truly an artist where it is on screen or in the field of architecture and design. A truly remarkable individual with an insight into creativity while remaining true to self…a rare commodity in Hollywood these days!
Image courtesy of YouTube and background information courtesy of DeWaal & Associates