Barry Bostwick Talks <strong><em>FDR: American Badass!</em></strong>

Barry Bostwick Talks FDR: American Badass!, available today!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a Halloween tradition for millions of Americans, and star Barry Bostwick is beloved by this cult of revelers. This year, he is giving back to this odd lot of weirdos with a new film that he hopes becomes just as well know in the near future. Even if it doesn't, he hopes that you at least watch it this Halloween. Because he's made it for you, the fan!

The movie is FDR: American Badass!, and it's a greasy little kicker that pays homage to recent mash-ups like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Iron Sky, while standing on its own as a unique piece of pop splatter trash that pits Adolf Hitler and Hirohito against a troupe of flesh hungry lynchthropes. Barry himself crawls into a wheelchair to portray Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the performance is a joy to behold.

We recently caught up with Mr. Bostwick to chat about FDR: American Badass!, which is on DVD today! We also talked about swearing, Halloween traditions, Michael J. Fox, and the time Barry landed on a homeless man while jumping into a pile of trash. Yes, this man is a hilarious treat!

Here is our conversation.

You're certainly no stranger to cult movies. Does it take a little something extra to get you really excited about a script?

Barry Bostwick: Yes! It has to be weird! It must be different, and something that side of my fan based will fall in love with and be entertained by. People who live their lives in a straight line, but aren't entertained by straight line, round-the-esque kind of things...

This script is pretty weird...The whole thing is weird...

Barry Bostwick: I took a hold of this because I am trying to play every president. That has ever been born. In the pantheon. I started with George Washington. And I have played a few unnamed presidents...You know? I like Franklin Delano Roosevelt because he has certain physical things that you can attach an interpretation to. Aside from just the fact that he is in the wheelchair. He has certain props that he uses very theatrically, and he was a very effective president, and he had a great sense of humor. He had an interesting and privileged background. All of these things attracted me to him in particular. And that's it!

Well, going back to playing every known president, if this movie is successful, and we think it will be, you could kick off a franchise where in each installment you could play a different president...

Barry Bostwick: I would love that. If we can make them all as biting and obscure, and as weird and wonderful as this was...Unfortunatly, the one thing that makes this works is that everyone has a slight bit of knowledge about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So there is some hook for the audience when you have a character like this. But if you did Harrison...Or, or...

Polk!

Barry Bostwick: Yeah, if you play someone else, and the audience has no instinct for them, it would be difficult to work from scratch. Jefferson would be a great one to spoof. But he is so endeared into the hearts of Americans, I think you'd piss a lot of people off...

I personally think Andrew Jackson is ripe for interpretation!

Barry Bostwick: Yeah, that is a good one. I like Theodore Roosevelt, too...

Definitely. Now, we've seen Abe Lincoln go up against vampires. Here, we have FDR going up against werewolves. What did you think of that combination when you first heard that was the direction it was going in?

Barry Bostwick: Its just an over the top interpretation. They had to find some way to give him Polio. I'm sure they went through a number of things. I'm sure they went through zombies. I'm sure they went through anything that is popular at the moment. Werewolves? They found something that, perhaps, wasn't overused. And it had a patina of fitness to it. It was something you could lampoon easily. I think some of the funnier scenes are between Adolf Hitler, the werewolves, and Hirohito, and the other guys. The make-up isn't as bad as you thought it would be. The director always wanted the thing to have a slightly amateurish look to it. That is the style of the piece. The sets aren't whole. I mean, this guy was rich. He was living in an opulent townhouse. You don't put him in one room with just one picture on the wall...But you do in a movie like this. You get down to the bare bones. Also, they couldn't afford more than one room with one painting.

But that look fits the tone of the movie. That's the kind of movie it is, and I think some cult fans really gravitate towards that look...

Barry Bostwick: Yeah, I do too. I think it's really about what's coming out of the characters mouths at this point. And they are always interested in what is the next streetism to come out of a president or a Dwight D. Eisenhower, or even Eleanor Roosevelt's mouth. You are always surprised when Eleanor says, "Fuck!" You know she said fuck in her real life, but no one would ever say that she says fuck. Everyone says fuck, I guess. Not as much as they do today. I think that is one of the messages, its one of the reasons the film was made...Its so over the top with certain languages, because anything goes in the mindset of the younger audiences today. I can't get my seventeen year old to stop saying fuck around the house. He goes, "It's absolutely meaningless." You know? It doesn't mean anything. Yes, but it is lazy. There are better words to use. Then his dad goes and makes a movie where every word out of his mouth is fuck. I just blew my argument.

I've noticed some of the alternative comics have really abandoned swearing in place of ol' timey word. Shucks and Darn! People aren't use to that, actually...That makes you stop and think...

Barry Bostwick: Yeah. I would hope that we get back to using language in a more succinct and meaningful, and intelligent way. Maybe we can stop using foul words as punch lines. Or character meat. I am guilty of prolonging this horrible trend.

I don't think it's a trend that will ever die. If you pull it back, and take it away for a little bit, people go right back to it. It's too much fun. People love to swear...

Barry Bostwick: Yeah, but I hope, in terms of the swearing aspect, that people will realize that there aren't any other words that they can use that are worse than the words that they are using. They might as well use words that are more meaningful. Maybe that will make them different. When people were getting one tattoo, they looked cool. Now, you are only cool if you have a hundred tattoos. I think you are one of the cool ones in this day and age if you are someone that doesn't have any tattoos. You know?

I guess I am one of the cool people. I made it to 41, and I don't have any tattoos!

Barry Bostwick: Well, good for you! I don't have anything against tattoos. It was just a statement of individuality that became more a statement of the crowd. I'm hoping the same thing happens with this language issue.

I think ol' timey language is really making a comeback. Christmas is one of my favorites, instead of saying, "Oh, fuck!" It's "Oh, Christmas!"

Barry Bostwick: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah...There was a character on Spin City. Whenever he would get upset, he'd go, "Oh, sugar!" I knew what he meant! Those are the kinds of words I like. I want people to come up with an original word like "Christmas" or "Sugar". It says exactly the same thing without the ugliness...But I say those ugly words all the time, myself. I am guilty of that. I am trying not to say them as much.

You bring up Spin City...Are there any plans for you to appear on Michael J. Fox's new sitcom?

Barry Bostwick: I don't know! I don't know anything about his show. I don't talk to him on a regular basis. Lots of times, those combinations of people, you don't want to revisit them. They were so effective in the view that they were in. In the mayor's office. You had the Mayor, and the Deputy Mayor, and the height difference. The attitude difference. You put those two actors together, and if you know Spin City, all you will think of is that character relationship they had back then. You won't find a lot of TV actors going from show to show with a lot of the same actors. Because there is too much history.

The reason I asked...Maybe you don't know what the show is about. It's about Michael and his life with Parkinson's. I know the series is open to having people from Michael's past projects on in some capacity. It was always such a joy to see you two together, this sounded like a good opportunity to bring the two of you back...

Barry Bostwick: Well, in that case, maybe I'll give him a call as soon as we get done here! You know, the day after he announced that he had Parkinson's to the cast, I went on Good Morning America and started weeping. There is an episode right there for his new show...

I actually remember watching that live, when it happened. It was very touching. Now, I have to ask, what are some of your Halloween traditions? Or do you turn that completely off with how much attention comes your way during the fall season?

Barry Bostwick: Because I still have kids...Well, they are teenagers now, so they are more into partying. Not going door to door. My attention was always pulled away by their activities. Then, on Halloween, The Rocky Horror Picture Show would show up at midnight, or something, on cable. Occasionally, I will watch it, and I'll go, "Wow, that is a good show!" You don't need all of that stuff that goes in front of the film, although it's interesting, and a whole other form of entertainment. But I understand why the movie was picked to go into the library of congress. It's a film that holds together. It's unique. It's truthful. Its right. It's well acted. And it's of its time. It brings a clear picture of its time. At Halloween, I keep trying to get one of my kids to dress up like a bag of garbage. I keep saying, "Just get a big black bag, stuff it with paper, get inside of it, hang a few things out of it, and just go as garbage!" That way, I will save 70 or 100 dollars on a costume. It will be unique. But I haven't been able to sell them on that idea yet.

Why are you so sold on that idea?

Barry Bostwick: I don't know. I think its because I'm such a cheap bastard! I want to save money. And, I think its just funny. For me, it's why I get attracted to some of these films. Its just odd, and weird, and funny to me. Its as if a homeless guy just popped his head out of a bag of trash that he was just eating. I remember once I was in New York. I was walking down the street with a bunch of friends. This was years ago, when I was living down on the bowery. I just remember, I went and jumped into a pile of garbage. Just for the hell of it, as we were walking down. I had jumped onto a homeless guy, who was down in the garbage. He wasn't too happy about it. I didn't hurt him, thank god! But I think that gave me the idea That this would be a great Halloween costume.

(Laughs) That's too funny. You seem to have a great sense of humor...

Barry Bostwick: Well, it is a sense of humor, and not too many people in my life get it!

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange