Corey Feldman is joined by director/leading man Alexander Loy as their upcoming comedy predicts the demise of the world's most notorious terrorist
A funny thing happened this past Sunday, just moments after the premiere of director Alexander Loy's upcoming comedy Operation Belvis Bash. A film that depicts an undercover operation to kill the world's most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden.
Folks who attended the screening literally walked out of the theater and into the lobby, where they discovered that Osama had actually been killed via a top-secret mission just like the one seen in the movie. Had star Corey Feldman predicted the future? Was this all an elaborate plan to get publicity for their Independently produced passion project? Or was it just a serendipitous moment of inspired perfect timing?
We recently caught up with both Alexander Loy, who plays an innocent Elvis impersonator sent to connect with the people of Afghanistan, and Corey Feldman, who plays a foul-mouthed opinionated Jewish stand-up comic, to find out if Feldman is, in fact, following in the footsteps of game show host-turned-CIA assassin Chuck Barris...Or if this is just a very lucky moment for a small comedy that might have gone direct-to-DVD had it not been for recent world events.
Here is our conversation.
How exactly did this premiere go down? You all went in, watched the movie, and came out to find that Osama Bin Laden had actually been killed?
Corey Feldman: Yes, that is exactly what happened. It was the craziest thing I had ever heard of. We'd set this screening up weeks ago, and the timing of it is so odd, in so many ways, I can't even explain it. How this all happened, and the timing of the whole thing. Essentially, we did this movie almost two years ago. From when we first starting shooting to where we are today. Where it's actually getting attention, and a release, and all of that stuff. We did the first test screening about three months ago in Chicago. This company called Hollywood Theaters did that. Basically, they were doing a four-day film festival of all of my films. We asked them if they wouldn't mind adding on Operation Belvis Bash, because they were just doing all of my older stuff. And it was an homage to me. It was something the fans were calling Corey-Con, because it was a couple of my movies every day, and then I would sign autographs. Meet the fans. It was a cool little event. And our screening for Operation Belvis Bash went over very well. It was about 150 people, and out of that, I thought, "I like this idea of a dinner and movie." Having drinks, watching the movie with an audience, having an in-person Q&A. Then an introduction of the film. For movies that don't have a major theatrical distribution set up yet, I thought this would be a great, new exciting platform to watch these films. Where they don't have theatrical set in place, but we can still get it on the big screen, and get it in front of people. We just have to formulate it around special events. Until word of mouth picks up. That was my plan. With that, I went over to my friends at the Alamo Draft House, because I had done much stuff for them in the past. I said, "Look, we have this film. This is what we did. We already tried out the format in this setting. It worked very well, and the fans had a great time. How about we do a little tour in Texas at some of your theaters?" They loved the idea. They jumped on board. It was really great. We started the tour. The plan was to do this on April 10th. Around the middle of March...No, you know when it was? It was the one year anniversary of Corey Haim's death. On March 10th. I saw a story come out about how it was the one-year anniversary of his death. And his final movie Decisions was going to get a theatrical release. They were going to do a big premiere. The date they set for the premier was April 10th! That was the original date that we had set up to do this Texas tour of Operation Belvis Bash. So, when I found out they had announced that...We hadn't announced ours yet, because we'd been negotiating and making deals with Alamo. When their's came out first, I thought, "Well, I can't be in Texas while Corey's film is premiering. I have to be there." Not only that, but we are going to make a memorial out of it, and I am going to host it, so I definitely couldn't be in Texas. Basically, I had to call Alamo and ask them to push back our tour by three weeks. Maybe it was two weeks. Whatever it was, the point being, we pushed it to this past weekend. It was just a strange set of circumstances that made it fall on that weekend. Because that wasn't the plan. We came into Texas, we did the tour, and everything was great. It was wonderful. Everyone that saw the film was loving it. They were laughing and clapping, and having a great time all along. The Q&As were a success. We'd do signings afterwards. Everything was very positive. People really did enjoy the film. We got some great feedback. Then, we hit the last night of the tour in Houston. We literally did the film, we watched the movie, and did the Q&A afterwards. Then we did our signing. Ten minutes after we finished packing up all of our stuff, we walked out to the parking lot. As I get in the car, I start getting text messages from different fans that I'd met along the way in Texas. They are saying, "Oh, my god! Corey Feldman! You are an American hero! Oh, my God! You predicted the future! I can't believe it! You killed Osama Bin Laden! It wasn't a joke. It actually happened. Corey, you didn't tell us this was true." All of this stuff just starts pouring out. I have all of these crazy texts, and Twitters, and Facebook stuff. I was like, "What are they talking about? What is going on?" I turn on the radio in the car as we are driving back. And that's when they said, "In one hour, President Barack Obama is going to be making the announcement that they have killed Osama Bin Laden." It was a covert operation. A very hush-hush, intelligence gathered operation. This is unbelievable, because this is exactly what we do in the movie. The movie is about an undercover CIA operation to bring down Bin Laden. (Laughs) It's just nuts. Its nuts.
I haven't seen the movie yet, and I certainly don't want to give anything away, but it ends with the actual death of Osama, right?
Corey Feldman: We wouldn't necessarily want to give this away. But, at the same time, its like, how do you keep this under the lid, so to speak? It is what it is.
Alexander Loy: As far as actually showing the killing of Osama Bin Laden? There is a figure that is killed, and it is presumed to be Bin Laden. We leave it somewhat open-ended. But there is not intent or reason for people to think this is anyone but Osama Bin Laden. There are some jokes. This is a comedy.
Alexander Loy: Right. There isn't much more to say about it. You have to see the movie to get it. But, even telling people that there is this secretive CIA operation is revealing too much of the film. At the same time, its such a serendipitous event, we couldn't keep our mouths shut. We had to start talking about it, simply because it was this uncanny thing. At the same time, I want to express that this is a comedy. It also has some poignant moments. It has a deep relevancy to what has happened with Osama Bin Laden, and this whole war. Prior to the actual event of his death, the film was a fun fantasy. Where in the end, Osama Bin Laden actually gets it. Now, that has happened. The film has become a premonition, I guess. But also a strange encapsulation of the last decade. Really.
Are we going to find out that Corey has taken over Chuck Barris' role as an undercover CIA operative?
Corey Feldman: We can't give away that much! Look, we can say that this is a political comedy. And it's a very dark comedy. This is not your average bag of chips, for sure. It's a very wacky cast of contemporary, yet cult, figures. All of these people in this movie are huge iconic cult names. At the same time, there is also some great unknown talent, like Walid Amini. And the stars of the film, Alexander Loy and Noel Britton. It's a musical. It's a black comedy. There are some very off-color jokes made. My character...When you don't know what the story is about, he comes off as a very racial, racist, off-putting, disconcerting comedian. You look at him and have to ask, "What is this guy's problem?" He is a nightmare. The worst guy you'd ever want to bring to the middle East, and they have just brought him to the Middle East. There are moments where I thought I'd be dodging bullets, running out of the theater. But the point that we are making is, "We've all been caught up in the dead seriousness of this for a very long time. And it's weighed very heavily on our hearts and on our minds. We have all lost people as the result of this war, whether it's a family member or a friend. This war has been going on for ten years, and unfortunately, there have been many casualties." That said, look, it has gone on for ten years, and we have all endured quite a bit. One thing I can tell you about Americans, and the human race as a whole, is that we must move forward. We must make the best of every day. We only have one life to live. At the end of the day, we can't walk around distraught and in misery over events that have occurred. So, instead, we always need to make the best of it and move forward with a breath of fresh air, on a daily basis. That's what this film achieves more than anything. Everybody has two things they've been yearning for. To get together and laugh at this whole situation. Laugh at themselves, and at any misguided, preconceived notions you may have had about other races or creeds. It also gives you the opportunity to sit with other audience members and cheer at the death of Osama Bin Laden. Because there is no other movie that could possibly come out in the next sixty days, where everyone can go into theaters, have a great time, and rejoice, at the end, by raucous applause, enjoying what we've all wanted to see for the last ten years.
To address some of the things that have happened since Sunday, they buried Osama at sea, and they are still, at this point, not offering photographic evidence of his death. Is this going to be explored in the sequel?
Corey Feldman: (Laughs) We have certainly had a few thoughts about the sequel up to this point. I think anything is possible. But first, lets worry about getting enough people to see it before we worry about what we are going to do next. Right now, we have to finish executing this plan.
Alexander Loy: After this weekend, with this whole premonition of the bad guys we want to get rid of in the world, I think the next one should be about Kim Jong Il. Don't you?
Corey Feldman: Exactly. Kim Jong Il and Muammar Gaddafi. I think we'll take them both on.
Sounds like you could have a trilogy.
Stranger things have happened. Now, I want to know more about this comedian you are playing, Corey. He is a bit horrendous, and he makes a really bad first impression. What did you think of the make-up you were being asked to wear, and how did that eventual inform this character?
Corey Feldman: When we sat down to plan this, the idea was completely the opposite of this current publicity campaign. I see people out there making this complaint, "Of course Corey Feldman has to throw his name in the hat! He has to try and take advantage of this moment by getting press for it." And blah, blah, blah! No, guys! This was not the plan. As a matter of fact, it was the opposite of the plan. The plan was, "Let's not tell anyone that it's me behind the make-up. Lets keep it as anonymous as possible." This character is so outrageous, and such a departure for me, if you didn't know ahead of time, before you walked into the theater, that you were watching me, you would have no clue that its me behind the make-up. And that was really the idea. You are supposed to walk in and connect with this character as this guy you love to hate. You literally love to hate him. I was so afraid that I would be dodging tomatoes and eggs on the way out of the theater. Instead, what I found is that people connected with him on such a high level, so immediately, from the moment this guy walks on screen. People are hooting and hollering, and having a great time with it. He basically says everything that people have wanted to say, but have been afraid to for so long. Half of it isn't right. It's very wrong. But that doesn't cross people's minds, because its things that people were afraid to talk about, because they just aren't the right things to say. Or its not the right opinion, and people know this. These are things that baffle people the most when they are said out loud. That is kind of it. Yes, I do very much make fun of...Well, I shouldn't say 'I'. I should say, the character Samuel Stilman, pretty much makes fun of the Middle East, he makes fun of different races, many races...I think the slogan he says, aside from, "I'm Jewtastic!" Is, "Look, I am an equal opportunity offender. I hate everyone." It's not just the Middle Easterners. It's the blacks. It's the Jews. The Asians, the Italians, the Scientologist, the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Christians...Everybody. He hates everybody. You can't just make a movie like this and offend one group of people, because that is offensive. But if you offend everybody, including yourself...As we all know, I am Jewish...To play a Jewish comedian who does nothing but desiccate the Jewish religion, and everything it stands for, you obviously can't be taking yourself too seriously. The other thing is, I was sent this script a couple of years ago by Alexander Loy. I took a look at it. I said, "You know, it's a cute little movie. But the part as its written is not something I can see Corey Feldman playing, because its not a Corey Feldman part. It is a part for a forty-five year old, fat, balding Jewish guy who is a comedian from Boston. I don't see how I could possibly play this role. But, if you created a character that is this guy, and he looks like this guy, and you don't know who it is? To me, then it could work." That is where the jumping off point was for creating this guy. I told Alex, "Look, we need to find who this character is and what he should look like. If you are willing to trust me and my instincts, then basically, we are going to create this guy, and I don't want you to really see the make-up, or know what I look like, or anything until the day of." That's how it went down. Alex went on a wing and a prayer, trusted in me to create this guy, we got a really great special effects person to jump on board with us, and we created and designed the look of this character, and then we started shooting after a six hour application. Literally, when I walked out on stage to shoot the stand-up part, which I shot first, no one knew what I was going to do. It was all improvised, except for one joke in the second set. The first set you see in the film, which I think is a five-minute improv scene, it is all completely off the cuff and what had come to my mind at that moment. No one had any clue as to what I was going to do with this. They were sitting there stunned. And, well, there you go!
Now, Alex, what about your character? With you, we see this Elvis impersonator come on who is innocent, somewhat naïve. How did you go about creating that character in contrast to Feldman's very brash Jewish stand-up from Boston?
Alexander Loy: For me, Belvis was this great representation of American Pop Culture. He came from the roots of American Pop Culture, which, within that, we think of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Why not have both of those guys be influences for this character. Pushing that even further, like you said, this guy is very innocent. His real name is Walter Walkavanski. He is a nobody in the entertainment world, and he wishes for stardom just like everyone in the entertainment world does. He does this second rate act, and he calls himself Belvis Bash. Because of where he is in life, he is easily recruited into this cultural outreach program to convince the Afghanis that American life is cool and great, and that they should all participate in our culture. He comes out to Afghanistan all wide-eyed and unsuspecting of what the future is going to bring. Besides finding out what he finds out there in Afghanistan, he also finds love with this girl he knew from his childhood. That is the story. Belvis is the straight man. There are so many big, large character performances in the movie. Obviously, with Corey, who absolutely knocks it out of the park. We also have Mark Metcalf, and the Iron Sheik, who is completely over the top and fantastic.
Corey Feldman: He is one of the funniest elements in the movie. I know people are going to read this and go, "Iron Sheik? Like, the wrestler? What exactly is he going to bring to the table?" A lot! He is really great in this movie, I have to tell you!
Alexander Loy: Belvis is the straight man. At the same time, he is bringing music. We wrote a lot of original music for the film. We have six new songs in the style of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. We also licensed and performed 'Man in Black' by Johnny Cash. So, yeah, the movie is, also, partially a musical.
Corey Feldman: I also wrote the title song. The end credits song. It's an original that can't be heard on any of my other releases. It's for this film. Ironically, it's for a message of peace. Its called 'Take a Stand'. It's about standing up for our rights and believing in who we are. Doing it for love instead of war. Its very interesting, again, that this is the song that's playing as the announcement comes over the radio that Osama Bin Laden is in fact dead. And the war is over.
Alexander Loy: We also have Walid Amini, who is an American actor. He has lived here most of his life. He was born in Afghanistan, and he really knew that area well.
Corey Feldman: So did the Iron Sheik.
Alexander Loy: Yes. Iron Sheik is from Persia.
Corey Feldman: Oh, I thought he was Afghani.
Alexander Loy: No, he is from Iran. They're close, they are right next to each other. If we go with the theme of the movie, we could make a whole lot of jokes. But we won't.
So those guys were able to give some insight ad actually improve the script...
Alexander Loy: Oh, yes! Absolutely. They most definitely did. We also went out and hired a Middle East expert who brought on board all of the extras that appear in our film. All of the featured extras are authentic Afghani actors who brought authentic Afghani costumes. They helped us create Afghanistan on quite a meager budget. It's not actually Afghanistan, though we do have some footage from the country that was taken by the US military. Well, it wasn't the military. It was an organization. It was just one guy. (Laughs)
I saw a trailer about a year or so ago, and it gives no hint of what this movie is actually about. Are you going to make a new trailer? And where does the film go from here?
Corey Feldman: Well, we are up in the air a little bit. With the recent excitement, we have been getting tons of offers to screen the film, and look at the film. The distributors who were not necessarily paying attention to it before are certainly paying attention to it now. We don't know at this point. We are fielding offers. We are listening to what people have to say. And we are trying to figure out what makes the most sense. We can't tell you what the exact release date will be at this point. I will tell you, we all feel very positive that it will have one. As far as the trailer goes, we will advise you to not put too much weight into the one that is out there. That trailer was not done by the same team that edited the film, or who put the film together. It was a hired company that threw something together so that we had something up there. We wanted to give people an idea of what they were in store for when we did this limited tour. But I will tell you quite honestly, it is not a fair representation of what the film has in store for you. Operation Belvis Bash is very funny. And very heartwarming. It is a movie that people are seeming to connect to, for whatever reason.
So, this very well could be the summer of Belvis!
Corey Feldman: Well, let's hope so. From your lips to god's ear.
You talk about distributing movies. Why aren't we going to see Lucky Fritz in the states? I've shown that trailer to a couple of people, and we all think it looks like something we would go see at the theater.
Corey Feldman: It's actually not a bad movie. I don't think it quite has the poignancy of something like Operation Belvis Bash. As you know, timing is everything in this business. Granted, Operation Belvis Bash is a good movie in and of itself. But because of what it is, and the timing of it, that all takes it to another level of importance. Lucky Fritz is a movie I shot in Europe. It got a European release. It did hit theaters in Germany. It was actually shot in Germany. That was the intentions for that film. It wasn't ever set to be an American release. Its apples and oranges.
I want to see it.
Corey Feldman: You could probably track it down. There are those few movies that I have done, that are nice little gems. Unfortunatly, you won't see them in America, because the studios don't think of the big picture. We are engaged in this game within the industry right now. There are little tiny movies, and there are big giant movies. And there is not a whole lot in-between. That is quite unfortunate, because a lot of art is being lost between the lines. These multi-million dollar operations essentially get to decide what we see. That's really what the Operation Belvis Bash tour was about. This was a way for us to bring to you a film...Its not a three hundred million dollar blockbuster. Its not going to have the best CGI effects that you will ever see in your life...But, it does have heart and soul. Its heartwarming, and it tells a strong message that everyone can relate to with characters that are relatable. That is what this is all about. That is why I started making movies so many years ago, and that is why I am still making movies today. I enjoy entertaining people, and trying to bring some kind of message along with the films that I do. Unfortunatly, there is not a lot of room for that in Hollywood right now. You have to pick and choose your battles. Its much like my film The Birthday, which we did several years ago. It had massive critical acclaim. It won all of these awards at some major festivals. But it never got the major American release that it should have. It's a hard to find, rare film. My proudest work. My proudest achievement as an actor in thirty-five years is The Birthday. However, how many people have seen it in America? Only a handful. And that's because you have to search it out and find it to be able to get it. Fortunately, I will be doing a screening of that film in a few months, here in Los Angeles. Its just a special thing. People have asked, "Hey, can we screen that film?" And I said, "Yeah, I will always support that film." But the point being, though its the film I am most proud of, it's the film in my hundred-film biography that is the least seen by anyone. Most appreciated, least seen. For Operation Belvis Bash, it's a similar story. But with this one, we actually have a shot of getting it through the ropes and giving it the release it should have. We came out to Texas, we did these screenings, and we told people at the Q&As, who were very passionate about their questions, we said, "Look. The reason you guys like this is because it's art. It's a statement. Its moving you, and we appreciate that. But its not just about you. Its about getting this out there for everybody to see." Because we are all tired of these three hundred million dollar blockbusters that suck. Who wants to see The Green Hornet again? Nobody. Its bad acting, bad writing, bad direction. Everything. And yes, they are getting away with murder, because it costs three hundred million dollars. That allows them to release it all over the world. Yet, there is a really beautiful little gem of a film here that people don't get to see, because Hollywood has decided that its not worthy. Well, as fate would have it, Osama Bin Laden was killed right after we announced it in the film. Now, because of that, we have an opportunity to bring it to the people, so they can see it the way it deserves to be seen.
To clarify, you have nothing against the people involved with Green Hornet. I watched it the other night, and if I had of been watching it in a theater, I would have walked out and asked for my money back. Its pretty atrocious.
Corey Feldman: Look, I am able to be critical of art, same as anyone else. When I see a movie that just flounders, I have to be honest. I was doing a film festival in Chicago, where we first screened Operation Belvis Bash. I snuck out of my own film festival, and walked across the street because I was excited to see The Green Hornet! After ten minutes, I was insulted. That's how bad it was. And I'm a fan of Seth Rogen. Its not to say its his fault, or anybody's fault. It just wasn't done right. You can have talented people, but the wrong chemistry doesn't work the way its supposed to. That's what's the matter with that film. Here, we made a film with a bunch of people whom you may not think are capable of putting together a really good movie...But it is! You never, ever know what you are going to get. That's why I think all art deserves some sort of platform. We feel extremely grateful right now that ours has lucked its way into a chance for it to be seen by people the way it was meant to be seen!