Shut Up Kids #79: Manhunter (1986) + Tom Noonan interview! Shut Up Kids #79: Manhunter (1986) + Tom Noonan interview!
Actor TOM NOONAN joins SUK to discuss the Michael Mann film MANHUNTER! Shut Up Kids #79: Manhunter (1986) + Tom Noonan interview!

Hey everyone,

This week we’re joined by a special guest co-host, IAB of the Breakfast on Planet X podcast as we discuss Michael Mann’s Manhunter! We also did an awesome interview with actor Tom Noonan – who played the serial killer “The Tooth Fairy” in the movie.

Here is some of that interview. If you want to hear the whole thing, press play below! We talk about his method of acting, preparing for his roles in Manhunter and in Monster Squad (which SUK talked about last year with two of his co-stars), his thoughts on the Red Dragon remake, his theater work, his role on the 12 Monkeys TV show, listening to “Inna Gadda Davida” and much more.

The interview starts at the 24:25 mark.

Enjoy!
Dan & Nick


SUK: Manhunter is closing in on the 30-year mark. Now, you originally didn’t want to read for the movie. What was the hesitation?
TN: At that point in my life, I had done a couple of oddball parts, sort of strange people or violent people. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep doing that. I was already sort of moving towards being typecast that way. And also, it was a very disturbing script and I was like, “Jeez, do I really want to spend fifteen weeks on this?” But it was really well written so I thought, “Yeah, why not?”

SUK: Michael Mann didn’t really give you much direction but it turned out great. You put on a great performance. How did you approach that knowing that Michael Mann wasn’t going to give you any directions except for going from here to here?
TN: I didn’t know what he would do. We rehearsed a little. I actually auditioned with a lot of the other people. Once he began auditioning me and I began reading with other people in the cast, which was the point that I had known I gotten the job, he would ask me about different people who would come in. We were sort of, well, close is not really the right word, but we were in the same head about how this was going to go. And everything that I did during these auditions with other people he never had much to say about it other than that he liked it or didn’t say much. People don’t direct me a lot in movies. Well, most people aren’t directed much in movies. It’s such a crazy atmosphere, where you are trying to make this huge movie with all of this crew, dealing with light issues and losing locations. If someone is decent and interesting, they try not to fuck with you so much.

SUK: Right.
TN: And I was sort of used to that by then. I would try to avoid that. I would never have conversations with directors or ask questions about the script. Ever. The less you talk to a director the less chance you are going to get directed. But he seemed to like a lot of what I did and I had an unspoken connection with him about the part. It was very emotional. I just feel like, that he felt in me, what he had envisioned. And he made it very easy to do that and was a bit inspiring to me. Sometimes he would push me to do takes over and over and over again to see how long it would take me before I fell apart. But I didn’t mind that too much.

SUK: Yeah, it didn’t really hurt your relationship since you went on to work with him again on Heat. But during the filming of Manhunter, Michael gave the order to leave you alone, and isolate you. That was kind of your idea. Just mentally, how tough was that for you to not interact with anyone you were working with?
TN: Oh, that’s generally what I try to do anyway on a movie.

SUK: [Laughter] TN: When you are on a set, my job is to be as present, and compelling present as possible when I’m acting. I don’t think much about what the scene is about. Or what the story is about. I interact with the other person and I use the words I am given to be present. So, the less I have to do with anybody, the easier it is for me in a lot of ways. Now that I’m older, I’m able to block out a lot of that stuff and not take it in so much. I would really work hard on movies to try not to speak to anyone ever. Have any social relationship with anybody or talk to anybody like the hair or makeup people. Just, sort of, stay with myself. When he said, “What can I do to make it easier for yourself?” I said, “Well, if I didn’t have to meet anybody, that’d be great.”

SUK: [Laughter] TN: And part of that was that I didn’t really know what else to say and I knew that would help me.

SUK: So it was a clever ploy on your part to be left alone.
TN: A little bit, yeah. And it also created this mysterious thing about what I was doing. I was lifting weights all of the time and was weirder than I generally look. I think the crew was unsettled and were a little nervous about me and didn’t know what the fuck I was up to. Michael doing all of that stuff made it even more pronounced and that made doing the part much easier. There was always a lot of tension on the set. Not tension in bad ways. Well, sometimes in bad ways. But it sort of created what you see on the screen.

SUK: I know you often don’t go to movie premieres or even see a lot of the movies you are in. When did you see Manhunter?
TN: Well, you always do looping so you see some of the stuff during the post-production. But the only time I’ve ever seen it in a theater was when Michael came out to Lincoln Center and he invited me, and the cast and crew, and it was not a very big screening. It’s the only time I’ve seen it in a theater and one of the only times I have seen it completely through.

SUK: As a whole cohesive movie, do you enjoy it?
TN: Yeah, I thought it was really great. It’s complicated when you are in it to be very objective about any of that stuff. It felt very real to me. It didn’t feel like he was pushing the scares that much. I know that he consciously didn’t do that. There are no frightening moments there is just this relentless uneasiness that happens in the film. And I thought that he did that really well. And he left every little bit of me in. In fact, he at one point had cut one scene that I had because he didn’t want the audience to like me so much. It was confusing to them. He thought I was starting to become sympathetic and likeable. There was a scene where I go to a gas station with Joan Allen and I notice that the gas station attendant is looking up her skirt. And I pick the guy up and throw him through a window [Laughter].

SUK: [Laughter] TN: And I was really looking forward to that scene and we got to when we were about to shoot it and Michael said, “Yeah, we’re gonna’ cut that. People like you enough already.”

Author Image

The Shut Up Kids

  • Abe

    Before we get into Manhunter serious question here. What is the point of Parent/Teacher conferences? Is there any real information presented?

  • I_am_better

    I think it’s all about teachers spying the parents

  • Dee

    Will listen later!

  • Abe

    I think Nick describes the feel of the FILM perfectly.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Just read the interview. Will give a listen tonight. This was a great movie to discuss guys. Love Manhunter. Looks so eighties yet holds up really well. Also, from what i recall, fairly faithful to Harris’s Red Dragon. A great companion piece for To Live and Die in LA also with William Peterson–another gem not talked about enough. And because someone has to say it, Manhunter has the great Brian Cox as Mr. Lechter.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Just so kids can crap their pants that the teacher will say bad shit about them and will be punished. Kind of a real life Santa Claus you better behave thing.

  • Abe

    Red Dragon memories: Something about a wheelchair on fire.

  • Mr Nick Nightly

    Since there is virtually no communication between the school and the parents, these conferences are more valuable than you’d think.

  • Abe

    I honestly had no idea.

  • Abe

    StudioHEAD will return in the Dragon’s Curse.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Any talk of Easy Money with Rodney??? Ahhhhh, I guess I will have to find out!!

  • I_am_better

    I hope nothing having those words(studio, head) in it’s title flops in the future….

  • I_am_better
  • Tarmac492.1

    Michael Mann or Brett Ratner??? Hmmmmmm…….

  • Mr Nick Nightly

    Yeah I’m in the dark about everything. It’s irritating.

  • I_am_better

    …and Ratner’s transparency didn’t end with hiring Manhunters DoP. Then there was the hiring of “Silence”‘s production designer AND screenwriter.

  • Abe

    A book mentioned on the show: SEE BELOW

  • Fate_Slistcrunch
  • I_am_better

    The interview evokes a weird image of Dan tied up in a chair and Noonan talking behind his back. With the stocking on his head.

  • Abe

    Yes, yes it is.

  • That’s not Brian Cox, that’s Ian Holm in Manhunter. Brian Cox was in Alien.

  • I_am_better

    The tattoo that they didn’t use and is still in every goddamn publicity photo:
    https://ccpopculture.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/manhunter.jpg

  • I_am_better
  • I_am_better
  • I_am_better

    Something to listen after the podcast. The soundtrack:
    http://youtu.be/XnunwrqPw_o

  • Tarmac492.1

    Ian Holm was great in X2.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Looks so cold, clinical. Futuristic.

  • I_am_better

    That’s Mann for ‘ya

  • RJD

    It doesn’t get old

  • RJD

    This guy played the vilest villian last year on the black list. He has a great way of creating characters with no redeeming values in a time where we mange our bad guys have heart and soul.

  • I_am_better

    Oh, yeah – The “Soupmaker”. Great episode.

  • Fate_Slistcrunch

    Was that based off the Mexican hitman called the Soupmaker?

  • I_am_better

    “The Stewmaker” it was. Stew/Soup – it’s all liquid to me. I think it is, actually. Now that I did some research….

  • Fate_Slistcrunch

    Man… I remember reading about that shit and thought he would be a great movie villain.

  • I_am_better

    Noonan made him a creepy TV villain at least. It’s a genius concept actually: crime syndicates hire a serial killer to dispose witnesses and other loose ends. And he gets to keep his trophies.

  • Dee

    I also did not change my opinion about “Manhunter”- one way or the other!

  • Stalkeye

    Fuck Ratner for being disrespectful to ol Tommy Noons!
    I never got a chance to watch Manhunter, but I’m curious to give this a spin after listening to most of the interview. Tom has been doing his own thing for the past 15 years?? now that’s ambition!! I wish him all the best and my very first exposure from him was from the very unappreciated Robocop 2.

    “Jesus, had days like this”!

    Cain, FTW!

    IAB is another fan of Miami Vice? Cool! I loved the first 3 seasons and felt they shouldv’e stopped afterwards cause that Trudy UFO with James Brown was the dumbest shit i have witnessed from American television since Arthur Fonzerelli jumping a Fucking Shark!!!

  • Stalkeye

    And Samuel L Jackson was awesome in Blade 2.

  • Stalkeye

    IMO, He had the best review of Ang Lee’s Hulk and it wasn’t even a written retrospective.

  • Dee

    I hold my arguments back!

  • Stalkeye

    Damn Kids!

  • I_am_better

    The first 3 seasons are gold. That James Brown/UFO-episode is one of the weirdest 45 minutes ever put on TV.

    Cain is great. “People want paradise, and they will have it”

  • Stalkeye

    Hellz yeah!! I need to revisit those Seasons and of course, Robocop 2.

  • Tarmac492.1

    LOL!!! What is alarming about Noonan is that his voice is so soothing and serene. Kind of like if Bob Ross(Joy of Painting dude-not sure you know of him. Happy little trees) was possessed by the devil. Good stuff.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Unlike the rest of us, sadly.

  • I_am_better

    (a classic I’ve reposted countless times):
    http://i.imgur.com/Vupyieb.jpg

  • Tarmac492.1

    If I remember correctly, Ebert hated the fact that Robocop 2 had the kid as villain(genius). The rest of the flick didnt live to it for me, but it isnt the colossal failure some say.

  • Great interview, great actor, and a great movie.

  • Tarmac492.1

    It would be fairly entertaining if the SUK boys interviewed Brian Cox and asked him all about Alien and stuff. Not sure if this has been discussed/done as I was locked in a Patagonian prison with a fiendish revolutionary for the past several months.

  • Tarmac492.1

    LO—FREAKING-L

  • I_am_better

    I’m a sucker for stop-motion and that flick has aplenty

  • Stalkeye

    Send Danny a few Guest suggestions and if he can get a hold of the celebrity, it’s a done deal. They are on a great momentum with these guests. And it started with Sam Rockwell.

  • Stalkeye

    Frank (Miller) was known for having juveniles as villains/criminals. ( Daredevil, anyone?) What i found interesting about Robo2, was the jab at these Focus groups who for the most part are oversensitive parents.
    Thinking that reprogramming a “Friendly neighborhood” Robocop would preserve the public image of the Police.

    Then of course, there’s the cynical corporate story arc as the Old Man gets Pussy whipped and as a result of poor Business judgement, ruins OCP post Robocop 2/Cain’s rampage.

    Yes, the sequel failed to live up to the first but it was a great effort.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Forgot Miller wrote that.

  • Tarmac492.1

    I know. It is amazing. Almost Adam Carolla show level guests. Seriously, Rockwell is A-List in my book.

  • I_am_better

    Nick’s take on the Lecters is spot-on. Cox is 100% playing him as a crazy person.

  • I_am_better

    Miller probably wants to forget. He had some notorious fights with the producers I remember.

  • I_am_better

    I forgot this funny bit – Chris Elliott had a bit part in Manhunter too:
    http://41.media.tumblr.com/b41d48f1eb6a47dbec35eaf84646bc24/tumblr_moyi874FRo1r344y9o1_1280.png

  • Tarmac492.1

    Love the chick’s 80’s frizz sitting next to him. You dont see hair like that anymore.

  • I_am_better

    80’s hair needs to come back.

  • I think he has a nice guy’s voice.

  • Ratner is a buffoon. He does have some talent as a filmmaker, in a unremarkable journeyman kind of way, but in his mind and ego he’s some important shit to the world of cinema. Which he isn’t.

  • I could spend the rest of my life never watching it again.

    Ebert had a real problem in seeing children in danger in movies. A good way for him to dislike a movie was to watch a child die onscreen, no matter how justifiable in-story.

  • Never. It never gets old.
    I lurked at AICN, and lo and behold, Ol’ Harry loved Jupiter Ascending. It’s official, the man has no longer mental capacity to judge a movie.
    By the way, he finally made the season season of his show and…. it’s boring as hell.

  • Best thing in the movie.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Yup. His review of this really stuck in my mind–25 years later. He was thankful that the kid in Robocop2 at least got to die in bed.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Did you see Episode 2 how he rails against the Academy for nominating Lone Ranger for Best Visual Effects and not Pacific Rim, Whether or not his argument has merit doesn’t matter to me. Fits the narrative perfectly.

  • Bop

    Chris Tucker always saves Ratner’s ass.

  • RJD

    Damn I hate network tv but I love that show

  • David Lynch’s Manhunter…

    That just blew my mind!!

    Manhunter directed by David Lynch, starring Mel Gibson as Will Graham, Sean Young as Will’s wife, John Lithgow as Hannibal Lecter, Rip Thorn as John Crawford and Gary Busey as the Tooth Fairy. Talk about a room full of crazy!

  • CoolHandJuke

    no matter what Noonan does, i’ll always assume he is the second coming of Jesus because I believe Robocop 2 is a lost book of the bible that tries to be edgy by painting the hero as the villain…

  • His is Insane Troll Logic if you ask me.

  • Abe

    haha Bought and paid for.

  • Dee

    Noonan really has a great voice… very good episode, the interview was very insightful!

  • Fate_Slistcrunch

    Can I try to say Michael Mann Movie Manhunter on BOPX? I’ve been practicing.

  • Dee

    We love alliterations!

  • Tarmac492.1

    Like your points on Cox performance of Lechter. He is laid back. Like a calm crazy. Hopkins was more theatrical. Good call.

  • Bop

    It’s time I get some royalties for the usage of my name in BOPX.
    BOPX is my movie rating, by the way.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Year of the Dragon. Underrated Mickey Rourke flick.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Good points. Why even fucking remake the movie at all. To paraphrase Asimov Lives from this talkback, “Ratner is a journeyman”. Mann an auteur. Red Dragon was just some cash grab–a down payment for some sprawling villa for Hopkins. Not that he doesnt deserve it.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Lechter as Emilio Lazardo!!!! Brilliance Nick!!! Brilliance. Cursa you, Will Graham!!!

  • Tarmac492.1

    Great show guys.

  • ErnestRister

    Rozanne Rozannadanna

  • ErnestRister

    He loved Jaws. Didn’t seem to have a problem with Schindler’s List, either.

  • Bop

    Miami Vice was the first show that really defined coolness.

  • Stalkeye

    Fuck yeah and paved the way for so many shows that used Licensed Artist Music as part of a soundtrack . I can kick myself for not doing a retrospective during it’s 30th anniversary last year.

    I have quite a few of my favorite episodes and one included Reb Brown and Sonny Landham. (Viking Bikers from Hell) MV was the best Cop series that came from the 80’s .

    As Creepy would often say; !!FACT!!

  • Bop

    Reb Browbn. The real Captain America.

  • Stalkeye

    Ah, you really taking it back ol skool. 😛
    Hey, I didn’t get your previous Banshee report. Anyway, another great episode last week. Damn Chayton got away! LOL

  • Bop

    That was a breather episode. They slowed down the tempo. When they were at Chayton’s place I hoped it wouldn’t be an anti-climax and I am glad it wasn’t. Line of the week was :”Get in line.”
    So is Rebecca gonna chop Proctor sooner or later? She was pretty much neutered by him when she had to apologize to the brothers. I am sure she won’t forget.
    Love the Indian deputy by the way. She is pretty cute.
    I can’t wait when Hood fights Chayton, but I guess he will need an army for that.

  • He should have tore shit to pieces.

  • Hannibal TV > Silence of the Lambs > Manhunter > Hanniball Movie > > > > > > > > Red Dragon

    Haven’t seen Hannibal Rising and never will.

  • Guy at work has a 3D printer. It’s badass.

  • Abe

    Ask him if he’ll print me a 3d printer.

  • Stalkeye

    LMAO Rebbeca was heated after having to apologize to the Blackbeard Gang. Y’know she’s gonna take it out on Kai’s Nurse/Girlfriend.
    Oh yeah, that Indian Deputy is a “Dime”! (Just like Longshadow’s Sister.) I liked the episode because Hood was re-imagining if things were different and the real “Hood” wasn’t killed. The episode mostly dealt with Survivor’s guilt and it came to him with a vengeance.

    Chayton is in for it by the end of this season.

  • I_am_better
  • I_am_better

    Hahah! Now that’s an obscure reference

  • Your voice always reminds me of Toki Wartooth but unfortunately he’s Norwegian. Oh well. Is that monster a real Finnish legend?

  • I_am_better

    I doubt it. I gotta check it out.

  • I_am_better

    It’s made up. It SHOULD be real, dammit.

  • Only truly good thing in it is Gong Li. She’s super-gorgeous in it.

  • There will be more Manhunter fun next Thursday at the Breakfast On Planet X podcast. Stay tuned.

  • Mr Nick Nightly

    Lazardo should appear in most films. I love to imagine him as the dad in “Nebraska.”

  • Bop

    Mang,today’s episode started out very boring. I am getting really annoyed by that brat Deva or whatever she is called. Personally I hoped Hood would bust those punks’ head, but then it got really barftastic when the mayor started fighting. Mang, I found that really insulting. We know Carrie can kick ass, but the mayor is a wimp. Suddenly he is aikidoing and krav mangaing that douchebag curly chump.

    But the second part, mang. Holy fucking motherfucking gutpunching shit was that insanely awesome. Banshee channeled Metal Gear Solid and Doom. What a fucking intense second part. Totally unBanshee but I was at the edge of my seat. This is how you fucking do TV shows. You grab the viewer by his throat and don’t let go until the end.

    They grabbed the fucking money and that soldier guy is really really pissed off. But the big question is who they were protecting the money for. I think that will be the bad guy of season 4. And Chayton is over the edge. Personally I hoped Chayton would be an ally against Proctor in the future, but that is all out of the window.

    Mang, the next 3 weeks are gonna be torturous, because I can’t wait. I have become a Banshee junk and I need my fix as soon as possible.

    Oh, and I fucking loved Rebecca’s new look.

    And that Indian female deputy… Mang, she is an 11 on the Bop scale.

  • Bop

    For the next Best Of The Week Nick should add a WTF Holland one-shot. As if Dutch Santa wasn’t bad enough Dutch hooligans shamed Holland in Rome.