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.
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.
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.”