Photo of Daniel Knauf featured at: www.carnivale.org
Friday, January 30, 2004
Interview with Daniel Knauf
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
Beth: When do you start shooting new episodes of “Carnivale,” and when does it look like they’ll start airing?
Dan: We start shooting at the end of March. We will probably premiere, in all likelihood, in early January of 2005.
Beth: Is that a good time for the show to premiere, do you think?
Dan: That’ll be an excellent time!
Beth: Because you won’t be up against baseball play-offs and all of that?
Dan: Our series premiere and the time we premiered was sort of a double-whammy. Although HBO did give us a tremendous amount of support and was just marketing the show like crazy, and premiered us after the finale of “Sex and the City” – which was really good. But after that, our lead in was reruns. So not only did we not have any real lead in, we were up against all the new shows on the networks. And so this was sort of a first, as far as I know, for HBO to sort of… and I think it was a tremendous show of confidence in the show, and I’m glad we survived… But it was tough, very tough!
Beth: And you had the World Series and some of the playoffs seemed to be getting huge ratings, too.
Dan: Yeah, the Emmys and the World Series, and there were a million things and… I don’t even like to dwell on that, cuz it sounds like an excuse to me. But if you look at like “Deadwood,” it’s gonna be premiering mid-season, I think. And their lead-in is going to be new episodes of something, I’m just not sure what show…
Beth: If it’s in March, it’ll be “The Sopranos” probably.
Dan: Probably. But going in alongside new episodes of something like the “Sopranos,” it’s a much more supportive environment for a new show. But January will be much better for us.
Beth: Excellent! How’s the new season shaping up?
Dan: The second season is shaping up extraordinarily well. The writing on the show has always been, more or less, a collaboration between myself and a show runner. We had Ron in there. And what you end up with in that situation is basically a lot of the staff was being ping-ponged between Ron and I. Ron and I got along great, but two human beings are going to have two different sensibilities, and often you kind of end up splitting it down the middle. And often, that can be a worse way to go than going with either side. Ron was brilliant in that, a lot of times, he had to be Solomon. And sometimes you can’t split the baby. But I think that dynamic -- and I think Ron would agree – I think that dynamic sometimes compromised the show. Now Ron’s gone on to “Battlestar Gallactica” and so I’m running the writing. So that dynamic won’t be there anymore. So the show will basically be closer to what the pilot was. So there’s not two sensibilities running the show, it’ll be one. And all the staff has heaved kind of a collective sigh of relief.
Beth: It seems like it might be a little less stressful that way.
Dan: Yeah… I’m not saying it was like a “Godzilla” movie around here or anything but, you know, we had disagreements – respectful disagreements – but disagreements, nevertheless. It’s really tough when you’re a staff writer, you’re trying to write for two people, in a way…
Beth: Now, things were very different in the original pilot, as shot. Are you happier now with the way you changed things? Or are there things you may still incorporate in from that original vision of that pilot?
Dan: The original pilot… The Brother Justin side of it was changed considerably, and there was the addition of the Driefuss family. And the addition of the Dreifuss family was one of those things that happened because our Carny consultant was Johnny Meah -- he’s been in carnivals since dinosaurs ruled the earth… And I asked him about cooch shows, and he sent me this long letter describing that they were often families and it was, you know, the whole thing… And it was just too good to not put in. It was such a great piece of color, and so we added the Dreifuss family. When it comes to Brother Justin – which is what you’re really interested in anyway, Beth… (laughing)
Beth: Me? (laughing) Okay, I’m biased… What can I say?
Dan: (chuckling) But the Brother Justin story was… You know, my training and my writing had always been screenwriting. And the “Carnivale” pilot script was the first piece of television writing I’d ever attempted. So, I did pretty well. I designed characters that had some legs and you could tell some stories over and over and over about them. But I think the Brother Justin character was the only misstep that I made. And nobody really noticed it until we shot it.
Beth: And then it was like, “Oh, no?”
Dan: The misstep was, where do you go with this guy? Is this guy just gonna be some moustache-twirling guy who’s always…? And, I guess in my own defense, when I’d originally designed Brother Justin, I’d always thought of him as being a recurring character but not a regular character. And so, you can take a little bit of that… But to have him in every show, you’re just gonna fall into like the “Dr. Smith” syndrome!
Dan: So, the first thing we did when we sat down as a group, a long, long time ago, was we watched the pilot and I said, “We have to do something about this Brother Justin character.” And it was clear from the pilot that we had nowhere to go. So we sat down and put our heads together, and basically I guess what you could say we did was took him back in time about a year or two. And we sort of decided, let’s show a little bit of his path and how he got to where he ends up. How he starts out as sort of an ordinary Methodist minister in a little town. In a way, it was such a compelling story, that we all had to kind of… Everybody wanted to tell Brother Justin stories! And then it was no, no, no, no, no! This show is “Carnivale.” So there was a period of adjustment till we figured out just how to do it.
Beth: And you added the Sister Iris character then? She was not originally in it?
Dan: No, she wasn’t. Eleanor was in the first original draft…
Beth: And Eleanor is…? Oh that’s the…
Dan: Coin-puking Lady.
Beth: Coin-puking Lady, okay.
Dan: But Iris wasn’t, and we knew that we needed to… Obviously, when you’ve got a character, you’ve gotta have supporting characters around him. And we knew that he wouldn’t be married. So we started thinking in terms of a sister very quickly. And Iris just sort of developed from there.
Beth: Well, that’s a great character.
Dan: She’s a lot of fun to write, and Amy’s just terrific.
Beth: They seem to be having a lot of fun with those parts.
Dan: Yeah, they’re having maybe a little too much fun! (laughing)
Beth: They’re a kick, I tell ya what.
Dan: It’s a pretty perverse relationship…
Beth: It is! You keep wondering, “Where are they gonna go today?” And then it becomes, “Oh no, they didn’t!” (laughing)
Dan: Oh, it’s gonna be very, very trippy next season! (chuckling)
Beth: She’s just such a master manipulator. That’s my favorite part about her character. No matter how together he thinks he’s got it, she’s able to just whip the rug out from under him at will.
Dan: And a lot of that Iris dynamic you can credit to Carolyn Strauss, cuz she really wanted her to be a manipulator.
Beth: Oh, Iris is great!
Dan: And I remember sitting there when she was explaining what kind of a character she wanted Iris to be, I said, “Oh, I get it… So, you THINK she’s like Martha Stewart?” And as it turns out, she really IS like Martha Stewart! (laughing)
Beth: (laughing) She’s just the little bit dowdier, spinsterish Martha!
Dan: (laughing) Right! You think she’s just like this little Martha Stewart, and it turns out she really is!
Beth: And then when you throw Tommy Dolan into the mix, it gets really colorful.
Dan: Yeah, so Tommy and Iris will be like two siblings vying for Brother Justin’s attention this season. So there will be a lot of conflict between those two characters.
Beth: And what about Reverend Balthus? Has he run away or will we see him again?
Dan: Oh, yes! Reverend Balthus will be back.
Beth: Okay, cuz I was watching that last scene of him wondering, “Now, where’s he going? Is he a goner?”
Dan: You won’t have to wait very long. Probably within the first two minutes of the new season you’ll know exactly what’s happening with Reverend Balthus.
Beth: I was actually surprised, after Iris admits to burning down the church and killing the orphans, when I saw her in the preview for the next episode. I was really expecting her to disappear for an episode or so to make us wonder what he’d done to her.
Dan: (chuckling) Wha…? Nah, he’s bad, but he’s not gonna kill his own sister! He needs her!
Beth: It certainly looked like he was thinking about it, though! (laughing)
Dan: Well, on a very, very deep level, I think Brother Justin understands that what his sister did was necessary. And that perception of persecution will serve Brother Justin and his church very well.
Beth: And her “I did it for you” line was perfect.
Dan: (laughing) Yeah, Iris has always got her eye on the big picture!
Beth: And she’s not done talking yet.
Dan: Oh, yeah. And it just gives Justin something to make her pay for.
Beth: That’s true.
Dan: It’s just like every other brother and sister relationship. I have a sister, and when I was about twelve-years-old, I was building one of those airplanes that have the motor in them, one of those balsa wood jobs… And it was about three-quarters complete, and I had it on the sofa, and she sat down on it and crushed it. And I’ve been punishing her ever since! (laughing)
Beth: (laughing) Oh, my God…
Dan: But here’s the secret… It was coming out crappy, anyway. She did me a favor.
Beth: She did you a favor, and yet…
Dan: But she doesn’t need to know that.
Beth: (laughing) No, because there’s power in her not knowing that.
Dan: (laughing) “You broke my airplane!”
Beth: “You’re going to pay FOREVER!”
Dan: (laughing) “You didn’t just crush it, you SAT on it!” So much worse…
Beth: There was a very Wednesday and Pugsley Addams dynamic in that one scene, with Justin and Iris drinking their lemonade at the same time in front of Tommy. That was a scream…. Just creepy!
Dan: Yeah, it was a fun little moment. It’s really weird because lemonade has become this huge thing in the show! (laughing)
Beth: How could it not? That’s just demonic lemonade, I’m sorry!
Dan: Well, ya know what was really funny was… And sometimes you’re writing a million things, and ninety percent of what we do is just trying to keep our lies straight. And one of those things that I just WINCE when I see it is when Rebecca Donovan sends her man servant and Sofie out, and says, “Why don’t you get that girl a spot of lemonade?” I’m like, LEMONADE?!? We’re in the freakin’ DUST BOWL! Where’s the lemonade there? The lady’s dying of dust pneumonia! (laughing) But yeah, go and get her a spot of lemonade! (laughing) I kept saying, “We’ve gotta change that line to iced tea or something!” And then everybody kept forgetting…and it never got changed.
Beth: Aw, that’s okay. Cuz then the lemonade can become a plot point conspiracy that we fans can focus on and try to figure out the meaning of. (laughing) You’ve done us a favor! Now we can make a sort of connecting thread between Mrs. Donovon and Justin & Iris, cuz they all serve demonic lemonade! (laughing)
Beth: Lemonade could become our Grassy Knoll kind of thing… (laughing)
Dan: Well, I’m finding out just how smart I am! (chuckling) I’m reading these things and I’m going, “God, I’m just diabolical!”
Beth: Yes, you are. Don’t try to fool us by agreeing with us. (laughing)
Dan: (laughing) There’s things they come up with where I’m going… It’s sort of like, when you’re just a spaz and you’re up on the high dive, and you trip and fall and accidentally do a double flip. (laughing) And they’re going, “Brilliant!”
Beth: Bravo! You MEANT to do that!
Dan: You know, it is funny, cuz when I read that stuff, you know it’s buried in your own subconscious, too, and it’s going to come out in there. Although some of the things, the intention… If we were that focused on those types of things, you’d never even be able to sit in front of a blank page. Most of the time, we’re just focused on a good story, well told.
Beth: It’s sort of a Rorschach test, I think. Everybody sees what they’re gonna see in it, based on their own experience.
Dan: Yeah. And in a way, it’s a little bit interactive.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Transcripts of all of Clancy Brown's "Decoding Carnivale" radio segments
as well as older Clancy Interviews can be found at:
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Photo of Clancy Brown from: www.clancybrown.com
Clancy Brown Interview
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
Beth: People are picking up on the idea that Ben’s middle name is Krohn, and I guess that means crane or bird in German. And does that mean that Crowe is somehow the Americanization of that old German name?
Clancy: I have no idea… Not a clue. No reference to it… nuthin’. I have no insight to offer on that. It could very well mean something, and it might mean absolutely nothing. That’s something I don’t know.
Beth: Do you think the chain-gang past is going to come more into play in the next season?
Clancy: Yeah, THAT has to! I mean, I gotta presume, is there’s something that I wanna know about – and I know a lot already about what’s happening – then there’s some significance to it. And I wanna know about that, I wanna know what that story was. And I wanna know about it mostly because Management said, in that speech, “I know you have the ability to make this decision, because you’ve done it BEFORE.”
Clancy: And it’s like… Something like THAT I wanna know about! Something about what happened in St. Louis, THAT I wanna know about.
Beth: Oh, yeah!
Clancy: These are the things that I wanna see at least addressed. I don’t know if I want to see them all spelled out, but I do wanna see them at least addressed.
Beth: I wanna see what made mama Plemina Crowe take off with Justin and Iris…
Clancy: Yeah, there ya go…
Beth: And I want to see the train wreck. I wanna know was the father really an evil man? Or was mama evil and trying to take them away from the man who was trying to save them?
Clancy: There ya go! Those are the things… I mean, I’m much more interested in those things than the fetus in the jar.
Beth: Yeah, me too. (laughing)
Clancy: Those are kinda the little side references that I just totally dig! I wanna know WHY we’re all the way back in medieval times?
Clancy: With heads on pikes and feet in baskets!
Beth: You gotta love any show that gives you heads on pikes! (laughing)
Clancy: Yeah, and I want to see what that’s about. I wanna see how that plays out.
Beth: And back to Management’s line about how Ben has made this decision before… Does that mean that, again, they’re bringing in the notion of judgment? I mean, a lot of people think Justin’s the judgmental character, but if this is Ben’s power, he’s gonna have the actual power of life and death, deciding who deserves to live and who deserves to die!
Clancy: Right. And you can’t have that power without exercising some pretty hubristic characteristics.
Beth: As soon as Management said that, I thought, well… Lodz is a goner! Because, if I was Ben, and I had to pick someone in that carnival who was doing me dirty, Lodz would be it!
Beth: But instead he goes down there and drags that tubercular drunk out of the Cantina. I thought, wait a minute… Are there no jails with actual murderers and rapists and such he could pick his victim from – some actual vicious, guilty people instead of some poor pathetic drunk?
Clancy: Well, right! But that’s not insignificant, too. That, to me – and again, this is just Clancy talking as fan-boy… That, to me, was the greatest argument for him being a creature of light -- was that he wouldn’t execute someone so pathetic as that to achieve his own ends.
Clancy: But then he goes and tries to kill himself, which is a complete copout, and that’s a bunch of crap! We already know that you can’t kill yourself. Justin already tried it, and you can’t do it. So it must be that somebody else has to kill you… There has to be an X-factor involved, and you can’t just do this sort of whimsically, you can’t just kinda escape it. You have to conspire with someone else. And I think that’s why Justin asked Balthus to kill him, cuz he already knows he can’t do it himself. If it really is gonna end, then someone has to do it. Someone has to kill them, cuz they can’t kill themselves.
Beth: I know people have argued that Justin is so evil or demonic that all he’s doing is trying to turn Balthus into a murderer by asking him to kill him.
Clancy: Yeah, that’s a bunch of crap. Yeah, I’m so evil I’m trying to turn him into a murderer and, ya know, this show is all about compassion for murderers! What are you talkin’ about? (laughing)
Beth: Yeah, that’s true! (laughing) We’re more worried about the incest angle than we are that Iris burned down a church and killed how many kids?
Clancy: Exactly! We’re more worried about that sin, which some people have pointed out online was completely culturally acceptable in some cultures, in fact was part of the protocol of some royalty for much of human existence, but it doesn’t really matter that she fried the kids!
Beth: (laughing) I guess that part is just the cherry on top of how evil she is.
Clancy: The really awful thing is that the brother and sister might have libidos for each other?
Beth: And I’m still not 100% convinced they’re actual brother and sister, either. But that could just be me… Cuz I look at you two and think, that’s not the same family tree, I’m sorry!
Beth: I’m sorry, no-no… There’s a BIG branching off somewhere in that family to make the two of you!
Beth: I was actually a little afraid you might pop her head off in that Iris confession scene.
Clancy: They kept telling me not to do that, cuz we finally shot one where I didn’t do that. And I thought, nah, this is the right thing to do. If this is gonna end in a kiss, you’ve have to think I’m gonna kill her!
Beth: Oh, yeah! Yeah! It had that whole, “I know it was you, Fredo…” feel to it. He was gonna kiss her or kill her, one of the two – and maybe both!
Clancy: Yeah, I mean, she’s pretty awful to have fried those kids… Even if she didn’t intend to do it, the fact that she harbored it was pretty terrible… and that she’s rationalized it and quoted Scripture to justify it!
Beth: That was the best line, when she was looking at him and says, “I did it for you…”
Beth: I think that one line says everything you need to know about Iris. “I did it for you.”
Clancy: “Like the lambs of Abraham.”
Beth: Right! And just pushing that final button to see where he’d go, what he’d do with that information. That was a wonderful scene!
Clancy: Ya know what she is? She’s the anti-Eleanor Roosevelt!
Beth: There ya go! With her sensible shoes… But what I find interesting is that it seems like Justin has never actually tried to take a little peek inside Iris’s soul. Is that because he doesn’t wanna know? Or is he afraid of what he might see there?
Clancy: Yeah, he came awfully close there in the church in episode ten, though, didn’t he?
Beth: Yeah, he did!
Clancy: (laughing) That was pretty close! He almost made it up to her…
Beth: And then… U-turn!
Clancy: He almost made it up the aisle, and she was a little bit worried about it.
Beth: Yes she was! She had quite an alarmed look on her face.
Clancy: But fortunately, he turned around.
Beth: Yeah, can you imagine what he would have seen?
Clancy: That was great, that was just great… great acting, great directing, great story. But it wasn’t in the script. We didn’t know what the story was at that point, that she eventually copped to it. It was great, I just thought that was inspired.
Beth: I loved the final ten minutes or so of the season finale, too. I think that’s some of the best television I’ve seen… ever!
Clancy: It was pretty good.
Beth: The music, and the sermon, and the visuals going with it – it was just…
Clancy: You should see it on a big screen. Man, that’s just amazing!
Clancy: I saw it when they were doing the final dubbing, and they have this big ol’ projection of it and everything is a hundred feet tall… Well, not quite that big but, ya know… big! The sound systems is… dogs can hear it, it causes earthquakes in San Francisco… It was just amazing that sound system! And the subtleties that come out when it’s all blaring at you…And the imagery that’s there is pretty remarkable. It’s a big screen epic that’s confined to your little screen. And that’s one of the reasons that television critics don’t get it.
Beth: And I think you really have to play them back to back. If you get the chance and the time to just sit and watch the marathon, all in one long sitting, it’s impressive. It’s just so impressive when you see them that way, back to back. So I’m definitely looking forward to a DVD set.
Clancy: Well, let’s hope that Dan Bishop comes back.
Beth: And he’s…?
Clancy: The designer.
Clancy: And Jim Glennon, and the photographers. Let’s hope they all sign up again.
Beth: Do you have anything you’d like to say to the fans about the renewal?
Clancy: Well, ya know, especially the online groups… You should be patting yourselves on the back. You don’t own this show, first of all…
Clancy: But you should definitely… And Beth, you really should, because you really rode herd on these people.
Beth: (laughing) Well…
Clancy: For the first time, I think, for the very first time that anyone would care to acknowledge, I think the online presence made a huge difference in their decision making process, made a huge difference for their show. And Dan agrees with me on this… and it’s not just because we’re Internet geeks. But there’s no question that the online community spoke loudly and often, and were heard in this show. So, you know… You should definitely feel like you deserve some credit for this. I won’t say all of it, cuz some of it really has to be reserved for the people who finally made the decision, they get the lion’s share. And we’ll take some of it, who made it. But it’s ultimately HBO’s sandbox, and you have to give them their props and credit. Make sure that everybody writes in and says thank you, and tells them what a great decision and what a great network it is for doing something like that. Cuz I’ll tell ya right now, there is NO other network that would have signed this show up again. There’s no other network, first of all, that would have made it!
Beth: No, I don’t think so either!
Clancy: There’s no other network that woulda signed it up again. It did better than any other show they had on at that time, but still, their expectations were monumental and they didn’t achieve their expectations. Even when they’re unrealistic, if these execs don’t achieve their expectations, then that’s just one more reason for them to pull the plug. And they’ll do it at the drop of a hat, and I know that to be true.
Beth: Yes, you do.
Clancy: So I give them major props. I just think that HBO is the bee’s knees. But I also think this online community is pretty remarkable, too, to make a difference the way they have. And you, especially.
Beth: Aw… thank you.
Clancy: How you’ve taken the bull by the horns and managed it. Especially to focus it the way you did for these last few weeks, that’s made a big difference, believe me.
Beth: Well, thank you. And you’re right, as much as we fans love and support the show, we always have to keep in mind that ultimately, we don’t “own” it -- no matter how much we love and support it. That much, I know to be true.
Clancy: And you don’t WANT to own the show because, if we disappoint, you want to be able to say, “Ya know, you ruined my show!” and “Why didn’t you listen?” (laughing)
Beth: (laughing) Exactly.
Clancy: But ya know what? It is what it is, and you can only be an advocate for what you’re given. And I appreciate the advocacy and the enthusiasm.
Beth: Well, we’ve had some big fun.
Clancy: And I sure hope we live up to the expectations. But don’t be too quick to take ownership (laughing) cuz… if we mess up, then you have to take the blame, too! (laughing)
Beth: Well, Clancy, we owe YOU big time, too! Cuz nobody else -- NOBODY else – would be getting up at quarter-to-five every Monday morning to talk to two radio guys in Michigan!
Clancy: Aw… they’re fun guys.
Beth: I mean that… Just the amount of participation you’ve given the fans and the promotion of this show, and getting online to chat with the fans, etc., etc. has been amazing. And as you’ve seen, your radio interviews have been getting cross-quoted all over the place!
Clancy: Yeah, but it’s easy for me, because I love this show. I think it’s tremendous. And I’ve loved every show I’ve done… But I really think it’s great. I’m astounded by it. So I’m happy with what I do, but then I watch the stuff I’m not involved in and my jaw just drops! I mean, the actors are SO good! The writing is so good! And the look of the show is just…
Beth: Oh, yeah, the look is amazing! And ya know, now that’s it’s over, I’m really missing that quality. I switch around the dial, and there are a lot of MOVIES that just don’t hold a candle to the series, you know what I mean? The production values are just that high!
Clancy: Yeah. And I agree with ya.
Beth: It’s just amazing. And I gotta say, it makes me smile every time I’m snooping around, hither and yon, on the Internet, and I see the words, “Clancy says…X,Y, or Z about the show.”
Clancy: Oh, yeah. Though I might have to shut up here pretty soon. You’re asking me questions I don’t have answers for, but I love the questions! And even if I don’t have answers, I’m also formulating theories and everything. And sometimes that line gets blurred as to what I actually know and am telling you and what I’m just speculating on. You can safely say that I’m speculating on about 99% of it.
Beth: Right. Then again, that’s pretty much what all of us are doing, only you have that one extra 1%! (laughing)
Clancy: The only thing that I won’t speculate on is what I already know to be happening. And the proof of that is that, ya know, I got the call – the unofficial official pick-up call – and I was like, “Oh, yeah… right.” And I was still full of speculation until I read the articles in the trade papers.
Beth: Well, you’re like Ruthie… You’ve survived two snakebites with good series getting cancelled already.
Beth: You’ve seen the light a few times…
Clancy: I’m very cynical about stuff like that. But also, I’m full of speculation and theories, and all the rest of it. But I don’t know anything more than anybody else.
Beth: So hard was it to be looking at all the theories and conversations on the Internet and not join in?
Clancy: Actually, it was kinda hard at the beginning, cuz you want to steer people away from stuff that’s just wrong, and maybe show off a little bit, and pretend you know something more than you do – and sometimes you do know something more. But then, after like the second week, it became fun just to see what people were coming up with. And many times, people were ahead of the game – like with the TAVATAR/AVATAR… Everyone got that right off the bat!
Clancy: (laughing) And that was one of the big series pay-off jokes!
Clancy: So it was like, “Well, I guess they got THAT about a month ago…”
Clancy: It was… It was cool. It was cool! There was never any temptation to deliver any misdirection or anything. Cuz enough misdirection was going on just in imaginations. And some of that misdirection was kinda more interesting. But it just became fun after a while. And then it became kinda a chore, just because there was so much to wade through, so I had to stop.
Beth: (chuckling) Tell me about it. Volume? What volume?
Clancy: (laughing) Yeah… Yeah, I’m sure!
Beth: But now things have quieted down a little, and folks are just involved in friendly back and forth – where we’re all just a big group of friends kinda hanging out.. There’s still discussion of the show going on, but not to the degree there was while it was on the air. It’ll probably stay that way until a couple months before the second season begins…. And then the posts and the speculation will really take off again!
Clancy: Yeah, that’s great! And I’ll be right in there speculating with them. I’m not gonna post anything, but I’m speculating like anybody else until I get that first script. I’m as much in the air as anybody else. I’m just dying to see where it goes. I’m SO psyched! I just really wanna get on it and get started!
Beth: Well, we’re just tickled that we’re getting this second season. That’s a good thing! We’re very happy.
Clancy: That’s a good thing… that’s a great thing!
Beth: I’m also glad that whatever help we were able to give, we could give…
Clancy: Well, it was real. It was significant. And I’ve never seen it happen before.
Beth: I’ve never seen a fandom grow in quite this way, quite this fast. I mean, I don’t know that “Carnivale” is the kind of show that’s going to ever be as popular as “Survivor” or something like that. Probably not. But it seems to me that the people who do like “Carnivale” like it intensely.
Clancy: The whole marketing machine of showbiz is so behind all those reality things, “The Bachelor” and all that stuff. You’ve gotta figure that there’s some high margin involved, cuz it always traces back to bucks. They’ve made it for nuthin’ and they’ve created these stars. They’re getting their pictures taken for nothing, and the magazines are selling for the same amount of money. It’s all about how much cash, how much profit they can generate, so it’s not really about the quality or anything of a piece, unfortunately.
Beth: Speaking of magazines, do you think they’ll be doing any interviews with the cast or on the talk shows.
Clancy: Well, we’ll see… The news [about the renewal] is just hitting the stands today. We’ll see if there’s any of that. I doubt it, I really doubt it, because it didn’t make the kind of noise that “The Sopranos” made, or “Oz” or “Six Feet Under.” Ya know, “Six Feet Under” really hit at the exact right time for HBO. That show definitely benefited from the HBO mojo. Our show benefited, but also it’s an old story now. Critics are getting tired now of HBO being so successful, to the point where they’re almost resenting it. And I think that hurt us a little bit, but the proof is in the pudding. The bottom line is, HBO just does things better than anybody else… And that pisses people off! There are people who don’t like the Yankees, cuz they keep winning championships.
Beth: And I think the critics kinda vented their frustration at David Lynch and “Twin Peaks” all over you guys, like you had anything to do with that!
Clancy: There was a lot of “Twin Peaks” resentment going on, which I blame Michael Anderson for! (laughing hard)
Beth: (laughing) Yup, it’s all his fault!
Clancy: (laughing) All his fault…But they’ll get over that and, pretty soon, they’ll forget about “Twin Peaks” because they just don’t compare. There’s nothing similar about them.
Beth: I did see something in one of the newspapers where they’d named a scene from “Carnivale” as one of the Ten Best Things on TV of last year, or something like that.
Clancy: Oh, yeah…. Easily! Easily one of the ten best things on TV this year. But “Carnivale” is always gonna have this problem… Because all of the critics who dissed it and let their own little stuff get in the way of doing their jobs, and weren’t enthusiastic about “Carnivale,” they’re wrong now! So, it’s always gonna be a reminder that they were wrong. So they’re gonna work extra, special hard now to prove that they were right.
Clancy: So… It’s just gonna be one of those shows that, I think, after it’s off the air – and maybe before it’s off the air – it’ll be regarded as one of the seminal moments of television, cuz it’s just such a good show. But it’s gonna take a while for these people who were just blatantly wrong to come around. We’re just gonna have to be patient with them.
Beth: I seem to recall there was an awful lot of predictions of cancellation and snarking from the TV pundits when the “X-Files” was wrapping up its first season, too.
Clancy: Right, and that being said, there were far more positive reviews than there were negative reviews. I mean, it was really a consensus “best” before it hit the air. But the negative reviews were the squeakiest, and the only people who wrote reviews of the finale didn’t necessarily have good things to say about it. So, it’s just a pain in the ass.
Ya know, you go on rottentomatoes.com, which I do every other year, and one day “The Bride” is the worst movie ever made, and the next day it’s one of the best. Actually, it’s not quite THAT volatile (laughing) cuz it is “The Bride.” But “Starship Troopers” was just called awful when it first came out, and now there’s people who think it’s the best thing Paul Verhoeven ever did.
Beth: Yeah, so times change, opinions change…
Clancy: As soon as we forget that they were wrong, then the critics will be able to say, “I knew it all along!”
Beth: That’s right. And as we wrap up here, let me just say, thanks for doing this, Clancy.
Clancy: Thank YOU for doing this!
COMING SOON: Our Exclusive Interview with Daniel Knauf!
Clancy Brown Interview
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
Beth: I’m starting to see some parallels between Sofie and Brother Justin…
Beth: Though I may be alone in that. (laughing)
Clancy: Well, it was certainly hinted at in the first episode. And then… Sofie kinda disappeared. Then we kinda went on that weird journey. I mean, it looked like Ben & Sophie were gonna kind of get together – or at least hang out and kinda solve their problems together and everything – but then, these great characters emerged, the Dreifus family, and the writers fell in love with them, and Jonesy, and so they decided to work those guys into the whole fabric, and they just kinda ended up taking over. (chuckling)
Beth: Now, by the end, they seemed to be the vehicle to sort of get Sofie to where she had to go character-wise, in a way.
Clancy: Yeah… But I thought that was a little forced, especially in light of her little trip to the Mexican town, when the Templar guy came out…
Beth: Oh, yeah. We’re still waiting to find out about those Templar guys and what they have to do with everything.
Clancy: Yeah, we’re still waiting to figure that out! And he says to HER, “Every prophet in their house.”
Beth: Hello! There’s a hint!
Clancy: It probably happened the way it should have, but I gotta tell ya that I feel a little cheated from the whole Sofie story. She’s a really interesting character… And she went and got laid by that guy, and then that was it. Then it was just, like, arguments with her mom.
Beth: Well, maybe we’ll find out soon what we’ll reap from that whole situation.
Clancy: So, maybe I’m wrong about that, too, cuz she did see her mom raped and everything.
Beth: Yeah, and what was that all about?
Clancy: So she’s got mysteries to solve…
Beth: Yes, she does.
Clancy: But I guess I’m disappointed because I really thought that her and Ben were gonna at least carry some portion of the narrative and the theme together, that we were at least gonna have a couple scenes of them together everyday going, “Man… What’s going on? How’s your quest comin’? How’s your journey?”
Beth: I think her story, or at least where I think her story may be going, I think her story may work out that she comes to the fore a little bit in the future. Cuz if I had to bet on whose dead in that fire, I’m betting on Apollonia.
Beth: I think Jonesy will get out and I think Sofie will get out. But Appy? I dunno…
Clancy: Jonesy will come out… (evil voice) and he’ll be all scarred…
Beth: More scars? (laughing)
Clancy: Horribly scarred… So Rita Sue can just lick him all over. (laughing)
Beth: Oh, I dunno, it would depend on how bad his boo-boos were. But they’d have to leave his face alone! (laughing)
Clancy: Nah, he’ll have to be completely deformed, and Sofie will be catatonic like her mom. Her mom can become like Obiwan Kenobi, and she’ll show up on her shoulder every now and then. (chuckling)
Beth: There ya go…
Clancy: You’re the one who thinks she’s pregnant?
Beth: Yes, I am.
Clancy: Hey, your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea about that story! And that’s a story that, again, is tremendously well acted. I think it’s clearly tremendously important to the show, but I think it got a little marginalized by the soap opera, and could have used a little more action. But, ya know… That’s just me.
Beth: And do we think Lodz is playin’ possum with Management there, manipulating Ben into only thinking he’s mostly dead?
Clancy: Well, ya gotta figure that Ruthie’s alive, so somebody died.
Beth: Somebody died!
Clancy: And whoever is dead, then the other person could be alive in some respect.
Beth: Right. And I’m wondering does Management have the same gift as Ben, so Management could have said, “Okay, I’ll bring this one back. There’s another one dead, so I can trade…”
Clancy: Oh, that’s a good point. I dunno.
Beth: I mean, that power of resurrection thing could come in pretty handy, ya know? Somebody messes with you, you off them, then raise them back up and warn them, “Now, don’t do that again…” (To paraphrase an old Eddie Griffin routine.) Maybe that’s a little lesson Management is giving Lodz, while he’s at it.
Clancy: Yeah, there ya go… Perhaps. I think Management has a whole sort of portfolio of powers, and can do lots of things that potentially Ben can do. I mean, we saw Ben stop the dust storm, at one point. So he can definitely do a lot more than what he’s doing. And you’ve got to presume, if that’s the case, then Justin can do a lot more than what he’s diddling with now.
Beth: Because that was something I wasn’t sure that Lodz was making Ben see or if it was real – the stopping of the dust storm.
Clancy: I have no idea…
Beth: Oh, and we have to talk about this, too, since we brought up Apollonia’s rape. What is Brother Justin’s face doing on the Tattooed Man in a few frames in that scene?
Clancy: All I can say about that is that way, way, way, in the beginning, I played the Tattooed Man for an instant. But that’s an old storyline and I don’t think that’s the situation anymore.
Beth: Interesting… Because I’m very curious as to what the Tattooed Man is about.
Clancy: I am too.
Beth: He seems to be some kind of a manifestation of…. whoever… maybe anybody could be the Tattooed Man.
Clancy: It could be… I’m sure there’s some mythology that’s being referenced, probably something to do with Templars or something to do with the tattoo. Somebody online was talking about the Tree of Life, the Norse Tree of Life… The tree and the snake…
Beth: The one Day of the Dead ritual that I found has got something to do with a specific area or a specific tribe in Mexico where they actually took the human sacrifice out into the fields and cut them up, and made that blood sacrifice to the gods for their crops.
Clancy: So, there ya go…
Beth: So, if you got taken out there, you got fed to the field! And the field grew because of it…
Clancy: Maybe it’s the revenge of all those sacrifices…
Beth: Yeah, the Children of the Corn rising up. (laughing) But I’m the one that usually gets asked if that’s Clancy’s face on the Tattooed Man in that rape scene, and I’m saying yes, mostly because I’d recognize your profile anywhere. (laughing)
Clancy: (laughing) Well, in a certain light, we do kinda look alike, that guy and me. And I think that’s intentional, cuz he doesn’t look like me. He’s much better lookin’!
Beth: Is that Patrick Swayze’s brother playing the Tattooed Man?
Clancy: Yeah, Don Swayze. A nice, nice guy… really a great guy. A real sport to do this. But I don’t know how that whole thing is gonna pay off, and I think that might be a real running theme in the show – that when you string it all together, depending on how many seasons there are, if you string it all together it might be one of those things that actually does tell a story on it’s own.
Beth: Ah… Interesting. And ya know, I was wrong when I was saying that Lodz took on the point of view of the Tattooed Man in that vision he stole from Ben, when Scudder snarled, “He’s mine!”
Clancy: Oh, yeah?
Beth: After watching it for a third or fifth or whatever time, the Tattooed Man’s point of view is not Lodz’s point of view. It’s actually…Ben is running away from the guys with the clubs, or whatever they are, who are chasing him. And he sees the Tattooed Man, and turns from the Tattooed Man, but then you see whatever it is… I think Ben. Somebody fell, and whoever fell, that’s who became Scudder. So I’m not sure that Lodz was seeing through the eyes of the Tattooed Man in that scene or whatever, when Scudder talked directly to him. But it was a freaky little scene, the way they shot it.
Clancy: Yeah, those are the moments that I really love the most, where it just screws with your perception… Like the diner with the mirror, and that little scene. I really think those are great. I really like those moments.
Beth: So the Tattooed Man is kinda a mystery, and Daniel’s not telling that secret yet, is he?
Clancy: No, he’s not telling us much. And you don’t wanna hear it from me, anyway… I’m not privy to the whole story, and I don’t think I want to be! (laughing) You just want to discover it, that’s the game.
Clancy: But I really don’t know… If I’m saying I don’t know, I really don’t (chuckling) I mean, I’m still not sure that Justin is the Avatar of Darkness! I think, at the end of the show, he thinks he’s a deeply sinful man. But I don’t think that’s any different from what he thought before.
Beth: He’s still got a lot of the same characteristics, and he’s leaving with what he brought with him…
Clancy: Yeah, it’s just kinda on a different level now. And there’s plenty of time to have him rationalize that, as we human beings are so good at doing.
Beth: And he’s never really… I mean, for a minister, he’s never really taken on the idea of his own redemption.
Beth: And I’m not sure if that’s a carrot that Iris holds out to him or what.
Clancy: Oh, absolutely, she holds that out to him. She’s always talking about redemption to him, and I don’t know how much that has to do with the overall deal.
Beth: And it would appear that the whip is not a secret he keeps from his sister.
Clancy: No, not anymore, anyway…
Beth: No! That was sort of surprising, cuz I thought that was his kind of guilty secret.
Beth: But now it’s all out there!
Clancy: It’s all out there. Everyone knows… And Iris and Justin know an awful lot about each other, that’s all there is to it – as sisters and brothers do. That’s not unusual. But you have to assume, if you’ve got a brother or you’ve got a sister, then you’ve gotta assume that their relationship is very similar, and you know some stuff about your sibling that not everybody else knows. You don’t need to discover certain things. That’s family stuff!
Beth: I have no experience with siblings, so I’m flying blind on this…
Clancy: Well, there’s certain things you don’t need to discuss.
Beth: You’ve just got that shorthand… You know that they know that you know…
Clancy: Right. If the audience needs to know it, then they’ll tell Tommy Dolan or someone.
Beth: How fun is that working with Rob Knepper, who you went to college with?
Clancy: Oh, that’s fun. It’s always fun to catch up with somebody after so many years, and see that they’ve progressed and matured according to plan. And I know that he gets the same kick out of it that I do, and it’s just a goof that we’re actually doing this together.
Beth: So, do you think that Justin is operating under this idea that he is a demon now, or does he still have doubts about that?
Clancy: I think, at this point… The question I have is, at the point when he’s looking at that whip, and he says that maybe “God has other plans for some of us.” Is he being Judas at that point? Does he know that he’s been foreordained to test humanity to a Godly end, and that’s what he has to face? Now THAT is a frightening prospect! Or… Does he think that he’s still a good man and doing God’s work, just in a way that isn’t widely accepted, ya know? (chuckling) Sort of a “No Excuses!” kind of religion…
Beth: Well, it’s definitely “No Excuses!” The sermon there, at the end of the finale was kind of interesting, too, because you can read it both ways.
Beth: Because you can look at it as him just sucking in the power now, or you could look at it as him being right about certain things. It all depends on your viewpoint. It seems to me that he’s… Well, we’ve talked about this before. In HIS mind, he’s got to believe that what he’s doing is righteous. I don’t think he does anything just for the heck of it.
Clancy: Right. And one of the things that continues to baffle me, is the fact that Ben consistently does things… As much as everyone loves him, and he’s got a huge following and an incredibly intricate rationale going on for his place as the Messiah… It’s just getting a little hard to buy! Not a little hard to buy… I mean, REAL hard to buy! He doesn’t really do Messianic things. And he’s definitely not… I mean, Samson is a better guy than he is, and Samson takes the rubes for all they’re worth. So, that’s part of my consternation, and part of my… I won’t say hope… cuz I’m not sure I necessarily hope that Justin’s the good guy. But it’s one of the reasons you’ve gotta take pause. Cuz in relation to his opposite number, Justin is a much better person. Definitely flawed… HUGELY flawed! But definitely living his life in a much more responsible, and proactive, and positive way than Ben is! (laughing)
Beth: (laughing) Well, I wonder if, in the end, it’s not actually going to turn out to be a battle between the good and evil in each person.
Clancy: Or we’re two parts of the same entity. Yeah, all those theories are valid, at this point, I think. But that’s what’s great about the show. It really… It says it’s about good and evil. It says it’s about black and white, darkness and light, BUT… Is darkness really darkness and is light really light?
Beth: And it’s kind of a motley crew Ben is surrounded by… If these are all the people who are supposed to be on the side of Good, then you’ve got some pretty flawed people on the side of Good, too. We’ve got some pretty dark things going on there.
Clancy: But then there’s that curious thing he says about Wonder and Reason…
Clancy: And there’s the idea of Humanity and Divinity…
Beth: Or Order and Chaos…
Clancy: Order and Chaos… There are all sorts of opposites that are not quite as stark as black and white and good and evil, so…
Beth: So it’s gonna be interesting to see where they go with it. Do you think they’re going to want to keep building Brother Justin up with his power base, or are they going to have to keep him almost marching in place until Ben catches up a little bit?
Clancy: No… I think we’ll probably see Justin’s acumen grow. His ability will grow. The first season was really about a teenager growing up, it was sort of about his adolescence. Cuz he starts out very petulant and sort of whiney and idealistic, and kind of self-absorbed. And then, by the end, he’s a completely different guy. That’s one of the things I love about the role, is that he is everything that the critics got so nasty about in the beginning, without… The ones who were nasty played right into our hands! (laughing) I mean, that is what he was, but that’s not what he continued to be.
Beth: There were critics who were specifically nasty about the Brother Justin character?
Clancy: Oh, somebody said there was some B-movie pathos, ya know, and all he does is scream and yell. And that’s true, he’s very much a teenager in a lot of ways. He’s a petulant, whiney guy! He reacts very predictably to extraordinary situations. I won’t go so far as to say he was a stereotype of the evil minister, because he certainly wasn’t. But he was definitely not reacting in a sophisticated way, a mature way, to what was going on. He’s a very immature man, at that point. But then, then… he changes. He changes from the time he imagines jumping off the bridge, that’s when it starts to go. Actually, from the time he leaves the burned out church. He’s sitting there railing at God, “Tell me what you want me to do! Tell me what you want me to do!” It’s like a little teenager yelling at their parents, (angry teen voice) “Just tell me what you want me to do! You’re not being clear” Well, you gotta learn that on your own. I’m not tellin’ ya!
Beth: Go and figure it out!
Clancy: Yeah, life’s not fair, and you gotta get to a place where you can deal with that and go! I can’t tell you what I want you to do, cuz then you don’t grow up. So Justin’s growing up.
Beth: And you could say that Sofie & Ben are taking that same journey…
Clancy: Yeah, a little bit. But that’s the problem. I think Ben doesn’t take that journey as much.
Beth: And he needs to…
Clancy: I think he gets shoved into the situation, so he still has a justifiable out. And the fact that some of these people online are kinda embracing that as the reason -- you have to give him an excuse -- is a little bit much, cuz then you accept a character that’s not full, I think. I tend to think it was intentional by the writers. But if it wasn’t, then it’s something that has to be developed.
Clancy: Sofie, on the other hand, she kinda rests through the whole thing then, all of a sudden, has this scene where she’s mad at her imaginary lovers! I mean, that’s kinda weird. I’m wondering why Jonesy and Libby didn’t just say, “Man… She’s kinda weird. So, you’re naked now… What’re YOU doing?”
Beth: (laughing) “We’ve got some time!”
Clancy: (laughing) Yeah! “I’ve got some time, obviously. That Sofie’s a weird one… So, whaddya think?”
Beth: “Let’s just forget all about her and just…”
Clancy: In the context of it, in what actually happened, she was also very much a teenager.
Clancy: So she’s sort of somewhere where Justin was in the beginning.
Beth: Exactly. That’s what I’m thinking, too.
Clancy: Yeah, yeah… And Ben is… Ben, I don’t think is even there yet. I dunno, Ben’s kinda on his own thing, I guess. But he really has to be allowed to grow a little bit more than what they let him do. And Nick can handle it, man. Nick is… I don’t think there’s anything that guy can’t do.
Beth: I think the irony with that character is that he spent so many episodes this season turning on his heel from Lodz, saying, “Go away, I’m not listening to you, leave me alone.” And not listening to Samson, either. But then, when he NEEDS them, neither of them can or will tell him anything.
Clancy: Right. They can’t help him.
Beth: “Sorry, kid, ya shoulda listened to us the first time…”
Clancy: Right, right! “Cuz we coulda gotten you to this point where we CAN help you faster.”
Beth: But, noooo…
Clancy: Maybe Ruthie will clue him in.
Beth: Yeah! Though I’m not sure how much Ruthie actually knows.
Clancy: I dunno… She’s seen the light a couple of times, apparently, so she’s gotta be somewhat enlightened.
Beth: And she’s not too fond of Lodz… There’s some bad blood there.
Beth: And I’m thinking poor Lila there, she’s just gonna be out of luck!
Clancy: Well, if he’s really dead, she is. That’s for sure! (laughing)
Beth: That’s right. Her little plans for being Queen of the Carnivale are gonna be right out the window. And I also was just thinking about this… They’ve got a dead body to explain now, if Lodz is indeed dead. I mean, I can see Samson getting one look at that situation and saying, “Well, John Q. Law’s been nosing around, better throw that body into the burned out bus, and light it on fire, too” I mean, that is a wrinkle for someone in the carnival to worry about.
Clancy: Yeah, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think that’s as much of a problem since the powers-that-be, the establishment, didn’t really care all that much what happened to people like carnies.
Beth: No, probably not. But still, this might be an instance where Carnival Justice might come into play, because they have to say something to his fellow carnival folk….
Clancy: Oh yeah, the carnival folk, in terms of explaining there, yeah!
Beth: I’m wondering how they’re going to keep Ben out of facing Carnie Justice on this one.
Clancy: Lodz is an old guy…
Beth: True, it might have been a heart attack.
Clancy: And Apollonia got caught in a fire that was a terrible accident. So, ya know, if those are the two people who are dead. Nobody knew that Ruthie was dead…
Clancy: Except those people who were in on the bigger joke.
Beth: Was I the only person who was alarmed by how long her body was laying in that hot trailer -- dead?
Beth: I’m thinking, this isn’t gonna be smelling too pretty soon.
Clancy: Yeah. I think the guy at Television Without Pity, it crossed his mind a couple of times…
Beth: (laughing) I just sat there watching, thinking oh, boy… That can’t be good! It’s gotta be getting a little stinky in that trailer, and poor Gabe is sitting out there all alone keeping guard. He was such a pitiful figure in this last episode…
Clancy: Yeah, I wanna see more of him! Here’s an interesting thing… This is something that sort of occurred to me in a flash. He’s got a broken arm, and Ben healed his arm. But he’s also got another handicap – he’s also mentally deficient. So now, if Ben heals his arm, what’s to say that some of that residual healing power that Ben is so immaturely using…
Beth: Just throwing around…
Clancy: What’s to say it won’t go up there and tie together some of those loose neurons in his brain, or whatever they are.
Beth: That’s true! I hadn’t thought of that!
Clancy: He could be a real interesting character, if they… I mean, this is just like me being a fan-boy, ya know? (laughing)
Beth: Well, we’re glad that you’re a fan-boy. That’s fine. (laughing)
Clancy: He could be really cool. He could really emerge as somebody interesting, if they wanted to go down that path. They could do it very easily, and tie it in with Ben quite well.
Beth: People are landing on the idea that maybe they’re half-brothers, too.
Clancy: Yeah, maybe… I dunno.
Beth: I think maybe they’re getting a little of that Princess Leia/Luke Skywalker nostalgia going.
Clancy: Yeah, see, and that’s what I think is boring – sort of tying it all up in a “Star Wars” kinda way. That’s a little…
Beth: Nah… we don’t need that.
Clancy: A little too neat.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Clancy Brown Interview
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
Beth: A lot of people have landed on the breakfast scene or whatever it was… the liver chopping scene…
Clancy: Oh. my God!
Beth: …as proof positive, though we didn’t actually see it, that Justin and Iris have gotten together and consummated this forbidden relationship. What do YOU think?
Clancy: I think people can see whatever they wanna see. It’s part of the carnival, part of the fireball show, ya know?
Beth: (laughing) Yes it is!
Clancy: If you see it, you see it. And this is also the way I was when looking for renewal – when I see it, then that’s what it is. If somebody is just playing games and doing semantics with me, and not showing me something, then there’s a reason they’re not showing me something! They’re trying to fool me…
Beth: That’s the way I look at it, too.
Clancy: We didn’t… Amy and I didn’t play it, and didn’t presume that there was any consummation of any lust or mutual lust. But there was, certainly, some kind of acknowledgement of it between us. And so, what was in our heads, at that moment, when we were playing that scene? It was simply that now we know that at least Justin wants to screw her.
Beth: Which she didn’t seem to be objecting to, too much. Considering Tommy Dolan got a slap upside the head, and Justin just got looked at…
Clancy: Right. Which is a tribute to Amy’s power as an actress, because the fact is, she’s HALF my size.
Beth: Yes she is!
Clancy: (laughing) Ya know? And anyone else would have been terrified into submitting. But she’s a tough cookie, so…
Beth: All I could think, when he throws her down on the couch, is that she’s about to try to talk her way out of this one, yet again. She was starting to say something!
Beth: She wasn’t anywhere close to done talking yet, or just giving in to whatever her fate may be.
Clancy: Yeah, the scene ended differently when we shot it, so…
Beth: Oh, really?
Clancy: But, I mean, I’m sure that they… HBO was very hot to have then get together in the first season. And we were v-e-r-y reluctant to do it, Amy and I. Because we felt it was too early for them to… We didn’t want the whole season culminating to that moment, cuz that’s really not what they’re about. It’s a sidelight to what they’re about. Ya know? It’s one of the things that informs them, informs their character and informs their motives. And everything else is this kind of repression. Which is much more interesting to me than just some kind of guilt or consummated guilt. “I did something bad, I committed a sin with you…and I’m… Now that’s gonna inform it the whole way…” It’s much more interesting if “I want to sleep with you, and you KNOW it… but I’m not going to because of what we BOTH know.”
Then… THEN it can rear its head at any moment! And then the tension continues, and it’s frightening. I think any kind of conversation with anyone else – like that conversation with Tommy Dolan, when Justin said, “You want my sister?” It’s like, whoa, my goodness! THAT line has been crossed! That’s definitely directed at embarrassing both his sister AND Tommy. So it can pop up and manifest itself at any moment, in any kind of guise. It’s a nice thing to have in your back pocket.
Have we slept with each other…? Ya know, I can understand how people would think that. I don’t think so, honestly, I don’t.
Beth: Well, my thinking is that -- being as it is a motivating factor or something that’s percolating there in the background, it would be something that they would actually SHOW us if it had happened, ya know what I mean?
Clancy: Yeah, yeah… right!
Beth: And say, “This is a momentous decision here.” Because he has to throw everything else he believe in aside to say, “This is what I want more than anything. Nothing else matters.”
Clancy: Yeah, right! And there was a good post to that affect, too, sort of in a very cynical, kinda cultural way, saying that, “Well, ya know, they showed Apollonia getting raped. So the reason they didn’t show the Justin/Iris combination was because it wasn’t rape.” -- and so, therefore not worthy of dramatization or something. And I was like, “Noooo…” That’s… That is a really… I mean, it was completely rational, but it’s really kind of a scary thought, so…
Beth: Because that would be such a life-altering decision for them to make. As much influence as she has in his life, as inter-dependent as they are on one another, if you change that relationship, which it would…
Beth: It’s gonna be major!
Clancy: Right! And there’s… That’s just… You’re right, you’re right… And there’s so much more to be mined from just that part of their nature that isn’t satisfied, I think.
Beth: Oh, yes! Frustration and jealousy and power, and all the other classics!
Clancy: Yeah, I mean, we already saw Justin try to pimp his sister. I mean, holy moly!
Beth: Although, I took that more as a very wicked sarcasm, just to try to put Iris back in her place, and put Tommy on the spot.
Clancy: Of course! Of course it was… But hey! It was what it was…
Beth: Yeah, take my sister – please! (laughing)
Clancy: And it’s not like there isn’t precedent for that in the show, to begin with, so…
Beth: The scenes with you and Amy are just great. And the scenes where you throw Tommy into the mix are even better. Because it’s not all written there in the script. A lot of it is just so there in the acting. Like the scene where Tommy comes to the door and finds that you’re back home, that was a great little scene. I loved it with those sidelong glances at Iris & Tommy, and the huffing out of the room… And Iris playing her little game of, “Well, let’s just invite Tommy to church, if you’re going to be a spoiled baby about this!”
Clancy: (laughing) Oh, man… We went right down that path to begin with. They actually had to hold us back, cuz we were just being very petulant and funny.
Beth: I thought it was great. The way she manipulates him is wonderful. Cuz here he is… He’s comin’ home – home from the asylum – and he thinks he’s got it all figured out…
Beth: He’s thinkin’ “I’ve got the world on a string!”
Beth: And within minutes, she’s got him right back where she wants him… just that quick. And I’m still looking at that Balthus revelation, too…
Clancy: Yeah, well when we shot that, we weren’t sure whether Balthus was killed or not…
Beth: At what point would he have been killed? Do you think Brother Justin might have done him in?
Clancy: Well, we just couldn’t figure it out. We couldn’t figure out… There was a moment in an early draft of the script where, at the end of that scene, Balthus is subsumed by some dark cloud or something…
Clancy: And it was a little too extreme, but the question mark for the whole final episode was, “Who’s alive and who’s dead?” So… It’s possible that Balthus is dead, though I don’t think so.
Beth: They didn’t give us that much of an indication that he was in any kind of physical peril, so… I’d agree with you. I don’t think he’s dead, either. Plus, I think he serves a better purpose alive, since he’s the one man who knows what’s going on with Justin – or he thinks he does.
Beth: I’m thinking really, what the test is now… If Justin was really thinking clearly and he was really actually worried about finding out if he IS a demon or not… The test now is to look into Balthus’ soul again, and see what he sees now. Because, if he sees Balthus rescuing the two children, again, then maybe his greatest sin is saving Iris. But if the next time he looks he sees that Balthus’ worst sin is not bashing Justin in the head with that candlestick, then he’ll know for sure he’s the evil he fears he is.
Clancy: Or… maybe the power is not just revealing someone’s worst sin. Maybe it’s something else!
Clancy: Maybe it’s revealing their deepest desire…
Clancy: Or maybe it’s the greatest turning point in their life somewhere. Maybe Templeton’s deepest desire was to sleep with this little boy, and he did it. Maybe Balthus’ deepest desire was to have a family, because he couldn’t and he saw his moment. I was trying to figure out a way to actually make that scene… How do you interpret that scene as self-serving to Balthus -- and a lot of people online have done it -- but also maintain what’s consistent in Balthus’ character, his humanity and sincerity. And you can want something that’s worth wanting bad enough that you make a wrong decision, whether you know it’s a wrong decision or not.
Clancy: So… And no matter how good of a person you are, you can do the right thing for the wrong reasons, you can do the wrong thing for the right reasons.
Beth: Because, right now, he seems to be the last righteous man standing.
Beth: And I don’t have a problem with that. Because there have been people just waiting to see what kind of horrible spider is gonna coming crawling out of his closet.
Clancy: And ya know, I don’t think a lot of these things are gonna be tied up that neatly. I think that some of these, it’s okay to leave them ambiguous. Some of these questions are okay left ambiguous. Like the fetus in the jar… It’s really not important. It can be whatever you think it is. It MAY pay off, but if it doesn’t pay off, then all it was, was what it was.
Beth: (chuckling) Maybe a cigar is just a cigar, maybe a bear is just a bear…
Clancy: (laughing) Yeah! And sometimes ambiguity itself is more informative than having some neat little plot moment that completely explains down to the last detail what was going on in someone’s mind at this time. I mean, too much exposition is just that, ya know, too much exposition. And we got other fish to fry!
Beth: Oh yeah, we do…
Clancy: But that being said… Is there gonna be a payoff for fetus in the jar? Perhaps.
Beth: You never know…
Clancy: There might be. It might be one of those things that actually, there was a payoff intended, or people perceive that they actually need one.
Beth: Well, fandom has certainly landed on that one.
Clancy: Yeah! Well, and it was early, too. But I always thought that was just kind of a moody thing… That was a mood thing. That was not so important, cuz this isn’t a comic book, it’s a big ol’ novel about the human condition. So there’s a lot that we can’t explain, cuz nobody quite knows all those answers. It’s a weird thing, so minute… To me, if you explain something so minute, then you kinda lose your credibility, in a way. Cuz it’s presumptuous to claim to know the answer to everything. That’s what bugs me about a lot of movies these days, that they just have to answer every question. And it should be left up to the mystery of life and all the rest of that.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Clancy Brown Interview
Interviewed by Beth Blighton
Beth: So how do you feel about “Carnivale’s” renewal for a second season?
Clancy: How do I feel about the renewal? I feel relieved. I feel vindicated. I feel impatient. I feel kinda exasperated that they took so long to do it. I feel like I can hardly wait, and I also feel like I’ve waited long enough. So, ya know? It’s like, YEAH! Let’s get going! I would start filming tomorrow, if they would let us!
Beth: And how did you find out?
Clancy: I got sort of an early phone call, early in the week last week, which was probably the Monday after the Friday that they made the decision – when all the muckety-mucks made the decision. So those people who hold that kind of information, who make those decisions, once they give up that information, that’s kind of a power that they release, so they hang onto it as long as they can, right? So, certainly, I’m sure I was one of the first cast members to know, but I know I wasn’t even CLOSE to being the first person to know! I wasn’t even in the top twenty!
Dan tells this story… Dan was told about the renewal, and he got it from the horse’s mouth, the Big Kahuna at HBO, their Tony Soprano, you know… And then he was told, “But don’t tell anybody. Keep it under your hat and everything.” And he was like, “all right… I understand, I’ll keep it under my hat.” And so he goes into work the next day, to continue breaking out the scripts, and he gets there early (and I guess they get there pretty early in the morning), and he’s walking in the building… And the guy is there, the maintenance guy who opens up the building is there, and he says, “Hey! I heard you got renewed! Congratulations!” (laughing)
Beth: (laughing) That sounds about right, doesn’t it?
Clancy: And then he’s going in to talk to… kinda hanging out with the wardrobe or the prop people, and somebody who was working on another show comes by and says, “Hey! I heard you got picked up… Congratulations!” (laughing) So that’s a bunch of garbage, that keeping it under your hat stuff! But I didn’t mention it… just because I don’t believe it until it actually happens, and I know that from experience.
Beth: And you’re not about to jinx yourself…
Clancy: And it’s not even about jinxing, really. It’s just that I believe that they’re lying to me! (laughing) I mean, I just don’t trust em, at all! And when you care about something… Ya know, I always care about these shows like WAY more than I should, and you leave it in the hands of these people, and they make the wrong decisions 90% of the time…
Not HBO! I mean, HBO’s very GOOD! They’ve actually proven themselves to be what I thought they were, which is a very brave, instinctive group of executives who don’t really live and die by the culture of numbers that’s out here. And I can’t stress that enough! So it’s really my own paranoia and my own failings that make me so skeptical about stuff like this. I also don’t want them to be insulted by thinking, “Well, jeez! What’s wrong with Clancy? He doesn’t think we’re liars, does he? What’s wrong?” Cuz there is that culture in Hollywood that admires duplicitous-ness, which I’ve never quite understood…
But to me, HBO did the right thing. And they’ve once again proven that they have different standards, or march to the tune of a different drummer, however you wanna put it. And it’s to my benefit this time, and it’s been to other benefits, for the most part. I mean, they killed “K Street” and they killed “Mind of a Married Man,” and I don’t think anybody will miss any of those shows. But I would have missed “The Wire” terribly, and I’m dyin’ to see “Deadwood”! They’ve maintained if not enhanced their own position, as far as I’m concerned. My own regard for them is intact. I just wish they could make the decision quicker! (laughing) That they could come to these decisions and announce them, and not goof around. But they did it now, so I’m not gonna complain!
So I’m THRILLED! I’m excited! I would start this afternoon! I would start tomorrow! I would start doing it in a second! I love this show so much, and I love playing this character so much.
Beth: Now, what do you think that HBO survey was about?
Clancy: Ah… The Survey! That weirdo survey!
Beth: Yup, that weirdo survey that all the fans got ahold of real quick.
Clancy: Ya know, it’s funny because, I was thinking about this after our last conversation… And, ya know, it was a survey FOR the demographic of the fan base that showed up from the internet!
Clancy: I mean, I’ve never seen a survey like that connected with any show! A kind of marketing survey like that… connected with any show, on any network, at any time! And so specifically targeted! I mean, it’s not like they emailed their entire HBO list. You had to actually FIND that survey and fill it out. So they were really… Ya know, the more I think about it, they were really getting the opinion of people who watched the show, and paid attention, and liked the show.
Beth: I don’t really know who got it first. I don’t know how it got out, in the first place, cuz I never got it. I mean, I only heard about it.
Clancy: I know! I never got an email… I saw it on the list! So… It’s kind of a weird thing. It’s kinda cool, if you think about it, cuz it’s very shrewd on their part -- if it is shrewd on their part – that they have a control group built-in, and they have people who are into the show. They know the people watch the show. It’s not just some bonehead they have to ask a bunch of preliminary questions to see if it’s gonna be a useful interview or not. I mean, on further analysis, I thought it was pretty smart of them! I don’t know what the point of the questions were, that they were asking. They were pretty standard kind of marketing questions, and what kind of decision they’re gonna be making from that.
Beth: So, the decision about the renewal was probably pretty much made by the time they put that survey out, though, do you think?
Clancy: I would imagine. Cuz at the time that they put it up, they had already hired the writers to break out the first five or six scripts, or whatever, to at least kinda give them an idea of what the arc might be. So, I think they were on that path, and maybe trying to get an idea about what stories served the people that are devoted to the show.
Now, I read a couple of posts that said people were kinda alarmed by it, that it was some kind of marginalization of the show, but I don’t think so. I think it’s got a different purpose than that. I think it’s really… Just because it was so specific, it was so targeted, it was so hard to find… I mean, there was nothing about it on HBO’s website. There was nothing on the “Carnivale” portion of the HBO website. I mean, you had to sort of discover it!
Beth: Yeah, it had to be brought to you by your own contacts in fandom almost.
Clancy: Right, so in that sense I think it was kinda cool! I just hope that Brother Justin scored well! (laughing)
Beth: Yeah! That’s what I’m worried about, too! Cuz people have kinda tagged you as the villain, and I would hate to see that reflect in that survey just because people might not want to answer in favor of “the villain,” ya know what I mean? (laughing) Ya know, kinda the “Boo, hiss!” vote expressing itself.
Clancy: Well, it could be that if they see high marks for Lodz and Lila and Samson, they might say, “Okay, obviously, we’ve handled that storyline well. So, now what we need to do is concentrate on these other stories.” I mean, you just never know what’s going to be derived from the quantification of this sort of thing. So you just gotta kinda take it as a whole piece of cloth, and say… well, it’s interesting that they did it, and it’s probably good that they did it.
Beth: So where do you hope that your character goes next year?
Clancy: Well, more to the point, where do I hope the show goes next year…I think the show kinda got off track somewhere around “Babylon.” As excellent as I think “Babylon” and “Take a Number” were – and I really think they were probably the two best shows that we did -- although, all of them were very good. But those ones really got to me. I loved those the most. And you have to take that with a grain of salt, cuz I wasn’t IN them as much. So I was really kinda watching it fresh. But I really liked those shows, and they were very episodic in nature. But it’s also where we got off track, I think.
Right around there is where we got off track. Ben goes down in the mine, and he sort of loses his mind. When he emerges, he’s not the same character. I mean, he’s really driven in those first few episodes to find out who Scudder is, and to solve his own mystery. And right around then, he kinda takes a back seat in the story to the grief of the Driefuss family, and Stumpy in particular. So that was great. Toby and Cynthia and Tim got a chance to shine. But they shine at the expense of what we’ve established as our central storyline. You can take issue with that, that maybe there was still plenty of things going on with Ben. And there certainly were with Ruthie and all that stuff. But you can’t deny that whole storyline, because it was acted so well by the actors and written so well, kinda took over the show.
So, I’m sitting here thinking, how can we have that and have it inform the main point which, we know, is a battle between good and evil, or wonder and reason, or whatever the ultimate confrontation is. And I’m thinking, well, maybe that’s the key… That you write it, you construct stories that become these sort of allegories to the main story. And maybe they don’t give particular clues to it, but you basically see that struggle manifest. And our own story can deliver whatever clues we need.
The fact that I was basically out of two episodes just tells you that you can tell the Brother Justin story in ten! (laughing) And then if you say, well, he was in half of those shows – and that would be generous – then you could say, well, you can tell Brother Justin’s story in five. (laughing) So, I mean, you can go on and on like that. And I think, actually, my arc was probably the best conceived and executed, just in the narrative sense. It was very clear. There wasn’t a lot of wasted stuff. But there’s still plenty of interesting speculation going on. Answers were given, and the character moved through the season, and he is a different character from when he started the season. And that’s the key, to me. The journey in the character is what’s gonna excite me. But it’s also what’s gonna keep people watching.
Beth: Now Dan did an interview with TV Guide, I think, toward the end, when they were talking about renewing. And he was saying that even next year, Brother Justin and Ben won’t meet.
Clancy: I don’t think they’ve decided that just yet…
Beth: He was saying that their worlds would begin to intertwine, though.
Clancy: Yeah, that’s probably true. I don’t know how they can avoid that. I mean, they gotta do that, at least, for cryin’ out loud. Ya know, the woulda, shoulda, couldas are all over the first season. So I think that if there are any mistakes that have been made, they’ve already been made. And that’s the end of the mistakes. It’ll start being a lot more focused. And if anybody asked me, which they don’t, or wanted my opinion, which they don’t, the first thing I would say to them is – you ask yourself, in every episode, in every scene you write, how does this illuminate the human struggle between darkness and light? It has to be about that. It all has to be about that in some way.
Beth: And if they’re working toward this confrontation, eventually, I think we need to see how Ben is going to get to the point where he’s going to take an active part in that. Because Brother Justin, you can kinda see where his power base is building. But I can’t quite figure out what Ben’s power base is going to be.
Clancy: You certainly know that Brother Justin has got some idea of what he can do and what he can do with it – how he can change things, how he can affect things. We don’t really know what ultimately his goal is, though we can safely assume there’s some religious rationalization to it.
But you’re right. Ben kinda is the same guy. It was frustrating for me at the end of the first season, in the finale, because he really didn’t get the moment where he accepted what he did. He killed in a moment of passion and was cornered into it, manipulated into it – which doesn’t reflect well on his own self-control and his own self-awareness, self-possession and intelligence, or whatever else. And that’s not to impugn the job that Nick did, cuz he did exactly what he should have done, and he did it excellently. But I think the writers aren’t giving Ben enough credit yet, aren’t – I don’t know what. It’s like they don’t trust him enough yet.
Beth: It seems like they’ve got to tell us a little bit more. We have to see him grow a little bit more into his destiny.
Clancy: And he’s gotta get sharp! He was very sharp in the beginning. He was a sharp kid. He was his own man and everything else, and he was not a dummy. And then he just got dumber and dumber through the show… Now, you can argue that it’s sleep deprivation and everything else, but at the same time, it’s sorta “keep your eyes on the prize” here. You have a mystery you have to solve. And it’s not just a matter of avoiding it, it’s a matter of solving it. He was very proactive about that in the beginning, but by the end of the show he was completely a pawn in everyone’s hands, which doesn’t bode well for our little buddy!
Beth: No, because he’s being manipulated!
Clancy: He’s being manipulated, and he’s manipulated into committing mortal sins. And, ya know, I just have a hard time with this whole “he’s the messiah” thing (laughing), if he’s so easily controlled, and will commit a murder based on hearsay evidence, and all the rest of it. It’s like, c’mon you guys… C’mon, c’mon, c’mon… It’s either a mistake in the writing, or it’s NOT a mistake in the writing – which I tend to think – and he’s not who we think he is!
Beth: It may be purposeful that he’s not quite with the program yet?
Clancy: Well, yes.
Beth: And I’m just wondering, if there IS gonna be some kind of ultimate battle, right now I’d say Justin has got the upper hand on him – big time!
Clancy: Yeah, and in the original vision of Dan’s, the original thing that we all read first, that was part of it. It was part of him learning and cultivating his power enough to really confront somebody who was in the full flower as a powerful preacher. It’s much more interesting now. They changed it for the better. And it’s one of the reasons I tend to trust HBO and give them a pass on losing our way in the middle of the season, because you could see them running to get back on track there in the last two or three episodes. Which I was pleased to see, but it wasn’t quite as artful as the first four, I think.
To Be Continued…