Perhaps best known for his role in Back To The Future, Crispin Glover has trod an independent path in acting for more than three decades.
The grunge era’s most iconic guitarist, J Mascis splits his time between his family in Berlin and the open road with Dinosaur Jr.
A renowned film buff, J Mascis leaped at the chance to take a phone call from Crispin Glover. The first time they had been introduced, the renowned actor and author quickly bonded with the grunge icon. American ex-pats dwelling in Europe, we pick up on the conversation as Mascis looks ahead to life on the road and Glover adjusts to a quiet existence in the Czech Republic.
Crispin: So when is your next travelling time?
J: I’m travelling tomorrow to Austin, South By South West.
Crispin: Oh yeah, that’s going on. I’ve never actually been to SXSW, but the very first place I played my first film was at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre, which I know is one of the main venues used by SXSW. I love Austin. That was the first cinema I ever went to outside a festival when I started touring with my shows.
J: My next show’s in Alaska after that in a couple of weeks.
Crispin: That’s somewhere I’ve never been, I’d really like to go.
J: I’m a big skier and I guess they’ve gotten seven hundred inches of snow this year. I’m playing at a ski area so it should be cool.
Crispin: I’m a skier as well, yeah I would love that. It’s nice when you can have a playful enjoyment with business at the same time, it often doesn’t get to work out that way, especially with skiing; I’ve found it’s fantastic.
J: My drummer always seems to be unlucky whenever we’ve done a skiing video. He broke his arm the first day. He’s a pretty good skier, he just had a tough break.
Crispin: Was he holding a camera or something? Why did he break his arm?
J: No, he was fooling around sitting down on his skis, and going down, somehow, he fell over and his thumb snapped; the tendons snapped or something.
Crispin: The only ski accident I’ve had was when I was thirteen and I was going over some mogul things that had turned into jumps at the end of the day, and I hit my eye on the ski pole coming down and I ended up having to get six stitches in my eyelid. But that’s the only relatively serious skiing accident I’ve ever had.
J: I broke both of my legs when I was seven. Some guy cut me off and forced me into this snow bank. But it wasn’t so bad, I was seven; I was in a wheelchair and kids would push me around…it’s cool. What’s it like in Czech?
Crispin: It really is extremely beautiful in Czech in Spring. There are a lot of flowers, it’s really beautiful.
J: How long before you think you’ve mastered the language?
Crispin: I think if I spent the rest of my life only concentrating on Czech, learning the language and not doing anything other than that, I would still speak it badly. I think it’s supposed to be either the most or one of the most difficult languages, or European languages, to learn. I wish I started learning it when I was six and I would be great at it. But there’s a part of the brain that stops functioning if it wasn’t opened after a certain age.
J: Yeah, in Berlin everyone speaks English though. I don’t really have a big problem there, but my wife always wants me to learn German, but it’s hard when no-one will even speak German to you. They realise you have an accent and they’ll just start speaking English.
Crispin: That kind of happened, but still everyone in the community knows that an American actor owns the château. I had to hire Ukrainian workers: it’s less expensive that way because they’re good workers and they work less expensively than local Czech workers, because the economy is lower in the Ukraine than it is in Czech. Strange that these are the things you end up thinking about. The reason I did all this was to make my own films, and all the details and business elements that enable you to do it…and it’s a lot of work.
J: As long as you can keep some time.
Crispin: I do have less of it in the last five years than I have had in my life. Now that I’m touring and overseeing the property here in Czech, I own a house in Los Angeles and still acting in other people’s films, there is really little time to myself. But every time I’m here it represents, basically, this lifetime of work that I have ahead of me, which is good, but not particularly restful. I bought a business when I bought this château and it’s a business I like. I assume you work from your own house?
J: Yeah, I have a studio in my house and I’m working on an album right now. The other guy in the band is recording right now.
Crispin: That seems like an optimum thing to do, just working at home, as long as you like the song.
J: Yeah. At one point I was just sitting in the studio, staring out the window thinking, ‘This is costing a thousand dollars to stare out the window in New York City and it’s not a very good view or anything.’ I was paralysed by that thought that I couldn’t get anything done.
Read the full interview online at www.clashmusic.com. For more information on Crispin Glover, go to www.crispinglover.com.