Bobcat Goldthwait began his career as a standup comedian, but he admits that what he ‘loves to do’ is write and direct his own movies. Years ago, when they were both doing standup, Goldthwait and Robin Williams had a short-lived comedy partnership, using the names Jack Cheese and Marty Fromage, and when Williams made a cameo as Mime Jerry in Shakes the Clown, the first movie Goldthwait wrote and directed, he was billed a Marty Fromage.
Now working under his real name, Williams stars as Lance Clayton in Goldthwait’s dark comedy, a teacher whose despicable son, Kyle (Daryl Sabara) dies during a sex act. Attempting to save his son’s reputation, Lance writes a fake and poetic suicide note from his son, a lie which begins to change everyone’s life. Bobcat Goldthwait spoke with us about his bizarre and human dramedy.
What was it about this idea that captured you?
It’s the kind of comedy that I’m most comfortable with. It’s the stuff that I’m interested in doing and I know that it seems like it’s for shock, and I’m sure subconsciously that’s what I’m thinking, but I don’t sit down and write these screenplays going, ‘Oh, this ought to blow their asses through their face. This will freak everyone out.’ I’m really just writing what interests me and it’s very freeing. I wanted to write one where someone has to grow up and be honest, even though they would lose all the shiny things that were popular in American culture
Was the character of Kyle based from personal experience, because it hit the nail on the head?
No. But if it were I would lie right now and say no. The kid is based on a kid that I know, but about a day into shooting Robin goes, ‘Oh, I’m playing you.’ I went, ‘Yeah.’ But the child isn’t [mine]. It’s a really common story that there’s some jerk in high school that passes away and everyone reinvents him.
Can you talk about the scene where Robin’s character breaks down on the street in front of a porn magazine, because he’s remembering his son?
I liked the scene at the newsstand because I felt that his character was getting over the events too soon. I remember when my own mom passed away it was two weeks later when I really broke down. It wasn’t immediate.
Do you think there’s such a thing as a selfless lie?
Yes, I do. I believe that if you’re telling a lie and that lie is out of kindness and it’s not about reinventing yourself, making yourself look better or making yourself come off so that you benefit, you’re just doing it out of kindness, then I do believe that’s the high road.
Is the movie about second chances?
The movie, in regard to second chances, it’s not just the characters’ stuff. It’s the fact that I think people have probably written me off, and I think that people didn’t really expect great things from Daryl Sabara who plays Kyle, who is the kid from Spy Kids. To me, that’s another really weird and awesome thing that’s come out of this movie. That interests me; that things are not what you perceive them to be. From my standup and now the movies that I’m getting to make, that seems to be the case.
Did you ever consider changing the Disney-type title?
I was just being snarky when I called it World’s Greatest Dad. I really do hope some families show up!