Henry Rollins is about as tough and intimidating as they come. True salt of the earth, with a hard working mentality. Driven and tenacious, he’s basically what America needs more of. He’s also completely kind and gentle, at least as far as I could judge from our brief phone conversation. While he carries a very stoic and He Never Died, which is out on and VOD right now.-solid demeanor, I could tell he is as giddy as a school boy about his new movie,
But, we didn’t just talk about the new movie, we also jumped into music, another new movie that he wrote, and work. Check it all out below!
He Never Died has spent roughly the last year doing the film festival circuit, and it’s gotten great reviews. How are you feeling now that it’s finally going to be released to the public?
For me it’s fun, but quite honestly, I’m most interested in the creation of the thing. Once it’s done, I’m kinda done with it. I’m doing all the press and everything because I’m a team player, I don’t mind, but there’s no more I can do with that film in that we can’t reshoot any scenes. It’s done. It’s not dead to me. It’s just unalterable.
I’m glad about the good reviews because this is maybe an opportunity for me and theand the producer to work again, and for all the other actors and actresses in the film who all did fine work. Beyond that, I’m only interested in the next thing, and rarely do I see any film I’m in; I have no interest whatsoever. I probably should watch them so I could give myself a very brutal acting lesson. It would probably give me a lump in my throat. It would probably be very good for me. I’ve actually seen this film three times and I didn’t really fight it. I mean, I could have walked out, slipped out the back, but I found myself sitting there watching it and like, “Wow! I’m really getting pulled into the plot,” and I kept forgetting that I was in it… so I’m very happy about this film. I honestly think that it’s good, and the fact that critics like it, that’s nice.
But the fact that I watch audiences get off on it, that’s fun! It’s fun to watch people laugh and cheer; thefans are a blast because they’re just wild. They see some horrible scene in the film and it’s like “ooo.” We were in Canada, I think Edmonton, at some film festival, me and the director, we were sitting in the back, and I think it was at that scene where I rip the guy’s throat out, everyone cheers, and a guy stood up in front of us and clapped. The director and I looked at each other and were like, “these people are maniacs.” Obviously it’s all fake, and so why wouldn’t you cheer? In it’s own way it’s awesome, and nothing like you’d ever do in your real life, so why not cheer?
But it’s been great the warm reception it’s been given, because any film you do, any film you see, love it or hate it, trust me, everyone working in it busted their asses making it. It’s so hard making a record or a movie. That’s why I’m loathe to be critical of anybody’s record; it might not be my kind of music, but I know what trouble that band went through to make that record. Any film that I think is just awful, believe me, everyone gave it everything they had and no one slept. I mean, everyone killed themselves making that thing. So, you have to respect any effort, big or small, on that merit that everyone lost sleep. And He Never Died is no exception, and when you’re in it you always think it’s good because you worked so hard on it. I do think it’s a good film, but mainly because of Jason [Krawczyk], the director/creator, because I think the story is different. Yes, it’s somewhat genre specific, but when I read that script I can honestly say that I never read anything like it. That’s one of the reasons I fairly lunged at the part. I said, “Man, I really want to be the guy that gets to be this guy.” I asked [Jason] about it, I said, “I know I can so do this,” and said, “I wrote it with you in mind.”
How did the script end up in your hands?
It was sent to me by Jason and Zach [Hagen], the producer, to my office and the woman who runs all my stuff, Heidi, I was on tour and I get this e-mail with this script attached as a PDF and she says, “stop what you’re doing, read this right now, this is amazing and this is so up your alley.” I read it and I wrote her back and said, “I concur.” She said, “the guys are in town, they really want to meet you; meet them tomorrow. They’re going to come to the venue.”
So, I met them across the street from the venue, I liked them immediately, and said that I’d really like to do this. They said, “We really want you for this, no audition, we know you can do this.” I said, “I’m happy to audition, but I warn you, I’ll kill this audition, I’ll crush it.” I never read anything that I knew I could do so much, like my guts told me I could do it. Then they said, “Well, if you’re in, we’re going to start getting it going.” I said, “go.” And like the next day, Zach got busy doing the producer thing, you know, getting the money and assembling the troops. And 11 months later we’re on set. They made it happen, and I must say I was surprised. I’ve been in enthusiastic meetings before, where you have a good vehicle and you just can’t find anyone to finance it. That’s what I’m used to.
If I remember correctly, in the title credits your name comes up as a producer?
Yeah, I helped put together the soundtrack, I helped cast it, and they asked me to be involved on that level. I’ve never done that before, and I said, “Why?” They said, “We want you to be a part of this, we care about what you think.” And I said, “Well, if you say so.” And I must say, it was somewhat nerve-wracking to watch auditions and to have to pick someone. The choices I made were obvious, in that all of the auditions were damn good, and I’ve been in that position where the camera is on me and I’m standing there against a piece of scrim, hoofin’ away, and I felt for every single person doing those monologues, and “Damn, you are working so hard and you are so good, but you are not it.” Not ‘cause they weren’t good, but just because you see someone else and you’re like, “Oh boy, you are that person.” And thankfully, we were all in agreement, we all came to the same conclusion.
They said, “Hey, you got any music that we can get into?” I’m like, “Yeah, I know of a song that would be great for this and I know I can get it, I can get it cheap.” And that song is our end credits.
Can you tell us about the talk about the He Never Died television miniseries?
It’s written, and that’s Jason. He wrote it. It’s done.
Has it been picked up?
We’ve gone and pitched it, and everyone we’ve pitched it to were either polite and feigned interest or were actually interested, but they seemed damn interested. I’ve read two of the episodes and they are completely crazy, they’re amazing. I really think someone should do this; they have a great pilot, they have the film, and they have a completely finished series in basically almost final rough draft. Someone should green light it, that’s just my opinion. I don’t have a dollar to throw at it, but I do have my opinion.
Are they pitching to AMC, HBO, and that type of market?
All of them. Our arms are sore from pitching. We’ve been meeting, we’ve been greeting, we’ve been smiling. It’s not been 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, it’s been weeks.
An article in Variety said that you’re going to reprise your role as Jack; do you like television? You were in Sons of Anarchy too, which totally surprised me.
This is going to sound really dull and utilitarian, but I really like working. Had they not killed me on Sons of Anarchy, had I been on that show for four years, I would have been four times as happy; I loved being with those people. I didn’t like my character, but I liked being the character, I mean, I’m not hanging out with neo Nazis in my off time, but being this awful person was an interesting job. And the cast, you couldn’t have met nicer, more talented people. All of them were just wonderful. I would love to one day be a part of something like that, like where you do something for five years and work your butt off. I would love that opportunity.
I’ve auditioned aggressively for those opportunities. Obviously I didn’t get the part or I’d be telling you all about it, but I didn’t get them. Pretty close though on a few different things that are now really big shows. I will keep pursuing that because it’s work that I would like to get. If it doesn’t come my way, thankfully I’ve got quite a few other jobs that keep me very, very involved. Just next year I’ll be splitting my time between my next talking tour and promoting a film that I actually wrote and I’m also in. That’s taken up five years of my life already. During the making of He Never Died, I was doing that Monday to Friday and I was writing the screenplay on the weekends, and that film is done and it looks good too.
Has the title been revealed yet?
Oh, yeah! You can go watch the trailer. It’s called Gutterdämmerung. It is completely off the hook. It’s all finished.
You’ve worked in a variety of mediums, and I wanted to ask you which is your favorite to work in?
I like being on stage on my own. I just think I’m suited for it. The funnest, the least pressure, is being on radio. I have a radio show that I’ve had for over a decade and I just put on really good music and talk about it. It’s just me hanging out with my record collection and you two hours at a time. I have listeners in over 40 countries and I’m on a national public radio station called KCRW.
Do you have a new band that you’re into right now?
There’s an unceasing amount of great bands that never seems to stop coming out of Australia. I don’t know what’s in the water over there, but every third person is in a band, all the records are good. There’s a great band called the Ausmuteants and they’re like my new favorite Australian band. And there’s a band called the Hierophants, and it’s just garagie, indie, very scratchy music which I very much like. As far as metal, High on Fire; there’s no such thing as a bad High on Fire record. And there’s a new Sun record coming out soon. I pay a lot of attention to metal music, but more the doom and stoner, kind of the more underground stuff, like Ohm and Sleep and Electric Wizard, that’s more kind of my vein. And there’s a lot of genius stuff coming out of Japan, but Japan has always had good music.
What’s the greatest life lesson your career has taught you?
You have to give people the benefit of the doubt before you write them off or judge them. And that’s very hard to do sometimes when people can be quite awful. Maybe it’s a good person on a bad day. You wanna do that so maybe someone will give you some leeway the next time you’re a complete jerk to someone, which I’ve done more than once.
Rock Hard \m/