Thursday, 17 April 2014

We need you for an interview... An interview with the Psycho from Stripes Conrad Dunn

I walked in nervously, was I really going to do it? I didn't really have a choice, my mom had chucked me out, I had no money for gas or food... and I was down to my last half Zagnut... I just had to...

I walked up to the desk "I wanna sign up" I said in a quiet voice...

"You what boy?" Came the booming voice from the man sitting, starring at me from behind the desk... He looked mean... He looked like he'd seen some action and that scar on his neck was from no tattoo...

"I want to sign up to the army"

"You want to sign up do you boy... Tell me..." He leant closer "Do you have the balls?"

"I... I... I... " I stuttered... 

"Ahh, leave him alone" Came a voice I recognised, I looked behind me, oh my god it was... It was Stripes star, Conrad Dunn!

Conrad Dunn (born Los Angeles) is an American actor. He began his screen career with the role of Francis "Psycho" Soyer in Stripes (1981). Working for some ten years under the name George Jenesky, he achieved soap-opera stardom in Days of our Lives as Nick Corelli, a misogynistic pimp who evolved from bad guy to romantic lead. He returned to the name Conrad Dunn and began working extensively in Canadian as well as U.S. film and television. He excels as a villain, and has found depth in such TV films as We the Jury (1996) and the miniseries The Last Don (1997–1998). For two seasons he portrayed the superlatively competent freelance detective Saul Panzer in the A&E TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2001–2002). [Wikipedia] 

What a gent, I thought and followed him to an empty table by the exit... If anyone could tell me  the best reasons to join the army it would be him, so I asked him about his career and what has to be my favourite army movie... Who needs Platoon when you've got Stripes.... eh?!

Ok, I have to ask about Harold Ramis, I recently interviewed the lovely Dana Barron who raved about Ramis as a director, but what was he like to act alongside?

"Had little interaction and few scenes with Harold Ramis. Seemed nice enough."

And  Ivan Reitman?

"Had even less interaction with Ivan Reitman. There were a num
ber of actors from second city backgrounds and they made up a kind of inner circle that huddled and came up with bits not in the script. [I] was as not in that group."

How did you get the part?
"Auditioned in New York, as was there studying with Stella Adler. Actually was flown to LA to read for Murray's role, but luckily Murray decided to do the part."

Did you know that Francis is Norman Bates' middle name?
"This is the first I've heard there was any connection between Francis and Norman Bates. Had heard character based on someone Murray knew."

Now Psycho was very intense, how did you get into character? 
"Psycho" just a very well written part. I just played what was on the page."

With a cast as great as it was Ramis, Murray, Reinhold, Candy and all... You must have some great stories? What were they all like? Did anyone stand out?
"Candy did a very nice thing, having actors in platoon over for a spaghetti dinner his wife made for us. Also Murray had the studio ship out a copy of " Boeffer's Gun" for us to all watch as a bonding experience. Really nice sentiment, although it was an odd choice. Military story, to be sure, but extremely dark."

Did you do any training to get into the role?
"Only training we had was for the rifle drill routine, which we spent many hours to perfect. The people in the stands were locals from around Ft. Knox, which is where it was shot, and they thought we were actual soldiers doing the routine, which was very gratifying."

And what was your favourite line?
"My favorite line was "all I know is I finally get to kill someone""

Ok... So how fun was it watching the mud wrestling? How much of the guys cheering was real? 
"Not surprisingly the only visit to the set by friends of the cast from SNL and SCTV came on the days we shot the mud wrestling scene. They all happened to be male. Nothing like a bevy of bare breasted cocktail waitresses to get the boys to show up."

I could imagine...

I hear that, apart from Candy, you were the only one to know the lyrics to 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy', how quick did the others pick it up?
"Murray  and Ramis were certainly old enough to remember the song "doo wah diddy", if they somehow didn't know lyrics was probably that they didn't like it, and always changed channels when it came on back in the day. Thankfully lyrics incredibly simple and repetitive, so it was easy to teach to the younger members of platoon, who were too young to remember it."

John Larroquette admitted that he was drunk during most of the filming... Did you notice?
"For some reason when first arrived at hotel in Kentucky where cast was staying, only other person there was john Larouqette. By default we had dinner together, and remember it all these years later as cordial and uneventful. Do remember we were at  hotel the night john Lennon was killed , and john was extremely upset.
My only other recollection of him was a production of "End Game" that he and john Deil did in LA. Kit was very good."

So you've done all kinds of acting from Soaps to film, how do you feel that soap opera acting is different to film? 
"Soap opera acting shouldn't be any different than film, but the demands of turning out a full script a day, as compared to a handful of pages on a film, make the soap experience much more of a grind. The fact that you're always having to struggle just  to get on top of so much material, makes it a harder and less desirable situation. Unless you've done it, hard to appreciate the demands."

"So boy" came a sudden shout from the other side of the room disturbing our chat... "Are you gonna' join or not?"

"Erm... " I thought to myself... The army could never be as fun as it seemed on screen, so I replied... "No... Not today...I think I have another vocation in mind..." And, saying good bye and thanks to Conrad, I made a sharp exit from the office. After breathing a sigh of relief at my lucky escape, I got out my phone and started to dial... 555 LEARN TO ACT... Yes, that was more like it... Treading the boards would be much more me than storming the beaches anyday...

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