Interview: Bobcat Goldthwait, God Bless America


I first saw World’s Greatest Dad a month or two after I got home from film school. Having only seen the trailer, I was hoping for something dark and hilarious. Not only did I get that, but I had a new favorite filmmaker. 

Bobcat Goldthwait has been making these incredibly dark, yet hysterical, movies for years now. Having cut his teeth as a stand-up comedian and actor for years, Bobcat made his first movie, Shakes the Clown, in 1991. And with each new film, Bobcat has some really interesting things to say. His latest, God Bless America, is a great reveal at who this guy is, and how he views modern society. 

Check after the break, where Bobcat and I talk about weird internet searches, people we hate on planes, and the film vs. digital debate.

Flixist: First off, how were you able to go into my inner psyche and bring out this wonderful movie on the screen?

Bobcat: Thanks! Well, I follow you around a lot. I hacked into your computer…I’m worried about my computer! When I was writing it, I was looking up the worst reality shows out there, and firearms. And then I’ve also been trying to get a musical going for a long time that needs young boys. So I’m looking at young boys singing, and guns. 

So it’s a hell of a search bar, then.

Yeah. And, you know, the first draft was 187 pages, so it was like a manifesto. I’m glad the feds didn’t confiscate my computer. 

Can you talk about that musical you have planned?

Sure! It’s a musical with Ray Davies of The Kinks. I’ve been working on that, it’s an album that I’ve loved since I was a kid, it’s my favorite album. I know I’ll make it sometime, but I have to make sure that I make it in a way that, being Ray’s biggest fan, where I don’t compromise just to make it. That’s my big passion movie.

Do you write about what makes you laugh? Or do you write about what scares you, which in turn becomes funny?

That’s well put, that is how it works. I’m not too concerned with whatever’s funny, or makes me laugh, but it is the stuff that scares me. A a big one is death, which is why there’s so much of it in my movies. And I mean this one…well, there’s a little more than the other ones. But it’s always there.

When directing your own scripts, do you even fight the need to go back and rewrite?

Well, on the day, when we’re rehearsing or shooting, we’re always changing stuff. There are a lot of scenes in this movie which are ad libbed, just like in World’s Greatest Dad. That’s how I like to work. But this was a movie that afterwords, I wanted to go back and change things, even after the movie is locked. Just one more scene where they go to a bank!

So you’re just finding new people that piss you off.

[laughs] Yeah, just finding new people to kill, like people on planes. I was on a plane yesterday, and this lady…I tried to help her out by getting her bag down from the overhead. She yelled at me “That’s my bag!” I was just like, “Listen you old cunt…” 

What’s the line, if any, between dark comedy and actual horror?

Umm…I don’t know. I mean, my movies are dark comedies because they’re fables. Y’know, they’re not supposed to be any kind of reality. They live in their own world. But when I look at a film like Goodfells, there’s so many laughs for me. People wouldn’t consider it a comedy, but I get so many more laughs watching Goodfellas than I do a studio comedy. By far.

Would you ever want to get back into doing stand-up?

Oh, I still do stand-up. I mean, I haven’t financed the last movie, but I do my films on such a small budget. So I do stand-up to supplement my income so I can keep living my luxurious lifestyle in the [San Fernando] valley in a rented house.

Any plans to do another comedy album?

Well, I have a new Showtime special that came out about a month ago called You Don’t Look the Same Either. It’s weird, it’s such a love/hate thing because I don’t wanna perpetuate myself as a personality. But at the same time, it’s what affords me to be able to make these small personal movies. Maybe things can change. Maybe instead of playing comedy clubs I could do some kind of Kevin Smith thing playing colleges.

There’s also the whole Louie C.K. thing.

Yeah. The one thing about Louie and those guys, and it is the future, but he uses social media or his website to interact with his fans. I’m kinda lazy, I should probably do that. There’s a reason why I don’t. I like having a personal life. I don’t think everything I do is awesome. But on my phone, there are a million really funny pictures. Even if I posted just that, people would probably be really happy. I mean, whenever I take a dump, my cat sits in my underpants while I’m on the john, so there’s 30 pictures of her like that. Maybe that would be enough.

In Hollywood, there’s this huge debate that you’ve no doubt heard about concerning digital vs. film. What’s your take on all of that?

It’s funny, when I was making World’s Greatest Dad, I was thinking that it would be the last movie I’d shoot on 35mm. And I mean, even if you shoot a digital picture, when you print it on film things get a little soft, you don’t get any more depth, but things definitely get prettier. So, I’ll still be interested to see where things are in five years. There will be depth in digital. You know, the real problem I have with digital is that it’s too crisp. Y’know, people don’t want to watch reality. Now when you see films that have a print taken directly to Blu-Ray, you can see people’s make-up lines.


God Bless America is in select theatres, and video OnDemand today.