Meat Loaf and I…
Okay, first of all…how cool is it that I can even start a sentence that way!?
Meat (that’s what he’s been called since he was a baby) says he’ll answer to any form of meat. “Pork Chop” was my favorite term of endearment but my vegetarian assistant, Keri Owen, kept trying to call him “Tofu Steak” (but he never responded because that isn’t really meat).
One of the COOLEST GUYS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH (and I’m not just saying that to suck up: he IS KIND – and funny, sweet, thoughtful, courteous, playful, genuine and down to earth – Meat is also a FINE professional actor. So well-prepared. He had done so much prep work in advance, thinking about his character, that he brought his intensity and introspection to every take. He just knocked it out of the park every day. What a joy to work with.
Heather’s Meat Loaf Highlight (video clip from that day on location)
Some more detail on this Behind the Scenes Story:
The character Meat’s playing is Dan, who we initially meet as a truck driver.
He picks up some hitchhikers (our leads, Eddie Furlong and Grace Johnston).
On their long multi-state road trip, the script says: “they sing.”
We have Meat Loaf.
He’s got to sing.
But Day One on the set he arrives – and he asks me – what is he supposed to sing?
Teasingly (and customarily audaciously), I subtly suggest he just sing something off his fantastic new album.
To his credit, he doesn’t laugh. He just sincerely tells me he doesn’t own the rights (it’s complicated, there are songwriters and publishers and record labels involved) – he has more managers and agents and attorneys than he can keep straight! It’s a wonder we matriculated the herd to get him here!
How ’bout some of his classic stuff? I suggest… “helpfully…” 🙂
We talk about some options. He’s got an idea – he’ll put a call into a buddy of his to try to get us the rights for a song he likes for another scene – that’s great… but what about what we’re shooting in five minutes? We don’t have time on the fly to deal with rights clearances and royalties and all sorts of issues well beyond my control – we’ve got to get something in the can. Now.
I kid you not.
Wildest fantasy come true.
Meat pulls the investor/original author’s favorite line out of the book/script and – ON THE SPOT – writes a song for us. He hollers: “Somebody get a pen! Write this down ’cause I’ll forget it, I’m not kidding!” (Note to self: get that call sheet!) He riffs a few lines, comes up with a melody and says: “Okay, I’m good, let’s do this…”
And cameras roll.
He climbs in the truck, does the final scene of our movie – a beautiful (what shoulda been a crane shot if we had had the money for it but my AMAZING DP did a poor man’s version with a smaller jib shot, raising the lift gate of the grip truck as a makeshift elevator (you’ll never know the difference!) and voila!
Another career highlight came shortly thereafter when Meat wanted to listen to what he’d just riffed. He asked to hear the audio playback. So he and I go over to MacAulay Flynt, our terrific sound mixer/recordist, and MacAulay hits playback and says: “Umnn…Could somebody maybe take a picture of this? It’s…like…a career highlight for me?” And somebody did.