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 while we shot on location 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 No, 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 his intensity and introspection raised the bar on every take for the cast and crew around him. He just knocked it out of the park every day. What a joy to work with! He made me promise I’d never make another movie without him – a promise I’d love to hold him to!
Behind the Scenes Backstory
The character Meat’s playing in Absolute Killers 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 simply reads: “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 his herd to get him here!
How ’bout some of his classic stuff? I suggest… “helpfully…” Since he’s a truckdriver, how about “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” from “Bat Out of Hell?”
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 to deal with rights clearances and royalties and all sorts of issues right now – we’ve got to get something in the can. Now… So… Meat pulls the unifying theme “Redemption” out of the script/movie 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…
Here’s another fun BTS bit of trivia: that shoulda been a crane shot (if we had had the money for it) but my AMAZING DP, Jim Orr, did a poor man’s version with a smaller jib shot, standing with one foot on an apple crate and another on a ladder while we slowly raised the lift gate of the grip truck as a makeshift elevator!
Shortly thereafter, 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.
That’s a moving truck in the shot, BTW – part of the story – not our grip truck!