Some of the best actors are indeed musicians. Peter Stormare is one and he joins Rich and Jim on the show to share his personal and professional journey. Peter is a Swedish-American actor, voice actor, musician, playwright, and theatre director. He discusses what the pandemic has taught him and how he spent his time during the lockdown. He gives an overview of his experience, from Sweden to Hollywood, and the most important details that shaped him to be the person he is now.
What’s up rock and rollers? It’s that time. It’s another exciting episode of the show where we talk about all things music, motivation, and success. I’m talking to musicians, actors, comedians, and thought leaders. This episode is special. I’m always joined by my witty co-host Jim McCarthy, JimMcCarthyVoiceovers.com. You’re fast.
I’ll be a sidekick. Why not?
No, we want you to jump in. I’m excited because this gentleman is a staple of TV and film for generations hailing from Sweden. He is an actor, voice actor, musician, playwright, and theater director. Our new friend, Peter Stormare. I have a little Italian slang.
My father comes from Italy.
He is joining us from Los Angeles. Jim is in South Nashville. I’m right here on the road in Music City, where we crank out country music for the masses every day. 2020 has been a little crazy. You’ve got the safe and sanitized thing. Your Instagram is hilarious. What have you been doing this 2021? How have you been dealing with this?
I’ve been lucky enough because I did a TV series called American Gods up in Canada. On my way back in the first week of March 2020, I flew back and then I landed. We had a lockdown on the 14th of March 2020. I was going back up to do some pick-up shoots, but that never happened. I kept working on my own stuff. I have two series going on, something called Swedish Dicks and The American Runestone, which will come out on Discovery in January 2021. I have those two series and I did some posts on.
I was a cast in the movie the summer of 2021. Michael Bay produced something called Songbird and that’s out now in record time of the Guinness Book of Records. We shot it in August and September 2020 and it premiered on the 11th of December 2020. You can go on any streaming service and buy it. I don’t know if it’s any good. I don’t see my own crap, but we’ll see. I went over to Sweden to do a movie with some old friends of mine and got some money together. I went over for six weeks. I’ve traveled in a hazmat, goggles, N95, gloves, and everything, sitting for twelve hours over to Europe. It’s not nice anymore to fly. You can’t fall asleep anymore.
I’m getting up there in age. I’m devastated because I have so many things in the future planned. I have everything planned out for five more years. You can’t plan the future because then it screws you up sometimes, but I want to do so many things. I don’t want to get sick. I’m trying to stay at home and be safe and sanitized. I have double face masks all the time. I have goggles if I go into a shop. Inevitably, we’re all going to get sick at one day. Hopefully, it has mutated itself down to a percentage of what the virus has been doing now. I pray for the future.
I talked to some friends and two of my family that this Christmas 2021 is going to be a celebration of solitude, staying with the family, not having people over, and commemorate and remember the people who have been on this Earth before us. Without their struggle, and they went through a lot, you and I wouldn’t be sitting here. We wouldn’t have this talk. I had this conversation with a couple of people. We forget that we’re just here for a little second for things to happen after our visit to Earth.
People in the past had more patience. They waited it out and knew they had to fight or thrust these wars and pandemics. It seems like now we have no patience at all. This whole holiday for me is to remember the people who walked on Earth before me. I had the opportunity to be here, do music, play, direct, act, and have a blessed time on my life to be on this Earth. One day I’ll go but the people I thank are the ones who walked here before me. Sorry if it’s getting deep.
That’s great because it’s coming up. I got the same call. My band was on tour. We play in arenas and amphitheaters. On March 13th, 2020, we got the call that Live Nation was shutting it down. We didn’t know for how long. On March 14th, 2020, I was on a plane to Los Angeles to see my girlfriend. She is a fashion designer. I was like, “If we’re going to quarantine, I might as well quarantine with a sexy blonde girl.” It made us super tight as a couple because we had a bi-coastal relationship.
I would see her two times a month and it went immediately to 24/7 for nine months. We survived and it deepened our relationship. I feel the same way. I’m very close with my parents. God bless my parents. My dad is an accountant and my mom is a nurse. They’re still with us and I’m driving to Florida. I got tested because I don’t want to get off the airplane and go right to my parents’ house. It’s too risky. My mom is an amazing cook. We’re going to have a great time.
It’s also important to pay tribute to the past, not all the atrocities and shit that happened, but to the people who have made it so we could be here. This planet is not just made for us, this generation and a couple of generations that are here now. We’re here for a reason. We’re here to lighten the road or the path into the future. Something beautiful will come out of this and something good. I know I have a lot of music friends, musicians like yourself, that have been canceled tours. I’ve gotten together with my bass player and we have created some great music. He is poor. He was out touring, too and going in for the summer to do the world tour. He doesn’t get the money, but we do create.
I might know your bass player. I looked up an EPK of your band, the Blonde From Fargo, BFF. Is that still what you’re performing under that title or no?
Yes, or my name sometimes, Blonde From Fargo. No one knows what it is.
Does Teddy Zigzag still play with you? He’s a pal of mine.
Who is your bass player?
Johnny Griparic, Johnny G, or Johnny Handsome.
We met one night doing a jam at either The Viper or The Rainbow. That’s a crazy, small world.
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Matt Laug is also a session drummer like yourself.
Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, that’s a nice little feather in his cap.
It’s the four of us when we get together. Johnny is back in Sweden taking care of his mother. When they get back, we’re going into a studio sitting six feet apart and we’re going to jam.
I was telling Jim, it’s interesting that two cultures are living in the two cities. Nashville, if I was watching CNN, it’s the only state that’s bright red because the cases have skyrocketed. We’re doing okay in California, but the population is so dense that it’s terrifying, even just going out for a run. We don’t know all the details. It’s like, “When I’m running past someone, is it in the air? Do I have to stop and chat with them for a certain number of time to catch the molecules?” It makes you crazy and you want to play it safe.
I used to go up in Runyon Canyon, which is a beautiful park with a dog park up here on 14 acres in the mountain. It’s a couple of blocks away from me. I’ll walk in with a face mask. People take it off and then comes a helicopter to take photos and then they shut it down. I’m telling people up there, “Please, wear your face mask. Otherwise, they’re going to shut this down.” They gave me the finger. It was like, “Come on.”
You’re like, “I’ve been entertaining you for three decades.” I’m sure some of my readers, I’ve got a mixed bag of people. They’re all creative types using their creativity and hopefully monetizing in some way. Jim and I would like to talk a lot about entrepreneurship and treating our career like a business. When did you get to the States? How did it start for you? How did you catch the bug for the theatrical arts?
I was born in a little village of 1,000 people with one movie theater. This is a long story. I’ll try to make it snappy and short. When I was five years old, I somehow crawled up the bookshelf on a stool, ladder, or some chair, according to my mother. I picked down the Bible. I put the Bible under my arm and started blessing people in my family. I walked around in my little neighborhood and a couple of houses. I knocked on the door and blessed people. My mother was very embarrassed. I went to the Baptist church when I was 5 or 6 years old nearby. It’s just a couple of blocks in a small village. My mother or brother had to come and pull me out because I want to get saved all the time.
At the same time, around 5 or 6, I told my parents. They weren’t really my parents. My real parents were Californians. “One day, I have to move to California and leave you guys here.” According to my mother and father, I was saying this my whole young life. They asked me, “What are you going to do?” “I don’t know, but I’m going to live pretty close to Disneyland and I’m going to work with movies.” That has been the thing with me. If it’s a premonition, dream, or something you tell yourself, I always knew since I was little I’m going to live in California close to Disneyland and work with movies. I never told anybody except my parents. I didn’t tell my friends. Even when I got older and twenty, I’m getting into seeing theater for the first time in my life.
I saw movies. Clint Eastwood was a big star in my life. He still is. Seeing theater for the first time in my life, I was down in the capital of Stockholm. I saw a theater and started to cry. I couldn’t walk out and I end up on a mission because I felt like God had given me a home, finally. That’s how my career started. I’m one of a kind because growing up in a small village now covered with snow up in Northern Sweden. I’m one of the few who got out. It’s something that I had a voice within me that has always been leading me. I have some kind of a guide that leads me and had done so since I was born.
You could say if this is true or not. Some people call you a medium. Do you identify as that? I used to be married to a medium.
I have the ability. It’s very draining sometimes, but some people that need my help, I do help.
Yes. It’s through prayers and some kind of meditation and hands. This has happened throughout my life. I’ve been in airports where I’m seated all alone. Usually, I’ll try to sit in solitude. I’ve had people coming up to me and say, “You’re a believer. I can see there’s something around you. Can I ask you a question?” We start talking about things that are very dear to them. Even a guy came up to me in the staircase, went back.
He said, “You haven’t lied. I need to ask you a question. It’s about my son. He wants to become a musician.” We started talking and I said, “Let him be a musician. You can’t control his life. Let him have his path.” He thanked and hugged me. Sometimes it happens in airports. Whenever you come to an airport and you hear somebody, it’s called angels in transit. If you hear somebody whistle in those notes and then you know someone is calling you, you should go up and talk to them.
I have never heard that melody. I don’t know what that says about me.
It could be different, too. Anybody who whistles in an airport is an angel in transit that needs your attention.
It’s probably you playing Satan in Constantine, which is one of my favorite roles of yours, where he knows he is beaten down and tired. His back is against the wall. You come and the sludge of hell is dripping off your toes. You’ve got the vein sticking out of your neck and the eye things. That’s got to be a cool thing when you get the script and it says, “What are you playing today?” “Satan.” That’s heavy.
Jack Nicholson turned it down because he didn’t get $5 million to do ten minutes on screen. Francis, Keanu, and one of the producers suggested me for the part. I got the part and then they dressed me up in leather pants, bare chested with a lot of tattoos all over my body, studs here, bracelets here, and necklaces. I said, “No one is going to hear one word of what I’m saying. Can we please do what we do on stage sometimes? Dress me up in an off-white linen suit. Have me coming down from above instead of raising up. Have some tar. I can shave my eyebrows and head a little bit. Shave the eyebrows to make it look creepy. Do it in that way.”
Thanks to one of the producers and the director fighting hard, we got to do it our way. When you’re half-naked on stage or in the movie, everybody is looking at you and saying, “He doesn’t have the muscles I thought he had. He is getting fat.” They get distracted and they said it all to me. I said, “No one is going to hear a single word of what I’m saying if I’m going to have moving images all over my body, CGIs.” Thank you for appreciating. It was a hard fight for two weeks until they said, “Let’s do it this way.”
As your career goes along and your reputation begins to precede you, I’m assuming that you would have more leeway to suggest to the directors, writers, and producers, “What about this?” Have you always been that way? In the early days where you’re happy to have the job, you would probably get direct offers now. You don’t have to go into the room and audition.
Most of the people in the business know who I am. Since I started in Sweden with theater, I’ve always been a director and an actor at the same time. As a director, I feel certain things. Especially in TV and movies here in the US, people talk too much all the time like I’m doing now. It becomes exposition. They say exactly what they think. I like to say things that are enigmatic, not exactly. It’s a lot of paint-by-numbers.
Even in Sweden, when I started, I’ve worked with Ingmar Bergman, a legendary director. I have a lot of suggestions to him. Sometimes he took a walk for one minute around the rehearsal room, came back, and said, “Let’s do it your way. That’s good.” That’s how we grew together and work a lot together because I had the curiosity of altering things, not just do exactly what’s there in the book. “What if I screw it up a little? What if I do it like this? As a drummer, what if I put a little bit of syncopating here? Let’s drive the song in a different way here because if you do the regular thing, it might become very bland and paint-by-numbers.”
Do you find as a general rule that you are sticking to the page? Are you working with directors that are like, “Let’s make sure we get one of those in the can and then give me a couple of takes of your thing?” Does that happen?
Usually, I talk them down to do what I suggest. Most of the writers and directors are smart enough. A lot of them know that a creative actor contributes so much more with the heart than someone coming in just delivering even the typo. I’m not going to tell you when, but I’ve been in situations where an actor comes in, says his line, and there’s a typo. They said, “That’s not the line.” A poor actor, you learn the line if it’s a typo. They don’t dare to tell somebody, “This has got to be a typo. I can’t say this.” It’s unfortunate in this country. They had been whipped to hit the mark, say their lines, get the hell out of there, and hopefully you get a paycheck.
I’m not a greedy guy. I have a house and one car, but I have no jewelry. I have a couple of guitars. They’re very cheap that looked like they’re expensive or some of the things I’ve collected since I was young and had been with me. I lead a pretty simple life. I’ve never been in it for the money. I do it for my soul. Also, on the set, I’m there not just to become an actor or being on a screen. I’m also there to connect with people.
It’s the same thing as music. It’s like a high form of communication. I feel like the language of music is like the acting classes that I’ve taken. I’ll have someone say, “You can tell you’re a musician because you heard the music in the lines.” I feel there’s a cross-pollination there.
It comes handy. Everybody makes fun of Bruce Willis playing in a band. Like a dancer, they’re usually good at playing piano, guitar, or whatever instrument. Musicians are good actors and actors do have a musical ear. Also, you got to be able to sing and perform. If someone tells you, “You have an offer here to do a musical,” I try the best of whatever I have. I got offered a thing here and I got a part, but then I couldn’t do it. I would love to be in a musical. I wouldn’t say, “No, I can’t sing.” I was taking lessons and I got the part. The musical ear combines musicians, painters, poets, and actors. The best actors do play an instrument.
Jim, haven’t you noticed that, too? I did some research one time. I was compiling a list of all these successful actors in Hollywood that play a musical instrument and it is vast. Many of them were playing instruments and acting at the same time. Eventually, one of those things took over. You worked with Johnny Depp. He moved to LA to be a rock star but got sidetracked with this pesky movie business. Keanu plays mean bass. I always tell my bass player in my band that he is the most recognizable bass player on the planet. He goes, “Come on. That’s not fair.”
The music ear, you got to have it. Music is a great healer. A lot of actors, if they don’t play an instrument, they have music as an inspiration. I’ve been on stage a lot and I worked with a lot of people. Before they enter a stage, they lay down their headphones. They have music. Music calms them down to concentrate. The music makes you meditate. It’s part of being an artist. Also, you have to have your curiosity. I’m not a good player, but I love to hammer the piano. I love to play drums, even if it’s sloppy.
Even with Matt, “Go up on the hi-hat here in the chorus, not to the right. Just be on the hi-hat.” He said, “That’s odd.” “Let’s try it.” He said, “That sounds great. I never thought about it.” Sometimes good ideas comes from people like me that can’t play an instrument super good. I’m pretty good at guitar and bass. Even my bass player, Johnny G, then, he says, “I’ll do your bass riff because it’s very unusual. It comes from someone who doesn’t really play bass.” Johnny is the one that plays lead guitar on most of my songs because he plays a guitar like no lead guitarist plays it.
He is coming in from a different thought process of playing it more often.
He hammers down a solo like it comes from outer space. It’s not there showing up and you can crab-walk the neck of the guitar. It comes from the guts. He is phenomenally good at guitar to play the guitar in solos.
I looked you up on Spotify. There are some stuff that’s in your native language and then I looked you up on the BFF.
I know I’m not very good at publishing all my music. I should do it more. I should collect everything I have now and put it out there because I don’t know what’s on Spotify, Pandora, or what’s out there on YouTube. I have a lot of materials. It’s just I’m not going to collect everything and put it out there. I don’t know if I’ll give it away for free. My biggest thing is not to be in front of an audience. My biggest kick is to create from scratch in a studio.
You prefer that part of the process more than saying, “We’re going to go play the Troubadour tonight.”
Unless I’m in your band and you have some road is taken, striking the set and taking care of everything and you can just go home or hang out with the girls or boys. It has always been hard for me to be there, pack all the stuff, and then head home. You have to go to try to kill your adrenaline because you have to go up early tomorrow and go home.
That’s hard at the end of the night. We get off stage usually when the world is normal. Our show is 9:15 to 11:00 PM. By the time you wipe the sweat off, kibitz with everybody and have a cocktail, before you know it, it’s 1:00 and then it’s 2:00. You’re trying to calm down from that high of being in front of 20,000 people and sharing that message.
I have 200 or 2,000 but it’s enough. My biggest enjoyment for me is I’ve been to a shrink twice in my life in New York. I realized the shrink is the only ball plank with myself. I’m sending her a ball and she puts it back in my hands. I can take care of this myself. Music being in a studio, I’m working in a collective community with other people and their ideas. I listen to it. Hearing something after a couple of days is the greatest healer for my soul. No doctor or psychologist have the same healing effect on me. It might not be for other people, but for me, it is sometimes a strum of guitar and put down a couple of things on a garage band with a click. I feel clean and great. My soul is healed from all the wounds.
For the reader that’s on the super young side, maybe they’re a crazy Millennial and they don’t know about your past, but the fact that you have been so busy, like everything from The Lost World: Jurassic Park to Armageddon, Minority Report, Windtalkers, and Constantine. You’ve been working nonstop for years and the people that you’re on these films with everyone from like Schwarzenegger to Goodman, Buscemi to Nick Cage, Johnny Depp to Tom Cruise. What did you learn all these years working with these personalities and learning the art of collaboration? If you had to write a memoir or tell a young actor some advice nuggets that you got along the way, what would that be?
I’ve always tried to be myself. The first time I worked with Bruce Willis was Armageddon and then we became friends. He came in and we had this thing together. We had chaffed for two weeks and then he came on because he was on another show. We could shoot some stuff with Bay without Bruce Willis and then he came on. We had a scene together. I had the last line in that scene and he added a line. I said, “My uncle have a thing up there, a GPS and a missile. He will find your head and blow up your whole body. While you’re in Texas, we’re having shotguns. I’m going to take you down. I have another uncle, too. It means he can do this and this.” He came up with a new line.
Finally, he shouted, “Michael, I got to have the last line.” I said, “It’s not written that way. Otherwise, the next scene for you will not work Mr. Willis, because I got out the last line here. Otherwise, I was going to get you a gas for the thing.” I took him on the side and I said, “I have the greatest respect for you, but let me have the finish line. It’s going to help you and your performance is going to help me because you’re in my space station and you have to oblige to my rules. Otherwise, you’re not going to get what you need.” He looked at me and then he did this on my face and said, “You’re right. I was a prick in there. I’m sorry. Let’s go back and do it your way.”
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We became good friends and I admire Bruce Willis. I admire a lot of actors because they’re sincere. When it gets down to the real business and what you do in front of a camera being 2 or 3 people, when it gets down to ready and steady goal, we’re all nervous. We try to do the best we can. Most of them, you’ll hear horrible stories about Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I never seen that side of anybody. They are sincere because we all want to do our best in front of a camera. No one walks in there and being an asshole. You can have a fit and scream something, but then it takes 30 seconds. It’s like rehearsing with a band. You can scream and say, “You’re speeding up.” “I’m not speeding up.” You just say, “What’s the problem?” You solve it in 30 seconds. With all of these people, I’ve seen good things and sincere people.
I worked in 2020 with John Travolta. I had two scenes with John and I admired him since the mid-’70s. He was about getting it right. We rehearsed and sat together outside before we started shooting, rehearsing the lines and saying, “Does this fit? Should I say this?” He was asking me. I’m asking him. He was keen on doing the best that he could and myself, too with the two little scenes we had together, instead of saying to me, “You just say yes or no. I’m doing the show. I’m the star. You stick to your lines and I’m going to rant.” Most of them know, the better the co-star is, the better you get. Gretzky couldn’t win the Stanley Cup on his own. He needed guys to pass the puck, so he could score. Most of them are pretty smart. They know that they need the support of a good cast.
It’s a creative ensemble. Do you feel like you can over-rehearse? Do you prefer between over-rehearsing and under-rehearsing? Which one would you take?
I would do under-rehearsing because it makes it more alive. When it comes to music, it’s harder unless you’re a professional and you played together for a long time and tight. I’m not that good of a musician, then I need to rehearse, but when it comes to acting, I go with the under because it gets more fresh. I will tell the director, “I like to do the scene if we do it 4 or 5 times. I like to do it 4 or 5 times, but each time a little bit different,” because I also love the editing stuff, growing up with people being editors. I know for an editor, it’s so nice to have a scene that has a topography, but you don’t exactly do the same in each take. The first take is maybe a little slower. The next one is a little bit more angry and the next one is more sincere but fast. They can pick and choose. They don’t get a flat pizza. They get the topography and that’s what you want in a scene. You know that. You want music in a scene.
I’m stealing that for my acting because for me as a drummer, a lot of times now, major studios are dying. Most musicians have space where they can record. I can literally do a drum track for someone in Newfoundland, Japan, or South America. It’s all ones and zeros. It goes through the matrix and PayPal. It’s done and we’re making music together. Sometimes, they’ll say, “I’ll do a super straight, like down the middle pop radio thing. I’ll do one that’s maybe a little bit more adventurous and one that’s a little crazy.” You could pick, choose, and overdub my percussion. It’s all that crazy stuff.
Why do you think The Beatles went in and did the track like a slower or faster track, doing this and speeding it up on the tape machine? It’s so that you don’t get caught up of being the same thing all the time. A lot of actors and musicians become recognized because they can do that guitar solo. They play it forever and then in Vegas playing that song forever. It’s the same with some actors. They’re falling into a trap which I hate to be in. They have to have the same hairdo, clothes, and style to make an income. That’s trapped for a lot of people too, but I like the variety. If I have the opportunity, I would rather do twenty different things a year than one. Make a lot of money on that one? No, I would rather do twenty and earn less money.
That’s a testament to the fact why you’re such a working actor for many years and the work ethic is there. You want to keep bringing that spark and reinventing yourself. Jim is a massive Marvel fan. He has seen all 23 movies, 23 times. Did I miss any? Were you in any of the Marvel movies? Is that something you would want to do, a giant green screen in a space movie?
I’ve done my green screens enough. In Marvel, I’ve been offered one, but as a European and I’m getting older, what you end up is you become the mad professor or mad scientist in a white lab coat and some glasses. You walk around and talk like this. You have to have this exit. I said, “No, I would rather do three independent movies instead.” It’s a choice you can do because I don’t have a lot of debt. I paid off my house. I have one car. I usually use my bicycle and lead a very simple life.
You played a nihilist, but in actuality, you’re a minimalist.
I’m a minimalist. In my house, there’s nothing on the walls. This is crowded out here.
You’re a fan of stark white or maybe just a fruit bowl.
What do you call it? A sacristy or Calvinistic church? My house inside is old Spanish. It’s two-story, but it’s wooden benches, floors, and table. There’s nothing on the walls. It’s white stucco outside and inside. It’s like being in a church because when I come home, it might be the same with you, sitting for eight hours. When you come home, I don’t need any noise. I don’t want to see anything on the walls. I want serenity and peace. I don’t want anything. I don’t want music. No nothing. It’s just me, maybe an ice-cold beer and breathe.
What’s your beer of choice? Do you like to go heavy and hoppy or to go American PP water?
No, I’m more into malt liquor. I like that because it’s more like the European-Belgian stronger beer where the alcohol is between 5% to 7%.
You get your bang for your buck there.
I like the lager. I like Stella on tap. I always drink it with ice. That’s from the Pacific. They have ice in the beer. It gets ice-cold. I don’t like the hippie-hoppy because it tastes like drinking bark or eating moss. I never understood and I can’t get the beer into my brain. It’s like down my stomach. I like a Stella or an ice-cold Mickey’s.
I was in this highfalutin bar in New York City one time. At the top shelf, there were some beers that were made by the monks in the mountains. It was an insanely high-potent beer. The guys in my band were like, “Rich, we dare you to get one of those things.” I had one of those things. I was drinking ten beers and I missed the bus call. Everyone was like, “Where is Redmond?” I get the knock on the hotel door, “The bus is leaving.” I was out.
What was the alcohol content on that?
It was something like 12%, 13%, or something insane. It’s barely legal.
That’s the monk tradition from Belgium, Holland, and France, where they brewed it because they had to pass out occasionally to keep the chastity away. They’re a little scary. They have 12%, 14%, or 15% sometimes.
I bet that’s what it was. Do you give yourself a junk drawer in the house or not even that?
You’re super organized. When you come to your sanctuary, your paid-for home, is that where you create your process for prepping for a role? Is it the same or different every time? How do you get into that mindset for your characters?
It’s different. You can do it in your car. My father passed away, but he was an inventor. He invented most of his stuff in the car, driving the car or you sit in the car. I inherited that from him, but I tried it in different parts because you can’t do anything about your nose or ear. You have the same ugly face, but at least you can try to maybe slim down, gain some pounds, walk differently, have some other kinds of shoes and clothes. Sometimes if I have 4 or 5 scenes, I usually take scenes and I more or less roll a dice. I said, “In this first scene, it doesn’t matter what it’s about,” but I said, “He didn’t get enough sleep this night.” In the next scene, he is so hungry and in a bad mood. The next thing is like I can be, “I need to go to the bathroom and take a pee.” That’s underneath. The only thing sometimes, I know the lines, but I think about, “I need to go to pee.” That’s my subtext.
It creates an urgency in the performance. You’ve been in that situation in real life before like, “It’s great to see you. I want to catch up, but more than anything, I got to pee.”
I try to be different whenever you show up that there’s a slight difference. I like a guy and he has not passed away. He is an English playwright, Harold Pinter. His character was like, in the first act, Joey and Billy are going to be out in the pub. Joey says to Billy, “Do you fancy a beer?” “All right.” “You’ll get your lager?” “Yes.” We’re drinking beer, “Cheers, Billy and Joey.” They drink beer. In the third act, after intermission, you come in and Billy and Joey are together again. Billy says, “Joey, I bought you a beer.” “What do you mean? I don’t drink beer.” “You don’t drink beer, but you had beer before.” “No, you have to be out with someone else.”
As an audience, you know, “Is he lying?” It’s such an intriguing thing that Harold Pinter said, “You always got to have a ferret in the closet.” What he meant by the ferret in the closet, it has got to be something enigmatic that triggers the brain of the audience because the audience can’t be told 100% all the time being spoonfed. The audience has to be given 50% to 60%. If you’re good, they will fill in the blanks.
There’s always a secret that you keep for yourself alone.
We’re missing that a lot. Not in the Marvel movies. That’s a different genre. In regular drama, in the US sometimes, we forget that people want to fill in with their own fantasy. It’s like listening to a great storyteller or reading a great book. You’ll fill in, “How big was the house? How beautiful was she?” You’ll fill in the blanks. Sometimes, the old filmmakers said when you introduce like with Bergman who I worked with. He said, “In movies, usually I introduce a guy coming into an apartment when they opened the door. I just have him been seen the half of his face. We don’t reveal the entire face from the beginning.”
Even nonverbal communication, it’s just making a look.
We’re thinking a thought. The thought is yours, but the eyes give away everything. The camera is on the eyes and it’s almost like it’s picking up what you’re thinking.
How many ways can you say no with just looking at the camera? That says it all with nonverbal communication.
The old storytelling is coming back. You see it on the most popular on Hulu and Netflix. People are tending to fall into, also European drama, reading subtitles and hearing dub material. I don’t say that the tradition in Europe is better or worse because I came here to do movies and I love this country, but we’ve forgotten a little bit of what storytelling is about from the beginning. The movies from the beginning were silent movies. They were five minutes long and fantastic. People read in whatever into those movies. We have forgotten a little bit about the good old storytelling when the old grandmothers sat with the kids and told the story. Kids were all fantasizing and using their fantasies, “There was something dripping in the room next. They went into the room and heard the dripping. They saw it’s water. No, it’s blood.”
That art of storytelling is the theater of the mind. That was the art of radio back in the ’30s and ’40s.
Theater of the mind is great.
Pre-talkies, you had musicians that were composing on the spot to the silent films. What blows me away, and you probably would agree, is how unbelievably talented Charlie Chaplin was that he could do all that comedy. It was way before Jack Tripper but set it all up.
We watched the March of the Wooden Soldiers with Laurel and Hardy. We used to watch Laurel and Hardy stuff all the time. It was in color in this particular version, which made it a lot less creepy than it was in black and white. Those guys were true artisans.
Chaplin, up the road here, it’s like 150 or 200 yards away from here. His house is still there. It’s like a Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house. Now, it’s twelve small apartments, but he built it for him, his mother, and brother. You walk over the meadows to his studio in La Brea.
When we talked about the Marvel movies, it sparked another reason why I liked them. I realized this as we were talking. There’s unexpectedness to how the actors brought some of those roles to light. Robert Downey Jr did a fantastic job with Tony Stark. Chris Evans did a great job with Captain America. He fit the mold. It was a predictable role for him and he was so perfect for it. Mark Ruffalo as David Banner was unexpected. When they brought him in with the first Avengers, you didn’t expect it. Traditionally, David Banner is an angry character which is why the Hulk was born, but the way Mark Ruffalo plays him is very sheepish.
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The other aspect of it is the Thanos character, which was introduced at the end of Avengers. In a very small post-credit scene, he had a sinister type of feel to him. They explored the character out over the arc of the other movies, which still had that sinister edge to it. Josh Brolin was brought in to play him and it completely flipped the character over. Josh Brolin was robbed of an Oscar playing that character. I can see you doing that.
I would love to do something that is character-driven.
There are Shakespearean elements to those movies. It’s classic storytelling.
Growing up in Sweden, I had Spaghetti Westerns and Clint Eastwood. We didn’t have the comic books of Marvel. I know my father was a big admirer of Flash Gordon, but we didn’t have those comic books. We had more detective stories and other stuff. Those comic books didn’t exist. Now, maybe they do in Sweden, but when I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, they were not there. They were not planted in my soul from the beginning.
Another thing that I noticed and this is something that hopefully I could steal your answer here. You have played a lot of villains and died a lot. In Jurassic Park, you were eaten by compies. In 8MM, you were shot. Was it the guy from The Sopranos or Nick Cage that shot you?
Who killed me there? I don’t remember. James might have killed me there.
In Body of Proof, you were thrown from a building. In The Last Stand, the Governator shoots you. In 22 Jump Street, the helicopter gets blown up. In all these deaths, it looks like every time you get shot, it’s not a standard death. Your body reacts in a different way. You must have consciously decided, “This is this kind of gun.” Do you go out and talk to cops or research? How would that affect your body physically if you’re getting shot?
I try to do it differently and talk to the director, “I’m dying here, but let’s do it in a different way than the usual.” In Songbird that is out now with Michael Bay and Adam Mason directing, I’m going to die with a pen in my neck. The producers wanted me to roll over some table, have spasms, and a crazy death. I said, “No, I’m not doing that. I’m going to sit down by an easel where the girls have been painting a lot of red and my blood is slowly going to come on the canvas down my hand. It’s a memorable death.” My director supported me, but the producer said, “No, we’ve got to have a spectacular death.” Michael Bay said, “Let him die the way he wants to.”
They want to go through a fall off the ledge into a glass table kind of thing. If you watch Smallville, they have so many different cliché methods of dying. I don’t know how many glass tables have been broken in that show. People are getting punched and they fall through a glass table that’s conveniently placed. It only happened 100 times.
Do you lean on a stuntman or are you always fighting to do your own stuff if you can?
If I can, it’s much better. Sometimes you need a stunt guy because you don’t want to break it or they’re much better of dying. Most of the stunt guys talk about the way you want to die and how you want to portray it. It usually lands on your face in the end anyway, but they do the best deaths. They always talk to the actor and I always talk to the stunt guy, “I want to die in a special way,” because a lot of my characters do die and I’m prepping for my own death. It’s going to be easier to die for me because I know exactly what’s going to happen.
There are reels on the internet in YouTube like mashups of your death scenes.
I’m blessed with a daughter. She came, “Look what I found on YouTube.” “What is it?” “You’re getting killed 25 times.” I said, “Don’t watch that.”
Jim, should we try the fast five questions for the first time ever with Peter?
I didn’t know you wanted to do that.
I got something I wrote down and they’re all related to favorites. I’m such a fan of Peter. We’ll do the fast five and then you could do the random question of the day. Peter, without thinking, this would be a couple of your favorite things. Favorite food?
Favorite place to make love?
Hour of the Wolf by Bergman, the Swedish movie.
Strawberry Fields Forever.
The Beatles and Bergman, I love it. That’s our first time we’ve done the fast five. We’ll have to come up with a jingle for it. Peter, I’m going to pass you off to Jim, who is going to ask you the random question of the day.
What piece of culture or trend has died out, but you would like to see make a comeback?
I appreciate that.
That’s coming back a little bit with podcasts because they’re doing narrative podcasts.
It’s common. It’s hard to find good stuff, though.
True crime will make comeback. I believe that a lot of the entertainment that we’re going to see will be akin to what happened in the ’40s and ’50s. You’ll see that play out.
I’m 100% with you. Something cool is going to come out of this. We started to get very innovative here and we’ll have to come up with something. We can’t just sit back and say, “Shit.” We have to be innovative.
Good things come out of discomfort. When you get uncomfortable, that’s when you get your back put up against the wall.
It’s never too late to start a rock band. If you’re 72 years old and you want to start doing the thing you wanted as a 21-year-old, just do it.
We’re getting the motivation out of Peter. I like that.
Open that flora shop. Do your dream.
Hopefully, the flora shop will be better than the ones we order from. I’m almost off ordering flowers online. Here’s the deal. If you type in flowers on the internet, the first thing that comes up is 1-800-Flowers. You get this picture of this gorgeous and beautiful bouquet. The buckets pass to all the third and fourth parties. By the time it shows up at the door, it’s the sad little thing. It’s like 1/10 the size. You got to call and go, “That doesn’t look like the picture. I want my money back.” That was in my experience. Jim does a lot of voiceover work. I’ve seen you on a lot of cartoons. Do you enjoy doing that? Do you like that as much as on camera work?
That’s like being a kid doing voiceover to be alone in a studio, doing three different characters. It’s like, “Get the heck out of there. That’s not your dwelling.” “I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do here. This is my place.” “Get out of there.” You play with your voice and they guide you. Usually, they are very good directors in anime. It’s just good clean fun. If you do a feature, I usually end up in my skivvies because the air conditioner can’t be on. You have to do a four-hour session.
You end up in that first outfit from Constantine that they put you in the leather pants and no shirt. Looking back, you’ve got this amazing body of work and you have the energy of a super young man. You’re nowhere near finished, but if you look back on this body of work, what are some standouts that you say, “Man?” Were you saying in the beginning of the interview that you don’t watch your own stuff or no?
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I doubt anybody does in our business. It’s like listening back to music, too. You might like the song, but you also hear the mistakes where you should have done it differently. You see my ugly nose and ears. You see things you don’t like. It’s like watching yourself on the beach or a photo from your vacation if you had one. You don’t say, “I look good. Look at this guy.” It’s hard.
It’s interesting because I produce a lot of podcasts. It’s one of the things that I tell my clients. I’m like, “Listen to every episode. That’s how you get better.”
You can learn what you’re doing wrong and what you want to improve on.
You don’t need to do that because you’re just naturally good.
Sometimes you have to see, so you don’t become a mannerism. You have the same thing and takes going on in each movie.
I’ve been very aware with the voiceover stuff that I do. I’ll hear different intonations and the way I land on it on the end of a sentence. I hear it back and I’m like, “I got to switch that up somehow.” It’s annoying to you.
No one else will hear it except for you.
There are only so many ways you could say, “Thank you for calling ABC Company. Press zero to get to an operator. Press one for so-and-so.”
Press two to never talk to a human being ever.
Press four and you talk to Stormare.
Are you doing cameo at all? Have you ever been intrigued by that to try the cameo thing?
A little bit here and there. I have a couple of more years where it’s going to come up hopefully. In the last little quarter of my life, I’ve been carrying around so many ideas in my head. It’s like I have a lot of dough on the rice. All of a sudden now, it feels like I’m ready to go into the oven with my own ideas. Some of them come out horrible and some of them come out like pretty good-looking cookies. That’s what I’m doing. I’ve been writing a lot of scripts. We’re pitching scripts, me and my little company. I have a couple of people I work with. I always thought in my career, “In the last years of my life, I’m just going to do the things I love and the ideas I’ve carried around in me.” You’re never too old to start a rock band. It’s like the ideas I carried with me since I was 16 or 17 years old that I now want to turn into movies or whatever.
That’s the episode, Jim. Don’t you think? “It’s never too late to start a rock band.” That’s a takeaway.
I had a beautiful inspiration moment. I’m all about funny and viral-type videos. You should reprise classic Peter Stormare roles in Hallmark Christmas movies and replace different characters. That would be hilarious. Have you seen what Kevin James is doing?
What is he doing?
He is inserting himself in classic movies as either the sound guy holding a boom mic. The Notebook, in that classic scene where they’re in the rain and he is asking her, “What do you want?” He is going, “I just need a sound check. Mr. Gosling, please give me a sound check.” “What do you want?” “Mr. Gosling, all we need is just a quick sound check.” It’s hilarious.
I have to check that out.
I love broad comedy. I’m a sucker for a multi-cam comedy. I know it’s going out of fashion, but I love it.
The crazy guy wants to be a clown, too. I love humor and a good laugh. I like to be funny. That’s what I’ve been trying to build into all my dark characters. It’s some little enigmatic question mark that I flip and becomes a hook. It’s like the Spanish question mark. It’s a hook more than a question mark. I try to get the viewer interested, even if this guy had killed somebody that they want to know more about him. They wouldn’t mind sitting down and having a coffee with him just to hear the rest of his story. They don’t get intimidated and shying away from the screen. You’ve got to do it with a little twinkle in your eye.
You are a deep guy.
I’m a little bit of a philosopher that loves to laugh.
We can have cups of coffee together. That’s when it comes to faith.
There’s a good old story, you might have heard of it, about the guy who comes to the psychologist and sits down. The psychologist said, “What’s the problem?” He said, “I’m getting suicidal. Everything is so dark in my life. I don’t know what to do. I need help to solve the problems in my life.” The psychiatrist said, “I have a remedy. There’s a circus in this town. I’ve been there a couple of nights. I’m going to take you to the circus and you’re going to see this clown. This clown is fantastic. He makes me laugh. I’ll forget about tomorrow.” The guy across the table said, “Sir, I’m that clown.”
What’s the Space Monkey from Outer Space? Is that all your safe and sanitized gear?
Yes. Me and my wife, we’ve been married many years and she is from Japan. We have a daughter together. We started when she was 3 or 4 years old. I had a story that is called Space Monkey from Outer Space. I started telling her and then I wrote it down. My wife is a great cartoonist of anime. She created all this little space monkey, his friends, all his caricatures and all these beautiful, little living creatures from outer space. Now, we open up a web shop and work with a company called the Brothers Marshall out in Malibu. We’re going to be in the store. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, you can’t get a T-shirt anymore. You can’t print it. Everything had been closed for months.
It’s unfortunate and it’s still closed. It’s a little bit of bad timing, but he is going to get out there with more music and their Space Monkey music, too. He does music. You’re going to get the Space Monkey music and Space Monkey gear. There are a lot of cool things coming up. She is fantastic. She can draw anything. It’s all about this monkey from outer space and he loves Earth. He doesn’t understand people, but he loves foliage. The leaves, just lay in a meadow and see the leaves because they don’t have that in outer space where he is from. He is trying to understand what human beings are all about and why they’re running around like crazy when they can just watch the leaves move and rustle.
Surely, we’re not the only life on a planet. There has to be some other people watching us out there going, “These idiots.” People can learn more about that. Click the link @TheRealStormare on Instagram.
I’m all on Instagram. I can’t be on Twitter. There are so many angry people. If you say something, you get so much anger. I can’t even watch it anymore. All the production companies are wanting you to tweet before or on Facebook, but now they like Instagram.
Did you hear about Tom Cruise? He lost his cool on the set of Mission: Impossible 7 because someone broke COVID protocol. He went off and then Clooney defended him. I saw that on the net.
I heard it on MPR. Someone called in on MPR and said, “He is doing the right thing, but what about us? I’m working as a male nurse. We were just screamed at from our supervisor to wear the same PPE for five days in a row during the pandemic.” All of a sudden, this comes into the news when we have had this for nine months where we are trying to save a lot of life, but we ourselves are dying. My thoughts are going out to all the people working in hospitals, all the retirement housing, and senior living rightly so because when you shoot a movie, you should hold the restrictions. I’ve done two movies on the COVID. It’s very important that everybody heed to the rules. He could have done it in a more graceful way.
If one person breaks the rules, it puts everybody at risk.
I know it happened to a couple of friends of mine in Europe. They had to close it down and no bond company gives an insurance anymore. If it’s COVID, you have to pay for it. That’s why a lot of people don’t want to shoot unless they have some kind of guarantee like a buffer zone. If it’s closed down, at least we can make 1 or 2 weeks when closing down and come back. You have to have that in the budget from the beginning. That’s why he said, “We’re 1,000 people working, depending on this movie. The people can lose their jobs. We should listen to the rules and regulations. We’re all trying to walk through this together.”
Rightfully, he could have addressed it differently. I would have taken them to the side and said something or tell the producers. It’s the right thing. We should all listen to the scientists these days and not to other crazy people. My heart goes out to all the people in the hospitals that doesn’t have the standard PPE and can’t get the right mask. We’re all tricked into thinking the vaccine is going to solve it all, but we have to ride this out. Our ancestors rolled everything out so we could be here. I’m sorry. I’m getting into deep waters again.
I so much appreciate you spending this time with us. We’re massive fans. I hope that this all goes away and society comes back one day. We can all get together and be creative. Maybe we can make music together someday in Los Angeles.
Make contact when you come out here again. I would love to see it.
I’ll be out on the second week of January or the New Year of 2021. Jim, I love you. Thank you for your time and talent. We always have a good time. We get to do this with Mark Sheppard next, the actor from the TV show Supernatural. Have you ever encountered Mark?
Thanks so much again. Happy holidays and stay safe. We’ll see you soon. To all the readers out there, thank you so much for reading. We got an email address for questions and comments, TheRichRedmondShow@Gmail.com.
Shout out to Harry.
If you’re running right now, thanks for reading. Be sure to subscribe, share, rate, and review. Keep coming back for the good stuff. We’ll see you next time. Thanks, Peter.
Thank you, Jim.
He is known for his work as Gaear Grimsrud in Fargo (1996) and John Abruzzi on Prison Break (2005–2007). He also appeared in the films The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Playing God (1997), The Big Lebowski (1998), Armageddon (1998), Dancer in the Dark (2000), Windtalkers (2002), Minority Report (2002), Bad Boys II (2003), Constantine (2005), and 22 Jump Street (2014), and the video games Destiny (2014), Until Dawn (2015), Destiny 2 (2017) and many others. Stormare is also a musician who records and performs with his band “Blonde From Fargo”.
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