While he's never been a typical leading man, Crispin Glover has distinguished himself as one of the most intriguing personalities in the movie business. His unusual characters and personal projects have inspired a cult-like following that has dubbed him both madman and genius.
The son of actor Bruce Glover, Crispin Hellion Glover was born in New York City and raised in Southern California. He picked up his father's trade while still in elementary school--by age 13, he already had an agent scouting out parts. A lead in a stage production of "The Sound of Music" (starring Florence Henderson) led to guest spots on the TV shows "Happy Days" (1974), "Hill Street Blues" (1981) and "Family Ties" (1982), which in turn led to roles in made-for-TV movies. The adolescent Glover felt "confined" by TV work, however, so he opted to stick to movie parts. He made his big-screen debut in the teen hi-jinx movie in My Tutor (1983), then followed up with a supporting role in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984).
Glover's most defining Hollywood moment happened the next year, when he appeared as George McFly (Michael J. Fox's father) in the instant classic Back to the Future (1985). The underdog character struck a chord with moviegoers. Oddly enough, the actor delivered one of his favorite performances around the same time - playing a small-town kid obsessed with Olivia Newton-John in the indie The Orkly Kid (1985)--but the smaller film was completely overshadowed by his commercial success. Glover did, however, receive critical praise for his next indie role, a starring turn as a high-strung murder witness in River's Edge (1986). Glover and the producers did not come to a financial agreement for him to reprise the role of George McFly in Back to the Future Part II (1989). The producers brought the character back to life by splicing together archived footage and new scenes (using an actor in prosthetic makeup). Glover, who hadn't given permission for his likeness to be used, sued the film's producer, Steven Spielberg, and won. The case prompted the Screen Actors Guild to devise new regulations about the use of actors' images.
In 1990 Glover teamed up with fellow eccentric David Lynch to play the maniacal Cousin Dell in Wild at Heart (1990). He filled the next decade with similarly quirky, peripheral roles, including a turn as Andy Warhol in The Doors (1991) and a cameo as a train fireman in Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995). His small but memorable appearances in films like What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993) and The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996) often outshone the main action.
When he's not stealing scenes from Hollywood hotshots, Glover pours his considerable energy into other creative endeavors. He wrote his first book, "Billow Rock", before age 18, and since then he's gone on to create a library of peculiar titles (several of which have been published through his family's Volcanic Eruptions press). Among his most famous volumes are "Rat Catching" and "Oak-Mot", both Victorian-era stories updated with macabre illustrations and cut-up text. In 1989 he released an album of spoken word readings and cover tunes (including a rendition of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'") entitled "The Big Problem [does not equal] the Solution. The Solution = Let it be."
In 1995 Glover began shooting his directorial debut, What Is It? (2005), a surreal film populated entirely by actors with Down's Syndrome. He tours with the film and it's sequel It is fine. Everything is fine! and his show, "Crispin Hellion Glover's Big Slide Show," which is a one hour dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books. The artist in Glover has been said to be inspired by "the aesthetic of discomfort," a theme which seems to have been carried over into an artistic public performance on David Letterman's NBC show in 1987, Glover emerged wearing a wig and platform shoes, then delivered a swift kick toward Letterman's head that prompted the producers to cut to a commercial. Late 2000 saw him hitting the multiplex with roles in Nurse Betty (2000) and Charlie's Angels (2000), and the titular Willard (2003). He re-teamed with Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis as Grendel in Beowulf (2007) and has worked with Johnny Depp for the third time in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). Other Glover projects loom on the not-too-distant horizon.
Son of Bruce Glover.
Attended Beverly Hills High School (class of 1982).
Attended The Mirman School, a private K thru 8 school for mentally gifted children in Bel-Air, California. His mother, Betty, remained active with the school after his graduation, choreographing student musicals and graduation ceremonies.
In an earlier draft of the screenplay for Back to the Future (1985), his character, George McFly, went on to become a world class boxer instead of a writer.
Attended the same High School as Angelina Jolie, Michael Klesic, Nicolas Cage, Lenny Kravitz, David Schwimmer, Jonathan Silverman, Gina Gershon, Rhonda Fleming, Jackie Cooper, Rob Reiner, Antonio Sabato Jr., Pauly Shore, Michael Tolkin, Betty White , Corbin Bernsen, Elizabeth Daily and Albert Brooks.
When reminded by David Letterman in 1992 of his first appearance on the "Late Night with David Letterman" (1982) show, when Glover had aimed a kick at the TV host's head, Crispin replied, "What a crazy thing to do!".
Started acting professionally in 1977.
Has variously eaten a macrobiotic, vegan and living food diet since in his early twenties.
Has worked with Johnny Depp in three films as of 2010: What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Dead Man (1995), and Alice in Wonderland (2010/I). Depp shares the same birthday with Michael J. Fox, who played Glover's son in Back to the Future (1985).
Was one three actors from Back to the Future (1985) who was replaced by another actor in the sequels. Eric Stoltz was replaced by Michael J. Fox in the original production. Claudia Wells was replaced by Elisabeth Shue in the sequels. Glover did not reach a financial agreement with the producers. This is why George McFly (played by Jeffrey Weissman) appears in only a handful of scenes, and also why the plot of Back to the Future Part II (1989) revolves around him being assassinated.
Is three years younger than Michael J. Fox, who played his son in Back to the Future (1985), and eleven years older than Angelina Jolie, who played his mother in Beowulf (2007). Both films were directed by Robert Zemeckis.
The band Scarling has a song titled "Crispin Glover".
Close friend of Nicolas Cage.
A Norwegian record label is named "Crispin Glover Records". Their logo is his distinct hair style.
Crispin Glover has twice played characters whose present circumstances have been changed by time travel. In Back to the Future (1985), he plays George McFly, who changes from hen-pecked loser to successful writer as a result of his son traveling back to the fifties. In Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), he plays Phil the bellboy, whose missing arm is restored as a result of a journey back in time to 1986.
Was a guest at the wedding of Madonna and Sean Penn. At the time, Crispin was working with Sean on At Close Range (1986). At the wedding, Crispin met Andy Warhol, whom he played a few years later in The Doors (1991).
[on contemporary movies] People watch movies - and it's vague ideas, it's vague notions, but people pick up on these things, that they are supposed to think certain ways or that they're not supposed to think, basically, and they don't. And then it's like, if you do any thing that's thoughtful, they think, "Oh, that's weird..." (Ain't It Cool News, 2003.)
Realism is always subjective in film. There's no such thing as cinema verite. The only true cinema verite would be what Andy Warhol did with his film about the Empire State Building - eight hours or so from one angle, and even then it's not really cinema verite, because you aren't actually there. As soon as anybody puts anything on film, it automatically has a point of view, and it's somebody else's point of view, and it's impossible for it to be yours. (NYPress, 2002.)
The United States has it's own propaganda, but it's very effective because people don't realize that it's propaganda. And it's subtle, but it's actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but it's funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, it's funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesn't necessarily mean it really serves people's thinking - it can stupify and make not very good things happen.
[on absence of countercultural film] There's a healthiness to having something that people some people are taken aback by a little back, because what that means is that there's a discussion going on. And when there's nothing that's being taken aback, nobody's surprised, nobody's being tested or challenged, then there's no learning process going on, and it makes for a stupefied culture and I think that's happening.
In the past, I've never tried to discount or stop what people are saying because on some levels I find it interesting. But if I look on the Internet or in news chat groups, I tend to read, 'Oh, that guy's crazy, that guy's nuts. He's insane or psychotic.' At a certain point, it does get a bit like, 'I'm not. Really.' Look, I one-hundred percent admit and in fact implore people to understand that, yes, I am very interested in countercultural things. But there's a difference between having artistic interests and being psychotic. That's more than a fine line of differentiation, and I do see that a bit too much.
[on being called eccentric] Eccentric doesn't bother me. "Eccentric" being a poetic interpretation of a mathematical term meaning something that doesn't follow the lines - that's okay.
I think what eccentricity can represent in terms of the fear it engenders is a challenge to what is already considered right or good by people who have invested a certain amount into their life and livelihood that is not eccentric, but centric. If there's a challenge to that, that can make people concerned that either what is considered a safe way of living or a good way of living may be pulled out from under them. I can understand that. That's why countercultural film movements are important since it's lacking in the culture right now. There's an idea that there's value to an alternate point of view, but everything that's presented in the media is procultural, and it makes people nervous when there hasn't been a true discussion of alternate points of view. There's no general discussion in the media.
I do like things that are not necessarily a reflection of what is considered the right thing by this culture. Somehow, promoting that status quo I find uninteresting. I have thought about that more as the years have gone on, and it's a feeling that I would not have been able to describe 15 years ago as I can now. But at the same time, I don't intellectualize it, I don't have a written manifesto or just say this is the only thing I can do or will do.
I'm not somebody who believes that darkness is something that should necessarily be hidden from children or anything like that. I think children like a lot of the same things that they like as adults' or rather, the other way around, adults like a lot of the same things that they liked when they were children.
Probably my four favorite directors are Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Stanley Kubrick and Luis Buñuel, because with all of their work you can think beyond the edges of the film. They're not films that dictate to you, this is what you must think. They're all films that have compelling stories, but there are thoughts beyond the films themselves.
At a certain point in an actor's career it is good to say to oneself "What am I?" and then figure something out. You could call this entity an archetype as opposed to a stereotype. I believe this conclusion of self is a good thing to stick with, and explore the entire universe from this point of view. This does not limit one, but expand. It is only good if one can get some kind of truth from within this point of view. If it is a false ideal, then it will become a "stereotype" as opposed to an archetype.
I think humor delineates who your friends really are. I worked on Little Noises (1992) with Rik Mayall, and he described to me a theory of humor. With pack animals, if there's a sick one in the bunch, the others will growl at it and try to get rid of it. This translates to the comedian on-stage. There are two types of comedians. One who says, "Everybody laugh at that person," and the braver comedian who makes them laugh or growl at himself. It brings people together. The audience laughs at this sick thing: they become a part of this clan or tribe. And that's where you get your friends: you share a certain humor about the sick and the foolish.
There's a tradition in the American media to ask actors what the movies are about, but it always seems wrong. It seems like the directors and the writers only often see an actor quoted in what a movie is about.
[on filmmaking] My favorite part is editing. That's where you are making the final art of what the movie is. Being on set is kind of the war element. Editing is a kind of, clean-up stage where the beauty comes into it.
[on strip clubs] The ecdysiast's art, the appreciation of the female form, the prurient music handpicked by the dancers contribute to an atmosphere I truly enjoy.
The Hero's Journey is the most basic story form. All stories and myths are, on some level, a Hero's Journey. It is almost impossible to relay any kind of story without utilizing some pattern from the structure of a Hero's Journey. One could simply say, "He went across the street". And this would be the hero leaving his normal world to set out upon his quest. It can come forth from the psyche in many different patterns, still work within a greater pattern, and still be good structure as long as it is reflective of an inner psychic truth.
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