Where: downstairs lobby of the Manhattan Theatre Club. 6 pm.
John Glover is starring in the Manhattan Theatre Club's production of Love! Valour! Compassion!, and it is the day after its opening. All the newspapers are filled with rave reviews today, and he has just gotten word that the play is now sold out and given an extended run. Such accolades are the furthest thing from his mind as he proclaims that he is just ecstatic to be back in New York on stage "in such a wonderful, magnificent play."
I want to take you through the events that transpired today and show you how this man, who is so well-known for playing evil and treacherous characters, possesses the patience and understanding of a saint. I don't recall who phoned who this morning, but the first thing Glover asked me after our initial greeting was, "You still want to interview me today?"
"Of course," I stated as firmly as possible, hoping that he hadn't changed his mind. My fear was put to rest when he immediately suggested a time to meet at the theatre's backstage entrance. As I hung up, his question still confused me, and little did I know how prophetic it would be. To start off, I arrived twenty minutes late. It was all because of the subway, of course, and I ran all the way from the station.
As I was darting up the steps to go inside, Glover called out my name, and I realized that I had ran right by him. I apologized and tried to explain about the train, but he just looked at his friend's watch and sympathetically lied, "You're not late."
I was then introduced to the people he was talking to, and they bought copies of All About ACTORS. We stood around out there for a while longer because he said he wanted to finish his cigarette, but I think he just wanted to give me time to catch my breath. Inside, we sat down at a table in the lounge area where folks were setting up for that evening's performance, and I asked him about our phone conversation.
TH: I was really surprised that you thought that I didn't want to do this anymore.
JG: I just do this if people ask me, and they seem nice. So-
TH: Oh, no.
JG: "Oh, no,” what?
The red and green lights on my old Panasonic tape recorder are quickly dimming.
TH: I'm sorry. I just have to check this.
The tape is rewound and everything sounds like slow motion garble.
TH: I don't believe this. I just bought these batteries! (gets up and shoves the chair under the table) This is turning out to be the interview from hell. I'm so sorry.
JG: Just calm down. It happens.
TH: I'll go get some more. I’ll be right back.
JG: That's okay. We have plenty of time. I’ll wait right here.
So I was on the run, once again, and had to pay an exorbitant amount of money for two measly AA batteries at a newsstand up the block. As I dashed back in, the security guard tried to stop me.
"I came in with John Glover," I pleaded, pointing to where I was headed. When I got back to the table, Glover was still there sipping a cup of coffee and smiling at the disheveled mess I must have looked like. With Duracells now doing the task, we started over.
TH: That's better. So you were saying about th-
A few feet away from us, someone suddenly starts chopping ice noisily at the bar.
JG: Yes, I just-
The chopping gets louder, and at this point, we both just have to laugh.
TH: (yelling over the noise, hoping the perpetrator hears) I've heard jackhammers hit concrete with less volume!
The chopping does not stop.
JG: (yelling) Maybe we should go over there in the corner!
We pick up our chairs and scrunch them next to each other behind a wall, which muffles the racket considerably. But without a table, Glover now has to hold his coffee in one hand and the tape recorder in the other. Except for a few minor interruptions by folks saying hello or offering congratulations on the good reviews, the rest of our conversation was incident-free.
Anyone who has bought a movie ticket in the past twenty years has definitely seen John Glover's talent in countless big screen releases. But whether it's a comedy or a horror movie or a cops and robbers action vehicle, the powers that be constantly have him cast as the villain. Glover offers his take on the situation and how his "bad guy" image all began.
"Because I've played so many roles that are villains, I like to think it's because I do them well that they stand out," he chuckles. "But I know that the film industry more than theater tend to type actors, which is unfortunate because we usually get to play how we're perceived. It's very nice when that happens in reverse.
"The first movie I did that I kind of started standing out in was Julia. I had one scene in it, but I played a very smarmy man. From that I got other movies that had that same quality, and it just kind of grows that way. But if you get a good villain--" Glover suddenly lights up like a bonfire. "Oh! That's a lot of fun! Because the villains are usually very active roles to play and have a lot of drive to them. The psychological makeup of that person is usually more complex and more interesting. You get to delve into all those little psychoses and neuroses that make the guy do what he does."
Unlike some actors who believe that they look completely different from role to role if they put on a period costume for one part and a flannel shirt for the next, or others who go to extremes of astronomical proportions to change their bodies only to wind up looking like a cartoon version of themselves, John Glover takes a healthy approach to altering his exterior. His main focal point is his hair, which has been buzz cut, shoulder-length, dyed numerous colors, permed, etc. When asked why he feels the need to constantly change what a vast number of actors have not altered in their entire careers, Glover states candidly, "Maybe it's because I want to hide behind that.
"I had a teacher in college who just set it up for me in my mind about playing characters and investigating how each character is different. It's something I've carried with me, I guess. But I do want to have each character I play look as different as possible, so it seems the hair is a good place to start--because I couldn't get a nose job every time," he adds with a smile, and then shrugs, "I don't know. That's how I attack 'em. You think I'm crazy?''
TH: No! I said I think that's a good thing that you do.
JG: Oh. But I'm surprised I have any hair left!
TH: I was going to say because the normal mortal human being's hair would have just fallen out in clumps by now. (touches his hair) God bless it.
JG: Thank you. Yeah, I'm really surprised.
"At one point I did so many things to it at once that it just turned green! It was in the middle of a movie called Last Embrace, and we had already started shooting. It had been dyed blond for another role and then permed, but it was kind of brownish. The brown was washing out of it, so I thought, 'Oh, I'll just get this rinse myself and put it on.' But I didn't know enough about it, so I got an ash color. When it came out, my hair was green.
"We were supposed to shoot a scene that night, and we couldn't. I saw them back at the camera putting red filters on to try and take out the green in my hair, and finally they just called a wrap. So I got in trouble for doing too much to my hair."
The story of how John Glover became an actor is in accordance with the stories of how many other successful actors started out. He always wanted to be an actor, but couldn't conceive of how to become one. Then he got to work with some people who gave him the chutzpah to pursue his dreams and come to New York, believing in himself even if no one else did.
"When I was a kid in Maryland, it seemed beyond my reach that there was any way that I could be an actor. Then when I was in college, I went down and worked in a summer theatre in Virginia with professional actors from New York. I shared stages with them. So it seemed if I could do it there, I could do it in New York.
"So when I first came to New York, I was quite fearless, which I don't feel now. I feel very timid about a lot of things now."
TH: Why? I mean, everybody knows how someone goes from being this quiet, shy thing to becoming this monstrous, bigheaded-
JG: Oh, I don't think I was monstrous and bigheaded.
TH: (laughs) I don't mean you. I'm just using those words as an example. It's just that to know why the reverse happened is much more interesting.
JG: I don't know. Maybe it's because I've learned more about life and the value of it. I don't know. I can't answer that. Life is always changing, so I don't know how to answer that.
TH: Well, I guess it was kind of an "out there” question.
JG: No! It's a very good question, but I don't know if I'm prepared to deal with it right now.
TH: Okay. Let us not have you deal with anything you can't deal with right now.
JG: (lets out an unexpectedly loud, hearty laugh)
TH: (laughing) You've got a show to do, pal! I'm not even going to touch that one. (checks the list of questions) Oh, wow.
JG: (leans over to see) "Oh, wow,” what?
TH: We're almost done. That was really fast.
JG: Maybe I didn't talk enough.
TH: Oh, that's fine. Transcribing these things is murder on my wrist. So this is my usual ending question: What do you love about your life?
JG: Gee, I love a lot about my life. I have wonderful friends. I have an incredible home. (thinks for a long moment) I'm very lucky.
TH: I threw you for a loop with that one, huh?
JG: Yeah. Well, I have good health. I have love. What more could one ask for?
TH: That 70 million dollar Lotto jackpot.
JG: Oh, yeah! That would be nice.
I don’t know if John Glover plunked down a dollar for a Quick Pick, but I doubt either one of us will hit the lottery this week. But I feel that I've already won a substantial prize, since what could have been a disastrous evening turned into an enjoyable chat because of him. AAA