Alex Cox, director of Repo Man, joins CU-Boulder's film studies faculty this fall
WW: Was that influenced by Peckinpah at all?
AC: The second time around it's a little bit Peckinpah-esque, but it's more in the style of a Mexican director called Alberto Mariscal, who died last year or the year before in Los Angeles. He made these really mad Mexican Westerns on the sets of the American Westerns that were done by John Wayne. He would then go down and make his own completely weird, demented Westerns. So it's more of an homage to Mariscal. Not many people know about Mariscal, but he's a very good -- and I don't know if it's enough saying he's a good director, but a very interesting director. Another surrealist.
WW: You've worked with a lot of musicians in your films, whether it be Strummer, the Pogues, Courtney Love, Grace Jones. Music is also is a big part of your films, like using scores for Pray for Rain.
AC: It's a big part of most films, isn't it? Unless you don't have any music, which is pretty amazing. If you can do a film without music, that would be pretty cool. Maybe I can do that at Boulder and maybe finally I can do film without music.
WW: You've used a lot of indie music in your films as well.
AC: I can't afford the mainstream stuff. It's too expensive. When we were doing Repo Man we wanted to have a Talking Heads song in the film, but it was $10,000. I was like, "Come on, that's the whole music budget of the film!" So it's interesting with these fake indie films that come out you can always tell if it's a real indie film or if it's not, because if it's a real indie film you've never heard the music before. If there's a bunch of classic rock in there you know it's a studio movie pretending to be an indie film.
I don't think I've ever spent more than a $1,000 on a song. Maybe the opening title of Repo Main because it was Iggy and Steve Jones in the studio and they rented studio time. Maybe the Repo Man cost a couple grand because we would've paid Iggy a fee to do it and then he would have hired musicians and went in the studio. So they were being more serious and there wasn't any kind of price break on it.
WW: Speaking of Repo Man, I think it's held up quite well over the years. Would you agree?
AC: I think that's right. There are good performances. Harry Dean, Fox Harris, whose character is the mad scientist, they're really good characters and they do... and the Tracy Walter character, the guy in the junkyard with the speech about flying saucers. It's all right. It seems to have endured.
WW: Have you had any favorite actors you've worked with over the years?
AC: The nicest actor I've ever worked with is Derek Jacobi, who is incredibly nice, and also Andrew Schofield, who's an actor in Liverpool -- the guy who played Johnny Rotten in Sid & Nancy. He's a really nice guy and a very talented actor. So those two guys are really good. A bunch of the guys I worked with in Mexico were excellent actors. Ed Harris is a very good actor. Del Zamora is a good actor. Miguel Sandoval is a good actor. Marlee Matlin was good too. I remember her. I haven't worked with her since but I thought she was a tremendous actor.
WW: I heard you're working on a new project about Dennis Hopper's 1971 film The Last Movie tentatively titled Dennis Hopper's Last Movie.
AC: Yeah, it's either called Dennis Hopper's Last Movie or Scene Missing.
WW: Can you tell me about it?
AC: I was talking to some people who had worked on the film, and my goal is to track down as many survivors of the film I can and just interview them about it. It's quite a fascinating film. And it was made at a time when the studios were trying... again, then and now... they've given up now, but they were always for awhile trying to make independent films and they gave like a million dollars to Dennis Hopper and to Monte Hellman for Two Lane Blacktop and to Peter Fonda for The Hired Hand and for a couple of other films. And then the terrible clash that happens when the studio culture meets the independent culture. But the film itself is very interesting. It's very complex, and it seems to have a lot of influence on David Lynch. I would think that Blue Velvet really couldn't exist without The Last Movie. We're trying to track to a print down, so if we can find a print of it, we'll screen it.