Interview with Dune Guy
SARGE: Thank you for coming down to do this interview.
DUNE GUY: Anything for you, Sarge. I haven't slept in twenty-four hours, but I couldn't turn down an opportunity to interview with you.
SARGE: You must be tired. I understand you're just back from filming the Friends season finale in London.
DUNE GUY: I don't know which end is up. I've been in New York, L.A. and London.
SARGE: Friends is a real phenomenon right now. Why do you think Friends is so wildly popular?
DG: I think for the most part it's because it's funny. I really think that that's the big reason why people tune in every week is because it's funny. I don't think it's because of hairstyles and wardrobe and phenomenons and all that stuff. I think if you turn on Friends every single week you're going to laugh because it's written really, really well.
SARGE: What do you like about your character?
DG: The thing that I like about Chandler is he says the things that he thinks about himself out loud, that other people would keep to themselves. Just walks in a room and just goes, "Well, I'm pathetic and miserable and I'm going to die alone," when other people just in their worst moments would kind of have that fleeting thought. He just walks in and announces it to people.
SARGE: Are you as neurotic as Chandler?
DG: He's a slightly exaggerated form of me, a little more neurotic and pathetic. I'm enjoying the fact that he's growing up a little bit.
SARGE: So tell me, are they going to resolve the sexual tension between Chandler and Monica?
DG: I'm all for it. Courteney's pretty hot, and if I get that storyline, I get to kiss her a bunch of times. And those two having a relationship could be very interesting because they're the most neurotic of the group. I know stuff, but I can't tell you. I would be bludgeoned with coffee cups, and they'd make me listen to the Friends theme song over and over again.
SARGE: Dune Guy--can you tell us a little bit about your role in One Night Stand?
DG: My character's name is Vernon, Robert Downey Jr's brother ...kind of the more conservative brother - in fact, he's not real comfortable with the way his brother lives, and he has a hard time dealing with watching his brother die from AIDS. There's the contradiction between loving his brother and the anger initially directed at his brother. But then he has a little epiphany and realizes his anger should be directed at the disease. And he comes to love his brother again.
SARGE: What attracted you to the project? Was it the script, the chance to work with Mike Figgis, the chance to play Natassia Kinsi's husband?
DG: [Laughs] Well, being married to Natassia has some fringe benefits. She's another hottie. But seriously, it was the chance to work with Mike and the challenge to take on a character who appeared on paper to be a bit conservative and a bit unsympathetic, and to allow the audience to understand his journey a little bit. I wasn't interested in playing a one-dimensional guy who was there to serve the purpose of people resenting that type of character. I wanted to show a guy who had the dilemma of not really understanding his brother's life style but who in the end did not allow that to interfere with his love for his brother.
SARGE: One Night Stand was initially a script by Joe Eszterhaus that was revised by Mike Figgis. I've always gotten the impression watching Figgis' movies that he lets his actors improvise more than most directors. Was that true on One Night Stand? How much of Vernon started as an improvisation?
DG: I don't know about Mike's previous work but certainly in One Night Stand it was very improvisational - in fact I thought the whole movie had a feel of looseness to it. The most obvious moments of improv that showed up on the screen? For Vernon, it was when he removed his gloves. Vernon makes a gesture towards his brother; he hugs him, he makes physical contact for the first time since learning his brother is infected. And he removes his gloves. A subtle moment, perhaps, but telling about his character.
SARGE: One Night Stand hasn't received the warm critical reviews that Mike Figgis' earlier Leaving Las Vegas did. Are reviewers being fair to it?
DG: No. I think they're being hypercritical. I don't think they're able to go with the poetry of the movie. The movie is very delicate and very subtle. I don't think the critics allowing it a chance to breathe and live. Critics tend to dwell upon and become fascinated by the obvious. A very telling example of this is the reaction to Robert Downey's performance in the film, a very moving performance as a man dying of AIDS. That's where the critics focused their attention--because it's a flashy, edgey, politically correct characterization, the most obvious thing to write about, particularly in view of certain events in real life. I've seen the movie four times now - which is three times more than I usually see any movie I'm in. I've seen it with with a variety of different audiences, Italian, French and American, and they all seemed to enjoy it, different chords resonated.
SARGE: I heard that you were being considered for the part of Jack Ryan in "Clear and Present Danger."
DG: [Laughs] Watch out Harrison Ford! No, I don't think I was ever seriously considered for that role. Harrison Ford played Ryan in the previous movie, and you just don't bump an actor like Harrison Ford.
SARGE: Your first movie was Dune, directed by David Lynch. Your second movie was Blue Velvet, directed by David Lynch. For a while there you were typecast as a sort of post-Lynchian geek. In retrospect, how do you see your involvement with Lynch?
DG: Certainly it was both positive and negative. From where I am today, I view it as mostly positive. David and Mark Frost were the people who brought me into Twin Peaks. That's what really turned me in the direction of television… if I hadn't done "Peaks" I probably wouldn't be in "Friends" right now. Of course, at the time, I felt like I was in some kind of weird twilight zone where the only scripts I was seeing were what I call "oddball scripts." I could go back and say I wish this, I wish that about those early years - but once you stay around the business long enough, you realize what it's all about. It's a tough world.
SARGE: I guess this brings up the fact that you've had a rough year.
DG: The whole "me" thing. Chris and I talked about that, too. I got in trouble with this pill called Vicodin and had no idea what was happening to me. It was a very tumultuous and difficult time, and it's strange to say, but it's probably the thing I'm most proud of in my entire life. I know that given a really difficult situation, I stepped up and swung the bat and helped myself. Anything can come at me now and I feel like I can take it because I got myself through that.
SARGE: How did you first come in contact with the drug?
DG: Wisdom teeth, probably. I fell off a Jet Ski. I took them for the right reasons, at first.
SARGE: Was there something going on that you were stressed about?
DG: That's kind of private....
SARGE: What made you realize you needed to check yourself in?
DG: I was finding that I needed to take these things. That was the wake-up call.
SARGE: There have been rumors that it was something besides just a painkiller.
DG: Well, I'm telling you the truth. It was just that. The thing about rumors is, those are going to happen, and when the rumors stop, maybe that's a bad thing because nobody cares anymore. If there's a rumor that I'm dating Charo and I know that I'm not, who cares?
SARGE: What are you doing to stay healthy? Are you going to meetings?
DG: I did that for a while and maybe will again. The idea of ever doing [the drug] again terrifies me to my very soul, and I am able to realize if I took one of them, that'd be it, I'd probably just keep going.
SARGE: There was the weight loss, which must have been hard to handle. What did you tell people?
DG: I had just finished doing a couple of movies back-to-back and doing the show simultaneously. I worked something like 60 days without a break. I slept from set to set, in a van with a bed in the back of it for about a month and a half. So there was a lot of that stuff, like, "I'm tired."
SARGE: Did you pay attention to how the media responded?
DG: I watched The Tonight Show the first couple of nights I was [in rehab], to see, and there weren't any jokes. There's literally nothing funny about it. That's why this is the first time I've talked about it in the press. I like to be funny in these kinds of interviews.
SARGE: These are pretty somber questions.
DG: That's your fault, Sarge.
SARGE: Let's talk about something else. You're such a ladies' man. You've dated Julia Roberts, Yasmine Bleeth, [ABC executive] Jamie Tarses…
DG: Yeeesss.… You know, of course, that I went out with the lovely Julia. She is one of the smartest, funniest women I've ever met. But the problem is, she's so ugly. Just to have to look at that unattractive species, it was just too rough on me.
SARGE: And Yasmine?
DG: I think we went on a date…
SARGE: And Jamie Tarses?
DG: She is obviously smart, beautiful and very funny. I wouldn't say that we dated. We've been friends for a while and became closer friends within the last year. We were both presidents of the tabloids for a brief period. It was nice to talk to somebody who understood that.
SARGE: So, have you found your one true love yet?
DG: Mrs. Dune Guy is still out there. But there's about 12,000 perfect women in the world, so I'm sure I'll find someone eventually. But for now I'm enjoying being single. I don't have time for a relationship anyway. In fact, speaking of time, I have another plane to catch, so I should be moseying along.
SARGE: Well, thanks so much for coming down to see us tonight, Dune Guy. It was great fun!
DG: I've enjoyed it too!