|Title: Rapido Interview
Source: Rapido TV show. BBC TV-6 (UK). Presenter: Antoine De Caunes. Transcription from tape by "Pieter from Holland" as published on the Tom Waits Library.
Date: Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago/ USA. October 31, 1988. Aired November, 1988.
Keywords: Big Time, Franks Wild Years, Ironweed, Jack Nicholson
Picture: Presenter Antoine De Caunes
ADC: Good evening. This is Rapido (..?..) with the most eccentric, electric and eclectic content. (..?..) because Rapido is a rock show. Having stopped drinking and he has (..?..) on his birthday. But it can be true, because he's never been as productive as in the past two years. His picture Big Time(1), just opened in Britain. The film develops the idea of his play Franks Wild Years(2), which was produced last year in Chicago. Even though the two are very different, if you see what I mean. It's in Chicago where (..?..) Rapido met Tom. And at 5 days from election day, one still feels confident about his winning. (..?..)
[Shot of fans outside: "Tom Waits for president. They make us control the piano, they can control the country! Yeah!"]
[Excerpt from Big Time: "Hang On St. Christopher"]
Voice-over: On Halloween night in Chicago, where it all started three years ago at the Steppenwolf theatre, we talked to Tom about Franks Wild Years. His improvised monologue about the failed (..?..) son. First turned into a play, then a stage show and now a feature film.
TW: It's just, you know, it's just agriculture. You water it and it grows, you know. I don't know. It started with essentially, you know, a gag or a bit. You start playing, I start talking and it kinda grew out of that, you know. Ehm I don't know, if I can, you know, I mean go back in there and you know, take you all the way down through there. It's just, you know. You start with an idea and then develops into something else, you know.
[Excerpt from Big Time: "Clap Hands"]
Voice-over: Rapido persisted in asking how much Big Time really differs from its previous incarnation as a stage production.
TW: Well in the play everybody had lines, you know. So (laughs), I'm the only one with lines in this. It's different, I mean the stage production of Franks Wild Years was a play with eh... you know, principal cast of five people. A lot of other people involved. It was like a circus you know. This is mostly a stage show with. you know like a revue, a floorshow.
[Excerpts from Rumblefish and Down By Law]
Voice-over: Now a successful actor, Tom most recently played a real down and outer dying of cancer in Ironweed(3) opposite Jack Nicholson.
TW: The character for me was more like a little kid, you know. Like a lost little kid. He was like a middle aged man, you know. Ehm, you know, I learned a lot from watching Nicholson. He doesn't miss a trick. He, I mean he has a great eye for detail and he constructs characters of pieces. A grandfather and a piece of his uncle Ned and aunt Shirley, you know. You know he takes the walk from his eh. from Shorty and eh the hair from Billy and you know.
[Excerpt from Big Time: "Gunstreet Girl']
Voice-over: Big Time features three costume changes. We were intrigued to know more about Tom's dress sense.
TW: I don't really take big fashion risks you know. You know I usually grab something and put it on, you know, and then I forget about it, you know. Maybe wear a white diner jacket for the lounge numbers, because it's you know. picks you up on the spotlight and is easier to see. You know from the balcony. It's got a little bit of that Vegas feel to it. And then I wear a hat in the last part, but I've always worn a hat, one time or another.
[Excerpt from Big Time: "Pregnant without intercourse"]
(1) Big Time: further reading: Big Time.
(2) Franks Wild Years: Further reading: Franks Wild Years.
(3) Ironweed: Ironweed (1987) Movie directed by Hector Babenco. An adaptation of William Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Ironweed. With Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Plays Rudy the Kraut. Further reading: Filmography