Dermot Mulroney, who plays “The King” in the show talked about how he became involved with this project and what it was like working on a high-concept show.
Dermot Mulroney is an actor and producer with a career spanning over 20 years. He is best known for his roles in the films “The Kids Are All Right,” “Love and Other Drugs,” and “War of the Worlds.” In this interview, he talks about his experience on the set of “The Blazing World” and how it has changed him as an actor.
Dermot Mulroney is perhaps best known for his co-starring role in the big league romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) opposite Julia Roberts, but digging a little deeper, Mulroney’s career is flush with rich projects and under-the-radar features such as the coming-of-age action film Survival Quest (1988) from director Don Coscarelli, the rewarding drama Staying Together (1989) from director Don Coscarelli, and the rewarding drama Staying Together (1989 His most recent performance is in writer/director/star Carlson Young’s bizarre fantasy film The Blazing World, in which he portrays a failing father and husband whose actions have irreversibly changed his family’s destiny.
To begin, I’d want to state that Survival Quest is one of my all-time favorite films.
That’s the first time I’ve heard anything like that!
Why?! That’s a fantastic film!
(Laughter.) Okay, we’ll get to it in a minute. Allow me to savor that sensation. Yes, it appeals to me.
That film perfectly personifies a young man’s coming of age as a boy scout. It’s dangerous and emotionally draining. That film has always struck a chord with me. Make a comment about your work on Survival Quest. For you, it was an early film.
That was my first feature-length film. Everything about it is etched in my mind. It’s great to talk about it and get your perspective. That is precisely how I feel. It’s odd since I’m now portraying a criminal in a film called Breakwater, which will be out in 2022. Even though I was simply a child from the suburbs, they portrayed me as the nasty kid in Survival Quest. There was a large number of individuals that gathered together to attempt to survive in this wilderness adventure, as well as a survivalist group they encountered. I’m sure this film has greater relevance now than it did back when it was released. When we filmed it, it was 1987. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes On the rocks and in the river, it was all very much actual stuff.’ This is a fantastic film. It’s the golden age of grindhouse cinema. It’s before Tarantino’s time. Man, it’s [Don] Coscarelli! Phantasm!
Coscarelli is one of my favorite authors.
Tarantino thinks so, too! He entered via one of those roots. Working with Lance Henriksen, on the other hand… He was a towering celebrity in my opinion at the time because he’d just finished Aliens, and so was Mark Rolston, who was in Survival Quest. He portrayed the bad guy group’s leader. So, here I am, on my first film set… I’d worked on TV movies and After School Specials and episodes before, but this was my first time doing “the movies.” That was my goal, so walking onto the set with these two giant stars from Aliens, which was, after all, the finest movie I’d ever watched up to that point, was a big deal for me. That’s exactly what I was thinking. It was a thrilling experience at the time. People you thought were elderly at one point in your life, guy, are so much younger than I am now. It’s a real time travel experience. Lance had to have been in his forties in the film. He looked to me to be the elderly person, I don’t know. Time breaks down, transforms, and reorganizes. Thank you very much for mentioning it.
You made a tiny under-the-radar baseball film called Long Gone, which has a cult following among baseball movie aficionados and is still growing. This is a film that every baseball lover should seek out. Say something about the movie and the fans of the movie.
Long Gone is a well-known film. It is constantly brought up by a certain set of individuals. Who made it, HBO, couldn’t get it off the air. It’s like the company’s second in-house film. It was unable to be transferred from VHS to DVD. That one did not go missing since it was home filmed, marketed, and pirated. It’s a fantastic film. William Peterson portrays the old manager of a southern AAA baseball club. It has a beautiful tale, an unexpected pregnancy… it’s a fantastic film. What an honor it was to collaborate with Marty Davidson, the film’s director. On that, I nearly learned how to play second base. It was able to endure because to the support of its fans and the fact that it is a fantastic film. Thank you for bringing up the film. That is, without a doubt, the path of a young kid becoming a young man. On that film, Billy Peterson was someone I looked up to. At the time, he seemed to be rather elderly. He was 32 years old! (Laughing.) To put it in context, it’s incredible.
I’m going to ask you about another film you made, and I’m going to bring it all together with the idea of masculinity and the path to being a man, and I’m going to connect it into The Blazing World because you give this beautiful speech about what it means to be a man in the film. In 1989, you made a terrific little film called Staying Together…
Are you planning on staying together? Is it true that you just said that title?
That’s exactly what I did. Nobody speaks about it, yet it’s a film that everyone should watch. In addition, it was directed by a woman.
First and foremost, I’d want to pay tribute to my close friend Tim Quill, who died away recently, and with whom I had a pivotal moment on Staying Together — he, myself, and Sean Astin. We had a fantastic time together. We played McDermott brothers, and Lee Grant, as you said, was an amazing director of that stuff. I’m honored that you’d bring it up now, after all these years. What happened to all of these films? They didn’t move from VHS, where every movie was on VHS and they sold them for like thirty dollars, but there was a breaking point, and a lot of those movies didn’t get digitized. They never even tried DVD, which is now considered obsolete. As a result, they were disoriented. Thank you so much for taking the time to view these videos and for inquiring about them. I’d want to know how old you are.
Isn’t that fascinating? It is really appreciated. I’m not sure what more to say about Staying Together. I should watch it again if you believe it’s good.
It’s all about becoming a guy and growing up to be a man. It’s a moving tale of three brothers who lose their father and struggle to find their way in life without him.
That’s fascinating. That included some stunning performances.
Well, I feel like you’re a failed male character in this new film The Blazing World, or at least you’re portraying an image of a failed masculine character. In Blazing World, you’re not so much playing a character as you are portraying a notion of a character, in my opinion. What are your thoughts on this?
Yeah. Yes, I believe there are two, if not more, incarnations of my character woven into the fabric of Blazing World. It’s odd that a woman is writing to this guy, insisting that he be treated as a man. It shook me to my core. I can think of at least ten other films in which my character went through some type of – not just growing up, but becoming a man – even My Best Friend’s Wedding did. If anybody has bothered to delve into Michael’s biography, you can guarantee that when people speak about him, it’s about how bored he is and that he wears tennis shoes, and then we watch him mature and come into his own, and which lady he prefers. There are several approaches of viewing a film. That’s something I’ve been asked to do several times. As a result, I’m grateful that I’ve had that opportunity. And if you’re talking about American masculinity in movies, that’s a topic I’m interested in hearing about. Because that’s what we’ve chosen to do, right or wrong, and a lot of it is incorrect… There’s a certain iconography that goes into who plays your main guy or villain, or any variation in between, like I do in The Blazing World. I have to tip my hat, and even more so, bow down to Carlson Young, who put this notion together and really emerged from the inner workings of her soul, handmade, tenderly and precisely produced… it’s such a lovely, great vision. It’s a short film, but we get to see everything on screen. Making a film like this needs a very brilliant intellect. We’re at a point in time when a lot more people may watch this film if it weren’t for various tides in the business, notably streaming, breaking free. Right now is a fantastic opportunity to hear great American cinema voices. Her eyesight is crystalline, and she has a fantastic vision. She was a pleasure to work with and is a lovely young lady.
I wanted to bring up The Trigger Effect since you mentioned lockdown.
(Laughing.) You’re incredible, guy! Come on, David! Let’s discuss about the Trigger Effect. During lockdown, that movie sprang to mind. Several times during the lockdown! I should re-watch it. Go ahead and ask whatever questions you want.
When it first came out, I recall viewing it in a theater as a teenager. It appeared so genuine, yet it also seemed like something that could never happen. It had the feel of post-apocalyptic science fiction. Now, as a people, we’ve come out of a position similar to this, where we’ve battled over something as little as toilet paper, for heavens sake.
Say something about The Trigger Effect and how it hinted to things to come.
Yeah, I’m trying to recall the ending. You’ve given me a fantastic task. But it was truly David Koepp’s brainchild who wrote and directed it. It is, nevertheless, of the Amblin school, a division of Steven Spielberg’s corporation. It was created by them. That was the closest I ever came to meeting Steven Spielberg. Tell him to call me at any moment if you speak with him. David had just finished watching the Jurassic Park movies, or was about to start watching the second one. He was the one who came up with the concept. A complete grid power blackout is shown, with just a few actors acting out the worldwide or regional shutdown, as they would in a pandemic. It was a dream come true to work with Kyle MacLachlan and Elisabeth Shue, and it was even better to collaborate with them in a three-hander. I recall every detail of the film’s production. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We filmed it just outside of Sacramento, near a nuclear power facility. In some respects, it had a gothic feel about it.
Did you ever get the impression that we were heading into a scenario like that last year during the shutdowns? Was there anything you couldn’t get your hands on?
No, not at all. But as I sat there watching the news, I wondered aloud, “Is this a form of The Trigger Effect?” Certainly, the film sprang to mind, as well as how it contrasted. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes Michael Rooker also appears in the film. He’s fantastic.
I just have a few minutes left, so excuse me as I return to The Blazing World. In the movie, you look to me to be a failing parent, husband, and guy, and there is some atonement at the end. Make a statement about it. What was it about this persona that attracted you in?
I’m not sure. It was a complete departure from the norm. They approached me immediately at the start of the epidemic. Wow, I thought as I opened the script. I’ve played maniacs in the past. I’ve portrayed nasty, terrible, and insane characters. Because I’m not recognized for it, you’ll see more of such jobs in the future because I’ve just completed a few. It has the quadruple responsibility of playing variations of her father from her perspective. He’s the kind of guy who never made it, and he blames his lack of life on his two young kids. His failures in life have caused his family to suffer, and the film is set in a flash of the imagination. It’s a lovely film to reflect about later. It has a long shelf life. Wait and see what Carlson comes up with. I’m hoping to be a part of anything she accomplishes. There’s a lot more to come from her. It was exciting to be a part of one of her early films.
Sir, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It was a pleasure to speak with you.
Thank you very much for bringing these films up, David. You took me on a journey down memory lane. You chose some pretty wonderful films that I’m proud of and gave me the opportunity to talk about them. So, thank you very much. It means a great deal to me.
Yes, of course. Thank you very much!
Yes, absolutely. Thank you for letting others know about The Blazing World.
VERTICAL ENTERTAINMENT’S THE BLAZING WORLD IS IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND EVERYWHERE ON OCTOBER 15 FROM VERTICAL ENTERTAINMENT.
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