...which is a German online magazine to be found at www.galore.de.
And because I am nice and with LOADS of help, this has been translated to English :) Please don't make a big deal if there are any little spelling mistakes in there or something - I think it works quite well and I also know we might have overlooked something, but you surely get a good idea of what he said in Venice.
09/04/2009, Venice, Villa Foscari. „ Be carful. Vincent Gallo will ask what you want to know from him,“ warns the PR- Lady prior to the Interview. But this is dispensable - the 48- year-old actor, musician, director, photographer and painter with the liabiltiy to the extremes doesnt show any defense, but open minded friendliness. His appearence- deep in the holes set eyes ,mazy hair, airtight beard- reminds of an Old Testament Preacher, and indeed Gallo spins wildly enlaced thought-threads; admittedly without orthodox furor but healthy distance. In between he builds an abstract sculpture out of a napkin. In the heat of the converstation he bursts trough any timelimit. Even as the implied PR-Lady enters the room to pick him up for lunch, he cotinues to sprinkle briskly. Even the topic „food“ encourages surprising considerations, that becomes clear right at the begining of the meeting on account of a plate full of berries on the table.
Mr. Gallo, You look at the berries so scepticly. Don´t you want any?
Vincent Gallo: No, better Not. Since i know what real berries taste like.
I conicidentally know the head of the Dole Food Company. He has the biggest private greenhouse on earth, where the earliest genetic variants of all fruits are cultivated- from seeds that are 10.000 – 100.000 years old. When you eat a berry there- it is truly unbelievable, not to compare to anything else. Even at an organic farmer´s market you can get only modified versions, nothing pristine. But there it is proverbial like in the Garden of Eden- i never had such an intense experience before.
How much time to you spend in this Garden of Eden?
Unfortunatly not as much as i would like. The problem is, that i can only hardly bear the owner.
He is not a bad person, but an extremly agressive businessman like this: „I! I created this!“
When i want to visit him, i have to build a protective barrier around my heart.
Usually i can accomplish that once a year.
What’s it like when it comes to movies? Do you only work with directors you can bear or do you also accept difficult candidates? What was it like when you were shooting “Tetro” with Francis Ford Coppola?
I’ll go the long way round to answer that question. I grew up in a family with a very low income in Buffalo, New York. A very unharmonious home. I went to New York City, out of reasons that i still dont understand, and there i started doing peculiar performance-shows: i pretended crying jags in front of restaurants, i let myself colide with cars, i ran trough the streets screaming.
Why did you do that?
I had told friends to be there at a certain point of time to watch me. I did that for quite a while and one day, a film student asked me to act in his debut as a director. And I said: “How much do you pay?” And he started to explain that the whole things was a very personal art project and that he couldn´t pay anything and i said: „Man, i´ve got my own problems. I’m in it for money though.“
He said: „Fuck you. you´re no artist.“ and off he went. A few months later he came back and paid me $ 500. And since then the first thing I ask when I decide whether to make a movie or not is:
“How much do you pay?” And that also counts for a Francis Ford Coppola.
But there are no typical commercially succesful projects in your filmography. That seems a bit contradictory.
Maybe that’s because, in Hollywood, you’re not alloed to ask for money that open. But I can’t change it. I don’t insist that this is a good attribute of me. I’m not a hero.
This behaviour, this fixation on money, only reflects the narrow minded way of thinking I grew up with. And it's not that I would get a lot of offers. That's why I can't afford to ponder whether I like a certain director or not. I have to take what I get as long as they pay me for it. When I did the synchronization of the Swedish film "Metropia", it was just the same. But as soon as I had accepted the job, I tried hard to deliver the best work possible. I put myself under so much pressure that I'm difficult to work with for my colleagues. And that leads to conflicts.
But your are looking for conflicts with the audience. Your second work as a director, „The Brown Bunny“ got booed by the full audience in cannes.
But it was also funny somehow. Who can make 3.500 people boo? I never had so much attention before. And people didn't do it at the end, they started right away with the opening credits. They hated the film right from the start. As soon as they read "Directed, Written and Produced by Vincent Gallo" they started booing. Because everyone knew: this is the movie, where i get blown.
But you had to know that the explicit blow job would lead to extreme reactions:
I don't like explicit sexuality. In my newest film, there is nothing of that - not even a kissing scene. In "Metroia" I felt slightly uneasy because my character was naked. And when you look at "Buffalo 66" and my photography, everything is really discreet. When it comes to "Brown Bunny", I was confronted with a certain dilemma. I wanted to present a situation I knew way too well from my experience: the breakdown of an intimate relationship and the intense mix of sadness, anger, regret and resentment that you feel when it happens. In this context, the physical contact with your partner becomes really uncomfortable. And that's why I thought: Usually, we do see explicit images in the context of sexual fantasies. But what if I took an icon of erotic and show it in connection with anger and sadness?
But that doesn't mean you are forced to take such extreme measures.
Trust me - it wasn't fun for me. I am very concerned with my private life. I don't even show myself at the pool in bathing clothes, I never even owned any. There are no pictures of me topless. When I had to lie next to my colleague Maribel Verdu in a love scene in "Tetro" I was so tense that Francis Ford Coppola said: "You did 'Brown Bunny' so just kiss her!". But in "Brown Bunny" it was important that I put my dick in Chloé Sevigny's mouth. I didn't even think about what that would look like, I only thought about the bigger context of it all. Only when I started cutting the movie, when I saw the images out of context, I thought "Oh God!". But on the other hand it's not erotic at all. The whole thing was no performance stunt, no gag, no act of narcism. I put three years of my life in this movie to achieve the greatest aesthetical perfection possible.
How did you deal with the negativity that hit you afterwards.
I found a simple solution for things like that: Ieliminated my desire for love and accpetance. I don´t need any of that- that way i can deal with rejection and misjudgement towards myself. I am not particularly proud of that, but that is how i am. Probably because of my childhood.
Tell me about it...
Once, my mother did something really evil: I had let my hair grown in a certain way and I was the coolest boy at school. But my mother was a hairdresser and she cut my hair. I told her: "If you destroy this hairstyle, I'll never ever talk to you again." But she didn't listen and cut my hair short. As a consequence I didn't talk to her for three and a half years. Whenever I am confronted with something negative, I stop caring. I don't need anyone.
What is your emotional situation now? Are you still rejecting love and friendship?
I don't find love, but I am happy as ever in my life. Even though I have always been happy - even when I have been fighting with other people on the street. But I am never depressive, I don't ponder negative things. I wake up in the morning, I see something and I think: "What a color! Isn't that great?" I always think in a constructive way. What can I build, organize, create? I love my life, I never want to die. The only thing that irritates me is when things don't work the way I want them to work.
Don't you have any fears?
I used to...no more though. When I was younger, a lot of my actions were driven by fear. Because I was scared to be poor I worked harder. Because I thought women could reject me, I looked for partner I had complete control over. But now I don't think about my fears anymore, I grew as a person.
You want to be immortal - don't you fear death?
The one thing has nothing to do with the other. I said I want to live forever because I reject all kind of prefabricated opinions. When I grew up, people said: "Oh, your uncle, he's 50, he's old now." They believed everything was written down statistically. "This is the average age. When a man is older than 40, he has to have his prostate checked." But nothing is written down! We can choose a totally different point of view. If I die, it doesn't matter. Only the fact that I wanted to live forever is wonderful. I feel free and I am not limited by any kind of prejudices.
Are you religious?
I had an interest in Buddhism, I have been to temples, where 5000 monks were singing - that's an overwhelming experience. But I don't believe in religious enlightenment. The way is a process that never ends. That's why I am not religious. I am rather fascinated by the cosmos.
Once you realize how far away the closest star is, you lose your ego. Alone the fact that we use the word "world" for our earth, which is a tiny planet, seems naiv to me. We have to see our life in a different relation. The death of Julius Ceasar happened 2.000 years ago but what does that mean in relation to the age of humanity? Our history started six million years ago and we have millions ahead of us, hopefully. Everything we consider to be absolute size seems relative.
We'd like to have that a bit more detailed.
For example, was does "poor" mean? Years ago it meant something different than it does now and a hundred years from now it will mean something totally different again. In the early 20th century people worked under conditions we would call slavery now. That was accepted back then. We always see things in the wrong context. But only when you put things in the right relation, you stop taking your position and point of view seriously. And that way you lose your ego.