BWW Interview: HAPPY GILMORE, LUCKY GUY Star Christopher McDonald Talks OFFER AND COMPROMISE
Christopher McDonald is known to many of us as the iconically awful Shooter McGavin in The Comedy classic HAPPY GILMORE, as well as the philandering husband in THELMA AND LOUISE. He's starred on the late, lamented HARRY'S LAW with Kathy Bates, and has a place in Star Trek history as Lieutenant Richard Castillo in the famous THE NEXT GENERATION episode, "Yesterday's Enterprise." On Broadway, he's been one of the great Billy Flynns in the long-running revival of CHICAGO and Eddie Hayes in LUCKY GUY with Tom Hanks.
What's an actor with a resume like that to do next? In McDonald's case, he's scheduled to begin work on OFFER AND COMPROMISE, the brainchild of actor/director Valerie Landsberg (FAME) and producer Tani Cohen (THE DUST FACTORY), currently in its last week of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign (www.kickstartval.com). OFFER AND COMPROMISE is a look at the modern American economy and the pressing issue of credit card debt and debt settlement, through a humorously skewed lens.
We talked with McDonald at his home in California about OFFER AND COMPROMISE, about his career and upcoming projects, and about the growing trend of Kickstarter and Indiegogo funding for independent films.
He's been everyone from Shooter McGavin to Mel Allen; he's been an infomercial host (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) and a cheating husband, and he's even been an unintentional STAR TREK icon. What are his favorite roles, and his favorite productions, to date? "The ones that are hits, of course! But seriously, the philandering husband in THELMA AND LOUISE, and Jack Barry in QUIZ SHOW. FATAL EXPOSURE was one of my great joys. We were shooting on location, and I got to impersonate this guy - I had a breakthrough as a young actor about playing bad guys, and it turned out really well. I just came off playing Tommy Jefferson on HARRY'S LAW with Kathy Bates, which I loved. That show died before its time. It was such a great, transformative show and it was such a shock when it was cancelled.
"Playing in FAMILY LAW with Dixie Carter and Kathleen Quinlan was incredible. And then there was THE TUSKEEGEE AIRMEN - I loved doing that. But in many ways, GREASE 2 was my favorite thing to do - riding about on motorcycles and in a T-bird; it was a thrill. And for a young actor when I came to Hollywood, GREASE was the word - it was the Holy Grail when I came to town."
So what attracted an actor with such huge credits to OFFER AND COMPROMISE? "My friendships with everyone in it. Valerie, I've known for years. Tom Cavanagh is great. And the script's timely. I have the ugly part, the man who makes people pay their debts. The economy's gotten so ugly now - this is what's happening out there. If we hit our mark, production's a go in April, right before a miniseries I'm doing for The History Channel. This is my third time with a Kickstarter program. It's always the last week where everyone comes together. I'm looking forward to starting on this." The History Channel miniseries is, incidentally, THE TEXAS RANGERS, scheduled to begin shooting in Mexico in June, and starring Bill Paxton, another project McDonald is looking forward to doing.
More and more name actors are coming to small independent films funded through the Kickstarter route, and McDonald expects the trend to continue. "For most of us, the attraction is the material. It's not green-screen special effects and CGI. The money on those things is great, but character-driven stuff is more challenging, more fun, and that's in the independent film world. That character stuff, the small stuff, has the really meaty roles in it.
"I hope the trend continues. That's the hope - it's tricky to sell a film once it's been made, but at least Kickstarter's a source of revenue to get it made in the first place. And it might not make the major movie theaters, but if it goes on cable, on, say, Sundance Channel, and it's repeated, then you've got all these people who do see it, who come up to you and tell you that they saw you, how much they loved you in it. I've invested in Kickstarter myself, though not in movies I've been in, and this is the third Kickstarter-funded film I've Gone into. It's a great way to fund things - there's no risk to the investors if enough money isn't raised. I think it's wonderful."