Carradine Playing MINDGAME at Soho Playhouse

By: Oct. 16, 2008
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'When a writer of pulp crime novels gets an interview with a notorious serial killer he believes he has snared the coup of his career. But when he arrives at the asylum, he finds nothing can be trusted, not even his own eyes. Through a series of lies, manipulations and memories, dark secrets are revealed.  Why is there a skeleton in the doctor's office? Where did the raw meat in the fridge come from? What is the nurse so afraid of? ...and most importantly, how does one get out?'

These questions and more can be answered in the New York premiere of Anthony Horowitz's acclaimed thriller, MINDGAME starring Tony Award nominated actor Keith Carradine, directed by Ken Russell, the acclaimed  director of the films Tommy, Woman In Love and The Boyfriend. Produced by Monica Tidwell, Darren Lee Cole, and Michael Butler, MINDGAME begins performances at SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street) on October 28th and opens Sunday, November 9th.

MINDGAME played London's West End in 2000 at the Vaudeville Theatre following a successful 10-month engagement at Colchester's Mercury Theatre and a two-year tour of the UK. 

Carradine is best known to New York theatre audiences for his Tony Award nominated performance as the title character in The Will Rogers Follies. He won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Foxfire with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, and most recently appeared as Lawrence in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Imperial Theater.  His television appearances include Wild Bill Hickock in HBO's "Deadwood", FBI Special Agent Frank Lundy on Showtime's "Dexter", Agent Carl McGowan in the new season of  CBS'  NUMB3RS and the CBS mini-series Chiefs.

Carradine appeared with brothers David and Robert as the Younger brothers in Walter Hill's film The Long Riders. His first notable film appearance was in director Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller.  He went on to appear in other Altman films including Thieves Like Us and the critically acclaimed Nashville, for which he won an Oscar and Golden Globe award for his top-ten hit "I'm Easy".

His other film credits include Emperor of the North, Louis Malle's Pretty Baby, The Tie That Binds, Ridley Scott's The Duellists and many of Alan Rudolph's films including Choose Me, Trouble in Mind, Paris in The Moderns and a cameo role as Will Rogers in Rudolph's Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. He recently completed filming an as-yet untitled dark comedy with Hope Davis, Selma Blair and Dermot Mulroney, and Peacock with Cillian Murphy, Susan Sarandon and Ellen Paige.

Currently in rehearsal for MINDGAME, Carradine took some time out to talk with me.

TJ:  How's life in New York, Keith?

CARRADINE: I love New York. When my wife and I come here, it's always a great adventure and there's always something exciting and exhilarating and crazy things happening. It's just the most exhilarating city in the world. We love it here.

TJ:  Where are you from?

CARRADINE: I grew up in California. I was born near San Francisco. San Mateo, California was my birth city and that was where my grandparents lived and where I partly grew up. I went back and forth between the Bay area and Los Angeles until I was about eighteen years old, at which point I was on my own. I started out in Venice and then I came to New York to be in the Broadway cast of Hair for a year. Then, I came back to California and I have been there ever since, with the exception of six to eight years in Colorado. I had a place in Colorado for a while.

TJ: So, you were in the cast of Hair? I didn't know that!

CARRADINE:  I was! Yeah, that was my first job!

TJ: Wow, that takes me back a few years!

CARRADINE:  1969. I like to say that was my first job but I actually did play a very small part in a B movie. It was like a biker flick. A friend of David's and mine made a movie called The Pink Garter Gang. It was about bikers and some very tough women. I played a surfer on a beach. I actually have to include that in my credits as that was my first actual paying job as an actor. But really, it began with Hair.

TJ: The Pink Garter Gang...hmmm. I will have to check on Amazon.com for that one!

CARRADINE:  You will never find that one. It was a movie made by a baseball player, Mick Mehas, who had some money. He hadn't made a huge success as a baseball player, as most athletes would say, ‘He had to cut the coffee in the majors.' This was a little movie that he put together and he was the star of it. I think he made it with his own money. It was a tiny little thing. Like I said, I shot a scene on a beach in Malibu where I was supposed to inadvertently walk into this gang of very tough biker chicks, who were having a bonfire on the beach. I walked into the middle of it and they were very intimidating and I slink away. That was my entire moment.

TJ:  I am aging myself, but it sounds like one of those old drive-in features.

CARRADINE:  Yeah, yeah. If you can find it, actually, let me know. I'd love to have a copy.

TJ:  OK, I will. Now, this new play you are doing, MINDGAME ...I gotta tell you, when I read the synopsis it gave me the chills.

CARRADINE:  That's good!

TJ:  It sounds like a sort of horror suspense production...very unique.

CARRADINE:  It is unique. I don't know if you are familiar with the term ‘psycho-drama'. This is a psycho-drama about psycho drama. It continues to fold into itself or spill out of itself. Who people are...what's real and what's not...who's mad and who isn't mad. It takes place in a mental asylum or does it...is it a mental asylum or a country house. It's very creepy and if we pull this off, it will be a really, really entertaining evening! And it will be the kind of thing, because it's so complex, that people will be tempted to come back and see it again, knowing what they know and having seen it once. You know how much fun it was to look at that movie Memento over and over again.

TJ:  Sort of like The Sixth Sense, where you had to go back and watch the movie again once you realized what had just happened.

CARRADINE:  Exactly. I think that this play will have an aspect of that to it. It will be good fun to come and see it again and notice all of the things that you didn't notice the first time through. I think it's going to be a terrific evening. I really do! It's kind of Sleuth meets Silence of the Lambs.

TJ:  Your character's name is Dr. Farquhar?

CARRADINE:  Yes. There's a line in the show, "The ‘q' is silent, the ‘h' is redundant.

TJ:  How does he fit into the picture?

CARRADINE:  As the scene opens, there's a man by himself in the office and he's wandering around the office. You get the idea right off the bat that he is a writer who is there to interview this Dr. Farquhar. Lee Godart, who plays the writer, is wandering around and making observations with a tape recorder and I arrive, finding him waiting there for me. Then the action begins, as it were. All appearances indicate that I am Dr. Farquhar and am indeed the man who runs this hospital, a maximum security hospital for the mentally insane. That's what appears to be the case for at least the first five minutes and then things start to get strange.

TJ:  When you first read the script, what were your thoughts about it?

CARRADINE:  I wanted to do it. I wanted to figure out someway we could get this done. Where do I sign! When do we start? Where are we going to go? Monica Tidwell, who is one of the producers, is the driving force behind this thing. She is friends with Michael Butler, who produced Hair on Broadway, and Michael is still a dear friend. He's the one, in fact, who told me about this play and had Monica send it to me. So that's really where it began. Michael and Monica had been speaking and Michael had said that I might be really good person to be a part of it. I read it and said, "Yeah! Count me in!" And that was about six months ago or so when this all began. And, here we are!

TJ:  And you are working with one of my favorite film directors, Ken Russell.

CARRADINE:  The legendary!

TJ:  Yeah and he has done so many unique...in some ways what I might call bizarre films. In a good way!

CARRADINE:  He is definitely the right sensibility for this play. We have had a week of rehearsal and his eye is so unique. His point of view is so distinct and he is certainly bringing that to what we are doing. He's full of ideas and is all there. This is quite exciting to get to work with him. I am a huge fan for all my adult life. It's a rare opportunity to work with someone like Ken Russell.

He's such a unique visionary artist and it's really interesting to be working with him in this medium. He's directed opera but he's never directed a play. His sensibility in terms of the characters and the play is perfect for this. And his visual sense is going to have a real big part of what the audience has to see here.

TJ:  A lot of New York theatergoers will remember you for your run as Will Rogers in The Will Rogers Follies, for which you received a Tony nomination. I have to say I was amazed by the rope tricks and the choreography...you made it look so effortless.

CARRADINE:  Well, thank you for saying so. I appreciate that! I worked very hard to make it look like I hadn't worked very hard. It was a great show...I had a great time and needless to say, who you're going to see in this play is so diametrically opposed to who I was in that show.

TJ:  How many times did you perform as Will Rogers?

CARRADINE:  You know, I don't have an exact count. I did it for a year plus previews in New York and then I did for a year on the road. So, two years of eight shows a week. I missed one performance in New York and two performances on the road.

TJ:  You have done it all from film to tv to stage. Do you have a favorite genre?

CARRADINE:  No, I can't say that I do. I love them all. The thing that would make me the most sad would be if one was cut off from me. I have been very fortunate to be able to move from one to the other.

TJ:  You were in one of my favorite films directed by the incredible Robert Altman. You actually did a few films with him.

CARRADINE:  McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Then we did Thieves Like Us and then we did Nashville.

TJ:  I love the way that he assembled such amazing ensemble casts for his films and his films were so artistic. People must have flocked to work with him.

CARRADINE:  Oh yeah. Actors loved him! And I think it had to do with the atmosphere he created. It was an incredibly fertile ground. He invited everyone to bring their ideas. Some he would use...some he wouldn't. He was incredibly collaborative that way. He encourage everyone to bring what they had and I think that's why actors loved working with him so much because they felt invited.

TJ:  And for Nashville, you won the Academy Award for the song I'm Easy! Were you a songwriter before the film?

CARRADINE:  I wrote my first song when I was seventeen. And still do that.

TJ:  Are we going to see a country album from Keith Carradine?

CARRADINE:  Well, I've never been a country writer. I got associated with country because I did the movie Nashville, and the very name denotes country. I have always been kind of a folk balladeer...folk rock. I had some jazz influences. My earliest influences were people like Tim Buckley and Gordon Lightfoot. It was the sixties when I really picked up a guitar and started to write songs. I was never much a fan of country. There are certain country artists that I think are great and love, like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. People like that. My tastes are really eclectic. They are sort of all over the place.

TJ:  Were you surprised when you won the Oscar?

CARRADINE:  Yeah, I didn't think I had a prayer. I was up against the Motown machine, you know?  I was up against Berry Gordy and Diana Ross with the Theme from Mahogany. I thought it was a slam dunk. I was completely shocked. It was a great moment for me.

And it was a great moment for all us watching! Many thanks to Keith Carradine for a great interview and you can see him in MINDGAME, also starring Lee Godart (David Hare's Skylight at Actors' theatre of Louisville, "All My Children," "The Edge of Night," "Search for Tomorrow") and Kathleen McNenny (The Constant Wife, Coram Boy).

MINDGAME begins performances October 28th at SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street). Opening night is Sunday, November 9th.  Via subway, take the C/E trains to Spring Street. Performances are Tuesday - Sunday at 8PM, with matinees on Sunday at 3PM and Sunday evening at 7PM.  Tickets are $64 - $74 and can be purchased 24 hours a day at www.sohoplayhouse.com or by calling The SoHo Theatre box office at (212) 691-1555 between noon and 8:30PM.

So for now, I am going back to watch Memento and as always, theatre is my life. Ciao!



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