been a fan of Tim Thomerson for a long time. How long?
Well I got bit by the bug for “B” movies in the early
90’s when I was working my way through college as a
projectionist for a movie theater. While my theater ran
Flash forward twenty or so years. I’m still watching “B” movies and I’m still loving them, but I now also write and pod-cast about them. That has brought me a lot of surreal moments, but probably none more so than the day Tim Thomerson called me.
Tim has been working on an independent film project, BRING ME THE HEAD OF LANCE HENRICKSEN, which is being written and produced by Hollywood filmmaker/actor Michael Worth. Done documentary style, the film is a BEST IN SHOW for the Hollywood set, as it follows Tim’s quest to learn why Lance Henricksen (ALIENS, THE TERMINATOR, DOG DAY AFTERNOON) gets all the good roles and he doesn’t. As I talked with Michael about how production was going on the project, he said, “Would you like me to ask Tim if he wants to do an interview?”
Tim - So are you
eatin’ Moon Pies and drinkin’ RC down there in
Nic - I haven’t had a Moon Pie in quite a while. As for
drinking, I’m more of a Diet
Tim - Hey, I just had a Dew!
Nic - And God bless you for it sir!
Tim - (Laughs) Well I have to get stoked up and go take my ‘old guy’ walk this morning. I used to run but I’m all messed up right now. I just had a neck operation and I can’t run because of it.
Nic - Ouch. What happened?
Tim - Well I had the
operation about eight weeks ago. I had a surfing
Nic - You were surfing over in
Tim - Yeah, I’ve
gone over to Phuket,
Nic - When you recover from this will you be able to surf again?
Tim - Yeah, I’ve got about three more months of recovery before I can get back in the water for that. I’m going to try and get on a swim program here or something like that here just to start getting that range of motion back. You get some screws in there and some plastic and then you have to let your body get used to that stuff. I’m in physical therapy now but I really miss going in the water. It makes me crazy.
Nic - I can understand that!
Tim - Say
Nic - He graduated from my high school so he came and spoke to my class a couple of times.
Tim - Well Jim is one of my heroes!
Nic - Really?
Tim - That’s right. David Letterman and I are old friends and we both just loved Jim. We couldn’t get enough of him. I’d say “Hey Jim, what’d you do for fun back there?” [in a very good imitation of Jim Varney’s voice] “Well Tim we’d take LSD ‘n fight each other!”
Nic - [Laughs]
Tim - He was just the best! He had a great stand up routine. Just damn funny stuff. Letterman still breaks out into some of Jim’s bits every now and then.
Nic - Speaking of stand up comedy, didn’t you get your start in stand up?
Tim - Well kind
of…Anthony Zerbe helped me get my first job back in the
early 70’s as an extra on SERPICO, and I got my union
card from that. Then I was in
One of my goals back then was to do “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. I was intrigued by guys like Carson, Pryor, [Jonathan] Winters. I also liked Steve Martin - we kind of started out at the same time. So yeah, you could say that I got my start in stand up, but acting is what I was studying and that’s what I always wanted to do.
Nic - So stand up was more of a doorway into the industry for you then?
Tim - That’s a good
way to put it. Of course I was lucky. Pryor put me in
CAR WASH. Then Robert Altman saw me on “Midnight
Special” - it was a variety show that ran after
I will say this
though, stand up was sort of a doorway for me, but I was
able to do what I set out to accomplish in it. I played
Nic - Once you got into films, it seems you didn’t have much trouble getting work. You’re credited with close to 200 roles in movies and TV, but it seems like you end up doing a lot of Sci-Fi, from your role on the 70’s show “Quark” to the TRANCERS movies and such. I have to ask, as someone who’s known for their work in Science Fiction, are you a fan of the genre?
Tim - [Laughs] Not
on any level at all! I’ve just never been a spaceships
and Sci-Fi fan. The only thing I ever really liked was
THE THING, the original and the remake by Carpenter,
that was a good movie too and I liked BLADE RUNNER. I
tell ya, sometimes it feels like you’re living in BLADE
RUNNER today in
The Sci-Fi thing
just sort of happened. When I started out in TV I got
cast as the bad guy a lot in shows like “
Nic - So do you try to bring some of that ‘gangster/tough guy’ feel into your Sci-Fi roles?
Tim - I was
fortunate enough to train in acting with Stella Adler.
She was a good teacher. I also had a basic foundation in
theater, although I couldn’t stand doing theater…all
those words and dealing with the ‘theater folk’
[Laughs]. It was all just a little too intellectual for
me. Anyway, all the jobs I was getting were film and
television related and I was a first generation
television watcher and so I was influenced by those guys
that I saw as a kid. There was also my Dad, he was a
navy guy and so I grew up on naval bases in
Getting back to your question about the Sci-Fi roles, other than “Quark”, TRANCERS was really the first real Sci-Fi role for me. Well I looked at this character, Jack Deth, and I thought it would be good to play him in a ‘noirish’ fashion. So I went to the writers Danny Bilson and Paul De Mao, and I said, ”Why don’t we do this guy as a Phillip Marlow type only set in the future?” I just ran with that and created the persona of Jack Deth. So that’s kind of how that got started.
Nic - What about some of your other Sci-Fi and Horror roles?
Tim - I had some interesting ones like NEAR DARK, which was more horror than Sci-Fi, and NEMESIS. Now there was a film that was ahead of it’s time. The character I played in that was a tough one to pin down.
Nic - How so?
Tim - Well if you’re really watching the film [NEMESIS], you’ll pick up on the fact that I’m really playing a woman in a guy’s body. In the beginning when you see Farnsworth, he’s a little off center. Then later in the film I turn into Farnsworth the cyborg and he’s a completely different dude. So I was talking with Albert [Pyun] and I asked him how I should film this guy because I didn’t really have a bead on him. Albert explained the character to me a little better, and said start off with him off center, but then make him become more and more machine-like, really bring out the cyborg. That was an interesting character to play and I think that movie is highly underrated.
Nic - I agree, it had a lot of concepts and action in it that you really hadn’t seen before.
Tim - Exactly! Take the scene when Olivier [Gruner] takes his machinegun and shoots a circle around himself and drops right through the floor. Albert was the first guy to do that! Now think how many times you’ve seen that in the big budget films by Bruckheimer and those guys. There were a lot of bits like that in NEMESIS that come back later in other movies.
Nic - I can see that. I mean the whole film was kind of built around the idea of the internet and the ‘information age’ but it was made back in 1992, before that really took off and he nailed a lot of it…except for the killer cyborgs taking over the world.
Tim - [Laughs] Yeah those guys were pretty weird.
Nic - You’ve done quite a few movies with Albert Pyun.
Tim - I’ve done ten
movies with Albert and he’s one of my favorite guys to
work with because he takes us all around the world
making these movies and I got to play all these
different types of characters. We’ve worked in Hong
Nic - So wait a minute…you owe your marriage to DOLLMAN?
Tim - [Laughs] Well, yeah I guess so. That’s one that I kind of like. DOLLMAN was a fun little movie…a stupid movie, but fun.
Nic - You’ve been in so many movies and shows that this may be a tough question, but what do you think were some of your favorite roles to play?
- [pauses for a long time] There was a slum lord I
played for a couple of episodes of “Hill Street Blues”
and he was probably the most ‘not me’ character I ever
played. I really had to slip into this character; he was
Then there’s this
little movie I did by director Bryan Cranston called
LAST CHANCE. It was really a ‘chick’ movie, but it was
pretty good. I play this guy who’d written a book, like
a Hemingway or maybe more of a Cormac McCarthy type
who’d gone to the bottle and ends up driving a truck and
just trying to stay sober. Then his truck breaks down in
this little desert town and he falls in love with this
woman. It’s something I’ve never played in my life and