Volt Café got the chance to catch up with Bobcat Goldthwaite, the actor and comedian turned film director. Apart from having the most fabulous first name he is also both the writer and director of the deliciously dark comedy, God Bless America, which is on general release from the 4th July, coinciding with the American Independence Day…

Volt Café: What made you decide to direct rather than act?
Bobcat Goldthwaite: I slowly realised I wanted to direct when I got more interested in that side – like I’d start checking out the credits for directors rather than actors when I was watching films.

VC: What do you hope to achieve with God Bless America?
BG: Not sure. Primarily I wanted to vent. I wanted to ask ‘where ARE we going?’ I didn’t want to point the finger too much – whenever you do that, there’s four fingers pointing back at you. I tried to make a film that would question where we are going and to emphasize that I’m just as confused.

VC: Do you think anyone like the people portrayed in the film would actually recognise their behaviour if they say the film?
BG: They don’t! Teens have actually asked me why you can’t text in the movie theatre, what’s wrong with doing that?

VC: Why do you think we on the whole have become so graceless? And what would it take to return to a basic code of civil conduct?
BG: I think all the digital advancement encourages narcissism. We don’t have conversations, just comments. In a way rather than connecting to more people we’re isolating.

VC: Why did you call it God Bless America? I looked it up and it’s America’s unofficial anthem, incidentally written by Irving Berlin, an immigrant from Siberia.
BG: Seemed funny! Titles usually come to me and I just have to laugh. I promise the next one WON’T be a ‘coffee mug title’! (Bobcat’s previous film was World’s Greatest Dad)

VC: Any criticism that surprised you?
BG: That people didn’t like the film because ‘not enough people got killed’! Others, ‘that it’s not very polite either to kill other people for being rude’. Or that Frank and Roxy aren’t any better than the people they are irritated by.

VC: The Diablo Cody backlash stunned you as well?
I must admit when Roxy utters that line (‘Diablo Cody. Fuck her for writing that movie, she’s the only stripper who suffers from too much self esteem’.), killing the holiest of cows, I and everyone in the movie theatre took a collective sharp intake of breath!
BG: But why would a character like Roxy like Juno? One thing that makes my daughter fly into a rage is when people – thinking they are flattering her – compare her to Juno! She’s like, Dad, I want to stab them in the neck for saying that!

VC: All the reviews are united in their praise of Tara Lynne Barr’s portrayal of Roxy. How did you find her and what were your instructions to her?
BG: The chemistry is so brilliant. I based Roxy on Liza Minelli as Pookie Adams in the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo. I must be the only straight man in the world who’s obsessed with Liza Minelli! Tara had the energy of Roxy when she came to the casting. She is like Roxy – playing her she could just let loose and not have to edit herself. A lot of very smart kids choose to hide that at school, play it down so as not to stick out.

VC: What’s up next for Bobcat Goldthwaite?
BG: Next I want to do something more loose. I’m not really competing with any film makers out there – just the grim reaper!

Words by Anna Bang


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