The Unofficial Christopher Nolan Website / Interviews / Larry Holden Interview

Interviews: Larry Holden Interview

How did you get involved in Memento?

I auditioned for it back in 1999. Think it took about a month before I got the word that Chris and Emma wanted me for that role ("Jimmy Grantz"). Usually, I try very hard to forget auditions or pending jobs or whatever, but that was the first script I had actually managed to finish in a very long time, so it was a real nice surprise when I got the call, to say the least. And, honestly, it's not a stretch for me to say that that experience has had a great positive impact on my life, and, I guess, my so-called career, too. Practically everybody that was involved with that film is still a friend of mine in some capacity, especially Chris and Emma and Wally Phister and Nathan Crowley. And Chris's brother, Jonah. And that's rare. At least for me.

What did you think of the script? Were there any discussions about "the truth"?

Well, like I said, it was the first thing I had managed to actually finish in almost a year or so. Seriously. And that includes screenplays for some of the jobs I had during that time. I mean, it was painful to just read the damn things, let alone eventually watch them or be a part of them. Just the same old crap served up on different plates, that's all. So I became the kinda actor that I never wanted to be - lazy. I would agree to do the other gigs, and then I would postpone the actual reading of the entire scripts, sometimes until I was on the plane heading for the location, because it was my way of delaying the inevitable, major disappointment. But when I was sent the "Memento" script, I sat there and read it all the way through, straight through - which I remember really surprised my girlfriend Hanne. She just said, "Wow... Haven't seen you not throw a script across the room after the very first few pages in a long long time..."

Hmmm... Discussions about "The Truth?..." Nope. None that I recall. But I'm getting old, and that was five years ago, so... Then again, no offense, but even if I did or do know the "facts," I sure wouldn't tell you, or anybody else for that matter, and I don't think that I should. I love it when people come up to me and ask me about that movie, and then share their take on it all. I get a lot of pleasure from that, usually. Same goes with the movies I write and direct. I never really give a straight answer when cornered at a festival or screening to what have you. If anything, I just turn it around and ask them questions about what they feel. Because, in my opinion, films should belong to each and every viewer as much as they do to the people that make them. It's a lot of fun watching or listening to viewers arguing or discussing this or that. It shows two things: That they at least got involved when they were watching it and just didn't sit there on their asses with their arms folded saying, "Okay... Come on... Entertain us...," and that the filmmaker didn't try to pound one point or another into their brains - like the devil pounding on tin - or at least wasn't successful in trying to wash their gray matter. I like it all wide-fucking-open for a slew of varied perceptions and experiences. And I no longer get offended when somebody's on a different wavelength than mine. But man oh man, when I was young... I would almost get into fistfights over the films or songs that I loved. Matter of fact, I think I did clobber a few guys. But, to quote Van The Man, I will never grow so old again.

How did you get cast again in Insomnia?

Well, Chris and Emma must have been happy with what I did for them in "Memento," I guess, even though I wasn't, because I think they got in touch and just said they wanted to meet and talk about the role of "Farrell." Well, hold on there, that's not right... Sorry... I think I emailed them from Norway when I found out about it...Yeah, which was kinda cool because that's where the original version of that film was made. And I had already taken Hanne to see it when we were in Los Angeles, because she's from there. Anyway, yeah, we were in Norway, hanging with her family at the time, when I heard what they were going to do next. Yeah, that's what happened. Sorry... like I said, I getting old. So I got in touch with Emma and joked about suing her and Chris for the "injuries" I suffered fighting Guy in "Memento" if they didn't give me a shot at something in "Insomnia." I was fucking with them, of course, but I really did get pretty banged up pretty good tangling with Pearce. Especially when he was dragging me down the stairs, over and over again. I lost most of the skin on the back of my legs. Seriously. But before that, when we were going at it upstairs in that place, I hurt my shoulder pretty good taking that initial fall. And then each take it only got damaged more. And when he was choking me, which, by the way, went on a lot longer than what you see in the film, I almost lost consciousness. Right before Chris yelled "Action!," Guy asked me if I wanted to really go for it, and I said, "Hell yeah! Let's go!" I thought, "Cool. Finally... an actor who isn't a pussy." But he's one strong motherfucker, Guy. He's ripped. He's like a pit bull. He used to be a damn body builder when he was younger. But then him and I did quickly came up with a little emergency plan for that scene - that if I got in trouble, in any sorta way, I was supposed to hit him in his side, below the frame line, twice in a row. And I had to. At least two times. because I was fading, I was starting to black out, his chokehold was like a fucking vice or whatever you call those things. Part of me was excited, at first... But then I was like, "Oh, shit... This fucker is seriously killing me..." But I don't want that to sound like Guy was out of control. He's a total professional, somebody I really liked working with and admire. A real pro. When he got my sign, he backed off just enough to let me breathe and get it together, deep down inside, and it all worked out. But Chris told me later, at a looping session, I think, that it ended being just too much or something, the whole strangulation thing. And I took that in a real positive way, as a big compliment to Guy and I. Anyway, where was I?... Oh, yeah... Well, I think Emma wrote back after my little threatening lawsuit email and laughingly said, "Okay, Holden, call off your solicitors... We'll set it all up..." But I still had to go and audition for that role over on the Warner Brothers lot. Even though, as I was leaving the reading, Chris hugged me and whispered "I'm sorry," meaning that he had to put me through that, the dog and pony show for the suits and ties - which really meant a lot to me, that he would say something like that, because it showed he respected me on some kinda level. And I am so grateful for the opportunity, because "Insomnia," was absolutely the most fun I ever had acting in a movie. Well, save one, perhaps, and that was "Every Dog Has Its Day." Maybe it's a tie between those two films, I don't know. But I mean, here I was in Vancouver, a city that I really love, and I was working with people Al Pacino and Martin Donovan and Paul Dooley and Jonathan Jackson and Nicky Katt... and, of course, Chris and Emma and Wally and Nathan... and one helluva good crew. It was just an absolute blast making that movie. And since I thought it would never get any better than that in Hollywood, I decided to just stop acting and feed off that experience for awhile, instead of getting eaten up reflecting on all the shit I had been involved with up until then, stuff that mostly gets shown at three in the morning, until I started to work with Chris and Emma and their gang.

What changed most in Chris Nolan's direction between Memento and Insomnia?

Not a damn thing, and that's the biggest compliment I can give the guy. He's the same exact director and the same man. Well, no, okay... nix all that. He's even better than he was then. In every which kinda way.

What do you like most in Chris Nolan's direction, in his work with actors?

Simply said, the great amount respect and patience that he gives you. Which allows you to try and give him the best you have to offer. He's always calm, always fiercely focused on you and the scene. But he also knows enough about the somewhat boring nature of making films, and the toll that it can take on an actor during the course of sometimes twenty-odd hours. For example: When things are maybe falling a bit flat, he knows exactly what to do to get it all going again, just what to say, or what not to say or do. Like when a bit of that sly and dry Brit humor will do the trick. I mean, some of the shit he has said to me after takes would make somebody that does know him maybe freak out, not laugh, like I have. But it has helped me tremendously. Then again, I don't think he would use that sort of tactic, or whatever you want to call it, with a stranger, so to speak. With me, everything he says or does just works. Especially the humor, the smart-ass remarks. I mean, I remember after one take on "Insomnia" where I was feeling weird and insecure and I asked him, "Uh... How was that, Chris? Okay?," and he just looked at me with this drop-dead serious mug and said something like, "Great... if you like sucking." And this was in front of Pacino and everybody. But I just laughed my ass off and threw an insult right back at him, trying to save face and one-up him in front of the gang, and the crew... But see, I knew he was fucking with me, and it helped me to relax even more, to breathe all the way down, maybe take a chance the next take, I don't know, maybe see things from a new angle, etcetera. See, but he knew what would work at that particular moment, how to show me all the faith he had in me. He's just a stud. With an amazing range of communication skills. He's articulate as hell on a whole range of levels, which is important, because actors are like anybody else on the planet, they're all unique. And I'm sure every actor that has ever worked for him would say the same thing. He just really cares about you... He's really there for you, regardless of the size of your role. He's just very sincere. I mean, I've worked with him twice now, but my roles have been somewhat peripheral... But see, you never ever feel like that when you're working with him, like a piece of cheap furniture in an expensive room. He makes sure that you know that it truly takes everybody to pull it all off, to make a film. There's no fucking star treatment, or preferential behavior, or ass-kissing. No bullshit. It's all about the big picture with him. He's there's for everybody - always extremely cool, calm, and collected, and, at the same time, always extremely passionate and generous and supportive. And, like I've told interviewers before, it just makes me sick to think he's so young and has it all together already as a director. And he does, trust me on that. The buzz on Nolan is absolutely dead-on. This guy will continue to do some serious cinematic damage for a very long time to come. And, obviously, I mean the word "damage" as a big compliment to Chris.

Can you give any comment on your involvement in Batman Begins?

Well, all I can say is that yes, I have read the script, yes, I have flown to London several times to talk with Chris about things, and yes, I will probably be going back there very very soon to discuss things further... But I have not been cast in the film, and all the talk on the internet about the script or what have you is way off base. I mean, this is a huge movie, with a lot at stake, so these guys made sure to think out every possible scenario when it came to potential script leaks, etcetera, and they came up with a fool proof plan - one that no other film has gone to the trouble or expense to work out in advance. And, because of that, they have the world eating out of their hands right now. I mean, they haven't allowed anybody to spoil anything for their audience, which seems to consist of millions of folks who really really care about "Batman" and this film. And I mean that. You shouldn't believe what you read, and I don't care which so-called "Batman" expert has said what or will say what. They are dead wrong about ninety nine percent of it all. And that goes for casting, the script, the car, the suit... whatever. And I know, because, like I said, I've spent a lot of time on that set recently, hanging out, and, since I'm still considering climbing onboard, I have been trying to learn as much as I can about "Batman" from a variety of sources outside of the production, particularly the internet. And not once during this whole time have I read something that was spot on, that was fully accurate. But, anyway... No... sorry, but I can't really say anything more than that... Okay, and this: Right now, I am not a part of the film. Well, I should add this, too, because it drives my point home about all the misleading info that's presently being circulated and then regurgitated... I have never been considered for any of the roles the "experts" have bantered about. Not a single one, whether the role is or isn't in the real script. Matter of fact, most of the roles that do exist in the real script have already been secretly cast with actors that a good many of fans have been rooting for. That's all I can say. But, man oh man, is IMDB way off the mark with a lot of it. And the trades, too. There is going to be a lot of eggs cracking on faces when the truth comes out. I mean, for example, an old friend called a week or so ago and said I was listed there as playing some guy named "Fisk" or whatever... and I laughed and said, "That's funny, there's no such character in the film. But hey, if the want to give me credit for it and pay me for not appearing in the film as a character that doesn't even exist... fine by me. I could use the bread to help shoot my next film..." Which, I am in the middle of prepping for, so I better get going, okay? Hope I gave you everything you wanted. If not, just get back in touch. Or people can get in touch with me directly through the Holden Automotive web site ( All the best, Larry Holden.

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