Film & TV

600 Seconds With John Malkovich

Photo by Dana Edelson for NBC
John Malkovich isn't an actor. He's a legend.  With a distinct James Earl Jones-like voice, he has an Emmy, a few Oscar nods, 70-plus films and a movie, Being John Malkovich, named after himself. And with two movies coming out back to back this month (Secretariat this Friday and Red October 15th), we're not really sure how he stays awake. And we didn't even mention that he has his own menswear line, Technobohemian, for sale over Miami's The Webster.

When we recently got the opportunity to have 10 minutes to speak with him, we just couldn't pass it up. He told us about his family in Miami, his nightclub in Lisbon, and what it's like to be John Malkovich.

New Times: Hello Mr. Malkovich. It is truly a pleasure to speak with you.

John Malkovich: It's a pleasure. Good morning to you. Where are you?

I'm here in Miami. I heard you are here as well?

I'm in Miami, just leaving Univision and now in a car on the way to undisclosed location

So James bond of you. Have you been to our great city before?

I haven't been here in so long. I had a sister who lived here. The last time I really spent time here was in about '87. But I really liked it. It has changed enormously. But I like Miami. I wish I were here longer.

Promise you will come back and visit on non-work related business?

Why, of course.

So, I just saw your newest movie Secretariat and loved it. Were you a big horse racing fan before?

I was always at the races with my grandfather watching people loose their car and houses and such. We always watch the Kentucky derby at my house and I did love Secretariat, I read all the books and articles about him. So I was a fan in that sense.

A lot of your movies have been a little darker and grittier than this. How was it to work with Disney?

Actually, I have worked for Disney before because believe it or not Con Air was Disney. It was a little far-fetched. I'm not sure what was Disney about it.

How did you know this project was for you?

Because I love Secretariat, read the script and an old friend of mine was directing it. I loved the character, the story, all the people involved, everything.

Your French in the movie was perfect, but you're a good ol'boy from Illinois. Did living in France help with that?

I lived in France for years. I learned in the streets, because I'm not a great student. So I directed plays in French, I acted in movies in French, so it worked out. Now a days it's just OK.

You call Massachusetts though now, right?

Our kids are both in college and we're not sure about the years to come. I think we will go back to France, but I'm on the road so much and working so much, it's hard to call anywhere home. I will probably spend a little time in Massachusetts, but my year is pretty booked and I always seem to be on the road.

You once owned a restaurant with Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. Is that still around?

Not anymore. It's gone. There was some dispute, not with us but the partners, and it got all legal- blah blah blah.  I have nothing left in France, at least on the business side.

I heard you own a club in Lisbon--how did that come about?

I was there with my business partner and  I overheard them talking to a French football player about their new project and I said, "This sounds stupid, but if you ever need an investor, please let me know. " And they said, "That's very nice, but we have everything." About a year later, of course, their costs got overrun and there was construction problems and they said, "Do you mind if we take you up on that?" I saw the place, what they were doing, the area and that was about 15 years ago and it's still going very strong.

Does that mean John Malkovich likes to hit the clubs?

I wish I was a more clubber, but I have too much work to do.

Speaking of your work, you had a movie named after you. That had to be good for the ego.

I didn't think much about it. I read the script many years before it was made and thought it was a fantastic visionary piece of screenwriting. We, my producing partner and I, we asked if we could produce it and I wanted to direct it, providing he made it about someone else. He didn't want to do that. We said we understand, but I never thought it would be made. I never much thought about it, strangely enough. It came out, I liked the movie, and I thought it was really original and funny, but it didn't change my life much. Life went on and I went on working, but kept doing the things I do. I loved working with Spike and all the actors. To me, it was another movie.

You have been in this business a very long time. Are you tired yet?

Weirdly enough, not so much. There is still stuff I want to do, so until there isn't, I'll keep doing the things I like.