I was told to meet Henry Rollins at his office, not far off Sunset Boulevard, to interview him about his new show on IFC, premiering April 1st (check out the site here). Last year’s show, Henry’s Film Corner, had been a big success for the network, so they brought him back in a retooled format, closer to a regular talk show – monologue, guest, musical act. But this being Henry Rollins the show won’t be anything like Leno.
I expected to find an actual office building, but instead ended up in front of a bungalow on a quiet street. It turns out that Rollins’ office is in his old apartment, around the corner from his current house. The office is filled with memorabilia of his long career as a punk legend – amazing old posters, hundreds and hundreds of tapes, notes from famous friends pinned to the walls. The office was in a state of disarray, with a couple of mail bins filled with letters and packages by the door. Books spread across the floor. In the corner hung a pair of boxing gloves; I had taken a punch from Richard Dreyfuss, but I wasn’t interested in doing the same with Rollins.
There was a photo shoot going in when I came in. I had showed up a couple of minutes early, assuming I could lounge in a waiting area; instead I was in the middle of the action. Rollins shook my hand hard, and told me to hang out as the photo shoot finished up.
He soon noticed my shirt, which bore an image of Toshiro Mifune. Mifune is Rollins’ favorite actor (it seems sort of obvious when you think about it), and we talked about Japanese film for a while. When the shoot was over we moved into the kitchen, where he made some oatmeal – Trader Joe’s brand, Rollins’ favorite store. There’s something a little surreal about chatting with Rollins in his old kitchen about shopping at Trader Joe’s, surrounded by boxes of CDs and books (the dining room serves as a storage area for all the stuff you can buy from him), while he makes microwave oatmeal.
One of my friends had told me I needed to ask Rollins about his neck regime, but it turns out that he’s not that big these days. He’s still obviously in great shape, but that massive neck has been reduced to more normal proportions. His square head is topped with hair that’s almost getting grey, and his rough stubble grows in the same color. He’s older, and maybe more mellow, than when I saw him reading way back in the 90s, but he’s still filled with energy.
Back in February, Rollins had gotten caught up in something of an international incident – while flying in Australia for the Big Day Out tour, his seatmate called the Australian version of Homeland Security and reported him. Henry’s offense? Reading a book called Jihad…
(Note: I was going to run this interview, which lasted almost an hour, in two parts, but it turns out there’s not a good spot to split it. So here is the entire thing – I think it’s worth the length)
Now you’re a target of Australian homeland security. You’re a potential
terrorist. Isn’t that the epitome of everything that’s wrong today –
that you’re reading a book and that reading a book is indicating you as
Rollins: It’s symptomatic of people who are full of
fear. When the going gets rough, the average get conservative. We live
in a fear-charged culture, so stuff like that is going to happen.
happened in Australia, but it didn’t make me hate Australia. I love
Australia. I’ve been there 28 times. The guy was a drag. The event was
unfortunate. But people from Australia have been writing me, ‘I’m so
sorry! Please don’t not come back here!’ I’m fine. The guy sucks, but I
love the country. Australia’s been good to me.
Five years ago that probably wouldn’t have happened. That guy’s not the worst guy in the world – he was obviously upset.
Q: You sat next to him?
Rollins: I was by the window on the right side of the plane, reading Jihad by Ahmed Rashid, the Yale University Press.
Q: A very radical group.
Yeah, and he’s a Wall Street Journal writer, a very radical
publication. And the book was a New York Times bestseller. His previous
book, Taliban, is now apparently required reading for US forces going
into Afghanistan because it’s seen as basically a primer.
don’t think there’s really anything wrong with reading a history book
about Central Asia, and maybe at this stage of the game we should know
more about that part of the world, because that’s where a lot of things
are going to be going down in our lifetime. Anyone with shoreline
property on the Caspian Sea is going to be a big player in our world.
That’s all the book is about – Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan ,
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. How Stalin arbitrarily came up
with these fake borders. It’s a fascinating read – you learn about
Genghis Khan, it’s fascinating. Over my head for the most part, but
really cool. I’ve already read Taliban, and Rashid is a great writer,
very clear. I like him a lot.
But it was fun for me to have
the story for stage. To go, ‘Folks, I’m an interesting person and as of
this day, I’m a person of interest.’ Ariana Huffington ran it on her
blog, Olbermann wanted to have me on his countdown thing. Every
Australian newspaper ran my quote from my website, where I said, ‘Your
prime minister is a sissy. My hometown is safer than Baghdad.’
told the homeland security lady who wrote me, ‘Tell your boss to go
fuck himself. Tell everyone in the office around you to fuck themselves.
Your prime minister is a sissy because he sucks up to Bush every
minute, and my hometown is safer than Baghdad. So kiss my ass.’ Of
course every paper loves shit like this. So probably when I go to
Australia next time there’ll be some guy who loves John Howard for some
reason to “kick my ass.”
Q: Did this guy on the plane even speak to you on the whole flight?
Sure. We had a polite but brief conversation about what we did for a
living. I said I was part of the Big Day Out tour, I was speaking, and
he’s in sports nutrition. I am, by nature, polite to everybody. Why
wouldn’t you be? So I’m polite to this guy and he turned me in.
Q: That’s so bizarre.
Rollins: Yeah, but you know, as Prince says, sign o’ the times.
Speaking of the times, you’re doing an interesting thing in that while
you’re not personally down with the war, you’re going out with the USO.
How important is it to you that there’s a difference in people’s minds
between the war and the troops?
Rollins: Seeing the separation
between the war and the troops is seeing the differentiation between
the cop and the law. If you have a beef with the way the law’s written,
you don’t argue with the cop about it. If you have beef with American
foreign policy and this war in Iraq, you don’t go to the Army grunt.
He’s not the guy to talk to. You want to talk to Wolfowitz or Rumsfeld
or Dr. Rice or whoever.
So since the armed forces do not
dictate policy besides a village they’re running into, I don’t have a
beef with them. In a perfect world we don’t need a military, we just
need the Ramones. But in the world we live in we need a military
because it allows us to be Marilyn Manson and jump up and down and
watch Desperate Housewives. Because there are a lot of people in the
world who would want this all to end. So when the USO called me, I said
I would be honored. I didn’t hesitate.
I got a few angry
letters from students in England – ‘You’re sleeping with the enemy!’ –
I’m like, you’re young and in a few years you’ll laugh at the letter
you just wrote me because it’s incredibly narrow-minded and
short-sighted. I completely disagree, and I think I’m doing a good
thing, and the troops are good. Some of the finest people I’ve met in
years have been these young people I’m meeting on these USO tours.
Recently I had the chance to interview a Marine who came home from Iraq
about a year ago. The thing I ended being concerned about is that he
was not able to articulate what he felt we were doing over there.
A lot of guys come back and they write me – I get letter all the time
from all walks of the military life, from the wives, from the brothers,
or the guys who come home saying, ‘Hey man, I met you in Kyrgyzstan,
I’m back, I wanna see your show some time!’ We put soldiers on the
guest list almost every night of my tour. When I meet them they go, ‘I
seen you twice in Chicago,’ and I say, ‘Pal, when you get home, you see
my flyer up, you write my road manager, here’s his email address, and
you’re guest-listed.’ And they do, and we put them on the guest list.
in any case, that’s one of the things I have read over and over again –
‘I spent a year in Iraq and I don’t know why I was there. I don’t know
what we accomplished, I don’t know what we were up to. All I did was
shoot at buildings, get shot at, drive by garbage that later ended up
being IEDs. Nearly died 8 times. Lost three friends.’ Maybe that’s just
the kind of person who’s writing from that sentiment.
wrote me the other day and she said, ‘I know that you said in
interviews that you get a lot of angry letters from soldiers who feel
they were betrayed, and I told my friend who was a Marine. He said
those must have been Army because a Marine would never do that. We
would go in there and just kick ass.’ That’s what the Marines do, they
break the door down and let the Army clean it up. So you’re not going
to hear a Marine go, “My finger hurts!” They’re superhuman, these guys.
So it is interesting when you see on the news a Marine coming out
against the President, coming out against the Iraq war. Whoa. That’s
pretty bold for a Marine.
Q: It’s also interesting talking to a
Marine who has come home and is having a hard time adjusting. This guy
in particular now has an alcohol problem. I know of someone else who
came home and couldn’t go out for a couple of months because their
reactions were always inappropriate – they’d be in a crowd and a kid
would bump into them and their reaction would be a combat reaction.
They’re picking the guy off the ground after he’s broken his trachea. A
cop stops him for making an illegal left turn and he’s got the cop
against the hood, and he goes to jail. Yeah. Vanity Fair, a magazine
the girls get on the other side of the office but that I don’t read
most of the time, they do have good feature articles once in a while,
and there was an article talking about the alarming rise in vehicular
deaths of returning Iraqi vets. They come home, buy one of those fast
motorcycles and ride it into a tree. They can’t get the adrenaline any
other way, and they’re just screwing up in their cars or driving drunk.
But there’s this alarming rise in highway fatalities, and they keep
pulling dead young Iraqi vets out of these wrecks.
I think in
any war, in any traumatic experience, there’s potential for
post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve been shot at. I remember the first
year after that it was very hard for me to be around people and not be
very scary. I was a pretty hardcore person for a year. A photographer
would go, ‘Henry, you’re looking through my lens… and through my head.
Would you please be here?’ I realized, oh I must have that thousand
yard stare thing going on. I would say some pretty crazy stuff to
people, like ‘Watch me kill you.’ And I meant it. And a year later I
was like, ‘Whoa… whoa! Who was that guy?’
That was one little
experience I had. If you lived for a year with a heightened experience
of that, seeing it, smelling it, administering it, and you come back to
a strip mall? You come back to Joplin, Missouri and a Wal-Mart? To
three kids and a wife? I sat in, in Kyrgyzstan, a seminar given to
young men and women about to go home from their first rotation. It’s an
hour long, and it’s basically guys who know sit a bunch of young men
and women down and say, ‘OK, you’re about to go home. You’ve been
fantasizing about your wife or girlfriend for a year now. It’s been a
long time since you’ve had a beer. It’s been a while since you did
this, this, this or this. You’re not going to do it all in one night
when you come home, so don’t tell your wife, “Boy we’re gonna pull over
in the bushes on the car ride home.” She doesn’t want that from you.
She wants to reconnect with her husband, her boyfriend. Your wife has
been being mom and dad while you were gone, so you don’t come home and
start issuing directives. Your home is not the Army. You don’t give
your wife orders. You don’t give orders to the kids. It’s going to take
a while for you to readjust, and you do it on your wife’s terms, not on
yours. Because she’s been running that house and wiping those butts for
a year, not you.’
It was fascinating to sit there and listen to
this guy because all of this stuff obviously came from case studies.
They’ve gone out into the field and asked the questions. This is what
they have to address, and it was fascinating. I’m so glad they let me
sit in on that because it gave me a real insight into – it’s a glimpse
into what these guys are going through when they get home.
yeah, I think with the volume of young people going to Iraq and coming
back, we’re going to have almost a generation – Generation Z Prime or
whatever it is now – a generation of young people who are going to have
some visible – well, this society is going to have to adjust to the
needs and peculiarities of these young people.
Q: Do you think pop culture is addressing this stuff?
To a certain degree. From the Bochco TV show Over There to bands
writing songs – to Green Day, putting out American Idiot, obviously
about Bush. To your movies, your George Clooneys and your Syrianas. So
yeah, I think pop culture addresses anything in culture. In the Vietnam
War you had protest songs, protests movements, rock and roll and
protest seemed to come together in that era. So I think to a certain
But I think the Iraq war is an MTV TV war, where
it’s more like a video game to a lot of people. If you look at the
advertising for the Army it went from pre-war, “Be all that you can
be,” to ‘Hey man!’ this cool, drop D, Korn-sounding music – GUNG!
GUNGGUNGGUNG! – ‘This could be you!’ Or the guy who comes back to the
civilian world and is asked if he ever worked on an airplane before and
he flashes back to Apaches and Chinooks, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve
been around it.’ MAN WITH BACKSTORY!
They have a shortfall with
American recruitment, and now that we’re about to start our own little
jihad on Iran, we’re going to need a lot more people in the Army.
Q: You really think we’re going to go into Iran?
I think we really the geography. This is just me talking out of my ass,
but I think we need northern Iran so we can move gas and oil out of
Turkmenistan. It’s why Clinton turned his view over here when the
Taliban was destroying Afghanistan, because he needed southern
Afghanistan to source oil and gas out of Turkmenistan. I think it’s all
about that Unocal pipeline, or some version of it. Iraq and everything
is about the Caspian oil reserves; no matter what country you want to
get it out of, it’s the Caspian Sea. Basically it’s what Syriana the
film addressed. It’s what the Rashid books are about, what he calls
“the second phase of the great game.” It’s some great reading, and it
makes you do some great thinking.
The other day when Condoleeza
Rice was at Georgetown University speaking, someone asked the question
of when are we going back into negotiations with Iran, and she said,
‘Talking with Iran is over with.’ I may be overreaching and
underinformed, and I probably am, but to me that said, ‘I want a fight
with Iran. I don’t want to sit down at the table, I would rather fight
them and take Tehran so I can demonize them and get the UAEA and
everyone else to go, “They’re bad, we’re good and we need to bring
democracy to this place. And by the way, we’ll need a Halliburton
pipeline and some software on those oil wells so no one but Halliburton
can access them like they have in Iraq.”’
Another thing, and I
don’t think at this point I’m speaking out of class, when I was in
Afghanistan for the first time we met someone at the Baghram air base,
and we said to this person, ‘Why are we here? Why are we in
Afghanistan.’ The guy said, ‘Well, if you think it’s about democracy or
whatever, it’s not true.’ And this is an Army guy. He said, ‘When you
get home, learn everything you can about the Unocal pipeline, because
that’s why we’re everywhere.’ My road manager and I said, duly noted,
came back home, went back to the world, Googled Unocal, I started
reading everything I could about it. He also said, ‘Look for us in the
next two years-‘ and this is two years ago – ‘look for us to start
moving into Pakistan and Iran.’ So when stuff happens now in the news I
call my road manager and go, ‘Oooh! Oooh!’
The more you read and
listen to guys like Thomas L Friedman, who a lot of people hate, and
read these books by guys like Ahmed Rashid and Steve Coll, who wrote
Ghost Wars, a Washington Post guy, and you see America’s relationship
with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Iran,
Turkmenistan, and Venezuela – you see this whole thing is about that
gas. And more and more if you follow the money you get to the heart of
the Republicans, of the conservatives. Always. And to a certain extent
Clinton. But really that’s their pulse, money and oil. So when you look
at it through those goggles, Iraq nakedly shows itself out as a power
grab, and basically getting good military positioning in that region to
basically have Iran, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia.
I say it
becomes a kill box for our guys. If we get into it with Iran (this is
just me talking out my ass again. I’m such the Monday morning
quarterback, on my bed in the sea of Dorito crumbs. I ripped that off
from Dennis Miller. Anybody from Fox News could reduce me to sashimi in
one minute, I would leave with my tail betwixt my legs) – but I think
that when you put American forces pushing into Iran – and I am not into
Iran having nuclear capability – you put our guys in a Shia sandwich.
You’ve got unfriendly Shia behind you in Iraq and you’ve got unfriendly
Shia in front of you in Iran, and I think we’re already in a bad kill
box. We’re surrounded by unfriendly people.
Q: Who just keep coming in.
Sieve-like. Here comes the rain, but it’s insurgents. When I was in
Baghdad, they showed me a confiscated cache of weapons. All new RPGs,
unused AK-47s, all packed in grease. I was like, wow this is real gear.
Not bootleg knock-off, this is the real shit. They said, ‘Yeah, this is
the good stuff.’ I said, ‘Where did you get this?’ They said, ‘This is
a Syrian cache.’
I just visited a man who had part of his legs
blown off – I do a lot of hospital visits with the USO. A few Sundays
ago I was at Bethesda Medical – and he said, and this is a guy newly
back and he’s a Marine, I think he knows what he’s talking about, he
said, ‘Sir, we’re fighting Syrians now.’ I’ll believe him quicker than
I’ll believe the President anytime, because he’s got his boots on the
ground and he knows what he’s talking about. And it gibes with what I
saw and what the reports are saying. And it sucks.
And it sucks
that Bashar al-Assad – and at least he’s honest in that great interview
he did with Amanpour that he did a few months ago. She will hold
someone to a point. She said, ‘Don’t you think you should be policing
your borders,’ and he said, ‘Why? It was better before America was
here. The stability of my country really hinges on a stable Iraq, so I
want them to leave. It was stable before they came.’ She said,
‘President Bush wants you to stabilize your border,’ and he said, ‘It’s
not my job to police that border, and what am I going to do, build a
fence to keep people who disagree with your presence in Iraq out? I
disagree with your presence in Iraq.’ Now, I’m not into Bashar
al-Assad, but at least the guy made a point.
Q: It’s interesting
you mention visiting a Marine whose legs had been blown off. We don’t
see those guys on TV. There are a lot of kids coming home missing body
parts, and we don’t hear about that.
Rollins: Thousands of
them. 16,000 hospital bound injuries. I’ve done four hospitals in three
visits – one day I did Walter Reade and Bethesda Medical, and that was
a long day. I meet everyone from ‘I threw my back out loading some
water on a truck’ – lucky – to triple amputee, eyeball gone, forehead
was reconditioned into his nose. I meet guys who drool with a diaper,
with part of their brain gone. It’s the hardest day.
Q: How do you deal with it?
You just deal. And they’re so great, they’re so brave. For me, at this
point after three years with the USO, it’s all personal to me now.
They’re my guys. I take it all very personally, so when I make these
hospital visits, it kills you. Who wouldn’t have a hard time?
look at the nurses – they are the grimmest. [monotone] ‘Thank you for
visiting our facility, sir.’ Because what do they look at all day?
They’re helping Marines to a Port-A-Potty. You know how humiliating it
is for a nurse to help a fucking Marine take a dump?
you talk to them, they can’t wait to get back out there. Especially the
Marines in the Special Forces – they’re just like, ‘I got a job to
Q: That’s hardcore.
Rollins: Hard. Core. A
Special Forces guy I met who got his legs – usually you meet mortar
attack or IED victims because everything blows up. The insurgents are
the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. AK-47s, which I have shot, I
have shot confiscated AKs with confiscated bullets – these guns are
scary. They scare the hell out of me. You press the trigger on an AK-47
on full auto and the thing wants to leap up and behind you. It’s a
loud, terrifying thing to have in your hand. How you’d be able to hit
the side of a barn with one is a miracle. So basically the bad guys
spray and pray, and they don’t hit anything. Rarely do you meet a guy
who took a bullet.
I met a Special Forces guy, right leg gone,
left calf gone, and he said, ‘The guy who did this to me, I got him and
I can’t wait to get back out there.’ It’s not a rugby match. And he
goes, ‘Naw, I’ll be in physical therapy soon and I’ll be back. The
military put a lot of money into me and I want my job back.’ And it was
me, Kathy Kinney from the Drew Carey Show and Jeff Ross, the comic, it
was the three of us, and we’re all like, ‘Nice to meet you… psycho!’
What do you say to the guy? A, he’s brave and an alpha male. B, what’s
unhinged in this man?
Q: But that’s probably partially coping. He’s not admitting that he’s been taken out.
Rollins: Yeah, he’s dealing in a way.
that’s what you meet, these guys making incredible adjustments. You
meet the moms who are making their own adjustments. You meet the wives
and kids, sometimes the whole family is slammed in the room. They’re
there for the weekend, or the mom’s been there for three weeks, and now
the brother-in-law is in for the weekend – you meet everybody. And
usually these people are like, ‘We never been to Warshington DC before,
we’re going to take a tour!’ They’re from Arkansas, they’re from Texas,
and it’s all bright lights, big city to them – and their boy lost his
I’m an angry person anyway, so I walk out of these
things so overwhelmed by raw emotion – sadness you get when you see
guys half your age with their legs gone, and this anger. I see the
President on vacation. Why are you taking a six week vacation in Texas?
And he said, ‘Because I like Texas.’ And only Katrina got in the way of
Rollins: I’m a little indie guy. I don’t take vacations. I can afford them, I don’t want one. I like my work. This is my submarine. I work here every day, I come in on the weekends. Like every indie company you work too hard, there’s no money and you do it for some reason because it rocks. It’s what we do and how we’re kicking it.
I come out of these things with an anger at the administration that took the legs off these kids. It better be for something. And you better not let this guy think it was for nothing. That’s why during the presidential debates, the President, covering his ass, said, “How can I tell the soldiers ‘wrong war?’ How can I go to these kids and say, ‘Wrong war, wrong time.’” At this point you can’t, and in my opinion, me out of my ass again, this is why the wagons are circled so tightly, because they have to stick to their story. We’re talking about over 2500 dead and like 16,000 injured – everything from the bad back to awful injuries.
They had two Yale or Harvard economists on Lou Dobbs the other day, a man I watch and listen to with great interest. I really dig that guy – he could be as full of it as the next guy, but I just think he’s a straight shooter. So I listen to him on Sirius and I watch him at home. Anyway, he had two economists on – they’re numbers people. They have no spin. They said, ‘We took your average injured guy back from Desert Storm, now that we’ve had ten years, and we’ve amortized the cost of him and applied it to all the injuries coming back from Iraq. We’ve also amortized in the fact that we have actually used all our Bradley fighting vehicles, Humvees and everything, and they’ve actually gotten banged up. They must be maintained now that we’re using them for their true purpose and we’re not just doing laps with them at parades. And also we factored in how much it’s going to take to get the Army up to full strength – the salaries and the advertising. We’ve figured out that this war is going to be in the trillions in the next ten years.’ And Lou Dobbs is a very good journalist, so he says, ‘OK, what team are you rooting for?’ They said, ‘Rooting? We’re Bush people, but we’re just showing you the numbers that don’t lie.’ When the President says billions – nuh uh. You’re not looking at it ten years up the road with the guy with no legs.
They’re not even talking about all these kids with PTSD. How many of these guys are going to need medication, therapy, for years? How many of them are going to come home and choke their wives out and go to the pokey? How many of them are going to get divorced?
Q: Or not be able to hold jobs and get on welfare.
Rollins: Become awful alcoholics, kill a cop, kill a son, murder their whole family, all kinds of awful shit’s going to happen. Just in the last few years a number of wives at Fort Bragg – these guys come home and killed their wives. They get into little domestic dispute, her neck gets broken at the dinner table over the rice being overcooked. One person very aptly said, what they can’t control they kill. Sometimes it’s their wife, who’s mad about the fact that there’s no new washing machine or something.
All of this makes me very angry in a pro-America, patriotic kind of way. This shit makes me mad. Your Bill O’Reilly’s would vilify a guy like me for being a gloomy gus. But we are living in a very interesting time. Today I woke up early to catch a little news before I came here – today in the news was Iran and China, and the Chinese don’t hate Iran. They’re like, ‘Hey you know, we’ve got some cars we want to start driving soon.’ Meanwhile, while we’re painting a line in the sand, China, who’s going to become the competition if not THE superpower, they’re hooking up with our enemies. The fact that America almost sold them Unocal – thankfully Lou Dobbs stomped on them every night about that when no other news guy did. I know a little bit about Unocal and what it means, and when China is throwing all this money at it and Lou Dobbs is the only guy going ‘No! No! Don’t!’ while people from the Cato Institute and the American Heritage Foundation are going, ‘What are you talking about? This is great retail!’ You know what? It’s anything for a buck with these guys – energy, policy, the future. If you can get a few billion dollars out of it, it’s OK with these motherfuckers.
This Dubai Ports thing – boy, isn’t this something you would think Clinton would have done and Newt Gingrich would have been… literally, there would have been fist fights. ‘You fucking Democrats, you fucking pussies!’ It’s funny that when it’s Bush doing it, he’s making good on promises. These are his dad’s friends. He’s got to shell out. He’s making good on the investment – his presidency. That’s why he says, ‘I’ll veto this. I’ve got these guys breathing down my neck, I met them at the golf club last Saturday.’ I love it that a lot of Republicans have started to go, ‘Man, what are you doing?’ Finally the President of the United States is living up to his promise to be a uniter and not a divider. It took this to do it, but I’ll take unity in the House any way I can get it at this point.
Q: Is this the kind of stuff we’re going to hear on the new show?
Q: Have you recorded episodes?
Rollins: Oh yeah.
Q: Who do you have coming on?
Rolllins: Oliver Stone is my first guest. Sleater-Kinney is the musical guest, and they kicked ass. Chuck D is my guest. Werner Herzog is my guest. Ozzy Osbourne is my guest. I’ve interviewed Ozzy six times, and this was the best interview I’ve done with him. Chuck D, forget it. Stone was great. But Herzog was a god.
Q: Was this before he was shot at and saved Joaquin Phoenix’s life all in the same week?
Rollins: Oh no no. [in Herzog’s voice] ‘I was shot some weeks ago. It was a small bullet, so I did not care and finished the interview. It was not a serious bullet.’ I said, ‘You know what, Werener, Mr. Herzog, sir, every bullet’s serious.’ He said, ‘No. It was not the first time I have been shot at but it was exhilarating for a man of my age to be shot at unsuccessfully. It was a rush.’ I love my job every once in a while. He’s the best. I said, ‘You’re an outsider to Hollywood.’ He said, ‘No. They’re the outsiders.’ He’s great!
Q: Is that almost the motto of the show?
Rollins: Yeah. And I’m interviewing who I want – that we can get. Herzog, I couldn’t believe that he walked into our building. I’m a huge fan of his. He’s made movies that no one would have the guts – they wouldn’t make Fitzcarraldo now, even with CGI. The fact that he said yes, lucky me. Lucky us.
I have a long list of guests, and we’re going to them, and they’re all going either, ‘Oh, I love Henry,’ or, ‘I saw the show last year and I really want to be on it,’ but it’s all about scheduling. Either they’re on tour or they have a shoot or they have a show or they have a thing. So we get who we can get, but it’s all from my list.
Q: How many episodes do you have this season?
Rollins: It’s 20 episodes with an option for an extra month. 20 set, with an option for four more.
Q: How does IFC judge if a show is successful?
Rollins: I don’t know. All I know is that they gave me a job.
Q: So if they like the show they’ll bring back the extra month.
Rollins: Yeah. They have me for five months and if they like it they can exercise the option to hold me down for another month. It’s the August option. It’s not like I want to leave. It’s going really well. I only wish it was 20 months.
Q: Are there plans for this on DVD?
Rollins: Yeah, actually, and they’re trying to get into different markets as well. I hope it does well because when that does well, so do I. I would love for this show to be on BBC4. I would love for this show to be on in Australia. I think we would do really well there. I think people would dig the music, people would dig the interviews. It’s an interesting look at America. Especially when I’m asking the questions, it’s always going to jump to the political. When we bring on the famous movie star, I’m not asking who they’re dating. I don’t care. When I bring on the director I don’t ask what it’s like working with Brad Pitt – who’s a wonderful guy. But when I talked to David Fincher, we didn’t talk about that. He doesn’t want to talk about it. I want to talk about how he lit the scene. How he got that shot. ‘Oh, we get to talk about that?’ We get to talk about whatever you want. Let’s go with what you want to be enthusiastic about.
So the interviews are quite effusive, where you see the person open up and go, ‘Oh, this is going to be cool.’ Oliver Stone’s people wrote us after the show and said, ‘That is the coolest thing we’ve seen Oliver do in years.’ Ozzy’s people got back to us and said that was amazing. Everyone so far is happy.