There’s a brand new DVD of Reservoir Dogs on shelves, the 15th anniversary edition. Jesus, has it really been 15 years? Well, technically, no – it’s been 14 years since the movie came out, but when you are dying to rerelease a DVD in a case shaped like a gas can, nothing as paltry as math will stop you.
Along with the DVD is a Reservoir Dogs video game, and it features the voice of the real Mr. Blonde, Michael Madsen. Last week I got on the phone with Madsen from his Malibu home, and while I was disappointed that he didn’t pepper every sentence with swear words and threats of grievous bodily harm, it was nice to find out that he’s a thoughtful, polite guy who is more than willing to indulge an aging fanboy in all the Quentin Tarantino talk he can fit into one phoner. By the way, click here for more from Madsen on the possibility of a Vega Brothers movie.
You are the only cast member from Reservoir Dogs who came back for the game, and it’s not the first game you’ve done a voice for. Do you like doing the voice over work?
Madsen: I don’t have to shave in the morning. I can go to the studio in my pajamas. There are not too many jobs nowadays where you can get away with doing that. It’s a pleasure. I love the voice over stuff. I wish I could do more of it. There are a lot of big animated features that have come out – I wish I could have done a voice in that Owen Wilson Cars thing, that would have been fun. But the big studios don’t usually call Michael Madsen when they need a voice for something.
You know, I’ve got five kids, all boys, and they’re on the internet and they’re very involved in current affairs, and they get a kick out of hearing my voice.
Is there a particular game that was your favorite?
Madsen: I guess it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say Reservoir Dogs. The reason it was fun was that I got to repeat dialogue that I originally said, so it was like déjà vu. It was really reminiscent. It was kind of spooky, actually, having that dialogue on a teleprompter and me saying stuff that I had said in another film. And there were a couple of times where I got direction from the booth – ‘Can you say this this way, or can you say that that way?’ You know what? I’m the guy that said it before! I’m pretty sure I know how to say it, OK?
But I just had a blast doing it. My boys are happy that the game came out, because they can control their father.
It’s been fourteen years since the movie came out, and it’s become so much a part of the popular culture. Did you have an inkling that the film would end up being so big?
Madsen: I don’t think anybody did at the time. I think the only reason any of us did the picture was because Quentin was cool and he had a great script and we all wanted to work with Harvey Keitel. I don’t think we had any idea. I think you can make a movie and while you’re shooting it think it’ll be the greatest thing in the world and it doesn’t turn out to be. You can do something where you think, ‘Oh my God, this is a real piece of crap,’ and it turns out to be something really outstanding. It’s impossible to know that when you’re in the middle of it, and obviously knew what Dogs would be. Reservoir Dogs really kicked open the door for independent filmmakers and who the hell could have guessed back then that video games would have turned out to be what they are now.
What do you think it is about Reservoir Dogs that made it so successful?
Madsen: I think that any story that involves a group of men doing something together – it’s like the Earps going down to the OK Corrall. It’s like astronauts going into space. It’s like The Wild Bunch, the guys walking up the street. There’s something nostalgic and something that strikes a chord when they see a group of guys going to do something. It has to have the right people, the right cast, and it has to be done right. I’m not saying you can take four guys and put them in a room. It’s not that simple. I think there’s something about the story that has the feeling of an old film, one of those old Bogart pictures of the 40s and 50s. It has the feelings of an old gangster picture.
What’s next for you and Quentin?
Madsen: I was talking to Quentin about Hell Ride, a big motorcycle picture he’s going to produce that I’m going to be in for Larry Bishop. We’re getting that off the ground, plus I’m going to do Sin City 2.
When are you starting Hell Ride?
Madsen: January or February, we’re going into pre-production. Larry Bishop was with me in Kill Bill. He was the guy in the strip club that tells me to take my hat off. Larry Bishop is Joey Bishop’s son, Joey Bishop from the Rat Pack. Larry Bishop wrote and is going to direct Hell Ride.
What kind of role are you playing?
Madsen: It’s a campy motorcycle movie, a throwback to the motorcycle pictures of the 70s. And you know, it’s a violent character. A lot of guns and a lot of motorcycles, let’s put it that way.
You’re doing Sin City 2 – there’s been a rumor going around that Sin City 2 is on hold. Have you heard anything about that?
Madsen: Anything of that magnitude and that nature is always going to get put on hold. I think it’s on hold in terms of Robert Rodriguez trying to get unbusy enough to start on it. When you have somebody like Robert and somebody like Quentin, they work outside of the system. They’re not just going to call everybody and say, ‘Hey, let’s do Sin City next week.’ They’re not going to tell everybody until they’re ready to do it. It’s part of the beauty of what they do and why they’re outside of the normal way of doing things. They’re nobody’s fool.
I have had Frank Miller out here with me a few times in Malibu to talk about Bob. The only reason I did the first one was that Robert told me that if the first film was successful he’d expand the role, and that Bob would have more to do in the next movie. I know he’s written quite a bit more for me, but as to when…
Speaking of when, you’ve been connected to another Tarantino project, Inglorious Bastards, forever. Fans are dying to see this movie.
Madsen: The difficulty with him is that he’s got a lot going on at any given time. He writes stuff and… he wrote Inglorious Bastards and Kill Bill at the same time, because that’s the kind he has that can produce both of those. I’ve seen the chapters laying on the floor of his house, all the hand written pages of the scripts. The enormity of those movies… ended up being four hours long, that’s why they had to cut it into two parts. I think Kill BillInglorious Bastards, at one point Quentin told me he was thinking of turning it into a mini-series because he had so much material and it was so long. But I think a WWII picture directed by him would be pretty interesting, and I think it would be his answer to Steven Spielberg. And from what I understand it’ll be myself and Tim Roth and I also heard at one point in time about Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler – but in serious roles, not comedic. But I’m ready when he’s ready, let’s put it that way.