Archive | 12:05 am

Monster Man

5 Nov

The new Continental magazine is now on planes, and in it is my profile of Roger Bart, who you may recognize from his roles as Carmen Ghia in The Producers, George the psychotic pharmacist on Desperate Housewives, or the federal prosecutor who gets into it with Russell Crowe in American Gangster. Bart was a really fun interview, and I’d like to think the story at least partly captures that.

Because of a limited word count, there was much I couldn’t fit into the story. One thing Bart and I talked about at length was the idea that as a character actor, people really have no idea what he’s like off-stage and off-camera. The main reason for that is Bart’s decision to keep taking on roles that are way out there. “One of the reasons I’m most comfortable with those roles — and most character actors are — is because I find myself very liberated when I’m behind a character,” he told me. “The cool thing about not having the world know me is that I can continue to leak aspects of my personality out, and whatever I want to expose, I have more control over that. People who know me very well say, ‘Well, that’s where he begins and ends, and everything else is just a funny hat.’ The more mysterious you are to the public, the more you can get away with.” And we laughed at the fact that a guy so well known for playing such effeminate roles (see also Stepford Wives) also starred in Hostel: Part II, where he was castrated and got to say such lines as “I am fucking Hercules!”

As I noted above, Bart also has a brief role in American Gangster, where he gets to bark his dialogue at Russell Crowe, who he also shared the screen with in The Insider. Here’s a quick anecdote Bart told me about reteaming with Crowe: “This is the second movie I am in with Russell Crowe. In the first one, he was a little rude to me, and this time I get a chance to say ‘fuck you’ to him. So when we were reading it, he turned to me and said, ‘You’ve been dying to say this to me ever since The Insider, haven’t you?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I have.’”

Anyway, the reason for the article is that Bart has stepped into the Gene Wilder role in Mel Brooks’ new Broadway adaptation of Young Frankenstein. “This whole show is, for me, a statement about stem cell research. [Director] Eli Roth told me Hostel 2 was about Hurricane Katrina. So that’s where I’m coming from,” Bart joked with me. Seriously, though, I hear Frankenstein is really good; I’ll be seeing it in early December and will let you know what I think then. For now, if you’d like to read it, you can find my article here.