Michael Emanuel ('Lucky')
'Luck of the Drool!'
Already very recognizable as the lovable family guy in Microsoft and cereal commercials, Michael Emanuel's list of TV and film credits also stretches out as far as the eye can see. In the '90s Michael had appeared in such TV hits as 'Beverly Hills, 90210,' 'Pacific Blue,' 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and even 'Malcolm In The Middle.' Film-wise his roles included parts in 'Outbreak,' 'Robin Cook's Invasion,' 'About Sarah' and now the new MTI Video movie, 'Lucky' also starring Piper Cochrane.
'Lucky' is the story of Millard Mudd, who is a failing cartoon writer who lives hermit-like existing on a strict alcohol diet. But one day everything changes when a dog named 'Lucky' enters his life. You see, what makes 'Lucky' no ordinary dog is his ability to talk! But what makes 'Lucky' dangerous is his ability to get inside Mudd's head and turn him into a serial killer.
Chatting with Michael recently, I answered his question that he indeed could keep his clothes on for the duration of the interview, and first wondered why his slob-of-a-character had been so verbally deep in the opening minutes of the film? "Well, I think a couple of things were in place there. In the opening of the movie where we do the long push through the house and we see kinda the environment, it's almost a homage to the Bob Hoskin's movie, the Atom Egoyn film 'Felicia's Journey.' It was something that I'd talked to the director about in pre-production. That was one of my favorite openings to a movie ever. And the reason why is that it kinda sets the character and really showed; before you even got to meet the guy, his personality. You get a taste of what this person is like before ever seeing him. And as for the driving when I'm pontificating with my rambling rants about the state of the world and the Universe, it's just kind of an insight into this guy's mind. Mudd's not a stupid guy by any stretch of the imagination and he believes all this shit - whether or not it's bullshit or not."
What was the reasoning behind all those beer cans in every shot? "Well, it was described in the script that Mudd lived in a house that was filled with a sea of beer cans. So, it was just to show the environment that this man lived in."
And where did they all come from? "Stephen Sustarsic [Writer] drank all of them ... except for a six-pack of Heineken," he laughs. "They just showed up in the yard one night. Steve had saved those beer cans for five years. He'd filled his garage and literally bleed and peed for this movie 'cause everything that was in that yard came out of his garage. So, at one point we were taking a break during filming and we were standing around in the back yard and someone asks him if he drank all of them. And Steve takes a moment, looks around and goes, 'Well, not the Heineken'," he laughs again.
He must have gotten a fair bit of money back for them all?! "No, as one of the ways to finance low-budget movies is to make all sorts of deals with people. And someone who actually worked with us as a Production Assistant part of the deal was we allowed him to take all the cans back and collect all the deposits on them all as part of their pay!"
If Mudd was making so much money from the scripts, why is it he never moved house, got better beer or changed his computer or monitor?! "Oh, you're so literal," he laughs. "You know, to answer that question, Mudd just is who he is and it doesn't matter how much money he has. If you take it from such a literal sense there's so many other such questions about this movie that I couldn't even begin to answer! But, if you take it from the sense that this whole thing maybe taking place in the mind of someone who is completely going off the deep end, those kind of questions arenít really answerable, I think."
What was the stuff you poured over your head in the Napalm scene? "It was colored methylcellulose, which is what Special FX guys use for goo - like on the aliens in 'Aliens,' only it was clear on them, not colored! It was really disgusting and it wasn't done at the end of the day so for a while there I was really sticky," he laughs. "It was not a pleasant experience pouring that shit on my head."
What was the most pleasing scene to shoot for you? "The first scene with my agent was really a lot of fun to shoot and the scene with Misty in which I'm discussing how I'm gonna cut her up and spread her pieces around. I mean, it's so out there and yet so real that it was a really fun scene to shoot. And really brave work by Piper [Cochrane]. It just worked so well. You won't see anything quite like that on film anywhere else, I promise you."
What would you say would be the critical point of the movie for the viewers to watch for? "Well, there's one point in the story where I have the same voice as the dog and that was intentionally put in there to tell the audience about a man who had lost his mind. And not a lot of people pick up on that and that's okay."
With regard the dog, I suppose there was a trainer on set at all times? "I work a lot in commercials here with dogs and kids all the time, but David Rivers who voiced Lucky was on set a lot of the time giving me lines. So yeah, I didn't have much of a problem pretending that I was talking with a dog," he laughs.
What was 'Lucky's real name? "Sydney," he laughs. "And we looked at tons of dogs, but this dog was just so pathetic. It just worked."
Did you end up stealing anything from the movie set for a memento - such as that tooth necklace?! "No, that had to go back to the dentist office that we stole it from," he laughs. "James Ferguson was our Line Producer and anything you wanted, James Ferguson could get you. So, I called him the 'Scrounger'."
So no props left with you at all then? "I still have the bathrobe ... but it's my bathrobe," he breaks out into laughter once more.
How easy or hard as it to act in the corpse-f**king scenes?! "When we were doing the unearthing of the corpse, Jillian Bach who plays the delivery girl; well, as soon as the cameras stopped rolling her and I were busting out laughing," he laughs. "That was really a lot of fun and at one point they had dressed the set and there was like cologne there. So I took some of the cologne and dabbed it on myself. Which is so ridiculous because I'm gonna have sex with a corpse what did I care what I smelt like," he laughs again.
Was it someone's actual house you filmed in? "Yeah, it was the first house I ever owned. It's a little 840 square foot cabin built in the 1930's out of river rock and un-reinforced concrete. I subsequently sold it to my wife's sister and it's a really cute little place that we just trashed and made it look like the bowels of Hell! And especially in Mudd's basement and Mudd's room with the production design. It was specific that we wanted it to look like you were going down into the bowels of Hell. You know, the downward spiral into this abyss in this man's head. Figuratively speaking and also in his world."
The ending seems to cheat us out of the possible slaying of the dog - were different endings either thought of or filmed? "There wasn't ever another ending filmed, but there was a scene where at one point Mudd gets wildly successful and lives in a penthouse, but it just didn't work. And I know it leaves people feeling, well, I guess it is kind of a pat ending, but for me if we look at this as this guy is completely insane and none of this happened; or if he really is indeed just a monster, there's only two ways a monster stops killing: Serial killers either get caught or they kill themselves. And since Mudd's not gonna get caught it just made so much more sense that that's the way he would end it. I think it book-ends the story."
Describe the film in three words "Take no prisoners."
Finally, what's new for you on the horizon? "We're just abut ready to start going out to people with a film called 'The Manson Murders.' It was written by John Gilmore who wrote a book called the 'Garbage People' [The Trip to Helter-Skelter and Beyond With Charlie Manson and the Family]. We're doing the drafts on the script now and it should be out next week. It's a voyeuristic eye into the Manson family and will rock people's minds."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
To win a brand new copy of this excellent new DVD 'Lucky' just tell me in which movie Piper Cochrane starred in alongside Kevin Costner? Just send us an e:mail here with your answer and the subject title 'LUCKY' to:
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