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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Interviews with Valerie Bertinelli, Michael C. Hall and Eli Roth
Aired July 26, 2013 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE MARK PAUL STROUMBOULOPOULOS, CNN HOST: A lot of fun tonight, including somebody who has been an inspiration to a lot of people not only because of weight loss and she's a mom of Wolfgang, Boston marathon runner and a big part of our culture for a long time. We have Valerie Bertinelli.
VALERIE BERTINELLI, HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS: In the studio is where we did our pilot for one day at a time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Plus, this is the first time to know this guy, Michael C. Hall is a really -- From preparing bodies to killing bodies. Because of Dexter, there's a lot to get into with Michael C. Hall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL C. HALL, "DEXTER" LEAD ACTOR: When I was getting ready to play the part, I picked out people, followed them around just to see if I could get around with it. It was surprisingly easy, actually.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And, Eli Roth. It's his mission to take hard core horror to the main stream.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELI ROTH, HOLLYWOOD ACTOR: I believe that horror movies are like fairy tales for adults.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: STROUMBOULOPOULOS, let's go!
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Welcome to the program. OK, there's a lot to get to. The first guest of the program tonight was a child star, went off course as many people in life do, because it can be difficult. Drug addiction, found her path in "Hot in Cleveland" that TV show. She is so fascinating. She is so fun. Valerie Bertinelli is on her way out. Here is her story.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS (voice-over): She may be a household name for taking it "One Day at a Time," loved for being an angel, and praised for being "Hot in Cleveland." But, Valerie Bertinelli wasn't always in the spotlight.
Born to Nancy, a homemaker and Andrew, an executive at General Motors, who is often transferred. But, it was 1971 when the Bertinellis settled down in Van Nuys, California. And, Valerie instantly became a valley girl. Convinced her mother to let her attend acting school and then began booking commercials.
But, here real big break came when she was 15 years old. She was cast as the sweet-hearted mild mannered Barbara Cooper in the CBS sitcom "One Day At A Time."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIE BERTINELLI, HOLLYWOOD CHILD STAR: I'm Barbara Cooper. He left his tool belt in my bedroom. I mean, he was working on my bed, the frame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STROUMBOULOPOULOS (voice-over): Valerie captured the hearts of America with the show's ability to be socially relevant and audiences watched as Valerie grew up right in front of them. But, behind the scenes, there were real-life problems that were real life problems that were starting to creep in.
Valerie claims that she and co-star McKenzie Phillips began experimenting with drugs together. In addition, Valerie struggles with food addiction. And, it was not until 2008, with the release of her autobiography that she began to publicly confront her problems.
And, she has since made it her mission to help others establish their own healthy eating and exercise habits. She has her most important job, which is to be a mom to Wolfgang Van Halen.
Wolfy is her 22-year-old son that she had with guitar god Eddie Van Halen during their marriage. She is a best-selling author and an in- demand actress, defying the old Hollywood stereotype that there is a little work for an actress after 40.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Valerie Bertinelli!
BERTINELLI: Hi, sweetie. How are you?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How are you?
BERTINELLI: Very well, thank you.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I am fine.
BERTINELLI: Make sure I can't get lipstick on you.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Got it?
BERTINELLI: No. I think a little bit.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I can handle it.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How are things?
BERTINELLI: Things are good! I know you are in my land now.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That is right. The last time I saw you --
BERTINELLI: You're in my territory -- was in your studio.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: -- in Canada.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Congratulations on the show.
BERTINELLI: Thank you.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You got renewed of it.
BERTINELLI: Yes. We are renewed for our fifth season.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It is pretty great.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Here's the thing about "Hot in Cleveland" which I love is, it explores the concept of female sexuality past the age of 30.
BERTINELLI: And 40 and 50.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yes. But --
BERTINELLI: And, 90.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That it will be for sure --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But, in television, generally, I thought in most television these days, especially as it relates to female sexuality is like woman's tennis. Once you're past 16, they don't care about you anymore.
BERTINELLI: Or they sexualize the woman as on posed to being a sexual being.
BERTINELLI: There is a difference. You know, when someone sexualizes someone at the age of Miley Cyrus or younger --
BERTINELLI: -- It is kind of, "Really, are we going to go there?"
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It is super inappropriate.
BERTINELLI: Yes. I would think.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: So, when you get to this stage -- So, when you looked at the script and you look at --
BERTINELLI: And, they think we're not having sex at this age.
BERTINELLI: You know, not true.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It would be such a shame.
BERTINELLI: It would, wouldn't it?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Did you know that this is a theme you are going to be able to explore?
BERTINELLI: Absolutely. Because being in this business and being that once you're past the age of -- I am 40 -- 30, you're basically put out to pasture.
BERTINELLI: So, to be able to do this at our age and show that we are still living, breathing. We have a lot to give to our community and to everyone. It is kind of nice. I mean there is a lot of 40, 50, 60, and 70, 80, 90 year olds out there that we have a lot to give.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Great. Of course. Did you feel like you can relate to it in your personal life in anyway?
BERTINELLI: You know, I still feel like I'm 20 in my brain.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What age are you frozen at? I am frozen at 27.
BERTINELLI: Really? Why 27?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I don't know. May be this one -- I got this radio show that I like and then when I am walking down the street thinking this the moment of my life, but I am always 27 in my head. I act 14.
BERTINELLI: Well, you are a man.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I am a man and am I ever. But, would you still think you are like 20 or 26?
BERTINELLI: Well, I look in the mirror and I'm like, "Wow, where did that wrinkle come from because I'm only 20. And, then I forget, "Oh, yes!" And, my knees remind me that I am not 20 anymore. And, then I am actually 53.
BERTINELLI: And, ankles and my Achilles tendon. But, you know what? It's better than the alternative.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Yes. What does Betty White mean?
BERTINELLI: Oh, my God. I adore that woman. She is 91 and a spitfire. She -- Going to work on "Hot in Cleveland" is literally like being in a master class and watching the master do her stuff, because she is so kind to everyone. Not only is she brilliant and she is a comedian and she can bring out the drama when it's appropriate. She's a really good actress, but she is kind.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Betty White was on the radio in the '30s.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: In the '30s.
BERTINELLI: Right, she was born in 1922.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Born -- can you think of that?
BERTINELLI: Yes, I know.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Working nonstop.
BERTINELLI: Yes. Well, she did a television show before television was actually invented. She did a show -- and she will say that. I'm using a Betty line. She did that 5-1/2 hours a day, six days a week.
BERTINELLI: Live television.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: She would sing. She would through her mail. She was a consummate performer.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But, kindness is the thing that stands out the most. BERTINELLI: That stands out the most people to me about Betty until most people that meet her. She is so kind and giving and lovely and -- She is just full of grace.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: When you walk into a room with that cast and you look around, do you -- is it a struggle to find that kind of -- not chemistry, but I mean coherency.
BERTINELLI: Well, no, because chemistry doesn't just happen.
BERTINELLI: I mean it doesn't -- You can't make chemistry. You can't get it out of nothing. It has to just be there. It really is the least diva set I have ever been on, and I'm talking about with men, too.
BERTINELLI: Sometimes men can be more of a diva than women.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Of course.
BERTINELLI: I'm not looking at you.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: No, because we are all the same ultimately, right?
BERTINELLI: Right. We all what we all want to just be heard. We want to be liked, some of us do. But, I think more importantly, we really want to be heard. We want to feel like we mean something to someone else and that we are here because we're meant to be here and we are meant to put a mark on another person or to do something good with our lives.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: In your art.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Do you look for the opportunity to be that, to do that?
BERTINELLI: Every day. I look for the opportunity to just make not only my life better, which I am incredibly blessed. So, how I do that I don't know. But, just to treat the other people that I meet in this life with as much kindness as I would want to get back. So, it's the old golden rule. You know, do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Was that always like for yourself?
BERTINELLI: No. The older I get, the more I realize how important other people are. I mean when you are in your 20s, and you are teenager, it is -- you are so wrapped up in who you are and you take yourself so seriously. And, you can't hear a joke for what it is or if you see two people whispering in a corner, you would think they are whispering about you. It has nothing to do with you. Most of the time that people are doing anything, it has nothing to do with you.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And, you were in the whirl wind, too.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You might -- you would have been even more heightened. Never mind the fact --
BERTINELLI: I think it made it worse for a while.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You have a TV career and a famous marriage.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And drama and all that.
BERTINELLI: So, I always thought people were judging me and looking at me and you know saying horrible -- and thank God I didn't grow up in the age of, you know, all of the internet and these -- I mean there's so many angry, mean people on the internet. But, having said that, there are so many kind and sweet and lovely people out there, too. It is just that the mean people are kind of louder sometimes.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Right. You know, the last time we talked, it has been a few years. We were talking about your son was going on the road with Van Halen. He was going. And there was --
BERTINELLI: It is so funny. He just left today for Japan.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Bizarre. So, years later --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How have you -- have you changed the way you view him?
BERTINELLI: Well, absolutely. I mean I probably joked about it like, you know, "Oh my God! No, not Van Halen." But, in reality, these guys are, you know, my age. So, you change and you evolve. And, there were no groupies backstage. There was, you know, no drinking backstage.
It was really a great environment for him to be in, and he got to really spend a lot of time with his father and really get to know his dad a lot, because his dad was on the road so much.
BERTINELLI: That he didn't -- I mean, he obviously always loved his father and Ed is an amazing father and gives his son all the love he deserves. But, he wasn't able to spend a lot of time with him. So, that was a nice gift for them. And, they are still together doing it.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That would be pretty cool for Ed to have that experience too, just to connect with his --
BERTINELLI: I think that is what -- I mean from the first moment I was pregnant and Ed used to play the guitar on my belly, he was just like, "Oh, this is going to be a musician." And, you know, I'm like, "I hope so." He's not going to get from me, the musical stuff.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Do you have a picture?
BERTINELLI: The picture --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Look at this.
BERTINELLI: Oh, wow! That is when he was 16.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is that a weird photo for you to see?
BERTINELLI: Yes, really. It really is. He is a --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: He is quite a player too.
BERTINELLI: Yes. You know, the bass is actually not his best instrument, I think. And, he can kick ass on the bass.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is he a better guitar player?
BERTINELLI: He is actually -- He is very good at that too, but he's an amazing drummer.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It is pretty tough with his uncle.
BERTINELLI: Well, his uncle already has the job.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Stick around. More with Valerie right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STROUMBOULOPOULOS (voice-over): Well, she's had the ups and downs in the Hollywood world, "Hot in Cleveland." More with Valerie Bertinelli coming up.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: We are back to the program. We're talking to Valerie Bertinelli. OK, so listen. One of the things that I love that you did in your career was the food stuff.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: The health stuff.
BERTINELLI: It was a scary place for me to go with me, because food has been such an issue all of my life. STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Well -- And, because one of the things that you are trained to do in this life, never mind in the business, is to manage your own vanity and manage that presence you have.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But to do those commercials and to be that girl, there's an acceptance that has to take place. What was that process like to get there?
BERTINELLI: Well, except that -- the process is still happening, actually. I don't know that it will ever -- food is such a -- because I love food. I am Italian. I have to love food. I love to cook. So, but then to -- my problem was, I started to use food as a drug and use it as a source to settle feelings that I was uncomfortable with.
Like someone that would use drugs or gambling or whatever. It got to a place where I just couldn't hold my weight in any kind of normalcy. And, not that I was always really heavy or really thin, because I went through a period with that, too. But it's just that food wasn't normal for me, and I couldn't -- I use it and I punished myself with it, as opposed to just using it to nourish my body, which is what I am doing now.
You know, I look for vegetables and fruits that have a lot of color, because that means it has more nutrients. I do worry about the food system in this country, though. I -- The GMOs make me nervous.
The seeds that aren't what Mother Nature gave us and they are putting stuff in the seeds, antibiotics and everything. It makes me really nervous. And, I know I sound like a hoyty toyty liberal, but are we concerned about what we are putting in our body. Why are there so many foods now?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: The only people who say that you are a liberal, and that respect by caring about food or people that have either weird agenda or afraid to face on their own.
BERTINELLI: Well, I believe in big business, too, but not if you're going to harm our bodies and we are going to -- what are we doing to ourselves?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: The reason why -- I think part of the reason why you want to have multicolor plate, it means you are getting variety.
BERTINELLI: Of --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Of food.
BERTINELLI: -- vitamins.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But, who doesn't want us to know that?
BERTINELLI: Big business.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Right. Why? BERTINELLI: I don't know -- By, big money. It always comes back to money. But, I just think our health is so much more important. And, what is money if you're dead?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Right. Or, maybe it's just money they can take for themselves.
BERTINELLI: Yes. they're eating the same [EXPLICIT WORD]. Sorry.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You can say it. You can say it.
BERTINELLI: I don't know. I get -- sometimes I get really passionate about stuff that sounds like, "Oh, let it go, Valerie." But, God! This is what we're putting in our body to nourish ourselves.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Before we go, I want to ask you about Bonnie Franklin.
BERTINELLI: I miss her. I miss her. She --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Passed away this spring, right?
BERTINELLI: Yes. March 1st. She was a very important part of my life. She was my second mother. I met her when I was 15. I actually met her -- I think this is the stage I met her on.
BERTINELLI: In this studio is where we did our pilot for "One Day At A Time."
BERTINELLI: And, it was here. She is -- was such a woman full of life and grace and another really kind woman like Betty.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: When you had those difficult periods in your life, was she there?
BERTINELLI: All the time. Yes. And, as a teenager, sometimes we don't respect our mothers and that when we go and look -- and Bonnie was always respectful of my mother and respectful that she knew that I had a mother, but she was always there for me to lean on and I would call her. She brought me to New York one summer and I hung out at her apartment and learned so much. I will miss her terribly.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: The three of you, it was quite a group.
BERTINELLI: Yes. Yes.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: When you think back to those days, what do you remember?
BERTINELLI: Golly, I was a teenager. So, I remember really learning from the best. I have been so lucky. I learned, you know, comedy from Pat and Bonnie and McKenzie. McKenzie is such a sweet young lady. And, then I have --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And, McKenzie's story is so complicated and so bizarre.
BERTINELLI: Oh, McKenzie. You should have her on your show. She is so full of heart and she comes so far and she has had really a rough road. And, she's come out the other side.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Do you guys -- when you guys are growing up, are you talking about your rough road? Are you sharing it at that time?
BERTINELLI: No. We had -- remember we were 15 --
BERTINELLI: Mac is six months older than me and 15, 16, 17. So, very rough age, and it was -- we loved each other. We hated each other. We were sisters, but then there was a lot of stuff going on. Sure, there were a lot of stuff going on with her life, in my life --
BERTINELLI: We were both growing up in front of the camera. She started first. She did "American Graffiti" and was a huge star from that. So, you know, I come in, this punk coming in for the second pilot, because the first pilot didn't work and they thought they needed another daughter. So, now, I come in, and she's like, hmmm. But, she was a sweetie pie. In fact the elevator I took to come up here is was where I very first met her for the first time doing the tape.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It is great to see you.
BERTINELLI: It is great to see you, too, sweetie
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Thank you so much. Valerie Bertinelli, everybody. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Dexter Morgan himself in the blood red chair, next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Welcome back. What's the idea if I have said to you, we're going to make a show and this guy is a serial killer, but you're going to be on his side. And, then after eight seasons, you would still be on his side. There's a lot to get into with Michael C. Hall. But, please welcome Michael C. Hall!
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How are you?
MICHAEL C. HALL, LEAD ACTOR OF DEXTER: I am well. How are you?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I'm well. Could you have ever imagined a serial killer role like this would go so wrong?
HALL: No. They are beyond my wildest expectations. I thought we had potentially a cult hit, you know, for four or five seasons if we were lucky. And, we got the tone right. But, the cult -- if it is a cult, it is a lot broader than I thought it would be. And, here we are in the eighth season still doing it.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: When you -- would you approach it differently if you thought in longer terms?
HALL: No. I don't think so. I mean, in fact, the way the character started is so far from the way I think the audience experiences the character now. He is really broadened his sense of -- he is --
HALL: -- more human or at least more nuanced in his indulgence in pretending to be human. I mean it is kind of arguable, but he has changed a lot.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It's a pretty meta opportunity for you, because you are a guy, playing a guy who is playing a normal person.
HALL: Exactly. Yes. As an actor, it was weird when we started. I think as an actor, you're preoccupied with cultivating a sense of authenticity, you know? It is feeling real to you in some way. And, Dexter is like, nothing feels real to me.
Everything is a simulation. So, in a way, it kind of let you off the hook. You didn't have to be preoccupied in the same way. In another way, it was something that if you thought about it enough, it would tie your brain in knots.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: All right.
HALL: Tried not to over think it.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Sometimes I wonder if these characters are metaphors for where we at, at the moment as people, you know. You know, who we choose to watch and who we choose to connect with --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: -- in the moment.
HALL: I don't know. I mean, I think a lot of people like Dexter, and there are a lot of different reasons why people like it. But, I think we live in a world where maybe we feel an increasing sense of a lack of control and this character, who in his own unique way, has taken responsibility for his darker impulses and is taking some sort of control in his corner of the world that appeals to people. They identify with that somehow. I mean it is a show about arguably justifiable serial murder. It's kind of crazy.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But, maybe it's a show about humanity, about the nature of being a man, about fathers and sons.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And, if it brings people together on Sunday evening, I guess maybe it is a wash. How many shows can one actor do where he talks to a ghost father?
HALL: I don't know. I've got two in a row. You know in 6 feet under, I had this -- you know, along with all the dead bodies, there is a similarity between the two characters in that they have these ghost dads, who are these sort of critical inner voices.
And, I think that's a part of why the character is relatable. I mean we all have voices in our heads that maybe we project to our idea of some absent authority figure or whatever, but it's really just us.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But in the worst and strongest way, that you experienced too. Because your father passed when you were young, right?
HALL: That's true. I mean I feel very fortunate in a way in the things that are done that have been sort of commercially and artistically viable were also things, which have encouraged me to examine some of my own story. And, my father passed away when I was 11. So, I definitely -- what was open to exploring the idea or expressing the idea that we carry these internal voices with us.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: So, when you are doing it --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Shoot and go home processing your day or whatever, is that when some of that starts to trigger in your head?
HALL: You know, I don't know. I think if you do something this long, the lines start to blur. I mean I'm not, you know --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But, you did stalk people in New York.
HALL: That is true. You know, when I was getting ready to play the part, just to feel what it would be like to do that. I picked out people when living in New York City for us living at the time and followed them around, just to see if I could get away with it. And, it was surprisingly easy, actually. Because, there were a lot of people in New York.
HALL: It's not like I did it in Topeka.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Were you also a knife salesman?
HALL: Yes. Yes. I sold knives in high school door to door.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It's all coming together.
HALL: Yes. I know. My mom insisted that I got a job and I got this job selling knives. They were really great knives. And, I had this spiel that I would do. I would go to their house. I would have them open their knife drawer and talk about what a mess it was and how they should get these knives. And, at the end, I would cut a penny.
HALL: And, it actually worked like two out of three times. But, eventually my mom, who insisted I get the job, insisted me I get a different one, because I kept hitting up her friends and she was getting uncomfortable. But, I always sold knives.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And, listen. In part, probably because of shows like "Dexter," nobody would let a knife salesman in their house anymore.
HALL: Yes. Especially, if they look like me.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Well, especially if you put your eyebrows up like that and you cock your head like that.
HALL: Right. That something I find when I go out that I do look a lot like Dexter. People remind me all the time.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You know, going "6 Feet Under" -- OK, I like the idea that in "Dexter" you can push people's understanding and challenge people's concept of justice, empathy, and forgiveness and all that. In "6 Feet Under," you got to do it in a very different way. I love the fact that you play a guy that was a closeted man.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What was your relationship with homophobia before that?
HALL: Well, I grew up in the south. I was born in 1971. I definitely had older relatives or people in my life who seem to have a -- either explicit or implicit homophobic bend to their sense of things and what was appropriate and sexuality and all that stuff.
But, I also had a lot of gay men in my life, who were very positive role models in terms of -- I mean, frankly I wouldn't have a career if it weren't for the work of gay men in terms of the material that I have worked on, the people who have written that material, in some cases directed it.
But, there were definitely some older members of my family in Eastern North Carolina, who I only realized when I started doing Dexter, just how unenthusiastic they were about the gay funeral director. They were a lot more comfortable with me simulating murder than a positive relationship with another man, which says something.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That's a thing.
HALL: Yes. I don't mean to diss anybody. I'm just saying.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But, moreover, it wasn't just a gay man in a relationship. He was in a biracial relationship, which is even strong --
HALL: I know, icing on the cake. Yes. So, yes, I guess I have some sort of -- I mean I think both shows probably appeal to some subversive appetite I might have in terms of challenging people and pushing their buttons.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Stick around, more of Michael Hall after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The conversation with Michael C. Hall gets even more deadly, next.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Welcome back. Here with Michael C. Hall. Lots that we have talked about and lots of ground to cover. What kind of environmental protester were you, stopping the demolishment of a creek? Like what kind of guy --
HALL: That's funny. When I was a kid --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How old?
HALL: I must have been about 7 or 8. The kids in the neighborhood and myself -- this is in Vienna, Virginia. I grew up in North Carolina for the most part. But, I was there for three years. We played in this creek that got dammed up by bunch of construction workers, who were working on some houses back there.
And, we took it upon ourselves to drive them away, because they were damming up our creek, and we couldn't play with our little toy boats. So, we, you know, did some concoctions, did graffiti work on their backhoes, with their back holes, and tractors. So, it was like peanut butter and jelly and slimy rotten eggs and --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Super goonies, men!
HALL: I know and eventually we got chased away by one of them, who was there on a weekend when we would go in and it was probably like we did it a few times one week, and then the guy showed up on the weekend and caught us and that was that. But, it feels like it was much more of an epic battle.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It was the beginning of this activist -- this activist's politically motivated guy? HALL: The beginning and ending perhaps.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Did you end up losing the battle?
HALL: Yes. He chased us away and he scared us and we found another place to play. The end. I don't -- Yes, think we ever went back.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It is a life lesson in there, I'm sure.
HALL: Yes. Like if you're going to fight something, be ready to fight it all the way. Otherwise, just find somewhere else to play. I'm working on it. I don't know that is quite --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: This is the very beginning stages. Yes, it is good. So, do you reached this place obviously where you are coming to an end.
HALL: Yes, with the show. Yes.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How do you feel about that?
HALL: I feel a sense of -- primarily I feel focused on getting the last couple days of the 10th and then the 11th and the 12th episodes done
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Do you know it?
HALL: I do generally. I mean I don't know every word of the final script, but I have a pretty good sense of where we're headed.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Finales are so -- especially in the twitter world, the anonymous wall of aggression that exist the finale is a thing.
HALL: Oh, yes.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: You can do it like "Newhart."
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Or you can do it like the "Sopranos" --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: -- Or "Seinfeld."
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What are you doing?
HALL: Well, I can't tell you. I feel -- I mean -- But, that's nothing new. I felt like Dexter's press secretary ever since this started. You know, I talk and try to reveal nothing.
(LAUGHING) STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Right.
HALL: But, it's going to be, you know, decisive things will happen. You know?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Decisive? That's the vaguest -- Like that really reveals nothing.
HALL: No. It makes me think people are going to die.
HALL: But, I mean in Dexter's world, it's like news flash.
HALL: I can't believe it. Part of what made Dexter work is how bright it was and I heard somebody describe it, it was candy colored.
HALL: Yes. Well, I think Miami helped. The music, the color palate, the voice-over element sort of counterpoint. Yes, I mean, I think the show, as Dexter has gotten more human and less compartmentalized psychopath. The show has actually gotten darkener a way. I think as more people have become implicated in his world because of what he's done.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What do you look at this next wave of your life?
HALL: I don't know. The fact that Dexter is ending, -- I did that for eight years, or have been doing it for eight years, and did "Six Feet Under" for five right before that. So, I don't know, I'm interested to see what life is like without some sort of open ended commitment to a character, who is surrounded by dead bodies.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And to a schedule that means you have to be there all the time.
HALL: Yes. Yes. I mean it's a steady job. I never thought we shoot at sunset gallery here in Hollywood and we shot "Six Feet Under" there, too. So, it was 13 years that I've been working there. I never thought I would go to work at the same place for 13 straight years as an actor.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Other things you want to do? And, I don't mean in acting.
HALL: I want to catch my breath. I want to see what -- I definitely, you know, want to explore other acting opportunities. But, strawberry farming maybe.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Of all the fruit, strawberries?
HALL: Yes. Yes. It is my -- you know, they are my favorite.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Michael C. Hall, everybody!
ANNOUNCER: All right. Coming up, his work inspired the term torture porn. It's the sickeningly sweet Eli Roth next.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Please welcome to the show, Eli Roth.
ELI ROTH, HOLLYWOOD ACTOR: Thank you. How are you, man?
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Good to see you.
ROTH: Good to see you too.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Things are great! Welcome to the show.
ROTH: It is good to be here.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: It is nice to see you.
ROTH: In the United States.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That is right.
ROTH: We did the cannery together.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That is right.
ROTH: I know. I like it.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: How's life?
ROTH: Life is great. Congrats on "Hemlock."
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Thank you very much.
ROTH: Thank you.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: I mean making independent film is one thing. It is getting into making television for Netflix in different kind of experience.
ROTH: It is completely different. You know in television, you do not have complete control with the way you do with the movies. So, I made my movies independently. So, I make all the decisions.
And, you sort of know going in when you are making a television show that is so much more collaborative medium. But, I was unprepared for just I must say the network had in certain things. That being said, they were very cool and they really let me go far with the violence in the way I want it too.
ROTH: My main thing was I wanted to do a werewolf transformation that would completely screw up all the "Twilight" fans. I wanted the people to be really, really disturbed. I wanted this wolf bursting out of the skin --
ROTH: -- a company of wolves. And, they really let me go for it. So, that's what was great, is that we could really, really fully do violence in a way that I could never get away on network television.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And, why is that important to you?
ROTH: Well, you're telling a horror story. I mean if you are watching "Game Of Thrones" without the violence on that show, it doesn't have the same impact. And, when I read the book of "Hemlock Grove" by Brian McGreevy, it is a really violent story.
And, I felt like the "Twilight" fans, they are going to want something that is more adult. And, the subject matter of the book was about this girl. This girl that has been brutally murdered and everyone trying to find out who did it and what did it. And, I felt like you really needed sex and violence. I wanted teenagers behave like teenagers. So --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: With all the screwing and the killing.
ROTH: Well, yes -- No, exactly. So, once people saw that it wasn't your average sort of werewolf empire thing, they got into it.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: So, when you're telling that story as a director or writer or producer, whatever, you're behind the scenes, you are watching it, it is very technical. But, most people will never ever, ever be on a horror set.
They will never actually see what goes into it. They will just see the end result, which when done well, realistic. Think of all the violence and all the blood that our culture has consumed just by watching stuff. What do you think the impact is?
ROTH: I think the people separate real life violence and television violence. I don't think it may lead to violence. I think that right now they are such in awareness of how things are. We watched "The Red Riding Hood" and "Game of Thrones." All these people killed. And, then you're tweeting at the actors.
So, there's a real awareness now. So, there's a fourth wall, you know, between violence and actors, it has all been broken down. Also, if you look at the history of mankind, more violence has come over religion. I mean people have used the bible as an excuse to cause violence since the beginning of time.
I mean I think that why people go on killing sprees or any of this kind of thing that no one knows. But, I don't think there's ever one movie that causes it. One video game --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: For sure. It does not cause. I just wonder what the impact is of consuming it because I wonder if you are subconscious. You know, how we process those kinds -- You studied the brain, right?
ROTH: Of course. I mean I think people just take it as a story. I mean fairy tales. "Grimm's Fairy Tales" has been around for hundreds of years and those are children being baked in ovens.
ROTH: And, those are ranging 2 to 3-year-old kids. Now, what happens as a kid when you hear those stories about monsters and children being eaten, you think I am not alone for thinking these things.
ROTH: You know, people have very violent thoughts. Birth -- We come into this world in a very violent way and we go out in a very violent way. And, in between, you are sort of avoiding these violent -- you know life is like a series of avoiding horrible incidents that happened to you or people you love.
So, at least that is how I look at it. But, I think that seeing violence in movies helps us be actually less afraid. I don't think it makes people more afraid. I think people fantasize about this stuff happening. They are afraid of the stuff happening and somehow seeing it actualized makes them feel less alone and less crazy.
ROTH: I think -- I believe that horror movies are like fairy tales for adults. I mean there is a reason those stories -- those Grimm's fairy tales have lasted hundreds of years.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Well, part of the reasons to tell those stories are to scare kids and to stay on the right path. Right?
ROTH: Exactly. I mean they are generally morality tales.
ROTH: Even the hostile movies are morality tales in some way shape performed.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Getting into this Netflix thing. Has it changed the way you view financing films. Because I mean -- Did you actually work as a phone sex-kind of operator guy?
ROTH: I worked as an online sex operator. I don't quite have the sexy voice. I pretend to be a woman --
ROTH: So, I would do it like hard.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: So, that thing -- you finance films.
ROTH: That -- When I was in college, yes. I mean I needed a job that, you know, would not take away from studying. And, someone said to me, "Hey, there is this new thing called the internet and there is cyber sex and you can pretend to be a woman."
And, it was actually a major men's magazine that was hiring guys to do it, because they know the guys are really sick enough to know what other guys want to hear. And, it was 1991. So, it was before AOL. So, it was like doctors and scientists who really want the internet.
People were spending -- God, they are spending like $0.50 or $1 a minute to talk to me. And, they would stay there five or six hours on the computer. And, it was like me and 20 guys in my dorm guy. And, they're like, "Yes, like tell her to -- I mean I don't know if I can say it on television. They say, "Yeah, (EXPLICIT WORDS).
And, we're all typing and I remember my mom came to visit me in college and I was talking. I was typing so fast. She's like, "How do you type 120 words a minute?" You are so fast. I was like "I don't know, mom. I'm really good."
But, I remember the best part was me and my friend Bob and we are going to quit. And, we went on and we were like, "let's tell the guys. Let's do it." We are like "we are guys. We're men. We have penises. We have been messing with you the whole time." And, I remember us like fighting to hit the send button. We hit send and we watch like a blink, and they were like, "That's really funny, Tammy."
Tell me about the time you had sex with Guns N Roses. Tammy, is a great character. It really helped with my character building. I was Tammy, the slut, from the East Village. Then I was Mirei, the beautiful 22-year-old French girl, who couldn't understand why it was wrong to sunbathe in central park and why it is getting arrested.
And, then I was Allyson, with a "Y" who is a 27-year-old divorcee, who is writing characters for novel, and the men didn't want to have sex with Allyson because they respected her too much. I was like, nobody wants to have sex with me? And they were like, "Oh, I respect you too much. I don't want to do that to you." I was like, "No. But, I just got divorced." It was terrible.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: He is more guy. Wow.
ROTH: But, it paid for my student films.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Did it change your view of sexuality?
ROTH: It didn't change my view of sexuality, because I always thought sex was awesome. So, it wasn't like it got less awesome by doing that. It just showed me that men will believe anything they want to.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Incredible. Stick around, more with Eli right after this. ANNOUNCER: What is it like to kill Hitler? We will get into it with Eli. Stay tune.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Welcome back. You are hanging out with Eli Roth. It's ages away now from the "Inglorious Bustards," but I'm still fixated on your character, because it seems this thing that people will talk about "The Bear Jew" forever.
ROTH: Yes. People still -- On twitter every day, they are asking me about "The Bear Jew." It is cool. I love it. I mean that was like a dream part to play. It was an incredible experience. So, I don't mind it.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What is it like when you're Jewish and your family watches you kill Hitler?
ROTH: I was there with my parents and -- you know, like all my relatives and distant relatives who were in Russia, Poland and Austria. So, my grandparents got out, but there were all the extended relatives that didn't, that were killed in the camp.
And, you grow up hearing those stories from your parents and about you know, this cousin who had the tattoo and don't ask about the camps. That was a big league in Brooklyn. And, you know -- so, a lot of their friends were survivors and were in the camps, these kids -- it was a very, very strong thing in our household.
But, I watched that with my parents and I looked over and they had tears running down their face. And, they actually came to Berlin and my dad was there. We are filming the scene of us going into the theatre. And, Quentin loves my parents and put my mom as a Nazi extra.
So, she was more than she was so happy. So, mom was like, "Oh, that is me." You know, which was so surreal, because my parents swore they would never set foot in Germany.
ROTH: They were like, "We will never go there. Why would we ever go there?" And, I think a lot of -- you know, they are in their 70s, and a lot of Jews of their generation certainly felt that way. And, then they came there and they realized how much it's changed. They were like, "This is the best thing we have ever done." They let all that anger go.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Did you have to convince them go?
ROTH: Yes. I was like - I had to convince them and to be their shooting a movie. Buy them plane tickets. Make it like arranged everything so literally they get off the plane and I got like a private tour for them to go to the holocaust museum and the memorial, like I had to hold their hand through the entire experience.
And, they said we feel so foolish for not having come here sooner and for this is from 70 years ago. The country has changed so much. And, I tell like every -- to all Jews that are still holding on to whatever they grew up with, don't buy German --it's completely different.
You should absolutely -- Berlin is an amazing place. The Germans are wonderful people. It was a life-changing experience for me. In that way whatever I grew up with, this sort of hatred of that part of the world is all completely reversed.
But, then watching -- My father wrote an article for the Jewish journal about -- it called "My Son Killed Adolf Hitler" and talked about this fantasy that -- not Jewish, but everyone in the world that had this shared fantasy of going back in time and killing the Nazis, in killing Hitler. Seeing that actualized with his own son just completely blew his mind. And, my dad is a psycho analyst. He was like -- They were just in tears. The whole family was in tears.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What was the significance of the bat?
ROTH: The baseball bat. There was a scene that was cut and Quinten says --
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: If you haven't seen the film, basically -- you know, they would bring out the guy to be killed. You will just come out, boom!
ROTH: Yes, with the baseball bat.
ROTH: There was this scene where I went around and I go to Mrs. Hemel Stein, who is played by Cloris Leachman, and I get like kind of all the old Jewish ladies in the neighborhood to sign a name on the bat of someone that is over in the war, someone they cared about, someone that is in the camps.
And, they all sign it, and I take the bat with all the signatures and that's what I use to pummel the Nazis. And, it is this real, you know, symbolic thing. But, there was this great scene that we shot. Quinten says if he ever -- I am not saying he is going, but if you ever does a prequel, he purposefully hasn't leaked that scene in case he ever wants to do something with it later.
ROTH: If he does it. It would be incredible. This scene exist and there's also a scene where I go -- first a scene where I go to buy the bat, and I like, you know, test one out and smash it. That was when -- And, then I take it to Mrs. Hemelstein.
ROTH: I think it just took you too much out of the story. It was like sort of this whole detour for the "The Bear Jews Bastards." But, we filmed all that.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: But, it must really help you when you go out there and play that role knowing that this is what drives the bat. This is what drives the guy.
ROTH: Yes, with Quinten, you have to have your whole character's history down, like part of the preparation for Quentin. I remember the first rehearsal, we all sat around and Quentin is like, "Close your scripts and he is like "Who are you, and you have to talk in character for a long time."
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: And you're making it up?
ROTH: I had it ready. He said, "This is your role. You're going to prepare the role, like you are going to know who your parents are, what school you went to, who your history is." You have to know -- For Quentin, you have to know the character the way -- think of your best friend, the way you know your best friend, that's how I had to know my character.
And, he put you on the spot. And, went around everybody and what did you -- It's all back story before you even open the first page. There was one guy who couldn't keep up, the next day he was gone. That character was eliminated.
ROTH: He was like -- I was like, "What happened to Benny or whatever that character is? That guy didn't prepare. He's cut. Sent home. So, you had to be on your game or Quentin will send you packing.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: That is a pretty wild place to be as an actor.
ROTH: Yes. But, that's what you want. That's the experience I wanted.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Is that how you direct?
ROTH: That's how I direct now. I don't send people home, but I'm very, very much about, when I am writing, knowing every character's back story. Who they are and the first rehearsal is really, really discussed with my cast, actors. What their relationships are. How they relate when they met. How long they have known each other. And, doing it in a really, really in depth way and having all my actors really prepare a book of who their character is. But, you can't just will leave it up to the actor. When you are writing a character, you have to really give them that.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: What a pleasure, man. Thank you so much.
ROTH: Thank you.
STROUMBOULOPOULOS: Eli Roth, everybody. Have a good night.