Interview: Corey Feldman
Tue, 24 Jun 2008 14:41:11
Corey Feldman Videos
Don’t call it a comeback. For children of the ‘80s, the onscreen reunion of generational icons Corey Feldman and Corey Haim has been over a decade in the making, and it’s arrived in the form of The Two Coreys, an A&E series that Feldman describes as moving “beyond reality.” Feldman adamantly states that the series’ second season, which debuted on Sunday, June 22nd, is anything but a contrived, faux-reality production. A topical departure from Season One, Season Two focuses more upon the identically-monikered duo’s friendship-in-crisis and Haim’s personal travails rather than sitcom-esque scenarios. Feldman discussed this transition, the Lost Boys sequel, and his musical endeavors in conversation with ARTISTdirect.
Who approached you with the idea for the T.V. show?
It’s kind of a long story, as these things go. Essentially, I created this show with my partner Scott Carlson, and Corey Haim being an executive producer as well, with RDF Entertainment. What happened was…through the years there’s been many projects that have been pitched to Corey and I to do as a comeback vehicle, whether it be a film or a television series or a sitcom or whatever—reality shows, all sorts of crazy ideas have been thrown to us through the years. We always kind of said we didn’t want to do it unless it was the right thing. Originally, we had a couple different concepts for things that might work, but at that time I knew that Corey had been going through a lot of problems and I didn’t want to jump in with both feet doing something with Corey if he didn’t really have it together, because one of the big things in our career together and in our relationship was that we hadn’t been able to work together for a long time because of his problems. It ended very badly on [the] path of the two Coreys when we had done a film called Busted together back in late 1993, which I directed and Corey [starred in]. He had to be let go because he was not in working order. So, because of all that, we made the decision that we didn’t really want to engage in any kind of work together until everything leveled out a bit.
So, at this point, he had been telling me he was living in Canada. He was saying, “I’m doing better,” and he sounded healthy and he sounded good. So at that point I started more seriously pursuing the idea of putting the show together. We had heard a bunch of different pitches and different ideas and formats of what the show could be. Eventually RDF came to us and they said, “Look, we’ve got this idea. It’s kind of like a Three’s Company thing, and it’s going to be kind of a scripted sitcom. It’ll be you and your wife in modern times, here living in your house [with] your family. Corey comes to visit and he moves in with you and we do this scripted sitcom/reality-looking show that is for the purposes of entertainment.” We thought, “Okay, great.” So we all made a deal. I was very trepidatious in the beginning, making sure that Corey would be in good shape and functioning order and all that sort of thing, to be able to move forward. He proved himself over a year of consistency, and then we went ahead and shot the first season.
When we shot the first season we shot it up in Canada. It wasn’t our real house; it was not even a real town. We were shooting up there as a location because Corey had some immigration problems and that’s where we had to shoot. Then he came and stayed in a hotel up there and we stayed in an apartment. The house that you saw on the show was really a set. The whole thing was very set up and it ended up being a lot of fun and great, but about halfway through the season, we ran into some problems. I started realizing that Corey wasn’t doing as well as he was saying he was doing. We managed to finish out the season, but it ended with all sorts of stuff going on behind the scenes that was quite dark and negative, and there ended up being a lot of problems. Basically we all decided that we didn’t want to go forward with doing a second season if we were going to run into the same problems, which is when we made the decision that if we were going to go forward with the second season, we had to revamp the whole thing and essentially rework it so that we were doing a reality show that was not just a reality show, but beyond reality—a complete dichotomy from what the first season was. We literally turned it on its face and created something that was very much the opposite—from an entertainment show that was scripted to something that was completely unscripted and all about reality.
How do you reconcile what ‘s deeply personal about what’s unfolding on camera with the entertainment aspect of it? Do you find it hard to balance the two elements?
It was. I guess it’s a funny question, because in this day and age with reality the prevalent dominating factor on most networks, you would think that people would be pretty well adjusted at this point to doing reality and having cameras in your face and all that sort of thing. It was quite different doing this show. First of all because we were only shooting a few hours a day, and we were only shooting a couple days a week because every time we turned the cameras on, there was so much explosive stuff, that’s all you needed. You can only fit so much into 22 minutes, right? And I think, for us, we were very aware of the fact that the cameras were rolling. It’s funny, because I’ve already read some early reviews of it, and people say, “Oh my God, this whole thing is so set up and you can tell these guys are acting,” and it’s so funny to me because it’s quite the opposite. There’s no acting involved this year. There’s nothing that we do that’s set up. The closest thing to [being] set up that you’ll find is, we go to a therapist’s office, and…obviously you can’t just walk into a therapist’s office with cameras. You have to go ahead and find a therapist that’s licensed that’s willing to do it on television and sign releases and set up lights in their office and all that sort of stuff. So, from that aspect, yes, of course, there’s a certain amount of production that goes into it. But, we literally walk into the office and whatever happens, happens. So, there’s nothing that’s scripted or set up and we don’t have any idea where it’s going. That was the case with Corey; he’s so off-the-cuff and he’s so, I guess, out of his mind [laughs], that the things that came out of his mouth nobody could ever [have] predicted. When you see the first episode on Sunday night, and we have this meeting in the diner, the things that were coming out of his mouth – my jaw was literally dropping on the table. [Laughs]
You’ve had a little bit of experience [with reality television] prior, having been on The Surreal Life. Did that experience inform the one you were filming this time around? Did it make you any more hesitant or more willing to explore the format of a reality show?
Well, it’s apples and oranges. You can’t take something like The Surreal Life, which is a completely falsified, comedic, ridiculous look at celebrity and essentially done for the purposes of train wreck television and making a mockery of the whole thing, and completely edited and contrived and falsified. Everything you see on that show is 10 percent of what the reality of the situation was as we were filming. They literally just turned everything around to best suit the needs of the producers. In this show that’s absolutely not the case. The things that you see, although they are edited and there’s a bit of production because you have to make it 22 minutes [long] and you have to kind of give it some format or some sort of story for people to follow, there’s nothing that’s done to make me look different than I really am. There’s nothing that’s done to make Corey different than he really is, or Susie [Feldman, Corey's wife] look different than she is. We’re all saying and doing the things that we’re really doing, and it’s edited to best highlight the way those things play out. It’s not, as it’s sometimes called, "frankenbiting," where they’ll just take a clip of what you said and edit it together with other clips to make a sentence. There’s none of that kind of contrived stuff, and it’s not manipulated in that way. So The Surreal Life is more like a…contrast to something like this, which is more like a documentary.
It’s a very unique medium, not only for exploring your relationship, but also for communicating with a greater audience. Do you see it as a platform for anything that you would want to say or want to present to the general public?
Well, that’s a very dangerous terminology when you’re talking about any sort of reality show, to say something along the lines of, “It’s a platform, it’s an opportunity, a chance for me to gain something for my career. “ I mean, it does work for certain celebrities and the reality thing when you look at the Paris Hiltons of the world or the Kim Kardashians, or what have you. Certainly it’s been a launching pad for those types of people. But, given that I take my work as an actor very seriously, I think one is completely removed from the other. Certainly last year what we did was just another acting job, but this year what we’ve done is much more exploratory and kind of invasive than anything I’ve done in the past. It’s really invasive in the sense that we were living in a house and there’s cameras on you from the moment you [wake] up until the moment you [go] to bed, and that’s pretty intrusive. But, again, it wasn’t really for the purposes of showing who we really were as people. It was more for creating comedic beats. Whereas this [season], even though we didn’t shoot as much, it’s a very stark look into who we are as people.
I think that the most positive thing that can come from it—I’m hoping the most positive thing that comes from this—is that it’s educational for people to see the pros and cons of the business that we’re in, the pros and cons of making the right choices in life. You don’t have to be in the entertainment business to get this stuff at all. We’re dealing with very human, very real issues and emotions and things that need to be dealt with and things that should be explored and can be informational and educational for everybody that watches it. My hope is that we serve the purpose [of] the show by completing each episode with a moral, with a view that somebody can take something from and learn from...and hopefully have some self-growth out of it all.
How did The Lost Boys II come to fruition, and why did you think this was the right moment to explore that project?
Well, it’s kind of gone on for years and years back and forth as to whether that sequel was ever going to get made or not. Originally it was going to be done right away and it was going to be done by the same writer, director, and producer much more organically. And then, for whatever reasons, Warner Brothers held off and they didn’t end up making the film. It went through a series of different script ideas and a series of rewrites…back and forth. Eventually, about a year-and-a-half ago they came to me with a script which was this little, tiny, low budget version of Lost Boys. It didn’t include Corey Haim’s character, Jamison Newlander’s character; there was a small cameo for me in the film. It just didn’t seem like something that we wanted to do. Certainly I was very resilient on the fact that Corey had to be a part of the movie if I was going to be a part of the movie because I just didn’t feel right about doing it without him.
That kind of takes us up to where we were on the first season, when we talked about it on the show. That emotion, everything that happened at the moment was actually real on the show, even though most of it was kind of scripted. The sort of things we talked about were real and when I told him about Lost Boys and he cried, that was all real. He was very upset about it. He really wanted to be a part of the film. So I said, “Look, I’m not doing it without you and that’s just the way it is.” So, I went back, I told them “no,” and then they went and they rewrote the script and they made it into something that was a lot more digestible, I think, and looked like it had some bigger scope. They increased the budget quite dramatically and they said, “Okay, we’re going to put Haim back in the film, we’re going to put Jamison Newlander in the film. What do you think now?” They gave us a new script and I said, “Okay, this is great, something that I can do.” Because, Lost Boys for me—Edgar Frog, that character—is something that I’ve always wanted to go back and do, but again, I didn’t want to do it if it was being done the wrong way. So, it was very important to me that it was done in the tradition, in the sense of what the original film was, that it would create the same feeling when you were watching it. I think that was well achieved by the director and writer, and it has a great talented young cast, and I think everybody did a great job, and I think fans will be pleasantly surprised when they see it.
And you’re also exploring different things in terms of your music?
I’ve been in the studio nonstop working on my new album, which is very exciting. It’s certainly my most exciting musical project to date, and one of my most exciting projects as an artist in whole. Given everything I’ve done in my 33-year[-long] career, this is the moment for me. This is my pinnacle as an artist, being able to do something that I really, really have been passionate about for a long time and am excited about. The outcome is remarkable. I’m so excited for people to hear this music. First of all, we’ve got an amazing band. Truth Movement is the name of the band, and it’s a group of local musicians from L.A. who are all really talented young guys. Basically, I wrote the project as a concept album. It’s very reminiscent of a classic rock, ‘60s-‘70s type vehicle—something you might hear from The Who or Pink Floyd, where it’s a bit of a concept, it’s a bit of a rock opera, almost. But at the same regard, it’s also a bunch of guest musicians who have come in and done favors for us. I’m tremendously excited and pleased with these iconic, legendary musicians who have said, “Yeah, I’m willing to be a part of your project because I get it, and this is the kind of music I want to make and I’m happy to be a part of it.” It’s been a very humbling experience for me to have such amazing genius come and work on my little album here, but it’s turned out amazing. It should be done in a couple weeks.
We have the great John Carin, who’s part of our musical ammunition, if you will [laughs]. John has been with Pink Floyd for 25 years. If you don’t know him, he’s amazing; he’s a writer, he’s a producer, he plays almost every instrument. He plays just about every instrument on our album, which is great. Then you have Scotty Page, who was with the Floyd for a couple of years. We have Mark Karan, who’s with RatDog, who will actually be at the Greek Theater with Bob Weir and RatDog on the 29th. Essentially he came in and kind of filled in for Jerry [Garcia] after he left, doing a bunch of the stuff that The Grateful Dead used to do—playing lead guitar and vocals and all that sort of thing. So, he comes in and he was actually on our first album and came back to do all the leads ten years later on the second album; not all the leads, but a good chunk of them. So, it’s been an amazing experience. And then we’ve got Storm Ferguson, who’s doing the art for the album, and he’s the guy that actually conceived all the artwork for about 600 classic album covers, including all of Pink Floyd’s work. All in all, it’s just been an amazing journey.
It sounds incredibly collaborative.
Very collaborative and very exciting. Not only that, but I just finished another film called Lucky Fritz which was shot in Europe, and I have another one that was done a couple years ago called The Birthday which seems to be having a bit of a rebirth and is now setting up a new distribution deal, so finally people will get a chance to see it in America. So it’s a bit busy right now for me, but I have no complaints—very happy and very excited.