Keith David started his career in “The Thing” and since has be in such movies as “Platoon”, “They Live”, “There’s Something About Mary”. Besides acting Keith is also a very well know voice actor. He has recently starred as a Disney Villain in “The Princess and the Frog” and the 2010 remake of “Death at a Funeral”. Movie Mikes has the chance to talk to Keith about some of his well known movies.
Mike Gencarelli: When did you first realize you wanted to be an actor?
Keith David: I wanted to me an actor my whole life. I was about two years old when I knew I wanted to be an actor. I did my first play when I was about nine. I was started studying when I was twelve. I studied for the next ten years. I got out of school when I was twenty-two. Been working ever since, praise God.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell me what it was like playing a Disney Villain, Dr. Facilier, in “The Princess and the Frog”?
Keith David: Oh my God, in the course of your life you have several dreams. Once you fulfill one you go on to the next one. This role was a fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I mean who doesn’t want to be a Disney Villain. I just wanted to be a Disney character, but being a Disney Villain is great! I have in fact been smaller characters in other movies but this was great. I was able to play one of the great Disney Villains. Like I said it is a fulfillment of a dream.
Mike Gencarelli: How did you enjoy the singing part of the role?
Keith David: I am a singer so one of the things I’ve always wanted to do is sing in the movies. I get to fulfill two dreams in this and plus getting to sing a Randy Newman song as well, which is great.
MG: Besides “The Princess and the Frog”, you are well known for doing voice work, do you have a favorite character you’ve voiced?
KD: I would have to say “Spawn” and Goliath in Disney’s “Gargoyles”
MG: You are a known for your role in “Platoon”, was it a difficult shoot? Any memorable moments on the set?
KD: Oh I have several memorable moments. Some of them I can’t talk about. There was a moment when we were humping up this hill; it was a very steep hill. Most of the vegetation was rotting. When you walk up a hill that steep sometimes you grab on the something that is rooted to pull you up and keep you from sliding. We were also on the surface of a great gorge. What happened was I was carrying the M-60 and humping up the hill and I grabbed on to a piece of something planted to get my footing. Well, it up-rooted and I slid all the way down this hill and I slammed into the the Captain who slammed into the one tree that was right on the end of cliff. If Captain Dye hadn’t been there, I would have fallen off sixty feet into an abyss. While we were recouping, one night I woke up and at my feet was a monkey. It’s sounds exotic and everything but it was kind of scary. I didn’t want to piss of some wild monkey [laughs].
MG: Tell me about the fight in “They Live”, was that fun or hard to shoot?
KD: It was a seven minute fight. It was some of the best fun I have ever had in my life. I am certified stage fighter. I was able to use my stage fighting skills in the movies. I have never fought with anybody that was as safe as Roddy Pipper. Hands down, the strongest man I have ever come across. He was massive. He picked me up and held me in fetal position and he was standing there holding me and I said “You got to put me down man” and he said to John (Carpenter), “What should I do with him?” [laughs].
MG: What has been the most challenging production that you have worked on?
KD: One of them was “The Thing”, which was my first movie. A lot of time we were acting to things that weren’t there yet. So we John (Carpenter) would describe to us, what the action was and we had to react based on that. You tried not to go over the top. You are supposed to have a monster transforming in front of you but it wasn’t and they just gave us an object to look at. I didn’t know what it was until I actually saw the film. I said “Oh my God, is that was I was facing” [laughs].
MG: You have done some work on the stage, how do you think it compared to TV and movies? Any plans to return?
KD: I would want to return to the theater as soon as I can. I love working in the theater. If you try and compare, it is almost apples and oranges but it is still fruit. In the theater you have the immediate gratification. You have the applause and you are exchanging air with the audience. You are breathing the same breath. You are right there with the and it is different than watching a movie. When you go to the theater, this performance you will see tonight, you will never see again. You will only see it tonight. Come back the next night and you will see a difference nuance. Something you might like better, or something you might not like as much. What you watch on the screen in movies will be exactly the same as the last time you saw it, but you will be different. In the theater, we are both different.
MG: Did you enjoy being part of such a great cast in the recent remake of “Death at a Funeral”?
KD: I had a fun time working with old friends and new friends. Danny (Glover) and I have worked in the theater together thirty years ago but we have never worked in the movies. This was the first time we got the chance. It was good because you don’t usually get to see him be that funny. He was hysterical. He was the highlight of the film. He was go-with-the-flow funny. So go see “Death at a Funeral”, it is a great movie.
MG: Tell me about what you have lined up for the future?
KD: I just got back from signing with an eighteen piece jazz orchestra. I had a wonderful time; I am looking forward to doing that again hopefully next year. I am working on directing a project of my own. I can’t say much expect it is a thriller and we are still raising money for it.