Thursday, December 2

Judd Nelson: ‘Wearing a giant papier-mâché head and smoking weed was a great way to spend the summer’ | Films


Mosh wells, gravity and hydrophysics

I’m from Portland, Maine, on the Atlantic coast. When you look at the sea, there is nothing until Great Britain. It is just a huge expanse of the terrifying Atlantic Ocean. And then there is you.

Growing up, I was into punk and ska, anything with a fast, fast, hard beat. A moshpit was a nice way to spend a Friday night. The first band I saw was Aerosmith, at the Maine Fair in Portland when I was in fifth grade, I think. It was the same year that, in science class, I learned about gravity and the Earth spinning incredibly fast on an axis and traveling through outer space at thousands of kilometers per hour.

That was a huge inspiration for me. I didn’t realize that the water in my glass that doesn’t move at all moves incredibly fast. It probably explained why he was always jumping and had so much energy. We do not stand still: we all fly.

The Sex Pistols

I liked the Ramones. They took me to the Sex Pistols. I liked the sound of their music before I really knew they were English. Then the Sex Pistols took me to the Rolling Stones.

When I auditioned for The Breakfast Club, I first had to audition in New York. They called me for a second casting in Los Angeles. I remember listening to Holidays in the Sun by the Sex Pistols on my Walkman.

I don’t know exactly why, it seemed like a perfect fit. I had taken my headphones off and turned up the volume, so they were like little speakers. The casting director tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Can you turn that off?” I thought, “Yeah, you’re right, that probably shouldn’t be on right now.” And then I got the part.

Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club, 1985.
Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club, 1985. Photograph: Allstar / UNIVERSAL

Connery, Eastwood and McQueen

Acting is a profession of illusions. If you do your job well, you are confused with the product. It is very rare for a baker to be mistaken for cake. But it’s easy to mistake Sean Connery for James Bond. If she were in a restaurant and a fight broke out and Sean Connery was there, I’d assume he would get in the way and stop her. Sean Connery, I imagine, could have done that.

It’s like why wouldn’t you mess with Clint Eastwood. In Dirty Harry and the Outlaw Josey Wales, he’s the most heroic guy in the world. The odds don’t matter; it doesn’t matter the numbers. He’s always on the right side, so don’t mess with him. So McQueen is just … Good grief. It is simply amazing. So those are the three actors that I liked when I was younger. I’m still waiting to decide what I want to do when I’m older.

“If there was a fight in a restaurant and Sean Connery was there, I would assume he would stop it.” Photograph: Danjaq / Eon / Ua / Kobal / REX / Shutterstock

The munchies

When it comes to acting, it’s not a very useful memory drug. But when I was a teenager, I must say that I was into marijuana. I thought it was a really fun way to slow down. I just couldn’t believe it. In elementary school, I followed the smell to the boys’ bathroom and smoked for the first time. I remember feeling like my sense of time was wrecking. I felt like I was in my friend’s garage for hours on end, but it was only five minutes. I thought, “Wow, that’s great.” It was all fun and games until someone in authority found out.

When I went to Haverford College in Pennsylvania, they had a chain of grocery stores called Pathmark. Everything is Pathmark. It’s like the Road Runner cartoon, where everything is Acme. But there’s something about the supermarket lighting and the snacks: it’s too bright. I would go to Pathmark with the sandwiches, I would walk in the door and the lights felt like they were giving me an X-ray.

The Oresteia of Aeschylus

My parents were, and still are, indisputably my heroes. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I went to a friend’s house for dinner. I was like, “Wow, your parents suck.”

It was very noisy at school, so in sixth grade they put me in a play called The Baron of… something. It was a strange semi-musical in which I played an old burgomaster. I think they just wanted to distract me to calm me down.

I joined The Shoestring Theater Company, which was traveling with a four-member marching band. Half a dozen of us would wander behind with big papier-mâché heads, on stilts or juggling. Using a giant papier-mâché head and smoking a little marijuana was a great way to spend the summer.

In college, this freshman dorm boy said he was going to audition for the school play, and I wanted to go? I asked him, “Why will it be fun?” He said, “Because that’s where the girls are.” I ended up playing Orestes in The Oresteia, Aeschylus’s Greek trilogy, where Orestes kills Clytemnestra, his own mother. My parents came to Pennsylvania to see it. Then my mother said, “The scene where you kill your mother is very realistic.”

Björn Borg

Björn Borg, the Swedish tennis player, seemed so stoic and I was so exalted. Then I found out that when I was a young player, he he was very exalted. He lost a game, threw away his tennis racket, and his father kept his tennis racket in a closet for a year. Then his father said, “If you throw away your tennis racket again, you will never get it back.” It was very inspiring because I realized, “Okay, it’s up to me to calm down.”

I played in the open tennis tournament in Portland, Maine. I made it to the final and thought, “I should smoke this guy. I should win all the points, ”but he played me like ping pong and I lost in three sets.

They gave me the second place trophy and I said to my dad, “Can you believe it?” And he said, “Easy. We’ll talk in the car. “In the car, I said,” Can you believe it? “And my dad said,” Calm down. We’ll talk when we’re home. ” We got home and I said, “Can you …?” And my dad said, “Take a shower.” I calmed down and realized: “I know why I lost. I know what I should have done. “My dad didn’t have to say a word. My parents knew how to treat me well.

Judd Nelson’s New Movie Iceland Is Best Is Now Available


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