Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Exclusive Interview with Mark Lutz

"This death is hardly glorious enough." - Groosalugg's swan song in Angel: After the Fall #15.

One of the many great aspects of Joss Whedon's storytelling is the way he brings new characters into a story, and even if their stay is short, somehow we as viewers feel a connection. A great example of this bond between viewer and character is The Groosalugg - an adorably naive hero from Pylea who would do anything for his princess and for the world.

Angel: After the Fall's writer Brian Lynch seems to love the character as well. He added Groo into the comic and sent him to Hell-A with the rest of the crew. In the most recent issue, #16, Lynch expressed his interest in possibly doing a Groo one-shot awesomely called Savage Sword of Groosalugg. He even spoke to Joss about it!

We had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Lutz who played Groo on screen. He is not only a talented actor, but a storyteller, too. On top of all that, he's a funny guy. His playful and down-to-earth attitude had us intrigued, confused, awkward, but mostly laughing.

SPOILERS FOR ANGEL: ATF BELOW

Buffyfest: So Groooo! You played Groo, who so many fans adore! Do you realize how many people love your character? Do you get a sense of that when you meet fans?

Mark Lutz: No what...what 's the number? Can you give me the exact number?

B: (laughs) Oh um?

ML: Do you think more than 20?

B: I think there's probably more like....hmmm...(enthusiastically) 20 million!

ML: 20 million! (laughs) Wow! That's quite a few.

B: Yeah. (laughs)...it's a lot.

ML: Whoa. No, yeah I'm told the character was pretty popular, so....

B: And Groo left on kind of like a sad note. Did you watch Angel after your character left the show? Were you a fan of Angel?

ML: I'm sorry what show are we talking about?

(laughter)

ML: Yeah every once in a while I would catch it, but I didn't watch it religiously.

B: Did you know about the controversy about the love triangle between Groo, Cordelia and Angel?

ML: No I didn't hear about that. Was there a controversy?

B: Heh...(coyly) Not that we know of!

ML: No? (laughs) There was a love child between...what?

(Everyone laughs)

ML: No I haven't heard any of that...but that's news to me.

B: Yeah, you were the love child of two vampires.

ML: Ohhhh. Okay, well.......that's good to know! I'll put that on my resume. I'm the child of two vampires.

B: Haha. No, in reality though, how was working with Charisma Carpenter?

ML: Oh, she's great. She's a very funny girl. I don't know how many people know that, but yeah she's a real hoot . I mean obviously, probably most of my scenes were with her over the course of those two seasons so, yeah. She was really great. I had only just moved to Los Angeles very recently when I had started to work on that show so it was great...the whole cast and crew were very welcoming.

B: Did you do anything in particular to prepare for your scenes with Charisma?

ML: We would neck all the time and it was...yeah, we had to do that a lot.

B: (sarcastically) I'm sure that was hard.

ML: (laughs) No, not really. It was pretty standard fare. Maybe one or two rehearsals during blocking, and then you shoot your stuff, you go home.

B: How about Joss Whedon and David Boreanaz? How was it working with t hem?

ML: I haven't heard of those people, who are they?

B: Right!

ML: Joss was very nice the first time I met him, very gracious, got to spend a lot of time with him the first couple of years. Actually visited him up in his vacation home, up in the Cape and stuff. So yeah, couldn't be nicer and more accommodating. It was really quite a nice thing. Like I said, I had just been out in L.A. a couple of months when I got that, so it was great to sort of make a connection and friends on many different levels. You know, from cast, crew and producers.

B: You became close with Andy Hallett we read, do you guys still keep in touch?

ML: Unfortunately we do, unfortunately we do still keep in touch. So...the bane of my existence, the thorn in my side. Uh, yeah Andy and I are still tight.

B: Do you have any funny stories from the set?

ML: Yeah we had a lot of fun, I mean there was a lot of camaraderie on that set, a lot of joking around and it was just a really good vibe. You know, sometimes you get on a set and it's just, there's a bad energy or bad mojo going on, but I really enjoyed my time there. Everyone was, like I said, welcoming and...yeah it was great.

B: Well, right now Angel is in it's 6th season in the comic and obviously your portrayal of Groo left a mark on fans because he was just brought back into the fold.

ML: That's great! Yeah, Brian Lynch emailed me saying, "Oh you know we're putting Groo back in." He sent me some pages from it and everything. So that was kinda neat to see, being a comic book nerd from WAY back.

B: You are?

ML: Oh yeah, definitely. Grew up on all the super hero stuff, so it was funny to see my picture in a comic book. It was pretty funny.

B: Very cool. Do you read it [Angel:After the Fall]?

ML: I have a couple issues. There's gotta be like 20 of them now. I think I have two or something. Me, or the character Groo, on a horse or something like that?

B: [Tara]: It's a flying horse.... [Michelle]: That he calls Cordelia. [Tara]: That's right.

ML: Oh that he calls...it's a....the horse is named Cordelia?!

B: Yes!

ML: Okay, I didn't know that.

B: Do you mind if we spoil you for something in the comic or are you gonna be reading it?

ML: No, haha, I don't think at all.

B: Well....Groo just died.

ML: Ohh!

Oh! (cries all around)

B: Sorry!

ML: Oh that's a shame. Well that's good cause they're not paying me anyway. So now if he's not going to appear, I won't have to feel bad about not getting paid for it.

B: (laughs) You're like, "Good!"

ML: Yeah "Good!....Dammit!"

B: So yeah, he had a return and then a quick demise, but he died heroically!

ML: Oh well, no one ever stays dead in the Jossverse anyway so....

B: That's true.

(Editor's Note: And we now know how true that is, since Groo and the whole Hell-A crew has since been revived!)

B: Speaking of, if there had been a 6th Season on TV would you have come back and reprised the role?

ML: Yeah, there was talk in the 5th season, I know, between my agents and the producers, but I'm not 100% sure whatever happened there. I think they ended up going in a different direction. I think they were thinking about bringing him [Groo] back in and then changed the storyline, but yeah I'd be totally opened to...if they pay me money, I'd be totally opened to it.

B: That always helps. I wonder if that was the storyline they ended up using for the comic then.

ML: I don't know. I mean that would have been neat if I...had a winged horse. That would have been cool. I would have gone back free just for that.

B: So, if they make a Buffy/Angel movie of some kind, you would still be willing to reprise the role?

ML: Wow, you guys will not let this go will you? (everyone laughs) Uh, yeah, sure, why not?

B: No, we really won't...we love Buffy and Angel, but why don't we move on to the rest of your career now?

ML: Oh no! I pretty much knew that this is what was going to happen so…you run a Buffy and Angel site, right? I didn't think you'd be asking me about my toe nail clipping practices (everyone laughs). Although, I would like to get into that a little bit later if you have the time.

B: Sure. Go for it (laughter). Alright, let's talk about Victor. You starred in it, but you also wrote the script. Can you talk about how it was, going back and forth between screenwriting and acting, what the two different roles were like?

ML: Well it was the first thing I had written. If anything I gained a new...like anything else you do for the first time, you know, you gain a new, an amazing appreciation for the people that do it all the time. It's an incredible amount of work and because it was a true story, I wasn't given a lot of latitude in terms of what you can write, ya know? If your writing Buffy and Angel you can write, "Oh, he comes in on a flying horse." You can put anything you want there, but when it's a true story you have to stick to the story, so sort of crafting that was definitely a challenge and I probably put in a good two years of research before even sitting down at the laptop to start writing it. It was a pretty involved process.

B: Do you plan on writing anymore?

ML: Oh yeah. I've got three things that I'm writing as we speak. It was a nice break to get away from acting.

B: In you're upcoming film Bitch Slap, are we to understand that both Hercules and Xena make cameos in that film?

ML: Yeah! Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless...

B: So, how was that? Can you tell us a little bit about the plot and the character you played?

ML: It's a throw back to sort of the B movie exploitation films of the 50s and 60s, a lot of hot girls and big guns and outrageous action. I play a German super spy who runs around in lederhosen with a giant cod piece (laughter), and shooting guns. It was a lot of fun. It was completely ridiculous, but really well written and that was another great, great set. I think all of my stuff was shot on green screen, so I don't even know what it looks like (laughter) or anything. I have no idea.

It will be interesting to see. A friend of mine was one of the producers on it and he said they have the first cut of it now and it's disturbingly ridiculous, so I think that's a good sign.

B: Sounds fun. When does it come out? Do you know?

ML: No. I know they're looking for distributors now. I would imagine sometime this year, though.

B: Any other projects your working on that you'd like to talk about?

ML: Yeah, I'm writing two movies and a third which is a pilot I'm doing. So, that's pretty much taking most of my time right now. One is a World War I biopic [about an aviator] and we're hoping to get that up and running, hopefully by the end of the year. That's sort of the next one, the follow up to Victor. I'll be writing, starring and producing in that one as well.

B: Is it a feature?

ML: We'd love it to be a feature. It's written as a feature. I guess we'll just have to see. It depends on money. It'd be quite an expensive undertaking, so yeah, ideally a feature, absolutely.

B: What's the pilot about?

ML: It's a dramedy that revolves around Los Angeles city paramedics. That's in development right now as well.

B: Well, good. We're looking forward to those.

ML: Yeah, yeah. It'll be exciting.

B: Great. So, unless you want to talk about your toe nail clippings (laughter)?

ML: Well, you can get all that online at markstoenailcleaningsecrets.com, so…

B: You better be careful because you know someone is going to now find that domain name.

ML: (laughter) Yeah! I'm sure they are.

B: After reading this interview.

ML: That's $9.98! If they want to throw it in the garbage, they're welcome to do it!

B: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.

ML: Oh, you're welcome and good luck with your website!

B: Thanks!


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

That Mark.

What a super-funny, cool guy.

Sincerely,

Mark Lutz

Tara said...

How fricken cute is he?

Verónica [C/A forever] said...

This guy is really awesome. Very funny!
I miss Cordy a lot (so.. I'm cangel) but I have hope (and faith).
I don't know, I'm really ready for CORDY'S RETURN!

I can't wait for to see the Buffy/angel movie (¿?).. but, a lot of people LOVE and LOVED always Cordy.
Hey Joss. You read this idea? ;P

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