Alex Cox, director of Repo Man (1984) and Sid and Nancy (1986), talks about almost hiring Timothy for his debut student film Edge City (aka Sleep is for Sissies) (1980). Part 2 of his tale next week!
‘If you’re looking for a really out-there actor,’ Michael Miner said one day, ‘there’s always Timothy Carey.’ Timothy Carey was a powerful actor with an outstanding history: he’d worked for Kubrick in The Killing and Paths of Glory, Brando in One-Eyed Jacks, and Cassavetes in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.
Michael had a number for him, and I called it. It was an agricultural feed store, out in the desert somewhere. They had another number, where a woman answered, and I had a long conversation with a madman, to whom I promptly mailed a copy of the script. Timothy Carey liked it, liked the character of Beauregard, and so we met. Unlike some actors, Carey was more imposing in person than on film. He looked about six foot six, and had a powerful voice, black-and-white hair, and staring eyes. He talked constantly, a little bit about the script, but mostly about farting, about the importance of not suppressing the breaking of wind, about how Western society was doomed, due to its suppression of the fart. On and on like this he went, in the same way as Harry Dean [Stanton] was apt to get into a longish diatribe about the Jews, not that Harry was anti-Semitic – he thought the Christian culture every bit as bad and stupid as the Jewish one – but he did tend, given a trapped interlocutor, to go on about the Jews. Timothy’s obsession, expressed in public, in a much louder voice, was the beauty and importance of the fart.
For all that Timothy Carey seemed nuts, he was a very fine actor, putting on a performance for me and everyone else in Dairy Queen. He was the most egomaniacal thespian I’d yet met, and thus, I suspect, one of the most insecure and damaged. He was also a director, having authored and starred in a feature of his own, The World’s Greatest Sinner.
– Alex Cox, X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker (I.B. Tauris, 2008)
Edge City (1980) in four parts on YouTube