Being Less Than Reputable
Silverman in his trailer.
two days on the set of Jekyll, all in the secret basement laboratory
of Henry Jekyll (Matt Keeslar). On the first day, the shooting
was a variety of scenes with Jekyll and Ziggy Poole, his assistant,
played by Desmond Askew, covering various moments in the development
of Edward Hyde.
of the second day, however, was devoted to a climactic confrontation
between Jekyll and his friendly rival/enemy, Dr. Richard Lanyon.
Somewhat cast against type, sitcom star (and yes, Weekend
At Bernie's survivor) Jonathan Silverman plays Lanyon, turning
his hapless persona to acid when necessary.
to be involved in Jekyll and eager to help, Silverman grabbed
me during a break in shooting and dragged me to his trailer
for an interview. Hey, it's my job and all, but rarely do
you get an interview subject so willing to talk.
McCaw: What attracted you to this project?
Silverman: The salary, really, is what attracted me.
In the original casting, you were probably the highest profile
That's always frightening, isn't it?
been a fan of the Stevenson novella, and certainly have fond
memories of the Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman version.
So I liked the chance to be in this project and play this
character, who has a lot of meat and a lot of different colors.
He's a doctor. He's obviously very intelligent, and has a
good, kind side.
Jekyll describes, all men have a good and a bad side. This
character, Dr. Lanyon, gets to show his dark side quite a
bit. That always intrigues me.
You're almost the villain of the piece.
look of horror. (Photo by Behn Fannin)
In a way, in a way he's a villain. The true villain, of course,
is Hyde. But there's a lot of Hyde in Lanyon. It's always
a good time to play less than reputable characters, and this
is certainly one of them… as I'm playing with my goatee…really
This is not the kind of role that you're known for at all.
I enjoy playing them, but no, I'm not perhaps as known for
playing the bad guys.
You're also known for comedy, and this doesn't really fit
Oh, I'm trying to make it funny, one way or another. But no,
I don't think this is intended to be a comedy.
got a lot of flavors and textures to it. It's genre, a horror
film. It's a drama at its core. What's most interesting is
that even though it's a modernized telling, it's a very loyal,
honest telling of the Stevenson piece.
interesting to see how creative Scott Zakarin, our writer/director,
has gotten. He's kept a lot of the character names. My favorite
is the Utterson character. In the novella, Utterson is a lawyer.
In this version, it's still an attorney, but now it's a female,
Michelle Utterson. And she's the love interest, really. The
heroine of the picture.
is a Lanyon character in the novella and in the Barrymore
version and the Tracy version. Of course, in both those versions,
my character of Lanyon is the one who ultimately kills Mr.
Hyde. And of course in this, well, um, you'll have to see
don't kill anybody.
Is that a disappointment to you?
(grinning) Yes, it is. And maybe I'll just give a little
warning to those who haven't seen the film - I don't want
to blow anything - but let's say, by chance, hypothetically,
let's say I die.
doing a movie with a wonderful actor and friend of mine, Joey
Pantoliano, Joey Pants as he's commonly known. He was shooting
The Fugitive with Tommy Lee Jones, and in the original
script and pretty much in the version that was shot, he dies
at the end. A horrific death. But he begged the director,
"can I just breathe? Can I just say something as I'm dying,
in case there's a sequel, so I can be in it?"
did. He sort of grunted and moaned a little bit. By the time
they made the sequel, his character was fine, he ended up
being the second lead, and he made a whole bunch of money.
So I've asked Scott if I can breathe a little bit. I'm wounded.
It's certainly open in the version I read.
My back is broken. Some people can survive with a broken back.
How do you feel about the speed of this production?
It is quick. However, I don't feel like we're being rushed.
The scene that you're visiting, that we're shooting today,
is a long one. But I don't feel like we missed anything. We
were able to shoot it from enough different angles, and it's
a long scene. It's maybe four pages long. We've been shooting
the hell out of it, and we're continuing to shoot it tonight.
me. I'm an actor." (photo by Behn Fannin)
part's not that hard. To be honest with you, and I shouldn't
jinx it, but this has been a very pleasant experience. It
hasn't been terribly draining.
the gentleman who's sharing the other half of this trailer
with me, Matt Keeslar, I don't think I've ever seen anyone
work this hard on a project before. I'd go insane if I had
his job. And he's doing it flawlessly. He's absolutely superb.
And kind. And funny. He should be given many medals for both
his work as a professional and for being such a professional
Have you done genre work like this before?
Yeah, I did one science fiction movie, which I believe won
some sort of award. A guy named Jack Sholder directed it.
It was myself, Helen Slater and Martin Landau. It was a feature-length
version of a short that was nominated for an Oscar, called
12:01. Kurtwood Smith played the part in the short.
This man's lunch hour kept repeating through this time bounce
New Line turned it into a film, his entire day was repeating.
Every day past midnight, at 12:01, he would relive his day
and try to change the world. His girlfriend is murdered; he
tries to figure out a way to save her.
of course, while we were shooting the movie, Groundhog
Day came out. It's a fabulous film, one of my favorite
films, but obviously, Bill Murray's day kept repeating. So
by the time our movie came out, everybody thought we'd ripped
off Groundhog Day.
you asked me a question that had nothing to do with the plot
of that movie. Yes. I have done genre films before.
That brings up a good point, because I'm sure that happens a
And Groundhog Day came out after the original short,
so if anyone was ripping someone off…(laughs)
Well, this movie is sort of stuck in that situation, too,
since Dimension has just optioned a take on the story called
Hyde. It was officially announced about a week before all
this started. So while Jekyll was in development first, it
may look like they got the idea from Steve Niles. So this
happens all the time.
You know, the Stevenson story is so brilliant and timeless,
and has been told in so many different forms and genres, I've
even seen the musical version on Broadway, which I enjoyed
I saw it with David. Yeah, who was fantastic.
Do you feel any weight with that, so many versions before
There's certainly pressure to tell the story correctly, with
so many people knowing what the story is. But I think people
will get a kick out of seeing how it was modernized. And little
touches, like the hospital we're working at is called the
R.L. Stevenson hospital. Just little pieces of homage.
What's been your favorite part of doing this so far?
Any time I can play a doctor, I'm making my mother happy.
this one's for you, Mrs. Silverman. Thanks for letting your
son come out and play.