There are a lot of foreheads being scratched over at the IFC Center, where “The Catechism Cataclysm” is currently playing. Steve Little stars as Father William, a wayward priest who undergoes a series of blood-soaked trials when he meets up with an old friend and strays from the Word of the Lord. Director Todd Rohal, who has since moved on to “The Scoutmasters” with Johnny Knoxville, Patton Oswalt and Rob Riggle, has made a film that we described as “an unforgettable and indescribable curio,” and we sat down with Little to discuss what it all means.
Noting natural reservations, Little says Rohal wrote the script with Little in mind, asking, “Would you like to play a priest who drops his Bible in the toilet?” Naturally, Little’s response was, “Anytime you do any sort of acting, there’s like a 50% chance you’re just embarrassing yourself.” Little, who starred in the recently-wrapped final season of “Eastbound And Down,” ends up witnessing a host of extraordinary phenomena in the film, but it didn’t seem all that strange to him. “A miracle does happen, and then you think, we’re going home on this miracle!” Little exclaims, referring to his character’s journey in the film. “And then a tragedy happens. There’s a lot of weird stuff [in this movie] but in the Bible, people are being turned into pillars of salt and stuff. Compared to that, this fits right in!”
Rohal’s interest in this world goes beyond a cursory awareness. As Little reveals, “Todd worked as a janitor in a theology school for awhile, so he saw these priests as dudes, y’know? One guy gave up his priest job to sell shoes!” While Little’s research into the role had little to do with religion, with Rohal requesting he watch “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” he understands that people’s views on the film might be based on their own religious background.
“One guy said, You guys really stuck it to religion!” Little recalls. “And I thought we did the opposite of that! But maybe that’s just what he brought to it. Playing a Catholic priest, people thought, oh, this is going to be all the usual stuff movies mocking a priest would have, But we don’t really do that.”
Little continues, “Todd had a good answer. He said, let’s say, you put on a new Radiohead album, and you listen to it for sixty five, seventy five minutes. You don’t go to Thom Yorke and ask, ‘What was that about?’ y’know? You might have your own interpretation.”
Little will next be seen in “A Thousand Words” with Eddie Murphy, a part he wrapped before season one of “Eastbound And Down” had even started shooting. Beyond that, he’ll show up in “Wrong,” the next film from Quentin Dupieux, the madman behind “Rubber,” this year’s killer tire arthouse hit. While Little was reluctant to reveal details about the somewhat quiet twenty-day production, which stars William Fichtner, Arden Myrin and Jack Plotnick, he did reveal he only worked five days on the film, and noted that he probably doesn’t know much about the story anyway.
“I don’t know what to say until I see it myself,” he shrugs. “If you were in ‘Rubber,’ you didn’t see all those scenes with the tire, they shot all that while you weren’t there, y’know?” Asked to describe his character, he was still a bit cagey, revealing, “I’m a man on a mission, and he gave me great direction in that. He said, ‘Steve, I want you to think of yourself as The Slow Motion Man. You’re slow motion. Everybody else is regular motion, fast motion, Steve, you’re slow motion.'”
“The Catechism Cataclysm” is now playing.