Over more than two decades of filmmaking, writer and director David Gordon Green has stayed pretty firmly on just one side of the camera. The “Halloween” and “Pineapple Express” director has appeared in just a handful of outings — once as himself (in a short film about the making of his “Joe”) and twice in cameos as a director (in the series “The Righteous Gemstones,” which he produces, and in recent hit film “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”) — but that’s about to change.
Hot on the heels of his “Halloween Ends,” Green appears in yet another big fall release, Luca Guadagnino’s “Bones and All.” This time around, Green isn’t starring as himself. Instead, he takes on a small but crucial role in the cannibal romance, which stars Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet. About halfway through the film, Green appears (alongside Guadgnino regular Michael Stuhlbarg) as “Brad,” a character who — let’s just put it this way — is quite plugged into the world of cannibals.
“It’s a very fuzzy experience. If Luca asks you if you’ll do something, you just say yes, because he’s Luca, and why wouldn’t you?” Green said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “The idea of experiencing playing a character, particularly in the concept of this movie — obviously it’s a very small role — but for me, it’s kind of a monumental moment.”
While Guadagnino’s film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and screened at Telluride, the ever-busy Green didn’t get a chance to see it until its New York Film Festival premiere, mere days before his own “Halloween Ends” hit theaters and Peacock. He was still reeling from the experience when he spoke to IndieWire the next day.
“I haven’t let it really sink in, because I was just watching it at the festival last night wondering how it would be, but I have no idea if I was any good or not,” he said of watching himself on the big screen of Alice Tully Hall alongside Guadagnino and other cast members. “It was entertaining. Beyond bizarre. Just an out-of-body experience in a way.”
For Green, the role spoke to his interest in constantly doing something new, albeit in an unexpected way.
“[To have] that anxiety an actor might have at performing something at four in the morning and having to memorize lines and work alongside some of today’s greatest actors, it was very intimidating,” he said. “But it was also kind of liberating, because you’re in the hands of a filmmaker and collaborators that you just trust what they do. And it certainly was not an ambition, but I did find it really fun. I’m always looking for something new, and desperately so. I’m a gypsy and I love change, and I love evolution and I love mixing it up.”
He also felt confident that, under Guadagnino’s discretion, any “bad” bits of his performance could be cut right out. Green joked, “I always felt confident that like, ‘Hey, if I suck, he’ll just edit me out, or he’ll edit around the bad stuff.'”
And there was a scene that Guadgnino did indeed snip. “One scene he did cut, that he probably is really smart to, is [one in which] I sang and I played the banjo in it. So that’s never to be seen,” Green said. “I’m thankful that that’s not, and nor is the scene of me and my tighty-whities, so he has discretion, and I applaud him for that.”
Is more acting in Green’s future? For now, the turn in “Bones and All” seems to speak to Green’s general desire to keep working and evolving.
“When a camera’s on you and you’ve got magnificent artists who have worked really hard and he’s burning actual 35-millimeter film, there’s moments where you’re just like, ‘My life has become very surreal,'” Green said. “And I’m very grateful for any opportunity I have, the successes and the failures and the learning experiences, and the collaborators and the whole circus that I seem to live in. It’s hard, sometimes I go home and try to describe to my kids what I do, and they look at me like I’m crazy, but maybe they’re right.”
MGM releases “Bones and All” in theaters on Wednesday, November 23. A Universal Pictures release, “Halloween Ends” is now in theaters and streaming on Peacock.