THE PLACE IS THE WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO COMIC CONVENTION. NIGHT WATCHMAN HAS JUST FOUND OUT THAT GLENN SHADIX-- BETTER KNOWN TO THE WORLD AS OTHO FROM BEETLEJUICE AND THE MAYOR FROM NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS-- IS SIGNING AT THE CON. HE SPRINGS INTO ACTION, SEARCHING HIGH AND LOW UNTIL AT LONG LAST HE FINDS GLENN AND BEGS FOR AN INTERVIEW. READ BELOW TO FIND OUT HOW GLENN'S DREAMS OF BECOMING AN ACTOR LEAD HIM TO WORLDWIDE RECOGNITION, AND HOW HE BECAME ONE OF THE FINEST CHARACTER ACTORS OF OUR TIME.
Night Watchman: A lot of people might not know you so much by name as they do by the characters you've portrayed. How did you get your start? What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Glenn Shadix: I wanted to be an actor from the very start. I did plays, first in church and then all through school. I took it very seriously and directed some plays in high school. I majored in drama and got a scholarship to Birmingham-Southern College, which had a great drama department. I went to Atlanta in 1973 and got my Equity card doing the role of Sancho Panza in Man Of La Mancha, and I toured with that. I went to New York in '75 and studied and lived in New York for a couple of years, and then moved to California in '77. I continued to do plays there. I would also rent video equipment and make my own short movies. I learned how to work in front of the camera by doing that. Tim Burton saw me in a play at The Ensemble Studio Theater [Dr. Faustus Lights The Lights by Gertrude Stein] in 1986, and I was cast in Beetlejuice.
NW: So, had you been trying to break into film at that point, or were you more into doing plays?
GS: I was in L.A. to be a character actor in movies. It was a pretty specific goal, so that was the motive for going to California. I still want to go back to New York and do theatre. Iíve recently gone through a number of auditions for Hairspray, and Iím hoping that will turn into my playing Edna Turnblad at some point, somewhere.
NW: With your roles in Burton movies, Iím sure youíre well aware that Tim Burton fans are pretty rabid fans. How often do you get people coming up to you on the street calling you Otho or quoting lines?
GS: You know, especially at conventions, of course, I meet all of the diehard fans, which is always fun. At this particular convention Iíve seen several people with tattoos of The Mayor from Nightmare Before Christmas, which is pretty amazing. Iíve been seeing that more often recently, although I hesitate to encourage people to plaster film characters on their body in ink. (laughs) But itís always fun to meet the real fans. I have a website, so I hear from a lot of people via that, and, yeah, Iím still recognized in public. My voice as much as my face. Iím a little older now, and I guess Beetlejuice is what Iím most known for. I never did, however, have jet-black hair. That was a dye job.
GS: People miss that.
NW: I saw on your website that you do photography, as well.
GS: Yeah. Itís a hobby. Iíve never been professionally trained as a photographer; itís been mostly a social thing and having fun. I started photography as a kid, just playing around. Iím a big snapshot buff. And then I did The Clock Series that's on my website.
NW: When did you get started doing these conventions?
GS: After Planet Of The Apes I was invited to go to New York, to the Meadowlands, and I went to Chiller with Linda Harrison [Nova in the original Ape movies]. Iíve enjoyed meeting the fans, and itís been a lot of fun. When Iím not working, itís a great way to travel. In the last year Iíve been to Paris, Tokyo, London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Munich, and all over the United States. It pays the way to see the world and meet the fans. This coming Monday Iím going back to work for a while. Iím doing several episodes for the new season of HBO's Carnivŗle, which I did last year. I play Val Templeton, a real wicked weasel of a land baron and politician. Most of my scenes are with my old friends Amy Madigan and Clancy Brown. We have a hysterical amount of fun.
GS: It looks like my character will be running for Congress in 1934.
NW: I always find it amazing at these conventions that the people that were in the background of one scene in a Star Wars movie have glossy photos of every frame they were in. Itís got to be strange, some of the people you run into and hang out with at these things.
GS: Oh, itís always interesting. You meet a wide selection of people-- from the exhibitors to the dealers and the other actors that are signing. Itís always an adventure.
NW: So, you're shooting Carnivŗle and trying to do some more plays. Do you have any other projects coming up on the horizon?
GS: I did a film called To Kill A Mockumentary with Jason London, and we had a great time doing that in March. And I just finished a film with Clifton Collins, Jr. called Tom 51, which I think is going to be good. I do a lot of independent films, and hopefully some more studio pictures will be coming along, as well. With a character actor, you sometimes have a long wait between the really great roles. I try to keep busy any way I can as an actor. I'm in rehearsals for a production of Ionesco's The Lesson, which is to be produced this fall in Tokyo with director David Kaplan and Japanese producer Masahiro Abe.
NW: Has Tim approached you with any roles for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory?
GS: No. And I have a contract out on him. (laughs) Tim will call me when he needs me. Working for him is always a pleasure.
NW: Well, to wrap it up we have a question that we always ask everyone. Itís been the subject of much debate. In your professional opinion, do you think dogs have lips?
GS: Hmmm... not a question Iíve pondered to a great extent. I am a dog man, but Iíve never noticed lips. Theyíve got a lot of nose.