John Malkovich is an Award-winning actor who rose to fame for his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, which both earned him a nomination. He may be famous for portraying evil or demented villains, but he says it depends on the perception of the audience.
One of his famous portrayals was in the 1999 Spike Jonze film Being John Malkovich which he thought was a complete joke. The oddball screenplay has become a cult favorite, but the behind-the-scenes of the film is way more interesting.
John Malkovich Thought Spike Jonze’s Movie Script Was A Huge Joke
“When I first looked at the script, the title seemed like a one-line joke, but it turned out to be a 100-page joke.”
Apparently, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman chose Malkovich because his name sounded funny to him when repeated. Meanwhile, director Spike Jonze asked the actor if he could borrow some pictures from his childhood that they could use in the movie. Malkovich responded:
“I gave them my mother’s phone number and told them to tell her that I’m an actor and it was for a film. I don’t think my parents know what I do.”
Jonze also spoke about how “brave” Malkovich was when he took the role even though he does not personally know the actor. The first time they met on the set, Malkovich immediately asked, “Why John Malkovich? Why not Being Tom Cruise?” Even their financiers also asked the same question. The filmmaker recalled via The Guardian:
“He said: either the movie’s a bomb, and it’s got not only my name above the title but my name in the title, so I’m f—ked that way; or it does well, and I’m just forever associated with this character.”
In a report from Variety, Kaufman said that the movie’s title has always been what it is. He revealed:
“The screenplay was always ‘Being John Malkovich,’ even before I had any expectation that John Malkovich would even read the script. It was surprising that he agreed to do it.”
Well, what is there to do when you have your name in a movie title than just accept the project and pray that everything will turn out fine? Thankfully, it received high critical praise and was widely acclaimed by fans.
John Malkovich On Being A Successful Actor
John Malkovich’s childhood was not glamorous at all. He experienced beating from his father and brother, but that did not stop him from turning his life around. With all the success he has achieved, the actor admitted he struggled to cope with it. Malkovich told the Chicago Tribune in 1987:
“As you get older and have more experience, it’s not so hard. I’m never going to be a pretty boy, and that makes it easier. If someone tells you they like you for your work, it’s easier to deal with than if they like you for some other reason.”
As for his works, Malkovich candidly shared his sentiments about making movies, which he believed is something that one should be proud of:
“I want to be successful. I would like it to be a success with something that doesn’t make me want to vomit all over the screening room after I’ve seen it.”
Being John Malkovich is available to stream via Amazon Prime.