You may not recognize Taylor Negron at first sight, but he's been a familiar face to movie-goers for many years now.
He played Rodney Dangerfield's future son-in-law Julio in "Easy Money", the villainous Milo in "The Last Boy Scout" and Chevy Chase's traveling companion Fausto in "Nothing But Trouble", among many other movie roles. He's also appeared on over 40 shows of all sorts from "Seinfeld" to "That's So Raven". He's also an accomplished painter as well, as you'll see at several point in this interview. Despite his busy schedule, he took some time to do an interview with me, so without any further ado, here's:
The RetroJunk Interview With Taylor Negron!
Caps: What was your pop cultural likes growing up?
Taylor: I wanted to live in a giant terrarium, the mid-'70s, post-hippie kind with often-elaborate multicolored, multilayered sand designs. I settled for creating them from Taster's Choice and Vlasic pickle jars and living with in my parents' house. It was perfection. My TV was mainly the assassinations of MLK, Bobby Kennedy and the The Flintstones. The Mike Douglas show was a big favorite in our house. I would make frozen Minute Maid lemonade and watch it with our housekeeper. John Lennon and Yoko hosted for a week and I thought I had gone to Heaven. My childhood was very much like the PBS show "The American Family" but with less people.
Caps: What were your school days like?
Taylor: I was a very good student. I took it seriously and won science awards and was a mentally gifted minor. I was a loner who sowed his Joyce Carol Oates. While other kids where reading the Puddin head I was devouring the Fountainhead. I learned languages and was one of those kids that refused to take drugs. If someone did drugs I would call my mom and say pick me up. She would say "I just dropped you off. I am tired. Do a bump and I will come and get you when 'Dialing For Dollars' is over...be polite, tie somebody off".
Caps: What inspired you to become an entertainer?
Taylor: I was silent till age 13. Never said a word.Then on that day the damn broke and I became a wise cracker. My stock went up, as did my popularity. People like to laugh. I was on an honor society field trip to the tide pools in Laguna Beach and on the Bus home I started making people laugh about Sea lemons and starfish and evolution. It gave me a power that I never had. And they set the tone that my act is geared to a smart crowd
Caps: What jobs did you hold before entering the entertainment business?
Taylor: I was a supermarket Clown. A go go boy and Lucille Ball's assistant. In that order
Caps: One of your first major roles was in "Easy Money". What was Rodney Dangerfield like to work with?
Taylor: He was kind of a mess. Lots of drugs and people enabling him. Those eyes! I remember getting into his Limo and in the back seat there was this pillow from his bed. All crumbled up. This pillow said volumes. I felt bad for him. Here he was is clutching his safety net in this long town car. Rodney never really had success till he was 45. Comics very rarely let any one in and are very private...until you spy their pillow.
Caps: You had a supporting role in the movie "Punchline". Being as you've also done a lot of onstage comedy work, how accurate would you say this movie depicts the life of a comedian?
Taylor: "Punchline" is very accurate in the sense because it demonstrates the camaraderie that we freaks have. Being a Comic is like being Gay. You're born that way and there is nothing you can do about it, so you come together and you must devise how to survive in a world that holds you in contempt. Comics and beautiful women have one thing in common. No one takes them seriously. People always ask "How can you be a stand up comic?". My response is "How can you not be?". In "Punchline", I played one of those humorless, deadly serious guys. The kind of comic that never laughs but will look at you and say flatly, "That's funny.". The kind of guy who only thought of himself and would stop at nothing to get the spotlight. A male comic who is preening, self-assured neurotic and consistently about receiving praise. I wish I could be more like that in real life.
Caps: The movie "Nothing But Trouble" was a rather interesting movie. What was it like to be working alongside Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd and John Candy?
Taylor: Normal normal normal. Work is work. Finding the joke. Evening out the rough patches. Trying to play it right. I could never get impressed with people. Demi Moore was in that film and she was the best. We just laughed and hated the same thing together. Danny is like a big stoner and Chevy is caustic yet rather sweet. He was the only person I ever met who could get into a fight with himself. John Candy played a woman in this and Can say I only knew him as a dainty girl.
Caps: "Nothing But Trouble" also served as the film debut of Tupac Shakur. Did you find him to be as troubled as his lyrics suggested?
Taylor: I liked Tupac. Liked him tremendously and found him to be shy and introverted, those few all nighters we spent at at the Warner Bothers ranch. This was the first time an ever saw people smoke cocaine. The set was closed down and the Digital Underground or their people smoked away. It seemed sinister and scary and I slipped away thinking chaos was occurring and indeed that night some Baldwin brother got hurt in a stunt. No, my mom did not come get me.
Caps: One of my favorite action movies is "The Last Boy Scout", where you played the role of Milo. How did you feel about working on an action movie after so many comedic roles?
Taylor: My nature, itself is rather reserved and inward looking and I relayed on this for in this performance. In a funny way that movie shows the real me more than anything I have done. Self contained and rather impervious to the outside world. People continuously remark of how evil I am in that film. If you watch it. I am doing nothing except walking nonchalantly, it just happen I have a Gun. That death scene in TLBS was nominated for Best Death by the MTV Movie Awards. Director Tony Scott used real helicopters and ammo. He also had on the set two football experts, O.J. Simpson and A.C Cowlings, who could not have been more normal, except at lunch O.J. ate his sashimi with an axe.
Caps: Did you have the chance to meet Joel Silver, and if you did, what did you think of him?
Taylor: Oh yes. Joel was a very big part of this film and was involved every aspect. An old style mogul like Harry Cohen or Louis Mayer and was immensely interested in every aspect the weapons, the stunts, Shane Blacks script in, my clothes. In pre-production I would drive everyday to get fitted for Dolce Gabbanna suits and shirts. All very expensive. Silver would march in when I was standing there, The tailor on his knees with a mouth filled with pins and stare with lazer intensity at my jacket and notice the piping and the buttons didn't match. Joel is kind of an asshole with an expert eye that makes you feel like you're in good hands and that excellence is being thrust upon you. Movie making is a collaboration and you have to know when to be quiet and go for the ride. He married my friend Karen.
Caps: In 1998, you appeared in "I Woke Up Early The Day I Died", filmed from a screenplay by the late Ed Wood. Wood's material was often attacked for various reasons, so what did you think of his writing?
Taylor: Personally I am a very big fan of pulp crime horror, and sex novels. Ed Wood's docu-fantasy approach to his writing and movie making were the classic outsider's View. His low budget films were the first YouTubes. I am a fan of well thought out vulgarity and the dark side. I saw Billy Zane last week at an Opening of his paintings, which are fantastic. Billy Zane and was responsible for that Movie being made. Eartha Kitt was in that film.
Caps: Alongside your more mature roles, you've worked for Disney several times, including a supporting role in "Angels In The Outfield" and guest spots on "That's So Raven" and "Wizards Of Waverly Place". What is it like to be filming for Disney?
Taylor: There is this plastic sense of decency there. The forced smile and Patriotic false sense that we are making a contribution to the culture, In a way we are but in the long run I believe great damage was done, especially to girls. Generations of girls grew up believing they were going to grow up to be a princess being told that a kingdom and prince awaits them. So we now have a lot of young ladies who are pissed off that their magic carpet never came and are still acting like they need a throne. You can hear when they are on the cell phone. I prefer the old Disney movies like "Old Yeller". Where they shoot the dog at the end. That's life.
Caps: Whenever you work onstage, do you find yourself nervous, or do you remain calm?
Taylor: I am relatively calm. I am a bit of a work-a-holic, so I tend to be very prepared for things. I don't like surprises. My stage shows are very involved and the current Show "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Taylor Negron" is a 44 page monologue. so by the time I am up there I know what I am doing. I also have a brilliant director, David Sweitezer who comes from opera and has incorporated the music of Logan Heftel brilliantly
Caps: What was the strangest thing you had to deal with during your recent stage show?
Taylor: That we got a standing ovation on opening night. I am always prepared for them to frown and throw half eaten chicken wings at me. The response has been tremendous. I have incorporated every thing I have learned. The calmness, the detachment of the writing and the importance of including the audience in on the story. Humanity really has one story. Told in different colors and tones, with of course Hiroshima level punchlines
Caps: You've recently ventured into directing. Do you find it easier or harder than acting?
Taylor: I am very choosy about what I direct. It has to be about what totally interests me. I am currently working on a Play called "Who Loves You, Baby", A play about Telly Savalas. It's a loving study on this Tellys elemental masculinity and Greek confidence and how The Hipsters of today need this kind of Role Model. I think I am confident enough to explain what I need from actors or technicians. It's a pleasant retreat up in the booth far away from the crowd. The hardest thing is having everyone ask me questions. I loathe questions. The test of directing is when some asks with great intensity, "Do you like this color tape?" and not kill them.
Caps: What roles did you audition for, but didn't get?
Taylor: The black guy in "Miami Vice"...Rick Moranis' part in "Ghostbusters". My first screen test was for Alan Parker's "Fame". The best friend in Faye Dunaway's comedy Pilot (unaired) and of course, the dude in "Total Recall" that has the baby/Alien come out of his stomach. I blew it, during the audition. I told the director that when the face comes out the alien should say "You should see where ke keeps my feet".
Caps: Your IMDB filmography shows that you do a lot of acting work. Considering your busy schedule, what would be the perfect day off for you?
Taylor: Swimming in the ocean, having a private tour of a good museum, lunch with fish as a first course, a nap in a hotel bed and then making out with a stranger in a dive bar paid for by a major studio with per diem, thank you.
Caps: One of your earliest roles was as the pizza guy in "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". Sean Penn showed a lot of comedic talent in that movie, but he has pretty much devoted his acting career to dramatic work. Do you think he'll ever venture back into comedy?
Taylor: That was not a comedy performance. "Fast Times" was a comedy, but Sean was not being funny p'aying Spicoli. He completely embodied the character: This surfer dude, Spicoli was exactly like so many kids I grew up with here in Southern California...Rather dumb. We were laughing at Spicoli, not with him because Penn embodied him with no judgment. Essentially his was a dramatic performance in an amped up world created by Amy Heckerling.
Caps: You're also a painter alongside all your other talents. What does art provide you with that acting doesn't and what do you enjoy doing more?
Taylor: Essentially art and acting are both about seeing and interrupting what is before you. Each style is unique and the trained eye can unpeel what is stationary and common and make it his own, placing his signature on it. I have never stopped going to art class or acting class. Painting and acting complement each other beautifully.
Caps: If you could go back to your youth with the knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently?
Taylor: I would not change one single thing. My life and career have been so blessed and I have been able to play so many parts...I am the postman. I am the man who delivered your pizza. I am the gang member. I am the man that kidnapped your daughter at gunpoint. I'm a nanny. I am a stylist for mice. I am your shrink...I am the groom and the maid of honor. Perhaps the only thing I would have changed was my Name, because Taylor has now become a girl's name and I can't go into the Olive Garden without hearing a screeching mother yelling at her daughter "Taylor, don't do that with that olive!". I sometimes wonder how it would have been if my name had been Eric, Calvin or Emmanuel, but my name is Taylor, just that guy from so and so, which is more than fine for me.
I would like to thank Mr. Negron for doing this interview with me. For more information about Mr. Negron and his work, visit http://www.taylornegron.com/.