Matthew does an exclusive interview with
Ginger Coyote and Rebecca G.Wilson
Photos By Matthew Bright
Matthew Bright came to fame in his cameo role as a drag queen in the underground 80s film the Forbidden Zone. Since then he has written and directed the amazing film Freeway starring Reese Witherspoon as one tough cookie. Other projects have included scriptwriting, drawing, playing music, painting and doing photography. A trivia note that some might find interesting is that Matthew was high school buddies with female body builder Lisa Lyons of Pumping Iron fame. He also went to high school in the seventies in Los Angeles with creatively prolific friends Danny Elfman, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and percussionist William Winant. William Winant has said of those days, "we were like the Breakfast Club." I haven't seen Matthew in years but caught up with him for an email interview this past month. He graciously answered the questions Punk Globe sent his way. Thank you Matthew and get well soon!
PUNK GLOBE - The cast in "Freeway" was amazing... How involved were you in the casting of the Movie?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Well, I was the director. So I was fully involved with casting the film with our casting agent, Mary Vernieu. She was invaluable, because this was my first film and she had been working with Oliver Stone for several years. She brought me everyone she thought was terrific that really hadn't broken out yet - Reese Witherspoon, Brittany Murphy, etc.. She was creative and wonderful to work with.
PUNK GLOBE - What other Movies had Reese Witherspoon done prior to the role of Vanessa Lutz?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - The only thing I was familiar with that Reese had done was a couple of movies where she played a child. And she had just become an adult, so this was all new for me. I didn't know what she could do until the first day of shooting and then I felt like I did when I saw Jimi Hendrix at the Whisky A Go-Go. It was just a revelation. I was awestruck.
MATTHEW BRIGHT - No, Amanda thought the role was hysterically funny and she was totally up for it. I hadn't seen her in anything up until then, but the second I met her I knew she would be perfect. Apparently, we knew each other when we were children, through our fathers who played tennis together.
PUNK GLOBE - Did you have any idea that Brittany Murphy was going to emerge the way she did from doing Freeway?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Nah, I never think about that stuff. I mean, it might occur to me nowadays, but it wouldn't mean anything really. That's just business stuff. I knew she'd be amazing in anything she did, so I just assumed she'd go on to do wonderful things. And if she didn't, it would be a testament to human stupidity. Remember, the only time Van Gogh sold a painting was when his shrink took pity on him. So people can be very stupid indeed. But they were smart and saw what she's capable of. Especially in our film.
MATTHEW BRIGHT - I can't remember if I was turned on to Alanna Ubach by Reese or our Casting Agent Mary Vernieu. I know Reese did a really good imitation of Allana in "The Brady Bunch," (Alanna was in the Brady Bunch Movie with Gary Cole and Shelly Long) and I was looking forward to meeting her. She was great.
PUNK GLOBE - Some of the dialogue in Freeway like "Look Who Got Hit By The Ugly Stick", "Bob You Ugly Motherfucker!" "I'm Sorry About That Day I Broke Your Nose, I was In A Bad Mood" "You Were Gonna Pay Me $5 To Suck Your Dick" was the best ever.. Did you write all that or was it ad lib?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Well, yes. It was my script. And everyone was very, very spot on about keeping to it. Reese and Kiefer said doing Freeway was like appearing in a live play six days a week for a month. They were all horribly exhausted. As exhausted as I was, and I was so exhausted I couldn't operate a car.
PUNK GLOBE - You are aware that "Freeway" was the movie that Reese really won her Oscar for?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Huh? What Oscar?
PUNK GLOBE - Don't you think John Glover's portrayal of the bad guy in 52 Pick Up was phenomenal?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - I loved that film. But it made me sick.
PUNK GLOBE - Who are some of your favorite filmmakers, writers?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Jeez, there are so many great script writers. Robert Towne, Oliver Stone. There are literally millions.
PUNK GLOBE - What are some of your favorite books and films?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - My favorite books are mostly an unholy mix of old Classics from Ancient Times, Jim Thompson, that hateful man James Ellroy, Dante, anyone dead and Russian, De Sade (a comedian of the first order), Nietzche... Really, there are too many to mention. I read everything. Favorite films - there are hundreds. Literally, hundreds.
PUNK GLOBE - Are you dressing like Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarroldo? do you have a record player to play operas on?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Though I enjoy his work, I would never dress like Klaus Kinski in anything. Men who dress like Klaus Kinski don't get laid, by the people I want to get laid by. And the only Opera I'm into is Mao era Chinese. (I didn't see Fitzcarroldo, so I can't be sure)
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Even if there were UFO's, I wouldn't care.
PUNK GLOBE - What books are you reading lately?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," by Richard Rhodes.
PUNK GLOBE - Any chance of moving back to the U.S.?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Yes, when Hell freezes over I'll come back permanently.
PUNK GLOBE - What have you been up to recently?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - I live in Chiapas in the jungle, right on the border with Guatemala. I am literally so far in the jungle that I've fallen off the world. I am painting constantly and building up a body of work to turn on the world. I am also writing my ass off for money and fame while waiting out this terrible recession that has made obtaining credit for independent films under 8 million dollars impossible.
A Mayan woman I know took me on a walk to check out all these neat rivers this morning. It ended up being a nine hour hike through the mountains and I've been sleeping ever since I got back. I feel like I've climbed Everest. God. I've been dealing with that H1N1 swine flu virus for the last three weeks and just when I thought it was over, I got this fever that was so bad I couldn't get out of bed. Fortunately this Mayan woman came by because I'd missed a date that afternoon and took me to the clinic where they X-rayed me and then told me I had pneumonia. They said it was mild, but if that was mild I don't think I could have survived the real thing. I've just basically been asleep these last few days being taken care of by this unbelievably nice girl whom I'm trying to figure out if I should adopt as a daughter or marry.
Anyway, I've been as sick as I've ever been in my life. I feel like shit. Maybe I should go back to bed. Or eat something. I can't work at the moment. I'll figure it out. I wish I had a cat that lived nearby and would visit. I think these people here must have eaten them all. Or they got swallowed by some horrible reptile. They have freshwater killer things in the rivers here. Nothing scares me more than something that lives in fresh water and can bite you so hard you can die from it. Really big ugly fish live here. And a twenty five pound newt that looks like the stuff of nightmares. I found a frog with stripes like a tiger on the pillow next to my head this morning. I awaken every day to the sound of several fucking roosters I want to kill with every fiber of my being.
I never see cats. I never see white people. And the subsequent madness it produces if I keep that shit under control allows me to build up a ton of good work I'm going to just dump on my agents and managers and see what happens.
MATTHEW BRIGHT - Did you get totally fucked by the economy, or did you dodge the bullet? I really, really hope you didn't get hurt by that fucking Lil' Bush. (Lil' Bush I think made me leave the goddamn country in the first place. I'll never forgive the American people for that). Actually, I've been living in Mexico on and off for the past fifteen years. My industry is eating shit beyond belief right now. Nobody's offering credit. Films in my budget range aren't being funded by anyone. I'm trying to move the whole goddamn show down here and be a Latin American director, with wraparound sunglasses, and a beat up old gold Karmen Gia filled with super brown film sluts with big hair. Sort of like an Italian director, only with cactus.
MATTHEW BRIGHT - The pictures are just what you run into when you walk from my place for a few minutes. The jungle pic is if you walk south for fifteen minutes. And the gigantic guy selling fried candy to the kids is if you walk north for ten minutes. The Indian women are just there because I think they're kind of hot. My sexual, romantic and hook up preferences are pretty much based on a National Geographic ethos.
PUNK GLOBE - What else are you up to?
MATTHEW BRIGHT - I'm on my way to LA to do a pilot about girls in jail. It's my first work for television so it's going to be weird having two cameras going at once instead of one, with one of the producers of Freeway, Brad Wyman.
Punk Globe would like to thank Matthew Bright for the great interview and we hope you all check out all of his movies especially Freeway.......