Former wrestler and actor Roddy Piper visited New Beverly Cinema on Sunday, June 10, 2012, to talk about his role in John Carpenter's "They Live." Once the film ended, Piper made his way to the front of the house, leaped onstage, and yelled out for all to hear:
"I HAVE COME HERE TO CHEW BUBBLE GUM AND KICK ASS!!! AND I AM ALL OUT OF BUBBLE GUM!!!"
This screening was put together by the horror convention Days Of The Dead, and moderating the Q&A was Brian from the website Horror Movie a Day. During the time he spent with the audience, Piper looked so incredibly happy to be there.
When Brian asked the star how he got cast, Piper said he was doing Wrestlemania III and was asked out to dinner by Carpenter afterward. Piper had "been on the road since he was 15 years old" and admitted to the audience that he "had no idea of who John Carpenter was." But once the wrestler realized he was a movie director offering him the lead role in a new film, Piper was eager to work with him.
In talking about filming the destruction of the shantytown, Piper pointed out that many people in that scene were actually homeless, not average Hollywood extras. He also said the filmmakers "had to pay two gangs off so that when we left at night the trailers would still be there in the morning." Piper said that he also "knew the president of each gang, and that helped."
Then there was the discussion about the "bubble gum" line, which Brian heard was improvised by Piper. Piper confirmed it was his idea and jokingly described it as "lame." The iconic catchphrase came about when Carpenter told Piper just before the cameras started rolling:
"Roddy, you know you're going into a bank, you got bullets on, you got a shotgun, you got sunglasses; you gotta say something because you're not robbing it … Action!"
Piper said the line, and then Carpenter yelled cut and immediately said "lunch!"
One audience member asked Piper if he did his own stunts in "They Live," and he admitted he did all of them except for when Meg Foster pushes him out the window. However, Piper also said that "if it was the last shot of the movie they would've let me do it!"
Speaking of Foster, he confessed that he did indeed "trip out" over her eyes because they are "so beautiful." Looking back, he marveled at how she brings you "right in with those eyes."
We never learn the real name of Piper's character in "They Live." He is called Nada in the end credits, which in Spanish means "nothing." In describing Nada, Piper said, "you don't know where he came from, you don't know why he's doing what he's doing, you don't know why he's wearing a wedding ring, you know nothing about him." Carpenter told him the thought behind that was "because you don't know anything about him, it makes him more intriguing. It makes you want to watch more."
Piper ended the evening by speaking profoundly about his role:
"Nada is you, he is every one of you, not blue collar or white collar. He's you, and that's why you know nothing about him because it depends on if it's you, then that's what's about him. He's supposed to represent everybody, not just America, but everybody in the world. And that's kind of why you as an audience fill in the nothing with whatever ethics and morals you're fighting for at the time."
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