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Daniel Day-Lewis spoke with poet, Eileen Myles in this 2002 interview. Photography by Terry Richardson.
 

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  JERRY HALL
STEPHANIE SEYMORE
MARC JACOBS
  ASIA ARGENTO
DENNIS HOPPER
ABEL FERRARA
BRIAN WILSON
WILL OLDHAM
DJ SPOOKY

Leo Fitzpatrick, 2005

WITH BRUCE LABRUCE
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RYAN MCGINLEY






Although he's best knows for playing tough roles, from a self-proclaimed &quot;virgin surgeon&quot; to a twenty-year-old hitman, you'd be hard-pressed to find more of a real life sweetheart. In January, Leo will appear in Todd Solondz's highly anticipated and sure-to-be-scandalous <em>Storytelling






BRUCE: Tell me about Storytelling, the new Todd Solondz movie you’re in.
LEO: Like all of Todd’s movies, it’s a little hard to explain. There are two sections — two separate stories — called “Fiction” and “Nonfiction.” I’m in “Fiction.” I play a college student named Marcus who has cerebral palsy.

BRUCE: How did Todd come to cast you?
LEO: Before this, I never cared about a movie enough to really try very hard to get it. I usually go through the audition process just to please my agents, and I’ve blown a ton of auditions on purpose just because the movies were shit. But Storytelling was completely different because I’m a huge Todd Solondz fan.

BRUCE: So you actually gave something at the audition.
LEO: Initially, I auditioned for four different roles. I didn’t get any of them, but afterwards Todd sent me a handwritten letter, which is really unheard of.

BRUCE: That’s because most directors don’t know how to read and write. [laughs]
LEO: It was the best letdown I’ve ever had. It said, “We tried to find a part for you, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully we can work together in the future.” I don’t know if Todd realized how much that meant to me. I thought, “This business isn’t all bullshit. There are some decent people out there.”

BRUCE: Then Todd came back to you later?
LEO: When he wrote me the letter, he was still trying to cast somebody who actually had cerebral palsy for the role that I ended up getting. He looked at more than two hundred people, but cerebral palsy ranges in severity, and Todd was looking for a very specific level. He wanted the character to be affected in his legs and one of his arms, with a slight speech impediment. Finally he decided that instead of finding somebody with cerebral palsy and manipulating them into acting, he’d cast an actor and try to manipulate him into portraying somebody with cerebral palsy.

BRUCE: So how did you research the role?
LEO: They hooked me up with a coach — a guy who has cerebral palsy — and he guided me. I also went to C.P. clinics and just hung out with kids who have cerebral palsy. I didn’t want to go any further. I would have felt like, “Hey, I’m an actor and I’m trying to exploit your condition.” It’s the only role I’ve ever researched.

BRUCE: It’s not like Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape — he’s already retarded, so it wasn’t much of a struggle for him to play that character. [both laugh] But seriously, I think that Storytelling really ought to get you noticed.
LEO: In one way or another. [laughs] One crazy thing that happened is that right after I finished Storytelling, I was hit by a car. I injured my leg, and I ended up having to go through the exact same physical therapy as some of the kids from the clinic where I researched the role.

BRUCE: That’s crazy. Where were you when you got hit?
LEO: I was in Los Angeles — I was supposed to be doing that movie The Last Castle.

BRUCE: What? With Robert Redford and James Gandolfini?
LEO: Exactly. [laughs] I was supposed to play Redford’s little buddy or something. I went to L.A. two days before the shoot was going to start. I was walking out of a friend’s party, and as soon as I got to the street, I was hit by a drunk driver. My leg freaked out — I had severe muscle and nerve damage. It got so tense and tight that it was stuck in a bent position.

BRUCE: Sort of like cerebral palsy …
LEO: Yeah. The pain I went through was insane. I’m not sure I’d be strong enough to handle it if it were a life-long condition.

BRUCE: So you had to give up The Last Castle. Oh well.
LEO: Well, I couldn’t walk for a month.
BRUCE: Were you bummed about losing that role?
LEO: I was bummed about losing the paycheck. I don’t get paid very much for anything — I’m a fucking minimum wage actor. With The Last Castle, even though I was going to get paid the least they could have given me, it still would have been more then I’ve ever made.

BRUCE: I want to go back a little and talk about Kids. It was your first movie. How did you get involved with it?
LEO: I’ve known Larry Clark since I was fourteen. I’ve always skateboarded in Manhattan. Larry got into the scene in the early ‘90s, taking pictures and skating with us. Then one day he was like, “I just got the money for this movie I’ve been talking about for the past two years. Do you want to come in and audition?” I said, “Sure.” I had nothing better to do.

BRUCE: Who was conducting the auditions?
LEO: It was Larry, Harmony Korine, and the casting director. I didn’t really know Harmony at that point, but I’d seen him around because we traveled in the same circles. Back then, skateboarding was far from cool. It was like the geeks of the geeks. Skateboarders were genuine losers. Most of them came from fucked up families, so skateboarding gave them this new family of friends.

BRUCE: I just read that BMW has come out with a skateboard that costs five hundred dollars.
LEO: Skateboarding has been so gentrified by big companies. I don’t like to say that I’m a skateboarder anymore. But even though it seems really lame now, I still have love for it. It’s been a huge influence on me creatively. Like lots of people, it’s given me a mental independence I might not have found without it.

BRUCE: You weren’t at Sundance for Kids, were you? That’s where I met Harmony, but I didn’t see you.
LEO: I think that was part of the distributor’s scheme. Miramax didn’t introduce the actors at any of the screenings. That’s why a lot of people thought Kids was a documentary. I still meet people who think it was real.

BRUCE: It’s seen as a landmark movie, a defining moment, the voice of a generation, blah blah blah.
LEO: After I made Kids, I went back to working at a skate shop, just living life as a stupid skateboarder. But people would call the store and say, “I know you’re that guy from Kids. I’m going to come down there and kick your ass.” I would say, “Calm down, it was only a movie.”

BRUCE: I think Larry Clark’s Bully is even harsher than Kids because all the characters in it are so fucked up — just totally wired on LSD and stuff. It’s hard to watch.
LEO: The actors in Bully were pretty much as crazy as their characters.

BRUCE: I know. I’ve hung out with Bijou Phillips, Brad Renfro, and Mike Pitt. You must have been like the adult on the set.
LEO: I felt older. I wasn’t fucking around. I wasn’t going to the set fucked up and not knowing my lines.

BRUCE: How did Larry handle the Bully kids? I know Brad got in trouble during filming when he tried to steal someone’s boat.
LEO: I think Larry kind of looked at it like, “I’ll finish my movie and then these kids can go and destroy themselves. As long as I get my movie made.”

BRUCE: Bully is a true crime story. It was shot in Hollywood, Florida, where the actual murder happened. Was there a creepy energy there?
LEO: Definitely. I had read the book, so I was familiar with the case when I showed up. I was like, “That’s the Pizza Hut where the killers used to go, and there’s the place where they played video games.” One of the real killers had already been released from jail and was trying to get in touch with Larry to be in the movie.

BRUCE: He could have been a technical consultant.
LEO: That’s what he was saying! He wrote to the local newspaper and said, “I was there. I could tell them everything that happened. I don’t want a lot of money.” He was like, “I think the casting’s all wrong.” It was insane.

BRUCE: Give me one scandalous moment about Brad or Bijou on set.
LEO: I’ll give you one about me. I was arrested.

BRUCE: No way. For what?
LEO: We had a wrap party, but it was really impromptu. There was a scene shot on the beach where we’re all trying to figure out our alibis? We finished that at about six in the morning, and for some reason there was a bar open nearby. So everyone just filed in and started drinking. We had a mainly female crew, and they were like, “Let’s go swimming.” I was really drunk, so I said, “Sure, I’ll go.” They stripped down until they were topless with just their underwear. By this point it was more like eight in the morning, and people were out walking their dogs and stuff. I went in fully clothed for some reason. And then, of course, the cops came.

BRUCE: Of course.
LEO: They were yelling, “Everybody out of the water.” The cops were being total assholes because some of the girls were kind of butch. “It says here your name’s Maria. You look more like a Marty.” That kind of thing. I was like, “Man, what the fuck are you talking about?” I just laid into the cop. I was like, “You’re a fucking asshole. You don’t even know these people and you’re going to judge them?” So he turned to me and said, “Oh, what are you, an actor? Well, how about I get the press down here? How would you like that?” I said, “Well, you can call CNN and see if they know who the hell I am, because I’m nobody.”

BRUCE: That’s telling them.
LEO: He charged me with public nudity and being drunk in public. I was definitely drunk, I’ll admit to that, but I wasn’t nude! I had pants on. So they brought me down to the station and gave me a court date that I never went to because I don’t live in Florida. They probably have a warrant out for my arrest.

BRUCE: Well, at least you didn’t get charged with grand theft and possession of cocaine.
LEO: Yeah. [both laugh] My little arrest definitely would have been a bigger deal if Brad hadn’t already outdone me.

© index magazinegelatin1
Leo Fitzpatrick by Ryan McGuinley, 2005
© index magazinegelatin1
Leo Fitzpatrick by Ryan McGuinley, 2005

Copyright © 2008 index Magazine and index Worldwide. All rights reserved.
All photos by index photographers: Leeta Harding, Richard Kern, David Ortega, Ryan McGinley, Terry Richardson, and Juergen Teller