Interviews from the LAS PALMAS FILM FESTIVAL (loosely translated)

La Opinion de Tenerife, March 5, 2008:

One of the most striking presences at the ninth edition of the International Film Festival of Las Palmas was American actor Peter Coyote.

What is your assessment of this Film Festival of Las Palmas?

These initiatives are always very valuable because you have an opportunity to see films made all over the world. In the United States, the vast majority of films that are released are our own commercial ones. Here at least you see facets of unpublished experimental cinema or minimalism and can feel the freedom with which artists have expressed their work and stories. Actually I am very happy for this opportunity.

As a man who is combative, you have led demonstrations in Washington during the Cuban missile crisis and were an active representative of the counterculture in the sixties.

I am very leftist. In my recent years I have engaged in election campaigns because I enjoy working with people who defend good ideas that help others. In the sixties the Diggers published a series of anarchist pamphlets that are still very valid. I remember my conversation with Spielberg in this regard during the filming of ET because it was very important to me that my character not be the typical villain despite being the leader of the bad guys who proves threatening. I was interested in showing a man with a big heart interested in the same questions as the child... What you see on screen is nothing more than what I am.

Do you have a definite opinion on the current political situation in the United States?

My view is that we screwed up after an eight-year reign of Bush because he has completely divided the citizenry of this country and he cannot be respected for that. These elections are important for the whole world...  I hope to see a younger president, intellectual and more interested in the problems of the people. Personally I swear by Obama... The control of communications by corporations and the new banking laws on mortgages created an economic nightmare for ordinary citizens.

Are there possibilities of a more democratic Hollywood since the end of the strike by screenwriters?

So far there has been a small victory. Now, if you write a script and pass it onto television, the distributor cannot publish it on the Internet without paying the screenwriter. Over the next three years things can go well, but this is far from the end and will require further discussion and negotiation in the future.

After working with directors in the stature of Steven Spielberg, Pedro Almodovar, Roman Polanski or Steven Soderbergh, is it difficult to remain outside the establishment?

When you're part of a system, it's your obligation to learn to interact. That's what I have learned after a 35-year career. I am also a Buddhist  Every day I meditate and when I start a new day, I'm completely renewed.


El Dia, March 9, 2008:

Jury member of the ninth International Film Festival of Las Palmas, Peter Coyote began his movie career late at nearly 40 years old, but in only twenty-five years he has had time to work with some of the best contemporary directors like Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar, Brian de Palma, Sidney Pollack and Steven Spielberg. He also played an important role in the counter-culture of the sixties in the United States. His latest film is "Resurrecting the Champ" with Samuel L. Jackson with an imminent release in Spain. He insisted on doing the interview in Spanish, without the assistance of a translator.

After so many years and so many movies, have you lost the illusion of the cinema?

Yes. It's a tough life. I am lucky enough to earn a living in this occupation. But once in a while I am at home, happy with my wife and my dogs and the phone rings to tell me that they have a job for me and I say: "Do you want to kill me?".... I started my career at the age of 40, too old to the cinema.  I had ten years of starring roles. Now I am 66 years old and the roles offered to me are smaller. I cannot retire. I am like a horse race.

Still struggling against the system?

Every day without hope.  I see posters of the candidates here and I think that's the same as in the United States. They are all thieves.

Much of the public will remember, above all, your role as a scientist in "ET". Does that bother you?

No. I had a great opportunity. I have something in common with all the world's children. In "ET" it was important that the scientist was not a bad person.  Consensue with Spielberg that my character appeared strong and threatening, but who possessed a big heart and was interested in the same questions as the child. I was very famous for twenty minutes. Although occasionally I like to say, "Dear, I have done something yesterday."

[ The Official Peter Coyote Web Site ]