[Photo: ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Adam Taylor/FOX]
I was lucky to get to take part in a conference call interview with tonight’s House guest patient, Meat Loaf. He is a unique person to talk to, as you will find out as you read the conversation he had with everyone. He raved about Hugh Laurie and the rest of the House cast, and he gives us a bit of insight into his character and what we can expect tonight. I hope you enjoy it.
Q: Are you a House fan?
Meat Loaf: I love House.
Q: Why do you love it?
Meat Loaf: I love Hugh. I mean, I like the storylines – they’re amazing. They’re very intriguing. I love his character on the show. I haven’t done a lot of TV. I get offers and I get scripts, and then I’m not crazy over the characters, so I don’t do them. They called me up and said, “Look, House is wanting you to do this character.” I said, “Oh, send me the script” and they did. I was so excited and very nervous, I might add. I was very nervous because I love this show so much. If I didn’t like the show and I’d never watched it, I probably wouldn’t have been so nervous. They’re an amazing cast – the set and everything is fantastic.
Q: When you say House wanted you to do it, what does that mean?
Meat Loaf: The producers.
Q: The producers wanted you to do it. And why were you so nervous?
Meat Loaf: Because it’s just a great show. I’m just that way – I get nervous every time I go onstage. I’m a nervous person.
Q: House can be kind of mean to his patients. How do you react to that?
Meat Loaf: I kind of fought back at him a bit.
Q: So a feisty patient?
Meat Loaf: No, we never had a fight. I was a little stern with him, I think. I’m trying to remember other House episodes where characters got stern. I remember one particular scene, the way I had intended to play it, it didn’t turn out that way. It was that I was going to get into it, and we didn’t do it that way. But I was going to get into his face more than anybody had ever seen on the show just because I wanted to be completely different.
Q: Well, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you if there was any chance you’d sing anymore Jim Steinman songs, whether it’s a Bat album or something else.
Meat Loaf: Well, not right now. In fact, I’m going into the studio with Rob Cavallo – we start June 1st – who produced the big albums for Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, Alanis Morissette and David Cook – is that his name, from American Idol? I think so. He was on last night. It was a good song. Anyway, this guy’s really hot. I’m an old guy, and getting to be with a young, hot producer like that is exciting.
Q: Well, I love to hear you sing, and I hope you can throw some in there. You still haven’t done “Still the Children” or “Braver Than We Are” – there are still a few left.
Meat Loaf: We’ll see.
Q: The promos for this episode are kind of really billing it as “the one that changes everything.” Words can’t describe it, but it doesn’t really show anything else. What can you tell us about how your role affects the current storylines of the show?
Meat Loaf: Well, tough question. It’s a hard one to answer without giving anything away. That one’s really tough. Well, the storyline – really the whole storyline – is about redemption. My character just ties into that really well in this episode. So that’s really what the whole episode is about. That tells you nothing.
Q: Did you kind of work with everyone in the cast, or were there certain characters you worked more closely?
Meat Loaf: I didn’t get to work with everyone, which was a bummer just because I love the whole cast and was really excited, but I really got to work quite a bit with Hugh and with – don’t go away, I just can’t remember everybody’s names. I will in just a second. Sing along with me. I’m hoarse today because I was shooting a movie in Chicago. We wrapped the night before last, and of course the last scene was this screaming match. Of course I had to scream louder than anyone else. You know what? I can’t remember their names. Jennifer Morrison I had a scene with. I went to IMDB and they don’t have them – they don’t have them listed.
Q: You could tell us the character names.
Meat Loaf: I’m terrible with character names. I’m terrible with that. You know what? It’s like I watch the TV shows all the time, and unless it’s Ghost Hunters I only know Jason, Grant, Steve and Tango. So I don’t know any of the characters names on the TV show, so I’m out of luck there.
Just let me tell you that the cast that I worked with – and I worked with four of them – are absolutely phenomenal in that, and I love this, they walked on to that set and anytime you go on a set, a movie set or anything, everybody they print these things that are called sides, and you people probably know all that. But not one time did any actor on that set walk on the set with sides … and didn’t know their stuff. I was amazed and I applaud them. It was a pure joy to work with those people.
Q: When you do a show like this in which you see the multitude of ways a person can get sick, how fragile we are as people, does it mess with your head after you go away? Does it make you paranoid about germs and disease, etc?
Meat Loaf: It didn’t make me paranoid, but I think they’re paranoid. It was very funny – I laughed quite a bit – because on-set they have craft services. It was the first craft service that I’d ever been to where they had little spoons and little cups for everything. It’s like usually you go on and they will have tongs for certain things, but for it was for everything. It was cute. It was pretty funny. I’d walk by it and just laugh every time.
Q: So it messes with their heads.
Meat Loaf: It’s messed with their heads big time.
Q: Cool. If you were super-sick and you were in the hospital, would you rather have the doctor who has the great bedside manner and is very reassuring even if he’s not maybe the top guy, or would you want a House, even if he hurts your feelings?
Meat Loaf: Well, let me think. Obviously, if you were in the condition of the patients that are on House over the five seasons, if you were in that condition and nobody knew what was wrong with you and you could find somebody like House, I think you’d take him. If it was me, no, I’d take him out.
But I’m ornery. You know what? I’d rather die than look at you. So anyway.
Q: Was it difficult for you to decide to be on the show? Do you envision yourself as an actor, or would you rather just play for the show if you were invited, to provide music?
Meat Loaf: I would never play for the show. I wouldn’t. I have been offered more TV shows than you’d even understand. I won’t do it. First of all, I started as an actor; I didn’t start as a musician. I was a stage actor in New York. People don’t actually realize it, but I did the Rocky Horror movie before Bat Out of Hell and people don’t get that. I did it in L.A., I did it on Broadway, I did Shakespeare in the Park for Joe Papp. I worked at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center. I did three or four Broadway’s. I can’t remember now – it was so long ago.
So I started as an actor. Hopefully, my ideal situation is for people to watch House next Monday and not even know it’s me. That’s my ideal. I’ll give you an example. When I did Fight Club people would go, “Oh, what movies have you been in?” I’d go, “Fight Club,” and they’d go, “Fight Club?” They would always look at me like a dog – turn their head like, “Fight Club?” I’d go, “Yeah, Bob.” They’d go, “Oh, my god – you were Bob.”
Q: So basically you like to immerse yourself in the character.
Meat Loaf: Yes. A lot of times musicians, they want to take a persona and they wind up turning their stage persona into a situation where they’re allowed to be a character, and I want to go so far away from that guy because I understand him. The best thing for me is for people to not know it’s me, for them to come up and go, “What’d you do?” and for me to say, “Oh, I did House.” “Oh, I saw that one.” “Oh, yeah.” That’s fantastic.
Q: It is fantastic. It’s really surprising and awesome. I didn’t expect you to answer that way. I would imagine exactly like you said – it’d be kind of promoting yourself through the show.
Meat Loaf: No. That’s not what I do. I’m a worker. I love working. That’s what drives me, not the People magazine or paparazzi in L.A. Believe me, if you want paparazzi, you go to the places where they are. You’ll never find me there.
Q: What type of research did you do to play a guy dying of heart failure?
Meat Loaf: Well, I’ll tell you – the main thing that was perplexing was okay, how to be sick without playing sick. You follow me? And they’re very good – the casting on House is very good – about getting 75% or 80% of their actors that come on that just figure it out. So that was the hardest thing because I’ve never played anybody – I mean, I’ve played crazy people; they’re sick – but not in the fact of being ill. It’s real easy to play sick, but to be sick is a lot harder. And I remember we were shooting one scene and when we finished it I said, “I’m glad we’re not shooting anymore of these because I swear to god, I’d die of a heart attack.” My chest was killing me.
I mean, it was hurting. I don’t know really how I got there. I will confess that I was watching Damages. You have to understand – I love Damages, I love Glenn Close. I don’t know if you’ve worked with her. I don’t know if you have, but I have and man, oh man. Ted Danson was in a hospital bed and I had it on TiVo, so I just rolled it over and over and over again. I just kind of watched Ted Danson. Ted Danson playing sick – I went, “God, he looks really sick,” so I just studied him for a little while.
Q: It sounds like a pretty emotional episode. Were there any scenes that were tough to get through?
Meat Loaf: Yes, the opening scene was really tough to get through. I’m still paranoid about it. I am – I’m still paranoid. I do this all the time anyway – I’d say, “Was that okay? Was that fine? Was that okay?” Driving home I was cursing myself going, “I’m a moron. Man, you could have done it this …” That’s me.
Q: Second guessing a little bit.
Meat Loaf: That’s all I do.
Q: You’ve worked with some amazing actors such as Brad Pitt and Ed Norton. What was it like working with Hugh Laurie?
Meat Loaf: You know what? I have to tell you, I really don’t know but he walked onto that set and he has all that dialog every show, and a lot of it. And all the technical terms. I really don’t know how he did it. Every time he would walk on that set he didn’t have a script, he just went. I was in awe of him.
As we were shooting, because it shoots over a two-week period, I got to watch. There were two episodes of House on while I was shooting it. The last one that I’ve seen, because I’ve been off doing a movie now so I haven’t seen anything, he was playing piano. I knew he played piano, but they really featured him in this one playing piano. I have a song on my album that is just piano – we’re going to record this piano … – so I just wrote him a little note saying, “Here – listen. This is a demo and I’d love for you to play on it.” That’s all I was going to do. I wasn’t going to go up to him and go, “Did you hear the demo?” or any of that. The next day on the set he walked up to me and said, “Are you kidding me? Yes, I’ll play.” So I’m hoping that happens.
As far as an actor, the guy’s amazing. And he’s right there. I mean, he’s very, very generous as an actor. I mean, I just found the experience amazing.
Q: It seems like this is a really emotional episode, so I’m wondering if, when you were not in front of the cameras with the cameras rolling, it was a really quiet set or there was a lot going on, lots of joking around between takes.
Meat Loaf: No, not really. No. I mean, no – it’s not like being on a Jim Carrey movie. No. The set, everybody’s not that serious all the time. I have to confess that probably I talk and joke around a little bit as we rehearse, but after the rehearsal and they’re getting ready to light the scene, I kind of go off on my own, so I’m pretty quiet. I don’t really know what everybody else is doing at that point in time. I don’t like going back to my trailer. I’m not that kind of actor. I don’t like that – I like to be close so I can feel it. It’s a pretty big set, so I would go find a corner where nobody was and sit on a stool, chair or on the floor even and just dig myself in. Then when the scene’s over, I’m not so method that I can’t get out of the character and come back to him. So I don’t know what everybody else is doing, to be perfectly honest. We talked all the time. You never talk to actors before you’re ready to shoot. Everybody’s kind of into their own space and everybody leaves everybody alone.
Q: I’d love to hear more about the new album you’re working on. What convinced you to go back to the studio and what kind of sound is it going to be?
Meat Loaf: Well, I don’t know. I have to say this, and it has a connotation, but it’s a new world now. I went into Nashville. Everybody goes, “Oh, Nashville – country,” but no. All the songwriters have moved into Nashville. All the rock writers – everybody. I work with writers. I don’t pretend to be a writer. I’ve written, but I hate everything. In fact, that’s what I would tell them down in Nashville. They’d go, “Oh, we want to write with you” and I’m saying, “No you don’t, because if you do, it’s not going to get on the album because I’ll hate it.” That held true. I’d sat down there and worked on three or four songs and they demo’d them, sent them back to me, and they’re not going to be on the record. When we get into the studio and start doing tracks and things, I will change lyrics and write lyrics. I always do that. But that’s a different thing. I just can’t stand anything that I do.
But I went down there. When I do deal with writers, I guide them. I tell them storylines and I tell them what I need, this is where I’m going. I changed management this year and I went with Ken Levitan and Irving … so I met with them and they said, “Well, we have to get the next record together.” Ken looked at me and said, “Look, why don’t we get Rob Cavallo?” I said, “Okay.” So I said, “If you can get Rob Cavallo, then hey, fantastic.”
I met with Rob Cavallo and he just had a lot of projects stacked up in front of me, so I’ve been waiting for him.
Q: That’s great. Will we recognize Meat Loaf or will it be a total game change?
Meat Loaf: You can’t help but recognize Meat Loaf because when I sing, my voice is very distinctive. You can’t get away from that. It’s like Steven Tyler sounds like Steven Tyler; Billy Joel sounds like Billy; Bon Jovi definitely sounds like Jon. So you go off in that realm. That’s what makes people interesting, when you hear them and go, “Oh, that’s Billy,” “That’s Bruce,” and, “That’s Jon.” That’s Meat.
Q: I wanted to ask you about Don’t Forget the Lyrics. Can you talk about that experience and also the charity you’re playing for?
Meat Loaf: We’re playing for Painted Turtle, which is a subsidiary of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall. It was put together by Lou Adler and Paige Adler. For people who don’t know who Lou Adler is, he produced the Mamas and Papas, Carole King, Cheech and Chong. He was one of the biggest. I have a long history with Lou. He was the producer of the stage version of Rocky Horror Picture Show in L.A. in 1973. So I worked for Lou. Lou is really responsible for putting me in the movie of the Rocky Horror Picture Show because he was also one of the producers who did that. I have a long history of playing basketball with Lou and Jack Nicholson out in the Rainbow parking lot in the afternoon. I’ve just been friends with Lou for a long time.
So I hadn’t seen him for a while, and I saw him probably seven or eight years ago at a celebrity racecar driving thing – I don’t know. He was there and he was telling me about Painted Turtle. One of the co-founders was Larry Brown, the NBA coach. It just does great work for the kids just like Newman had always done. I try to do things for kids. I mean, there are so many charities to play for. I go to the hospital sometimes. If you ever go to the hospitals, the musicians, there are all kinds of things, but that particular charity is unbelievable.
Q: The show is a celebration of your music, right?
Meat Loaf: No, we’re just playing Don’t Forget the Lyrics. See, they asked me to do it and I said no because I just don’t do things like that. But my daughter Pearl has a band. She’s trying to get started. She plays and she’s working really hard. She really is a really good singer, which you’ll see on Don’t Forget the Lyrics. I mean, this child can flat sing. I wanted to help Pearl out. So they said, “Well, what if you came on with your daughter Pearl?” And I was like no, no. Finally I said, “Okay. Because it’s Pearl, I’m going to help Pearl out.” I did it for the charity and for Pearl. I didn’t do it for me, I can tell you that.
[Then when asked if he wanted to finish with a statement, he said:]
Meat Loaf: Watch the episode. Hugh Laurie is fantastic.