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He may be in his fifties, but Henry Rollins still rocks so hard he’s forced to squeeze in an acting gig or two between touring, blogging for L.A. Weekly and recording his KCRW podcast. He made three movies last year including The Last Heist, in theaters Friday, in which he plays a serial killer with a collection of eyeballs he keeps in a safety deposit box.
Sure, he’s a bit old for a punk rocker, but not too old for murder. “They shot at me, missed and didn’t miss my friend and blew his brains out,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. Without naming names, he is likely referring to the 1991 murder of Joe Cole. “There are those who tried to kill me and they got to get got. It’s because they really impacted my life in a really awful way, and I would like nothing more than to remove them. I will never get that opportunity, I know.”
While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Rollins had more than revenge in mind, expressing cogent concerns about a democracy in jeopardy and an “egomaniac” presidential candidate.
Your part in The Last Heist is a small but unusual role, separate from the rest of the movie in some ways.
I read the part and I thought I had a little idea for it that he would be friendly and smiley and very lethal. The preparation was basically living with the undeniable belief that what I was doing was the right thing to do. Killing people, yeah, but I’m sending them to a better place. If you were to look at me and go, “You’re a horrible person.” “No, no, no hold on a minute, I’ll help you, too.” The only thing that gets in my way is people going, “Ow, ow, you’re cutting the eyes out of my head.” “If you’ll just shut up and let me do my work, I could get through this a little quicker.”
It’s such an eclectic film career. What’s your basis for choosing parts?
I’m not any high priority in Hollywood. I get what I’m offered, and I take it or don’t take it. I go for an audition, and I get it or don’t get it. And most of the time I don’t get. It is what it is. I get a lot of offers. A lot of it I just don’t want to do it. But what I do want to do and I think I can do well, I show up.
With all your touring, I’m sure you meet a lot of people asking about Trump.
Millions of Americans are sincerely angry about how the American dream is tapping out to them. He’s really good at tapping on that energy because it’s no joke. These people are mad. I’m not going to get in their way. I’m not going to lose a finger or an eye. I think Mr. Trump is able to tap into that. He’s not a guy I agree with, but he’s definitely a guy who’s made me laugh. He’s funny out there. I think he would be a dangerous president, but I don’t think he very well could be president.
You’ve said before you’re not sure he wants to be president.
I think he is a true egomaniac. I think he ran this time like he ran last time, with no real expectations. I think in the end he likes being in front of a camera. And suddenly it took off and I think you see him playing a little bit of catch-up like, “Oh no, they fell for it!”
Do you fear of the welfare of our democracy?
I think in America you live in a democracy with a corporate veneer. So basically it’s got democracy at its core, but the overwhelming husk is a corporate-ocracy. When Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers have actual sway in an election, where they can donate, if you understand the rumor to be true of Sheldon Adelson, $100 million [reportedly pledged to the Trump campaign], it’s easy to think your vote doesn’t matter.
Does it? What do you say to people who say their vote doesn’t count?
Twenty years ago I may have argued vociferously. At this point, I can’t really raise my voice to that because I don’t think that person is that far off. And maybe voting is slightly naive now. But you know what? I’m still going to keep doing it. I can’t abandon that notion altogether. That being said, in the last four election cycles I think it means less.
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