It’s not often you get to meet a true movie bad-ass. If you’re around my age (33, still in my prime!) you’ll probably recognise Clancy Brown as The Kurgan, an evil, extravagantly dressed, Sean Connery decapitating, legend. Younger readers will be more likely to recognise his baritone voice as Lex Luthor in the recent Justice League cartoons and as Mr Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants. I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself when he was in Edinburgh to present a new 4K re-mastering of the 80’s classic Highlander. Here’s what he had to say.
Hi Clancy, what are your lasting memories of making Highlander?
I didn’t have a lot of memories before I saw it again, and so a lot of memories came flooding back. Before I saw it I had to think ‘what do I remember most about Highlander?’ and I have to say that the lasting impression of Highlander for me was the lasting friendship I developed with Bob Anderson who I met on the show, the swordmaster also in State Wars and Zorro and a number of other shows. Just one of those great gentleman in films that you meet that is an expert in his particular discipline, undeniably the best in the world at what he did, and a great friend and a great gentleman. A normal human being and I miss him terribly because he died two years ago, and we’re a lesser planet for losing him. That was the best thing about Highlander for me.
This may not actually be a question but I was scared of you as a child after my mum let us watch Pet Sematary 2. I think you shoved a guy’s face into a motorbike wheel at one point…
Yeah he deserved it…
So I was wondering what do different generations of people recognise you most from?
I never know! You bring up Pet Sematary, I would maybe report your parents to child services if they’re letting you see Highlander and Pet Sematary 2. That’s borderline child abuse.
I like to think of her as a good mum because we’d already seen the first one and she’d have been a bad mum if she hadn’t let us see the second one.
Well approach the bench and tell the judge that, there are certain mitigating circumstances. Never mind you can stay with your parents.
It’s all different ones. Some people recognise Pet Sematary, some people recognise Highlander. Now I get a lot of Daredevil, I’ve just done two episodes of that. You never know what people remember, like Carnivale, some people remember it. The most ubiquitous is the voice of Mr Krabs but because I don’t talk like that I don’t really get stopped on the street.
You mention being stopped on the street, you’ve been in Edinburgh for a few days now. Have people stopped you in the street?
Yeah but it’s a film festival though and they publish the fact that I’m going to be here and so you know the sliver of population who know who I am and think I’m good they’ll come out and ask me to sign something. They might not even think I’m good they might just want me to sign something but if I come back here in a month nobody’s going to bother me, I’ll be alright!
Have people said anything about the character from Highlander?
Well yeah, it’s one of the things that’s going on here at the festival so yeah people say nice things about it.
What are the main things that people are saying to you, is it that they’re scared of you??
Yeah, just that they’re scared or that they loved it in the day or that “you’ve got really fat and old since then” and stuff like that.
Do they do any of the lines to you?
They’ve asked me to do a few of the lines. I did some in the screening.
Do you ever just say “never speak to me ever again” and throw them over a desk?
Maybe I should!
You do a lot of voice acting. So how do you go about creating the voice and character for someone like Lex Luthor and how does that compare to creating live action characters?
It’s a lot of fun. When you’re an animation director and you’re creating a soundscape then you pick and choose the voices that you want. That community is so crazily talented. All of the people involved in animation is kind of a secret society of wildly talented people. I can barely hang with them they’re so good and these guys can do any voice they want so I got lucky that they just decided to open it up and have other actors in it. So they got Tim Daly to play Superman and Kevin Conroy to play Batman, Mark Hamill to do The Joker. These aren’t the usual characters so I sort of fell into that accidentally but then it becomes the strength of the script like anything else and when you come in to record they’ll play back what you did before so you try to mimic what you did before and it’s very simple that way. Creating Mr Krabs was just kind of a flukey thing. They said, this guy loves money and he’s a crab and we did some kind of a piratey thing. Some of the other ones just push you in a certain direction but they know how your voice sounds more than you do. If you ever listen to your own voice you think “god I hate that”! So you have to trust them because you’re just going to hate your voice no matter what. The directors are better at understanding your voice than you are.
Are you surprised that they’re re-releasing Highlander rather than remaking it?
Yeah I’m surprised that it got the treatment it did, the 4k restoration. That wouldn’t be my first choice but you know you can’t stand the sound of your voice so what do I know? I was completely flattered that they would do that. Now I’ve seen it again I sort of get it. I’ve got a list of other things I’d like to see, all the great ones, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Any of your films?
No, I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to say that. I’d love to see Once Upon a Time in the West remastered in 4k but people do this for whatever reasons they do it and I love the fact they did it because otherwise I wouldn’t be here.
What do you think of being here in Edinburgh?
I love Edinburgh.
I haven’t really had any highlights apart from doing the festival. I got treated to tweed and a kilt. The ceilidh was really fun.
You held my hand at the ceilidh. I wouldn’t let go, it was like I’d never been so strong in my life!
It was a lot of fun! I want to get up Arthurs Seat and my wife wants to go to Glencoe too.
You mention you were in Daredevil but you’re also a General on The Flash – do they mind?
I’m sure they have policies but they let Ryan Reynolds do Green Lantern then he did Deadpool. Captain America did Fantastic Four.
Is it quite cool to be playing a military figure in two different TV shows?
Yes, as long as they pay me!
Are there specific differences between the two?
Well I’m not a big fan of those live action cartoons. I like the animation versions of them but the live action ones, I think are problematic and dated. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated they get, I like the 2d versions of it.
It’s been 30 years since you’ve been in Scotland, would you like to work here again?
Yeah sure, I’m available! I’ve always felt a bond with Scotland. I’ve felt it since the first day I got here. I love Scotland. I don’t love London or New York. I like Scotland, I like the mountains of Utah. Those places I connect with, big cities not necessarily but little cities yes. This city reminds me a lot of Boston. Glasgow reminds me of Chicago. London reminds me of New York, I could do without either. They’re not bad towns but it’s just not where I would choose to live. Working here isn’t up to me though, they gotta call me and ask me to do it!
Thanks again to Clancy for being so cool. I’m still scared of him but I’m very proud to have survived our encounter. The Highlander 4K remaster will have special screenings at Belmont Filmhouse Aberdeen – 15 July, Filmhouse Edinburgh – 18 July, Eden Court Inverness – 29 August plus the restored film with extra features is available to own from July 11th.
Let me know your favourite Clancy Brown role in the comments below.