Klaus Kinski wants to give people fun

KlausKinski.45minutes (Dir Jay Miracle, 1985)

Background: Klaus Kinski is bored and agrees to do an interview with the film maker Jay Miracle on the De Laurentiis Studios lot outside Rome.  This leads to a chaotic rant on various subjects including directors, Werner Herzog, money, acting and politics.  And somehow he breaks his sunglasses…

Cast: Klaus Kinski as himself; Jay Miracle – in offscreen space; an unidentified young man who offers to fix the sunglasses; two unidentified women who catch Klaus’ wandering eye…

Filming location: De Laurentiis Studios lot, Rome, Italy

Release date: 2006

Availability:  KlausKinski.45minutes is available from Amazon.com and is region free, so you don’t need a multi-region player for this one.  It costs about £16 including delivery to the UK.  It will also be available in a slightly longer format on the Klaus Kinski Talks 2 DVD, an official Klaus Kinski Estate Edition release, when this becomes available on 08.04.11.

The interview in full – *SPOILER ALERT*:

When I first heard about this interview I was told that the American film maker, Jay Miracle, had been granted an interview with Klaus but he was told that unless he would pay $100,000 or a Ferrari, or something, he could not film Klaus.  I was told that there was only sound and no images.  But then I contacted Jay Miracle about it and he said that actually it’s not just sound and Klaus didn’t ask for any payment either – all he asked is that Jay did not look through the camera, so it was held under the arm while they talked instead.  That explains why a small number of images are not perfectly filmed (ie Klaus is not in the centre of the frame) but considering the circumstances under which this interview is filmed it is quite amazing.

Apparently Klaus didn’t like to give interviews and rarely did so, which makes this film even more of a must for Kinski fans as it catches Klaus in a relaxed mood talking and answering questions without an audience other than the film maker.  A warning though, Klaus appears to have a wandering mind so sometimes it is difficult to follow his train of thought…

In editing the interview together Jay Miracle has helpfully provided some categories for the topics Klaus discusses (or rants) about. 


Some things I learnt from the interview:

  • KK hates directors – mainly because they’re pretentious
  • KK is allergic to directors but when he first meets them he is nice – “as I always am, in the first place”!
  • KK doesn’t need to be f***ed in the ass by Pasolini or Visconti to appear on the screen and if he wants to be f***ed in the ass, he will decide
  • KK once met someone who gave him a business card that said they were an opera singer and they could not even sing
  • KK does not need to be taught to breathe and he’s not blind and does not need a dog to cross the street

Some things I didn’t learn:

  • What does being a director mean?  KK said he didn’t know and he didn’t offer any suggestions!
  • If KK does not want to be called an actor, what should we call him?

Werner Herzog

Some things I learnt from the interview:

  • KK ripped up a Woyzeck poster and screamed when he saw it because it said it was “Werner Herzog’s masterpiece Woyzeck” and in KK’s contract it said only his name should be big and at the top of marketing materials – KK gave Herzog 24 hours to get another poster made with his name in big letters, “Who cares?”, KK said, but clearly he did
  • During the filming of Fitzcarraldo KK gave Herzog “a real kung fu kick in his face… because he was so wrong that I couldn’t stand it anymore”
  • KK compares himself to a kung fu master – Herzog “said everywhere in the world, he admitted it everywhere” that he learnt a lot from KK when they made movies together, in the same way Bruce Lee would always say Yip Man was his master as he learnt it all from him
  • KK doesn’t need a hunchback to be a hunchback; he just is a hunchback
  • When Herzog says good things about KK, he means it; and when KK says good things about Herzog, he means it too
  • KK thinks the 9 bullets story (“Before you reach the bend in the river, there will be eight bullets in your head, and the last bullet will be for me.”) came from Herzog’s “public relations idiot asshole” and that Herzog had to repeat it because otherwise he would have to say he was a liar
  • KK says everybody knew Herzog did not have a gun, but KK did have a gun though – he had to get a special permit from the government to get it into the country and he used it to shoot at the moon!
  • KK says he always called Herzog Adolf Hitler “because he had the moustache and he looked like Adolf Hitler… it’s just not a big deal to call him that”

Some things I didn’t learn:

  • Whether the two unidentified women KK admires were actually sisters or not

Klaus’ little face has lit up like a child’s on Christmas morning – there must be women in the vicinity!

Give people fun

Some things I learnt from the interview:

  • There are people working 14 hours a day in film studios and they have no life – the studios don’t “do something good for people… It’s so easy to say have fun… but give people fun first and then say have fun”
  • In Italy KK was offered about 20 films a week – he just picked the highest paid without looking at the scripts or anything
  • KK gets along great with the Italians because his temper is very similar to theirs
  • Every day was a party for KK when he first moved to Italy – “It was just happiness”

Some things I didn’t learn:

  • Whether Klaus did “eleven movies a year”, or “10 to 11 movies a year”, or “9 to 11 movies a year” in Italy
  • How KK can only have done 45 to 50 films whilst living in Italy if he really did 11 movies a year as he was there for more than a few years


Some things I learnt from the interview:

  • KK worked for 10 years without a day of holidays
  • KK was not at all sorry that he wasted a lot of money by inviting everyone over and even giving the postman Champagne when he first started earning big money
  • KK explained that he was right to select the movies he worked on “only for money, just for money”, and I kind of think I understand his reasoning; my interpretation of what KK said is that it’s only important what comes out of the movie, so if your creative intentions are not successful then you have done the movie for nothing so you might as well just do it for the money anyway

Some things I didn’t learn:

  • How much money KK wasted


Some things I learnt from the interview:

  • KK thinks “the young people are just beautiful” and that “if you ruin the young people in the world, there’s no life; no future anymore”
  • KK hated Berlin because he had to go to school there and because his mother was killed in the street there during the war
  • KK thought that places should be provided for young people to “make them happy, instead of killing them”
  • KK thought that we should “stop hating and start living” and “just don’t talk anymore – do it!”
  • KK thinks that people who blow up planes should be stopped – “Stop them! Kill them! However!”
  • KK thinks politics is “your masturbation for your own past”
  • KK says that for interviews in France they would say “it’s always good not to be shaved and a little bit dirty, you know, and the hairs are not combed… that you don’t care”
  • That when asked if he was a leftist or a rightist in France, KK refused to understand and said, “Yeah, yeah, I’m left-handed, if I masturb [sic] myself I do it with the left hand” and this was in all the newspapers in France but KK doesn’t think they understood – I’m not surprised as he followed this up with saying, “It’s like with the hamburger, you know what I mean?” Erm, no, Klaus, not really…
  • KK explained the hamburger comment by saying that the newspapers are full of crap and people just eat it like they eat a bad hamburger – they don’t want to know if there’s worms in the meat

Some things I didn’t learn:

  • Where KK actually stood on politics!
  • What the whole long, garbled barbed wire anecdote was really about
  • Whether the Coca-Cola can is still hanging from the barbed wire
  • How KK broke his sunglasses

I know.  You’ll just have to buy the film and watch it yourself to see if you can make any more sense of it than I can. 

Anyway, just some observations:

Interestingly, Klaus tells a story about an unnamed director who told him that he would see to it that Klaus did not make any more movies.  Klaus says he told him: “This is dangerous for you because I’m made for it, okay?  Everybody in the world agrees with it, okay?  Everybody who wants me, and there are a lot of people who want me, so this is nothing to do with myself, it’s just a fact, okay?” 

Okay.  Klaus then goes on to say that he told the director that before god or whoever decided that he would not make any more movies, that he [the director] may be dead, or for sure he would be dead.  He then adds: “And one year later he was dead… No, no, I didn’t kill him!”

No, Klaus might not have killed him, but his death could be put to good use so he could tell Klaus how to die, like the director in another anecdote who Klaus says shouldn’t tell him how to die: “Were you already dead?  Okay, then, get dead first and come back and tell me!”

Klaus advises that a director should be as clever as they possibly can to get the performance they want out of an actor, as ever he refers to himself as a wild animal: “If you want to see an animal in the wilderness, go close but be clever not to disturb because it not only runs away but it may even kill you.”  This should have been a worry for Werner Herzog, given that Klaus says everybody knew that Herzog didn’t really have the gun with 9 bullets… and “the animal in the wilderness” (ie Klaus) did have a Winchester rifle himself, or so he says!

Despite all this, Klaus is said to have referred to Herzog as “a less big asshole than the others” (see Playboy interview November 1985) so it’s not surprising that he says in the film, “…the point is, actually, if he comes now and says okay now can we leave on 1st March, you know, I would say, yeah, you go now to my agent and to the lawyers and make the deal and I bet I’ll be there too, you know… I wouldn’t say, hey you, you’ve been getting on my nerves the last 3 years or whatever.”  This is all borne out by the fact that they went on to work together again on Cobra Verde

It should be noted that of a 45 minute interview, Kinski dedicates a quarter of his time to the subject of Werner Herzog – I think the two of them were more than slightly obsessed with each other; “love-hate” just isn’t enough to encompass their complex relationship…

Something else I noted was that Klaus had said he didn’t like people who back out of deals and contracts (with reference to Werner Herzog) but he later described how he had been paid a lot of money for his Jesus Christ Savior world tour and how he did it only two times and then said, “F*** off!” because he didn’t want to finish like Jesus had, “…you know, I didn’t want to be nailed to the cross!”  Strange, he doesn’t see this in the same way that he sees other people backing out of contracts.  And whilst on the subject of Klaus likening himself to Jesus Christ, later in the film he talks about gangsters like Al Capone and says, “You know, Al Capone never said I’m Jesus Christ.  At least this, you see.”  That made me laugh!    

I can’t recommend KlausKinski.45minutes enough – okay, it’s only 45 minutes long but it’s Klaus rambling on about things that get his goat and, no, it doesn’t always make sense but you get to see Kinski the man at rest (as far as that is possible for him): one minute he rants (he swears, he gesticulates, but he’s never as scary as you might imagine he would be), the next he looks incredibly happy and makes himself laugh with his own observations, and you see him distracted (by a helicopter overhead; by the horn of a passing truck; by two passing women who he thinks “must be two sisters”) and get to study his body language as he restlessly paces, folds a piece of paper repeatedly, plays with a lever on a door, tidies his hair, etc. If only the film had not run out so quickly, I’m sure Klaus could have gone on!

There’s one thing though, having read Marcelle Clements’ interview with Klaus in Playboy (November 1985), it struck me whilst I was watching the film that the interview with Jay Miracle appears to be a visual version of that print interview.  I started to wonder whether the date of the film as 1987 was actually correct.  It says on the DVD box that the interview took place in 1987 but I’m not certain.  There are too many coincidences to suggest otherwise: Klaus was on the De Laurentiis Studio lot in Rome whilst making Crawlspace in 1985, and although he was back in Italy for the filming of Nosferatu in Venice in August 1986 and was filming Paganini in 1987, I’m not sure they were filmed at the studios in Rome.  The interview in Playboy was late ’85 and contains so many of the themes Klaus raises in the Jay Miracle interview – the hamburgers; being called an actor; how “there is no fun”; doing movies exclusively for money; about being “the one who does it” in the films with Herzog; the nine bullets story; about wanting the Nobel Prize as it’s worth $400,000; Bruce Lee and kung fu; about how he feels when he is asked by a director to do another take, etc. I could be wrong but I think this interview might actually have taken place in 1985 or early 1986.  Does anyone know?


About tinynoggin

I love films (anything from exploitation stuff to stylish Eastern European cinema, but I'm not really into blockbusters and modern Hollywood), music (Serge Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, Michel Polnareff, Left Banke, Francoise Hardy, The Seeds, Love, The Zombies, etc) and books (Kurt Vonnegut, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Michel Houellebecq, Patrick Hamilton, Alan Sillitoe, and more). I take photographs with my Lomography Diana F plus or my Olympus Trip and like making stuff in my spare time.
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1 Response to Klaus Kinski wants to give people fun

  1. Pingback: An interview with KlausKinski.45minutes film maker Jay Miracle | Du dumme Sau – a Kinski Blog

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