“I’d absolutely love do a movie here. You have a beautiful state and the festival is a treasure,” he said in an exclusive interview after he received the Maine International Film Festival(MIFF) Mid-Life Achievement Award. “The organization of the festival stands out. It’s really well conceived and well run. It should stand as an example to festivals everywhere.”
On stage at the Waterville Opera House, when he accepted the award, he characteristically and with humility joked with the audience. He also made it very clear that he was honored for being recognized.
The MIFF committee decided to honor director Robert Altman with a number of screenings of his classic films this year. Carradine starred as a singer-guitarist Tom Frank, in Altman’s 1975 classic film “Nashville” and won an Academy Award for his song “I’m Easy,” which he performed in the film. Carradine said he loved working with Altman, and attributed his rise as an actor to the multi talented director.
“It’s a honor to be recognized for being lucky. Really- that’s what it was. I delivered on a certain level when given the opportunity to do so- the key word here is opportunity,” said Carradine humbly to the audience. “If it wasn’t for Robert Altman, I wouldn’t have been here.”
In the interview later he gave a few words of wisdom for aspiring actors.
“The best advice I was ever given was by Robert Altman, he said, ‘listen kid let me give you a piece of advise, don’t take advice from anybody.’ That always works. You have to trust your instincts,” said Carradine.
Carradine believes Independent films, Indy films, are the best avenue for creative, innovative filmmakers with insightful stories to pursue.
“I just think that’s where the real gifts of storytelling are now. That’s the most fertile ground for new talent to try and work,” he said.
He reflected upon how the business of filmmaking. Hollywood began with “entrepreneurial spirit, and great energy with a from-the-gut approach to creating something people wanted to see,” he said.”Filmmakers wanted to entertain and tell stories.”
When Coca-Cola bought Columbia Pictures, and then other corporations bought studios, filmmaking changed into a corporate industry focused on profits made from high budget blockbusters.
“Movies became formulaic,” he said. And the art of storytelling was lost.
“The business has change so much. It costs so much money to make movies and it’s difficult to get big institutions to finance really innovative and heart felt story-telling ideas. Most big film productions and studio productions are so overblown,” said Caradine. “The intimacy and heart that can be found is in independent films. There are brilliant filmmakers out there; independent film is where they will make their mark.”
“I’m always hopeful there will be more great movies, always,” said Caradine.
A talented actor, producer and singer/songwriter Caradine has also contributed to rewriting scripts but has yet to attempt a screenplay.
“I’ve never actually written a screenplay. I’ve been involved in rewrites and fixes of screenplays but I’ve never actually sat down and tried to write one from scratch. I’m a bit daunted by that,” he said modestly and added, “The organization sort of head to put it all together into a coherent screen play is a distinct talent.”
But he didn’t rule out the possibility of writing a screenplay in the future.
“You never know,” said the humble renowned actor.
“This award signifies accomplishments in film,” said Shannon Haines director of MIFF when she gave Caradine the award that consisted of a plaque and statue of a Maine moose. “That is a huge understatement this year.”
Nashville was shown at the Opera House after Carradine received his award. Other Carradine movies screened at the festival included his most recent film, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” as well as “Thieves Like Us,” “Moderns,” “Choose Me” and the movie that put Altman on the map “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.”
Carradine has starred on Broadway, other theaters, and for television as well as having roles in Shakespearian plays. He was in “Hair” and he said so was MIFF festival programmer Ken Eisen.
In the 70’s he co-starred with his half brother, David, in a few Kung Fu episodes. Recent TV viewers may recognize him for his role as Wild Bill Hickok in “Deadwood” or as FBI Agent Frank Lundy in “Dexter.”