Gravel-voiced, versatile singer/songwriter Tom Waits has composed and played music in a variety of films, ranging from Francis Ford Coppola’s One From the Heart (1982) to Jean-Luc Godard’s First Name: Carmen (1983). On or off camera, Waits has been a colorful, quirky character noted for his surreal humor. Many of his songs reflect his interest in movies with either direct references or sly musical suggestions. During the late ’70s, he became more directly involved in film, composing songs and even playing piano onscreen in Paradise Alley (1978). In the early ’80s, Waits teamed up with Coppola, first with the Greek choir-like narration for One From the Heart and then as an actor in several of his films. At first, Waits had a one-line role as Buck Merrill in The Outsiders (1983). Coppola next gave Waits a bigger part as Benny in Rumble Fish (1983), and then dressed the rangy singer in a tuxedo and cast him as the MC in The Cotton… read more
My absolute favorite musician and one of my favorite actors to boot. No matter how minor Waits' role might be, his very presence in a movie makes want to see it.
Q: Favorite scenes in movies? A: R. De Niro in the ring in Raging Bull. Julie Christie’s face in Heaven Can Wait when she said, “Would you like to get a cup of coffee?” James Dean in East of Eden telling the nurse to get out when his dad has had a stroke and he’s sitting by his bed. Marlene Dietrich in Touch of Evil saying “He was some kind of man.” Scout saying “Hey Mr. Cunningham” in the scene in To Kill A Mockingbird. Nic Cage falling apart in the drug store in Matchstick Men… and eating a cockroach in Vampire’s Kiss. The last scene in Chinatown. Q: Can you describe a few other scenes from movies that have always stayed with you? A: Rod Steiger in The Pawnbroker explaining to the Puerto Rican all about gold. Brando in The Godfather dying in the tomatoes with scary orange teeth. Lee Marvin in Emperor of The North riding under the box car, Borgnine bouncing steel off his ass. Dennis Weaver at the motel saying “I am just the night man,” holding onto a small tree in, Touch of Evil. The hanging in Oxbow Incident. The speech by Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner as he’s dying. Anthony Quinn dancing on the beach in Zorba. Nicholson in Witches of Eastwick covered in feathers in the church as the ladies stick needles in the voodoo doll. When Mel Gibson’s Blue Healer gets shot with an arrow in Road Warrior. When Rachel in The Exorcist says “could you help an old altar boy father?“ The blind guy in the tavern in Treasure Island. Frankenstein after he strangles the young girl by the river. http://www.tomwaits.com/press/read/15/TOM_WAITS_TRUE_CONFESSIONS/
Time waits for no man, but Tom Waits for everyone! The greatest songwriter of his generation and one of the greatest of all storytellers, endlessly evoking desolate landscapes, dustbowl desperation and carnivalesque caricatures that speak to the complexities of the human condition through the combination of words and music. His work is intensely 'cinematic' even without the necessary image track. He can conjure an image more vivid - more real - than any major filmmaker with just the sound of an old harmonium, a piano, an electric guitar or the carefully arranged horns of a Salvation Army band.