Star Ledger, Fleetwood Drums Up an Acting Career

Star Ledger, March 13, 1999

Fleetwood drums up an acting career

TV Q&A with Steve Hedgpeth

One of the most famous-- and one of the most tallest-- drummers on the planet, long lean Mick Fleetwood is the leader and co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, the '70s supergroup and one of the rock's longest-running soap operas. With the band a sometime thing these days, Fleetwood is hoping to move more into acting as evidenced by his role in "Mr. Music," an original, all-ages Showtime film airing tomorrow at 8 p.m. Fleetwood plays the cynical owner of a failing record company who hires a 15-year-old boy as vice president as a publicity stunt. Recently we had a chat with the 56-year-old Cornwall England, native about acting, Fleetwood Mac, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other topics.

Q. Why this late interest in acting?

A. "I had acted a bit before (the film "The Running Man" and some TV), but I wandered out of that arena, and that's sort of a shame. In those days, I was always looking for the next part, always looking for ways to damage myself. But at this point in my life, I'm more focused, more organized emotionally, and this whole acting vibe is challenging. It's a different ballgame from what I usually do, but I fell more comfortable with what I did in 'Mr. Music' and I'm ready, willing, and able to do some more."

Q. Your character in "Mr. Music" is a onetime famous guitarist who has become cynical and opportunistic. Did you have anyone in mind to help you play the character?

A. "I didn't have anyone particular in mind, but I definitely had in mind memories of how things used to be and the way they are now. When I started out, the music business was about creating and nurturing talent, but I think the whole business has gone very corporate and depersonalized. I've seen people lose their whole integrity in the record business. It's not like it used to be when people made music because they loved it. Now you have people in ivory towers making decisions for everyone."

Q. Have you in fact created your own small record label?

A. "Yes, Tall Man Records. I hope to release something in the next five months. I've been working with a couple of artists, and one specifically, Tallulah, is a singer-songwriter, 19, incredibly talented. We're developing her writing and giving her the freedom that someone should have on my label. I hope we can formalize an attitude where there's a real sense of home."

Q. And what of Fleetwood Mac's future?

A. "We're basically in a holding pattern. Do I think Fleetwood Mac will be active again? Yes, I do, but there are no golden rules as to when that will be. When we reunited for our last tour last year, I thought the band was playing better than ever. Some of us have tried very hard not to do this over the years, but I think we're all in a good space now. And you know, people love Fleetwood Mac. It's amazing to me how much of a dent we've made socially on people. When I meet people, they not only tell me they love Fleetwood Mac, but there's always a story that comes with it, how the band helped them through a hard time or something like that. I think it's the human element that this band represents with all its fragility. People are very conversant with our journey and our identity on an emotional level. We've almost been too open about our private relations with each other, but there is no turning back now."

Q. Two questions about making "The Running Man": How did you get on with the film's star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and did your co-star, smoochy game-show host Richard Dawson, ever kiss you?

A. "Arnold is a laugh-a-minute, very mischievous, a prankster 100 percent. You never know where you stand with him. His day isn't complete unless he's severely pulled somebody's leg. He never got me on anything but I was certainly around when he did things to others. He had this bodyguard, a Dutch bodybuilder, and those two were just too much. They would just attack people-- in the nicest possible sense. But Arnold is also a major team player in what he was doing. He may not be Laurence Olivier, but he was taking his crafter seriously. As for Richard Dawson, I didn't get kissed, and I'm very upset that I didn't."

Thanks to Annmarie and my mother-in-law for giving us this article (within 20 minutes of one another).