Eastern Film Fans is thrilled to bring you our interview with Timon Singh as with dive into how he came up with The Born to be Bad book idea and some of the marvelous interviews that he collected for the publications.
How did the idea of the book 'Born to be Bad' come about what was the initial inspiration behind the first book ?
It was re-watching Robocop for the 10th, 20th 30th time and I was at a little cinema in Bristol called The Cube and they were doing an anniversary screening of Robocop, and I was paying more and more attention to the actors that were playing the bad guys, mainly Kurtwood Smith, Paul McCrane, Ray Wise and everyone and I was like, on paper there is no reason why any of these actors would be cast going up against a cyborg Cop. Peter Weller he is famous for saying how much a ball ache it was making this film but all these guys Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Paul McCrane looked like they were having a fucking great time.
Then coming home I thought, I bet as actors its more fun to be the bad guy, you have more fun, get the best lines, you get to be completely out there I should interview all the actors that played bad guys. I bet Vernon Wells had more fun in Commamdo than Arnie, all these iconic actors going up against Stallone, Arnie and Bruce Willis had much more fun than the lead stars and that is where the idea came from and I just started to write down a list of Actors I wanted to reach out to.
How did you pick the actors for the book ?
I literally sat down and said who are the great villains in action films that i remember from growing up, the bad guys in the Indiana Jones films, Alan Rickman and the terrorists from Die Hard, Vernon Wells the Bad guy from Commando, Mad Max 2 and Innerspace, a bunch of James Bond villains, then it was like who did Arnie and Stallone go up against you needed a muscular bad guy in films like Total Recall and The Running Man, then you have cross overs with people like Ronny Cox, Total Recall and Robocop and then there were actors that scared me as a kid and I remember seeing Time Bandits and David Warner is terrifying in that and hes in Titanic and Tron, Time after Time, I bet he has loads of stories. Once I got knocked back by various agents and managers if I cant get that guy whose another guy like that. The more and more you reached out to people the more you landed in particular types like the British Thespians, the Stuntmen, The Body builders and just a wide range of people.
Was it a conscious effort to bring some of the lesser known Actors or was it as you say you fell into those areas of cinema ?
It was more the age I grew up with, so Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan were a big part of my childhood. One of the actors I reached out to and couldn't get was Bolo Yeung and that was basically his agent wanted money for a interview, and I cant afford that and how much would I get out of it, how good would his English be, would I be able to get any good stories. Then I was thinking about all the great villains in The Jackie Chan movies and I don't speak Cantonese they don't speak English. So it was people like Bob Wall and Benny the Jet Urquidez who have fought with these iconic figures in films that I love and then at the same time would be able to give great stories. But you want to find actors that would be fun to interview and that's why its much more fun to talk with actors that play the bad guy.
Al Jeong is in the book a great actor from Die Hard, lethal Weapon, I imagine he was great to interview ?
He's worked with everyone, there is a kind of weird thing in Hollywood in the 80's if you were working out at Gold's gym and if your spotting Arnie or Stallone your going to end up in their films. People like Sven-Ole Thorsen he's in everyone of Arnies films up to a certain year as they were working out and life long friends. It's the same in the new Book with Mohammed Qissi who plays Tong Po in Kickboxer and him and Jean Claude Van Damme were childhood friends and up to a point he was in every Van Damme film. There is that kind off thing, like Al Jeong, if you were very well known and good at what you did you were in such a wide range of films and hes worked with everyone like Arnie, to Brandon lee, to The Rock and that man had loads of stories.
Was it always in mind to do a second book ?
There was definite times with first book where I was disappointed I didn't get someone so with the first book under my belt i thought now I have a book out and I'm going back to all these managers and agents I'm not just Johnny Nobody so I thought if I'm going back to do a second book I need to get some big names and I wrote down five names that I didn't get last time and if I can get two or three of them then I will write another book. Some of them said yes, it was Robert Patrick that said yes and as soon as he did I was like ok I'm gonna have to do this.
I see Scott Adkins in the book we interviewed him here, and I read you struggled getting actresses for the book as there's some iconic female villains to be interviewed?
I wanted to get Grace Jones but as if shes gonna waste her time with me and people like Bridgette Nielson, I did actively try and get more actresses in this volume but it didn't pan out that way. Scott Adkins actually put himself forward and I'd met Scott at various festivals like The Fighting Spirit film festival and Comic Cons and I gave him a copy of the book and he was like "Why am i not in this?". I don't think people see you as a villain and then there's Boyka and then Ip Man 4 and Wolf Warrior and i was like yeah go on then I will do Scott Adkins, I think that mans star is ever going up.
So are there any favorite people you'd like to interview and What about a Third Book ?
I don't think there's enough people out there to do a third book but there is one name I really wished I got and I couldn't get and kept getting blocked by his people that was Clancy Brown and he is constantly working and of course hes now in John Wick 4 and star of Highlander and so many things but its just never happened.
Are you going to carry on writing or any ambitions in that field ?
Not right at the moment but the really great thing was when the first book came out there was a documentary coming out called 'In Search of The last Action Heroes' about actions films of the 80's and I approached them and I said I've spoke to alot of these people that I've interviewed that would be great for this and would you like me to come on board as a researcher. They actually invited me onboard as a co-writer and producer and sent me out to Los Angeles to do all the Interviews so i was like there meeting Al Jeong face to face and Cynthia Rothrock so i took a big box of books with me and all those people that I'd interviewed over the phone like Matthias Hues, Vernon Wells and Al Jeong I gave them a copy of the book.
Finally the Eastern Film Fans question is if you were on a desert island and could take only 3 films with you, but only three any genre, what would you take?
Singing in the Rain, as I grew up with musicals, my Mom is a big musical fan and I think Singing in the Rain always makes me happy. Where Eagles Dare, and then I feel I should choose with one of my favorite Martial Arts films so Project A.
I want to thank Timon for taking time to speak with us and you can pick up his books here https://bristolbadfilmclub.co.uk/born-to-be-bad/