Minnie Driver The Exclaim! Questionnaire

Minnie Driver The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Minnie Driver - who created memorable characters in Grosse Point Blank and Good Will Hunting and is doing her career-best work in Showtime series The Riches - isn’t the newcomer to music that you might think. Sure, fame got her to the table - she just released her second album of smooth folk pop, Seastories - but that’s just the public eye stuff. She received a co-writing credit for a song on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack in 1997 and performed a song on the GoldenEye soundtrack two years earlier, before appearing in the big screen Phantom of the Opera. "I’m not going to go head-to-head with anyone who thinks it’s not appropriate for actors to sing,” she says level-headedly. "I’d rather just keep making records and let them continue to be judgmental.” The 37-year-old Brit seems to be living the good life, whether it’s riding the acclaim for The Riches (she just received an Emmy nomination) or riding the waves - she’s an enthusiastic surfer. "I’ve never acted when I’ve written the script,” she says by way of comparison. "I sing what I write, so there’s nothing between the truth and me. They’re both play time for me, but you’re getting the undiluted version of me when I sing.”

I’d like to do our Questionnaire – it’s a series of pre-set questions, based on the Proust questionnaire.
Ooh, I love stuff like that! Will I be graded accordingly?

Yes, absolutely.

What are you up to?
My second record just came out, and I’m about to go on tour. And we start the new season of The Riches on October 1.

So this has been your summer vacation.
Yes, my summer vacation has been releasing and promoting my record. I’ve gotten to surf a lot and hang out with my boyfriend, so it’s been fun.

Did you say surf?
Yeah, I live in Malibu and summer’s when you get the good swells on my little beach.

Have you been a surfer for a long time?
About six years.

What are your current fixations?
My particular fixations right now are anusara yoga, which has been that way for a long time – I practice that pretty incessantly – and surfing and playing music. Those are my three major preoccupations.

Why do you live in Malibu?
To surf. I bought my house right on the break that I surf. I found it through absolute sheer intention - I live in a trailer park in Malibu and it’s heaven. It’s the last affordable living in Malibu, meaning that actual normal people can live there.

Can you name something you consider a mind-altering work of art?
Oh, wow. If you see the entire Monet series of water lilies sequentially and in consecutive rooms - and with no people around - it will blow your mind. I went very late at night to the Royal Academy in London and I saw all of them together, uninterrupted, and it was a mind-altering experience, for sure. Seeing them consecutively had a whole lot to do with it.

What’s been your most memorable or inspirational gig?
I played an acoustic show with E from Eels, Billy Corgan and Pete Townsend, and Pete Townsend chose one of my songs to play with me on. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life – there he was, playing 12-string on this little song I’d written, and his gorgeous girlfriend was playing piano and they sang harmonies. It was a dream!

What have been your career highs and lows?
I’ve got to say, it sounds really planned, but The Riches really is the high point of my career. I’ve had some amazing roles and made some really great movies – which is rare, I know, to even make one great movie in your lifetime is astonishing – but she is this expanding, amazing springboard of a character. I couldn’t have designed it any better. To be able to do this every week, have a regular job that’s almost a 9 to 5 job – it’s more of a regular gig. The low point of my career was a film called Hard Rain. [1998, Directed by Mikael Salomon, starring Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater.] Anyone who worked on it would also agree it was the low point of their career – the crew, actors – it was just grisly. 20 million gallons of water, sometimes heated sometimes not, fungal infections abounding, people breaking limbs and bad attitudes all around. It was filthy, gross, awful. The film’s not bad. The experience of making it was sublimely revolting. Everyone was wet, it was very uncomfortable for shooting – the people were really nice, but you put anything in water for that amount of time and you can’t help but be a bit miserable.

What the meanest thing that anyone’s ever said to you, before, during or after a gig.
One of the meanest things was right before I went on, there was this amazing acoustic act on before me and my band, and this roadie says "better you than me” and sort of patted me on the shoulder. The other one was another roadie at a venue in Utah said "they hate folk music.” Another good one was opening for R.E.M. and Chris Martin – this big event in London – and they kept the house lights up when me and my band went out. It was just awful. It was when we were just starting, so no one really knew that I was singing, and you could see all these people looking at me, drinking beer, sticking their tongues out, jeering "go back to Hollywood!” There’s something about it being in the dark that you can somehow manage it a bit more, but when you’re staring directly at them like you were at a bus stop and they’re yelling "fuck off back to Hollywood!” It was just awful.

What should everyone shut up about?
What? To do with themselves or to do with me? People should shut up talking about stuff period and just do it. They should stop banging on about the changes that should be made to the world and, as Gandhi said, "be the change.”

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I like my passion and generosity and I dislike my impatience and my incredibly unruly hair. If you could see it now, you’d be laughing even harder.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
To fly. And to be able to put out fires over a large area.

What advice should you have taken but did not?
Oh god, how long have we got? I should have left a manager I had literally ten years before I did. My dad met him once and said "get rid of him” and I didn’t. That had extraordinary business reverberations in my career. But I’m pretty good at following advice, generally.

First LP, cassette, CD or eight-track you bought with your own money?
The first single I ever bought was "Long-Haired Lover From Liverpool” by Little Jimmy Osmond, and the first album I bought was Parallel Lines [by Blondie].

What was your most memorable day job?
My most memorable day job was collecting eggs from the farm next door to us, and milking a cow.

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
Yikes! My boyfriend. And music. Music and my man.

What’s been your strangest celebrity encounter?
You know, Bruce Willis really did nearly kill me on the waves one time. He took off on a wave and landed on my head and that was pretty weird. I was mad at him - he was completely in the wrong - and I was ready to yell at him and so were all my friends on the beach, and then it was him. I was so unnerved by his bald head and his big smile - it was very weird. I let him off with a warning.

What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
She wishes I was doing everything I am doing, except in London and preferably living next door to her. We had that exact conversation a couple of days ago.

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"Here Comes The Sun.” For sure.

Was there any trepidation, knowing that actors haven’t been treated well by the music industry, in putting out this record?
I went through that the first time – I really did, I went through that with the first record and keeping on doing it is the only way to silence any kind of criticism. I’m not going to go head-to-head with anyone who thinks it’s not appropriate for actors to sing. I’d rather keep making records and let them continue to be judgmental while I just enjoy it.

What do you think the fundamental differences are, in terms of craft, between acting and performing as a musician?
I’ve never acted when I’ve written the script, but I imagine that would be more like music. It’s one layer less between you and it when you sing. I sing what I write, so there’s nothing between the truth and me, and when I act there is. I love it – they’re both play time for me – but you’re getting the undiluted version of me when I sing.

Do you tend to write autobiographically?
I write autobiographically. I write character songs sometimes, but I write autobiographically.