Clifton Collins Jr. a Los Angeles born, fourth generation Hollywood entertainer; also the grandson of actor Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez. Clifton is known for appearing in movies such as Traffic, Capote, Pacific Rim, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, and voiced the fictional video game character Cesar Vialpando in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Clifton is in the movie TRIPLE 9 released FEB 2016.
Actor, Director Clifton Collins Jr. sits down with Theresa Longo to talk about the release of Prison Ramen, Co-Authored by
Prison Ramen can be purchased online or where books are sold.
1. Theresa Longo – “Clifton your range of projects include movies, television, directing music videos … and now author. You co-authored a new book “Prison Ramen” – Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars along with childhood friend Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez. The book is, among many things, a fascinating insight into life behind bars, including a few emotionally heavy stories. Tell us about a memorable moment during the creation of this the book & What did you take away from this inspiring project?”
Clifton Collins Jr – “It’s heavy. It exposed me and broadened my views on compassion. For starters, how awesome and kind hearted all my friends are, showing up for myself, and Homeboy Industries is a very humbling experience to say the least ! But the take away is something that keeps evolving, this isn’t the kind of project that one walks away from, but rather something that one grows with. Prison Ramen has spawned a lot of healing and some beautiful spin off collaborations with both myself, Goose, and MANDOWN’s badass thespian writer Adam Simone ! There is a very special project in the works that you’ll be hearing about very soon !
Goose and I stayed friends throughout his incarceration. I developed a deeper sense of empathy and compassion. [Making Prison Ramen] reminded me of the things that could have happened to me if I had taken a wrong turn or taken a bullet. I could not be here maybe 7 or 8 different times.
2. TL- “What are you reading right now?”
(Clifton holds up a book for me to take a look at …)
C.C.Jr- “On Kindness” Adam Phillips, Barbara Taylor … I’m also re-reading Father Greg Boyles “TATOOS ON THE HEART”
3. TL – “Fans know you for your versatility and ability to transform for any role. What role(s) has/have had a significant impact on you – (emotionally, physically)?
C.C Jr. – “For starters “187” because of the subject matter and working across from someone as great as Samuel L. When you have somebody like him working opposite you, one either rises or falls, and I wasn’t about to fall, even in the light of my fathers suicide I wasn’t going to let anything shake my focus. So now we have both a work challenge and a life challenge, and they’re both coming at you full force! That will open you up proper; a lot to reflect on and a hell of a lot to feel…. As a result of doing 187 I gained a deeper understanding and a sense of empathy for that role. the old adage, don’t judge someone ’til you’ve walked a mile in his shoes ?…. It is important to understand where that character is coming from. Nobody is born bad or evil…these kids just need to feel that there is hope, a future. ”
TL- “That’s powerful…”
4. TL – ” and…You are in Super Troopers 2. It’s in Theatres 2016 …what’s up!”
C.C.Jr – “Yea …It was a pleasure to work with Broken Lizard, the entire group, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske and it brought me back to the whole …. Adam Duritz movie “Freeloaders“. I wear many pairs of shoes…”
5. TL “Arguably your own life plays like that of a Hollywood movie. In the story of your life, what character do you see yourself as? You have once referred to yourself as a “big kid” ” 🙂
C.C.Jr-” I am a big kid – but I’ve seen and experienced too many dark things … maybe a “Big In The Hood” that would be more me. “
6. TL – “Despite these hard-knocks experiences, you love to make people laugh; You can be quite comedic at times, making friends laugh until they cry! So… Who makes you laugh until it hurts? “
C.C.Jr- “My grandpa. He still makes me laugh. There will be times when I wake up or be driving somewhere, suddenly Pedro’s loving voice enters my head and I hear his teachings/thoughts/gripes and start laughing. He had a funny way of looking at things, that would simply add humor to the day.
I think it’s his way of getting my attention. I think when jokes resonate long after they’ve passed (he’s been gone 10 years now,) to laugh about a joke or hear family tell a joke that he’d do -“
7. TL – “The movie “Triple 9“ directed by John Hillcoat has an all-star cast, you are in this film along side Kate Winslet, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck. It’s about crooks and corrupt cops who plot to kill a police officer who stands in the way of a big heist. A “triple 9, 9-9-9 is what the cops call when they are in trouble… this sounds like a seriously badass movie, Triple 9 is in theatres now? … “
C.C.Jr – “yup, it’s out now! “
TL- “You managed to film a music video in between scenes on the set of Triple 9 for a band “Avenue of the Giants” with their song “FTW” For the Win. They went on to win Rock Band of the Year after the video was filmed. You have an outstanding eye and ear for talent, AOTG won “Rock Band of the Year at 2015 GA Music Awards” and the video you directed for Zac Brown Band’s Chicken fried won big at CMT music awards, do you hone your eye for talent with practice and/or persistence? “
C.C.Jr – “I honestly just gravitate to things that move and inspire me, I start there. You have to remember if your going to be directing a music video than you better be ready to listen to that song like 10,000x’s.
For me, maybe its not perfection, but one certainly hopes for some kind of progress, and art seems to be a constant work in progress, one never really stops “crafting”. I’d like to think the musicians I work with are talented, but it’s just my opinion, and I’m just one dude. Getting the videos to a place where Im creatively fulfilled takes determination and a passion for the song/band, and in my particular case, they’ve all been my personal friends, so I’m invested on a super personal level as well.
Even at the actual CMA ceremony, June 16 (my birthday), I remember Zac and his wife Shelly giving me the old ‘Don’t be sad if we don’t win for Chicken Fried‘ Cliff … “. You’ll even see Zac in a regular t shirt and jeans that night. In my mind, we are already being recognized, it was my birthday, we were together in Nashville – in my mind we had already won – we were all winners.
Likewise with the book we have had amazing reviews for the first book out of the gate. I never expected to get this kind of fanfare exposure, Zac Brown Band’s Chicken Fried was my first professional video, and “For the Win” Avenue of the Giants – they played a nice song and I vibe the spirit of it and ran with that.”
TL – “It appears your success is compounded by your solid and positive intentions with which you enter all projects…”
8. TL- “Fans will see you on the HBO series Westworld …Your character on Westworld wears authentic pieces of wardrobe yes? Did you draw inspiration from or incorporate grandfather Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (best known for his appearances in John Wayne movies,)?
C.C.Jr – ” Yes the wardrobe on Westworld is high end, made by the top wardrobe designers that creative Hollywood can find; upper echelon. One of the cool things I love is I get to wear one of my grandpas gun belts. The gun belt the last thing they put on you…it’s like the prop master put on my gun belt and I felt like Clark Kent taking off my glasses. It’s something kind of magical!”
TL – “I like that. In essence, your Grandpa Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez is with you every step of the way…”
C.C.Jr – “I believe that.”
9. TL- “Being a fashion and entertainment blog, your sense of style does not go unnoticed Clifton! #TwitterforFashionistas is about personal expression. We must ask if you have a “Fashion Philosophy?”
C.C.Jr – “I am such a simple man in that respect. I am such a 501 dickies guy, I like working man clothes, gangster clothes, I’ve worn them both for both reasons! (Laughs). I used to have size 48 Ben Davis’ fashion sense (laughs). Depending on role I am playing, and depending how deep I go into it, will definitely reflect in my day to day work. “
10. What is next for Clifton Collins Jr.?
C.C.Jr – “I’m presently writing a prison drama with the co-author of cook book PRISON RAMEN’S Gustavo Alvarez, and badass writer of MANDOWN ADAM SIMON. With USA owning 25% of the planets incarcerated humans , it’s a subject matter that is very dear to me in a painful way, and cinema is a great forum to discuss social injustices. Goose pitched the idea way back when I was doing Capote. This will be something for me to direct, wrapping it up this week and getting it out to cast. Also focusing on pushing PRISON RAMEN, pushing “Homeboy Industries”. Some things are so big, I can’t even say … they are bigger than I ever imagined, and we are going to be helping a lot of down and out people. I believe thats one of the biggest blessing of gaining any kind of attention in this biz, is being able to help others. “
TL- “Thanks Cliffy! You rock. Thank you for taking the time to talk. Congratulations on your exciting new book Prison Ramen.“
C.C.Jr – “Thanks Theresa”