On Sunday, August 7, 2005, Donny O'Bryan of the Shock Treatment Network had a phone interview with actor Cliff DeYoung (Brad / Farley) about the experience of making the film Shock Treatment. The taped conversation lasted about 45 minutes. Below is an edited transcript of the interview. Audio clips of the conversation can be found at the very bottom of this page.
Shock Treatment Network: I really appreciate this interview, Cliff.
Cliff DeYoung: How did you get interested in Shock Treatment, Donny?
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Through Rocky Horror in 1982. The theater manager informed me of the so-called sequel, and after I begged, the guy agreed to show it. I was not impressed with my first showing, but I loved the songs. Over time, I grew to love Shock Treatment more than the film RHPS, and created a fan site devoted to it. And there are an increasing number of fans since every year.
CDY: Great, because, you know, I'm still a good friend of Barry Humphries. We see each other all the time. I just saw him in New York, in March, when I was working in there, and he was doing his Dame Edna. And he does it around the country. And he said it's really odd because some people waiting at the stage door are Shock Treatment fans and they're always asking about it and I think how odd. They're coming to the show but asking about Shock Treatment. And I said, well, I guess there's a little following out there.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Yeah, I almost flew to Chicago to see him, but ended up not going. I would have been one of those fans at the stage door. (laughing)
CDY: I'm sure he'd love to talk to you. You might check out his website.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I most likely will. Now, I've got several questions about the making of Shock Treatment, and some questions about you, personally. Are you ready?
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I've heard that Shock Treatment took 5 weeks to film. Is that how you remember it?
CDY: That was it, five weeks. We were in London and that was the length of the trip.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: How did you get involved with it?
CDY: Well, it was a funny thing. In '74, or '73 or something, I had to come back to New York to do this series, "Sunshine" based on the TV-movie Sunshine. And they were going to do this series about the guy raising his kid. And we did about 26 of those. I think it lasted, like, a year. And as we were shooting, Jim Sharmon came to town. I had worked with him in New York in an off-Broadway play called "The Trials of Oz" about this magazine in Australia that was kind of obscene and stuff, and they put it on trial for obscenity, so...and it was a musical. That lasted about 4 weeks. But I'd worked with Jim Sharmon. We had a good time together. So when he came into town and he was casting the Rocky Horror Picture Show, he wanted me to play Brad. And I said, sorry bro. I got a series, ya know, and it's working, and I can't go anywhere. And he went, okay, and he went on to make the great Rocky Horror Picture Show. Then, when it was time to do Shock Treatment, he came to town and said, "Okay, now play Brad in this one" and I said, "Okay. Now I'm available and we'll go do it." But, at that time, you see, we were going to shoot it in Texas.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I'd heard that. Denton, Texas.
CDY: And there was this actor's strike or something like that.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Writers strike...
CDY: And then suddenly everything was on hold. And then Michael White, the producer, or somebody said, "Well, let's just do it all on the stage, at Wimbley, and just do it that way." So we said, okay, let's go do it. So we went over and had a great time doing it. I think, Jessica and I were the Americans. Wendy Raebeck and Manning Redwood were Americans living there, but Jessica and I had to be flown in.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Did you know that Tim Curry had been asked to be Brad and Farley?
CDY: No, no I did not kow that.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: But he turned it down because he couldn't do an American accent.
CDY: Yeah, well, I never knew that. That's very interesting. And from my point of view, it always needed the Frank N Furter character. Somebody really wild and freaky and out there. I mean, I guess Richard's character was pretty out there. But, I liked it. I liked all those characters.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: So you didn't have to go through an audition process.
CDY: No. Well, I had to sing a couple songs and he had to send them over so the English guys could know that I could sing. That was the only problem. Because Jim was pretty straight on, and they already knew about me so they said okay.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: They sent you a tape of background music?
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Did you keep it?
CDY: No, that was a long time ago. I can't remember. I was just happy they were doing it. 'Cause I had missed out on that Rocky Horror Picture Show. In fact, I saw The Rocky Horror Show on stage in Hollywood. You know, the stage play. At that time, I didn't know what it was going to be, but it was so wild and the music was so cool. But the more I think about it: I worked with Susan Sarandon in "The Hunger" and I said, "Damn, man, I wanted to play that with you." and she said "Really? It was a drag. We stood around in our underwear for 4 weeks. And everyone else got the fun stuff to do and Barry Bostwick and I stood around in our underwear, feeling really stupid while everybody else had these cool songs and these great numbers." And I said "Oh..."
theshocktreatmentnetwork: And thanks to "The Hunger", Brad and Janet are together again, in a manner of speaking.
CDY: Right! A little reunion.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Susan Sarandan was originally asked to be Janet in Shock Treatment, but she wanted too much money so they had to pass on her. But I very much enjoy Jessica Harper.
CDY: Oh yeah, Susan's career had taken off by then. She was going places. And...Jessica Harper is great. I worked with her in "Hair" and we were always good friends and I always like her, you know? She was very understated as an actress. She was really beautiful. She had a great voice. And she's really sexy. You know, she was wonderful in that part. And it was great because Richard O'Brien kind of focused the whole thing around her and her journey through whatever she was going through. And it was great stuff. Well, I guess "stardom" was the idea. Janet was going to be a star.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Did you get to keep any of the costumes or props from the film?
CDY: I don't know. I think I kept the black shirt and tie of Farley's.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Was it difficult to play dual roles?
CDY: Well, it was fun. We did "Duel Duet" really fast on a Saturday. I had performed it with Richard Hartley, the music guy...we had recorded it already. And I said, "What voice am I going to do with the two guys?" I was like, I could do this, and Farley can do this. Farley is mean and over agressive and you know, really hard-ass, rock-n-roller and the Brad can just be kind of melodic and sincere and (mock singing) "You're a looooserrrr...." And so we kind of messed with it because we recorded the stuff before we started shooting...so we didn't know exactly how it was going to be shot. But then, Jim Sharmon was there. You know, we shot it. It was fun and all. It was just balls out and go for it. The fun thing about making Shock Treatment was there wasn't a lot of thinking that went on in the characters or the stuff. You just kind of...said action...and went crazy. It was fun.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Did you like playing Brad or Farley better?
CDY: Well Farley wasn't in it very much. Farley, every once in a while, would come around a do his thing, you know: twitched his eyes. So it was a nice contract. I enjoyed playing both of them. You know, I kept trying to make Farley weirder. I wanted the Farley to be, you know, Tim Curry. Frank N Furter. In tights and boustier and I wanted him to drop his pants and have garter belts. I wanted to get weird with Brad's character. But Richard kept saying "no no no, you're an American. Just do the American and don't try to do that." So I say, yeah, okay.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Do you remember anything specific about the filming to share with us, like bloopers, practical jokes?
CDY: Well, it was always fun. We were always laughing and my wife Gypsi came to the set. I'll send you this picture of Richard O'Brien and myself as Farley, and Gypsi, my wife. And I brought my mother. My mother was on the set going "What the hell are these guys doing?" But mostly it was ... Barry Humphries, we'd began a great friendship at that time. And I just remember, as Farley, giving this speech, and "here's the new star" and "this great face" [referring to Janet during faith factory speech] and I kept turning around and Barry's behind me making little twitches and looking up at the big picture and I said "Barry, what are you doing?" And he said, "Oh nothing, nothing" so I said, "Well...don't do that". So I couldn't get away from Barry trying to upstage me back there. And Richard was always great. Whenever you couldn't figure out what was happening, you'd just look at Richard O'Brien in this nutty guy with glasses and you'd say, "oh yeah, now I get it. That's what we're doing. We're doing wacky, out there stuff." You see, a lot of those guys had done Rocky Horror. They kind of knew what the style was. As we kept going, moving along, we pretty much got it together.
[Note: It is interesting to see Farley's name tag reading "Cliff"]
theshocktreatmentnetwork: So a lot of friendships were started there. A lot of bonding.
CDY: Oh yeah, it was fun. We had a lot of Sunday lunches together, and parties at Richard's, and over here, and over there. We took my mother to a Sunday lunch with almost the whole cast. You know they took care of us. It was like, "Jessica and Cliff are in our country. Let's make them feel at home." And it's always that way.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Have you seen anybody since then?
CDY: I've seen Barry mostly. Whenever I go to London, I contact Richard O'Brien. I haven't spoken to Jessica in ten years or so. But we're in the same town and she's been doing her music for children that's been pretty successful. I read your interview with her. It was good. And she was in that Speilberg movie, which was cool. Minority Report. She is great. A lovely girl. And Charles Gray was an interesting guy. We went out. You know, he was kind of a drinker, so occasionally we would have drinks. And that was very shocking to me, coming from an American experience. These guys would go to a pub at lunch then go back to work. Boy, you'd get killed in America if you did that. But you know, that's just their thing. And I was just fascinated because Charles was this old, classical actor guy, just doing this wacky stuff and loving it.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: It's a shame that we lost him.
CDY: God bless him, really.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: And recently we lost Imogen Claire.
CDY: She played the wardrobe lady.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: And we also lost Rufus Collins.
CDY: (surprised) Really? I remember him well. Well God bless him. I remember he was a great guy. Kind of a musician too. There was a hair guy, named Mike Lockey, who would come around and mess with our hair, and [Rufus] had corn rolls or he had dread locks. And Lockey would try to go up to him and touch him and he'd say "Don't touch my hair, man." He'd say, "Well, it's my job." "No, don't touch my hair." "But it's my job." "If you touch my hair, you won't have a job anymore." But Lockey kept trying. And Rufus would go, "Don't touch my hair." Okay, I think we finally figured out that we weren't supposed to touch his hair.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: You seldom get to hear about the crew on the set. The real crew, that is. Versus Neely's crew.
CDY: There was a series of mine shown in London at the time, and it also had Glenn Ford. And in the London Times, it said, you know, it's a common murder mystery and it has Glenn Ford, and "some guy named Cliff DeYoung". So Richard, Barry, and some of the other guys--we had our dressingrooms, you know: Cliff DeYoung, Jessica, Richard Hartley... So then, the next day, when I came to work, I saw that -above my name on the door, there was a sign that said "Some Guy Named" and then it was Cliff DeYoung. And so for the last 3 weeks of shooting, there was a sign on my dressing room doing saying "Some Guy named Cliff DeYoung".
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Sounds like everyone had a fun time.
CDY: I liked the young band guys. They were always cool, 'cause I had been in a band called Clear Light. I just did an interview on the Clear Light official website. You should check it out.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I will. Thanks for pointing that out for me. Can you tell me a little bit about your musical career?
CDY: I did a solo album. It was fun. We were all singing and dancing. I did the Sunshine soundtrack around the same time. And when we were in London, doing Shock Treatment--I think it was Shock Treatment... We went to London about 4 years in a role doing The Hunger, and Shock Treatment, and Master of the Game, and the other things... and one time I was there was when John Lennon got killed in New York, and we all got all sad and freaked out about that. I think it was December. (reflective pause before returning to the subject of Shock Treatment) But mostly we were in the studio and we were doing it, and we were having fun. I wasn't thinking about the consequences, you know "were we going to make it" or "what are we doing". We were just thinkin' 'bout having a good time, bringing friends over, making friends, and having lunch.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Did you ever get the opportunity to see Shock Treatment in the theater?
CDY: I did. I went to a midnight showing in New York. And there were a lot of people there. And I went here [California] with my brother and he was very impressed because a guy recognized me and he let us in for free. So I did see it a couple times. It didn't last very long on it's first run and then it went to midnight showings. I'm surprised you haven't interviewed Richard yet.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I hope to eventually. He's a very busy man.
CDY: Yeah, he was in New York doing a play last time he wrote to me. ...and Michael White was the producer, and he would have parties and we would meet some of the Pythons, and some of the, you know, aristocrat types. It was a really fun time. Michael Palin, I think. We had a lovely time with him once at Michael White's house.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Did you get to interact with audience members from the film?
CDY: Well, yeah, I talked to them a lot. And they were very shocked that I was talking to them because there were all these kind of English things that you weren't supposed to do, ya know. I mean, all the crew guys called me "governor." I thought, geez, I don't know who the governor of California is, but it ain't me. My name's Cliff. Don't call me governor. They'd say "Okay, Gov." And then after a while, you get to know them and understand that that's just the way that they are. And also, the extras were surprised. Jessica is a very friendly and sweet person and she was always talking to them. And they were shocked that we were talking to them. They didn't quite know how to react. But a couple of them were in the RSC, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and they were very interesting folk. I found them pretty damned interesting.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: There's a book called From Concept To Cult which mentions that some of the audience members were connected to Rocky Horror in some way or another. Some transylvanians from the film, an actor or so from the stage play, etc.
CDY: Really? They were part of our audience? Wow, I didn't know that! You know, whenever I heard the Rocky Horror connection to the film, I was always a little spooked. You know, because we were doing some sort of sequel. But it wasn't a sequel. It was just another movie. We knew that people wanted a sequel and wanted Tim Curry and all those wacky folks. But then it was just us doing this whole other movie. A whole other style. So whenever I heard about the Rocky Horror connection, I went, uh-oh, let's not go there. You know, let's just do this and have fun. And when I see it now, the energy in it is just so amazing. Everybody was just so up and on. And Barry Humphries is very funny. Very funny! Just pretty wacky. You know, I like the characters [we played]. So I just got spooked when anybody mentioned Rocky Horror. I mean, we weren't doing that. And if we were supposed to be, then we were doing the wrong thing.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Yeah, the characters are very original. I particularly like your Farley, and all of his energy. How did you develop that personality.
CDY: Jim Sharmon is a sweet guy, he's a low key guy. [mock impersonation of Jim Sharmon, directing Cliff for Farley Flavors] "You know, in this scene, I would hope, if you wouldn't mind...I would like, if you would be so kind to open the door, and come in, and do something insane." And I'd say, "Sure Jim." He was so, kind of, gentle like, in his direction. Jim Sharmon was very endearing. He is a kind of straight-laced, soft spoken kind of guy who was mad as a hatter! A great Austrailian trait, I always loved that about him.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Who else stands out in your memory?
CDY: Well, I loved that guy that was in the Young Ones, Rik Mayall. He was very funny. He was cool, too, but he was not in it enough, because nobody knew about him then. He kept saying, you know, "Bring your wife, Gypsi, and Jessica [to see me]" at the comedy strip, or something like that. And we'd go see Rik Mayall do stand up, and he's really very funny!
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Do you remember Manning Redwood?
CDY: He played Janet's father.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I understand he's in a nursing home, these days.
CDY: Well, God bless him. A lot happens after 25 years.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: And then there was Sinitta Renet, who goes by Sinitta now. She's recorded a few hits here and there.
CDY: Yes, wonderful young girl.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: She's got a great singing voice...and you do too!
CDY: Thank you.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I have the soundtrack to the film "Sunshine" where you sing most of the tracks.
CDY: It went gold in Australia. I got my gold record in the house. It was, at the time, the only album they released for a TV movie. And then I did that solo album.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Sunshine was a great movie. My favorite Cliff DeYoung film has got to be "The Awakening of Candra".
CDY: You have that? It's a scary film.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Yes, I own it on video. You were very creepy in that.
CDY: It scared the shit out of me. I was in a movie called Independence Day. If you find it, that's even creepier. It's the reason I stopped doing films like that. A friend of mine, Bob Mandell. I'd done about seven things with Robert Mandell, the director. He's a friend of mine, we'd hang out together, with families or friends. The first thing I did with him was Independence Day, with Dianne Wiest, David Keith and Kathleen Quinlan. It was about a wife beater. You know, beating up the wife. I almost ended up in the looney bin. I can never do that kind of stuff again.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Yes, I noticed you started doing more family features, or more straight-laced roles. Like the father character.
CDY: Well, that's what you do. When you're a certain age, you start playin' dads. And that's okay. 'Cause I'm a father. I have a daughter who's seventeen now, Manzi. My wife, Gypsi, was in London through the whole Shock Treatment thing, because she wouldn't have missed the fun. But yeah, when you're a certain age, you play the dad, or when you're the star of a series, you play the star. Or if you're a guest star, you play the killer.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I thought you were great in the more recent DVD release of "Love's Enduring Promise."
CDY: Oh yes, the Hallmark movie.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: It was very moving. It actually brought a little tear to my eyes.
CDY: (in a mock Irish accent?) - "It did bring a little tear to the eye." As do all my good stuff. But I'm in another movie coming out this summer called "Stone and Ed" and then another film called "The Hunt". I'm going to do some looping on the Hunt on this Thursday, and I'm doing a little guest star on a series called "The Threshold" this week. It's coming out this September, it's kind of "X-Files", aliens are among us.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Sounds good. Another thing to add to your long resume. Which reminds me. Do you collect any Cliff DeYoung memorabilia?
CDY: I'm not nostalgic about that stuff. I don't collect anything, really. I have a collection in a bookcase in my office, which, when I'm not working enough, I look at and say to myself, "See, I have done something!" And it kind of inspires me. But it's the only thing I have and it does what it's supposed to do: remind me that I've done work in my life.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Which directors or actors come to mind that you really enjoyed working with?
CDY: John Frankenheimer, who I did Andersonville with, a TV movie about the prisoner of war camp in the south, with my friend Fred Forrest. I did three with Frankenheimer, who just passed away 2 years ago. God rest his soul. My friend Robert Mandell, who I did Independence Day and The Substitute. He's a wonderful director. And, there are so many. I had a good time. Oh, and Glory was a fun movie to make. I enjoyed that immensely.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: What have you been up to lately other than filmwork?
CDY: I've been doing a lot of theater lately, and have recieved some theater awards. I've been doing my one-man Beckett: Cliff DeYoung in the works of Samual Beckett. I'll take that on the road next year as the centenial of Samual Beckett's birth. I've been doing it in L.A. over the past couple of years. And now I'm making dates around the country to do it. It's an anthology. Bits of his plays, his storys, his novels, his poems. I got the rights to do it, and it took me about 2 years to put it together and memorize it. I've been doing it around town to great acclaim. So I've got that in my back pocket. A lot of theater is interesting. It's how I started out, it's what I love to do. It's a good thing.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule.
CDY: Yes, and I'll send you some pictures for your site. After your first call to me, my wife Gypsi and I went through some photos and found 5 or 6 cool pictures of us together on the set. Looking wacky, smiling at the camera.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I'm working on some more interviews soon, like Ruby Wax.
CDY: Ruby Wax. What a funny girl. She was a scream, I love that girl. But this was fun. It's a great site, The Shock Treatment Network. Congratulations. You should be very proud of all that stuff, and I'm very happy to know that people are interested. It's a surprise and a delight.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I appreciate it. Thank you, Cliff.
BELOW ARE SAMPLE CLIPS, AS MP3s, OF THE INTERVIEW. THEY HAVE BEEN EDITED FOR CLARITY.
This Clip is where Cliff talks about Shock Treatment fans who have approached fellow actor Barry Humphries.
This Clip is where Cliff talks about how he came to portray Brad Majors.
This Clip is where Cliff talks about his conversation with actress Susan Sarandon on the set of The Hunger.
This Clip is where Cliff talks about how his good friend Barry Humphries tried to upstage him during the Faith Factory Speech. Of course, it was all in fun.