When Meat Loaf guest stars on the April 6th episode of House, he’ll do anything for love. But he won’t…remember his co-stars’ names? Fancast spoke to the legendary crooner and actor in a press call where he gushed about his experiences on set, but couldn’t recall who he actually worked with! It’s okay, we won’t fault The Loaf! Not after this episode, where he plays a man dying of heart failure who ends up on House’s watch after his wife collapses from respiratory failure. It’s a surefire tear-jerker, and an episode that the Fox promo department is billing as “an episode beyond words.” Meat Loaf wouldn’t give too much away (isn’t that always the case?) but he did dish on some behind-the-scenes antics, the genius of Hugh Laurie, and how he beat himself up over the episode’s first scene. And if you need your music fix, read on to hear about his May 22nd appearance on Don’t Forget the Lyrics and what to expect from his next album!
Are you a House fan?
I love House. I love Hugh. I like the storylines – they’re amazing. They’re very intriguing. I love his character on the show. I haven’t done a lot of TV; I get offers and I get scripts, and then I’m not crazy over the characters, so I don’t do them. They called me up and said, “Look, House wants you to do this character.” I said, “Oh, send me the script” and they did. I was so excited and very nervous, I might add. I was very nervous because I love this show so much. If I didn’t like the show and I’d never watched it, I probably wouldn’t have been so nervous. They’re an amazing cast – the set and everything is fantastic.
And why were you so nervous?
Because it’s just a great show. I’m just that way – I get nervous every time I go onstage. I’m a nervous person.
House can be kind of mean to his patients. How did you react to that?
We never had a fight, but I was a little stern with him, I think. I remember one particular scene, the way I had intended to play it; it didn’t turn out that way. It was that I was going to get into it, and we didn’t do it that way. But I was going to get into his face more than anybody had ever seen on the show just because I wanted to be completely different.
The promos for your episode are really billing it as beyond words and the one that changes everything. What can you tell us about how your role affects the current storylines of the show?
Well, tough question. It’s a hard one to answer without giving anything away. That one’s really tough. Well, the storyline – really the whole storyline – is about redemption. My character just ties into that really well in this episode. So that’s really what the whole episode is about. That tells you nothing.
Did you work with everyone in the cast, or were there certain characters you interacted with more?
I didn’t get to work with everyone, which was a bummer just because I love the whole cast and was really excited, but I really got to work quite a bit with Hugh and with – don’t go away, I just can’t remember everybody’s names. I will in just a second. Sing along with me. I’m hoarse today because I was shooting a movie in Chicago. We wrapped the night before last, and of course the last scene was this screaming match. Of course I had to scream louder than anyone else. You know what? I can’t remember their names. Jennifer Morrison I had a scene with.
You could tell us the character names.
I’m terrible with character names. I’m terrible with that. You know what? It’s like I watch the TV shows all the time, and unless it’s Ghost Hunters I only know Jason, Grant, Steve and Tango. So I don’t know any of the characters names on the TV show, so I’m out of luck there. Just let me tell you – the cast that I worked with – and I worked with four of them – are absolutely phenomenal in that, not one time did any actor on that set walk on and didn’t know their stuff. I was amazed and I applaud them. It was a pure joy to work with those people.
When you do a show like this in which you see the multitude of ways a person can get sick and how fragile we are, does it mess with your head after you go away? Were you paranoid about germs and diseases?
It didn’t make me paranoid, but I think they’re paranoid. It was very funny – I laughed quite a bit – because on-set they have craft services. It was the first craft service that I’d ever been to where they had little spoons and little cups for everything. It’s like usually you go on and they will have tongs for certain things, but for it was for everything. It was cute. It was pretty funny. I’d walk by it and just laugh every time.
Do you envision yourself as an actor, or would you rather just play for the show if you were invited, to provide music?
I would never play for the show. I wouldn’t. I have been offered more TV shows than you’d even understand. I won’t do it. First of all, I started as an actor; I didn’t start as a musician. I was a stage actor in New York. People don’t actually realize it, but I did the Rocky Horror movie before Bat Out of Hell and people don’t get that. I did it in L.A., I did it on Broadway, I did Shakespeare in the Park for Joe Papp. I worked at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center. I did three or four Broadway’s. I can’t remember now – it was so long ago. So I started as an actor. Hopefully, my ideal situation is for people to watch House next Monday and not even know it’s me. That’s my ideal. I’ll give you an example. When I did Fight Club people would go, “Oh, what movies have you been in?” I’d go, “Fight Club,” and they’d go, “Fight Club?” They would always look at me like a dog – turn their head like, “Fight Club?” I’d go, “Yeah, Bob.” They’d go, “Oh, my god – you were Bob.”
So basically you like to immerse yourself in the character.
Yes. A lot of times musicians, they want to take a persona and they wind up turning their stage persona into a situation where they’re allowed to be a character, and I want to go so far away from that guy because I understand him. The best thing for me is for people to not know it’s me, for them to come up and go, “What’d you do?” and for me to say, “Oh, I did House.” “Oh, I saw that one.” “Oh, yeah.” That’s fantastic. I’m a worker. I love working. That’s what drives me, not the People magazine or paparazzi in L.A. Believe me; if you want paparazzi, you go to the places where they are. You’ll never find me there.
What type of research did you do to play a guy dying of heart failure?
Well, I’ll tell you – the main thing that was perplexing was okay, how to be sick without playing sick. You follow me? And they’re very good – the casting on House is very good – about getting 75% or 80% of their actors that come on that just figure it out. So that was the hardest thing because I’ve played crazy people; they’re sick – but not in the fact of being ill. It’s real easy to play sick, but to be sick is a lot harder. And I remember we were shooting one scene and when we finished it I said, “I’m glad we’re not shooting anymore of these because I swear to god, I’d die of a heart attack.” My chest was killing me.
I mean, it was hurting. I don’t know really how I got there. I will confess that I was watching Damages. You have to understand – I love Damages, I love Glenn Close. I’ve worked with her and man, oh man. Ted Danson was in a hospital bed and I had it on TiVo, so I just rolled it over and over and over again. I just kind of watched Ted Danson. Ted Danson playing sick – I went, “God, he looks really sick,” so I just studied him for a little while.
It sounds like a pretty emotional episode. Were there any scenes that were tough to get through?
Yes, the opening scene was really tough to get through. I’m still paranoid about it. I am – I’m still paranoid. I do this all the time anyway – I’d say, “Was that okay? Was that fine? Was that okay?” Driving home I was cursing myself going, “I’m a moron. Man, you could have done it this …” That’s me.
You’ve worked with some amazing actors such as Brad Pitt and Ed Norton. What was it like working with Hugh Laurie?
You know what? He walked onto that set and he has all that dialog every show, and a lot of it. And all the technical terms. I really don’t know how he did it. Every time he would walk on that set he didn’t have a script, he just went. I was in awe of him. And as we were shooting, because it shoots over a two-week period, I got to watch two episodes of House while I was shooting it. The last one that I’ve seen, because I’ve been off doing a movie now so I haven’t seen anything, he was playing piano. I knew he played piano, but they really featured him in this one playing piano. I have a song on my album that is just piano so I just wrote him a little note saying, “Here – listen. This is a demo and I’d love for you to play on it.” That’s all I was going to do. I wasn’t going to go up to him and go, “Did you hear the demo?” or any of that. The next day on the set he walked up to me and said, “Are you kidding me? Yes, I’ll play.” So I’m hoping that happens. As far as an actor, the guy’s amazing. And he’s right there. I mean, he’s very, very generous as an actor. I mean, I just found the experience amazing.
When you were not in front of the cameras, was it a really quiet set or was there lots of joking around between takes?
No, not really. It’s not like being on a Jim Carrey movie. The set, everybody’s not that serious all the time. I have to confess that I probably talk and joke around a little bit as we rehearse, but after the rehearsal and they’re getting ready to light the scene, I kind of go off on my own, so I’m pretty quiet. I don’t really know what everybody else is doing at that point in time. I don’t like going back to my trailer. I’m not that kind of actor. I don’t like that – I like to be close so I can feel it. It’s a pretty big set, so I would go find a corner where nobody was and sit on a stool, chair or on the floor even and just dig myself in. Then when the scene’s over, I’m not so method that I can’t get out of the character and come back to him. So I don’t know what everybody else is doing, to be perfectly honest. You never talk to actors before you’re ready to shoot. Everybody’s kind of into their own space and everybody leaves everybody alone.
Tell us about the new album you’re working on. What convinced you to go back to the studio and what kind of sound is it going to be?
Well, I don’t know. I have to say this, and it has a connotation, but it’s a new world now. I went into Nashville. Everybody goes, “Oh, Nashville – country,” but no. All the songwriters have moved into Nashville. All the rock writers – everybody. I work with writers. I don’t pretend to be a writer. I’ve written, but I hate everything. In fact, that’s what I would tell them down in Nashville. They’d go, “Oh, we want to write with you” and I’m saying, “No you don’t, because if you do, it’s not going to get on the album because I’ll hate it.” That held true. I’d sat down there and worked on three or four songs and they demo’d them, sent them back to me, and they’re not going to be on the record. When we get into the studio and start doing tracks and things, I will change lyrics and write lyrics. I always do that. But that’s a different thing. I just can’t stand anything that I do. When I do deal with writers, I guide them. I tell them storylines and I tell them what I need, this is where I’m going. I changed management this year and they said, “Well, we have to get the next record together,” and “Look, why don’t we get Rob Cavallo?” I said, “Okay. If you can get Rob Cavallo, then hey, fantastic.”
Any chance you’d sing anymore Jim Steinman songs, whether it’s a Bat album or something else?
Well, not right now. In fact, I’m going into the studio with Rob Cavallo – we start June 1st – who produced the big albums for Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, Alanis Morissette and David Cook from American Idol. Anyway, this guy’s really hot. I’m an old guy, and getting to be with a young, hot producer like that is exciting.
Will we recognize Meat Loaf or will it be a total game change?
You can’t help but recognize Meat Loaf because when I sing, my voice is very distinctive. You can’t get away from that. It’s like Steven Tyler sounds like Steven Tyler; Billy Joel sounds like Billy; Bon Jovi definitely sounds like Jon. So you go off in that realm. That’s what makes people interesting, when you hear them and go, “Oh, that’s Billy,” “That’s Bruce,” and, “That’s Jon.” That’s Meat.
Can you tell us about your experience on Don’t Forget the Lyrics and the charity you’re playing for?
We’re playing for Painted Turtle, which is a subsidiary of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall camps. It was put together by Lou Adler and Paige Adler. For people who don’t know who Lou Adler is, he produced the Mamas and Papas, Carole King, Cheech and Chong. He was one of the biggest. I have a long history with Lou. He was the producer of the stage version of Rocky Horror Picture Show in L.A. in 1973. Lou is really responsible for putting me in the movie of the Rocky Horror Picture Show because he was also one of the producers who did that. I have a long history of playing basketball with Lou and Jack Nicholson out in the Rainbow parking lot in the afternoon. I’ve just been friends with Lou for a long time. So I hadn’t seen him for a while, I saw him probably seven or eight years ago at a celebrity racecar driving thing, and he was there and told me about Painted Turtle. It just does great work for the kids just like Newman had always done. I try to do things for kids. I mean, there are so many charities to play for, but that particular charity is unbelievable.
And how did it go on the show?
They had asked me to do it and I said no because I just don’t do things like that. But my daughter Pearl has a band and is trying to get started. She plays and she’s working really hard. She really is a really good singer, which you’ll see on Don’t Forget the Lyrics. I mean, this child can flat sing. I wanted to help Pearl out. So they said, “Well, what if you came on with your daughter Pearl?” And I was like no, no. Finally I said, “Okay. Because it’s Pearl, I’m going to help Pearl out.” I did it for the charity and for Pearl. I didn’t do it for me, I can tell you that.