How did you come up with the structure of the film? Why did you decide to make it focus on a relationship between the older Bobby and the younger Bobby?
Well, that particular relationship came out of something that Bobby Darin had said a number of times in his life. It struck me as kind of a revealing comment that then, out of that this relationship, was born in the movie. Bobby Darin said he always felt like two different people. That Waldon Robert Cassotto spent half his life trying to become Bobby Darin, and Bobby Darin spent the rest of his life trying to get back to Waldon Robert Cassotto.
I thought theres something about the way Bobby viewed Waldon Robert Cassotto. When he found out what he found out about his sister, he did move up to Big Sur, he did take off his toupee, he did give everything away, and he lived in a trailer. He went to the public library and he registered as Waldon Robert Cassotto. But I also think that he felt very lost, that Waldon Robert Cassotto didnt even exist. That he had built his life on this idea that he was Sam Cassottos son. That was his name, thats who he was, and then he invented this guy, Bobby Darin. Except what happened was, Waldon Robert Cassotto didnt exist, and this guy was nobody, and he literally for a while didnt know who the hell he was.
Its interesting that the same thing happened to Jack Nicholson, but Nicholson had a completely, entirely, different response to it. Jacks response was [doing an impression], By the time I found out I was a fully formed man and those two women did a fine job. But Bobby went off the rails, and I think it took him awhile to put it back together. Thats sort of what I try to do in the last dance sequence, is you have all of these representative Bobbys, all these dancers, and that they all become one. Finally hes sort of figured out how to put it together.
I think he was standing at the brink of a whole new revival of his career. Hed done this remarkable television show that was really his last performance that he taped. Hed done this television series called The Bobby Darin Amusement Hour, which got cancelled that year. So he knew it was the last show and he said to the network, I dont want to do what Ive been doing, because it was a Sonny and Cher kind of thing, where they had acts and skits and guest stars. Bobby said, I dont want to do that. This is the last show, I want to put my definitive nightclub act on film now. Well, they didnt want it. And in fact, they never aired it. Its an unbelievable show. Its eight months before he died, and you wouldnt know he had a hangnail. Thats how unbelievable he was. No matter how sick he was, and I know how sick he was that night, because Ive talked to Blauner about it. He had signed the biggest contract in the history of Las Vegas to play the MGM Grand, much the way that Elton John now plays where he plays, doing multiple shows, bigger than Elvis, bigger than Sinatra. I think he was just standing on this brink of something happening, but he died. But for me Bobby Darin didnt die
What would you hope Bobby Darin would say today if he saw the movie?
Boy youve got balls. Bobby wasnt a guy that looked back, so Im not sure its a movie necessarily that he would have been proud of. But it was a way in for me to try to do the movie in an unconventional way, and in a way that I thought would be more entertaining by having him direct it, sort of using the movie world. I hope hed be pleased. Hed probably have a few notes on my singing, but then he should, because hes the master. You know, Ive tried to get close to him, but nobody gets that close, not to that man.
Is that how he really took the name Darin, from that sign?
Actually there are two stories and I chose the one that I thought was the more interesting visually. Theres another story that he told at some other point, and other people have told, that he went through a phone book and went like that [not looking, pointing down]. But I like this one, which is another story he told, and that other people told. I thought it was really funny and we loved building the Mandarin sign.
Did you feel like you were running out of time because you only had so much time where you could have gotten this film made?
Oh yeah. A few more years and I would have been too old for this part.