Bill Sage is a chameleon. He disappears into roles. Bill Sage plays a gunslinging outlaw in Aaron B. Koontz’s new film, The Pale Door. Bill Sage talks about his character Dodd, gunslinging, mutual love of dogs, creating a character and working with Edie Falco again in a Hal Harley movie. Bill is one of the most versatile actors and a fascinating human in this wild world. He has quite the resume with everything from Sex and the City, Flirt, American Psycho, Glitter, Tennessee, Precious, Law & Order, Handsome Harry, Nurse Jackie, Hal and Leonard, Welcome to Willits, Orange is the New Black, Delinquent, Power, The Dinner Party. He will also be in the upcoming film Wrong Turn: The Foundation. Check out the interview and make sure to watch The Pale Door.
Hi Bill, how are you?
Bill- Good, Janel. How are you?
The Pale Door was excellent.
Tell me about The Pale Door and how you got involved. I’ve seen so many of the films you have done. The Dinner Party, We Are What We Are, Nurse Jackie. You disappear into these characters.
Bill- Yeah, we’re working together again, Edie and I doing a film with Hal Hartley.
I’m excited for that. Tell us about The Pale Door and how did you get involved and why did you decide to play Dodd in The Pale Door?
Bill- I worked with Joe Lansdale before and I’m friends with Keith and Keith Lansdale reached out. He took the script and authenticated a lot of things that needed to be done. These guys are well versed in making believable certain things from that world. Keith is great and he brought me to it. When I read the script, I was quite blown away. It’s something that I like, when something seems to be one thing but there’s another thing going on. I loved that with We Are What We Are, that was a very different film. The thing is, you’ve got the protagonists, this group of Outlaws that are very smart then you have these witches and they have their reasons. At another time they have been at another time brutally oppressed and burned. They’ve been through a lot and they are pissed. These guys have wandered into the wrong brothel. I thought wow, holy shit, how come nobody thought of this before. I’m drawn to flawed protagonist and antagonist that have their reasons. This was right up my alley. Plus, he’s a gunslinger and he’s the best at it. He’s a loner and at the same time his journey is… he has a good arc. He seems like he doesn’t give a shit. It’s that classic thing, you know whether it’s Rick in Casablanca. He doesn’t something for the greater good. He has a heart of gold in the end.
There is a method to his madness as they say. What can you say about becoming a gunslinger?
Bill- I knew I’d have to get good at gunslinging. I didn’t know how quick I would pick that up but luckily, I did. Stan Shaw said, “if you want to really watch somebody, watch Sammi Davis Jr. and that’s it.” I never even got close, he’s like the greatest gunslinger ever. I promised the prop guys that I wouldn’t damage the gun and they let me bring it home to my room and I didn’t drop it. I practiced it over the bed till I started getting good because it flies out of your hand at first. You don’t want to damage it, they’re expensive. I just kept at it and there was a learning curve and I had to get it down quick enough to where, during the first week of shooting I had to do the train robbery and I wanted to get a double spin in there. It drives me crazy, it drives me nuts when… you see it all the time if you look for it, you’ll see somebody look down at their holster and you see them put the gun in there. I had to do a double spin, get it out there and at the same time spin it and get it back in there. I got lucky on the first take. Then after that I just kept getting better.
What was it like working with everyone?
Bill- It was a load of fun. It was great, you go on location and you luck out with certain actors. Stan and I still close. Pat Healy and Jack and Noah. It was great. They are terrific. Melora, I had worked with before. That was another thing, knowing that she was doing the movie. It was the right choice, we’re on the same page with this. If he wants to at first, present these women as the antagonist and I read it and I thought that they’re our protagonist without spoiling anything for anyone. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it was just, okay, these are Outlaw Cowboys, and these are bad witches.
It was tricky. It’s a great twist.
Bill- Yes, it should be. That’s good. It’ll be a nice little litmus test who picks up on it and who doesn’t.
Where was the movie shot? It feels authentic when you watch it.
Bill- Yes, we we’re just outside of Oklahoma City. It was very rural, and you get those unmistakable skylines and they look like paintings. Some of the cloud formations and we dealt with a lot of extreme weather. We had tornadoes, early on we had a tornado hit where we all had to switch hotels. The tornado blew in all this water sideways and it came through the air conditioning and our floors were soaked. IT all worked out and there were beautiful lightning storms.
(My Bella Luna Roma, my lab starts barking and Bill Sage has dogs. I think Bella wanted to say Hi to Bill’s dogs.)
Bill- Oh, you have dogs too!
Yes, that’s my Bella Luna Roma, she my Black Lab. I love her.
Bill- Awwweee, that’s my kind of dog. Yeah, I have two.
I saw your dogs on Instagram, they are awesome. I think dogs are part of our souls.
What was it like working with Aaron?
Bill- Oh man, he’s seamless. It’s so easy. He’s a kid, he’s a very smart kid. He is fun loving, and he carries with him a wonder and a confidence. He really stepped into the role of director and he’s great at it. He is so enthusiastic. He will say, “I love him, he’s a badass, make him more of badass.”
What was it like working with this cast and what was it like bringing these characters to life? All of you did such a great job.
Bill- Well, we all hung out. We just got lucky; we were like the Rat Pack. It was a great group. Pat Healy and I had a lot of time and Stan and I remain close. Melora, I had worked with some time before. I adore her and once I saw the film, she’s this other thing on film. She’s just amazing. And Natasha, Natasha was great.
She was great as Pearl.
Bill- She is so great, she’s Australian. I had worked with a couple people that she knew. It was all good. It was a little adventure. It was one of these things that you’re on and I wanted to stay entrenched in what I was in.
Thank you so much Bill. It was an honor to talk with you. I hope you keep writing too.
Bill- Thank you. I’ll keep writing and Janel, thank you very much.