It’s Gallo’s time: `Buffalo’ ride got bumpy for director

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 9, 1998

Vincent Gallo wrote, directed and starred in “Buffalo ’66.”  But ask him which of his talents he’s proudest of and Gallo will answer, “Well, I’ve acted in 18 movies, but I would never call myself an actor. I’m not Steve McQueen. More than anything else, I’m probably best as a stylist.”

This is the enfant terrible described by some as a “loose cannon”?

“I am a bit vindictive and unforgiving to people who behave inappropriately against me,” Gallo said softly in an interview from his Los Angeles home. “But I’m not really mean to anybody.”

In his bittersweet, semiautobiographical “Buffalo ’66” – which is in its opening weekend at the Music Box Theatre – Gallo stars as Billy Brown, a just-released convict who kidnaps a girl (Christina Ricci). He pretends she’s the wife he bragged about to his emotionally distant parents (Anjelica Huston and Ben Gazzara).

“Christina’s just incredible, and she’s really pretty in the movie,” Gallo said. “But I cast her without really seeing (the 18-year-old actress) as an adult.

“She’s a really bright girl, but she was at an awkward moment. And I assure you that she was not, uh, as glamorous as she is in the movie.”

He’s less effusive about his on-screen mom.

“Anjelica was the one who required the most work,” said Gallo, 36. “A lot of the best material in the script is for her character. And it wasn’t always going as well as I had hoped.  She needed to fit in in a very subtle way.

“I’m extremely controlling. I was going to make it work even if I had to put a wig on a truck driver and just film the scenes from the back.

“She got paid very well for her role. I wrote, directed, produced and starred in it. I also did the music, half the camera work and designed the clothes, and I basically got less salary than the makeup girl.”

The lean actor said he suffers from short man’s complex – though at just shy of 5-foot-11, he’s technically not short. And while he eschews drugs, alcohol, caffeine and sugar, he exudes an intense, heroin-chic look that has made him popular with designers such as Versace, Yoji Yamamoto and longtime buddy Anna Sui, for whom he has strutted down the catwalk.

He also starred in a few commercials for Calvin Klein.

“I was a spokesperson, not a model,” he said with a laugh. “I’m not against modeling. I wish I could support myself (breathing) or – – – – – – – or, even better, modeling. But I can’t. It was very a challenging experience doing (the Calvin Klein) commercials with Richard Avedon. It was difficult and he was brilliant, so it was one of the best work experiences in my life.”

The fashion world intrigues Gallo more than the filmmaking community.

“There are already too many movies being made and too many people calling themselves artists who don’t make any real impact,” Gallo said. “Maybe style in the end is slightly superficial, but the language of fashion photography or fashion advertisement is not.

“Hanging around a movie set is painfully boring. But I could sit around a fashion shoot all day long because at least those people are interested in music and film in a real way.”

Currently finishing up his next script, “Brown Bunny,” which he also plans to direct, Gallo said he’s not sure he’ll star in the film.

“I think the world has seen enough of me as an actor for now,” he said. “I need to do other things.

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