Danger God Interview: Talking Hollywood Stunts With Director Joe O’Connell And Hollywood Legend Gary Kent

There are many actors in Hollywood but there are few legends. Thankfully Joe O’Connell decided to create a documentary covering the life of Hollywood stuntman Gary Kent. I previously did a review of the documentary film Danger God, which you can check out here. Gary Kent is a true veteran of Hollywood. He’s been a stuntman for Jack Nicholson, met Charles Manson at Spahn Ranch, and even serves as part inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character Clint Booth in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Recently I interviewed Gary Kent and the director of Danger God, Joe O’Connell.

Danger God, directed by Joe O’Connell released on DVD and VOD September 17. Check out the synopsis below.

Gary Kent was the king of B movies in the Sixties and Seventies, working for indie directors from Richard Rush to Ray Dennis Steckler to Al Adamson, but he’s tackled even larger real-life challenges, including a run-in with Charles Manson and his family. The inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

LRM OnlineI was talking to Joe and he mentioned that today is the DVD release. So, congratulations to you both.

Gary: Wow. Thank you. This is Joe’s baby. I had very little to do with it.

Joe: Well, you got filmed a lot. Currently it’s 61 in documentaries on Amazon. Yeah. I mean 47. It made it to 47, but dropping down.

LRM Online: Yeah. That’s awesome. Joe, what inspired you or what made you want to make this documentary here? What made you decide to document here Gary Kent?

Joe: Well, 20 years ago I went to the writers conference and I met Gary. And I just thought he was really interesting. I went out that day and got a copy of this movie that he’s in called, Satan Sadists, where he plays the good guy Vietnam vet. And I watched it and thought, “Man, I need to interview this guy.” Because I’ve worked as a film journalist. I had a film column in various papers. I tracked him down, wrote some stories about him, and became friends with him. And I kept telling him, somebody needs to do a movie about him. Eventually, I realized that someone was me. I had to figure out how to do it. And that’s where we are now. Now I’ve done this documentary. I finished the second one that were perfecting and getting ready to send out at film festivals. It’s a long strange road. But a cool one.

LRM Online: You mentioned a second documentary. Is that pertaining to the stunt world and Gary?

Joe: No, but it’s from a guy I met through Gary. A guy named Bob Burns, who was the Art Director on the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as other movies, like The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Re-Animator. He had an obsession with this actor named Rondo Hatton, from the forties, who was a guy who had kind of a misfigured look because of a disease he had. And he was known as the creeper. So the movie is kind of about those two guys and about that obsession. So he came out and I met Bob burns through Gary. There is a connection.

LRM Online: That’s super cool. Joe, let me ask you, you mentioned that … and I also read that you are a novelist, documentary film director, short story writer, photographer, and journalist.

Joe: Yeah. I do too much stuff.

LRM Online: How do you manage all that?

Joe: I don’t know. They all kind of go together, if you ask me. Because basically I’ll tell you I’m a storyteller. And those all are various versions of being a storyteller.  Because that’s mainly what I’m interested in, is it’s human stories. With telling Gary’s story, the stunt stuff and the independent film scene of the sixties and seventies is really interesting. But it wouldn’t be interesting, I don’t think, without Gary’s personal story being interesting. That’s kind of what fascinates me, who the guy is. I always go around saying, “I think Gary is the actual most interesting man in the world.” Because he’s kind of done the stuff that everybody else would have liked to have done. But maybe we’re all a little too afraid to go ahead and just do it. With making the documentary, I just did it. I just put myself out there and did it. He’s my, role model for that.

LRM Online: I believe I read an article that Quintin Tarantino had based Brad Pitt’s character, Clinton Booth in part or he was inspired by you yourself. Could you tell me about that?

Gary: Yeah, that could be true. I heard the rumor also, myself. And Bud Carlos and how I made him. Although, I think he based it on a variety of guys. Certainly, he said in an interview in France, he was influenced by the toughest stunt man that ever lived. That would be a guy named Judo Gene LeBell, that most people outside of the stunt business don’t know much about. But he was like the real toughest guy. And there are a lot of tough guys doing stunts, but he was the toughest. Joe Clinton, I think was influenced by all of us guys. Because he liked stunt people. His stunt coordinators are warned by the way. Judo LeBell, so he has no prejudice, male or female. He just writes action. Yeah, I did tell Quentin at a luncheon about my experiences at Spawn Ranch, where Charlie Manson lived with his … the serial killer lived with his creepy crawlies. So we shot out there a lot and I told Quentin at a luncheon.

LRM Online: Awesome. This is a question for both of you, actually. And I’ll ask Joe if you could take it first. What’s your relationship like with Gary? Did you know him prior to deciding to document him? And if not, or if so, how has that relationship grown over the course of making Danger God?

Gary:  I knew him for a long time before we started.

LRM OnlineJoe, I’ll pitch this question to you here. I wanted to find out what was the hardest part of making the documentary?

Joe: You know. To just get stuff done. And then actually to get it out into the world is a difficult thing. Lucky to get a good distributor. Actually, working with two distributors, one for the DVD and one for the blue ray. But it’s tough to get this far in the process.

LRM Online: Nice. And the DVD is was just released today on September 17th, correct?

Joe: Yeah. DVDs just out from, Wild Eye Releasing. And it’s out streaming as well on iTunes and Amazon Prime, Spectrum and various other places. And the DVD is out as well and you can find it at stores, including Walmart, Best Buy, Target, as well as Amazon and places like that too.

LRM Online:  Great. I want to ask you a follow-up question. What do you want viewers to take away from watching Danger God?

Gary: Don’t give up. That’s the message.

LRM Online: I’m sure upcoming filmmakers would definitely appreciate that, Gary.

Gary: Oh, I hope so.

LRM Online: And now Joe, I like to pose that same question to you. Do you have any advice out there for any hopeful upcoming filmmakers?

Joe: You can’t do it alone.

LRM Online: Great advice. Let me ask you, are either of you on social media? So that the followers of the LRM Online site could maybe find you and follow you.

Joe: Sure, yeah. But there’s a Danger God page both on Twitter and on Flicker. And there’s a website Dangergod.com. And I’ve got a page, it’s Joeocconnell.com.

Gary: And I’m on Facebook.

Be sure to check out Danger God on DVD and VOD.

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