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An American Carol: Sean Baker on Red Rocket | Interviews

I think you’re gonna have to do some rectifying. I was watching some Simon Rex movies last night, “Scary Movie 5” and “An American Carol.” 

“American Carol”?

It’s this anti-Hollywood spoof by David Zucker where Simon Rex has a small part, as a presenter at a movie awards alongside Paris Hilton. 

Oh, this is the conservative film that Zucker did. Oh my god, I have to see this. 

It’s on Tubi. Did Simon’s history as an actor interest you when casting him? Or were you looking at him more as a blank slate?

The movies, not really. I did know him from “Scary Movie 3” and “Scary Movie 4,” but it was really just his persona and how he remained in the game. And we are about the same age, so I remember him breaking out on TV very well back in the day. And I remember the scandal that happened after that, and then of course him resurfacing with the “Scary Movies,” and his Dirt Nasty thing years later. But I have to say, it was probably the Vine years that really got me hooked. I was thinking, he’s been consistently entertaining me all these years, and this is pretty interesting with an older dude who is over the age of 35 embracing a new medium. I always appreciate that, when artists embrace new platforms. He was on Vine, he was doing his YouTube thing, podcasting, and it was then that I was like, “This guy deserves a really good break.” And honestly, I thought about him five years when we broke the story. But then it was put on the back burner and we went to develop another film. But he didn’t know that we were thinking about him for five years, he knew about it at the last minute. 

Have you been able to watch many new movies this year? 

Yeah, actually I have. No matter what’s going on, I always try to make time for new films. And I’m also an Academy member, so I’m on the international committee. 

Anything you think is particularly underrated that you’d want to tout at the year-end? 

“Jockey.” I think it’s underrated and I hope that gets a lot of attention. And then just … I’m not going to say my favorite because I’d get in trouble, being an Academy member, but I can say I really loved “Titane” and “Benedetta.” And [Paul] Verhoeven has had a big influence on my career, and life. At 16, when I saw “Robocop” it was life-changing. But discovering his earlier films, what they call sexploitation movies, which really aren’t, “Turkish Delight” obviously had a big influence on this film. And to see that he’s still doing it, with the degree that he did with “Benedetta,” is incredible, and impressive. 

Is it inspiring to you as someone who is also going to push some buttons? 

Yeah, it is. And also, he’s an artist who is still very strong, and is still sticking to his or her vision. I think that’s amazing at that age. That’s, y’know, what I’m looking to do. Like Tarantino has always talked about a strong filmography, and that’s very important to me. 

“Red Rocket” is now playing in theaters.

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