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You probably best know Creed Bratton as, well, Creed Bratton. The 70-year-old — who played guitar in The Grass Roots — has made an acting career for himself by playing a character bearing his same name on NBC's "The Office" since 2005. Now that the show is in its final season, Bratton is stepping out in more film roles, one of them as Sen. Charles Sumner in "Saving Lincoln." Out in limited release today, the film chronicles the friendship between President Abraham Lincoln (yes, another Lincoln-centric movie) and his faithful bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon, in the contentious time of abolition.
NextMovie caught up with Bratton ahead of the film's release and talked about Lincoln cage matches, the bow of "The Office," and how he feels about karaoke. (Hint: Not positively!)
Congratulations on the movie. Have you seen a final cut yet?
I haven't seen it yet, I'm waiting for the premiere. He sent me a copy, a Blu-ray copy, but I'll watch it on the big screen with everyone else.
Do you like watching your own work?
I don't. I think I'm not much different than any other actor. It's like live music. You record a bunch of songs, and by the time you record the whole album, you don't want to listen to the album anymore. You just want to be done with it, you know?
This movie is really interesting because it's all filmed in front of green screens, and Civil War photographs were slotted in later. Is that what drew you to it?
Well, my manager sent me the script and there was one scene that really got my attention where I grab Lincoln's hand and I put it on my head and I tell him the story, I say, "You know the story," but I tell him again. I play Charles Sumner, the senator, and he was attacked by anti-abolitionists on the floor of the Senate and almost killed. And so when the film was done I said, "I can't wait to see that scene!" And he [director Salvador Litvak] went quiet, and I said, "Sal?" And he said, "In editing we had to cut that out." I was like, "oh, no!" That was the reason I did it in the first place, that scene. Oh well, you know, it happens. It's part of the biz.
There's been a huge Lincoln movie trend this year, between this, "Lincoln," and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."
The story behind this project is that Sal and [co-screenwriter] Nina [ Nina Davidovich], they had had this project, this story they'd written, for like 10 years. They kept hearing that Spielberg was going to do a Lincoln movie, and then years went by and years went by, and they said, well, it's not gonna happen. Then, as soon as they gear it up, of course, it comes out that Spielberg's movie, and the Abraham Lincoln vampire killer movie are happening. It's insane that this would happen. Nice luck, right? Maybe because there's so much Lincoln now, people just can't get enough of that Lincoln.
Of the three Lincolns, which Lincoln would win in a fight?
In fight of the Lincolns, I don't think that we're going to compete with Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones, you know? Oh, but if the Lincolns fought? Well, I would think that that vampire would probably win, wouldn't he? But then, Daniel Day-Lewis was in "The Last of the Mohicans" too. He can load that flint musket on the run. He could run and shoot. Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis is going to kill everybody.
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"The Office" is ending this season, I don't know if you've heard.
Noooo! No! We're done? Oh my gosh! I thought we were gonna go a couple more years! You're the first person to even mention that to me!
So what's next for you?
I mean, we had eight years as a family and you know, I turned 70 today, by the way, these kids are 40 or 50 years old, so to me they're all kids, they're younger than I am. I feel very protective of them, you know, and I'm going to miss them. As an actor, I mean, I've thoroughly enjoyed playing the Creed character, but I'd like to do other stuff too, so I'm excited to do other things too. I'm lucky to get movies because we work so much that it's really hard to fit in films in between stuff. But I've also done three albums since the show started. I keep busy. That was my nickname in college, "Iron to the Fire." I like to keep several things going at once.
How do you think you'd fare in a zombie apocalypse?
I don't think I'd have any problem with them. If they've seen "The Ghastly Love of Johnny X," they're going to accept me as one of their own. In fact, I might be a zombie ringleader. I'd probably be able to help them. I'd be a big help to them. I have no problem with killing humans.
What did you buy with your first Hollywood paycheck?
In my The Grass Roots days, back with my band, I bought a Porsche in Beverly Hills. I hadn't had a nice car in over 30 years. It's a long time. So I had this car that I ordered from Japan, with all the bells and whistles on it, a G37S Infiniti sports car. I still have it. It's a really great car. 5.3 zero to 60. It's not like a quarter-million dollar car, but I don't know why you'd want to go faster than that car goes, that's for sure. And I bought a Gibson 1957 country western acoustic guitar that I'd been coveting for a few years. That's my baby, that's what I use now when I record.
Do you like to do karaoke? What's your song?
I do not, I hate it. Hate doesn't cover it. I loathe it.
What's your favorite guilty pleasure movie?
I loved and I watch it a lot, "The Fifth Element." I don't think everybody hates that movie, but a lot of people thought it was kind of over the top, kind of silly and stuff, but I just loved it. I thought it was absolutely wonderful.
Do people ever ask you to quote your lines from anything?
I don't quote movie lines. Obviously I have to quote Creed lines, because people require that of me.
What do people ask you to say?
OK, the ones they love, they want to hear: "Cool beans," "Which one's Pam?" "Is someone making soup?" and "During the '60s I made love to many, many women. Often outdoors, in the mud and the rain. It's possible a man slipped in. There'd be no way of knowing." I think that's one of the funnier lines too.
What's your favorite Bill Murray movie?
"Lost in Translation."
Do you ever Google yourself?
No, my assistant does.This girl and her boyfriend are helping me fix up my website so I can Twitter on it. I will be twittering soon, which you can tell the folks that, but at my age, I'm from a different generation from that stuff. I'm not a cybernaut. It's so far removed from my sensibilities, but once I get it all set up, I'm going to start twittering to my fans. Now that the show's not going to be on, I have to self-promote. I have to do it.
What would your porn star name be?
Oh, a porn name? My porn name would be Roland Panache. It sounds pretty good.
Is that from the formula, or did you just make that up?
That's off the top of my head. I just, I would make that name up. I'm not gonna give you a pet and a street, I'm going to give you a cool name. They would ask for Mr. Roland Panache.