Kicking Ass with Fred “The Hammer” Williamson
With Mr. Hush Weekend of Fear coming up Friday, what a perfect time to post this interview. Fred “The Hammer” Williamson has been in film for quite some time. Before that, he was an all-star football player who was on the Kansas City Chiefs when they played Super Bowl 1. On top of that he was in one of my favorite vampires flicks of all time, From Dusk Till Dawn. So when Dave Madison told me I could have an interview with him, I was beside myself with excitement. I was so nervous to do this interview. It was my first phone interview, and to talk to a legend like “The Hammer” was intimidating to say the least. You know what though? This guy is the coolest guy you could ever meet. Very easy to talk to, very straight forward. I could just picture the whole time him just chilling with his signature cigar. So, My Freaky Darlings, put on your gloves and your combat boots….because we will be…
Kicking Ass with Fred “The Hammer” Williamson
Malice Psychotik: You’ve had a very rewarding career: actor, producer, director, writer, football star… Which roll has been your absolute favorite?
Fred “The Hammer” Williamson: Probably sports man. Sports is an individual thing. Your not judged…Your success is not based on how people judge you. Your success is based on your own individuality. You can kiss all the ass you want. but you can’t make a football team kissing ass. You can get a movie part kissing ass. It’s about being rewarded for your hard work, the movie business isn’t like that. A lot of people are working that don’t deserve to be, and a lot of people who aren’t working that should be working.
Malice: Let’s start with the past, your football career. How does it feel being a person that played in the very first Superbowl?
Fred: That’s important because nobody knows who played in Super Bowl 4, and nobody gives a shit! You can name all the super bowls after one, but which one are you going to remember the one that I played in with Kansas City or the one Joe Namath played with The Jets against The Colts. No body remembers the rest of the Super Bowls.
Malice: Which team was you favorite, the Raiders or the Kansas City Chiefs?
Fred: Well I got my reputation being a bad guy with the Raiders and I was on a winning team with Kansas City. So, I think the bad guy reputation is the one that I sustained and been able to carry over into the movie business. So, probably the Raiders is probably were people will remember me most. Other than the fact I was with Kansas City when we went to the first Super Bowl. Which meant we had to kick a lot of butt to get there.
Malice: You are one of the first African-American male action heroes of the “Blaxploitation” genre. What got you into the genre?
Fred: Well, I mean I got tired of being in “Uncle Tom” movies. I got tired of the black guy getting killed in the first 10 minuets of open film, and the other guys would avenge their death. If I wanna be in a film, kill Schwarzenegger and let me avenge his death. Don’t kill me and let Schwarzenegger avenge mine. You know, I was the hero on the football field. I saw my self as the leading man on the football field. So why should I come into the movie industry and take on a lesser position and have a lesser role? When the smoke cleared and the gun fight was over, I wanted to be the one left standing. Not being killed and everyone else is standing around me and say “Ok, now let’s go get the bad guys..” No, no, no, no, no…you guys be laying down there, and let ME go get the bad guys.
Malice: I’ll be honest, I’ve never been able to get ahold of any “Blaxploitation” films. However, I really dig movies from the era of Grindhouse. With your experience, I trust your opinion, what would you recommend?
Fred: They’re everywhere! You can still find them at Blockbuster. They have these so-called “black exploitation” films. I don’t know what that hell that means! The press calls them “black exploitation” films, I never knew what the terminology meant! Who the hell was they exploiting? The actors were working good. The actors were making money. The black audiences were being very satisfied by the heroes being black and winning all the fights and getting all the girls. So I mean, who the hell were they exploiting? You can find em’ at Blockbuster though, they’re everywhere. Get all of them! Black Ceaser, Hell Up in Harlem, Bucktown…There’s a whole slew of them.
Malice: With black belts in Kenpo, Shotokan, Karate, and Tae-Kwon Do I’m sure you’ve earned the nickname ‘The Hammer” in more ways than just a tackle. What got you into it, and did the black belts ever get you a movie role?
Fred: I developed that in off-season football. Working out was just running up a sweat. Lifting weights was not my thing. I never wanted to be a muscle guy. I wanted to be a toned guy. So during the off-season when I was playing pro football, I used Martial Arts to stay in shape. Not knowing that one day I’d use it in movies. At that time I wasn’t even thinking about movies. That was my way of staying in shape. Lifting weights and bench pressing 250lbs. was not something I was interested in.
Malice: I’ve also noticed that you played in the original Inglorious Bastards. Have you seen it? How do you think the new Inglorious Basterds stacks up?
Fred: I made mine in 1975. Quintin for some reason decided he wanted to do a remake of it. I think the general consensus is our film was better.
Malice: You started your production company in 1974 (Po’boy Productions), what made you decide to start-up a production company?
Fred: Well, because of the same kind of roles I’m talking about. They wanted me in the movie for the first few minuets, because they knew I had a black audience that wanted to come see me. Then they would kill me and let the white guy go be the hero. I said no that’s not the way to do it. If I’m going to be the hero, I’m forced to make my own movies, OK! I know if I make my own movie, produce my own movie, direct my own movie I damn sure ain’t gonna die! So I had a rule! I said “OK Hollywood I got three rules for you #1 You’re not gonna kill me #2 I win all my fights and #3 I get the girl at the end of the movie IF I want her. Hollywood wasn’t ready for me, so I said fine! I’ll go raise money and make my own movies. All those things will apply in my movies.
Malice: All right, I’m going to flash forward to one of my favorite movies, From Dusk Till Dawn, what got you the role?
Fred: Quinton was a fan! He was a fan of the genre I was in. He was a fan of my style. He wanted me in the movie. So he said “Hey I want you in my movie. So, what you can do is make a contribution. Why don’t you write the role and tell me what you want to do in the film.” And so, after I reviewed the script and everything, I found out a way that I could put myself in and make a character that would be memorable. Which is hard to do with all the stars around the film. We got George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Selma Hayek and Juliete Lewis. So I had to do something a little outstanding in the film. And I did! I created this character and it worked out. You got to be memorable in a movie. Otherwise why be in it?
Malice: Frost is one of the most ass kicking bad- asses in horror history, in my opinion. Did any of your past roles have bearing on the character?
Fred: Well Yeah! Most definitely, I’m that kind of guy. If I’m in a film you never know what I’m gonna do in it. But you know I’m gonna kick some ass. You know I’m gonna be…I’m not just walking through the film and talking. There’s something that’s going to happen, otherwise I’m not going to be in that film.
Malice: You only really get to see the vampire Frost for about a minute (if that), how long did the make-up process take?
Fred: 4 hours to put it on, and 4 hours to take it off. It was not a mask it was built on piece by piece.
Malice: On your IMDB page it looks like you have 5 films to be out soon. Can you tell us about any of them? Which one’s should we look out for?
Fred: I have two that I’m real strongly committed to. One is a remake of Black Ceaser, it’s called Spatch. The other one is part two of Original Gangstas, it’s called Old School Gangstas. Those are the one’s I’m pursuing heavily right now.
Malice: Out of all the characters you have portrayed, do you have a favorite?
Fred: Not really. I just make sure that the personality is consistent. There’s no surprises when you go see a Fred Williamson movie. I’m not doing and singing, I’m not doing any dancing. I’m doing Eastwood, Bronson, I’m doing what John Wayne did. All these guys made great movies. And none of them died in their movie. I think John Wayne died one time, but the movie was so bad he should have died in it anyway.
Malice: All right, next I want to talk about Mr. Hush Weekend Of Fear. What got you turned on to this show?
Fred: Well you know I like going out and meeting people, meeting my fans. Having people see that I’m pretty close to the characters I portray. I mean in order to be able to kick people’s ass, you gotta look like you can kick people’s ass. You can kick people’s ass on the screen, you got to be able to look like you can do it. I’m in good shape and at any age I’m in damn good shape! So it’s always surprising for people to see me. That’s what I am! I hope will get a real nice crowd, I hope we’ll do that.
Malice: At this point in the interview, I would like to take some time to ask some….”Out-of-Hat” Questions. Football has changed so much over the years. What do you think “The Hammer” from Superbowl 1 could do to the football players of now?
Fred: The players of today couldn’t even make the football team. They couldn’t even make the team 15-20 years ago. Everytime they get a tackle, they get into a fight because “They ain’t supposed to hit me that hard…” Naw, these guys couldn’t even make the team.
Malice: Recently the film Black Dynamite was released. How do you think the hero of that movie would fare against some of the heroes you’ve portrayed?
Fred: No, that doesn’t work for me. Black Dynamite doesn’t work for me. You can’t do a satyr and be taken seriously. He’s supposed to be doing a satyr of the films from the 70’s and that doesn’t work for me. I didn’t like Black Dynamite. Michael J. White can do a better film than that. He has presence, the guy is a good martial artist. The guy is a good actor. There’s no need for him to do a silly movie like that. It was silly. It was a silly movie.
Malice: The vampire you in From Dusk Till Dawn looks like a killing machine. If pitted against Wesley Snipes as Blade, who do you think would win?
Fred: Blade wouldn’t see it coming! That’s all! He would walk through a door and wouldn’t see Frost coming. He’s snap is neck and twist him around before he could even pull out his sword and flash his cape. Wouldn’t see it coming!
Malice: I just want to thank you for sitting down with me today Fred! It has been an honor and a pleasure. Is there anything you would like to add before you go?
Fred: Naw it’s cool, you covered it! It’s cool man.
I hope you all enjoyed the interview. A great man “The Hammer” is indeed! I hope you all keep an eye out for his films, and be sure to check out the original Inglorious Bastards. Also if you are at Mr. Hush Weekend of Fear this weekend be sure to stop by his table and tell him you read the interview here. For more info on Mr. Hush Weekend of Fear click here.
Until Next Time, My Freaky Darlings,
P.S Hoping to post this soon, but i actually captured an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) on the recorder during the interview. I’ll keep you posted…