Bill Pullman got his first big break at age 33 and currently has more than 70 films to his name — but the actor is now eager for a good thrill.
The 66-year-old is enjoying new fame as a TV star while appearing on USA Network’s critically acclaimed series titled “The Sinner” alongside Matt Bomer and Jessica Biel. The show, which first premiered in 2017, examines how and why ordinary people commit brutal crimes.
Despite the show’s success, Pullman isn’t afraid to revisit the past. In fact, he admitted that his former castmate and pal John Candy has been on his mind lately. The comedian, who is known for his roles in “Spaceballs,” “Splash” and “Cool Runnings,” passed away in 1994 at age 43 from a heart attack.
Pullman spoke to Fox News about one of his favorite memories involving Candy, whether he would play another American president after “Independence Day” and “1600 Penn,” as well as how Biel, 37, managed to surprise him on set.
Fox News: You must have many, but what's one memory of John Candy that makes you smile, or has remained vivid in your mind over the years?
Bill Pullman: Yeah, I think of John quite a bit. "Spaceballs" was my second movie, and he had been pretty successful and was so jovial. And I think of him a couple of times. I learned a lot from him and he took me under his wing. But one thing was that he had to sit in the makeup chair because he was Mog [in the film], half-man, half-dog. It took hours in those days.
There were seemingly lots more prosthetic pieces, and he was animated all the way through. I would be in and out and he would be teasing me, but it always reminded me of how important that makeup trailer can be to set the tone of the day, because he set a great tone, even though he had to sit there for a long time.
Fox News: You played an American president twice. Would you consider taking on that role a third time?
Pullman: I do have this unusual history of being president... I did something that was in the science fiction world and then something that was a comedy version of it.
And I think maybe there's something about that kind of interior side, of that personal side that is alone. I think of that with Robert Altman's film on Nixon. That was so interesting. Philip Baker Hall played [President Richard] Nixon and that may be a direction I could see myself going in.
Fox News: You got your first big break in the film industry at age 33. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Pullman: I did end up coming to it late. Late bloomer, 33 when I was first in films, but now my son Louis is an actor, he's just turned 27, so I get inclined to see if I can offer him any advice. And usually, I find that he's way ahead of me. He's figured out things faster than I ever did. But I think for the one thing that I have offered, I think is that sense of you can always remind yourself you're not just looking to achieve the ordinary. You're trying to find some angle that makes it somewhat extraordinary.
Fox News: Any chance you and your son might work together in a project either for “The Sinner” or something completely different?
Pullman: Well, Louis and I have done two movies together already. This is so rare, but we were both in "Battle of the Sexes" and "The Ballad of Lefty Brown." In "The Ballad of Lefty Brown" we had a brief scene together. I really enjoy seeing him on the set and at this point, it's good that we're in separate scenes. He's developing and I think it's good. At some point we'll circle back I think.
Fox News: You have more than 70 films to your name. How do you feel about the fact that “The Sinner,” along with your character, has received so much praise?
Pullman: I’ve been making films and doing theater for a long time, and television, usually a limited series from time to time, but this is my first recurring role in a series. I'm so intrigued. Maybe that's why I've waited so long. They got a character that I really can engage in each season in a lot of ways that are close to my interest in being an actor.
Fox News: What's it been like working with Matt Bomer?
Pullman: Matt Bomer is a person of interest in this season. He's a very cordial guy and had a strong part that he had to stay engaged with through a lot of months. I really admire him a lot.
Fox News: What surprised you the most about Jessica Biel?
Pullman: [While filming] there were a few times when she is physically resisting and I was amazed at how athletic she is. I have heard stories about her playing soccer and things like that, and she has a mean kick.
Fox News: You happen to be a fan of noir films. Are there any classic noir films that help you shape your character in “The Sinner”?
Pullman: Yeah, I think I've always had some kind of sense of affinity for noir films, the sense that sometimes it's an individual who seems isolated and sometimes culpable for things that then is trying to sort out some compelling issue. But I think, when I first saw "Double Indemnity," I think that was an eye-opener to me.
I liked the sense of... Usually, there's some degree of betrayal involved. And then "Body Heat" was a movie that Larry Kasdan directed that was really intriguing to me, and, of course, "Chinatown." I think the kind of performances that you see in there are very small, closely observed performances, where there are usually people hiding something, and that interests me.
Fox News: What was the biggest challenge that you faced filming this season?
Pullman: Well this series is interesting. It's set in a small town in Western New York state, or upstate New York. And somehow we always end up in the woods. This season we shot it in the fall and it gets cold in the woods in the fall. And I've learned that there're all kinds of new things that have batteries in them to keep you warm. You can get a hat that has batteries in it, and you can get socks. I know sportspeople have known this for a long time, but it's new to me and I was glad that it was invented.