Actor Adam Goldberg is the King of Vine, Twitter’s Indie Filmmaker App

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Two years ago, actor Adam Goldberg sat around with his girlfriend brainstorming what the next new big social media thing would be. Already a man of Tumblr and Twitter (and hesitantly of Instagram), he thought he had it: “It’s sound. It’s got to be sound.”But unless you count the collective groans of boyfriends around the world when Pinterest caught fire, Goldberg was wrong. The next big thing, two years later, is video. More accurately, it’s Vine, an iOS app allowing you to capture six looping seconds with a stop-action camera, helmed by Twitter. Less than two weeks old, the app has seen a deluge of early adopters (and a lot of porn buzz), but what might be the most interesting thing about Vine is that it’s already been won.

Adam Goldberg already somehow owns Vine. His twisted, twitchy feed is downright addictive with videos so dark and mesmerizing they could be spliced right into an American Horror Story credit opening and stand out. Goldberg plays himself—or a version of himself—where he’s a stalking, wig-wearing, cross-dressing, agitated, obsessive-compulsive maniac whose jittery antics trouble his girlfriend Roxanne and her friend Merritt. It’s very meta, where his characters talk about the app itself, and how Goldberg has gone down the wrong rabbit hole with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It was so obvious to me what it was for,” Goldberg says after messing with Vine for a few days. “It’s a horror app. When you break it down, with its stop-action camera and everything, it’s just perfect for these little horror movies.”

His theme, he says, revolves around the home not always being the safest place to be. And his little soap opera—about a man becoming undone by an iPhone application—plays it up perfectly. There are jump cuts from behind bushes. Disembodied hands holding an SLR camera. Long dark hallways. Self-rocking chairs. And then there are the blond wigs. In over half the videos, Goldberg struggles with wearing—or not wearing—a crazy blond wig like a tweaker pacing the cold medicine aisle.

“The funny thing about those wigs is that I don’t remember where they came from, if they’re mine or my girlfriend’s,” Goldberg confesses. “But I’ve had a blond wig in my life for as long as I can remember. From my teenage years until now. When I was 24, my entire fridge was covered in polaroids with people wearing a blond wig. I don’t know.”

Goldberg laughs humbly about his Vine feed getting so much early attention. “Why do people give a shit about these six-second videos, you know? The other films I’ve made over the years are basically 45-minute Vines, and no one ever gave a shit. My girlfriend and I have been talking about this Vine stuff and trying to break down the excitement over my videos, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we have such short attention spans that six seconds works?”

The app, however, is far from perfect. In fact, it’s downright buggy. It eats up your battery. It crashes often. Your videos get lost or never post. Your feed won’t refresh. Or, worst of all, you just can’t fit your brilliant idea into six seconds. It’s a test of patience and will. “My hope for it is that it stays pretty crude,” Goldberg says. “Like Orson Welles said, ‘The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.’ I hope the Vine people don’t cave to demands for filters and stuff. The cruder, more stripped down, the better.”

And his videos keep getting better. What Kelly Oxford and Rob Delaney are to Twitter, Adam Goldberg is to Vine, becoming the feed to watch. The app is built just quirky enough to support his manic compulsion to be creative.

He’s going to be a father very soon. Like, in a manner of weeks. Will he Vine the birth? Will the baby wear a blond wig in its first seconds of life? “I’m such a documenter and a hoarder of media,” Goldberg says. “I mean, I’ve saved every answering machine message I’ve received since 1989. But with the birth, I don’t know. No. I’m going to be pretty hands-on. But we did hire a doula with photography skills.”

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Adam Goldberg: Fine and LANDy

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On April 8th of this year, Billy Bob Thornton appeared on CBC Radio One with his rockabilly band the Boxmasters. After being introduced by the program’s host, Jian Ghomeshi, as an actor with a prolific film career, Thornton regressed into monosyllabic petulance, each response punctuated by the disinterest of an ersatz Dylan. And, given the recent resurgence of performers who love to act and sing (from Scarlett Johansson and Zooey Deschanel to Jessica Biel and Terrence Howard), Thornton’s reaction has become the bellwether for how we address crossover stars. It’s difficult, when speaking to a performer best known for his cinematic work, not to discuss his films, especially in the case of Adam Goldberg, whose career over the past two decades has included stand-out performances in Dazed and Confused, Saving Private Ryan, A Beautiful Mind and The Hebrew Hammer. But, after just one listen to Eros and Omissions, a hypnotic, meditative debut album featuring songs that Goldberg wrote over the past six years, one can’t help but want to focus on LANDy, Goldberg’s musical alter ego. Assured, fractured and, at times, downright nasty (On “BFF,” Goldberg sings, “So your parents didn’t love you? Well, now mine don’t as well”), the album swells and shivers like a forlorn lover lost in a downpour. Here, days after news broke via Twitter that his ABC show “The Unusuals” had been canceled, Goldberg discusses his second act.

Billy Bob Thornton was criticized for lashing out against a radio host who mentioned his acting career during an interview about his band’s music. Can you understand the impulse? I don’t know that I would spell it out so explicitly, but I can understand Thornton’s reaction to this guy who was like, “What’s the matter? Being a big movie star isn’t enough?” Acting only fulfills a fraction of who you are. I don’t make gazillions of dollars, so acting is how I make a living. But actors—even the most famous, successful ones—have time off between jobs. And if acting is the only means by which you can express yourself, you really are beholden to the nature of the job market. It’s frustrating to have a lot to say, and not always be able to say it, and then to be derided by some critic who doesn’t look beyond the cover. The inverse seems a lot easier—maybe with good reason.

Do you mean musicians who become actors? It does seem like a far more acceptable transition. For some reason, this seems like a revolutionary or aberrant move. But I see this as an adjunct to that creative part of me. I suppose I feel a little precious about this album, much more so than I would about an acting performance. I’m sort of hypocritical, though, because I can totally relate to the skepticism and cynicism. A long time ago—this isn’t necessarily the case now, although it might be with High School Musical—performers had to do everything.

The desire to box performers into one creative outlet seems a little reductive. Every actor or filmmaker wants that one thing that’s going to catapult him into fame, but then, unfortunately, they become beholden to that very thing. It’s different for me, though, because plenty of people have no fucking clue who I am.

You don’t deal with public recognition? There’s a certain amount of that, but it’s not a huge part of my existence. I’m about as recognizable as I can psychologically handle.

Which is an idea you explored in your second film as a director, I Love Your Work. People who were harshly critical of that film said, “It’s a naval-gazing movie about the trappings of celebrity—how dare you?” The funny is, though, that it was autobiographical to the extent that it dealt with themes like longing and the past, but I severely exaggerated the more neurotic aspects of myself and explored my lifelong interest in paranoia and schizophrenia. Basically, the concept boiled down to: If Mark Chapman became a movie star along the lines of Russell Crowe, what would happen? The stalker and the star being stalked were really two sides of the same coin—both fueled by narcissism, one “successful,” the other “not successful.”

The criticism of autobiography certainly won’t dissipate with this album, which is also centered on love and loss. The works of art that have always moved me most are made by people who’ve laid themselves bare. I’ve always been moved, beyond any kind of intellectual or theoretical hypothesis, by that which is very personal—the personal being universal, and that sort of thing. Once you start trying to appeal to too many people, you stop appealing to anybody. In music, it seems less “indulgent” than it does on film. Every time I ever felt like writing, it was to expose or “cathart,” or whatever. I never thought that anyone would ever listen to it.

Stephen Drozd of the Flaming Lips, with whom you collaborated on this album, referred to Eros and Omissions as a world of sound, which I thought was a nice, apt way to describe it. I’m a big fan of sound design as well as music. David Lynch is a great example of a filmmaker who makes incredible sound-designed movies—it’s always very difficult to tell where the sound design ends and the music begins. I can’t help but want to evoke or create some kind of space where the songs live, rather than have the songs stand on their own. I want to place them in some sort of other aural context. Boy, I sound like a pretentious asshole!

After directing Christina Ricci in I Love Your Work, she became your girlfriend. You also starred in 2 Days in Paris with Julie Delpy, with whom you had a romantic relationship. Is it just easier to work with people you’re close to and be close to people you work with? My girlfriend now is a graphic designer by trade, but she’s also a violin player and so I asked her if she wanted to play on “BFF,” and a few other tracks that we recorded last year. It just happens like that. Down the line, it would be neat to seek collaborators out, but it’s pretty essential that I forge my own path for a while before relying too heavily on another person’s aesthetic.

I’m curious about the name of this album. Its title is Eros and Omissions, but it was originally called Everything Must Go, which is actually the name of a monograph by YBA artist Michael Landy, with whom you share your stage name. Is this all simply weird coincidence? Total coincidence, although that may have been the straw that broke the album title’s back. I had thought a lot about the art for the record cover—I’d been making variations of it for years, actually. One day, I woke up and Everything Must Go just seemed a really obvious title to me. But then I found out that there was a Steely Dan record called that. And then I heard about that book, by some bizarre coincidence.

Why the pseudonym? Is it so that people don’t say, “Adam Goldberg the actor has an album out?” [Laughs] It’s a weird thing because LANDy is definitely not a band, but I don’t particularly like the sound of Adam Goldberg as a record. I wouldn’t necessarily want to buy that. Beyond that, though, there are collaborations with a lot of different people on each track, and it feels more like a project that I’m the designer or creator of—though, obviously, I’ve written the songs.

There’s also a singer-songwriter in Boston named Adam Goldberg. I’m aware of him as well. It seemed like it could cause some confusion. There is a—well, actually, I shouldn’t say that. Never mind…

What’s that? Someone on iTunes thought that the music of that Adam Goldberg was mine.

And the album got panned? Yeah.

What a shame. [Laughs] Go on.

What is the best music venue in L.A.? I’ve spent many nights—years, probably—at Spaceland in Silver Lake. I used to live down the street from there, and it was one of the few places I would stop on my way home. I saw Elliot Smith play there. I’ve also been to and played at The Echo & Echoplex. To be frank, I’m pretty shit scared of performing live.

The stakes are a little higher now. I’ve literally been losing sleep about venue space and routing systems, rather than how I’m actually going to play these fucking songs.
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