The Movie Waffler Waffling With...<i>Road House</i> star Marshall R Teague | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With...Road House star Marshall R Teague

Best known for his role as Patrick Swayze's nemesis Jimmy in the 1989 action classic Road House, Marshall R Teague has enjoyed a vast career in movies and TV. He spoke to TMW about being part of a cult classic, dying on screen over a hundred times, and the projects he has in the pipeline.

Interview by Eric Hillis

You joined the Navy at 17 before becoming a Deputy Sheriff. How did this lead to an acting career?

I studied acting to become a better undercover cop. The turning point happened while playing Puck in Shakespeare's Mid Summer Night's Dream...and yes I was a 230lb. Puck in green tights! I not only got razed by fellow officers for my outfit, I did in fact catch the bad guys, but I also caught the acting bug at the same time. The rest is history.

You've been a regular face on TV screens for over three decades. TV shows are given a lot more respect now than in the past. As an actor, what are the changes you've seen in the TV industry over the past 30 years?

The changes in the TV industry I feel stemmed from shooting in HD. With the transformation it has taken episodic TV to levels of drama faster, cheaper than ever before. The industry as a whole opened to a wider field of players offering content on multiple platforms; the new media and cable challenging the standard alphabet channels. So content is as vast as imaginable.

You've played seven different characters across eight episodes of Walker Texas Ranger. How challenging was it to keep each performance unique?

Walker Texas Ranger was truly a unique show, packing as much impact into an hour long episode that to this day maintains a strong audience. So having played seven vastly different characters in multiple shows I would essentially crawl into the skin of each individual character. Chuck Norris and the producers allowed me the freedom to create the unique characteristics that defined and encompassed their scripted words. So the challenge was always to make the audience believe and feel the good/bad/ugly essence of each character.

Is it true that you've been killed on screen over a hundred times, and if so, which of your deaths are the most memorable?

True, it is now at 106 deaths. The past couple months have been productive! Most memorable-I must say running into an asteroid is up there. Then being the first person that Chuck Norris killed on Walker (Codename: Dragonfly)..least I forget getting my throat ripped out in Road House. Yet getting impaled on a statue by John Ritter (The Colony) ranks. Hard to pick just one.

On the '90s sci-fi show Babylon 5 you had a recurring role, which required you to wear heavy makeup. How different was this experience to regular acting?

Playing Ta'Lon on Babylon 5 was unique. Working with Andreas Katsulas was wonderful. We sat for nearly two hours with makeup/prosthetics being applied (so not for claustrophobics) but once the red eyes were put in we were Ta'Lon and G'Kar. That being said, ultimately, the mask does not act for you but with you.

Your most beloved role is that of Jimmy Reno, Ben Gazzara's villainous sidekick in Road House. While in the Navy you were a kickboxing champion. Was this a major factor in landing the role?

Having a kickboxing background along with Tae Kwon Do and Korean Hap Ki Do black belts all played into getting the role of Jimmy Reno. Originally, casting was looking at Scott Glenn. It was the Head of Wardrobe Dept., my friend Barry Delaney, that brought my name into play.

The climactic fight between yourself and Patrick Swayze is one of the most famous duels ever put on film. Can you tell us about the work that went into creating this scene?

I was originally told I would be fighting Patrick Swayze, a dancer. I would find out later just how tough he was. The fight was designed in rounds just like a regular fight. Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez and Charlie Picerni choreographed, Swayze and I went through rehearsals..what resulted truly was an epic fight. He broke my eye socket and I broke his ribs. We ended up the best of friends.

Made in 1989, Road House feels like the end of an era. In the '90s, action movies began to take themselves a bit too seriously, and the raw innocence of the '80s was replaced with a knowing snarkiness. As a result, Road House has developed a huge cult following among movie fans who pine for old school thrills. At what point did you realise the grand position the film has taken in pop culture?

We all knew while filming Road House we were pushing boundaries. I realized the impact when it released in theaters and knew it would be a cult classic. As for pop really hit home this past year when 25 years later people are still picking lines and coming up with lists; then meeting people for whose lives it had an effect.

You shared your Road House scenes with Gazzara and Swayze, both of whom have sadly left us. I can't think of two more different actors. How did their styles differ?

Ben Gazzara was the epitome of classic Hollywood charm. Whereas Patrick was fresh, energetic; really geared to making a gritty departure as Dalton. So truly the essence of their personalities were well captured on film.

Given the theme of the movie, I'm guessing the Road House wrap party was quite an affair, or was it a very well behaved shoot?

Some things are better left to the imagination

What upcoming projects can our readers look forward to seeing you in?

I have several films from this past year: One Heart,  Road to the Well, and newly finished AmeriGeddon all in various stages of post production. I also had the honor of filming new TV series American Crime, from Oscar winning John Ridley, premiering this March on ABC.

Finally, I have to ask you about one of the most famous lines in cinema history - "I used to fuck guys like you in prison!" Was this in the script or improvised, and how did you keep a straight face?

Wow..this line from Road House was not scripted, total improv! 
The producers and director asked me to come up with something that would make Patrick (Dalton) mad...and that's what came out.

Marshall can be found on twitter, facebook and IMDB