Prior to his moment of infamy in what many consider one of the worst films of all time, Alabama-born George Hardy had carved out a completely different career far-removed from the glamour of Hollywood. George W. Hardy D.M.D. is a respected dentist in his hometown of Alexander City, having graduated from the University of Alabama School of Dentistry before setting up a practice in Salt Lake City. It would be during this time that Hardy auditioned for the role of the father of a family who visit the remote town of Nilbog, only to discover the residents have been overrun by goblins, in the cult classic Troll 2.
The movie, directed by notorious Italian B-movie filmmaker Claudio Fragasso under the alias Drake Floyd, slowly gained a reputation over the following twenty years as one of the worst pictures ever made, with critics sometimes mentioning it in the same breath as Plan 9 from Outer Space, but Troll 2 was recently re-discovered when Michael Stephenson, who portrayed Hardy’s son, shot a documentary on the making of the film called Best Worst Movie.
Actor George Hardy reminisces about the making of the twenty year old cult classic and the legacy it has created.
Being a dentist by trade, how did you come to be cast in what would become Troll 2 and do you recall the audition process?
Just for the fun of it I auditioned for the part in Park City. There were about nine non-English speaking Italians in a heavily smoke-filled room, and I read the ‘piss on hospitality’ scene.
What were your initial thoughts when you first read the screenplay and how did you prepare for the role?
I never read the full screenplay, only in parts. It was so discombobulated that no one could understand the story. Very hard to decipher and to do scene analysis.
Were you familiar at all with Claudio Fragasso or the Italian horror industry and did you view any of his earlier movies before you worked with him?
Never even knew his name, nor even met him. Did not even know he was the director when I read for the part.
Perhaps the most quoted line from the movie was when your character said ‘You can’t piss on hospitality, I won’t allow it!’ What was your own personal favourite and how difficult was it to remain serious as you were acting out these lines?
My personal favourite is when I come down the stairs of the house and I say ‘Is breakfast ready, dear?’ and I was trying to act like i was still sleepy. what a joke! I never got that line right. I remember we did the take four or five times. It was hard to keep from laughing.
Do you recall whose decision it was to rename the movie from Goblin to Troll 2 and how did you feel about this?
Never knew the name of the movie ’til it came out so. Totally was surprised when the new title came out.
Public screenings of Troll 2 become very interactive, with the audiences participating by reciting dialogue and shouting at the screen. Have you attended many screenings over the years and what memories do you have of these?
Just folks going crazy over the movie and seeing cast members from the film, it was like a blast from the past. Fans can’t believe they are actually meeting the cast members. It’s bigger than life for them. One unusual night was when a fellow dragged another fan in the theatre in a flower pot and he was garnished in plants and ivy.
It seemed that for many years those who had worked on the movie had tried to distance themselves from it. Yet, more recently, you have come to embrace its legacy. At what point did you finally accept your place in movie history and how do you feel when you watch the film?
I never watched Troll 2 in its entirety until about the third screening. It was hard to embrace and sometimes still is. Don’t think I will ever get over it. He-he, seriously, it’s been a fun ride.
Was Claudio Fragasso aware of the film’s reputation and what memories do you have of him on set? Do you feel that he took the material seriously and how does he feel about the status the film has achieved over the years?
Claudio is Claudio and I totally respect him and he really does not care what other folks think about his work. He simply works from his heart and does what he feels is right for himself in his directing films. And I like that about him. He makes changes at the spur of a moment and operates from his heart, not his head so much, which i think is good. He just made a simple horror films with green blood (his and Rosella’s ideas) instead of red. Which took on a totally different effect, and really made Troll 2 what it is today. We were all trying to make a really good movie, we really were – that quote comes from Darren Ewing, Arnold in Troll 2.
How did you and the rest of the cast reunite after so many years and how come you chose to return to your career as a dentist and not pursue acting?
Believe it or not, the internet brought all of us together, thus Best Worst Movie was made after our reunion. There was an invite on IMDb I stumbled upon in April of 2006, asking cast members to attend the first USA screening with cast members in Provo, Utah.
It was 13 April 2006. Somehow I stumbled upon IMDb on the 11th as I was getting hits on MySpace about the popularity of Troll 2 and the number 1 rank of bottom 100. So I attended the first cast screening ever of Troll 2 in USA. From there, wow, what a ride. I met Michael Paul Stephenson and he said to me, ‘Hey, wanna do a doc around this crazy phenomenon around Troll 2 and I said, ‘Sure, I am in.’’
How did Best Worst Movie first come about? With Troll 2 being so obscure, making a documentary about it must have been a gamble.
First of all, it was very hard convincing other cast members to even interview with them for the doc. I can remember Michael and I both reaching out to the cast members time and time again, going through Google search to even reach them. It was really, really tough and then once we were able to reach time after tons of phone calls, then was the challenge of interviewing them. Several did not want to even let us interview, you won’t believe this but we finally found the last cast member of all, who we could not find nor inteview, for Best Worst Movie and that was the fellow who did the popcorn scene with credance the queen of the goblins.
How long did it take to shoot and edit Best Worst Movie and what kind of support did you receive?
It took Michael Paul Stephenson and myself from the start of July 2006 til March of 2009 to make Best Worst Movie. We started the project all on our own and then added more and more to the team, and more and more support came when they saw what we were doing.
With the film having landed a distributor and a trailer now online, when can fans expect to see the film and will it be released theatrically or straight onto DVD?
The film will be in independent theaters in Austin, NYC, LA and other cities starting April and then will spread out from there. Then the DVD will come about from that I am sure. Seeing Best Worst Movie in the theatre is and incredible experience. I have had folks say to me, ‘I dont know when I have laughed that hard in the theatres, period!’ It honestly is one of the funniest, yet most thought provoking and deeply layers documentaries i think you will ever see.
How do you feel about Troll 2’s reputation as one of the worst movies of all time and how did you feel when you first saw the movie?
Now I love the fact I can say to you, ‘Hey, I was in one of the worst movies ever made and now in one of the best documentaries (it feels more like a movie) ever made.’
While there would be a movie released under the title Troll 3, there was never a proper sequel made to Fragasso’s. Had one been produced would you have been willing to take part, and have you ever considered making another movie yourself?
Of course I would love the opportunity to work with Claudio and Michael. Of course there can never be another Troll 2, but who knows. I have seen some pretty good sequels. I think what would be really insane and funny is to do something no one has ever done before…to do the movie exactly over again, exactly but with the same cast members. It would be insanely funny I think and bizarre.