Clifton Collins Jr. Talks ‘Westworld,’ ‘Triple 9,’ And Healing

You may recognize Clifton Collins Jr. from one of his 109 films credits over the past 25 years but 2016 will be the year that everyone knows his name.

Collins Jr. is part of the all-star cast of Triple 9 coming out in March, a gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town. Later in 2016 Collins Jr. stars opposite ‘The Man in Black’ in the HBO series Westworld. He also has to two star-studded Terrence Malick films coming out as well

The very busy actor called the Monkeys Fighting Robots hotline to talk about his different film projects plus his new book, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars. Collins Jr. wrote this book with his buddy Gustavo Alvarez. Prison Ramen comes out on November 3 but is available now for pre-order. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Homeboy Industries.

Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of the community.

On October 24th Homeboy Industries has a fundraiser Every Angeleno Counts 5K & Festival and Clifton Collins Jr. will be there with his book, signing autographs and talking with fans.

How has filming on Westworld been moving along?

“It’s kind of a dream gig for me, truth be told. It’s funny to me that my grand father would be such a huge figure in the western world, being a contract player for Blackjack Productions, John Wayne’s company. I would spend most of my career not doing any westerns, now I am in a western! It’s Abrams, Nolan, Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris, it’s just a dream gig truth be told,” said Collins Jr.

Can you talk about your character Lawrence?

“The man in black likes to hang out with me, we do a bit of outlawing. I can tell you that much,” said Collins Jr.

Did you see the original film?

“The 1973 Michael Crichton version, yeah it’s great. It’s kind of like, it really laid down the ground work for so many other films. You can see all the shots taken from that film for Terminator. Yul Brynner is just iconic in the original Westworld,” said Collins Jr.

What has HBO brought to the table?

“The caliber of talent from directors to crew to writers, I’m constantly running into actors that are in the show, “Like oh my God!” I may not even know their names but I’m a huge fan. “Like whoa, you’re working on this too!” This is on a level with feature film making and I got say, I’ve always been impressed with HBO but they’ve really lifted the bar here, they’ve raised it quite high,” said Collins Jr.

What can you tell us about Triple 9?

“‘Triple 9’ is a ride, it is such a beautiful ride. That was another dream gig. That was one of the few gigs that I was excited to race home and to get back into the studies. It was quite painful to research this because of the subject matter. I play a homicide detective, Detective Franco, it’s heavy. Triple 9, 9-9-9 is what police officers call when they are in trouble. When they think the shit is going to hit the fan and things are going to go south. It’s do our die, they’ll phone in a 9-9-9 and that’s when all officers converge to find the officer,” said Collins Jr.

What is like working with director John Hillcoat?

“He brings an authentic element, working with Hillcoat it was such an energetic collaboration. I love working with Hillcoat, he’s a lot of fun and keeps a great mood and environment. He’s the kind of guy that likes realism. If you see a car chase that is supposed to be 110, 120 (mph) there is damn good chance that they’re really going 120 (mph). That is how Hillcoat likes to run, I really respect him and love him for it. I’ll work with him on anything,” said Collins Jr.

Have you had any conversations about Pacific Rim 2?

“I’ve been trading emails and calls. I’m excited to get down with Pacific Rim again,” said Collins Jr.

How do you think Idris Elba would do as James Bond?

“I think Idris would be a badass James Bond! I was bit taken back, I know his edgier work that he had done got him some visibility. Again, it just fascinates me, like when I did 187 it was very hard for me to do any none hard, street, thuggish type roles until years later. I think people forget that they are actors. If you listen to Idris it’s just so gentlemanly and regal. He’s one of the least street people I now. I was bit taken back and saddened, I though for sure the gentleman making the accusations would have some insight to the craft of acting. To say Idris can’t do it, if you listen to his interview his is very James Bond-ish,” said Collins Jr.

What has your experience been with Homeboy Industries?

“I walked in there not knowing what to expect and I didn’t even know if Father Greg was there. But when I saw Crips and Bloods, Northsiders and Southsiders and Latinos all in the same room it looked like the beginnings of a gang rumble. As a younger kid, I had a lot of situations myself. I’ve been shot at quite a few times in my earlier days. To walk in and see this, my Spidey-sense started to tingle, like “Whoa this is dangerous and about to jump off!” I was thrown back to my teenage days, and then when the true reality hit that all these people at the rock bottom of their lives and now finally have a glimmer of hope because of Father Greg, so much so they are talking with their enemies, they’re helping each other, they’re being present. (…) I literally wanted to cry because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. (…) It took everything to hold the tears back at all this healing that was happening,” said Collins Jr.


Matthew Sardo
Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.