NEW YORK (AP) — Things get odd very quickly when Gary Busey stops by.
The actor, making his off-Broadway stage debut this month, gets far off the topic of acting within a few minutes to urge everyone to eat fried rattlesnakes. “You’ll be able to crawl on your belly better,” he insists.
Then Busey urges anyone interested to go to Texas and enter a greased pig contest. “The way you win one of those is walk out to the pig real slow and just kick it in the head like you’re punting a football,” he counsels.
You apparently never know what you’re going to get with Busey, and his appearance onstage near Times Square seems fitting. He’s joining New York’s longest-running play, “Perfect Crime,” as a serial killer.
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“It’ll change your life, maybe change your religion and absolutely cause you to change your toothbrush,” says Busey, who earned an Oscar nomination for playing the title role in “The Buddy Holly Story.”
Busey is playing opposite Catherine Russell, who famously has only missed four nights in the show’s 30-year run. She says Busey has been humble, in the moment, and slightly unpredictable.
“I did not know what to expect and he’s great,” she says. “For me, good acting is do I believe the words coming out of the actor’s mouth? And I believe everything coming out of Gary’s mouth. It’s really fun to be onstage with him.”
Busey has most recently appeared in such TV shows as “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens” and “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.” He also starred on “Dancing with the Stars” and “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is where he got to know President-elect Donald Trump, whom Busey endorsed (the actor says he’s pleased Trump won the election).
“I’m very happy. I’m very happy about it. I think a great thing just happened but I don’t want to talk about politics. I would just like to say: Way to go and that’s it,” he said after his fiancee, Steffanie Sampson, tried to shut down any political queries.
“Perfect Crime” isn’t the first time the 72-year-old has acted in a play. He got his theater start in the fifth grade playing a preacher and then was in “South Pacific” in high school. (“The people in the audience laughed. I thought that was good,” he says.)
He went on to play Albert Peterson in a production of “Bye Bye Birdie” in junior college before studying drama at Oklahoma State University and landing his first acting job in 1970 in the TV series “The High Chaparral.”
The nonspeaking role required Busey to simply hit the star of the show with a stick but Busey was so appealing that he was asked to stick around for three days and got seven lines. He has this advice for wannabe stars: “You got to get out of your own way to step forward smoothly and be generous with victory.”
After “Perfect Crime” Busey says he doesn’t have any immediate acting plans but says he’s confident that “great things are coming up.” Meanwhile, he’s working on a book of what he calls “Busey-isms.”
“What I do, I take a word and I take the letters that spell the word and create a definition for the word,” he explains. For example, he takes “simple” and turns it into See It Manifesting Precious Loving Energy, or turns “truth” into Taking Real Understanding to Heart.
“They come through me,” he says.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits