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Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment from his Arizona home to promote his new podcast Alice Cooper’s Vintage Vault, which features classic conversations from his long-running radio show, Alice Cooper grants an epic interview worthy of its own podcast episode. The man is such a rock icon that even his legendary pet snakes — who’ve gone by such marquee-worthy stage names as Cobra Winfrey and Julius Squeezer — have rock ‘n’ roll tales to tell.
“There are so many great stories when you're carrying snakes around, the big boa constrictors, because they were so much a part of the band that you just let them roam around,” Cooper chuckles. “But they'd get loose in hotels. We had one go down the toilet in Knoxville, Tenn., and it came up in Charley Pride's toilet about two weeks later. … Yvonne, she was our biggest snake and the sweetest, she was the nicest one, but if you're sitting on the toilet and a snake comes up between your legs while you're sitting there… Well, you're going to have some kind of traumatic reaction to that!”
A couple of Cooper’s reptilian sidekicks, including one with the movie-star moniker Eva Marie Snake, actually became movie stars, appearing in the famous “I hate snakes!” scene in the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark. But Cooper is no stranger to the screen himself, having acted in everything from the notorious movie musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to Wayne’s World to television shows with the Muppets and Gene Wilder. But who would play him in a Cooper biopic? He readily suggests his bandmate in the supergroup Hollywood Vampires and his onetime co-star in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows.
“If Johnny Depp were just better-looking, he could play me,” Cooper quips. “He would be so good for it, though. … because he really likes to take those characters that nobody else wants to play. And he loves prosthetics. He would get my nose in there and the whole thing. And he knows me well enough now where he could imitate me pretty well.”
But until that biopic happens, Cooper reminisces below about his own most memorable onscreen moments.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
“The thing about it was that I had just gotten out of rehab, and I had a mustache. I had never had a mustache before, but I had this big mustache. And I came out of rehab and they said, ‘We're doing Sgt. Pepper.’ And I said, ‘Oh, with the Beatles? That's going to be great!’ And they said, ‘No… with the Bee Gees." And I immediately went, ‘This is going to be a disaster!’ You're talking about the Beatles' [most] sacred record of all time. … Now, I love the Bee-Gees, I get along with those guys, I had a great time with them. But the general public are not going to stand for that.
“But it was one of those movies that ended up being so bad that it was great. …It was consistently horrible to the point where it was great. And they told me, ‘You get to beat up the Bee Gees. There's a fight scene where you actually fight with them, and you get to work with George Martin.’ Now, that was the reason that I did the movie, because I wanted to work with George Martin. And here we are, doing the Beatles' prettiest song. It’s the prettiest thing the Beatles ever did, ‘Because.’ And somehow at the end of it, George Martin says, ‘I can't believe that you could turn the Beatles' prettiest song into a threat!’ I said, ‘Well, the character is a villain. … He's not going to do it nice. He's going to be this horrific character doing it.’
“And [Martin] sent it to John [Lennon], and John loved it. Lennon loved it because he thought it was just the opposite of what it was supposed to be. … John and I were pretty good friends; he was an original Hollywood Vampire, and so he was in the drinking club. … And George Martin produced it well, so that kind of greasy, horrific voice really popped out. It really was playing against the prettiness of it. So, John said, ‘Ah, yeah, I would expect that from Alice.’”
The Muppet Show (1978)
“I never had so much fun in my life as doing The Muppet Show. You rehearsed for a week in London, and after a while these Muppets were people. You were talking to them: ‘What are you going to have for lunch today?’ ‘Oh, I don't know. I was thinking about going to...’ You'd catch yourself talking to this piece of felt like it's real, because they would react exactly the way a person would react. Miss Piggy would say, ‘Do you want a Diet Coke? Because I know that you're not drinking now.’ … They'd come into your dressing room. ‘Hey, you want some lunch?’ ‘Yeah, Kermit. I'll be right there.’”
Wayne's World (1992)
“I got there, and I was supposed to do ‘Feed My Frankenstein.’ That was the big deal. They were going to go see Alice backstage, and that's all that was going to be. As soon as I got there, Mike Myers says, ‘You're an actor. Here's six pages of dialogue.’ And I said, ‘When are we shooting this?’ And he goes, ‘About two hours from now.’ So, I memorized about a quarter of it and then just riffed on the rest of it.
“[I was lecturing about] Milwaukee. It was like, ‘Oh, the governors and the mayors of Milwaukee were Socialists, and actually it was all the fur traders are coming down from Canada.’ I was sounding like I was in Jeopardy. … I was just starting to make things up out of nowhere. And what you didn't see on camera was you had Mike and Dana [Carvey] doing everything they could to make me laugh. And I picked a spot between them and delivered all the lines, [looking] in between them. But if you would have heard the outtakes on the ‘We're not worthy!’ [scene], it went on for about seven or eight minutes and it got vile. It just got vile. … I guarantee you Mike or [producer] Lorne [Michaels] has [the outtakes]. But if that ever gets out, I'm not in trouble — but they are.”
Something Wilder (1995)
“I did a show with Gene Wilder. It was a comedy where it was live in front of an audience, like a play. I was his noisy next-door neighbor. And he ends up going to this party, coming home, but he's got my eye makeup on and he can't get it off. It was a good 10 minutes of just Gene Wilder and I doing schtick, but I had to know timing — I had to know where I was going, where he was going. It was a live audience and they couldn't redo it, they couldn't reshoot it. And I'm telling you, when you get to work with Gene Wilder, I doubt that you can get better than that.”
Check out Alice Cooper’s extended Yahoo Entertainment interview, in which he discusses his favorite podcast guest, his forgotten new wave album Flush the Fashion, his early days on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records label, his new coronavirus-inspired anthem “Don’t Give Up,” and much, much more:
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