Mr Flibble Talks To... At The Captain's Table
Captain Hollister was killed off in Red Dwarf's first episode - but that didn't stop him making a comeback in season VIII. Mr Flibble stops for coffee with the man who threw the Dwarfers into the brig - Mac McDonald...
1 December, 2000
Mac MacDonald
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble instructed Andrew to forward his first question: Tell me how you started your Singing Jukebox street act when you arrived in the UK...

It was a CARDBOARD JUKEBOX, and a friend of mine was an art college student, and he painted it up to look like a real jukebox. It looked fantastic. I had room for 24 songs on the front - so I had to come up with 24 Songs! So needless to say at the end it was stuff like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, Beethoven' s Fifth Symphony.

I did the Jukebox for about three years, and then I did stand-up comedy. Showing people how to make party costumes using a loaf of Mother's Pride bread and a carton of Ski yogurt. Nuclear holocaust protection units and stuff like that, so they didn't have to actually eat it. And I did that for about 6 years. Then at the end of that I stopped because I was getting a lot of film and TV work - and I suppose that was about 11, 12 years ago.

But just recently I've started singing with my two daughters - Jessica and Naomi. We've always left singing answerphone messages, and a couple of friends of mine liked them a lot and said "Why don't you come and do like 15, 20 minutes at the club?" We did our first gig at the Hemmingford Arms about a year ago, last September.

What else have you got lined up?

There's a Martin Scorsese movie called Gangs of New York and I'm up for that, hopefully something will come of that, but we won't hear about that for a while.

Mr Flibble then asked 18 questions about fish. These have been removed. Finally he asked: You've done a lot of film roles over the years, what's been the most interesting experience?

Doing THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997) was really interesting, because it was working with Luc Besson. I was wearing the most stifling, heat-making, piece-of-shit costume that I've ever worn in my life, for about two weeks. But he actually allowed me to take my helmet off. I was the only policeman in the whole movie that was allowed to have his helmet off.

MEMPHIS BELLE (1990) was great. Memphis Belle was a heartbreak for me because I had a very good part, a lot of it was with Matthew Modine, and when they came to edit it, it over-ran by an hour and a half. So they cut one whole storyline out - which was the one that I was in. So that was a drag because I'm in the movie, but I'm just in with a couple of close-ups and one line. But it was actually a substantial role.

You got cut from Aliens (1986), too - but were restored for the SPECIAL EDITION. Cameron has a reputation for being a little bit bonkers...

I worked on the very first day on the filming of Aliens, so he didn't have time to go bonkers! He was totally open to suggestions. I was giving him idea after idea, and he said, "Knock it off - because if you contribute any more, I'm going to have to give you a writing credit!" He was lovely. But I know that he has a reputation for going a bit whacky - but he does these movies where he's underwater for like eight months.

I'll tell you a good one. On BATMAN (1989), I played one of the Joker's goons. And Tim Burton said, "This is going to be so far out, Mac. You're going to have such a brilliant time - because Jack loves to improvise and he's gonna love you."

So on the first day of filming they said, "Come on up, we'll introduce you to Jack." So I went up with these two other speaking goons. On the soundstage were something like 40 goons - stunt goons, background goons, stand in goons, goon goons - so we were just part of this general morass of goons. And Jack came out and surveyed the goons, like a general surveying his troops - and that was it.

So I thought, "Well, there must be some way to turn this to my advantage." And in-between set-ups for one scene and another, I saw that he was sitting about 10 feet away from me - on his own. So I went over to him, he was all dressed-up in his Joker gear, and I said, "Hi Jack, I'm Mac and I'm gonna be gooning for you for the next six weeks." And he kind of, very minimally, raised his eyes, just kind of clocked my face, and then looked down again and went, "Goon on, Mac." And he never spoke to me again.

Mr Flibble said stars can be like that, that's why he always returns to his luxury trailer with built-in swimming pool between scenes - it saves embarrassment. Andrew put a coffee cup on his head and asked if Mac was especially keen on SF and comedy genre work...

I love sci-fi, I've been reading sci-fi since I was about ten years old. My father introduced me to Clifford Simak and Azimov and Phillip K. Dick and all those kind of seminal 40's and 50's guys. And I've been reading science-fiction ever since. So it's great to do science-fiction movies.

As far as comedy goes, I've been doing comedy since I was old enough to make other babies laugh.

Did you watch RED DWARF during your "break" from it?

I didn't watch all that crap in-between! (Laughs) That garbage without me in it? You've got to be joking...

I did actually. I didn't watch it regularly every week, but I used to dip in and out of it. I was aware of when Chloë appeared and there was no longer Rimmer in it. I've kinda kept in touch with it all the way through.

Mr Flibble muttered something about refusing to tune in since his character was removed. Was the atmosphere on set similar to the first time around?

That really struck me, and that was something that was really nice - nobody changed. Chris and Craig have been very successful over the years, so they could have been assholes. But everybody - Doug, Ed - it was truly like doing it ten years ago.

Chloë has done an interview suggesting that Kochanski might have a crush on Hollister...

Hey, I'd like to see them explore that plot-line! (Laughs) I'd like to have her bring it out. I think Hollister would respond quite frenetically! It doesn't bear thinking about, does it!

Was the role originally written for your type?

I think it was. There were no changes to it at all. They didn't have me in mind when they wrote it, but it was just that type of guy. Semi-slobby American guy.

I always hoped that they would bring Hollister back, and I always thought, "If there's any series where you can actually do that, it's Red Dwarf." Because you could come back as a coffee table or whatever, but everything is possible in Red Dwarf.

What's been your favourite Hollister moment?

I liked the whole episode of the virus that eats the potato skins and then gets transferred onto Rimmer and Lister, and from them onto me. All the stuff to do with Pete, the dinosaur - that was fantastic. Some of the stuff we didn't used that we actually filmed with Pete. Like some of that massage stuff - that was a lot longer. And I did a lot of messing around in that room, I can tell you.

He seems to have fled the ship now, but would you like Hollister to return? Is there anything you'd like to see him do?

I'd like to see more of his family, more of his wife. And I think he's probably got a couple of kids and pets, all that kind of stuff. An ash-tray collection - he's definitely got an ash-tray collection, but he wasn't able to bring it with him on the ship obviously. I'd like to see more of his relationship with his wife.

And also I'd like that Chloë thing to be explored. I'll have to put a word in to Doug, see what he can do...

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Mac McDonald, and now it's over... Mr Flibble's very cross.