With Apologies to Matthew McGrory’s Family

Filed under : Sad Stories

Story 83 of 365

Est. Reading Time 9 minutes

As I mentioned in the origin story of Aural Salvation, Crazy J pulled a particularly shithead (bordering on inhuman) move on a grieving family of a semi-famous actor. That family is the one belonging to Matthew McGrory. The name might not sound familiar, but I guarantee you’ve seen some of his work.

As far as I know, I was the last person to interview him before he died 1I’m not a McGrory superfan, and my records aren’t exact, but I was definitely one of the last handful and I’ve yet to find an ...continue. Crazy J either had a contact, or the studio (MusicPlusTV.com or just “M+”) got in touch with the right people, but the cast of The Devil’s Rejects were doing a signing at Hollywood Scripts & Posters in Hollywood (luckily on the corner of the street I lived on) the weekend prior to the release of the film. J decided to hire a friend of his to be the camera guy for the day instead of using any staff from M+, and he wanted me to tag along and help split up the interviews. As the day went on, I pretty much re-interviewed everyone he tried to interview, almost acting as if I was from a different network.

I got to meet (and interview) Elizabeth Daily, Bill Moseley, and the legendary Sid Haig as well. It’s times like that when I realize I’m not nearly as geeky about any given thing in life as the true geeks. I say that with affection, not derision. Despite being raised watching horror films with my dad, and a love of all things macabre, I know fuck-all compared to people who are self-proclaimed horror fans. I barely even knew who Sid Haig was, so watching people lose their shit around him didn’t really faze me back then as much as it would today. However, when I met and hung out with Ken Foree a few years later (at an event that was tangentially related to M+), I gave him all the respect he deserved because Dawn of the Dead is my favorite horror film — and one of my favorite films, in general — of all time. For better or worse, he wasn’t at this signing.

At the end of the twisting impromptu in-store maze they setup for the signing was Matthew McGrory 2the header photo for this post is taken from behind McGrory, you can see my arm with a spiked bracelet on my wrist, holding a mic, in the background ...continue. I knew nothing at all about him, despite having seen Big Fish (and later realizing he wasn’t a digitized person in form and voice). I didn’t even remember him from House of 1000 Corpses. But, since these signings are also sometimes press junkets, the little sign next to him listed his credits, which included Big Fish. Now, I’m not a fan of Ewan McGregor and it might be due entirely to his piss-poor performance in the Star Wars prequels fan flicks 3I refuse to formally recognize what happened in those 3 films as canon, so they’re fan flicks in my eyes, I decided I’d take a pot-shot at Ewan for funsies.

Since I’ve never seen the video of the interview, and I’ve only got an archived blog entry to go on for what transpired during our interview (which consisted mostly of how scared I was that he was going to eat and/or crush me and that he probably thought I was an asshole), I can’t quote much of what I said to him or vice-versa. I remember introducing myself and he said “hello nice to meet you” and I literally thought he had a special voice box nearby for effect. I asked him “are you doing something crazy with your voice?” and he laughed “no, no… I always sound this way”4if you’re unsure why I asked that, you should listen to his actual unaltered voice and tell me you wouldn’t have asked the same thing. I told him, for on-camera amusement, “you sound like what someone impersonating the devil should sound like, if you slowed it down and added a reverb effect and played it on a vinyl record”. He laughed again. I figured we had a good enough rapport that I could ask my joke-question : “tell me – how badly does Ewan McGregor suck as an actor in real life?”. He got kind of serious, and told me “Ewan is a wonderful man, a good friend, and I think he’s a really good actor. He’s incredible, I love him”.

Swing and a miss, Mitcz.

When the interview ended, I reached out to shake his hand and — him still to this day being a Guinness World Record holder of the world’s largest feet — his fucking hand enveloped half my goddamned arm. I was a bit scared, but mostly just feeling like a dick for poking fun at a dude’s friend like that. I mean, if you came up to me to talk shit about one of my comedian friends, I’d probably knock you down a peg as well. It was clear McGrory was a loyal, friendly man, and I respect the hell out of him for not letting me talk shit about his friend.

J’s people went off to “work on the footage”, and it was only about two weeks later that J fell out of favor with M+. Unfortunately, less than a month after that interview (which took place on July 10, 2005), Matthew McGrory died. I posted a little obituary-slash-thank-you on my personal blog at the time, telling what little I could about what I enjoyed about meeting him, and how kind he was despite my being scared to my core of him.

To my surprise, his cousin commented on that entry :

I’m Matt’s cousin, and just wanted to say I liked what you wrote about him, and can appreciate your honesty. We’re putting together a book of articles, tributes and such found online to display at his memorial service, and you can be sure your note will be on a page in that book.

and just so you know…I’m quite certain Matt didn’t think you were a rude asshole, as I don’t think Matt ever felt that way about anyone. It was just in his nature to defend those that he loved or respected.

He truly was a remarkable guy, and I’ve always been nothing but proud to say I’m related to him!

I was skeptical of this actually being Matt McGrory’s cousin seeking out my tiny little blog, but I thought she deserved at least an email from me, promising her that I’d let her know as soon as M+ aired the interview I did with him. If they were going to be doing a eulogy ceremony with clips and quotes, it was only right to give the family footage of his last interview. Her reply was very touching :

Thanks for writing, I’m doing ok, still in shock about the whole thing actually, it just seems as if it couldn’t be true.

I’d love to see the footage of your interview with him, as would other members of my family I’m sure, so please contact me if you do get it online.

We’ve been trying to find everything positive that we can about Matt online for his mom, because when she went online last week the first thing she saw was an AOL message board where some idiot had said some pretty nasty things about him and she was totally devistated, so as you can imagine, that was the end of her online research.

I checked out your write up, love the last line about moving on before he ate you alive.  That is too funny.  He must have seemed so intimidating to people who didn’t know him, but since I grew up with him I saw him differently than everyone who only saw him as a 7 1/2 foot giant.  To me he was just matt, just plain old matt, no better, worse or different than me.  He was just a really cool and laid back kinda dude. He liked everyone.  And he was definitely one of the coolest people in our family!

He looked forward to his many years of acting to come, and it’s a shame we won’t get to enjoy the many great roles he would have played!

Take care,
I appreciate your writing to me,
And please do let me know about that interview!

Despite, at that point in my life, having never lost anyone really close to me, I’ve still had an immense amount of compassion for grieving families trying to gather memoranda. I decided I needed to reach out to J and make it my personal mission to get that footage, even if it meant editing it all myself. All of my calls to J were sent straight to voicemail. After 3 voicemails to him over the course of 2 days, along with 5-6 text messages, I reached out via email. He didn’t reply to those, either. I reached out to the management of M+, seeing if maybe the videographers J brought with him that day had dropped off any footage. It was a dead-end all around. I pleaded my case, on behalf of Matt’s family, to anyone who had any authority to do something, but no one could.

About a week later, I got an email from Matt’s cousin again, enquiring about the interview or any other photos I might have. I told her I was trying my best, and I gave her J’s phone number and email address, saying “this is all I have, I’m sorry I don’t have more”. A few days later, J’s “lawyer” (I’m pretty sure J couldn’t afford a lawyer, but knew a guy who could Google fancy phrases) emailed M+ and CC’d me, saying that J wants recompense for his work on getting this interview before the footage will be released. The asking price was $1500. That’s an absurd price for 3 hours of work, since we didn’t want edited footage, and the footage we wanted didn’t include J at all. I pleaded with the lawyer to let me speak to J, or at least just let me have just the footage of Matthew McGrory so I could send it to his family and I would agree to never air or distribute the footage.

It was a no-go. Instead, J and “the lawyer” asked Matt’s cousin for $500 to “cover the cost of filming, editing, and delivering the footage”. She told me about this, and asked if I was part of some grand scheme to extort her and her family. I assured her that wasn’t the case, and implored her to absolutely not pay any money to J for the footage. I told her that if anyone was paying, it would be myself and/or M+, and that I would deliver her the footage if I could ever get my hands on it, but I would never charge her for it because — as far as I was concerned — she had implicit rights to the footage to do with as she pleased.

Unfortunately, J and his “lawyer” dropped out of the negotiations and the footage never surfaced. I felt terrible that I couldn’t help a grieving family to obtain the footage, but I did all I could to help them. I only hope J never ended up making a deal with them on his own because there’s nothing more heartless and inhuman than asking a grieving family for money when you hold the keys to their memories and closure.

And to Matt’s family, I say again : I’m sorry. I wish I could’ve done more.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I’m not a McGrory superfan, and my records aren’t exact, but I was definitely one of the last handful and I’ve yet to find an interview that took place after The Devil’s Rejects was released
2. the header photo for this post is taken from behind McGrory, you can see my arm with a spiked bracelet on my wrist, holding a mic, in the background getting ready to interview him
3. I refuse to formally recognize what happened in those 3 films as canon, so they’re fan flicks in my eyes
4. if you’re unsure why I asked that, you should listen to his actual unaltered voice and tell me you wouldn’t have asked the same thing