Comedic actor Thomas Lennon, best known for his work on TV shows like Reno 911!, The State, and The Odd Couple, had never actually seen a Terrence Malick film when he was asked by his agent to appear in one. In an article by Jason Guerrasio in Business Insider, Lennon shares his brief but memorable experience of portraying a Hollywood party guest at a mansion in Malick’s Knight Of Cups. He calls it both “the single most fun day I’ve ever had on a movie set ever” and “an absolutely batshit crazy day.” The mysterious Malick is one of the movie business’ most baffling enigmas, avoiding interviews and spending years fine-tuning his films, including 2011’s The Tree Of Life, in post-production. As Lennon found out, the director’s working methods are every bit as odd as the movies he occasionally manages to complete.
For one thing, Lennon was never given a script, only a piece of paper with an enigmatic phrase printed on it: “There’s no such thing as a fireproof wall.” None of the actors appearing in Knight Of Cups, including star Christian Bale, seemed to have any idea what the movie was about or what they were supposed to be doing. Malick’s only real instruction to his actors was that they should make the camera operator’s job as difficult as possible by never giving him a good angle to shoot. Fortunately for Lennon, fellow The State alum Joe Lo Truglio was also on set that day. The two spent the day working with Bale and improvising some dialogue. Eleven hours of filming ultimately materialized in one minute of screen time for Lennon, but the comedian says it was worth it: “Terrence Malick actually is a genius.”