When people think of Flea, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t usually movies, but in the late 1980s and early 1990s the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist actually had some memorable roles in some pretty amazing films. He was also in The Chase. “I always thought I was a pretty terrible actor,” Flea tells Rolling Stone. “Recently something clicked and I kind of figured out how to be a good actor, but since then I haven’t acted in anything. But I just lucked into this weird, little obscure cameoesque film career. I just love being a part of film history.”
Here, Flea looks back on his movie roles in his own words.
The Big Lebowski (1998) – Nihilist #2, Kieffer
The preeminent thing in my mind is just working with the Coen Brothers and seeing how those guys work and make movies. They would finish each others’ ideas and sentences. They were really a two-headed creative monster. For me, they’re just these two stoner brothers who have all these inside jokes.
I am a little surprised that it’s had this continued cult success. The Coen Brothers really have this ability to capture the culture of what they’re doing at the time, and the stoner culture is really a profound one. It’s a universal language. Stoners from all over the world can get together. They can’t even speak the same language, but they can smoke weed and watch The Big Lebowski. It’s like being able to share that you like the Blues or something.
Jeff Bridges did such an amazing job in that role. What’s funny is that it didn’t make a big splash when it came out. It came out on the heels of Fargo, which was a big Oscar winner and such a blockbuster. The Big Lebowski was a much subtler movies and didn’t have success, so in that way it’s really surprising to see that it has legs and the conventions and everything. I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.
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Back To The Future II (1989) – Douglas J. Needles
I was on tour when that was filmed. We were playing clubs at the time, and I had to fly in from really far away to film my scenes. I slept like two hours the night before. Then we did it all in one day and I had to fly back to the tour that night. That’s my real memory. It’s just a blur, and I lost the sweater that my grandmother had knitted me somewhere on the trip. I think I only saw those movies when they came out. Never since.
The Chase (1994) – Dale
(Flea laughs at the mere mention of this widely forgotten Charlie Sheen movie.) That’s a funny one. Anthony [Kiedis] and I were acting together in that one. It’s the only time we’ve done something like that outside of TV interviews or something. It was fun to work with him and create these weird, little redneck characters and just drive around. We were making up lines the whole time. I remember we said something about Geraldo Riveria and we called him Jeraldo. We thought that was so funny. It was great having Henry Rollins on set. I’ve always admired him, so it was nice to hang out with him. I probably saw that movie at the premiere, and then never again.