“I had nothing to do with it,” said the man sent to represent the film he was just asked about. “I can’t say.”
Terry Jones was in town to talk about A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, the whimsical animated 3-D feature on the late Chapman. An intimate roundtable interview in a hotel room had a bit of silliness to it, mostly because Python’s Jones really didn’t have much to say about the film or Chapman.
“He was kind of an enigmatic character,” said Jones, who (along with all the surviving Pythons except for Eric Idle) voiced a few characters in the movie. “I don’t felt like we actually knew him.”
Jones was charming and pleasant, but also slightly befuddled, often deferring to people better equipped to answer the questions of the five journalists in the room. What was the point of film? he was asked. “Well, you’d have to ask my son, really,” Jones said in his wonderfully squeaky voice. He was referring to Bill Jones, one of the three directors involved.
I’m sure we would have loved to have asked him. Except that he wasn’t offered up for interviews.
One late-arriving journalist seemed well-versed on the oeuvre of the British comedic troupe, but it didn’t seem like she had actually seen A Liar’s Autobiography, which isn’t a Python film proper. “What was it like to go back in time and revisit a particular part of your life?” she asked Jones. His sensible reply: “Well, it was a particular part of Graham’s life, actually.”
When another journalist wondered about the film’s concept (which involved the use of Chapman’s recorded readings of excerpts from his fanciful autobiography), Jones explained that it “wasn’t me,” and that it was his son and one of the other directors who came up with the film’s conceit.
Later, the journalist who didn’t seem to know anything about the movie asked Jones if he was uncomfortable with his director son delving into his past. “No,” said Jones, “it was all about Graham.”
The entire interview lasted a lighthearted 18 minutes. Nobody really came away with any answers, but, then, we were talking about a film based on a (comedic) lie. Graham Chapman, we hardly knew you – and we still don’t.