Even in his old age, Bob Dylan has continued to be one of the most mercurial figures in entertainment, embarking on numerous endeavors (that Victoria’s Secret commercial, his upcoming album of Sinatra covers) that would have been unthinkable circa “Blowin’ In The Wind” or Blood On The Tracks. Here’s another curveball that almost was: As Dangerous Minds points out, Dylan once signed on to star in a slapstick comedy series for HBO then abruptly lost interest in the project.
The news comes from a new interview with Larry Charles on Pete Holmes’ You Made It Weird podcast. Charles (that’s him with Dylan above) is a writer and director with Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Tick, and three Borat movies to his credit. He also co-wrote and directed the 2003 Dylan film Masked And Anonymous with Dylan. As Charles explained on the podcast, the partnership on Masked And Anonymous sprung from a previous project they had hatched together. During the ’90s, Dylan got way into slapstick comedy by the likes of Jerry Lewis and Buster Keaton, and he ended up meeting with Charles over coffee to discuss starring in a slapstick comedy series of his own. They went to HBO to pitch the series, and one of the execs offended Dylan by noting that he still had tickets from Woodstock, which Dylan didn’t play. Despite Dylan being incredibly standoffish during the pitch meeting, the series got the green light. Almost as soon as it was approved, Dylan backed out, saying it was too corny and he didn’t want to do it anymore.
Charles tells the story way better than I do, so listen to him tell it. Someone has isolated the relevant part of the podcast in the YouTube clip below, and you can hear the whole interview at You Made It Weird, where the Dylan story begins about 26 minutes in.