It’s Werner Herzog’s 72nd birthday today (and it’s also “Tweet Like Werner Herzog Day” #twertzog), but it looks like he’s giving us the present.
Despite his reputation as the dour, deep-thinking director of heady films like Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: the Wrath of God, Herzog has had unlikely cameos on shows like The Simpsons and Metalocalypse. (Not exactly what you’d expect from the man who Truffaut called “the most important film director alive.”) But this promises to be his best turn yet: last night, during a talk at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, he revealed that he recently filmed a guest spot on Parks and Recreation.
During a wide-ranging conversation with Paul Holdengräber of Live from the NYPL, Herzog had a lot to say about his collaborations with Nicolas Cage, Christian Bale, Klaus Kinski, and — the actor that made the biggest impression on him — Bruno S., whom he discovered in one of his student’s films on street singing and who went on to lead The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser. Herzog also confessed an obsession with King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Known for building lavish dream castles, writing strange poetry, and visiting local peasants in the middle of the night (he’s said to have offered his royal ring in exchange for some water), Ludwig was the only other person who could’ve made Fitzcarraldo, Herzog said.
After speaking admiringly of King Ludwig’s eccentricities, the auteur revealed that he’d recently filmed an episode of Parks and Recreation — a show he had never seen.
According to Herzog’s account of the scene, he looks right into the camera and announces that he’s selling his decrepit house of 47 years to Leslie and Ben, so that he can live in Orlando.
It remains to be seen whether this’ll be as delightful as Herzog’s cameo as a villain in Jack Reacher (which he complimented himself on) but it sounds promising.
For those who are familiar with Herzog more as a voice actor – i.e. Go the Fuck to Sleep – know that he read the entirety of the quote below, from the back of A Guide to the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin. He said the new book (75 signed copies of which went very fast) would outlive most of his films. For the record, the cover photo of him posing in front of a bear is real, and was taken by his terrified wife. Herzog claimed he wasn’t scared, though the bear had very bad breath.