Louis CK is a man on a mission. Nine months after allegations of sexual conduct threatened to end his high-flying career, the comedian shocked the entertainment world with a surprise stand-up set at New York’s Comedy Cellar.
Now, the man born Louis Szekely appears determined to resurrect his flagging career with a new film in which he stars as Zaccarias Moussaoui, the notorious “Twentieth Hijacker” from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Z Review: Thanks for sitting down with us.
Louis CK: No, thank you for sitting down with me.
The Z Review: Have you found it hard to make your own voice heard in all the madness over the last nine months?
Louis CK: You know, I have. I don’t want to sound insensitive, but I have things I want to say as well and they have been drowned out to a large extent. That’s why I decided I needed to get back out there and do stand-up, do projects where I can make myself heard again. I want people to see and hear me and only me.
The Z Review: Tell us about your latest project.
Louis CK: It’s a new film called “Fate In My Hands.” I play Zaccarias Moussaoui, the “Twentieth Hijacker” from the September 11 attacks. In the film, he misses his flight because he is busy masturbating in front of one of the female guests in the hotel they were all staying at.
The Z Review: Fascinating. What attracted you to his story?
Louis CK: Well, I was really attracted to the idea of somebody who is involved in something bad, but then pulls back just short of making it irreversibly evil. I mean, it’s not like the guy actually went through and flew a plane into a building. He was just thinking about it. Is that wrong? Is that a crime? Can he be redeemed?
The Z Review: Well, Zaccarias is serving six consecutive life sentences.
Louis CK: Look, I’m not suggesting that some of the things he did weren’t wrong and that he didn’t deserve any punishment. But he’s not as bad as the other guys. You know who I am talking about? The ones who actually went all the way? I mean, he did some naughty things, but he didn’t actually touch a building.
The Z Review: This seems like a pretty risky project. How did you get backing?
Louis CK: It wasn’t easy. As you can guess, most studios wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. They’d tell me it “didn’t align with their moral compass” or some such bullshit. Eventually, I approached the folks at Miramax and found a receptive audience. If anything, they were pushing me to change the story so that Moussaoui went even further but was still redeemed. There was some back and forth on that, but I had to hold my ground. I didn’t want things to get out of hand or seem exploitative. Nobody wants to see a film with an agenda.
The Z Review: How do you handle a delicate subject like this without going over the line?
Louis CK: I think there are some models you can use. Life is Beautiful, for one, handles a very touchy subject with remarkable tact. Then there’s The Day the Clown Cried, which I managed to finally see last November. I thought it was done really tastefully and would have been a great vehicle to put some energy back into Jerry Lewis’ career.
The Z Review: Those are interesting choices, but it bears mentioning that in both of those films the protagonist is not actually part of the Nazi party. Moussaoui was part of al-Qaeda.
Louis CK: Well, he was and he wasn’t. I mean, yeah, he did a few things that were the same as the other guys in al-Qaeda, but he didn’t go all the way. He held back and, in my opinion, that’s a different story. He’s different. He’s not the same as the others. You get that, right? He’s only superficially the same.
The Z Review: I think we hear you. What do you think is next for you?
Louis CK: Since we wrapped I’ve been looking at a few scripts. It’s hard because I don’t want to continue exploring the self-absorbed loser I played on my television show. I want to show people that I have another side, one that they didn’t really know about before. So, I need to find the right vehicle for that.
The Z Review: Louis, thanks for speaking with us today.
Louis CK: Thank you.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered the actual views of Louis C.K., merely the fevered activity of David Taylor’s brain.