An Old Town Under Hollywood Lights

The well-preserved Palace Theater in Marfa, Texas, is now the home and studio of illustrator David Kimble. Marfa is a destination for artists, due in large part to the arrival of Donald Judd in 1971.
The well-preserved Palace Theater in Marfa, Texas, is now the home and studio of illustrator David Kimble. Marfa is a destination for artists, due in large part to the arrival of Donald Judd in 1971. Neille Ilel
53min : Weekend America February 23, 2008

Bill Radke: Welcome to Weekend America, Chip

Chip Love: Thank you.

So what happens in your scene?

Well, I'm the unfortunate guy, driving down the road, and I get pulled over by a police car and get to meet Javier Bardem. He quickly dispatches me with a cattle stunner -- like a hydraulic probe that will eject a steal cylinder into whatever you place it against, about three or four inches, and then pop back. And so, that's his tool of method on me.

That's a fatal wound.

Yeah, it's a fatal wound, and boy, it's not as easy as you think. It's a simple thing - he's going to put this up against your head, you snap your head back, you stand there for a few seconds, and then you fall to the ground. And intellectually, yeah that's easy. Well, when you're doing it and there's a bunch of people standing around and you're nervous. It's not that easy. And that's why I say acting is best left to professionals.

Well, why didn't the Coens hire a professional? How did you get the gig?

I was showing them around the real estate. They were looking for locations and they just asked if I would like to do a part in this. I instantly thought, my grandmother was in "Giant." I asked my then girlfriend -- she's now my wife -- and she goes, "Do it. It'll be a goof. Have some fun with it."

"Giant" is the James Dean movie. How was your grandmother in "Giant?"

I'm a fifth-generation Persido County resident, and so my grandmother was from Marfa. Back when that movie was filmed, they had a casting call for extras, and you can see her in the barbecue scene when they pan across. I don't know if the people that come after me -- you know, my daughter and her children -- I don't know if they'll get the same sense of satisfaction of seeing grandma get whacked by a psychopath (laughs), but it's a very small bit of immortality I guess -- being in celluloid, or film, or whatever you call it. I suspect after Sunday, that it's going to go back to normal Marfa.

How do you feel about this cinema theme of places like West Texas, where an unredeemed evil-doer can do his worst and thrive?

I think evil dwells anywhere if you give root to it, but in our part of the world you can still pretty much go around and live your life and not have to worry about things. Most people don't lock their houses and it's as close to Mayberry as, I think, one can.

Marfa's become a kind of artist town. What's that doing to the Marfa you love?

I enjoy it even more. I've always been about the landscape and I love the cattle country here. The benefit of the artist is, after you go out and work cattle all day and you come home and take a shower, go out and have a nice meal and drink a nice martini. And, when you get up you can have a nice cup of coffee, go to the bookstore and get any kind of book you want now. They've made West Texas a sexier place to live, so I enjoy it even more.

Chip Love of the Marfa National Bank, and of the movie, "No Country for Old Men." Great to talk to you Chip. Thank you.

Thank you very much.

The well-preserved Palace Theater in Marfa, Texas, is now the home and studio of illustrator David Kimble. Marfa is a destination for artists, due in large part to the arrival of Donald Judd in 1971.
The well-preserved Palace Theater in Marfa, Texas, is now the home and studio of illustrator David Kimble. Marfa is a destination for artists, due in large part to the arrival of Donald Judd in 1971. Neille Ilel
The road into Marfa, Texas. The town provided the setting for "Giant," the last movie to feature a James Dean performance. More recently Marfa has served as the backdrop for two current Best Picture Oscar contenders: "No Country For Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood".
The road into Marfa, Texas. The town provided the setting for "Giant," the last movie to feature a James Dean performance. More recently Marfa has served as the backdrop for two current Best Picture Oscar contenders: "No Country For Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood". Neille Ilel
The old Marfa National Bank building was purchased by Donald Judd and is now one of the many Marfa buildings owned by the Judd/Chinati Foundation.
The old Marfa National Bank building was purchased by Donald Judd and is now one of the many Marfa buildings owned by the Judd/Chinati Foundation. Neille Ilel
Donald Judd's 100 untitled works in mill aluminum at the Chinati Foundation. The building that houses them is known as "The Block," because it measures one full city block. Judd first rented one of these two former army buildings when he first arrived in Marfa in 1971. He later purchased the entire property In 1974. The Judd/Chinati Foundations have maintained Judd's living and work spaces as permanent installations since his death in 1994.
Donald Judd's 100 untitled works in mill aluminum at the Chinati Foundation. The building that houses them is known as "The Block," because it measures one full city block. Judd first rented one of these two former army buildings when he first arrived in Marfa in 1971. He later purchased the entire property In 1974. The Judd/Chinati Foundations have maintained Judd's living and work spaces as permanent installations since his death in 1994. Neille Ilel
Although a favorite of movie location scouts, Marfa itself no longer has any more operating movie theaters. The building shown here was once the Texas movie theater, one of two in Marfa. It is now used for office space.
Although a favorite of movie location scouts, Marfa itself no longer has any more operating movie theaters. The building shown here was once the Texas movie theater, one of two in Marfa. It is now used for office space. Neille Ilel
The Presidio County Abstract building is evocative of iconic western movies. It houses a real estate operation and, according to Joani Marginoeot at the Marfa Chamber of Commerce, it is as old as it looks.
The Presidio County Abstract building is evocative of iconic western movies. It houses a real estate operation and, according to Joani Marginoeot at the Marfa Chamber of Commerce, it is as old as it looks. Neille Ilel
Another Old West Marfa building.
Another Old West Marfa building. Neille Ilel
You are now leaving Marfa, Texas.
You are now leaving Marfa, Texas. Neille Ilel