Michael Bolton talks about his 'Jack Sparrow' 'SNL' digital short, his new CD, and sticking his face in a mountain of (fake) cocaine


Is Michael Bolton now the coolest rock star on the planet thanks to the crooner’s game turn in this weekend’s Saturday Night Live digital short, “Jack Sparrow”?

Maybe not, but Bolton’s performance as a movie-obsessed version of himself who hilariously ruins the Lonely Island crew’s hip-hop track by singing about Pirates of the Caribbean, Forrest Gump, Erin Brockovich, and Scarface has definitely cranked up his cool quotient.

The short has also turned him into an unlikely Internet phenomenon. After the jump, Bolton talks about his collaboration with Lonely Island-ers Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, his new CD of duets, and why he won’t be dressing in drag again any time soon.

Entertainment Weekly: How did the digital short come about?
Michael Bolton: The Lonely Island guys reached out to my management and said they wanted to do this. I said, “I love those guys. But what are they thinking?” I was automatically scanning through my memory banks of the most wicked language and visuals. You want to work with guys like this. But at the same time I get invitations to perform at the Vatican! [Laughs] It could be potentially uncomfortable. And in the first few approaches some of the language was just so intense and off-color.

Could you give an example of that?
I can’t! [Laughs] Not right now. If you’ve seen the Natalie Portman sketch you know their brand is shock-funny, in that order. They love to get you where you just can’t believe what you’re looking at and then hit you with the funny. I’ve been all about humor and all about laughing since I was a kid. That’s just who I am. I’ve been kicked out of every class. Andy and I were talking about that. Neither one of us had our Bar Mitzvah because we couldn’t take Hebrew school seriously.

You could have a joint one now!
Now, there’s a funny video right there. That’s something I would need to talk to Andy about. But they were sending me lyrics and I was reading them and I was thinking, “This is funny.” Then I’d get to another line that I really wish I could share with you right now, but I just can’t. I would say, “Nope, I don’ t think I could be intoxicated enough to read this line.” It kept transforming. And they really wanted me to do it. Because they could have just said at any point, “Nah, you’re going to take the funny out of it, you’re going to take the shock value out of it.” Finally, I said “This is great. But can we still take a look at some of this language, because I’m still not comfortable. Scarface is Scarface. He can say pretty much anything. As my own character, I just have a rough time wrapping my head around it.”

How much input did you have into the music? The hooks really are quite Bolton-esque.
They came up with the music. They created this big giant hook. I’m sure they felt, “Hey, this is a Bolton kind of hook,” in their minds. I just sang it in a studio in Atlanta on a night off. The guys were on through Skype. They’re serious about their comedy but they’re really serious about the details. They were focused on the minutiae that great record producers focus on, not comedy writers. And I love seeing that work ethic. These guys were inspiring.

What was the shoot like?
They were 16 to 18 hour days, both days. There’s a tremendous amount of energy and focus that goes in to making these. And this one, they seemed to be going above and beyond. The shots of the ocean were at Brighton Beach and trucks descended and cranes came out. I thought, “Wow, these guys are making a movie here.” Now, it’s kind of gone off the charts. It’s the number one viewed clip around the world. I love the timing of it as well. Their CD is about to come out tomorrow. Then my CD, Gems, comes out June 21. I didn’t have a clue this would air so much or be received so well. My CD is an album of duets with people like Orianthi, and Delta Goodrem, and Seal, and Rascal Flatts. I don’t know if we’re going to have to put “Jack Sparrow” in the set.

Isn’t it too late to do that?
It’s too late to put it on this first initial pressing. It’s funny, the guys are talking about touring. They offered to come up on stage if we wanted to do it live. I said, “Be careful what you ask for, because I will take you up on that.”

You dressed in drag as Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich. I don’t think it’s an insult to suggest that you are a better looking man than you are a woman.
[Laughs] I was terrified to look in the mirror. I tried to avoid it. I noticed when they were finishing me up as Erin that the crew started reacting in this really uncomfortable way. As I walked past, people were clearly uncomfortable. At one point I was breastfeeding the baby. You didn’t see that, I don’t think.

There’s also a scene where, as Tony Montana, you’re surrounded by what I assume is fake cocaine.
I assure you that—aside from the fact that I don’t think any one of us would be around a pile of coke—that they didn’t have it in the budget for that to be anything but some sort of baking powder. But it was pretty funny. And that’s one of my favorite movies. That’s one of my favorite characters Pacino ever brought to life. It was another one where you knew you were going to get hard laughs, especially once my head got dropped into that pile, that mountain of cocaine.

How on earth can you sing along to lines like “Davy Jones!” or “Giant Squid!” while keeping a straight face?
You have to, that’s the whole thing. During the rehearsals, there were times when nobody could keep a straight face. But the whole thing only pays off if you keep a straight face and deliver from a seriously committed place, which was not a problem at all with Jack Sparrow and Scarface. With Erin, I just kind of wanted to get those clothes off and take a shower.

Are you actually a fan of the Pirates movies?
I enjoy them, I do. It’s been written many times that Johnny kind of created his character primarily from Keith Richards. He lives not far from me in Connecticut.

So next time you bump into him, are you going to mention that you did this?
I haven’t bumped into him yet. I have a feeling that there’s so much more that I would like to talk to him about, since I’m a Stones fan. When I was 13, the first time they came over to America, I went to see him at New Haven Arena. I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot of things to talk about. But I will get around to Captain Jack Sparrow.

You can check out the (expletive-featuring) “Jack Sparrow” sketch below.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

Read more:
Michael Bolton returns to ‘SNL’ after 20 years: Best thing he did in between appearances?

‘Saturday Night Live’ review: Tina Fey celebrated Mother’s Day early

Comments (44 total) Add your comment
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  • Chad

    Tina Fey’s appearance was so understated this time. I know she’s 6-months pregnant, and probably needed some downtime…but it just felt off. Seth Meyers just doesn’t have the comedy writing consistency Tina has and it shows. Fey had no writing input in the episode.

    That said, the birthing class sketch and this video were the only segments that had me laughing out loud. YAY to an uncensored version!

    • Johnification

      Whenever Tina Fey hosts or cameos on SNL, there’s generally a sketch or two that seems to have her writing stamp on it…and I got the sense that this week she wrote the birthing class sketch. Last time I felt like she wrote “teacher inappropriately crushing on Bieber” and the census sketch with Betty White.

    • KLH

      FYI Bolton may be a star but he is definitely NOT a rock star!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Aaron

        Bolton has done many genres, including hard rock (while touring with Ozzy) and soft rock. He may not be a “heavy metal rockstar” but he has done most of his career in the rock genre.

      • Katya

        that man. So what if Lehmann was booked for time-wasting’ in added-on time? It’s nithong compared to the well-practised but seemingly invisible to the print media artless time-wasting and general ill-sportsmanship used time and again by Bolton. I remember the BBC commentator harping on about Lehmann getting booked in the Wigan match for time-wasting with the words, Now who’s time-wasting? . Hypocrite. He didn’t dare use the judgment on a possible future England international (kirland), but if the situation were reversed and it was Lehmann re-positioning the ball at every opportunity for goal kicks then I’m sure he wouldn’t have enjoyed the same benefit the BBC oaf afforded Kirkland.They and other teams know it winds Arsenal up and maybe this is another argument in itself, but when I see Ivan Missing Link Campo deliberately kick Hleb as soon as the ref’s back is turned, any measure of good-will I may have had to the poor hard done by Trotters thankfully vanishes. I’ve been to league and european games and I agree that we can and have time-wasted, but it’s seldom been of the order of the time-wasting indulged by Bolton; running the ball in to the corner flag with three minutes of the 90 to go is hardly the same as swapping one player apparently ready to take a throw-in for another who has hitherto demonstrated any interest in the ball other than to mete sly kicks to the ankles.Also, Robbie Keane standing in front of Lehmann in one of the Carling Cup games; he doesn’t seem to do it against other teams, but because he (and every other forward) knows it winds Lehmann up, he’ll do it. What’s more, maybe he’s entitled to as it winds our resident genius keeper/clown up a treat; this is more Lehmann’s problem than an opposition player’s easy guile, but it could speak for the rest of the team. Don’t get wound up by the time-wasting tactics of other teams and just concentrate on equalising and then finding the winner/winning goals.On another note, Nolan/Davies/Al-Lard-dyce, but especially Nolan can taking a running jump about Fab’s alleged temper’. Why’d you not say that before the match, fat-Kev (Davies is thick Kev’)? If it is so evident, then I’m expecting that it would’ve manifested itself in other matches prior to your righteous defeat, fat-Kev. Go and chew on the grapes that your aesthetically-facially challegend boss favours, you who will never play for England.

    • Claudio

      This is the best picture I have seen all week, Bob! Holy SMOKES dude, I rellay did forget to breath and woke up on the floor of my office here! Awesome work, thanks for spending what must have been a huge amount of time working your magic, making this perfect. You’re an inspiration to me.

  • Wes

    This was hysterical and a very catch tune. I’ve had Michael Bolton’s parts of the song in my head the past two days now. Well done!

  • febreeze

    didn’t know michael bolton had a great sense of humor. i really enjoyed that clip!

    • Karthik

      - Great stuff as ever, Neil. The reception shots are full of fun and emoiton really good. And I love the portrait shoot in the gardens. You like your flair, don’t you? Could become a signature look. That it was a very happy day is clear throughout

  • josh

    That was hilarious, but I’m a little embarrassed to admit how much I loved this tune (I’m probably going to have to put it on my ipod now).

    • Miho

      I love the distortion in this image and you got great deatil through the window! This weekend I picked up my fisheye for the first time in about 4 months and fell in love again it will always have a place in my photo bag

  • Hubi

    Erin Brockovich?!? No way!! I thought Michael was impersonating (for what ever reaseons) Sarah Jessica Parker! :-) Oh, any maybe he could have a cameo as Jack’s lost twin brother in the 5th PotC!!

    • GlenDarby

      I thought it was SJ Parker at first too, until I listened to the lyrics.

      • Ian

        It’s because Bolton & Parker both look like horses. Therefore, he looked just like her.

  • Matt W.

    Hilarious, and the album is pretty kick ass.

    • Victor

      Can that deal of arts come down to my neck of the woods?? Please? Cool shot, even though I’m jeoulas of the price, lol. Good luck on your run man! That thing sounds tough!

  • Matt

    Struck by 2 things: Michael Bolton’s honesty (about how he had issues with the language, and wanted re-writes) is refreshing, and I find it impressive that Lonely Island were so committed to having Bolton that they continued to work on re-writes; the hard work definitely paid off.

  • Ana Mara

    Michael você ficou muito lindo com cara de bad boy adorei sees clip.

  • Ana Mara

    Michael você ficou muito lindo com cara de bad boy adorei esse clip você está inreconhecível mito lindo.

  • Sarah

    I have had no inclination to see Scarface until this instant.
    Props to the girl who did that perfect impression Of Robin Wright!

    • Danger

      Not Robin Wright, chum. Michelle Pfeiffer.

      • Andy

        Robin Wright was Jenny in Forrest Gump.

    • Steve

      The girl who did the “Robin Wright Impression” in the video was… Robin Wright :)

  • Not Moby

    Damn you self deprecation! You had me at Tortuga.

  • greg

    so original

  • PN

    I thought that Michael was good on that hip-hop beat heavy song. Proof that he can go beyond his famous big power ballads. He put his Bolton stamp on those songs and even the video!

  • David

    “At one point I was breastfeeding the baby. You didn’t see that, I don’t think.”

    Watch again, Michael – it’s at 2:59. If you hadn’t said anything we wouldn’t have known though. :P

  • Gretchen

    This video is hugely entertaining. Michael Bolton definitely has comedic chops, and great confidence in his ability to deliver. FUN!

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