That time Ray Manzarek told me what he really thought of Oliver Stone’s Doors movie

By Steve Newton

Back in December of 2005 I interviewed keyboardist Ray Manzarek from the Doors. 

At the time he was playing Doors songs in a group called Riders on the Storm–aka Doors of the 21st Century–that included former Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and, in the role of frontman Jim Morrison, Ian Astbury from the Cult.

Speaking of the role of Jim Morrison, 14 years earlier the movie The Doors was released, with Oliver Stone directing and Val Kilmer portraying the Lizard King.

At one point during the interview with Manzarek I mentioned that film, which elicited a rather sharp reaction. Here’s how it played out:

Newt: I wanted to ask you about the Oliver Stone movie…

Manzarek: I didn’t like it.


Sorry. Wait a minute. Yes I did. Yeah. Terrific movie. Next question.

You don’t want to talk about that movie?

Yeah, sure, whatever you want to know.

Was it an accurate depiction of the band?

Uh, it was not an accurate depiction of the band or of Jim Morrison. Decidedly over the top, and made Morrison seem like kind of a drunken weirdo–and he was much more intelligent, much more sensitive, much more spiritual than that drunken lout in the movie.

And Val Kilmer did a very good job. I think that’s the question. When people ask me, “What did you think of the movie?” do they mean “What did I think of Val Kilmer’s performance?”. Is that what they mean? Yeah great; he was great.

So there ya go. Manzarek was clearly torn about The Doors, and his opinion wasn’t far off the Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, which gave it a “rotten” rating of 56%: 

“Val Kilmer delivers a powerhouse performance as one of rock’s most incendiary figures, but unfortunately, Oliver Stone is unable to shed much light on the circus surrounding the star.”

Myself, I’ve only seen The Doors once, and I thought it was pretty average overall. Still, I wouldn’t mind watching it again one day, if only for Kilmer and the great tunes.

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