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Interview: MH Alumni Alicia Malone talks new book Backwards and in Heels

Mandy Griffiths

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In her time writing for this site, Alicia Malone scored a hug from Ryan Gosling, had an awkward stare off with Emma Stone, made Tom Hanks laugh with an IMDB joke, and discovered what Denzel Washington finds when he walks in his characters shoes (spoiler: often rats).

Now an Aussie expat in L.A., Alicia has used her access to delve into Hollywood history, and specifically, how women have helped shape it. One of the first people to ever pick up a motion picture camera was a woman, as was the first screenwriter to win two Academy Awards, the inventor of the boom microphone, and the first person to be credited with the title Film Editor. Yet their stories are rarely shared.

We chatted with Alicia about her new book “Backwards and in Heels”, favourite interview moments, future talent to look out for, and whether or not she has hope that things will improve for females in the film industry.

Besides frequently rubbing shoulders with Jake Gyllenhaal, is this book your proudest career achievement to date?

Well, I am VERY proud of the cumulative 32 minutes I’ve spent with future husband Jake Gyllenhaal over the past seven years… but seriously, yes, just writing a book, let alone a book about women in film, is definitely my proudest achievement. Ever since I was young, I had the secret dream of one day getting to see my name on the cover of a book. I’ve always written, but have been shy of calling myself a “writer”, that to me seemed like a goal so far removed of what little Alicia from Canberra, Australia could ever get to do! As a teenager I was a voracious reader of film history books, but I hardly came across the stories of the women who helped to shape American cinema. I can’t believe I got the opportunity to write a book about these great women!

You scored some great interviews for this book – Geena Davis, J.J. Abrams, Ava DuVernay, Paul Feig and more. How did it feel to have so many big names supportive of this project?

It was so surreal. Even though I get to interview big stars as part of my job, it was a completely different feeling when they agreed to talk to me exclusively for my book. Suddenly it was all up to me about what I wanted to ask them, instead of having to be mindful of the types of topics my outlet needs me to cover. And it wasn’t for any type of film promotion, so I could focus on their career. I pinch myself that I got to talk to some of my HEROES! And just having them participate made me feel like I had their support for my project.

Can you share with us one awesome thing you learned while writing this book?

I honestly learnt so much, but the biggest thing was how many women were instrumental at the very birth of cinema. Before women were able to vote! I remember how shocked I was the first time I read the fact that at the beginning of movie-making there were more opportunities extended to women than there have been since. That was written in the book “Early Women Filmmakers” by Karen Ward Maher, and again in “Movie Made America” by Robert Sklar. That small but surprising fact led me down a rabbit hole of fascinating stories of women I had never heard of. And after asking around in my industry, I realized nobody else really knew either!

I love that in your career you’ve worked hard to support your passion areas – independent cinema and females in film. There’s surprisingly few voices in both of those areas, and even the film criticism space is overwhelmingly male dominated (as recent studies have shown). Did you ever feel a little alone in the wilderness?

I’m lucky that I have really great, supportive women in my life, and particularly in my area of work. Because it’s such a small group, we all make sure we support each other as much as possible. We organize dinners, cheer on everyone’s work, talk about how we can help usher in change, and be a sounding board when things get tough. It’s as if, because we’re expected to compete with each other for limited work, we have defiantly decided to do the opposite – try to help each other be successful. I recently read a fantastic book of poems, “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur and I loved this one, “We all move forward when we recognize how resilient and striking the women around us are.” Every woman’s success is a win for all.

After all your research, are you optimistic about the future of film for women? Do you think the tide is turning and there are more opportunities out there, or is there still a long way to go?

As I write in the book, I was really worried when I was writing that the final chapter would be just ALL CAPS YELLING, because I was so frustrated during the research. When you step back you can see quite clearly that ever since women were pushed out in the 1930’s, there have been ebbs and flows but it’s really as if history is just repeating itself. When I spoke to Geena Davis she said how after the success of “Thelma and Louise”, everyone said “now everything will be different!” And it wasn’t. The same for “A League of Their Own”. But I ended up having so much optimism and hope. Because I realized how many incredible women and men are in Hollywood actively campaigning for a change. Between them and the level of conversation in the world, aided by social media, it seems as if it would be virtually impossible for Hollywood not to change. People won’t let them get away with it again!

You’ve interviewed every major movie star in the world, reported live from the Oscars, done a TEDx Talk and now written a book…have you ticked off everything on your bucket list now? Is there anything left?

Honestly I have ticked off everything on my original goal list! It’s insane, and hard to believe I made it all happen. Now I just want to be able to enjoy my success a bit, have some free time, read a lot of books, work more on my writing and maybe find some hobbies outside of film! There’s just one big, ultimate goal I have on my list… and that’s to open a one-screen cinema which plays classic films. Malone’s Movie Palace. One day! Oh and also if Martin Scorsese would lend me his film prints, that would be awesome.

And stealing your Quick Question format, last few quick ones! 

I love this!

Emerging female director we should look up immediately:

Janicza Bravo! Her indie feature “Lemon” just came out in theaters in the US, and she has a really unique, singular voice. It’s always exciting to see someone who is so original, and she has a huge future.

Emerging actress to watch out for:

I love Florence Pugh, who stars in “Lady Macbeth”. As a woman locked in an unhappy marriage she is fierce, vulnerable and sexy all at once.

Heroine you wanted to be as a child? (mine was Stephanie Zenoni from “Grease 2” and I stand by that…):

I also love “Grease 2”!! But for me, it was (and still is) Hildy Johnson from “His Girl Friday”! A sassy reporter who stands up for herself. Originally the role was written for a man, but Rosalind Russell really made it her own.

Most memorable interview experience:

Oprah Winfrey! Another experience I never thought I would ever get to do! It was only a four minute interview for her film “The Butler”, but she was so gracious. I was terribly nervous, but as soon as I walked in, and the publicist announced me as “Alicia Malone from Australia,” she sung, “Austraaaaliaaaaa!” and I felt instantly comfortable. Plus her hugs are the best!

Favourite Moviehole-related memory:

It’s hard to choose! Moviehole was so good to me when I first moved to the US, giving me access to interviews I normally wouldn’t have got. My favorite though is a set visit to “Gangster Squad” in LA. It was a nighttime shoot, long hours, but the cast was great, the fellow press were cool, and it introduced me to one of my best friends, Amirose Eisenbach! She has been such a support in my life, she vouched for me to get a job with AMC Movie Talk, a super popular YouTube movie show, and because she also champions women in film, we can lean on each other when times are tough!

Favourite film of the year so far:

Out of the films I’ve seen in festivals (but not out yet) it’s “Call Me By Your Name”, directed by Luca Guadagnino. It’s based on a book of the same name, and tells the story of a European summer romance between a young boy and a young man,- very elegant, gorgeous and sensual!

“Backwards and in Heels: The Past, Present and Future of Women Working in Film” is now available for purchase.

 

 

Interviews

Interview : Dome Karukoski director of Tolkien

Lisa interviews the Finnish director of “Tolkien”

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A 30-time award winner of directing films, Dome Karukoski is perhaps one of the most interesting filmmakers around to be chosen to direct the biopic “Tolkien.”

The only Finnish director to win all the main Finnish national awards, Karukoski had two films that were Finnish selections for the Oscars Best Foreign Language category and his American father George Dickerson was a famous poet/actor.

Moviehole was able to get some time to talk with Karukoski about his challenges growing up and his fascination with J.R.R. Tolkien that started long before the film was made.

 

Moviehole: How did you get into the film business in Finland? 

Dome Karukoski: My father was an actor and a poet by heart, but as a poet he couldn’t support himself. I started knowing him in my late teens, I was an expressive child and I loved drawing in kindergarten and there was something inspiring about my father that he was an actor. I wanted to be in film school — there was a main film school and a main acting school in Finland. The film school is called art and design (UIAH). Hundreds apply and they only take two or three students a year. It’s free but it’s very costly and they want to make sure of you. I applied four or five times, it’s very hard to apply. I got in the first time, you spend a week at the school and they test you, you send a film. It’s quite guided, it’s a good school, the industry knows you and you have a certain label on you.

That’s the first step and the second is making your first feature and I did one as a master thesis. It takes weeks to apply and they give different assignments. In film school they might give you a still camera and give you four hours to shoot maximum photos and take five to tell a story. Or they ask you to make a short film better. I’d only been in front of a camera in high school, I’d never done anything like that before with film, but it helped a lot. They do psychological tests during the week, they really try to push you. It’s about endurance and they want to know every aspect of your talent. They don’t want to make a mistake basically. 

Moviehole: How did you get involved in the Tolkien film with Fox Searchlight?

DM: I made a couple films at the Toronto film fest and people saw the films in Toronto and so I met Fox Searchlight people in 2014 — you just meet people who you like. I’ve done a couple of scripts over the years for them. It’s a normal way where you meet people and connect with them and might want to work with. I was sent the Tolkien script a few years ago, but I had finished a biopic and I didn’t want to do that at the time as it’s one of the hardest things to do. I was a Tolkien fan and had read many of the books twice. What surprised me was the touching story about friendship and love, it wasn’t a biopic in that sense, it’s a story about friendship and love.

I told Fox Searchlight it should have more fantasy and different things about war aspects. That’s when I thought of Tolkien and Lewis meeting in the pub and talking about elves. It’s fun but it’s not an epic emotional journey; it drew me in because as an orphan, I had similar experiences not growing up with a father (like Tolkien) — I felt like an outsider and so friends are important. Tolkien found his own voice during those formative years, the idea of fellowship. It feels like an epic cinematic story and I felt it needed to be told.

Moviehole: What was your toughest challenge about making this film?

DM: The one thing is, I hate biopics where it’s based on beats. The challenge was how to show the mind of a genius without being too on the nose with inspiration, there are no inspirations — he’s sketching and building. If you see the film it’s the first or second thoughts that he later uses. It’s a balance and expressing things. The good thing in working with Fox Searchlight is that they give you that time, with every crazy idea you have. While I was shooting I was forming those ideas. In a way I was still rewriting the story, it was great to be able to do that.

Moviehole: What do you find fascinating about JRR Tolkien and his books/films?

DM: One thing is that it allows you to positively escape, that I read those books as a young man. Now as an older man, I found his passion in language now that I’m reading the books in English. Some people look down on his writing as just fantasy but if you look at his writing it’s very high quality and shows the passion he had for writing. It’s a high class way of writing, that’s something I value a lot. And it has meaning — if I could be 12 or 13 and be a hero and get married to an elven princess you are allowing your imagination to fly, it has power to heal and open up your mind. When I watch this film, with so many of his experiences with friendship and turmoil, I can understand his inspirations and have more emotional layers and thoughts towards his character.

Moviehole: You’ve won over 30 festival film awards. What do you attribute to this?

DM: It’s great and you are thankful, you are always feeling there is part of you that fears failure. There is the value of someone seeing you and sees something of you in your work. It shouldn’t be your motivation but I can enjoy and be happy about that. And if a film is getting awarded, you are accepting it for the whole group that worked with you. And it helps you get more films made. What I value about the film festival system is that films get seen.

Moviehole: What are your directing methods?

DM: I usually listen a lot and then decide. Always I want to do something that is real life. I asked actors to live like in a religious sect for two weeks to find that banter and that pace about a religious sect. I explore a lot, and if you see the last shot of the trailer about the war, I asked Nick (Nicholas Hoult) that I wanted to have this shot and play with the camera and try to find things all the time.

Moviehole: You were bullied as a teen – what would be your advice for kids today about this?

DM: I was bullied at the age from 7-14, growing up without a father. I played dungeons and dragons so making stories was a method for me; you are basically creating a story, and the Tolkien stories became my friends. You find something that you strongly focus on and I used my own imagination, watching films with an escapist world and then creating and drawing stories. But there are a lot of things you can focus on. If you can, focus on something you greatly enjoy, even if it’s alone or with one friend and put energy into it. If you dwell on the negative it will swallow you but if you focus on the positive it will help you. One great thing too was the extreme love from my mom.

Moviehole: What is one thing about the film that you want to get through to audiences?

DM: These young boys wanted to inspire and change the world with art and it’s very beautiful to watch. I’m a young man but an aging man and when I watch that I get inspired. I feel for young people as it inspires them to change the world whether it’s moving bricks in society or using art, to do something inspiring. I hope the audience can take that away with hem.

Moviehole: What are your upcoming projects?

DM: We had a really great experience and are trying to find a mutual project with Fox Searchlight; I really liked how they (Fox) supported the film and how they view cinema. I get two months of press as we are going wide with the film. By July or August I will find a project by then. I’m waiting for a different kind of energy to know what I will do.

 

“Tolkien” will have a special event screening at the Montclair Film Festival with a Q & A with the stars on May 7th, and then be released theatrically on May 10.

For details, please visit: https://www.fathomevents.com/events/tolkien

 

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Moviehole interviews Kirk Taylor for Revival!

Lisa chats to the actor about his latest role and acting advice

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Kirk Taylor is a man who knows where he’s going in life and he should. An actor once praised by the great Sidney Poitier, Taylor has acted alongside the likes of Charles Bronson, Robin Williams and Ben Affleck.

Taylor has also worked for Stanley Kubrick, Frances Ford Coppola and Spike Lee. Just in time for Easter, he has a faith-based film called “Revival!” coming out which is a gospel musical retelling the Book of John.

Moviehole was able to spend some time with Taylor to talk about “Revival!,” a new direction in composing music and how his faith has helped him navigate the entertainment industry.

Moviehole: How did you get into acting? 

Kirk Taylor: A cousin of mine blackmailed me into acting. We were in Connecticut and her name is Monica Davis — I asked Monica for a ride home from a play. I kept hearing the drama teacher yell “Boring!” in our class and I was scared of her. Monica said if I auditioned for the school play, she’d give me a ride. And it was raining and sleeting! But I got the lead in “Cabaret,” the Joel Gray part, and Monica got the chorus. The next time I did “Pajama Game” and ”Li’l Abner,” and that was my start in musical theater and acting.

Then the teacher said I should go to New York when they still had Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler teaching, so I got away from musicals.  I didn’t tell them (Strasberg and Adler) I could sing then. They said they needed an actor who could sing and I surprised them that I could sing. In NYC I started working in Broadway productions and I’ve done film, teaching and TV ever since.

Moviehole: What was your chance encounter with Sidney Poitier?

KT: I didn’t realize until later that God had plans for me. I did the film “MacArthur Park,” it was directed by a guy named Billy Wirth and it had Sydney Tamilia Poitier, Sidney Poitier’s daughter in it. I played a cop in that one. We got to Sundance and the film comes up and I really believed myself in the film, I believed the role that I was a cop. But when the credits rolled I wasn’t in the credits.  I was pretty crushed, they apologized and they gave me an extra $150. I brought friends to another screening but again the credits rolled and I wasn’t in it.

Then Sidney Poitier came and walked right over to me and said, “Did you play the cop? I did not know if you were a real cop or an actor.” I told Poitier about the missing credits and he said, “Where you are going in your career, that will not matter.” I call that a God Nod! That was a startling moment.  I was also left out of the credits in “The Cotton Club,” and I walked out discouraged. Two girls walked up to me after and asked if I played the waiter, it was a journey. Those kinds of things, sometimes the gas tank is low and working in this industry, and you need a fill up.

Moviehole: How did you get involved with “Revival!”?

It’s been a real labor of love, we started choosing reshoots two or three years after principal photography/ I came back to do ADR seven or eight hours, clearing up the vocal acting. It was rough, but it’s one of those projects where your whole life prepared you to do it. Actors will tell you a role comes at a certain point in their life.

My wife, Richelle Taylor, was the script supervisor so she had pitched me to Harry Lennix (writer/producer and stars as Pilate) and I had an interview. A week later I had the role of Simon Peter. It’s a big arc, he’s a great pillar of the church, he was a daredevil and made big mistakes. I have had successes and had failures as well. They called him Cephas. I had a cousin who was a staunch atheist come see the film who was weeping after.  I was able to understand; my most beautiful scene was the denial of Christ and Harry added a moment where my brother calls me Cephas and I deny him as well when I was warming my hands at the fire.

They shot my hardest scene first.  Harry said, “Your work in this scene brings me to tears.”  I felt that this was the guy, I believed his suffering and passion. Peter goes through pendulum swings for sure. I got to play Simon Peter and walk on water. I call our production, “Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell meet 2001 Space Odyssey.” It’s a hybrid film, it started as a play written by Harry Lennix and they thought they’d film it. It expanded. It starts on stage and turns into a film with an actor coming to the theater and then goes to the first century, played by Grammy nominee Mali Music. Mali was called “the future” by Stevie Wonder.

Moviehole: Will this film be different than other films like “Son of Jesus”?

KT: It goes into the future in 2050 in L.A., this message about God’s love. The cast is predominately African American, but represents every shade of the rainbow. This film presents a message for every time and season, that will not pass away until everything is fulfilled.

Moviehole: What was it like working with Chaka Khan?

KT: I worked with her in a stage musical called, ”Signed, Sealed and Delivered” and got to sing songs from the Stevie Wonder songbook with her. She plays Queen Herodias and has a wonderful scene and song trying to persuade her husband to kill John the Baptist. Michelle Williams also sings a beautiful song to open up the movie.

Moviehole: What is your acting method, as you are an acting teacher too?

KT: I studied with both Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler and I teach a combination of their approaches.

Moviehole: What is your advice for acting newbies?

KT: I would say examine your heart and see if this what you want to do and need to do. Many of my students are working but it’s not easy. The majority of people went into other parts of the business, such as producers and casting directors. Ask is this what you want me to do? Ask God. I asked my wife to pray for me if this is what I should continue to do. The phone immediately rang and it was my agent who had just been contacted about my availability for a role in major motion picture. Within a week I’m standing with Robin Williams and Mila Kunis in a major scene that had been added. God gave me a major nod on that one! Everyone who asks receives.

There are certain things. Examine your heart in prayer and then learn your craft. It’s like learning to walk a tight rope. Take classes, do plays, study actors you like, study their body of work, do singing classes and train. Search your heart and pray about it. Get your tools ready. I have one friend who was a very talented actress. She realised something had to change, so she got on her knees and surrendered all of it to God. The next day she got a writing job and now she’s an A list writer. In order to be ready, you need to be ready emotionally too.  It’s easy to get crushed in this industry, it can be a rough road; use it as a time to build yourself up. Ask if there are course adjustments or something you need to do.

Moviehole: What are your upcoming projects?

KT: I’ve been working on my original musical compositions. I did a film for B.E.T. called “One Special Moment” and had a song adapted into the film, launching my publishing company Rising Oak Music. I have 75 songs that are ready to go. Years ago I had a visit with a well-known Evangelist turned Pastor named David Wilkerson and I was in Paster Dave’s office to talk to him about some things — I mentioned acting and teaching acting, and he asked me about composing and asked if he could pray for me about writing music. I went home and I didn’t feel anything but then the next morning I competed the music for a gospel song in less than an hour! For the next week I was writing a new song almost every day. I’m still teaching, I coach privately. Now that I’m in possession of a never recorded song my late uncle John Eaton wrote for Nat King Cole, I’m going to be getting that song and my originals onto an album.

*”Revival!”premiered and opened in 10 cities in December, and at Easter it is back in theaters in some major markets.

For more details:
www.revivalthemovie.com
www.kirktaylorofficial.com

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Interview : Richard Dreyfuss – on Jaws, Oscars & ‘Sequel Syndrome’

Moviehole’s Mike Smith talks to the legendary actor

Mike Smith

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With my 15th birthday approaching, my father asked me what I wanted to do. Having been intrigued by the television commercials for a new film, “Dog Day Afternoon,” I told him I wanted to see that movie. On Sunday, September 21, 1975, my father dropped me off at the University Square Mall Cinema in Tampa to see the movie. Sadly, I didn’t know it was rated “R” and was told I couldn’t buy a ticket. As I began to dejectedly walk away, the girl in the ticket booth called out to me “have you seen JAWS yet?” I hadn’t. 124 minutes later, my life was changed.

I include this because of what I did after the film. Like a normal kid, I wrote fan letters to the three stars. I soon received a letter from Richard Dreyfuss’ cousin, Arlene, who informed me that she ran Richard’s fan club. If I wanted to join, it would cost me $5.00 (a week’s allowance at that time). I immediately sent her the money, along with a note saying “if you ever need any help.” Within a few months, I was helping her with the club – basically I handled the fans east of the Mississippi river. It was a great time for a teenager. I’d scour the newspapers for articles about Richard and each month would send out a packet to the fans, which usually consisted of Xeroxed newspaper clippings and the occasional photograph. Not sure how many members were in the club, but when it disbanded in November 1978, shortly after the release of “The Big Fix,” I was dealing with almost 1,000 fans.

I’ve been very fortunate to have met Mr. Dreyfuss twice in my life. Once, in Baltimore, when he was on the set of the film “Tin Men,” and in July 2017 when we were both guests at a Hollywood Celebrity Show. At that show I was able to stand near his table and listen to him tell the most amazing stories. I mention this because Mr. Dreyfuss is currently traveling around the country, offering fans the opportunity to take in AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS. He will be in Kansas City this week (April 4th) and I have been honored to have been chosen the moderator of the event. Call it practice, but I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Dreyfuss and ask him some questions, a few of which may be included when we’re together Thursday night.

Mike Smith: What led you to pursue a career in acting?

Richard Dreyfuss: Wow! I don’t know….what leads someone to follow what they love? I don’t think I really had a choice.

MS: Was there a film or performer that inspired you? I acted a lot through my 20s but couldn’t make a living at it, but the inspiration came from wanting to do what YOU did. I know you’re a fan of actors like Charles Laughton, Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy, among others. Were they the catalyst?

RD: They were, of course. I have no memory of NOT wanting to be an actor. I think the first time I got on record was when I was nine years old. We had just moved to California from New York, and I said to my mother, “I want to be an actor.” And she said, “Don’t just talk about it.” So I went down to the local Jewish Community Center and auditioned for a play. And I really never stopped. I realistically never had more than ten days when I wasn’t acting in a play, or a scene or a class or a job until I was 27.

Richard Dreyfuss

MS: You made your film debut in two very different films in 1967 – “The Graduate” and “The Valley of the Dolls.” What do you think is the biggest difference between filmmaking then and today?

RD: There are so many. The general level of quality for an actor has plummeted. When I was younger I never hesitated telling young actors to “go for it”…to pursue it. And now I don’t say that, because the real rewards are so rare…so few and far between The quality of scrips, from an acting viewpoint, suck. The sequel syndrome that we’re in, which we can’t seem to get out of, has really lessoned the level of quality of writing. Of story. And it seems more arbitrarily decided upon as an element of chicanery and thievery, even for a business that’s famous for it, it goes on. Film acting is not something I really recommend. If you want to be an actor in America you can live a very great and satisfied life if you never think about being a star. You can have a great life in Kansas City. Or St. Louis. Or a million other places. But if you want to go for that kind of brass ring, which I would question – if you do want to go for it, go to therapy first – you’ve got to go to L.A. or New York. And those towns are pretty sick.

MS: You famously almost turned down your role in “Jaws.” Are there any roles you turned down and then later regretted your decision?

RD: Oh yeah. I was once watching a movie and I kept thinking, gosh, this seems so familiar.” I thought “oh, shit,” and then I remembered why. And I didn’t ALMOST turn down “Jaws,” I did turn it down. I turned it down twice. And then I changed my mind and begged for the part. (NOTE: The story goes like this. After turning down “Jaws” – twice – Mr. Dreyfuss saw his upcoming film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and thought his performance was so terrible that he’d never work again. He then called director Steven Spielberg and accepted the role. Of course, when “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” was released, Mr. Dreyfuss received rave reviews for his performance, even being named Runner Up as the Best Actor of 1974 (tied with Gene Hackman for “The Conversation”) by the New York Film Critics Circle.)

Richard Dreyfuss in “Jaws”

I will never tell you the ones I turned down that became hits. Thank God there aren’t that many of them!

MS: What fuels the passion for your work?
RD: If you asked me a question about my process – how do you do this…what’s your method? – I would completely be unable to answer that. And I’ve always known I’d never be able to answer those kind of questions. But I know that, in a business where if you’re a successful actor you want to direct, I’ve never wanted to direct. So I didn’t. I wanted to act! I had made a decision when I was very young, which probably wasn’t the most strategist thing to do in the world, but it was the way I chose to live. Which is to day, if I do a drama, then I’ll do a comedy. Then I’ll do a drama. Then I’ll do a comedy. That’s basically what I tried to do. And the mistake in that is that I don’t think I ever did something enough times to establish a kind of signature recognition of what I do. I did both. I did lots. And I thought that was the best way for me to pursue my life. And that’s what I did for sixty years.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

MS: Where do you keep your Oscar? (NOTE: Mr. Dreyfuss received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl.” At age 30, he was, at the time, the youngest actor to win that award).

RD: For the most part, in the refrigerator. (laughs). I always want people to know about it, but I don’t want to brag. But I figure that sooner or later they’re going to open the refrigerator.

And I’m also very aware that the list of actors who were ever nominated or won an Oscar is as great a list as the ones who never were. It’s a wonderful evening, but it’s rarely more than that. It’s a great evening. You’re aware of the film work because the audience for film is in the millions. But I make no distinction between film and theater. And, of course, the audience for the theater work I’ve done will be 1/100th of that of the film audience. But to me, it was always – if not equal than more important –so that is something that I travel with. I have a little bucket list of things that I check off every once in a while. “OK, you did a Broadway show…check.” From the time I was nine, into my teenage years, I was always in acting classes. At acting schools. I was always with actors. And they would always talk about a “National” theater. And I would say, “There’s never going to be a National theater in this country. However, there could be fifty “State” theaters. And, as someone who lives in Kansas City, I would say to you that, something that people should not ignore, is the fact that we are from so many different places…so many different cultures…that we come together as Americans only when we’re HERE, and we learn to be Americans. And each of us, whether you live in Seattle or Mississippi, you have different strains of a culture. And I have always wanted each state to have its own theater. And, in a state like California, which is huge, you could have two, anchored North and South. And, instead of trying to get everyone to agree on A National Theater, we could have one in every state. It’s silly to think we can’t afford a State theater, to be able to see how Missourians and Floridians and North Dakotans approach theater. I think that would be a great endeavor and a great thing to do. Only because we teach so few things that we share. We’ve actually given up on the notion of teaching things that are of shared values. And that’s causing this terrible breach in the country. And we should try to find things that we can share. And one of them could just be the artistic endeavor of a State theater.

MS: That makes a lot of sense.

RD: And they’ll never do it (laughs).

MS: Quick follow-up to the Oscar question, one of your fellow nominees that year was Richard Burton. When Sylvester Stallone read the name of the winner, and you heard “Richard” did you think Burton had one?

RD: My competition was Burton, Marcello Mastroianni, John Travolta and Woody Allen. There was no easy answer. But I just knew I was going to win it. (laughs) That’s all I cared about.

MS: Me too, that night. I always wonder how people sometimes vote. You were also nominated for “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” but I thought you were most deserving four years earlier for “Once Around.”

RD: It’s probably the easiest vote to define. There are two ways people vote in the Academy. One is, you vote for your friend. Or, you vote for who you think is best. In that order. It’s simple. You may not be able to predict it, but that’s the way people vote. And it’s the reason why people do vote. It’s not a mystery. The only thing wrong with the Oscars now is that there are too many other awards, and it’s cheapened the whole thing.

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