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Oz Comic Con Interview: Scott Ian (Anthrax) talks zombies, air guitar

Scott Ian will be appearing at Oz Comic-Con

Kyle Milner




In 1981 Scott Ian formed the band Anthrax, laying the foundation for what would soon become one of the iconic Big Four of thrash metal alongside Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. Nearly four decades later, Ian’s guitar work and lyrics have made him one of the most recognisable and respected names in metal. When not on the stage, Ian has had an incredibly diverse career in media hosting VH1’s The Rock Show, making appearances in television series like Metalocalypse and The Walking Dead, writing comic books for DC (Lobo: Highway to Hell) and even his own radio talk show currently airing on SiriusXM, Never Meet Your Heroes. 

He’ll be heading down to Australia in the coming weeks for Oz Comic-Con, where fans will have the chance to meet the legend himself. Moviehole had the opportunity to speak to Scott as he wrapped up the most recent leg of his current live tour with Anthrax.

Scott: Hey, how’s it going?

Kyle: Hey, not too bad! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, I really appreciate it.

Scott: Yeah, no problem.

Kyle: You’re a super busy guy at the moment – on top of touring with Slayer and a killer line-up of bands, you’re coming to Australia for Oz Comic Con and your speaking tour. Is this a bit of down-time for you, or another part of your busy schedule?

Scott: We’re off now, we finished – I don’t know, a week ago? Two weeks ago? I can’t remember already [laughs]. It all flies by really fast. I’m at home right now, we’re on a break until we start again with Slayer on November 1st in Europe.

Kyle: You’ve played with so many bands, but you’ve also interviewed quite a few bands and artists yourself. Out of personal interest, do you find that being a musician yourself lends itself well to interviewing people?

Scott: Um, I don’t know [laughs]. It doesn’t sound like it right now because I guess I don’t really know how to answer that question. It just comes natural to me. It’s not something I think about. I don’t plan, I don’t really do much research, or anything like that. I just sit down and I have a conversation with people. And I don’t know if my ability to do that is because we have a lot of common ground with a lot of people that I’ve had on my radio show.

I don’t know, I just don’t ever want it to actually feel like I’m interviewing somebody. We just talk. I don’t even tell people that we’re recording, generally. We’ll be twenty minutes into talking to somebody, and sometimes people will ask me “well, when are we going to start?” and I’m like, “we started twenty minutes ago”. So, I think there’s a way of putting people at ease in that way. It’s just not a question and answer thing. But like I said, it’s not something I ever thought about, it’s not like I said “here’s how I’m going to do interviews”. It was never like that. It’s just the way it worked out. Probably because some of the first few guests I ever had – whether it was on my old VH1 TV show or on my radio show – it was people I knew.

So if I’m sitting down with a friend, then obviously that opens the door for it to just be a conversation. Because we’re friends and we know each other. I can just start talking, and an hour later we’ve got a really good interview. Meanwhile, I didn’t do anything! [laughs] I just had a conversation with a friend. So, I guess that’s really the only way I can do it. If I had to like, sit down and think of questions I had to ask people, there’s no way I would ever do that. I don’t think I would be good at that.

Kyle: Yeah, personally speaking I get very nervous interviewing people, especially if it’s someone I’m very familiar with. It’s like, “man, there’s a million things I want to ask you”, but I don’t want to just ask the same questions everyone else has asked. So it’s cool you get to sit down with people you’ve probably toured with, or you just know as a friend and you can just shoot the s!@#$ with. That’s really neat.

Scott: Well, it’s not everybody, I wish it was that easy. I had Nancy Wilson from Heart on my show not that long ago, and I had met her one time. We don’t know each other. And yeah, I was really nervous because I don’t know her at all, I don’t know if she’s a talker, I don’t know how she is conversationally – if she’s going to be tough to talk to. Like I said, it’s not like I spent two weeks researching her and her band. I just said “screw it”, I’m going to sit down and start talking and see where it goes, and it turned out great.

But I was definitely nervous going in, because – there’s been a few people, I didn’t really know them. I may have met a person, but it doesn’t mean I really know them personally. But I still take the same approach – basically just start talking. With Nancy I just started talking about a fire that had happened in Los Angeles, and that lead to us figuring out that we actually lived about a mile away from each other for the last eight years and had no idea. That opened the door and it kind of made everything go easy from that point.

Kyle: So, eleven studio albums with Anthrax, you’ve played with some of the coolest acts on earth, but you’re not just a musician. You’ve done all sorts of things, especially television and radio. Is working in television and radio a passion from way back, like music, or are they something you just kind of fell into as you were doing them?

Scott: No, it wasn’t ever my idea, at all. It wasn’t something I was ever looking for. Back in 2001 I got asked to go to New York to host an episode of this VH1 thing called The Rock Show, because I guess they had decided that the guy prior to me, they didn’t want him as the host anymore. A friend of mine, who worked at VH1, put my name in, saying “I think Scott from Anthrax would be really good at this, because he can speak really well and tell stories and he has a personality”. So it was really out of curiosity. I decided to make a go for it, and say “yeah, I’ll try it”. If I don’t like it, what’s the worst that can happen? I’ll have done one, and I don’t have to do it again.

Kyle: I mean, why the hell not?

Scott: Yeah, and you know, I really ended up enjoying it. That first one I was doing, that VH1 show, it was basically just me talking a whole bunch of crap and playing videos and talking about bands and telling stories and playing music videos. It wasn’t until a few months in, then they said “we want you to start interviewing bands and having guests”. I initially balked at that, because I didn’t want to be that guy. I’m like, “no, I’m in a band, I can’t be sitting and talking with guys in a band, that’s weird to me”. It made me feel like people wouldn’t take me seriously as a musician anymore.

Kyle: Right.

Scott: I was a guy interviewing people, and I didn’t want to be that guy. But if I’m not mistaken, I think the first band that I interviewed might have been The Cult. I think it was them. And I had been friends with them since the 80s, and you know, I figured “alright”. I’ll just do it. I really like this gig, and I don’t want them to fire me, so I might as well try it. So, The Cult came in the studio that day. And that’s where it all kind of started. I had a script that the producers wrote for me, with all these questions like they would for any host. And I didn’t use the script at all. I didn’t use any of the questions, I just sat and talked to my friends in The Cult.

And it went even better than if I had used the questions they gave me, because, you know, if you’re just sitting having a conversation with someone you know, you’re probably going to get a better story out of them than if you’re saying, “so, how long did it take you to make your new album?”. You know? Who gives a shit about that? I don’t! And it went really well. My producer said after the fact, “I don’t need to write questions for you. You know what you’re doing”. And then I didn’t feel like I was selling out, either. And I really enjoyed it. I ended up doing about 48 of those.

Kyle: That’s pretty impressive!

Scott: That kind of opened the door for me to understand that it was something that was fun for me to do. I was capable of doing it. It was also enjoyable. When that ended back in ’02 or ’03, I didn’t really do anything like that for a long, long time until I got my radio show on Sirius. It just depends on my schedule. Sometimes the band is just too busy, I just don’t have any time to do anything else. Everything takes a back seat to that.

Kyle: You have, of course, managed to find the time for some work in television – a personal favourite of mine you did was the cameo in Metalocalypse. I miss that show so bad! And of course, The Walking Dead. You were on the panel for (companion talk show) The Talking Dead, right?

Scott: Yeah, I was on that. That’s not why I was on The Walking Dead, but I did do The Talking Dead once.

Kyle: I was wondering how that came about. Did they approach you and say “hey, we want to turn you into a walker”, or…?

Scott: Well, I’m friends with one of the main producers and directors on the show, Greg Nicotero. His company KNB also does all the zombie and makeup effects for the show. So we’ve been friends for a really long time, and it was through him. I always had an open invitation to go to Atlanta to be on it, but I wanted more than just to be on it. I had my web-series on The Nerdist online, and I wanted to be able to go and film it for my show. Greg was able to make that happen for me, so that was just incredible. There’s no way that it ever would’ve happened if not for the fact that I’m friends with Greg. He really kind of went above and beyond to make all of that happen for me, and it was amazing. Just a completely mind-blowing experience that I got to be part of that world.

Kyle: Yeah, I bet that would be totally surreal.

Scott: I’m in an episode getting a pole stuck through my head by Carl. [laughs]

Kyle: That was badass! Of all those episodes you did talking to different special effects artists, would that be your favourite experience out of all of them?

Scott: Yeah, I mean I guess if I had to pick…I don’t know, there’s so many. It’s so much fun any time I get made up, it’s great. The Walking Dead one certainly would be special, because it wasn’t just me getting made up and hanging out. I got to be part of that TV show, which I’m a fan of, and it’s such a huge, big deal around the world. No-one else really got to do what I got to do, and had the access that I had, and I was able to make that part of my TV show, Bloodworks. It was really kind of mind-blowing that the whole thing happen. So yeah, I guess I would have to say that’d be the most special thing I got to do in the context of that.

Kyle: Aside from your music work, your TV work, your radio work, you’ve also been doing some writing over the years. There’s your autobiography, and a little more recently your book where you’re telling a lot of anecdotes from the road. Is that a lot of what people can expect from your live speaking tour?

Scott: Well, yeah. My live show is me telling stories from my life. It’s all part of my life. One of the questions that you get asked the most over the years is, “what’s the craziest…?”. Everybody wants to know what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen, who’s the craziest guy, or whatever. So that’s pretty much my show, answering all those questions.

Kyle: That’s cool to have to opportunity to give some definitive answers to people who are probably leaving comments on Instagram like, “please tell me!”.

Scott: Yeah, it’s easy, just come to my show!

Kyle: As someone whose favourite author of all time is Stephen King, I can’t help but ask – how does it feel to know he’s a fan of Anthrax?

Scott: When I first found that out, that he was a fan, it was obviously very exciting – to know that he liked what I did! That was definitely an exciting moment, to know that the guy that you’re such a fan of is also a fan of what you do, that was really cool.

Kyle: I understand you’re going to be judging an air guitar competition on-stage at Oz Comic Con. Is that something you’ve been asked to do before?

Scott: Nope!

Kyle: This is surprising!

Scott: Not that I remember, anyway. I mean, are there that many air guitar competitions out there? [laughs]

Kyle: I feel like it’s the kind of thing that’s at conventions, for some reason!

Scott: It’s not exactly something that’s on my radar – I can’t say that I’ve been asked to do that before, but that’s why I’m looking forward to it. It’s new to me, and just like anything else, I said yes because it seems like fun. So that’s what I’m hoping for!

Kyle: Going into it, do you think there’s going to be a particular kind of performance that you’d probably be impressed by?

Scott: I have no idea! [laughs] I have zero expectations of what going to happen. I’m going to sit there, and in the moment I’m going to figure out what I need to figure out. I really don’t know what to expect.

Kyle: So, what’s coming up for you in the next while that you’re quite excited about?

Scott: Well, the Slayer European run, and obviously coming to Australia. But after that, the Slayer European run, and then next year we’ll probably get in a room and start working on new songs as well as hopefully getting down to Australia. Because it’s one of the few places we haven’t been yet on the For All Kings tour. So I’m really hoping that’s going to happen sooner than later.

Kyle: That’ll be awesome to see, I’ll be trying to catch you guys if you do!

Scott: Yeah, they’re sending me down as a scout on this run! Hopefully the whole band will come down with me in a couple of months.

Kyle: Awesome. Thank you for taking the time to speak to me, Scott, really appreciate it!

Scott: Right on, cheers man!

Scott Ian will be appearing at Oz Comic-Con Brisbane on Saturday, September 22nd and Sunday, September 23rd; Oz Comic-Con Sydney on Saturday, September 29th and Sunday, September 30th. More information is available at


Interview : Dome Karukoski director of Tolkien

Lisa interviews the Finnish director of “Tolkien”




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.

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Moviehole interviews Kirk Taylor for Revival!

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




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.

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

Moviehole’s Mike Smith talks to the legendary actor

Mike Smith



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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