soldier,a painter, a thief, a lover, a bongo player, and a genius. Is there
anything the actor cant do?
TERRIBLY SYNERGISTICNOT ONLY DO YOU PLAY THE FATHER OF
A FAMILY OF GENIUSES IN THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, BUT THE NEW YORK TIMES
RECENTLY DEEMED YOU TO BE ONE AS WELL.
Ive always said theyre very bright people at the Times. Im
just kiddingits embarrassing, really. I mean, I never read
reviews, nor do I see the films unless I just absolutely have to.
WHAT DO YOU SEE WHEN YOU DO?
see this old man who looks like my grandfatherthat kind of thing.
AT 72, YOU KEEP PLASTERNG YOUR FACE UP THERE. I MEAN, JESUS, IN THE PAST YEAR
YOUVE BEEN IN FIVE FILMS
(TENENBAUMS, BEHIND ENEMY LINES, HEIST, HEARTBREAKERS,
AND THE MEXICAN). WHATS THE DEAL, DUDE?
I suppose some of it is the hang-over from when you
get a job, so now you just take everything thats there. I mean, I dont
quite do that, but I love the work so much that I get seduced into it.
YOUVE OFTEN SAID THAT NOT ONLY HAVE YOU WANTED TO ACT SINCE YOU WERE
A TEN-YEAR-OLD KID IN ILLINOIS, BUT THAT YOU COULD ALWAYS DO IT, AS WELL.
SINCE YOU DIDNT ACT UNTIL YOU WERE WELL INTO YOUR TWENTIES, HOWD
just knew I could; I really did. Every Saturday if I could get a quarter to
go to the movies, Id go, and when Id leave, Id look in the
mirror and be stunned that I didnt look like James Cagney. Id
be so in tune with what he was doingId become that guythat
a real period of depression would follow. Id think, How am I gonna
be that guy if I dont look like that guy? I finally realized that
I could just be me, and if I was good enough, that would work.
THOUGH WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED ACTING CLASSES, YOU AND CLASSMATE, DUSTIN HOFFMAN,
WERE VOTED LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED?
but whadda they know? [chuckles] I wouldnt say we were outcasts, but
we were different than everybody else. Anyway, theyd grade us on a scale
of from 1 to 5, and I dont think I ever got over a 1.5 average for anything.
So, yeah, I was really on the road to not being an actor, I really was.
IT TRUE THAT YOU AND HOFFMAN PLAYED BONGOS ON THE ROOF BECAUSE YOUD
HEARD BRANDO DID?
we thought that was the road to stardom!
BEEN SAID THAT, LIKE BRANDO, YOURE OFTEN BETTER THAN, UM, YOUR MATERIAL.
In terms of being able to tell if a film is gonna be terrific, Ive never
been able to tell. Unforgiven is a good exampleI had to
be talked into it. So lets just say I dont have a great eye for
BRINGS US TO THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE
I felt like I could steal some money there. [laughs]. Because I hadnt
made any money on The French Connection, and Poseidon was, like,
a Big Hollywood Movie, and Id never done that before.
OF FRENCH CONNECTION, PEOPLE THINK YOU REALLY ARE POPEYE DOYLE, YOU
or maybe the editor of Fishing & Hunting News. [laughs] And Im
totally opposite of thatI dont hunt, I dont fish.
I mean, Ive done quite a bit of the manly things people
think of, but, really, I sculpt, I paint, I try to lead a kind of artistic,
genteel life. But I was cast early on in violent things and thats always
been what people kinda think I am.
YOUR DIRECORSEVEN YOUVE SAID, I PITY THE DIRECTORS
WHO WORK WITH ME. DID YOU GIVE WES ANDERSON HELL AS WELL?
I did, and I feel bad about that, because I had no sense of what a terrific,
stylized film Tenenbaums was gonna be. [sighs] I dont set out
to give people problems; it just seems to work that way.
PEOPLE NOW SPEAK YOUR NAME IN HUSHED TONES.
ARE YOU LOVING YOUR ICONHOOD?
dontI just think of myself as an actor who occasionally
goes off and [chuckles] does some work.
2015 Brantley Bardin. All Rights Reserved.