« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 1006 - John Lithgow

2019-04-01 | 🔗

John Lithgow can go from playing the sweetest characters you’ll ever see to truly deranged psychopaths, sometimes within the same movie. He’s good at playing kind and evil in equal measure partly because he developed his acting range at a young age growing up around his dad’s traveling Shakespeare festivals. John talks with Marc about his many memorable roles and how working on 3rd Rock from the Sun led him to creating children’s entertainment, from voice acting to songs to books to live concerts. John also explains what it’s like to put his own twist on historical characters, like Winston Churchill, Roger Ailes, and now Bill Clinton in the Broadway play Hillary and Clinton. This episode is sponsored by Squarespace and SimpliSafe.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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all right. Let's do this! How are you what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fucking years, what the fucking Del it's, what the fuck couple, it's, what yeah how's it going! You guys know what the fuck couplets Hey it's Mark Maron. This is my show. Wtf welcome to earth how's it going John Lithgow is here yeah yeah the John with go. What is your first memories of John Lithgow, scary, scary, right? Usually ninety percent of time, unless you grew up with third rock I didn't, but for me I think, probably possibly be Maybe it is, I no, was it he can be a little scary, even when he not being scary is a little intense like he's in anyway. You slice it when scary. It's really fucking scary! When he's nice he's really fucking nice and when he scared
he's really fucking scared, great actor, no doubt great actor thrilled to have him so he's here. What else do need to tell you. I would like to encourage you to get it's to my London show I'm I'm begging, but it would be nice. I was there. Maybe I was there a year or so ago, and now I'm back at Royal Festival, Hall April Sixth, two thousand and nineteen that this week, and the seven hundred and thirty pm show I believe there still tickets left. Birmingham there's a few left. I know Manchester sold out Birmingham on the eighth is there might be a few left there Vicar Street in Ireland, Dublin April 11th. I hope that those, I think, there's a few left, don't know, and then I've got dates up up in San Diego in in Madison Wisconsin in Burlington Vermont in Saint Louis in Raleigh, North Carolina and some more It will be added. You go to W T, F, pod tour dot com that right w T, F, pod dot com, slash tour
That'll get you those links, so look be honest with you, read some emails because I'm doing this a few days before I leave. You're listening to this on Monday? Probably so I recorded it a few days ago, like the day I left for New York. I don't need to confuse things, but it's not last night, it's a few I to go because I'm traveling tomorrow, I'm trying to pack I'm trying to pack for the Europe trip because I only I want all I want takes a carrion because checking bags is such a fucking mess and you just don't know what the fuck is going to have, but I'm gonna be gone for a while. So how do I look all right I'll? Just do laundry I'll do laundry on the road and even though I got a little cash in the bank, I'll probably go to fucking laundromat. If I can find one, you know why? Because I don't mind spending few hours at a laundromat. I don't mind in aging with just sitting there looking at the dryer thinking about the how clean my clothes are going to be in just like, like I'm doing
something out in the world. That's yeah! I should do more of we shall do a little more laundromat stuff, I being paranoid about break ins and burgers in your own home, sucks folks, it's important to keep fear out of your life. That's why we recommend simply safe on this show. Studies show that security systems deter burglars and simply safe security. That knows, it feels good to fear less part of the reason you don't have to worry. If you have a simply safe system, is that it's designed to cover all the bases, even the ones you're, not thinking about it, keeps working the power goes out or if the wifi goes down or even if a burglar smash your key, they have some of the fastest response times in the industry, ready to send help twenty four seven. If there's an emergency bus, simply save, has gotten rid of all the stuff that makes home security so annoying, there's no can't facts, no hidden fees, all the prices are an honest, and not only does it have great customer satisfaction grades. It's the top choice, security, Sis,
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Just then, you switch to asking him about meeting his wife how Did you learn when to switch topics? It seemed a great time to switch. It felt like you squeeze the lemon right to the edge then switched. I know I will get stuck in the think. When talking to people there seems to be a real art to jumping from topic to topic, any tips thanks E W, yet when, when you're looking at them as you're saying the thing over and over again, and they appear annoyed or glaze over or they kind of down or they don't hold your gaze anymore or they walk away or they just look you like what the fuck is wrong with you. Those are all. Decatur's of time to switch topics This is an indicator if they say could quit quit. Asking me that that that's an indicator or this one, what the you talk about. That's a sure sign that you might want to move on.
Or how about this one yeah, I don't. I don't feel comfortable talking about that with you yeah, but see like the thing is, is like You can read all of those things that I just said on someone's face if you're paying attention you can also like their faces for fuck, you their faces, for I don't want to answer that their faces for not comfortable. You know it's a mixture, but I'd say one of the tips is they say shut up or move on, or don't talk to me about that. That's a good time to now talk about it anymore. Other email Rob Lowe Interview. Subject: line hey Mark I've enjoyed just about all of your one thousand podcast, so this is coming from a fan during your interview with Rob Lowe, I noticed a derisive tone and your voice. Whenever you discussed his new gig is uh game- show host? In fact, there was a good amount of contemptuous laughter on your part, which your guest gracefully ignored. Of course you have every
to judge someone for their choice of occupation, but during those parts of the interview I think you came off sounding like a dick still, a big fan, Carl PS, one hundred percent. Oh you're, one hundred percent misreading that, lower myself. I had a nice time. Sometimes I change tones to sort of more connect with the guest, and I thought Rob Lowe could take a little ballbusting which he could you didn't see him smiling, you didn't see him laughing, he's gotta sell the show. He can't you but I know how he feels we know I feel like I mean it might be a great show but come on man, it's a giant mechanical arm. That's throwing people around stops in front of questions. Give me a fucking break dude. It's not a man! their judgment. It's bizarro and funny and yeah. I was slightly derisive with Rob Lowe, because that's what that's, what it required for us to fucking have a good conversation Trust me a little bit. Jesus Christ, is this device? If Carl is, does this, how does this feel Carl and because I don't think this is rice. If I think this is annoyed, if I'd be like, if I'd be like
he had Carl. Are you like really you're mad about me, making fun of? of the game. Show Carl Carl you've series really seriously. Are you? Are you yes. That with me, because I made fun of the giant arm amusement, game. Show that Rob Lowe's is hosting really come on? Carl? I mean really I think that was more what I was doing and I have no problem with language landmine certain. This is where we get into making mistakes as we do specially of you old. They're old enough to be set in some bad habits, perhaps or the ones that you don't even know. You have dearest mark in your intriguing interview with the charming Phoebe Robinson, both of you used words. It could certainly be offensive to native peoples. You said off the Rez describe somebody having a possible psychotic break and she said tribe
bring to belonging to a group, I'm not in any way politically correct or a ball buster, and I was not personally offended. However, I thought you would find it interesting how even those of us who are trying have yet to parse the institute personalized racism against our most marginalized groups from our visual language. That is a fine sentence, the fuckery of, Cultural legacy is embedded in the very words, no matter our intent thanks for you do. I enjoy virtually hanging out with you and your guest twice a week. You feel like a good for and I've never met and listening to you has helped me know myself. And grow sincerely Daniel, okay right language is important. Language is powerful. Language can do good things, it can do things, but it does get in there and dictate the movement of culture. It dictates a lot of things specially through through repetition and I get it these things can evolve. But when I read yours I was like yeah kind
and when he was saying, then I got this email off. The rez for question marks glad stuck with the listening to the full show surprised to hear you say off. Rez the interview with Phoebe was so thoughtful. Surprise you may. The comment in real time. After that interview, thank you need to address the comment. Okay, okay, okay, I know now off the rez is not good because it's offensive to native peoples. I'm sorry, I will not say it anymore, not a problem It's out, I removed it, but these two were read toned and I think that obviously I can't expect much bullies on the right, but I can't expect something from bullies on the left, in the sense that If there is a teachable moment or whatever they call it, then do it teach it. I mean
don't condescend and belittle and right, somebody for you know saying something that they may not have known was wrong. Feels good. I know there there's a lot of hopelessness and powerlessness in progress. People right now, but that doesn't mean need date, condescend bully or indict people for The things they might not understand it just say these two emails were reasonable. If they weren't, like you, fucking idiot, you fucking ray Sis you fucking piece of shit. Don't you know what you just did? Did I didn't know- and if you talk to me like that, I'm not gonna keep doing it I'm probably going to just shut down and not really taken in and then secretly resent you and think you're condescending self, righteous, douche bag? I get what you're saying you know. I'm I'm not going to like the way you said it and who the fuck are you to talk to me like that? So if there is a teachable
I was just talking to somebody made up in my head. By the way you know teach it featured nicely featured empathetic. We teach it like. You know like somebody who cares yeah, okay, so it's a good time for this and did a quick reminder today that were sponsored by Squarespace. You heard me talk about square space and you, you may have even checked out WTF F pod dot com which is powered by. Space, so if you're looking to launch your passion project and need a great site to get it off the ground, you know where to go. You know: square space has beautiful templates created by world class designers that you can custom lies within a few clicks. It's really no matter what type of site you want, you'll make it with square space. You can anything. You want using the square space, e commerce tools and analytics. If you grow your site in real time, there's there's nothing to patch or upgrade ever and you'll get the help you need with square space. Is twenty four slash, seven award winning customer support? I mean Squarespace space hours millions of people to turn great ideas,
something real. So why don't you just listen to me just the trial and when you're ready to launch use the offer code WTF to save ten percent off your first purchase. Of a website or domain that squarespace dot com, Slash w T F offer code wtf! Okay! I mean it's really that simple and I I went under that time. Did you did you feel the difference in in the read, You know that was new for me and I think we all felt something different. I think we all you know we may have heard squarespace ads before but I think there were were like he's really settled. Into this. Maybe I should settle into this in here this that he does all the time but like somehow it seems more laid back too much was that am being too macro or micro, which is it? What am I doing? Am I doing? Am I being too Meta is meta. I think it's meta. I don't think it's macro micro
pretty sure. I just met the shit out of that ad read. Added the fuck out of it fucking meta it. It yeah all right. Look Oh, you know what I didn't get to talk about this last week congressman Adam Shift, an amazing thing in hearing in Congress sitting next to a bunch of Republicans and just just really given it to him just talking about it was sort of like you had to watch you go. Look it up. Adam Schiff, you know amazing sort of almost Then a rant in the hearing there in Congress about Russia, he says it's not. Okay! and like all it was really missing. Being a Jew and having grown up, you know going to synagogue, sometimes in congregation it really felt like a classically jewish responsive reading it just it just it felt like
Yet here it I actually found the text of it and I swear to God. It will work they should. It would be perfect for synagogue. Colleagues might think it's okay, though, the Russians offered dirt on the democratic candidate for president is part of, what's described as the russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign termination goes. It's not! Ok, you might think that's! Ok, congregation! It's not! Ok! My colleagues might think it's ok that when that was offered to the Son of the President, who had a pivotal role in the campaign that the President Sunday not call the FBI. He did not adamantly refused at foreign help. No. Instead, that son said that he would love the help with the Russians. You might think. That's! Okay, It's not! Okay, that he took that meeting. It's not not ok, okay, you might think it's okay, that Paul manafort the campaign
someone with great experience. Running campaigns also took that meeting. It's not okay! You know I'm talking about. You know what they the rabbi says some then the congregation answer. You know what thank you Adam Schiff he's a nice guy. I think he's a vegan. Because of a cholesterol issues, anyways listen, John Lithgow is here: he he's in the new film adaptation of Stephen King's pet cemetery, which opens this Friday April he's also on Broadway, with Laurie Metcalf in the play Hillary and Clinton at the Golden Theatre. It's in previews. Now an opening night is April. 18Th enjoy Mr Lythgoe and myself
Well, how do you know 'cause, I'm working with Laurie Metcalf right now? That's right. She left her Steppenwolf Jersey. Or hoodie in my old garage by mistake yeah- and it was her favorite thing and that was sort of a thing- you know a inch because she was doing the the the play on Broadway that women, what is it yeah, the three tall, women, three tall women and she was very upset that left her hoody and I arranged to have it into her asap, so she could have it, and I told story on the show and they sent me one, Well, I mean what what is it when you, when you think about Steppenwolf as a stage actor? You know because, like in my mind, it just sort of like there's an intensity man. There's like there, you think of Malkiewicz, and you think like even the next generation of John Allen and Tracy and and Lori there's this intensity of there's this wrongness or is it a you know in a in it's sort of a a school of thought, yeah, it's kind of like the should
go to school? They they brought those productions to New York in the off the late seventies yeah, and it was like this before I got some of that yeah yeah, this bracing breath of air from Chicago there's a there's, a certain death. Science, about it, the windy city yeah, the angry wind. When I was in high school, there was a big. It show on Broadway called from the second city yeah and review it was. It was the second city review yeah with Alan Arkin and Barbara Harris Weight when you're in high school in Ohio. No in the I I I went to lots of schools, but I finished high school in Princeton, New Jersey, sue your New Jersey, and that was sort of just a second city review would have been just post. The compass players yeah they came to New York and performed on Broadway and made this smash hit, but they would come down to Princeton on Monday night, their night off Busman's holiday, so they could
improvise. Instead of doing a polished, Broadway Show- and he saw her- I was in a tiny theater. I saw Alan Arkan when he must have been about twenty nine years old, oh my god and yeah. It was all comedy. Oh yeah, who is just flat out hilarious and very interactive improv? It was just not polished at all right. I was in like the second row of this, like one hundred and fifty seat, theater yeah on the Princetonian University Campus I was just a high school kid. Well I mean were you acting in high school yeah I mean I was acting in acting and acting yeah. I was in the theater family. I grew up my dad produced a regional theater so where mainly in Ohio in the 50s and 60s. He created Shakespeare, Festival's. There's this what part of Ohio yellow springs were Antioch is
lived in Waterville outside of Toledo. Were you born in Ohio? No, I was born in Rochester Rochet. Did you spend time Rochester, Rochester, no he's gone by two years years. Old, yellow springs is just I had to hometown, although it only lasted till I was about while the movie. Well, my dad was theater producer and they kept on with old military. It was like opposite of a military brat. It was a theater rat bringing, and though, his legacy theater is the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland which still goes on. He started it in nineteen. Sixty two as the Great Lakes Shakespeare festival. Wow, so we you a what. How did he starred in? Was he an actor or he was he acted and directed to? But principally he was the artistic director of all these theaters and he ran the Mccarter Theatre Princeton for about ten years. Aha, when I would round about the time, the first pro job I had I mean
interact buying proper roles was working for my dad, a yeah, I are you that was about four years old, but you see up in the theater just wandering around the theater. Was your mom involved just as kind of keeping it together. She had started out acting, but I never saw her act. She had quit we expect. As a mother, she had four kids, I mean we were a real gypsy wagon wow and she just kept it all together, your like your dad- would just pull up and say and say we're going here. I got. Sometimes he pulled up stakes. Sometimes he was run out of town sometime at times you got a bigger, better gig and we moved on. Why would he be run at account? John? well, the fear would go belly up and how they they hadn't paid their payroll taxes or whatever yeah. It was crazy or none of which I knew about as a kid we just you know we just
fact our suitcases and got into the station wagon and was it seems like he was on some sort of mission. There must have been some sort of belief in the magic of it that Shakespeare was necessary for people to to be decent or something he absolutely loved Shakespeare. He was a He was a kind of shy, isolate kid as I as the lower that's the Lauren family and somewhere around fifteen sixteen year old years old. He discovered Shakespeare and read the entire Canon start to finish you no come on it's like reading the dictionary fervently believed in it. Let me describe his most successful venture with experience it was about an eight year. Long Shakespeare festival in Yellow Springs, Ohio, this troupe of actors who would put
warm outdoors on the main building right in front of this big beautiful, victorian gothic, brick, but it like a a an extension extended, porch or something it was they sort of built a a unit stage and the course of a summer time they would open seven shake here, plays in nine weeks her in the day performing at night and once all seven of them, seven yeah they open, the mall. Then they ran the Monroe rotating repertory at different play every night of the week, so he had a shakespearean company, yeah they were mainly young, fresh out of the oven graduates of Carnegie Tech. Now Carnegie Mellon. Okay and really good actors- yeah I mean You probably wouldn't have heard any of them their names now, but theater actors in the sixties and
japanese, these were the major, oh yeah. They want be the big guys. They were just tremendous and I you know I always thought how how good this possibly have been. Just throwing together a shake, an entire hamlet in one week right. You know when I became a young and pretentious young actor. I sort of dismissed it in my own memory and someone's sent me a reel to reel tape of one of the productions. Real, like merry wives of Windsor at just, I don't know, a comedy where not a single joke is comprehensible to a modern audience, and you heard these young actors perform being out of doors, no amplification and the audio. Roaring with laughter and the acting was fantastic. It high energy fast it lightning and with incredible diction It's just exhilarating and sure enough. It created this incredible sub,
yes, over many years, people would come from all over the country to spend a week and see you know you have Southern Ohio, it's weird because is uh not to be condescending, but you don't hear about it well being a cultural mecca where anymore. There listen. You cry you. You know your pocket, you Ross this country, it's amazing how many pockets there are yeah. There's just like you know it. It's the like. It's easy to do what you know. What I just did is just you draw these lines, for I got state I know, but I mean no another. These smarter festival still exist all over the place in Utah and yeah. God knows San Francisco Ashland, Oregon, Ashland or that that's a big big big deal yet over the years, and what's your relationship with Shakespeare outside of not having read the cat, and I mean I've. I've talked a lot on this show with people about how I just can't it's hard for me to access yeah,
and then Sir Ian Mcallen did it to my face. He did Shakespeare write a nice face. Did it bring you around yeah? Well, I mean sure I mean I understood it. I felt the emotions I mean, I can understand it, it's you if I listen, but it's staying in the pocket, your yes, so you have to give it time and you have to you have done, stand about a Shakespeare play when you go to see it. Yeah yeah, I know you know you're, seeing it fresh you're not going to understand the first half hour right and then bit by bit the ad very emerges, and you begin to appreciate what a great storyteller he was right. But the trick of Shakespeare is yeah, I mean, and he had all these devices for captivating an audience a lot of it had to do with the beauty of the language right. But if you see pretty much any Shakespeare
play, some of it is inverse and some of it is in prose tends to be a sort of class system right, that the noble characters will speak in verse, oh yeah and the supernumerary'S the bit parts Raval like the gravedigger in Hamlet, yeah there they will they'll talk colloquial language and it it's the language of four hundred years ago. Here I have to it's like watching a for a french movie. With subtitles you serve gradually get into the rhythm of and you know what I've always my little paradigm for it with a Shakespeare and and all writing for the stage is a combination of three things yeah, the meaning. The emotion and the music a meaning is simply making it comprehensible, yeah and that's not easy with Shakespeare right. You have to get an extremely willing audience has some but
Surprise. It's amazing how untutored people can actually be swept away by it. The emotion is just the emotion of the characters, the interaction of Iago, a Othello and Desdemona yeah and the music is the extraordinary sound of the length of the lie. Which is why we are still quoting it, why Ian Mckellan sat here, and he can do it and sort of dazzled. He did. He did a piece that was about immigrants. I think from yes, right from Thomas mean he's more what it was: a sort of discovered, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, Thomas more Thomas. I don't play about Thomas Moore yeah. He did it right there as close as you are to me yeah just fuck me right in the eye. Yeah How often do you do Shakespeare? Rarely yeah I, did King Lear. A few years ago we were in King Lear in Central Park at the light fantastic experience, and I did Malvolio with the Royal Shakespeare company in two thousand and seven,
but before then I had not done Shakespeare since I was a kid since. Well, I think one thousand nine hundred and seventy five. I was Laertes in hamlet in the mark, I don't know other things come along. You know I'm glad you learned from. Were I mean what was your experience because that's one of those things where an actor is ready to take it on. You have to be a certain age and then it will review it self, to you what was revealed to you, John from Lee or what come out of it feeling different about how I just it just felt incredible to finally stand and deliver that language is titanic and the emotions are are huge, especially for an old man yeah and it's true. You have to be old enough to play it, but you also have to be young enough to play it 'cause, it's so incredibly demanding yeah and I did it on the young end. I think I was sixty nine years old. I know why
and Olivier near death when he did and Mcallen is doing it for the second time in about fifteen years. I guess last year he did it you one of those guys too. That's always seem to be somewhat you middle, aged your entire life yeah. I remember auditioning for directing Steven Porter in New York probably before I had a New York job yeah. And I was I was sing for the young romantic character secondary role in a Moliere play, and he said you know you're going to grow into your self as an actor. He said basically what you just said: I've always been old I think that I think that comes from growing doing I mean I did do a huge amount of shakespearean acting as a kid right. Up until I was like nineteen because your dad would throw three ends: yeah yeah, exactly.
Looting when I was a little boy playing mustard seed in MID summer night's dream. What was their choice when you did that like et like having this x like it seems like you're, your father must, been a passionate guy yeah was he well he he certainly was when it came to pudding on play right, yeah, but a man of tremendous passion, but at home will do catch, so he was very sweet yeah. He was just sweet, sweeten, genial kind of calm guy boy. You see, play these bravura roles in Shakespeare. All right now I am out. I used to imitate him from my friends in grade G out your dad acting. You imitate your dad. Yes, actor yeah playing Stephan in the tempest. You know the comic drunkard and He really opened up. Yeah yeah went into any your siblings get into the business. Well my sisters were teachers, but they did a huge amount of theater in the schools. In fact my older sister Robin she,
Came the arts administrator of the whole unified school district. Here, in LOS Angeles, create creating arts programs, including theater programs for kids. Oh that's, noble It was noble and it was a huge success until two thousand and eight when they took the money away. All the money went out is so her job became, supervising the dismantling of the programs that she had created Harper one of those really tragedies. That's where we decided to take the money from well tends to be the first thing to go, because it's it's not too appearances. It's not the thing that leads to get to make success. Career success? Yes, decent, decent children, it feeds the soul if the other half of an education. Well, that seems to be part of your life Now you I mean you do a lot of stuff for the kids, yeah yeah yeah
thank you for noticing that sort of my hidden career yeah flying under the radar. Well, let's go back so when you're a kid. Are you just picking up acting by being around it. Yeah absolutely- and I I love the whole atmosphere. Me and my siblings, and even some of my best friend yeah, We considered these young actors in their mid twenties and early thirties are best for you know, that's interesting. So you had this input from these young people who are in that zone of self discovery in What years was this in the early 70s, principally the late 50s early 60s, so the culture hadn't broken up yet, but in the sense of like people doing there. Man, almost yeah. I mean, I guess my question is where these guys kind of like these men and women, that you know we're.
Sort of mentoring you just by proximity where they wild bunch, Not really. I mean no more than most actors are. You know they're young terra ways there they had a lot of fun yeah, but they No, it was not. The revolution had not arrived in those years. You know when I started acting seriously for my dad at one thousand, eight hundred and nineteen years, literally in six thousand three hundred and sixty four right, and that was just before the deluge yeah yeah but you felt it coming, did it like. Was it no? No, we were in this little. Extraordinary little bubble right, everything was about about shake we're, not acting and so So you're just picking up pointers yeah. How do you learn to act at that point? Like I mean I know it was not. I was not. I certainly didn't intend to be an actor. I didn't want to be an actor yeah, I was I was an artist I was. I was uh
very serious artist, painter I painter and printmaker and I intended to high school in high school, very serious. Well, I was going to commuting from prince. In New Jersey to the art students league to draw would not new, model w yard students week in New York. Oh yeah, it's a great old institution on fifty seven still around oh yeah yeah, and they do what do you do? Take classes there, yeah yeah, I mean I took a serve teenagers drawing. Water, yeah class, with a bunch of really good school of visual arts, yeah type in New York City, kids, So that was that that was the goal to be very well and then our line and yeah. You know I just I did lots and I did would cuts and yeah and I had extreme really good public school art classes back in those days yeah, but I went to Harvard yeah, mainly as I got into Harvard it's, which is if you want.
If you seriously wanted to be a painter. That was the completely wrong thing to do. Well, you don't study art at ever had your family got into Harvard? No, you just were smart, just got in yeah. I had had such a unique childhood. I suppose I was such an oddity and I was- you know- I acted and I painted I was interesting kid yeah and what was hard? What year was that and has started in sixty three graduate in sixty seven and as soon as I got there, I fell in with the theater gang and it was all extra curricular. You didn't study it right, but but there were tremendously talented kids and was it like. Was the hasty pudding doing things I the hasty pudding was kinda beneath my dignity. Out was a very pretentious and would that I I was in that effort through the S the S playing tart to for a what what was it? Was a troop of non theater-
major and there was no theater major. We just ran off and did our thing and but sure, these two slash three of my waking hours are spent at Harvard at Harvard. I was the president of the Gilbert and son in society? Did patter songs in like six operetta. It was just this four years of just exuberant fervent unsupervised creative. Activity for a young performer. What were you actually majoring in English, history and literature? And it did you do well. I did fine So so you, I guess, are connected over. There definitely connected but I went off from Harvard. I went right to London on a Fulbright grant to study acting at Lambda. I mean I was already. I could gone right into the profession, but I
one thing I wanted to go to England. Yeah I've never been to an end. The Rep American repertory was not in no harm. Here is not. It was not approved. There was no professional troop in the Loeb Drama Center is all students it was. Are you had a stage? We had a state beauty full facilities, we had professional super Biseri staff, yeah, a staff designer a staff, so they gave you all that, so they encourage a it gave us. Although we had we stood in and and worked yeah. We do in fact: we we spur and their advice. You know we were really arrogant. Little pricks yeah back in though that means I mean, I think that Harvard that's not unusual, no that's it's a it's an abiding characteristic of our right right. It's part of the application process, decide where the you're right for the school it does. However, again, are you exactly the hat so weird? So you you got a Fulbright to go
go to England at what which, which point lambda, which is stands for London, Academy of Music in Nevada Car, it's one of the three or four kind of pillars the community big one one of theirs Radha Lambda Central and what's the difference, in Flanders, the best, no, they actually there's very much a traditional Academie training in England, there always has been certain basic things. You study like ROD, is the one with the royal charter S and it has had all sorts of major late finish? Yes of yesterday he was a rod at grant. You know that I never met Albert Finney. He did some good work. I exchanged wonderful letters with him, but I never met him Tom Courtney and I all always lambda
was always regarded as sort of the proletarian alternative to rod up, but now there stages is absolutely with the same and land is an incredible institution. So you're coming in with a lot of shakespearean experience yeah, but I haven't put it to work much right. You know just a couple of productions over the years and when you say academic in terms of the training, what is that like? What does that mean how they start you out? What do you gotta Omar in sword, fighting and dancing? Absolutely swordfighting historic, Dant, Substage Movement voice, diction, we different classes for diction and vocal projection. Yeah and. And and a lot of scene work lot of Shakespeare. Chekhov Shaw. It was an old who a classical training you know know are. Are Lambda? Has this d group this one year group yeah, which served compacts the entire
three or four years that we, you did that's what I did and then extended the grant for another year and did what Hung around London little time end of the 60s. So that's when it all breaks open. It was breaking open, then for sure and and and and the theater was incredible back then yeah it when Peter Brook was doing. He was a young man. Peter Hall was the director of the National Theatre and Trevor none became the youngest director ever of the rscc hanging out and you're going to those going toe everything. The athletic and- and you know the school was nine to five hundred everyday. It was really hard work, yeah and in the second year when I was no I'd completed that one year program I just basically Vietnam time, and I was I wanted to hang on to my federal grant as long as I could to stay out the war right and I
renew my grant and I'll find something to do- and I worked out of the war up to a point- and then a certain point I was drafted anyway. We were yeah and what happened I just got out of it pure acting. What it was like hi David handed on as if our lives depended so the so, with the federal grant you you were somewhat protected because they weren't going after people who are engaged at that level. Well, it was if you stayed in school. Okay, you were your project up to point. It was just after I got out of the draft that the draft lottery came in Ok, we have incredible intense year that particularly 69th one thousand nine hundred and sixty eight sixty nine. If you think of out watersheds serve bench gears in american history. Sixty eight was right up there I mean that's the year that Martin with the king and Bobby Kennedy were assassin
get in the democratic convention Right and Nixon, beating, Humphrey and Watergate all, the seeds of what well Watergate was four years later, but there I was in England for two years thinking out of that. I'm thinking what am I doing here when the going all to Hell did, you feel was feel more feeling to what we're feeling. Now everybody thought the center was not holding that the whole country was falling apart back in those days, I there was a tremendous anti war and anti draft movement. I graduate from Harvard, and literally everybody I know, found a way to get out of the draft so: you're in England and you're going to theater and you're, seeing all this great stuff. And how do you know you got drafted? Oh, I got a draft notice from my draft board in Trenton NJ. They didn't know I was in England, yeah and who
They it along your folks, younger my folks, forwarded it and I wrote back and say well you know you can me I'm here, I'm here on a federal grant yeah and they said no we're drafting. So I off to physical draft physical yeah at an air force base and our Af Air Force base where there was a US presence, yeah and a bunch of air force, guys yeah. Basically, said you don't want to go. You don't want to go all right real. I mean they? They had no dog in the fight. Was Army versus AIR force right so like a football game, so so you just went there and you didn't have to crazy, or I just basic he acted like what I was. I just amplified it yeah, which was what I just said. I'm I I have a pathological fear of conflict. You know I had. I had actually attempted to get out of the draft
does a conscientious objector because I objected war, but they had they had completely discarded that okay that that that was a word. That was all us like a written application that right checked right. So I didn't even attempt that three you have to cry or shit I did try. I did cry I fainted when they drew my blood felt so ashamed of myself for doing that. Well, it was it was like I was acting, but I wasn't. Acting for the right reasons. You know it's. I wasn't acting for an audience and telling a story right, but do you feel We are many regrets about that, though, do you? I think I've lived a huh. I sure I thought that regret has stayed with me. The e you know is: is that that moment for young men, the late 60s is like third rail of american society you rarely get guys to tell the story of how they got out of the draft,
because there is a there's, a lingering shame to that. I think get back in those days you would get stoned and tell your hilarious story to everybody. Right it was like Alice's restaurant when all the big that big hit song that big Arlo Guthrie saga was all about pretending to be crazy to get out of the draft and it didn't work right and he out of the draft anyway, because he had he had thrown garbage in the wrong place. Write a year before and they saw that he had a record record. Yet that was a class, a classic story, but we all had a comic story like a stand up comedy routine and plus you hadn't gone through the agony quite yet right up until then you were just a nervous wreck and afterwards had your war story to accept that it was an anti war story. Yeah It interesting that this shame so of lingers because you didn't man up or
or that there's some element of that I mean I remember. I worked with a wonderful actor named, Dennis, aren't he's just terrific guy and we did a film called distant thunder which was not a successful film, and we were both playing Vietnam. Vietnam, Bush vets. We shot it up in Vancouver, and Denny and I went and actually hung out with these Bush bets in the Olympic Peninsula, what the Bush vet guys who just went to live in the Woods veterans, how whose lives were so wrecked, but they basically went off. The grid went off the grid and we hung out with these guys for three or four days and went to there to their counseling Young's and, oh god, it was so, and I felt I'm just acting the part I feel like such
fraud, yeah and then they had been chopper pilot in Vietnam had gone through the whole drill. Yeah and I said Jenny I didn't go and I can't get a interacting with these guys. I can't get over the sense of shame. He said John. I went to Vietnam and I can't get over my sense of shame, we're all casuals it's hard to bring that back to life. For people who aren't you know over seventy years old right and who lived through all that yeah, it's heavy because even in retrospect. Obviously I don't under, I can't understand by empathize I found that moving but like even knowing that the war was, you know, winnable in and a disaster and based on and yes sanity. You still like you know like I, and yet these guys
and they were they went because they felt they they had to serve their country and they made colossal sacrifice a where they might go to jail for them and they want to leave the country. No, it's seven chevy, it's a very heavy thing, and and back in those days it with it, dominated everybody's men and women. You know women who felt the terrible guilt of their boyfriends yeah. I have had that conversation with women, my age about who- of their boyfriends, who bailed who bailed or didn't bail. I was in London with a lot of american guys here, just basically self exiles and they didn't know how that what they were gonna do they were out of their hiding out from the way they didn't know how they were going to get home. Did you go home? I got home at the end of two years my hostility and went to work for my dad, a in the theater yeah do and you were acting for your father. I acted and directed and
defined. I see it's great that you had this dad yeah I had a fabulous head start. I worked for him for a year hands on and then I said, no dad it's time to move that I gotta go to do this myself. Where'd you go to New York. It was out of work for two years. You know well I I agree I I was hired to direct well on my way to being a direct, not an actor yeah. In fact, Baltimore Center stage even offered me a job as associate artistic direct, you could have been. You could have a career. Is a regional theater during that's right, that's right! You could I accepted the job 'cause. I had nothing else and then, two weeks later I got the job I always wanted, which was a years residency at Long Wharf, theater back when they had a resident company. Where was that New Haven
So okay, so that was your dream. Was you were really locked into the theater war? That was my world? Regional theater was what I did In fact, I remember my Fulbright grant application. They asked the question: what will you do with the work you study? Yes grant? I said American Repertory Theatre but the second show I did at Long Wharf a british play with it american premier called the changing room about a rugby team and it's changing room yeah. It got a lot of national press. He was terrific production. It came intact to Broadway to 45Th St Street- and I had my Broadway debut in that you know- I never thought I'd get to Broadway yeah and two weeks later. Two weeks after our opening night. I won a tony award for come on yeah. Was like back in those days. There was no lag time yeah. I'm sure that, oh, my god, that I am the actor who won Tony after the shortest time after his day.
View fry out of a lot of bitter actors. So why don't? I know? Resentful alley was a cast of twenty two men and not they weren't entirely celebrating. When I run the best supporting actor. I would imagine the entire theater community in New York was, I got the is this is his acting yeah? Your He certainly how I feel most of the time. So now: you're off and running then yeah Back that I really haven't been seen is out of work since then, and How long was the focus theater? When did the? When did you realize, like I'm, going to do movies well you always auditioning for films and television. I mean in the 70s that was in nineteen. Seventy three and for about ten years I did like eighty percent plays, I did twelve Broadway plays,
that uh huh, or what yeah the I'm amazed, you even remember was little hell of a movie, though, and great movie. There was a crew like there were two or three the producer teeth, exactly in fact, so fosse even hired genuine people to be so you were the more the sort of like that, the arrogance he had yeah right right right and he I was sort of the embodiment of of all of Fossey's, rivals and right, believes the with did you you played in another director. Corrector was yeah yeah right of rival direct right, rival, direct and everybody speculate. Who is the? Who? Is he? I wore sunglasses on the top of my head right to eat with athletic, how princess always done you know, and but the e into correcting my scene Fosse referenced, Gower Champion Nichols, Michael Bennett, and how prince
he was serving embodiment of all all the people. He was jealous of contemptible error. Again everything every with every part of your body was just sort of he was our vendor and faucet just loved all that he's. He was a must have been great towards fantastic yeah, and so ok, he did in the seventies. You did all that jazz and you did. When did you do blow out? Oh yeah? wow? Well, I had known Depalma yeah when we were both students. He was Colombia and I was at Harvard and how do you know him? We met through a we. We actually I created serve summer theater. Workshop in Princeton New Jersey, yeah. I think the year before my summer, before my senior year of college, with a bunch of Columbia, guys a few of Us Harvard guy
as in a few of us, Columbia, Huh and Brian, was a good friend of those guys yeah. He came down to see. I remember We were doing a mole year evening to half three Moliere one acts, and I was acting my head off and I heard this wild like banshee, laugh from the audience and the audio his were not big ideas. They were not big crowds yeah, we would fill the the theater about twenty five percent. Full the whole enterprise was a huge flop. But I heard this screaming laugh that was Brian Depalma and In many ways he served God fathered my entry into movies. He recommended me to first movie I was ever in and then shortly after he hired me for obsession yeah and then I I saw session. You should see it it's it's classic old time. The farm. I mean Depalma's stuff,
your movies, have you seen hi, mom and greetings now those are his wild. Those were when I was written by Paul Schrader yeah. I mean those guys. You got to see them because they were very radical films and Niro was in them yeah. He was in, hi mom. I think and greetings I'm so mad, but you got to see them. Those were his That's when he was a real renegade, yeah and then well blowout was well, I mean. Then he became the master of the macabre. You know he sort of embraced suspense huh right 'cause you. We love that and then did raising Cain, yeah I saw that that was not being ninety, but blowout was great like yeah. That was a great one. It was one of his real good ones, but I don't know what you know but how he sees his interpretation of other movies, but
clearly does that on purpose: oh yeah, yeah. He he it's not like. He was stealing right, always considered it both and image and a kind of secret in joke. He. He delighted in all that and what it you playing like you, know, evil well Brian, always curious. Why, why he he thought of He is in fact there's this wonderful documentary of Brian. It's nothing more than an interview. We had a lot of cuts to hit and he himself said I'd why I was thought John Lithgow would be a good villain and I don't know what he was being used by that. I think it's because he love
is the idea of someone who's, apparently innocent, being tired, diabolical, and I'm your man for that we've done it a lot yeah right! Well, it's a great way of surprising people. You know when they expect one thing yeah and it turns out to be another. I mean that's almost the essence of every kind of drama right you know the eyes in surprise, but then I will but like, but luckily because you work so much, you know when the people that do when you do a thing like terms of endearment. Were people right now, he's sums he's gonna be evil at some point. This is gonna turn that I've that I've seen in the last few movies, yeah someone's gonna get a night for them, but it can get good goes the other way around. I do third rock from the sun for a few years yeah and I'm the last person they think will be evil right. I'm just this clueless do first,
and then I do Dexter. You know where I couldn't be more evil and a lot of the villain parts. I've played have a double identity. I love duality where there's two completely opposite size to a character. In fact, about five or six times I've played my own identical to it. Yeah exactly must be a testament to your to your range and skill as an actor that people will do that, how many people could they really have do that effectively? Obviously, several different directors said now. John, is a guy for this well I don't know by now I've gone and so many crazy different directions. You know when Stephen Daldry asked me to play Winston Churchill. I was just garnished and everybody I knew was astonished really, but I think My daughter had just had well, he just see. Me do enough unlikely. Surprise.
Using things he thought yeah. What a fun idea or she could do this I wondered if you would you want to award for that right? I want a few awards for that yeah Emmy award actually Albert Finney Rest, his soul, Emmy for playing Churchill. Two, Churchill is it's a good prize winning character? He would have been very pleased. I think I think you would too and you've have an Oscar, no no or I've been nominated twice and I actually presented one of the nominated films when Billy Crystal was an Oscar host.
And he took his eye off the teleprompter for for one second, and he introduced me as a two time, Oscar winner, John Lithgow. This is the first time I've ever disabused. People of that yeah. I wonder where that guy don't have that came in you a few enemies now six. Do you have them all out Why don't? I tell you the truth they're in storage. I mean this sounds ridiculous, but I've got a lot of these things. Yeah it's like too many of them to put on display sure all the different awards. It's the midwesterner and meet me. Where do you live? You have here yeah, live here and have an apartment in New York, so I'm of bicoastal character so moving through the movies, though like, like, I remember, you're one of those guys that was
sort of in a lot of things always like. I feel like I grew up always seeing you somewhere got a bad penny no keeps on showing up, but like the twilights the movie. That was Greece. Yes, that's a great role in fabulous and work. For George Miller yeah, you know of mad MAX fury he directed your episode. He directed my episode and it was the first I'd done a few movies before then, including Darp sure, but until then. Nobody, no film director had asked ever asked me to do more. They all asked me to do less George, nothing was ever enough. More bullshit. I want to see your face crack. You know they really just correct error and it was incredibly liberating. That was the first time I brought all my search,
reviewer a he Acceder chops to the to the movie really yeah. So I did everything you earn yeah. Thank you again. I wanted it. You got it good! we are sweating and throw yeah our total freak out for non stop. It was like I have twenty minute heart attack of me in the really fun. Did you work with him again ever not to words. No, no! No, and I love them terms of endearment, like you were the sweet guy, yeah yeah that was at the bank that you it was about a two or three year stretch which was came out to LA. When I met my wife, I came to LA we got married, so you left New York. You left a theater The ongoing theater of the seventies yeah and came out to L L a on what movie did you decide like I got to go to L a we'll. I decided cousin Mary. When we got married, I moved in with her. She was a tenured professor and out here yeah at
CL a huh and I couldn't tell you for a you've been married, twice: yeah yeah there is she's, my second yeah hi and- and I just It was just sort of a time for change. In my life, I guess yeah moved out and moved. With her and bam. Bam. Bam, bam bam. I did Garp, my light zone in terms of in Behrendt Footloose. Yeah buckle all in the space of about but two one slash two years and they were all wildly different character parts popular movies in different ways. Some of them were big hit movies. Terms and both terms for coupons. They they had a kind of a cult following it still does yeah yeah. What is it wherever you go there? You are yeah and laugh while you're gone monkey boy yeah with my
I wish your listeners could see your laugh it right now. My last mile I'd forgotten that one yeah among pretty wild boy that was like a meme in like before the internet like that was something people were saying. Oh that's right! Because of that guy monkey boy is the most lunatic character. Ever I loved it. One thousand nine hundred and eighty four that's right. It was just 'cause. I remember that being around you know, things are around what was your The boy line So while you can monkey boy you get a few of those. I once went to my did an assembly at at my sons school when he was a high school and I did my own. It was such a self congratulatory thing to do. I gave myself life achievement.
Ward and I provided all my. I ask you to do that. No, no, no was a joke. I said instead of having clips, I just quoted all my great one line: yeah yeah yeah and I had a whole bunch of them with some of the other one. Well Roberta Muldoon said I had a great pair of hands, yeah, yeah yeah laugh. While you can monkey boy and in terms of endearment, you must be from New York you out. I gave the Harry and the Hendersons Howl yeah it was long predated, hello, Dexter, Morgan. That became a yes, so he did third rock for years. Yeah that was six years, but you did a lot of television here and there a lot of the things that people do these show up and wave and make a joke ever go away: yeah but yeah. But third rock was like
a lot right yeah we did one hundred and thirty eight episodes and had a fantastic time. I mean it was really a deliriously fun show. People must know you for that. Right, probably you play Hl Mankin. Now that you mention it. I did play a job you no on KEN Burns, he of his go to voices. I've been on four or five of KEN Burns, Doc entries into the Vietnam, though, did you know Peter Coyote? I think yeah yeah No, I would always do their characters. Little letters being read, I was on the Roosevelt. One voice works fun right. Well, it's no different I this we're doing voice work right now you get to do no, but you know it's fun, it's a lark I loved Chris Rock's whole riff on voicing animated films, the it's just
You know when I, when I did the voice of Lord Farquaad Quad in Shrek yeah. I did it Now, four years before the movie came out yeah- and it was this whole new technology, Shrek right, very innovative film, I would go in and lay down some. You know the Lord Farquaad and then go away for about six months and they'd come in to have me. Do another fifteen minutes to do another little yeah I may be dropped in three or four times over a couple of years right it put it all together. I spent about forty five minutes on it right and four. Years later outcomes this phenomenal film and it's my voice, I've long since forgotten, never saying these things yeah, you know in in there it's forever now yeah yeah. Like my producer. Brandon he's got a son, a cup
years ago, when his kid was six, his wife got tickets to see Peter and the Wolf at Carnegie Hall. And when she told him he was not happy because he he sensitive, he gets worried about large places and big sound. So let's cause some anxiety and he said no, not going through the tickets in the trash, and she says but John Lithgow is. She is going to be the narrator and there's a long pause and he says okay I'll go. No. This is my these. Are my people yes, for about a like a two year window of opportunity, then they they grow up and think I'm an asshole, but No. But I've spent a lot of time entertaining like the three hundred and twenty seven year old, so yeah when did that happen was out of your own making because you've written books, yeah yeah, it's it's a very nice thing. It mainly came. You know
had a baby sister. Ten years younger than me. There were four of US siblings. I was the third oldest and she was ten years younger than me yeah and I was like her third parent Sarah Jane and I always entertained her right and always the main go to babysitter, and then my own kids came along and I just developed songs. I taught myself guitar just just saying: sing, kids songs in kids, and then it was glass rooms and benefits for this schools and assemblies and for their schools, everything and then he became known to well. I the guy, who did that now, really until third rock from the sun yeah. And I at that point it was like somebody suggested you do something with your kids, stuff yeah and I made of home v v c r set video cassette and then I made an album here with some terrific musicians in a great record producer Anet.
Of your songs of my song and also old novelty standards, I'm Calloway and Betty Boop, surely cool songs. He has retooled's kids, songs, sure with great service, that old time jazz orchestration Ann, I literally called in shun for Carnegie Hall, yeah and my old Carnegie Hall and told them. I have an album yeah. I want to send it to you and I want to give a concert with a big orchestra yeah. Months later hero. I I had my Carnegie Hall Debut. I performed there three or four times I've I've I We done kids concerts with about a dozen major US orchestras huh hour, long concert's mo flee my own songs and you sing them. I them. I could see you one right now: okay, well, I'm not going to I'm in right. Now
uh I'll sing, you one. I got two dogs, family and blue metric and wish I had to dogs to Van is all white blue kinda gray than ever ever fight and the never run away there, not too smart, but the law Glenn Kruuse, nothing, odd trade, former Fannie and Blue, etc. I mean that they love yeah they go nuts and they're very interactive concerts. I haven't actually had time to do this for about three or four years, but I used to do it a lot and it always this wonderful counterpoint entertaining adults right because kids are, Electric I mean incredibly difficult audience, but if you can control them and stim, delete them and then calm them down? I get them to really listen and hold their attention for an entire hour, get them
squealing with joy and totally silent for a it's, a fantastic feeling. 'cause I always say you know when an actor really wants is to achieve. Is suspension of disbelief yeah, you never get that entirely with an adult. Audience they always know they're watching a fiction right, but kids, They haven't figured anything out, yet they think my god I'm seeing the real thing so and they have no irony at all yeah they just completely by it and they buy it all so excited to buy it there so excited and must feel great it feels great and they they grow up and turn their backs on me until they discover me in Dexter.
Right or are they discover you when they're teaching their own kids stuff? That's right! That's not what I mean. The most wonderful thing is to hear and say you know their kids love my albums yeah, it's a it's, a wonderful or or my books, yeah is that stays S evergreen man yeah. You know what I mean it's like you. You know that those songs like even the ones that you chose to do that. Aren't your songs that you know them for a reason. They never go away. Yeah and I can make those things that never go away for kids. Generations of them. It's an amazing thing. There was great fun, also sort going through tin, PAN Alley, 'cause back in the 30s these ridiculous, in getting Do your and seed oats, the they wrote these idiotic songs for commercial adult consumption, but there one cool songs. For kids, I mean when I was a kid Danny Kaye was this huge thing sure we loved we had
album album. We must have played a million times Danny at the palace. Doing all these. And I've done several of them on my elbow. You have Danny that song and Dan was this big movie. Danny can HANS Christian Andersen. Oh yeah court, Jester God you mention that to anyone under fifty now and they have to really striking sure his face. I mean I like your handsome. He was younger than it was. It was I I'm not that old enough to know those things when was younger. I was very obsessed with old entertainment. Well, vaudeville, it emerges in different strains. Yeah. That never goes away ever goes away. Did you see that standing Ali movie? No, why you should see it? Is it good? It's so good yeah, I'm so mad that it doesn't seem like a lot of people are seeing. Well it's because-
Who knows about Stan and Ollie any, but that that you know that what they look like? That's all we really know, even even every generation right that is seen, those black and white is or the whatever is available when you're a kid, but maybe you're right, but the the thing is Is that those two guys John C Reilly and Steve Coogan, really gay? them depth thing. I will, I will see if they make them people and their people in show business, and there are people in a difficult point in show. Business yeah well, and it's just such a sweet. My religion, I will watch so what's this play you're doing. Ah, that's the one I'm doing Laurie Metcalf. It's called Hillary and Clinton. Where is it is it in New York or he will be on Broadway and who's play. Is that it's uh
wonderful, young writer named Lucas, Nase, uhhuh, H, N, a t h and he wrote, he's written a lot of plays, but he wrote off on Broadway dolls house too a couple years ago that and Laurie played the title role and won the two: word for it. Have you worked with her before she came and did a three episode arc on? Third rock from the sun. Alki was hilarious and she was nominated for an Emmy for it as a guest to as a guest artist he's intense man. She is the greatest actress yeah getting up on stage with her. I can't wait yeah. She is so sharp and section at yes, so smart yeah, it's really good and the play is really good. What's it about? Well, it's a Bill and Hillary at a
a very crucial moment in their history. It takes place the night the day before and the day after, the New Hampshire primary in two thousand and eight when she was running not against Trump, but against Obama, yeah and it's in a sense, it's kind of like the crown where there are these very Greenlee? Well known public figures, the everybody's obsessed with, but nobody really knows. What's inside their lives, we have private lives and it's it's a kind of hypothetical in speculative play men's it. This guy is such a tremendous writer. It's it it's got. It's got the dramatic structure of an absent plates very funny play, but it's got turns of plot. That and the story telling is just
right they don't they don't write, plays like this. I just love it, it's great, so to play Bill Clinton. How do you not make that a caricature? Well, it's a kind of deal is made with the audience almost instantly outcomes Laurie just as Laurie says. Basically, don't even don't worry we're not even trying to imitate these people. It's a it's just in awe take on them, so so I'm not making the slightest effort to look like him or sound like him, you'll see you got to see it, it's going to be just tremendous, it's a four character play over the other two care. I I don't think I'll tell you, because one of them's a big surprise: oh can't spoil it. No sport, that's right got it and yeah. Well, it sounds interesting and certainly there's one to you guys together, that's crazy and be it's going to be something and what what date? Are you? What what sister? What's the Fox news movie?
Ah well, I'm playing Roger Ailes. How was that playing another monster? Well, it all depends on how you look at him actively. Yes, he was a monster, but whenever players. Whenever I play a monster, I serve shake hands with sure you give if you man, it's a terrific script by Charles Randolph, who wrote the big short it's directed by Jay Roach, a wonderful director, this good comedy movies right and this cast it's me but The other major characters are the women at Fox. It's really about the women's response to the culture apply, Megyn Kelly again Megyn Kelly is. By Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, right Carlson, Margot Robbie, Allison Janney,
it's the most extraordinary! Our humble great great actresses, that that is a powerful bunch of women there and it's such a smart I mean you never know you're inside at all, but have you seen the cut? No, no ones it out. You know it's a very, very glorified, independent film. I don't it's not a studio film, it's not slated I don't think it's even titled yet, but it's really going to be good. I think he felt great acting those scene and there and they're very challenging scenes there's. You know you been obsessed with the me too movement and all in the downfall among these harasser's from last couple of years but you never. I don't think I have seen it accurately portrayed. I mean there's no way of
shortly recreating what actually happened behind closed doors but exploring the other side of it send an in depth like all of the What's most fascinating is all the different reactions of all the different women yeah, because you know some people, for all sorts of complex reasons have to either accommodate or not accommodate defy. A protest, sue or accept and everyone everyone in the film faces a deep moral dilemma, including including ales himself. As far as I'm concerned yeah, you know Connie Britton plays this fascinating part of his wife. Allison plays his attorney Susan Estrich, who was a feminist in a great advocate for women and protecting women fat conflict.
The concept complex. It's a complex story and the background, of course, is the birth of Fox NEWS. Created Fox NEWS and his downfall has all kinds of resonance with what's happening right now, yeah! Oh, that sounds exciting. It's all done right, it's all shot yet are there cutting it and J's very happy? Oh good, sent me an email saying wow. This is cool, really working so good. It's always good. Go right. I met him on a plane, briefly yeah, so you can Do the play that's coming out and uh what else? That's enough! I'm writing a book really yeah about yourself. No, no good! It's I've done that you've done a couple of uhm. No, I I it is so who it's a project in such infants in infancy.
Hesitate even talk about where it satirical doggerel verse on the subject of the Trump Administration and all these astounding characters I mean, if you just look at it and You're. Looking looking at this list of characters, there's about fifty of them who so unbelievably bizarre yeah, comic, appalling, horrific, the work area, worse yeah and the work there are there and they are, they are almost as if they are secure, yeah. It's like what's doggerel verse. Well, it's doggerel verses, it's nonsense verse about s it like Lewis, Carroll and Edward Leary, they're gonna do what a funny poetry! It's comedy. I eight to me the the only way I can deal with my kind of chronic low level depression about the state of this come here is to make some sort of comic comment on it
yeah I'm up on it. Now, I'm I'm up on the decline. Look good! Let's Europe on the decline that for a it's not going to last forever, I'm an optimist by nature. Okay, I I a, I think I am, but I don't know I I think it's just a it's. It's some sort of denial thing. Of course it is, and but I am is we do forget it it's almost like you know you can get addicted to a streaming drama created for net flicks or Amazon right. I try to think of this. Is the stream drama of our lives when I think to my young years. One of the great villains of my childhood was Richard Nixon sure. All through the 50s Yellow springs Ohio. He was the one of the major he and Joe Mccarthy and Roy Cohn the great boogeyman right as a result, he
come down in nineteen, seventy three or four awhile? It took awhile, but when it came, it was one the great moments of elation. In my childhood, I think I have that coming, oh good I think, there's a second company. We all have that. Did you did you go? I read that that you gave spend at Harvard, and you were the first actor to do so. Yes, first, only so far and was that it was that a big moment or no oh, it was wonderful, is fantastic. In fact I I used. My children's books is kind of the theme I wrote a children's book for the occasion. It was a lot of fun, because that year there had been a kind of outrage there. Then President Lawrence Summers had made an offhand comment about women not being suited for sino rice and the it was really it cost him his present
see there was such an outrage yeah and that outrage was boiling all year long, so I'm convinced they invited, need to give the commencement speech, because I was the least offensive person they could think of and I decided to write a children's book for the occasion to a boiler plate commencement speech, but ended with something that I had done. Yeah as I left my theme was be creative, be useful, be practical area, be generous yeah. I said: okay, I'm creative. I've created a book for the education practical. It's going to be published a useful way well it's going to help poor oil on troubled waters at Harvard this year. It's about mouse of little girl mouse name Ahalya what happens to be brilliant at science and it wrote the
the laughter just rolled across these twenty thousand people waiting outside, and I then cited this, verse. Children's book called Mahalia Mouse goes to college, and it was all about a brilliant little science student graduating from from Harvard yeah, and I said I dedicated it to the class of two thousand, Five and all my proceeds went to their class gift. So I was with my little homily and you know you published it it's probably get it's a terrific book and I got a standing ovation Ann. I performed an encore of one of my children, songs great, I think any Genia stuck it to the man. He was seated right behind me. No, but it was very gentle. It was. I was not. I was not. I didn't not,
Do you weren't going to bend? I know, but it's like I couldn't let the moment no house without giving some nod to Thee the thing that had obsessed the campus all year long and you did it from a child's perspective. Yes right which is, which made everybody process it. Way yeah. It was an intellectual thing right right, that's great was great I can imagine, God, are we done yeah? I think so. It's wonderful talking to mark and yeah you're. Just you do such great things with this. So I'm really proud to be on it. Thank good luck with the play. Thank you to come see you have to promise me you'll come to see when I go into New York. I want to see a couple plays I'll see that one I see the the The Miller play yeah yeah hi, Sir Tracy is a good friend of yours. We were new friends, it's weird when you're out of middle age, making friends yeah and I you know I ta about it a lot, but you know we spend time.
Together, we've gone out in eight and I've seen his place is such a bright man. Yes, I like making him laugh, he's a good audience from this I don't know, I don't know him very well, but I've I've. I saw him at the Steppenwolf years ago in a great kid actor yeah, it's terrific actor. A nice place for good this new one down at the market. Yes, I heard you talking about it on yeah, like I say something If you're certain type of fella, it's gonna roll, wait a little hard yeah. You're going to resonate with you in ways that are gonna. Make you uncomfortable well that that's one of the things we try to do. That's what theaters for all right, thanks great to talk to you. Okay. That was great. I love that guy, don't forget. Studies.
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here we go
Transcript generated on 2019-09-23.