For forty years the HFPA has audio- taped famous actors and actresses. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 Star Speaks — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. To veteran stars, our HFPA journalists are family, they banter with them and they speak openly and frankly about them-selves and their artistry.
I have a Beverly Hills mentality. I can’t help it. Not only did I grow up in Beverly Hills, but I knew every single famous person who lived here. That’s really saying something. Until I left Hollywood, it didn’t seem extraordinary. Then I thought, “My God, look what happened to me. I met all those terrific people.”
But when I was growing up it was just normal. They were the people who worked with my mom ( Judy Garland) and dad (Vincent Minelli ). Everybody’s parents were famous, everybody’s friends were famous. When I got to New York, it killed me I hadn’t appreciated that.
My mother was a very strict disciplinarian, but fair. It was a matter of talking. You had to learn to use your brain fast in her household. She wouldn’t say, “You can’t do that.” She would not do it directly like a parent. It was always like a friend. “Why did you do that? What were you thinking about at the time? How could you do something so stupid?”
When you’r five years old, this hurts, but it teaches you to use your head. She was always fair. She never overpunished us. I think I was a quiet kid and kept a lot to myself.
When I hit twenty-two, that all changed and I became very noisy. But when i was growing up I was quiet. There’s a part of me that still remains, that says, “Well I won’t worry, I’m not gonna let it bother me today. I’ll think about it later.” So I think I do have a reserve of emotion.
I would never write a book about my mother, ever, I would never play my mother. That’s something I hold very dear and I want to leave it alone. I don’t want to rewrite it for other people. That’s mine. I hold it sacred, it took me a long time to realize my mother was dead. That’s very important for me to know. Otherwise, you’re carrying around a whole bunch of luggage that you don’t need, that’s too heavy.”
—– Edited by Jack Tewkesbury
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For forty years the HFPA has audio- taped celebrated actors and actresses. The world’s largest collection of its kind is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. To stars, our HFPA journalists are family; they banter with them and speak openly and frankly about themselves and their artistry
I played football in high school, but I became a football player after I did North Dallas 40, and it was mainly a journalistic creation. Around this time I was arrested for selling counterfeit government documents. I was given a $75,000 fine and forty-five years in jail, which meant I could not be drafted because I was a felon and that was great.
But what happens is that changes came about. Later, they turned around and said, “Sure you can vote now, we were just kidding.”
Well, I didn’t kid with it. I won’t vote. I’m a felon. So that’s why I remain disillusioned with any kind of bureau-cratic structure. I have a healthy disrespect for institutions. Personally, I believe in myself.
When I was drinking, during my years of addiction , I was happy, but it finally caught up with me. But I was great drunk. As far as acting goes, I’ve been happy with it from the very first day I decided to get into acting. When I saw my first Arthur Miller play, I said, this talks about human life. You can read it, you can watch it, you can participate in it.
I was very happy the first time I got on stage. But I was also horrified. To go on stage is a horrific experience. Opening night is pure terror. There is nobody who can say isn’t but I knew immediately that this was home. I really belonged. This is what I needed to do, so that journey has
always been that way.
There hasn’t been a time in my film experience when I said, “Oh, now I’m doing what I want to do.” I was always doing what I wanted to do. I wasn’t always happy with myself when I was an alcoholic, but that is a different situation than the work. Through all the addiction and everything, I didn’t stop working. I made films like Who’ll Stop The Rain, Heartbeat, and 48 Hours, and was quite pleased with all of those.
—Edited by Jack TewksburyRead More »
For forty years the HFPA has audio- taped famous actors and actresses. The world’s largest collection of its kind is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. To stars, our HFPA journalists are family; they banter with them and speak openly and frankly about themselves and their artistry.
I’ve known Woody all my adult life, and clearly I love him. He’s hilarious and brilliant. What can I say? There are few people you get to know that well in life. That’s why I feel privileged to be in that rarified world of people who’re old news. I’ve been around forever; I’m someone he’s known forever. He can’t get rid of me. I’ll always be his friend, and that’s never going to go away.
Is he distracted by adverse publicity? He’s never distracted when he works. After all, how many years has he been doing it? Thirty? He’s very disciplined. I believe that if you lean on your disciplines, they’ll help get you through life.
It’s true of a lot of people. Francis Coppola had a horrible tragedy when his son was killed, but he continued to work. I’ve never known anyone to become hysterical while working as a director. It’s just too much responsibility. You don’t have time to let your personal life interfere.
When I went back to do Woody’s movie Manhattan Murder Mystery after a very long period of not having worked with him, I realized what a truly remarkable film maker he is.
There’s nobody like him in the world. And he’s deceptive, because a lot of the time you feel like you’re not even being directed.
People are excited to work with him because obviously he’s one of the greatest film makers America’s ever produced. Everybody wants to be in a quality product, and they trust him, so he’s done very well with actors.
Not that he’s easy to work with. The process is difficult,the expectations are very high, and it can be very nerve -wracking. After ten years, of course, I was anxious, very nervous. It’s like going back and seeing your family again.
But after a week it felt like old times.
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For forty years the HFPA has audio- taped famous and celebrated actors and actresses. The world’s largest collection of its kind is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. To stars, our journalists are family; they banter with them and they speak openly and frankly about themselves and their artistry. Below is a Star Speaks segment. BRAD PITT
Where I’m from is a million miles away. I call it the Ozarks. A little bit of Huckleberry Finn, with rivers and lakes, trees and places to go get lost. I come from a very stable Christian family. I have a younger brother and younger sister, both married. Dad’s into the outdoors, and had a business. I’m crazy about all of them. (Pitt pictured with mother and brother Doug inset)
I just went home and spent three weeks there. There’s so much going on in Hollywood, it was good to get home for a while. It’s funny, when you’re sitting home in Missouri, you see fame, you see money, you see all these things. They’re definitely an attraction, but when you come out here it turns into something else.
If you’re going to last, you’ve got to love what you’re doing. I’m not saying I despise money, but my dream was not about the fame or the money. It was about those movies I watched sitting by myself in the dark.
Seeing films offered me a different way of looking at things. They gave me reasons why people do the things they do. They helped me realize that I could leave Missouri if I wanted to. After high school, I went to college, but I got bad grades, and I got it into my head it was time to go, so I left two credits short. Acting wasn’t available there on any level that you could respect, but once I figured out in my head that I could leave, I left two weeks later. Since then, however, they’ve called and asked me to come back.
When I first arrived in L.A., I had a million jobs. I slept the first couple of nights in my car and I lived six different places the first eight months. I met people, where I could kind of crash. The first week I started doing work as an extra, but I also I delivered chickens and refrigerators. I rented a room where I told the landlady, “It’s so small you couldn’t swing a cat.” She replied, “No problem. I don’t allow animals.”
And then, about nine months later, I got my first part in Dallas, then, episodic television and Movies of the Week until I got Thelma and Louise.
I was in this acting class, and a woman in the class had an audition with an agent. She needed a partner to do a scene. It was one of those classic stories: I did the scene with her and ended up with the agent.
–Jack TewkesburyRead More »
For forty years the HFPA has audio- taped famous and celebrated actors and actresses. The world’s largest collection of its kind — over 10,000 Star Speaks — is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. To veteran stars, our HFPA journalists are family; they banter with them incessantly, and they speak openly and frankly about themselves and their artistry.
” I think of actors as those who have taken a certain imaginative leap. English and American actors do have a common cord, but there are big differences: American actors are much more outward, much less afraid of being emotional.
For example, at an audition, English actors won’t read. If they’re given a script they’ll hold it close up, mumble, read stage directions, pretend they can’t read. American actors thump on the table, throw themselves on the ground. English actors find that very embarrassing.
Another difference is that British actors work much more. We move easily between television, theatre, films; American actors tend to sit and wait for the big part. We like to work more often.
And we’re paid much less.
In the first part of my career, I was extremely driven to become a great classical actress. In my early twenties I was offered many film roles. I had opportunities to come to America, but I wanted to become the great classical actress, so I pursued that.
It involved things such as leaving the classical theatre for a while and working with Peter Brook–who I believe is the greatest creative genius in the theater today–because I thought it wouldfurther my abilities. I didn’t pursue money or fame; I pursued artistic ability.
But doing classical theatre is like riding on an incredibly powerful, potentially uncontrollable horse. At first you try to control it, but then it is running away with you. But bit by bit, you learn to manage it.
I was doing a performance as Cleopatra about four years ago and I suddenly realized I could ride this horse. Not only that, I could make it jump and stop and make it go backward, sideways, whatever. I could make it do anything!
I had learned my craft. It was an interesting moment and so I thought, what shall I do next?
And that happened just as I fell in love with someone who lived in America.”
—–Edited by Jack Tewkesbury
One of a series of actors’ reminiscences edited by Jack Tewkesbury.
My father Charlie Chaplin was used to the Southern California climate and hated the cold. He’d say, “It’s so cold here in Switzerland you have put food in the refrigerator to warm it up.” Once he and I went to an exhibition by Matisse in Paris. He was looking at the extraordinary paintings, and suddenly he got very depressed and said, “I used to be famous, too. ” Then he looked around and added, “I used to be well known.”
Little by little, people started looking at him. They said, “Charles,” and they came up and asked for his autograph and then he started saying, “Yes, he’s not a bad painter.”
He was very, very insecure, always. There’s that wonderful story about Flaubert. Apparently when he was dying he said, “I’m dying and that bitch Madame Bovary is going to live forever.” I suppose my father thought, “Here am I, getting old, and that little tramp is still doing gymnastics.”
My father was anti-American, but he didn’t try to impose his ideas on us, certainly not his political ideas or religious ones. He was an atheist, yet he sent me to Catholic school. He gave us all a choice. He was bitter about America although he wouldn’t admit it. He kept saying, “I don’t want to go back there,” but I’m sure he did. Anyhow, no way he could. He had a British passport. America, at that time, would not issue him a visa.
We were going to Japan once, and when the plane came down at Anchorage and everyone had to get off , he refused. “I’m staying right here.” And he sat down and wouldn’t get off the plane. Finally they carried him off and he said, “Oh well, it will be nice to have an American cup of coffee,” which seemed strange.
Nobody longs for an American cup of coffee!Read More »