Lock the gate. All right, let's do this, how are you? What the fuck? What the fuck, buddies? What the fuck? Nix what the fuck? That's what the fuck publican's. What the fuck? Lists. What's up? What is up? Oh, my God. What a fucking relief. Am I right? God damn it, I can stop eating candy. What a goddamn relief. The weight has been lifted, man. Women, children.
He she these. It's been lifted. And it's amazing how quickly you felt that lift. It was almost immediate, I mean, people I don't know that people really fully understand the power, the symbolic power of the the head of state that, you know, that that determines on some level how grounded people feel in the country. And we have just been untethered and beaten and brain fucked and fucked with and hurt.
And assaulted. Every fucking day by an abusive, narcissistic fuck. A mentally ill fuck. Was the god damn abusive step dad of this country and our mother, America made a bad choice.
And then we couldn't get him out of the fucking house and was almost looking like we could never get him out of the house before he killed our fucking mother and made us all live in fear.
We just barely fucking avoided real fascism people, real fascism was here. And it got pushed back for the time being. And we have new institutional management coming. God willing. No other weirdness. Who the fuck knows, though? With this fucking pig. I don't know how all these fucking American fascists are handling the cognitive dissonance of what is real and what they believe and what they believe to happen. I know that those beliefs are being fueled and fired up and they're trying to contain them through propaganda and persistance.
Now, leadership level, Trump family, some Republicans, but I don't know, I imagine with these type of people, brain fucked, brainwashed people or just people that believe that fascism is the way to go, that with this cognitive dissonance, they're just going to double down on their beliefs. And we're obviously going to have to deal with this for a while.
But I don't want to get hung up on that. I want to be too much of a buzzkill. I don't know what the future holds.
I do know that today is Frank Langella day here on the podcast. Talk to Frank Langella. You know, Frank Langella from stuff like Dracula, Frost Nixon, the movie, Dave Tonna, Broadway work. He's in the new Netflix movie, The Trial of the Chicago Seven. He was in that thing with Jim Carrey.
For what? Great actor? Daunting for me a little bit seems very intense, but we had a nice chat. But I'm just thrilled about new management.
All these dummies that were like, you know, Biden, he's got. How is he going to run the country? What's he going to do? Sweep, Joe, it's like he's going to put a fucking staff in place that are goddamn professionals, he's going to try to rebuild the the institutions that have been destroyed on purpose. By the pig and his minions. He's going to bring in some goddamn professionals. He's going to believe scientists, he's going to try to at least navigate our reputation on the global front to see if we can get things working again.
Well, it's not going to be perfect politicians or politicians, but I can I can definitely get behind. This head of state and what his character implies for the general sort of spiritual well-being of the fucking country. Did you listen to those speeches? Did you listen to those speeches? I mean, it's not just relief or trust or hope necessarily, it's just really the knowledge of two people elected who are competent.
But being in charge and who care about the well-being of people, generally speaking, they have empathy in their fucking hearts, their normal human beings. Just watching those speeches granted political speeches written for uplift, written for four for a sense of change and hope, like a speech is written.
By a leader of a country, what a fucking relief being delivered by real people. Not just sitting there going, what the fuck is happening, what's wrong with this guy? Did you see the families come up on that podium after those speeches and see real people engage with their family with love and joy and excitement of fireworks, not just sitting there sucking the attention, sucking the stage, not giving a fuck about anybody, but their own appearance and babbling, are you fucking kidding me?
Thank fucking God if you believe in that stuff.
Just to see a guy who loves his family on that stage, who is now going to lead the country with all the American fascists, are going to be what they're going to be. Yeah, I spent a lot of time frightened, terrified, and we all did. The Boogaloo boys are going to fucking start a civil war. It's just like, I don't know, there's plenty of fucking nasty motherfuckers with guns, militias, Jew haters, black haters, Mexican haters, Asian haters full on fucking racists are all fucking levels.
Real dumb shits now who have been emboldened to embrace a lack of tolerance, to embrace the marginalization of the other two. Think that is something to celebrate their all their their own place. We don't know what the fuck they're going to do.
But we are going to stand up to them, and that's the other thing. All the fucking stooges and ghouls are going to be gone, these fucking. Pure fucking fascist propagandist motherfuckers. In human. It's fucking sad that 70 something million of people like that. That's not going away, but God damn it, just give us the goddamn reprieve, settle it down, get things under control, put some professionals in place, listen to the goddamn doctors, appealed to people like a fuckin person.
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Talk to a therapist online and get help. OK. Go, oh, my God, what a fucking relief. My experience with real narcissists, the ones with power, tend to continue to blame everybody but themselves, call everything bullshit, and continue to try to maintain power narcissists with no power. Generally, when confronted with the cognitive dissonance at hand, they crumble and just say, fuck all of y'all and they crawl off. I'd prefer that.
I don't know if that's going to happen in terms of reaching out or, you know, having compassion for four people in your family or people, you know, we're friends of yours that, you know, we're a part of this momentum and might still be, you know, until they until the cognitive dissonance resolves itself. I don't know that you owe them compassion. Maybe that's wrong. Am I being wrong or just maybe you can find that line, that fine line between compassion and gloating.
Voting is not attractive, I'm pulling I don't want to do that, but it's very hard and I have a few friends that are Republicans who are still my friends and remain my friends throughout this only because I know they don't know better and there's no convincing them of anything.
But, you know, I don't know how much that's worked out for you.
And also the fear of the militias and fear of the Nazis and fear of the white supremacists. They're not that organized. I don't know if they're that prepared to mobilize en mass.
I think a lot of them are like, we're not going to go over there to the state, we're going to you want me to suit up and go to the state house like full suited with all the guns, that's going to take like two hours. And you want to leave at seven to go over the state house, full armor, helmet. All of that is going to take like two hours from you. Just get ready then. We got to go over there.
We might get arrested. I don't want to go to jail for this. You can't we just shoot something around here like we usually do, which is go out to the to the, you know, to the field and shoot at the targets, at the Jew pictures. Can we just go shoot the Jew pictures over there? No, I don't. Come on, let's just shoot something around here. I don't want to go I want to go to jail.
Come on. I got new Jew pictures. So now we just have to hang on, we still have to hang on, Thanksgiving is coming up. And despite Dr. Falsies warnings, my mother is still insisting that I come down there, that I fly to Florida, which is a god damn covid pit.
Get there, bring my shit suit up, go to several different markets that are crowded with fucking people to get the shit I need to bake, make dinner for. And she's like, can you come? I'm like, no, it's not safe.
And to her credit, she goes, I know. I just thought, OK, yeah, OK. But what if what if I said, I'll come, you'd be like, Oh, I'm so happy. Cut to covid, CofS sweats. Maybe death because my mom wanted me to come to Thanksgiving, don't you look? You might be looking a gift horse in the mouth here, man. Some of you like you're upset you can't spend time with your family on Thanksgiving.
Are you, though? Are you? Do you how much you complain about Thanksgiving, you know, what a pain in the ass Thanksgiving is? The only good thing about going to Thanksgiving this time would be to sort of see how the trumpets in your family were reacting. But sadly, they probably like, you know, it was rigged. You know, it was stolen.
Four million, five million popular votes stolen. What are you fucking stupid? Cognitive dissonance, that's what's going to drive the fascism in this country.
I guess it drives all fascism, racist myths and conspiracies, cognitive dissonance mind fury from a broken childhood of the many. But I do think that I am happy and I do think I have there's relief and I don't want to say hope necessarily, it's going to be a long slog.
But I'm relieved and I'm I'm not afraid as much of the future in the back of my head that I'm like I got I got about four years, maybe at least at the very least we can kick this goddamn plague so we can, you know, go to other places in the country as opposed to being seen as plague infected pig people incapable of behaving like fucking grown ups.
But I got my mask on.
It's not you. It's all the other pig people. But I'm not with them. They're your country.
You come from a country of infected pig people incapable of acting like grown ups.
Yeah, but I didn't do it. Sorry.
Go die with the pig people, but I want to come to your country. Look, I'm here. I'm happy to be American. I'm proud of America.
I'm proud of the fucking the people that chose reason, science, empathy, decent leadership. It's a fucking mess. Hey, does this sound familiar? I'm not going very far. I'm in a rush. It's too uncomfortable. Sometimes I just forget. Don't kid yourself. There's no such thing as a good excuse for not buckling up. If you've used any of these excuses or any others, you're putting yourself at risk of injury or death. In 2000 and at nearly 10000 people were unbuckled when they were killed in crashes.
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Click it or ticket and wear a fucking mask.
I added that part. The same fucking people got them nihilistic death wish people. Was your childhood that bad? That it's either fascism or fucking die. For something dumb, wow, I don't know, man, I hope it's redeemable, for fuck's sake, I was on The Tonight Show.
You can go watch that.
I did The Tonight Show from my backyard, I believe on. But there was Friday go The Tonight Show, Dotcom, or whatever it is, go look it up. Marc Maron Tonight Show was fun.
It was fun to be in show business again, even though I was sitting in my backyard. It was fun to see Jimi. He's always a good audience for me. And, yeah, I was happy with that spot.
So, listen, Frank Langella is in this new film, The Trial of the Chicago Seven, which is now streaming on Netflix. And this was recorded before the election.
Take that into mind. We have a few in the can, but this is me talking to the amazing Frank Langella.
And how are you, sir? I'm excellent. Thank you. I'm getting too used to this technology. I don't like it. Right. Well, I prefer one on one talking with somebody face to face. But this is the modern age. Me too.
I it's the way I always did it.
I would have people in the room with me and you look and you can feel and you can connect properly, you know, but ah you feel, you feel you're getting too used to this, that it is becoming somewhat comfortable at my generation.
You're resistant to it. But if you don't learn how to do it, you can't do this in the age of covid, you can connect with your kids. You can't look at the grandchild at all because everybody's always sending you something right. Technically, but I. I don't feel it. I do it. But I do. It's better to pick up a little kid and I think. Of course. Of course.
Yeah but yeah. But now you just have to settle for people holding them up to the computer. Look, here's a face.
Yeah. Well how is it affecting are you by yourself there.
Were you in New York. I'm in upstate New York. Oh yeah.
Are you getting depressed or are you all right. Oh, no, I'm not depressed at all, I live in a country town where everybody talks to you, the post office is there. You have a wonderful conversation with them and you go to the market. It's very civilized where I live and people are still polite, still willing to stop and talk to each other. That's a good feeling.
And how are they being safe up there?
Do you feel like they're as as we're one of the safer areas, but you still find time to get out and see the folks people? No, I stay. I'm isolated. Oh, really? You don't you don't go to town.
I don't go to town. I think I've been once in five months. Oh, my God. And, you know, the strangest thing is that I don't miss it. I lived there since nineteen sixty and it isn't as if I haven't had a grand time in New York. I don't miss it. I'm not sentimental about it at all. I'm hoping one day before I'm decrepit I will do another play and walk around the area which I love. But if, if that's not meant to be, I'll do something else.
There is at least it's true of me. There is a great acceptance that begins to come over you when you start your realize that not just not to stress the little things and not to get to actually do what you did in a way as a child, go with the flow, not try to control it and not try to be angry that it's not going. Now, the traffic is this or that. You just it's a great blessing, I think.
One of the few of old age. Right?
Actually, I'm in my I just I just turned 57.
But I do realize that one of the relief of aging is that you really don't give a shit as much as you used to about things you used to give a shit about.
Yeah, it's true. And you actually look back and you think like, you know, why was I so upset about that?
It's not there anymore.
Well, one of the things is, I think try not to look back too much, although at this point in life you do review a lot of what you were like in your 20s or 30s, and you have to endure seeing yourself with hair and thinner and in better shape and and what your life was like that very day when you shot that scene. Right. I saw a dozen or more photographs of me recently taken in Berlin where I was shooting a film, which film?
And all I could see when I looked at the picture was, oh my God, I don't remember nineteen eighty. So it may come to me OK. But all I could look at was oh I'm a my my wife's pregnant. We're Oh no. Was Hungary. I was in Berlin. Dracula was it. No it was a terrible movie called the Sphinx. OK, yeah.
So all you could think was what I remember the circumstances of my life at that point. I remember coming down out of the hotel suite. My wife was waiting upstairs, had very little memory of the actual film. Right.
Just that's probably it sounds like it's probably PTSD that you blocked out. That might be a terrible movie.
But that's what's interesting about watching this Chicago seven movie is that, I mean, you were a young man and very alive and engaged with theater and culture at that time when that happened, right? Yeah, very. And it was New York.
I mean, what I mean were the circle of people you were in in theater in New York, sort of, you know, active culturally and politically.
Well, if they were, I, I was not aware of it. I freely confess that at 30, I had only two things on my mind. You can guess one of them, but the other was work. Right. And that's all I cared about. I wasn't a good citizen. I wasn't following the political scene. I'm much more aware now because we're much more in danger. And I'm frightened in ways that I never dreamed I'd be frightened in a democracy.
Yeah, for sure. But at thirty I remember Kent State and I remember all my uncles being in the Korean War. Yeah. And others later on Vietnam. But I was working all the time and not as involved as I am now.
It all took place in New York for you, right? You came over from Jersey?
I didn't come over from Jersey until I graduated college in Syracuse. But you're a Jersey guy. Yeah, I'm a Jersey guy, and there's a lot of us.
I used to talk like that, I used to say, give me your call and I'll have coffee. I mean, that's exactly how I spoke. What part of Jersey they owned? I was born in Bayonne. Mel Brooks used Mel Brooks as my first director and he said nobody would believe you're from Bayonne. You look like a prince without a country.
So anyway was right.
And what were the come from Italian family? Full on all Italian.
Yeah, southern Italian. Yeah, Naples and Calabria.
And were your parents first generation people. Second. Aha. Second. So you have grandparents that spoke Italian and.
Yes, to a degree. But I was raised in a household where everybody spoke English at the top of their lungs and it was there was no there was no medium ground of any kind, you know. Yeah. You woke up in the morning to get out of bed like good morning. None of that none of that happened.
So that's kind of interesting. So you probably know out performing just sort of get some control over the noise.
Well, I saw it outperforming because I wasn't a comfortable young boy. I was always ill at ease. I couldn't I couldn't talk to girls. I didn't like going to any house. I didn't know I would get my hands would start to get sweaty. And I wasn't I wasn't lost in sports the way my brother was. And I had this strange ache inside me that there was something I was meant to do, but I didn't know what it was.
I mean, it was hard to feel comfortable when everyone's yelling all the time, right? Yeah. And and when you when you're a middle kid, you is a middle age. Yeah. Are voice. No, sister. Brother. Oh.
But you were the one that kind of got lost between the margin between the two.
Absolutely. All of these cliches about being a middle child or the youngest over a long period of life, you come to realize when you meet other friends and talk that people are automatically very much like what the cliche of a middle child is or a younger daughter. Yeah. Or an older older sister to a younger man. And why wouldn't they be? Yeah, it's all, you know, at that point in your life.
Right. And there are certain patterns that obviously have foundation in reality behaviorally. I mean, you know, I guess they're there. It's just for a reason that those facts are true. But what's your father do? What kind of world was he?
And my father was a businessman, and he ran a company called the Baiame Barrel and Run Company, which reconditioned 55 gallon drums and smaller repainted them, had went into the bungs and took out all the grid inside. And I started working for him when I was fifteen or sixteen reconditioning drums. No, I was assigned to there were like very large factories. And on Monday I was told to wash the windows all the way across one wall. By the time we got to Friday, they were dirty again.
I have to start all over and it is a very interesting time.
You know, you knew that wasn't going to be your life.
He paid me fifty dollars a week and my mother insisted I give her forty. What now that you're working most was her remarks.
So I lived on ten dollars a week for what was the forty dollars for her for rent. Wow.
I don't know. It just was, it was just her feeling that I was now working and I had to pay my way so took it for granted. Yeah.
Now was she a domineering person. Yes, yeah, very much so, very much so domineering is a nice word. I think she was mentally unbalanced. She you know, I had I had more cracks to the face and more nails. She just was a very emotional Italian woman, of which there are many, many, many I never married. And tell you, you're being very diplomatic.
Yeah, I and my grandmother was my grandmother was the same whenever I would run upstairs to my grandmother because my mother was overwhelming. My grandmother was crack. What's the matter with you?
Both of them. You get hit downstairs, you go upstairs, you get hit. Yeah. And, you know, I think there's something to be said really, truly. I don't look back on it as poor me. There's something to be said with the kind of discipline that generation had, even though there were there was very little sensitivity. Discipline makes you feel you're cared about even when it's not necessarily kind. And today I watch young parents today they say, oh, whatever you want, go wherever you want to.
They go into a supermarket and just go down the aisle and pick what you want. Right. And a kid, a kid wants everything. So he needs a parent to guide him. He needs and I don't see that happening in a lot of the younger ones now. Oh, that's true. I had to be home at a certain time. I knew I couldn't touch something in another woman's house. I knew I could only have one thing in the supermarket.
So I was there were boundaries I get and I. Yeah, and I liked them.
Well, I think that that makes sense to me. You know, also kids, you know, when they're when they can't make a decision sometimes want guidance. So they're not overwhelmed all the time. But I mean, it seems to me that once it becomes abusive, if you're craving that kind of discipline, that might not make your adulthood that terrific.
Well, I may have misled you. I wasn't abused. I was. I was brought up in an Italian family, there were nine, 10 uncles and aunts, right. And there was a lot of picking up and throwing around a lot. But there was no fooling around. There wasn't any. Whatever you want. Let me. What's in your heart? There just wasn't any of that.
So, yeah, I guess I wasn't saying that you were saying abusive, but, you know, nails and pops to the head upstairs and downstairs.
I mean, I understand discipline and I understand that kind of love and that kind of passion. But and I understand how that could be big be that discipline in and of itself. Good. So you, you know, at least are grounded in something. But but do you find that you don't you don't do poor me. But do you find that your your choices in life are sort of directly relative to wanting to get to get away from that? I mean, how how do they respond to you wanting to act?
When did you decide that?
You know, because clearly you said you were uncomfortable and socially awkward and middle child and stuff, but a lot of that had to have to do with, you know, being overly disciplined on some level somewhat.
But I decided at about seven and it saved my life because as I said earlier, I was so ill equipped for the world, for the real world to sensitive way to way too sensitive. My brother was a jock and take very much seriously. My sister was very beautiful about being a girl, and I always felt maybe I was adopted. Maybe aliens left me here because I didn't feel connected. And the moment I walked in a school play, I said, Oh, this is where I belong.
And funnily enough, the day I graduated college, I listened to all of my friends in Panic. I that night at the party, they were all saying, what am I going to do? I don't know who's going to do my laundry. I don't have I don't have a profession. Should I be a doctor? My father wants me to be a lawyer. And I never had that problem. By that time. What I knew was I wanted to be an actor.
It is without being pretentious or calling me. And I knew I had a job. The next day after graduation, I drove to Boston area and was rehearsing a play the next morning. So that was one of the pitfalls, tragedies, whatever you want to call them, of life. I didn't have I had everything else, but I knew my profession. Right.
But, you know, but to pursue a calling, especially one that does not offer security or guarantees of any kind, that is creative. Yeah, that's a courageous thing. And in that, you know, I think a lot of people go through life heartbroken because they felt they had a calling, but they didn't have the courage to pursue it.
And it's not courageous at the time. It's desperate, right. In a way, you know, other choices in your head, you're desperate to find your place in the sun, so to speak, and you're desperate to have some form of identity into all of those. They all work well later in life. It's always been my experience that the darlings of school, the best looking guy or the head of the basketball team or the prettiest girl, they have a lot of trouble later in life.
And if you're striving, always. Did you ever read a book by Ortega called Revolt of the Masses? No. It's worth it in the book, he says. The man with clear head is not the man sitting on shore contemplating life and trying to make decisions and to look up philosophically thinking about what to do, the man with the clear head is the man in the ocean swimming against the current never getting to shore, because that act of always swimming, always trying, always looking to do or be something is healthy.
And when you get into the ship of success, when most people get into that boat, when they reach the boat, they pull the gangplank in after them and want anybody else in there. That's right. Right. So I've always felt very I always identified with that. It would not woe is me, but keep swimming, Frank. Just keep swimming.
So you did a theater all throughout your high school in that type of stuff, and that gave you sort of a little cachet, a little identity, got laughs.
You got moved people.
And, you know, I had photographs of me at 16 playing Reverend shockable importance of being earnest within that painted gray in your hair and eyebrows that you make. And you put the little dots in your eye because everybody told you then that it made your eyes right. Right.
Well, that's a fun play. I think I did that play. Oh, yeah. It's a great play.
More that. So when you went to college, you studied theater as an undergrad, too?
Yeah, I went to Syracuse University where a number of people, Jerry Stiller went there and actually Irene Sorkin went there, which I didn't know until I read it recently. And there was the professor there, very renowned name Soyer for that. OK, yeah, I still have my notebooks. I have my notebooks from my class. And one of the things he said was that in spite of your neurosis, not because of it. Huh. Was a great, great lesson to me about the skill and the craft of acting.
What does that mean other than explain that to me? Well, it means that you don't. You don't. What's the word? I want a Yiddish word called mazel. You don't you don't roll around in your own imposture. Own neuroses, OK? I use it. You create you make an art out of the craft or the skill that you have. You work hard in spite of the neuropsych. You don't work hard because of it or.
Right, right. And don't let that neurosis inform everything so you don't actually, you know, get the skill set to do the job.
I can give you one very good example, which is I played King Lear a number of years ago and pretty recently, right? Yeah, about 2014. Yeah. And one of the actresses in the play at the end of the scene came offstage and said, oh, I didn't feel comfortable tonight. I just I don't know what it was. I didn't feel comfortable. And I said, it's not your job to feel comfortable. It's your job to make the audience feel comfortable.
And I might as well have been talking in Swahili. She wasn't able to get the concept because young actors are often taught to just be yourself, you know, well, be yourself at home alone. You go onto the stage and in front of a camera for them. The people watching you, you don't go on for yourself. You don't go on to vent. You know, your own personal dramas. You use them. Right, unless unless the role calls for that.
Yes. And then you mold it right. Called making out.
But but so so what did you when you were training with Soyo Falck, you know, who seemed like he had a practical approach to the craft? Did you have any sort of resentment towards a more method driven type of thing?
Oh, I was a lucky young man. I found the mentor and the teacher, young, who taught me that it's a skill and it's a craft and you must bring real emotion to it. And he taught me to shape things. He taught me to make decisions about how to play a moment or a scene, never to lose the honesty of my emotional life, but never to let my emotional life overrule what it was I was doing. So a love of Shore and Moliere and Shakespeare and Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams came to me and an understanding that for each of those plays, there was a different way to approach them based on the writer's intent.
So you you did not do much more training after Sawyer's class? No, I didn't. I was in an acting class for six months and I couldn't bear it for that very reason. I was sick of actresses blowing their noses and crying and saying, this reminds me of you guys coming on saying I was older. I just thought, well, wait a minute, what's the syntax of this line? What does it mean? How can I get a laugh here?
I don't mean that you just do it technically, but you do.
You combine them think in that moment that you just did that very brief impression of the guy working out his problems in an acting class. I was like, I'd like to see a little more of that. What do you mean?
I'm like, yeah, I'd like to know and I'd like to see you do that character a little more. The guy I rarely played that kind of guy, but I'm really a Bayon boy. And as I get older, I probably should return to that.
But but those are interesting choices. I mean, were you conscious about kind of removing the New Jersey from your tone? Oh, very.
I, I knew I would never have a successful acting career if I didn't stop talking like that.
So I when I was 15 or 16 year old, I, I saw Laurence Olivier in the film of Richard the Third. Yeah, I still have a downstairs. I bought a 33 and a third album that's wow. 70 years ago and I wound up into the attic and lock the door and I listened over and over and over again to John Gielgud saying, oh, just a miserable note. And I slowly began to imitate him and lose my jersey accent.
But you don't think at that time?
Well, it's interesting because I like that a Jersey accent isn't in and of itself neurotic.
It's not it's not at all.
And, you know, but certainly the childhood you had and what you came from and how it built you, I would guess could be termed, you know, somewhat neurotic. But did you feel.
I'm sorry. I know it's alright.
I'm listening to you. I'm just disagreeing with you. I'm disagreeing in silence and. Well, I know.
OK, well, maybe that's the wrong word. But but but well, sensitivity. I guess what I'm trying to say is by making a choice to kind of cleanse yourself of that accent, you're sort of taking on a different character for yourself. You know, you were making a decision about who you were going to be, as you know.
Yes, I was. I was I knew somehow inside myself that I could have a better life than what was happening to me emotionally. And acting became the vehicle for that. And I also knew when I got to Syracuse that I'd found the right man to help me understand what I told you. Yeah, I didn't really know roses. I also knew later on in life that you have to know this is Shakespeare and I'm going to have to live up to certain things.
This is Tennessee Williams. This will call another part of me out. And that's what's wonderful about acting. And very, very few people my age hang on to that enthusiasm. They get jaded by it. It's the worst profession for managing to hold on to your self esteem. Oh, really? And I'm not a franchise actor. I don't I don't have one game to play. Right. And I just keep doing that over and over again. I love to get lost and transform if I can.
And when you do something like you did, even in this most recent movie, which is based on a real guy, you know, like, how do you find the sort of wiring of that guy, the drive shaft? What are you going with?
Well, I read everything I can read about him. I get all of my intellectual stuff out of the way. Hmm. Then I throw it all away and I come out and as I've said in other only one other interview, I leap Empty-Handed into the void, which is an expression I was once given. That means that instead of spending hours a day lying down thinking I must pure myself for the night or standing in the wings, working yourself up and shooting your load in the wings, you leap onto this stage.
You've done all the basics, you've learned the lines, you know what they mean. And now you have to mean them when you say them. And that means. Jump, it's like, in a way, jumping on a horse and galloping, you've had your lessons, you've been told when to pull in the reins, when to let her go, and then you leap and you can gallop for miles and miles in great happiness because you've done all the preliminary work.
What makes sense?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, because I talked to I talked to quite a few actors and, you know, and that the idea of doing all that work and trusting that you've put it in, it's in you and then, you know, then then just letting go of it.
Yes. It also gives you something to hang on to in the bad times. And actors, actors, I have great love of actors. It's a very difficult life. But no, I'm not saying it's more difficult than anybody else's. That's why it is. But it beats at you. Your self self-esteem is is challenged every day. Your dignity is challenged. You have to hold on to a belief. And one of the things and I think as we talked about this, about how kids are raised today, one of the things you have to hold on to is your skill is your craft is knowing you can shape a line, knowing you can get an audience to laugh, and even more importantly, knowing you can make them cry.
That gets you through the bad time when you're waiting. As I always say to people, it's probably the most difficult thing in the world.
It's the way that all actors and then like once you have the opportunities to choose the material, that's going to be satisfying.
I think that phrase Leap Empty-Handed into the void was given to me by a friend who framed it. And I've taken it to every dressing room I've ever had. And as the years have gone on, I don't get to my entrance backstage until a second before I'm the curtain goes up. I used to you know, I have lunch, dinner. I used to sit in the wings and get myself into it. And as I said before, it only it does nothing but tighten you and freeze you.
But if you've done everything and you feel, oh, how am I going to be tonight? I do master classes and I say to the kids, complicate your life. If you want to be a great actor, complicate your life. Don't lie in bed all day, working yourself up to the night, fight with your girlfriend, have sex. Tell your mother you're mad, you know, go go shopping for your indigent grandmother, deal with life for real.
And then when you get to the theatre, you have to clear your head and say, now I'm going to sleep. But if you're all day lying around thinking I'm an artist, you know how much it's it doesn't it doesn't work.
And then you you love what you're doing to so day of show.
It's good to fight with your spouse, you know, maybe your parents fuck and then get ready for work.
But you don't have to fight, you know, you just live your life, live your life and be a person, go shopping, take out your garbage, write, read a book. Don't freak out anything that yeah. That is anything that keeps you engaged in the act of living so that when you come to the theater that night you're full of that and you bring it onto the stage.
And what was the first what was the first role you did where you're like it's happening. I'm I'm a professional.
I've arrived in 1963. Yeah. I came to New York in 1960, but in 1963, I was lucky to get the leading role in a play called the A Moralist by agcy. And it was a colossal success because it was about a man discovering he was on the sexual. And in 1963, that was big time. Yeah. And it was a giant success and considered very racy. It wasn't at all, but it ran for about a year and a half or two years.
And I remember on opening night of that play, all the critics would come to the theater on opening night and then, like a great movie, run to their typewriters in order to meet the deadline to get it on. Nowadays, they come for a week before. And I sort of think the excitement of knowing it's that night anyway. I had a girlfriend who subsequently became a wife, and after the curtain went down, I had a little glass of wine backstage.
And then she and I went to the New York Times building and stood. Waiting for my future to come down and there was a box there and we saw the guy bringing the times to put them in the box. I put the diamond and the paper was wet. It was still wet. And I raced through and found my picture and a review. Yeah, that was a and I thought, I'm an actor and an actor in New York City.
You know, it began.
There is a good review. A great review.
Yes, it was a it said Frank Langella. Not that I remember Frank Langella, the actor of uncommon problems. That was my very first review. And there had been better. Yeah. And much worse.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
But for you, it seems that it was really about theater. I mean, I mean that. Were you thinking in terms of film at all at the beginning.
No, I. I had no notion that I would ever appear in front of a camera that I would only be to me the Broadway area and marquees and being a Broadway star was everything I wanted, everything. And I had a condition of called nystagmus, which makes your eyes quiver a little bit when you're being intense. And I thought it meant I could never I couldn't be taken into the army because of it. Because you can't focus quickly. I wanted to shoot a gun.
And on stage, you know, my grandmother used to say every knock is a boost. So when I was told I had this. Aha. And I could never work in film or television. I was devastated, but my goal wasn't to be there anyway, but every knock is a boost means that when I would be on stage, because my eyes quivered, they pick up the light. So you see and I've got many reviews saying there's something in his eyes.
Well, it was a condition, but I didn't tell anybody until now. And it ended up being a. A boost it did, every knock is a boost. Eventually, I did go on camera as you get older, the condition lessons and the first the first role was what now?
With Mel Brooks, the first movie, nineteen sixty nine, did some TV before that one or two.
I did a half hour show called Trials of O'Brien starring Peter Falk and Elaine Stritch and one or two other things.
What was it like working with Peter Falk at that time? He's a character. Well, Peter disappeared at lunch time, usually with one of the young leading ladies. So you never you never got a chance to talk to him.
And he would come out of his dressing room looking relaxed.
Yeah, I never forgot that. I thought, oh, wow, that's a great perk.
But working with Mel Brooks when he was young because he's so lit up all the time, that must have been something because he still lit up. He still is.
So I don't know how long ago I saw him, but Mel doesn't change. I tell this story about Mel because it's my favorite. The opening scene of the movie. It's me and a giant square, 12 chairs, right. About twelve chairs with about 300 Yugoslavia. Yeah. Moving towards the camera. Moving away. Yeah. They didn't understand a word Mel said. Yeah, I Mel said it at the top of his lungs and yelled at them on top of a ladder.
God damn fucking Ugo's go around and do this. They didn't know. So you see in the rushes you see a hundred people running up to the camera looking up and then running back because they told them they had no idea how to mingle, had no way that poor people there, which this poor people in a village and Mel loves to make people laugh. And he had a hundred people just staring at them with open eyes like he'd make a joke and they wouldn't laugh.
It was a wonderful experience. I did my first movie. Yeah. And I had a great time.
But I imagine like over time that that the true thrill is still theater. Right? I mean, there's a lot of process in making movies and, you know, it just it some things can take forever. Well, yes and no.
For me, it's changed. I've done about 75 plays, and I don't know about the similar amount in movies, and now as much as I love my last two plays were The Father, A Man with dementia and King Lear. And as much as I love, I still love being on stage. I now adore being in front of the camera. I adore trying to bring the moment to the simplest and most honest I can make it. And there is a particular thrill in that which helps you endure the long waits and getting there at five o'clock on this movie, a trial of Chicago seven, I had to get there at 5:00 to do all the prosthetics, which were very subtle.
You never notice them, but they were there and then. But there wasn't much waiting time at all and was very efficient. But there's a lot of doing it on camera, doing it off camera, doing a master. And if you maintain the idea that an audience is never going to know whether you sat for three hours before that shot or whether you had a big headache that day, a moment you hear action, you leap empty-handed into the void.
You give the lands the most truthful feeling you can get related to what you're playing. And that is a joy to be. Now, as much as going on stage as a young actor, I was very theatrical and I had to learn to calm down in front of a camera. Right.
I actually talked to I interviewed Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin when they were doing the play The To Kill a Mockingbird.
I did separate interviews with him. And it was interesting because Jeff Daniels said to me about film acting that, you know, you really have to.
You know, like I'm just saying this in terms of having done a little bit of acting myself on TV and whatnot, that I because I wasn't an actor my whole life of a comic that they're sort of waiting around was starting to you know, I was like, this is ridiculous. But then if you start to frame it like you're moving towards this moment and that's your job is this moment. Right.
And you and Jeff was very clear about like you have to learn how to work your face, like there was something about film acting.
I never thought about it that way. It's almost all face.
Yes, but I wouldn't I wouldn't say it the same way. I would say you have to learn how to. Achieve what you need to in order to move the audience and not worry about working in your face or trying to make faces. If you watch television, you know, actors are making faces like crazy and they're looking off to the side and they're looking down and they're, you know, they're just doing a million things. And most of the time is because they're forced to do mediocre mediocrity.
So they try to fill it with everything they need to. My my feeling is be simple, be honest, be direct right now.
And if your craft is in place, it's going to you know, you've already done the work it can carry you through.
And so you can get when you go home at night, glorious, you feel you've put something into the lens that the audience will react to. There was a very famous actor named Alan Ladd. You may be too young to remember him, but he was in a when he was a Western star, many star, and he wasn't thought of as a great actor. He was a great film presence. Yeah. And the story is when he went a movie star, he went into a bar at the end of a day.
And all the guys at the bar. Hey, Alan, how are you? A movie actor? Just a good day. And he said. Yeah, I managed one great look at it right, and sometimes all you can, but if you do it, I have a chill up the back of my neck.
If you do it, if you are able to manage it, you've had a successful day. And forgive me, I don't like the word you've had a successful day as an artist. Let me just say as an actor, OK, because you've achieved something.
Why? I think it's beautiful. I think what you're saying is, you know, it's encouraging to me as somebody who does some of this work now to to to appreciate that convergence on that moment. Because when you do a take, you know, sometimes it's 30 seconds and you may get to do it 10 times, but you're still thirty five.
Ron Howard in Frost Nixon did a minimum of 35 takes.
Now, did that drive you nuts? Yeah, but I by then knew the character so well from a year on the stage. Aaron is gorgeous to work with. If you get it the first take, he wants to move on. He usually will do a second for safety. And if you ask me, I try it one more time. He will let you, but I never do. I, I honestly feel unless I felt really lost. Move on.
That's fine with me. You trust the director? I trusted him. You know, not every director. That's interesting.
Sort of like that reality is that, you know, a couple of your biggest roles, you know, Dracula and Nixon were stage roles. So you were dug in, right? You knew him very well. I had to change both those men dramatically. I really had to work hard. Here's a Ron Howard story, if you would like, about Frost Nixon. I played Frost Nixon and drank a year each 30 years apart. And I felt as if I had gotten Nixon into my soul.
And the first day we shot that movie, I remember Kevin Bacon standing over in the wings. And it was to be Nixon's first entrance in the film where he looked at a cameraman and said, take out over there and you do this and do that. And and then he had to speak to America and I did it wrong. Yeah, that's good. That's good. I thought, OK, let's do it again. Writing notes on an envelope.
And he came over to me and said, yeah, dude, you come over here, you do this. And I did it four times and he he kept saying, let's do it again. And I didn't know why. And he came over and he whispered to me, he said, I saw you do this play in New York City. It's why I wanted you to do the movie. And I have a stopwatch here. And you did that scene four times impeccably in four minutes and thirty two seconds every time.
This is not the live theater. You don't have to move on and keep keep the whole play going. Take your time. Break it open. Look at that person longer. I have a scissor I can cut away. Well he liberated me on the first day. That's absolutely gave me a feeling of such joy that I and I thought I was doing very well in the first text, but I was living up to an obligation I had put on myself in the theater.
So when you have to make the audience hear you in the last stroke, it's very different when you have to make them feel something in a major cause.
So that's a very I don't know why you just told me that story and I find it very moving. Me too.
I was I thanked Ron for it at the end because actually Nixon became a very different man in the movie than the play. He became very, very introverted in many ways, a very quiet and very introspective and in pain, a lot of pain. Interesting.
And that was all because of that note, Ron. Now, I take a little bit of credit because I was smart enough to hear it. Right. And also I was smart enough to open the windows and let the Nixon of the theater world go away and make him the Nixon of just the camera.
You changed the void. Yes, I did.
You know, and I loved I loved every minute of shooting that movie. It's a great movie.
I really loved watching you. I always like watching you. And it's interesting, the Dracula role. I remember when I was younger. I mean, what was that like 1980 or something?
I was still in 1978. I was still in high school. But I remember that sort of puts you on the map. Is this kind of like a sex symbol?
You're like, yeah, it's funny. It took Dracula to do that at thirty nine.
Well, I think almost anybody who plays Dracula. Yeah. Becomes a sex symbol for a while, but in different ways. I played him as a romantic gothic hero and. I played him not as a killer and not not frightening at all. Much to the dismay of the producers. They wanted me to do all, you know, fangs and blood. And Dracula is an extraordinary, imaginative force with women. Yeah, they love him because. They can imagine being penetrated without being penetrated, you know, right, that's here, right?
It's not there. Right. And so there, you know, look, the character has been around a long time. I'm not the only actress said success with it. So I think that basic theme of the magic of that character is really based on that.
It is a romantic character, very young and very rarely played that way. Yeah.
And I remember, like, there's there's like one when I knew we were going to talk and I was thinking about you and my memories of you, like they're like I remember there is a scene in that film Lolita where you play Quilty.
That I like, I cannot get out of my mind, there was something so disturbing, the. Devilish about how you approach that guy. This sort of like stranger, like in my mind, there was his dubious sense of morality, but there's a scene there where you're just like running down the hallway naked in kind of a frenzy that like, I can't it's stuck in my head that that whole portrayal of that guy was so, again, sort of it was disturbing.
But you but human.
It's a very underrated film. It should I think it should be revived. Adrian Lyne, director. Yeah. And it was at a time when the country was very up in arms about child abuse and people wouldn't go to see it. It was damned. I think I think it could show now and talk about many takes. Adrian was 35 or 40 takes, really.
And you go and and you're naked. That's that's difficult.
Well, yes, you're naked and it's cold in the studio.
But but it was like I remember being I should watch it again because I remember it being, you know, like it's a challenging book.
So it's going to be a challenging movie. What are you going to do?
Yeah, you seem to have an ability to to really be aware of comedy and also aware of like you have a full range that you it seems you're very comfortable with. Do you like doing comedy in general?
I love it more than anything. I really do. I, I don't think I'm quite known for it, but I've done half of the movies and plays I've done have been comedic roles like Dave Dave was Great, my favorite comedies. That film was actually a pleasure. It's the first movie I did with Ivan Reitman. And then we worked together two more times and draft a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger that I've lost the title of. Yeah, but if you could make it, you could make Obermeyer for off camera as if he's off camera that, you know, you've done something right in every film I've done and every play I've done from every imaginable writer.
My favorite line that I've ever spoken is from Dave. It's after Kevin as the president leaves the room and my assistant looks at me and I'm in a rage and he says to me, what are you going to do? And I say, I'm going to kill him. He says, You can't kill him. He's the president. And I said, no, he's not the president. He's an ordinary person.
I can kill 100 ordinary people like that, like Gary Ross wrote that line.
It's so funny. I can kill 100 ordinary people.
Like in terms of like when you're talking about, you know, actors and in roles that are difficult because they they may not be satisfying. I mean, you seem to have there are some films that you've done that you don't seem to like very much in that you maybe weren't satisfying.
How do you choose what to do? Well, it's a myth that you choose new weight and something comes along. I haven't I hadn't made a film or done a play for a year before Aaron called. And if it's a bad movie and you know it, you still work as hard. I work as hard, if not harder in bad movies to try to make it work, at least in my little department.
But, you know, when you read it, you don't always know. No, I wouldn't take it if I knew it was going to be a flop. You don't. You always go in with a big heart. I made a movie for Ridley Scott about 19 percent, whatever, 40 whatever the year of the Conquest of America was with Gerard Depardieu. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Sigourney Weaver, a wonderful cast about the discovery of America.
And every day we were shooting it, we thought we're making a classic. This is the Lawrence of Arabia of our time. Yeah. And then two months after I finished it, I got a little comedy called Dave, which I thought, well, it's getting the kids through school. Yeah, I'm doing my best. And Dave was an incredible success. And that movie disappeared. Fourteen ninety two just disappeared. Huh. Even I fell asleep the first time I screamed.
Yeah, I guess that happens. I talked to Irwin Winkler about the right stuff, which is really by all standards a great movie and it just didn't it didn't catch well.
Didn't catch. No you never really know.
Yeah. And you don't know what it has to do with it. It's interesting. You played another judge, didn't you? You played the Warren Burger to write in. Yeah. What was that. The movie. Right.
That was Muhammad Ali's last case. I think it was called The Last Fight maybe. Yeah.
You like playing judges? I don't play.
This is only the second one I've ever played. And yes, I loved doing that one, too. You know, if you survive as long as I have. Yeah. You have favorites and wonderful experiences. You have terrible experiences. They don't always combine, which means you can have a very bad experience and make a great film. You can have a love fest. And the film is terrible. There's simply no rhyme or reason to it.
But do you ever do you look at any of the work that you did? Like, you know, I understand what you're saying. And sometimes you can have a great acting experience in a movie that's not successful or it doesn't cut well.
But are there any instances where you think you could have done something differently or done something better?
Oh, everything I mean, every time I watch, I watch the trial of Chicago seven, only two days ago. I try to make it a rule not to watch anything I'm in for a year because I want to I don't want to hate the editor. Yeah. Why do you go away that moment? I did this, but the response to it has been phenomenal. And I thought I should honor our end by watching it sooner. And I did.
And even watching it, I thought even with the lovely reception to me, which I'm grateful for, I went, Oh, why did you do that? You could have done this. You could have done. Which is why I don't watch them, because I'm always. You know, I don't know how you feel about what you do, but at this point in my life, the process is far more rewarding than the result. Just the trying to find it and get it, and then you're always disappointed in the result, always.
I guess you're younger, you say use that tape because I look really handsome in that day. This came out well, at my age. I'm always looking now. Were you truthful? Were you honest? Have you been caught acting? If you've been caught acting, you're not doing it right. So and I was glad I saw it because I loved that cast of actors, but everyone knew of every one of them was absolutely marvelous.
It seems like that the thing about that from that Ortega book, the setting on the beach versus swimming against the current, that that you seem to be generating a lot of that current through your life. I try to I it's hard on you. I am afraid of being complacent and I am afraid of. I never take a part because it's close to a golf course, I never take apart and say I know how to do that. It's one of my tricks.
I, I take what's offered to me and try to make the best of it. And I respect this craft and this skill. Not Hocus-Pocus not sitting on a pedestal saying I'm an artist, which is very boring, but lucky me, I have skill, I have something I can mold and shape and do and I'm coming to the end. You know, I've got we'll see. Maybe I've got another decade of it. But as I get older, I love the silence and the intimacy of the camera and my trying to put something in that I'm going to move an audience.
Well, you're great at it, and I appreciate you spending the time with me. It is great talking. Thank you.
I enjoyed it. Good. You're a wonderful interviewer and I'm sure we've been here for hours but didn't feel that way. Oh, good luck. Just like that.
Oh good. Well I'm glad we spent some time together and you know, take care of yourself and it's great meeting you.
You too, Mark. You're a lovely guy to talk to. Thank you, Frank. Take care, man. Bye. All right, that was Frank Langella before the election, the trial of the Chicago seven is now streaming on Netflix. Oh, God bless America. The relief. And remember, I'm not going very far. I mean, I'm in a hurry. Look, it's too uncomfortable. I just forget sometimes there's no such thing as a good excuse for not buckling up.
If you've used any of these excuses, you're putting yourself at risk of injury or even death. But if that's not enough to convince you, consider this not buckling up could also cost you lots of money. Cops are right and tickets. So why take the risk, do the smart thing and start buckling up every trick day or night. Click it or ticket baby and wear your fucking mask. I added that part and I'm going to play some celebratory music.
Oh my God. I had a big devil sitting on my chest for four fuckin years.
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