HOLLYWOOD — I was 4 when I acted in my first big movie, The Journey. I made it in Vienna with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. Yul was supposed to play such a tough guy that when he took a shot of whiskey, he bit the glass. He wanted me to know that it wasn’t real glass and that I should never do that. I was sitting on his knee, and he made me bite into the glass — it was made out of sugar — to show me it wasn’t real.
I grew up in the business, and I developed a real passion for storytelling. Over the years I’ve broadened my tastes and sensibilities, but I’m still the kid who grew up at the foot of a piano bar, not at the Philharmonic. My love and understanding of film comes from a populist sensibility. That’s the kind of people my folks are — they were born in Oklahoma — and that’s what feels comfortable for me.
Years ago when I was acting, I asked my dad how to handle questions like, “What’s it like to be on TV?” He said, “It’s a job. It’s a responsibility. Ask them if they have a paper route. If they do, they have to get up early in the morning, fold the papers, put the rubber bands on them, load them into the sacks and go deliver them, and then their job is done for the day. You have to get up in the morning, learn your lines, go to work and deliver them, and then you’re done for the day. It’s not all that different.”
He had a real simple, unspectacular, unimpressed, work-a-day point of view about it all that he imparted that still kind of holds water.