A Q&A WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS by Marianne Haynes

By Jo Phillips

From slicing open a shark’s belly in Jaws, to chasing UFO’s in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, actor Richard Dreyfuss, 68, made a big splash in the 70’s and won an Oscar for his role in romantic comedy The Goodbye Girl. He appears in the award-winning film Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, just released as a 25th anniversary edition DVD. Dreyfuss is married for the third time, lives in San Diego and has three children.

2015 Sundance Film Festival - "Zipper" Portraits

Q. It’s the 25th anniversary of Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead, which is of course a film adaptation of a stage play. You’ve acted across stage and screen, which do you prefer?
DREYFUSS: I never did Rosencratz on stage but I generally prefer stage over film. There’s just a general level of better when you’re doing something live and in front of people and the only advantage to doing something on film is that they pay you a lot, so the best thing would be to do a play and be paid as if you were doing a film. Sadly, like most of my dreams, it won’t come true.

Q. Recently it’s been the anniversary of a lot of your big films like Jaws or even American Graffiti, do you have a favourite when you look back?
DREYFUSS: No, I have done whatever the amount of number of films I’ve done and I liked almost all of them and the ones I didn’t like I wouldn’t tell you. I loved making those movies, I never fooled myself into thinking I preferred that to theatre. Theatre is much more fun.

Q. So of all the roles you’ve played, which is the most like you?
DREYFUSS: I used to say that the character I played in Goodbye Girl was most like me. I guess in one way or another that’s probably still true, but no character is me they are aspects of me. I could say that Glenn Holland is like me, the composer in Mr Holland’s Opus, and I also played Chaney and people over here said how could you play him? How could you play Chaney? And I said there’s a little bit of Chaney in all of us and you just have to tap into it.

Q. Finally, you’ve worked with Spielberg a few times, how is your relationship? Did you enjoy working with him?
DREYFUSS: I left Hollywood society a long time ago and I’m talking 25 years or more. So I don’t really speak to most people there. I enjoyed working with him. He is
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the best of the whole generation, for a lot of people. It’s mine. And it’s also all the generations who learn from Spielberg, I learned from the generations that came before and I must say I feel sorry for the people who came after him.

Q. They wouldn’t take a risk on something like Jaws now.
DREYFUSS: No they wouldn’t. As a matter of fact they only made Jaws because it started out as a four million dollar budget, it ballooned later because they didn’t have a shark and they didn’t have a cast and they had said it could be made in eight weeks. There are great, great films to be made that no one will take a risk for.

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The 25th Anniversary edition of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is out now on DVD from RLJ Entertainment.

Credits: Interview by Marianne Haynes