Julie Andrews & Her Daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Hi this is molly seavy Nesper. I'm the associate producer of digital media at fresh air. That means I produced fresher interview and review webpages on unfair dot org our social media and I wrote the title and the Teaser of the podcast episode. You're listening right now. One of the best parts of my job is seeing listeners. React to our interviews on twitter twitter in real time as you're listening like when you tell us that you can't get out of your car because of an interview. That's my favorite kind of interview is when we feature a topic topic or a guest. I know nothing about or I think I'm interested in. And then it's a total surprise like the interviews. We did this year with a cave diver or or an Episcopal priest or the author a book about the CIA secret mind control experiments and those tend to be the interviews that we hear about the most from our listeners. I also see on social media. How many of you appreciate our news coverage we live in such an overwhelming and new saturated time and we work really hard to find the best journalists us to unpack complicated issues? And of course I'd be remiss to not mention the big name interviews like Howard Stern Reese Witherspoon Lizard and even when those guests go on the late night. Talk shows or other podcasts. You know that the fresh air interview is going to be different. Because it's Teri. She's a legend. So the best way you can keep these shows coming and to tell us that you like what we do is to give to your local. NPR Station go to donate dot NPR dot org slash Josh fresh air that's Doni Dot. NPR Dot org slash fresh air thank you from whyy in Philadelphia. I'm Terry Gross. With fresh share today Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. They Co wrote Julie Andrews New Memoir about her Hollywood Years Julie Andrews started working on Mary poppins just a few months. After Emma was born. M I remember being with her nanny in the Children's section of a department store and seeing promotional materials sales for the film including life-sized cardboard images of her mother. And I remember pointing to them and saying look there's mummy and then suddenly becoming aware of two women who were shopping in the department next to us saying to one another isn't this that little girl thinks her mother is Mary Pop uh-huh and we feature our interview with Danny Ilo. Who Played Sow a pizzeria owner and do the right thing? I O died Thursday at age. Eighty six with my guests are Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton Hamilton. Who collaborated with Andrews on her second memoir called Homework which was just published translated? Emma is the daughter of the woman known for being the most perfect governesses imaginable. Mary poppins and Maria in the sound of Music Andrews. I memoir was about growing up in London when it was being bombed during World War. Two when the war was over she became part of her mother and stepfather's Vaudeville Act and went on tour with them eventually becoming the star of the act. Then it was onto Broadway where she starred in my fair lady and camelot new memoir which covers the years. Nineteen sixty three to eighty. Six begins begins when she moves to Hollywood to start work on. Mary poppins just a few months. After Emma was born in addition to describing her movie career she writes about her marriage urged to set and costume designer. Tony Walton Emma's father and her second marriage to Blake Edwards who directed Andrews and several films including Darling Lily the Pink Panther strikes again ten and Victor Victoria. The book is also about being a mother to Emma. The two children from Blake Edwards first marriage marriage and the two Vietnamese Children Andrews in Edwards adopted Emma Walton Hamilton has co written thirty two books with her mother mostly children's books along with her husband. She Co founded the Bay Street Theatre Company in Sag Harbor Long Island which he co directed for Seventeen Years Julie Andrews Emma Walton Hamilton. Welcome welcome to both of you. And congratulations on the book. I really enjoyed it since the book begins. Julie with you going to Hollywood to make Mary poppins and I say it begins. This is after after the opening chapter. which is some of the first part of your life that you told your first Moammar? So let's start with you exactly. Let's start with you going to Hollywood after Walt Disney saw you on Broadway musical camelot. He asked you to star in Mary poppins. But you had just gotten pregnant with Emma so what what did you tell him. Well I told him just that Terry I said Mr Disney. It's wonderful and thank you so much for the invitation to come in here hear the music and and and see you wonderful designs and drawings. But I'm afraid I'm pregnant. And he said Oh that's okay we'll wait and I didn't realize yes of course at the time having never made movie and I'd been to Hollywood to to visit but it's an only once worked there on a television show but Certainly had ever made movies so I had no idea long pre-production on a movie takes he said okay. We'll wait and he. I did and nine months later or ten months later when Emma was born. We my first husband Tony Walterman. I traveled to Hollywood and were welcomed into the heart of the Disney studios and lovely people and couldn't have been more spoiled. The amazing thing is that my husband at the time Tony Walton who was a designer was asked by Walt to bring his designs designs with him so he could see them and when he did see them he hired Tony on the spot to do the costumes and the interiors mostly of Mary poppins film talk about phenomenal break for this married couple with a new baby and and the the job for both of us it was Antoni Got a wonderful Limb Academy Award nomination for that. So how many months after you give birth did. Did you have to start. Rehearsing dance scenes Well we did you know all all the rehearsals for for the choreography and for The prerecording go to be done of the songs and costumes had to be fitted. It was about three months before we traveled to Hollywood and then about four or nearly five. I think before we actually began shooting. Did your body feel ready. Because it's a very it's a very physical role we'll also considering you were flying Yes well it didn't feel ready. I mean having just had a baby took me a while to get in shape. I life the way I felt I should be. There was an enormous amount of action in every way it would work out every day and and of course as I said they were the dance to loan which were pretty active. And I didn't feel ready but I guess I was. I WANNA ask ask you about the flying scenes i. It sounds towns to wear a harness for some of the flying. The harnessed rose. You're getting you know these days special effects like flying and so on so much easier than they were in the days when I made a Mary poppins but but I defy anyone to spot any of the tricks that Disney employed to make the movie in the Special Effects Work. Yes there. There was a lot of flying. Sometimes I was on a giant teeter. Totter as you call it a big seats or sometimes I was at the top of a ladder and had clouds around me and many other things it was very interesting and old new to me but plying harnessed was as you just said very painful you know I would be fairly a high up in the studio and hanging around for quite a long time but it was pretty scary and thank heavens. I was perfectly all right Emma. Let's bring you into the conversation. Do you remember the first time time you saw your mother in. Mary poppins what I remember. Terry one of my earliest memories is not actually seeing the film but being in a department store in a children's clothing section of a department store and I think I was about three years old and it must have been right around the time. The film came out because it took so long long in post production after the film was shot for them to finish all the special effects and so forth in the animation and I was with my nanny at the time and they had set up a display for Mary poppins in the Children's section of the department and they were all these life-sized cardboard cutouts of my mom and I remember pointing to them. I'm an saying look. There's mummy and then suddenly becoming aware of two women who were shopping in the department next to us saying to one another isn't that sweet. That little girl thinks her mother is Mary poppins and I I was like but but it. But she's that's her. That's my mom you know. Oh and I think that was the first time I understood that my mom's job was perhaps a little different that little public. Yes Emma what was it life for you to know people who like worshiped your mother because of the movies I'm talking about when you were young and you were child yourself and the thought of your mother as As Maria in the sound of music or Mary poppins in Mary poppins is basically like the perfect governess. Who could like sued any child? Pink any child like see you know. See The the the silver lining of any cloud and and they knew how hard God I was struggling. Terry real mom. Yeah yeah so so a M I. What was it like for you to see this like Hollywood version of of of your of your mother's Roe versus like what was what was like in real life? Well it was it was challenging sometimes As as you can imagine a lot of times people would ask me questions or assume you know. Does she sing you to sleep at night and I always baffled me. No certainly not those songs anyway. You know one doesn't want doesn't generally bring work home if one can help it and said well if she if when she saying to me it was usually you know English lullabies and old English songs from Vaudeville. Days that a harked back to her youth and later we moved around a lot because of course Because of her work taking her to various different parts of the world and so as a result I went to a number of different schools. I think I went to about seven different schools of the cross the course of my childhood and that was interesting because I finally finally found that if people found out who my mother was They would tend to want to be friends in order to get an invite. Invite over to the house kind of thing so I learned to hide behind the name Walton. which was my which is was my maiden name and his my father's name for as long because I possibly could so as to cultivate? Hopefully some real friendships before any of the other stuff became. It's our. You're so sad no it was. It wasn't bad at all. You knew really what it was and the truth is mom was very very family family. As as people who read the book. We'll see you know family means everything to her home and family hence the title of both memoirs having the word home in it You know she was a mom through and through at home and always made an effort to get up and make breakfast purpose trusts before school in the mornings even if she had a full day at the studio or was night shooting and really worked hard to create a family routine eighteen and atmosphere at home That was real and normal and separate and apart from all the other stuff of Hollywood so it was a bit of a contrast to what people I think imagined and films episodic therefore you know there was acute work sometimes and then some long periods between a movie when one was just home and being mum Did you feel Julie Andrews. Did you feel pressure to measure measure up to Mary poppins to Maria in the music to be perfect to be a solution to your children's problems. Not Not all at Teri Dan. I'm far from that but but I did feel pressured to be as good. A Momma's I could because I was aware of. Let's say other people in the business who had issues with with family and work and their children did suffer. And I didn't want that I wanted us to the family. And of course it was doubly hard because Sadly my first marriage ended -TUNI- Tony although it still great great friends and finally I remarried Blake Edwards the film director and I was making a new family as well. m what was it like for you when I you had a blended family with two siblings from Blake Edwards First Marriage Ridge and then two adopted children and I mean let's face it. They're your mother's time was divided among more children. It was and and my time was divided between both my parents as well so i. We're living off the coast opposite coasts. Exactly or even. I mean there were years when we were living in Europe and my father was in New York. My father is always in New York and So I spent the school year with my mother and Blake Lake and my my step brother and sister and then my younger sisters and all of this summer vacations and Christmas and Easter vacations and school breaks With my father and my stepmother and my step sister and they were very different households they were they were very different cultures. They were in different cities and different communities and It was it was an interesting experience. I found quite often that while I was traveling between homes uh-huh On the airplane say I would go through a process of in a way Adapting myself into into the daughter that I needed to be fit into that house. It's not it's not painful. It just was what it was. It was like okay now. I have to be the daughter that is hip to New York. And you know the theater scene and all of that and now I'm going back to California or I'm going to London or Switzerland and I have to adapt to being the the other daughter the school-based daughter and the daughter in the larger family and so forth it was it was interesting. So let's talk a little bit about the sound of Music So Julie Andrews you say when you saw this on a music on Broadway with Mary Martin in the leading role. You thought it was a little. It'll SACCHARIN So when you've got the yeah what so when you got the offer I'm sure you didn't think like great. I'm going to do something really really saccharin. I'm sure you wanted to make some changes. But I tell us what you thought was a little saccharin about the Broadway musical. I think the the the music was lovely and and Mary Martin starred in the in the musical on Broadway and it was very pleasant but it was a story three that by itself just stands there in a very saccharin way. Sometimes you know this seven children and beautiful countryside and the nuns and and that religion and the love story. It could be a little clawing and of course the movie itself was a joy to make and I believe I know no in fact that Robert Wise Director and Chris plummer wonderful that Co Star and all the people in the movie wanted to make it as as stringent as possible because of those somewhat. SACCHARIN themes did you get the chance to talk to Rogers or Hammerstein about the music. No oddly. I did not although I did meet them. In earlier years I've they very kindly and wonderfully wrote a version of Cinderella. Fool me for television and I have some one or two wonderful wonderful rogers. Memories and also Hammerstein Separately but by the time I made the sound of music Hammerstein was not well in effect had passed away and rudge's was not well either so they didn't come come out Hollywood when we were filming interiors there and didn't have a chance. Although I know that the producers were in touch I wasn't and I will tell us the Roger Story that you do have well when I first met Rogers. I auditioned for for him in a in an empty theater I was in a Broadway show called the boyfriend. The first time I'd ever been on Broadway Sort of really green Terrified young lady from England that had just arrived and I I conditioned for musical that they wrote called pipe dream and I built it out my area for Mister Rogers who was sitting in the audience. Hammerstein time wasn't there and I. It was completely empty theater and I was on stage with a lovely pianist. Who is accompanying me? and Mr Rogers came up on stage. Agents said the first thing he said after I'd sort of Sung my highest notes and donal the Coloratura calisthenics that I could he. He said that was absolutely adequate. My heart sank and then he realized he was teasing me. I I realized he besieging me and he smiled and he said No. I really enjoyed it. Have you been auditioning for anybody else and I said Oh yes. I've auditioned for two gentlemen called Mr Learner. And Mr. Oh who are adapting version of George Bernard Shaw's pygmalion for the stage and Rajas paused a moment and said you know if they ask you to do that show. I think you should take kids if you don't take it. I wish you'd let us know because we'd very much like us. You and we love what you do and I thought it was one of the most generous I things and of course I did accept My Fair lady which was probably the greatest one of the greatest stepping stones in my very unfortunate career and I will never forget the generosity of Mister Rogers expressing that he felt it would be better for me career wise to do that and pop dream as it turns out was not one of the most successful musicals heartland but it has a great song that you would have sung. Everybody has a home but me. I can't remember because I the full song the show. Oh I remember From I never did see it because because I was busy working being in in my fair lady but actually during my fair lady was when they very kindly wrote Cinderella for me and I was standing in the wings this of of the television studio one day waiting it was taped live and probably went out to more people on that one night night. Live than if I had performed my fair lady for fifteen years in the theatre more people would have seen it that one night which was very very daunting but I was waiting in rehearsal and I was whistling. Because when I'm nervous I I do whistle And and we went. We went on them camera. Of course I was just waiting for a setup and a voice behind me I happen to be whistling of all all things and I have no idea why a song called the last time I saw Paris and a voice behind me said you know I meant every word of that when I wrote it. Mr Hammerstein was standing behind me just observing and I had no idea he was there and I said Oh Amazon. I'm so sorry I had no idea. Da You had written that song dummy that I was and He explained how he remembered barris before before the war and how it moved him when he went back off to the war to see the devastation and if such an interesting conversation and lovely lovely of him to share it. And I'll never forget that moment. My guests are Julie Andrews and her daughter. Emma Walton Hamilton who collaborated with Andrews on her new memoir homework about her Hollywood years. We'll talk more after a break analysts and back to my nineteen ninety two interview with Danny Ilo. He died died last Thursday at age eighty six. He's probably best known for his role in Spike Lee's film. Do the right thing. I'm Terry Gross. And this is fresh air support for fresh air and the following message come from green from Amex ready to try something new whether it's grabbing Sushi burritos on the go or spending a weekend snowboarding. According in Breckenridge Green from Amex can help you keep things fresh with three times points on restaurants and travel including airfare and hotel stays. It's built around onto your lifestyle so you can keep doing you with an extra boost of confidence. Learn more at American Express Dot com slash green from AMEX terms apply. Hi Hi it's Terry with a reminder that the link to donate to your local. NPR Station is donate dot NPR dot org slash fresh air that's donate eight dot. NPR DOT org slash. Fresh air. Thank you so much. Let's get back to my interview with Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton. Who was born just a few months before Andrew started working on Mary poppins Julie Andrews? You are a professional as a child you toward with your mother and stepfather in in their vaudeville. Act Your your early years were during World War Two and then you tore it in their Vaudeville Act so you were and then you. We're making more money than they were. And then you ended up. You ended up being top billed in the Vaudeville Act because you were such a great singer but you know you were working working. You're the earner in the family when you're when you're just a stage Brat and I think one of the reasons I really enjoy it when I'm working working because I've worked my entire life. I mean to the to the point where I really wasn't attending school. I had to have a tutor that came in and worked with me. But I really I would love to have attended university and I had a very rarefied rarefied and Robert Pitiful Education in a way my mother said to me. Oh you'll get a much better education from life out there and to certain certain extent I did but I was always scrambling to catch up on on history or things that really fascinated me. Jill you started psycho analysis analysis after you were in a committed relationship with Blake Edwards. And I can't remember if this was before or after you are. You're actually married but basically the way you described before when you when you started psychoanalysis it's like damn opened up I mean you just started weeping and I'm wondering if you you felt you had to hold in a lot of feelings and just be strong and not show any vulnerability because one you grew up during the war years. You were living in London during World War Two when you were getting bombed all time and you're going in and out of bomb shelters. You were blowing a whistle and literally warning people when the planes were when you were a child And then your child and your touring with your parents in Vaudeville performing and the show must go on no matter what so did that. What kind of kind of teach you to to just like hold everything in? Yes absolutely a whatever it was that I'd been sort of Being stiff upper lip about in my in my youth and I did take care of most of my family in every sense financially and and and emotionally because we were you know my stepfather wisdom alcoholic and it was not an easy situation. Shen but want something else you. Yeah I mean another thing is and we talked about this during our first interview Your stepfather When he would get really drunk could be abusive and he was drunk a lot? Yes a couple of times. He came into your bedroom and tried to kiss you. Go further than that. But that's Harry late I don't know how. Yeah I mean whatever measure decency was left in him when he was is a you know a drunk he. He refrained from going any further but it was pretty scary and it could have been in just disastrous. But I was very fortunate in the sense that I survived all that but there was a lot that I needed to sort out in my head and the failure of my first marriage which hurt a lot and I wasn't sure about anything and I was it. The wonder is that my wonderful therapist suddenly realized that what I craved. Probably more than anything was in education and so being a Merlin like personality. He decided to give me one. And I got so many answers in in terms of some of the things in life that I needed to learn and it was a phenomenal experience for me if I wanted to learn about astronomy or geology or or anything in life history geography just I could ask any question and he would be able to answer it so Blake Edwards became your husband but he also directed you in several films. He directed you Sob a satire of a Hollywood in ten which was a romantic comedy Victor Victoria in which about midlife crisis. Midlife crisis for the men. Yeah Victor Victoria which you played a woman impersonating a man in drag ugh. You know also a woman riot yes and you have a great show stopping number in that. But he saw you really league differently than the preconception that people of gas that having having me as a wife and are sleeping together and being great but we were married For what we knew each other forty four years before he sadly passed away but he was was somebody that knew me very very well and I think I knew him very well. This was a marriage that lasted and it was. conficated advocated and wonderful and quite magical at times and he was the most mercurial talented attractive man and and It was quite an experience to be married to Blake Edwards. Believe me but I mean just getting back to him directing you you you were topless in one scene one of US films films. There's a lot of like you know gender Gender Style Victoria. So it's very daunting Terry when your husband says in a love scene that you're doing with with the leading man on camera his. That's fine but I I know you can. I bet that's rather difficult in the film studio when you're filming it. Well let's take a break here and we'll talk some more if you're just joining US my Guest is Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton. Hamilton they collaborated on the second part of Julie Andrews Memoirs. This new book is called home. Work a memoir of my Hollywood years. We'll be right back. This is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message for parents come from little passports sports. A monthly subscription service that sparks kids curiosity about the world around them. Each curated package is filled with fun ways to experience the excitement eight-minute of discovering geography world cultures or science with projects designed for their passionate young minds every month brings a new adventure for you and your child to who explore together. Learn more at little passports dot com slash. NPR The NBC. Sitcom friends turned twenty five this year. And it's still here right now. It's one of Netflix. is biggest shows but does it hold up the greatest failure I think of the show is that it's not funny. What are enduring relationship with France lands says about US next time on it's been a minute from NPR? This is fresh air. And if you're just joining us my guest Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton Alton. They've collaborated on Julie Andrews Second Memoir called Homework a memoir of my Hollywood years. You describe like Edwards says mercurial and and he could be magical as you said but he also had some problems with pain and Had He did. He had periods of being adapted addicted to painkillers. And you of course he was very depressed. Times to yes. Yeah and you're right that he'd AH entertained the thought of suicide several times So I think that must have put a lot of pressure on you. I'm in I'm sure you worried about him because of the depression and also because of the painkillers how did you know when it was like okay eh to bring up your concerns knowing you know thinking that it would be a time where you wouldn't just be brushed back and and pushed away way you ask. I think I think the truth is that that it took a while to gain that coverage and to learn about addiction and to learn that it is An illness and depression is an illness. And it it was difficult but I don't know any marriage that doesn't really have a great deal of complication behind. The image and Blake had a capacity for sincere apology many times. He failed as often as he succeeded. But but the in the talent the the man behind all that was still to me very obvious I guess love Pulls deals you through a marriage. No matter what How did you both Julie Emma start working together on books? I had had an operation on my vocal cords which was a frankly a disaster. I I mean it led to the fact that I am fortunately was left unable to sing and that was pretty devastating for me. I thought that my voice was my only identification really. I lived through singing and for my singing and Thought that I was that was all I was was somebody who could do that and knew about it. Loved it so not having a singing voice. Left me me. With with very bemused and depressed. I thought I'll go crazy if I don't think of something to do. That will keep me occupied occupied. I always have to do something as I think. I mentioned earlier. I've been writing the first memoir beginning to. I was not writing physically but actually thinking about it making notes and so on before Emma herself became involved and my publishes at the time who had contract with me for the book asked. If I had any children's books they knew I had written a few of them on my own And and did I have anything for very very young children and I said well let me think about it and I went home to Emma and said 'em if if you have to go to the library for book for Your Young Son Sam who is how old am perhaps a year at most at what would you you want. And what would he want because the publishes a saying do I have anything. I'd love to bright something for them and your answer was I said that. Oh no question at all in my mind it would have to be something about trucks. Because he was as so many little boys are he was obsessed I with trucks and he only wanted to wear t shirts with trucks on them and sleep on sheets with trucks on moment. You know an every bedtime story was trucks trucks trucks Fox and I was also teaching Play writing at the time because I was at bay street and running the Once Sam was born I segue from artistic direction at the theater to creating young audience programming there and running the education programs in our area school so I was teaching play writing according to young children and so mom said well. I think maybe we'd better try and write that together. A book about about trade and that was our first attempt attempt. We had no idea that would be compatible. And we I believe truly truly are when we do work together. The best idea wins If we have an argument about something it's usually obviously about creative argument and we've never actually fought over anything. It's always a recognition that somewhere. The other one is so passionate about something that it's valid we. They have different strengths. WE DO I. Yeah I tend to be the more structure oriented the nuts and bolts and the dramatic arc in the first second third. act on all that and mom tends to be the the The sort of fantastic I lines or the the flights of fancy the fun ideas the the Great endings she's she comes in with the wonderful surprises and the Whimsey and I'm all about the structure. I I WANNA thank you both so much for talking with us. Julie Andrews Emma Walton Hamilton. Thank you thank you. We are such great great fans of Yes. We are ready to talk to. Oh thank you so much. It's really been my pleasure to talk with you. Both Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton. Hamilton collaborated on Andrew's new memoir called Homework Homework. After we take a short break will listen back to my nineteen ninety-two interview with Danny Aiello. He died last Thursday at age. Eighty six. He's probably best known for his role in Spike. Lee's do the right thing. This is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message come from each raid. Investing investing. Your money shouldn't require moving mountains no matter how much or how little experience you have. e-trade makes investing simpler and for a limited time. Get One hundred dollars when you open a new account with just five thousand dollars. It's all about helping your money work hard for you. For More Information Visit E. TRADE TRADE DOT com slash learn more each rate securities. LLC member SIPC support for NPR also comes from whyy presenting the podcast. Eleanor amplified and adventure series. Kids love here reporter. Eleanor Atwood crafty villains and solve mysteries as she travels the globe to get the big story available where you get podcasts or at whyy dot org. We're going to listen back to my interview with actor Danny Aiello. He died last Thursday. A At the age of eighty six his breakthrough performances were in the purple rose of Cairo. As Mu Pharaohs husband Moonstruck as sheriffs fiance and spike leased. One thousand nine hundred and nine film do the right thing in which he played the longtime owner of pizzeria in an African American neighborhood in the Bedford. stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. His character sal had wall of fame in the pizza place featuring photos of famous Italian Americans one of his customers played by Giancarlo Esposito. Zero confronted him about why the wall only had Italian Americans a sow y you want brothers on the wall. Get Your own into what you want with your brothers and uncles and nieces and nephews you step father stepmother whoever wants see but this is my American idol they can be found. You don't stop what that might be fine south but so you own. This rarely do I see any American. Italians eaten here all. I see's black folks so since we spend much money we do have some a trouble maker. Is that what you are you making trouble. Yeah I'M GONNA make I'm making trump was coming to watch. Suppose I bust your head how would you you want to get your friend off. The racial tensions between Elo and his customers grew as the movie progressed. I I L. O.. Was nominated for an Oscar for that performance. I spoke with Danny Aiello and nine hundred ninety two after he starred in the film Ruby as Jack Ruby. The man who shocked America by shooting and killing president. Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey. Oswald Danny Aiello told me that like many Americans he saw Rubio's murder of Oswald live on network TV. I I went YIP YIP paret. I believed at that time. Terry and street justice an eye for an eye he killed our president and this guy killed him good. That's how I I felt. And this of course was the germ of the idea where I began to formulate the character of Ruby. I made him in my own. Mind a hero and As we know the Wade Ruby ends up we find out that he he's really not a hero and and and he's realizing till the end of his life but that was my reaction you portray ruby as small time guy who's gotten in over his head and often has to bluff his way out of tight situations and you do wonderful line readings in the movie. I mean I think you just convey a lot with with your voice and with where you put the accents and certain readings of lines. I wonder how you rehearse these things even at home and I don't even necessarily mean on the Sir but When when when you got the script and you were trying to figure out how you would do the character how you would do specific lines? What's your process like for? Uh I have a process I I do it until I learned. I don't memorize it to the extent where it's like wrote wrote I never. It's always gotta be fresh new to me. I like to go before the cameras knowing the lines but I'm not totally sure of them. Do you follow what I mean. So that they do come out of my mouth they appear to be coming out of my mouth for the first time. I don't know what the system is people at the American Academy asked me to come over and teach I said what am I going to teach. They said the system I said what is that all I know is I sit by myself with myself. I work on the script. And it's a matter of repetition constantly going over the entire script into relating with other characters. What other characters mean to me and then I find after making making all the plans that I can when I'm finally going before the cameras opposite the other actor things change and they all start all over again and it's probably probably nothing that I've been rehearsing but I'd like to go in there with that feeling that I'm not quite sure what all the lines are so that it comes out not like growth as I said before you started acting? When you're in your mid thirties idea before that were even interested in Africa? No gravitated toward acting. Terry because I thought IT MIGHT BE A. It's a communication media and I was a fairly good talker. I was fairly good with people that maybe this would be the way to go. I was uneducated. I never I was in high high school for about a half hour. I WANNA one door out the other. I went to James Monroe so I really had no education no trade so I felt that the obvious place to go after losing the Union job would be inside never realizing how difficult that profession is but I did it anyway but I never thought I would be a failure. I always thought a to some level I would be a success if I dedicated myself and And look what happened. You know I'm interested in in your early life. Your father was a teamster and was on the road law. My father was not home. We have What what could be perceived as a fatherless home come home once a year pregnant my mother stake while we all ate the macaroni some beans and But Mama Man is the stake somehow aided. He ate a very proudly at the table. We ate back around and beans and But it was my mother who was solely responsible for bringing up seven children. I I know you went to work when when when you were very young but I think you also got involved in robberies when you're pretty young some crazy things. I had a fear Terry of of being homeless. This was early on. I don't know when I was putting my mind. I guess maybe if Mama decided to run off like that did them the seven kids would have been homeless so I guess that was the germ of the idea in my mind and as I grew up in I lost my union presidency job. There was very little meat. You know I was making a hundred ninety here Eh. Making nothing I got frightened and I thought I wasn't going to be able to keep a roof over their heads on my four children and my wife and myself and I did things to compensate for that and they were not armed robberies. Then we're not hitting people over the head. They were some maybe deserted buildings. Would it might be a safe. It did some silly stupid things that I feel ashamed. I did you know I was desperate. I thought we were GONNA be homeless and and I was the only way I can turn because at that point in my life it was pretty hard for me to have no money coming in and supporting a family of of six four for children and my wife and I did you make sure the statute of limitations was up before Mentioned public matter fact. I did why. Don't why son of a gun I am but I did and You know I don't want you to think that it was like this was an ongoing thing forever. It was the thing that happened to. The fear became so great in me that that I said. I just can't do this because what I would be doing is losing my family. Anyway if I did have to go in and things just as God and once started to work out the problem I never wanted to borrow money from. Anyone wouldn't take money. I wouldn't ask I wouldn't accept help from anyone and the the only help that I did accept with something that really set me off the stealing and that was welfare. I didn't have the guts to go into the welfare office. My wife did twice on welfare for two months. My wife's stood in line humiliated. Ryden she came from a family that had money. She was humiliated and she stood there. And I swore I would never do that again so when we started a good destitute again I refuse to go back there so the next thing that I did was decide to make money in another the other way and I break into cigarette machines. Juke boxes I used to pay rent with quarters and nickles. It's crazy in ashamed to tell you this. Terri not what you think any less than before but I'll tell you people do that then And we can be critical and should be critical. Because it's no one should have to do that. You know one of your really big breakthrough roles was a sow In do the right thing and I I really loved you in that. The film and I always felt watching that movie the Spike Lee probably saw the character as a blatant racist. But that you gave the character a depth and integrity and I know you actually really even wrote lines for the character to flush the catcher out if you pick up his original script the original. You'll see that he was the one character to me. He was what I would have cold and as a token black and an old white film and this case he could have been a Toko white a token white and all black film. When I looked at it I told spike spike? I said this guy's a plantation on schedule. Boring character why is he there. Why is he in bed Stuy? Why is he got a desire and in a in a totally black neighborhood? I said he can be anywhere so I defined in my own mind. That is there. Because that's where he wants to be He. He likes the title. He enjoys the people he's working with. He saw him get older. He enjoys the fact that they love is food. He's that kind of a simple guy. And it was. Because of that I think that made the character and more sympathetic character and a multidimensional character as opposed to a simple outbound raises. It's now you may define in your mind come to the conclusion that Saleh's racist but it's not obvious see. There was one taught of the film at the end where it it bothered me. That spikes character. mookie said to sow my character. What are you arguing about if the place was even get your money back and insurance? I was infuriated by that remark. Because you cannot as a store owner has a business on it in bed stuy get insurance so I said this is a joke. Why are you saying that and I said I wanNA come back with? What are you kidding? I couldn't get earthquake insurance on this. He didn't want that line in so I had to write right this other line. This isn't about money this is about. I built this place but my hands. You remember that line so He he compromised somewhat. He she didn't want me to say I couldn't get earthquake insurance in his neighborhood but he did permit me to say. This isn't about money this is about. I built this place in my a has a spike. I have to give him this before I agreed to do this. I said I wanted to make some changes that anything you want to do to make it better. That's what spikes and he went with the program as we were going Danny Aiello recorded in nineteen ninety-two. He died last Thursday at age. Eighty six tomorrow tomorrow on fresh air. We'll talk about our longest war. The eighteen year Afghanistan war the mistakes flawed strategy expense loss of life and how US US administration officials and military commanders early on question what we were doing there but misled the public. We talk with journalists Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post who got internal documents about the war through freedom of Information Act lawsuits a hoop. You can join us. Fresh Air's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our interviews and reviews are produced an edited by. Amy Salad Phyllis Myers San Brugere Lauren Crandall Heidi Simone Theresa Madden Lubes. Eighty Seth Kelly Wolfram. I'm Terry Gross career.

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