An Interview with Richard Dreyfuss
By Karen Anne Overton
From slicing open a shark’s belly in Jaws, to chasing UFOs in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, actor Richard Dreyfuss, 68, made a big splash in the seventies and won an Oscar for his role in romantic comedy The Goodbye Girl. He appears in the award-winning film Rosencrantz and 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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
So of all the roles you’ve played, which is the most like you?
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.
You’ve worked with Spielberg a few times, how is your relationship? Did you enjoy working with him?
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 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.
They wouldn’t take a risk on something like Jaws now?
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.
The 25th Anniversary edition of ‘Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead’ is out now on DVD from RLJ Entertainment.