tv Charlie Rose PBS November 9, 2013 12:00am-1:00am EST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, actor bruce dern now at the top of his game at age 77. the star of "nebraska." >> if you are willing to expose your heart when the switch is on or you're in the theater and start with the that and expose that and only stuff you would show anybody or nobody in private but do in the public, you're being publicly private, you just might do something with your career. and i think that's true of writing or anything else. >> rose: bruce dern for the hour. next.
the last thing i do. i don't care what you people think. >> listen to me, you didn't win anything. it's a complete scam so you have to stop this, okay? >> i'm running out of time. >> you don't even have a suitcase. >> i'm not staying there. >> dad, i can't let you go. >> it's none of your business! >> yes it is! i'm your son. >> then why don't you take he? >> rose: bruce dern is here. he has appeared in more than 80 films from alfred hitchcock to quinn ten tarantino. he has specialized playing villains and psychopaths and other unsavory kashger thes. here's a look at some of his work. >> i hit him! i hit him with a stick! i -- i hurt him! >> it's just small change! she's got something new now, something everyone's afraid to talk about! >> damn it, everybody needs
somebody, for christ's sake. if it's over with us it's over! >> well, what are you saying? that you're not even going to make the effort. >> what i'm saying is i do not belong in this house! and they're saying that i don't belong over there! >> you need to be wiped away like a dirty stain. turn around. you don't move anywhere. now how does that feel? how, snil you know, my helping you out don't make a hell of a lot of sense. but i'm betting on the ranger. know the big money days are just about done but don't kid yourself, boys. you can still come down real hard. >> sorry about the rent, man, i'm just getting some stuff. >> well, let me know when you get it. you want some sandwich?
>> thanks, man. >> i want you to burn the runaway right here on his cheek. the girl, too. and i want you to take them to the greenville auction and sell him. both of them. separately. this one you will sell him cheap. >> rose: his new movie is "nebraska." he plays an aging father who takes a road trip with his son in an attempt to collect a million-dollar prize. here's the trailer for nebraska. >> so you told sheriff that you were walking to nebraska? >> that's right. to get my million dollars. >> this is woody grant. >> we are now on the rise to pay one million dollars to woodrow t. grant, billings, montana.
>> this is his son. >> you didn't win anything! it's a complete scam! you have to stop this, stock? >> i'm running out of time. >> this is his wife. >> i never knew the son of a bitch even wanted to be a millionaire! he should have thought about that years ago and worked for it. >> what's the harm in letting him have his fantasy for a couple more days? >> it's the talk of the town. >> why didn't you tell us you was rich, wood glee >> we sure would like to see what a million dollars looks like. >> and this is the clock. >> woody's a millionaire! (cheers and applause) >> that would be wrong! >> are you threatening my family? >> everybody saying now woody grant's a millionaire. >> it's no big deal.
>> no big deal? geez! a million here, a million there are there. the newspaper is going to do a big writeup on you! >> woody didn't win anything. >> you're a damn liar! >> hey, hey! >> come on$.# somebody. >> rose: he won the best actor award at cannes for his performance. i'm pleased to have bruce dern at this table. welcome. >> thanks, thank you for having me back. >> rose: last time was the national air and space museum in washington, d.c. great to see you. >> that was terrific. that was a group of people. >> yeah, there was. there was some talent there. (laughs) is this story true, that you already left cannes? >> paramount allowed me, graciously, to take my wife, my
daughter laura, and my business partner wendy to cannes and so they booked a six-day plan and the sixth day was saturday: and so we went home and at 9:00 sunday morning laura called me and we were still trying to adjust to the clock so i was still asleep kind of and she said "dad?" i said "yeah?" i said we were in there, it was fair. obviously we didn't win anything. and she said "i'm not sure." i said "what do you mean it's not sure? it's 6:00 in cannes and every year they announce at 3:00 in the afternoon on the last sunday. and it's 6:00 there." she said "well, alexander just called me, he's still there." >> rose: alexander payne. >> he was on his way to dinner and they said "stop by because you guys won something." so he went and it was the best actor.
and i was thrilled because it gave a chance for the guy that gave me the role and made the movie and that you're thrilled -- the big win for me in this whole scenario is just getting the role in an alexander payne movie and this particular one and he got to pick it up for me. >> rose: but you hit it out of the park. >> oh, really. well, thanks. >> rose: that was an impressive group of judges. >> stephen spielberg was the judge, and ms. kid man, ang lee i think was on it, christopher waltz. so that's four out of seven. >> rose: they know something about good acting. (laughs) what does it mean to you? what meant something to you was getting the job. >> well, when i got the job at 77 -- 76 then, i realized it was an at-bat. i realized i have had a lot of at-bats but never in the bottom of the ninth when i'm down 2-1 and they ask me to come off be
be shane victor reno, you know what i'm saying? and he's from hawaii! i knew i'd waited a long time to get in a position in my age group of guys where that kind of role could come my way, that i'd be considered down to maybe last three or four and this time they actually gave it to me. and, you know, when i began, charlie, it was go to new york, become a member of the actor's studio, work for kazan. now it's a lot different than that, but working with either alexander payne or quentin is big, big stuff and that's what you try and do. because they're the kazans to me of our generation. >> rose: and they're the kind of guys who would pick someone like you, who has the chops to do whatever they want to do but in some other people's judgment might not be out there. and they know because they know talent and they knew you could do it. that's the nature of them.
>> well, i was lucky enough to be in a lot of wonderful movies with a lot of wonderful teammates. the difference between this one and any other movie was bob nelson, the writer, it was all on the paper. i mean, i didn't have to bring jerseys in and invent stuff to be noticed more. in the first day of the movie alexander said to me both pa p.a. pa michael and i-- he's the cinematographer-- are aware of a lot of the stuff you've done. do something for us i'm not sure you've ever done. don't show us anything. let us find it. i knew i'd found a friend, a partner, and a teammate. so i didn't have to push. i didn't have to show how good an actor i was. i just had to be a human being. and he would be there to find it and see it and throughout the movie.
when my old girlfriend comes out that long shot in that magical once upon a time face he takes the time to watch characters make decisions in the moment rather than cutting away to something else to speed up the scene. he lets you see it involveed. and makes it still entertaining in the way it's edited. and that was something that you get a few days in a movie but with him you get it everyday. even the faces of the people from nebraska and from wyoming, montana, south dakota where we were. he goes for eight months ahead of time with john jackson, his casting director, and they find faces. they don't look for buildings and stuff, they look for faces and then they would say, you know, on october 29 of this fall be in that bar and we'll put you in a movie. so those people would show up at the specific bar just to shoot the face. first time i go in the bar the cowboy with the long beard is talking to the lady eating the peanuts, he was there.
he doesn't have to direct them. he just says okay, be yourself, have a drink, talk to whoever's next to you. so he gets a very preston sturges/frank capraish -- >> rose: does this mean in some of your roles you had let the acting show too much? >> i pushed too much. not which would be trying to -- it starts at president beginnings when ms. kazan and strasberg say to me okay, you can go to california now." after three years being a guinea pig at the actor's studio, so to speak. and i went, they said to me the first thing you'll do is westerns, a lot of westerns and you'll be the third to fifth cowboy from the right. be the most interesting goddamn third cowboy anybody ever saw. >> rose: (laughs) as you go on in your career and the parts get bigger and bigger you tend to embroider. sometimes it works and adds, sometimes it doesn't.
i was guilty probably of pushing a little too hard so that doesn't mean overacting, that means just i'm in the room, too, hello? >> rose: (laughs) i might be interesting. take a look. what was the biggest role of your lifetime? this one? number one? >> rose: it's an alexander pain movie. he may not be synonymous with that yet but he's 6 for 6. he's made six good knew please? a row. secondly he's basically the linchpin of the movie. he drives the movie a certain way because president story follows him. but it's a team work movie. it's all of us together. that's behind the camera, too. he has 85 people on the crew and 47 have worked everyday on every movie he's ever made. so you have a family you don't
dare not risk. you don't dare not take chances. they're there to back you up. he told me the first day go out there on the edge, stay there like you like to do and we have your back. then he's sitting right here and he gets delight out of watching the movie for the first time. he's seen the scenes, he knows they work on paper so he sit there is sometimes like a little kid just watching the movie. >> rose: saying, yeah, that worked, didn't it? >> and also the piece of material was magnificent. i've been in others. i mean, you know, people say well, you mean it's a better chance than in gatts bi? my problem with gatsby has always been i don't play -- i don't think mr. fitzgerald ever wrote it to be a visual experience for an audience. an example being how do you put the last paragraph on the screen? it can't be done. and i'm sure mr. salinger was up to the same thing. they're about the readers' mind,
the readers' heart and when you put it on the screen, i don't know, sometimes it's like very rarely only until the last maybe quarter of a century have they ever put christ's face on a screen, you know? it was always you couldn't see who he quite was. and one of the great stories i've heard in my career -- well, you want to ask questions, obviously. >> rose: go no, go ahead. >> charlton heston told me when they were doing "ben-hur." william wiler shut the movie down for two days to look for a face. he spent two days, saw 1,300 faces in rome or right outside where they were shooting and he finally picked one. in the scene in the movie, it's a roman censure i don't know who rides up and ben-hur on his way to the chain gang is stopping at a well for water. the centurion hates him. he cracks his whip. a man bends down and starts helping heston get a drink of water with a goblet and kind of
washing his face a little bit and the centurion crack it is whip again. and he said "i said no water for him!" and he gets the thing back again and the man stands up and turns around and william wyler wanted to cast an actor who could show he just looked into the face of god. because it's jesus christ that gifts him the water. and that's movie making. that's what i came for. and wyler -- no wonder he's as good as he was. that wonderful part -- half my career has just been sitting at the feet of a lot of people. when we did that championship season we had stacy, we had myself, paul sorvino and jason miller who wrote it. we just sat at mitchum's feet. how can you not listen to this guy? and when i think to myself how they kind of got excited about our age group in the beginning
'70s because they stopped doing movies just about conventional leading men and women but started making movies about people on the edge more. people that were out there more. more exposed. more study of behavior. well, if you look back on it, mitchum might be one of the first guys that was into that because you go back and look at "night of the hunter." that strange folks from a hollywood movie star and he was into that kind of stuff and i loved that. and kazan's whole thing sometimes was about finding guys like that to put them in in the "viva zapata" after zapata's been killed in the square all the generals are up on the wall and the peasants run and cover him up right away and they're saying to each other "this could be anybody. who knows that this is zapata? he's shot up so bad, nobody could know. i think he's still maybe in the hills." on the wall is an old broadway
actor named arnold moss, a white-haired man who's the old retired general in charge of the whole assassination they just did and he says "i don't know. sometimes a dead man can make a terrible enemy." that's kazan. found that face for that line, you know what i'm saying? i got in the business for that. i got in the business to make movies about people and i think we've forgotten that. not forgotten it but i think it's tougher to get those movies made now than the wizardry and the technology and marty scorsese uses the phrase "the propensity to make money fast." $100 million on an opening weekend. my god! if i had a studio i could make 20 movies for $100 million. when you out with roger corman doing movies for 120 grand, it's -- >> rose: you and jack and
several others. >> oh, yeah. >> rose: here's my -- i like to received a vice rather than give advice but listening to you -- you may not have time and this may have no interest to you but i can imagine how thrilling it would be for an audience to have you stand on a stage and talk like you are now and behind you because of the technology are the scenes that you're talking about. i mean, it would be enthralling because cinema is our -- >> well, i wrote a book several years ago called "things i've said and probably shouldn't have." and john whyly and them put it out and they're basically academic puts they put out and stuff like that. so i started doing what i call a one man show. exactly what you said, but without the photograph. that's a fabulous idea. >> or even the movie. >> i think in -- in three weeks the brooklyn academy of music is doing a retrospective on me and
they're showing 13 films leading up to it and then the last night they're showing a film and i'll be there and to have a retrospective on the knew please? in four of the ones they're using i have three little scenes "hush, hush sweet charlotte" they cut my head and hand off before the second reel. "they shoot horses, don't they"? which nobody ever sees. wonderful, wonderful. and there's that, there's "marnie" which i just play a little part in the beginning of and so i'm cool c w them showing that. but here's people i've never met along with paramount that are going out and finding these movies and it took them forever to find a print of "they shoot horses, don't they?" and that's 11 oscar nominations. >> but this is the first retrospective of bruce dern's work? >> i love that. >> rose: i do, too. so when you look back on the career are there regrets or do
you samely say that's what life is. life is living and making choices as you come to eat point? >> i think when i got in it-- because i was a runner. i was aware -- i hasn't gotten into the long stuff yet but i was aware it was an endurance contest. i was aware that some do, some don't so therefore you're going to have -- in the marathon you don't race until you've done 16 miles so i had to put in my 16 miles, i knew that. and both kazan and mr. strasberg made me aware that it was a long journey for me because i was not a conventional leading man. a conventional leading unanimous my generation were burt reynolds clint eastwood, bob redford, warren beatty. those were the good looking guys that got the young men parts. and -- i can't tell the story but -- >> rose: oh, yes, you can. >> can i use a bad word?
>> rose: go ahead. >> i'm at summer stock, central city, colorado, and i'm there washing flats and playing any kind of part i can get into and bela lugosi is coming to do "dracula." and i'm cast because i'm part of this resident cast as ren field, the fly eater. and he runs around and everything. about ten minutes into the rehearsal there was an actor named bob webber who was in "12 angry men" and a lot of things like that. he said "mr. dern?" and i don't know, do you say "yes, count? or yes, bela?" so i saidiest? he said "i want you to switch roles." i was playing the good looking young man. bob webber was playing renfield. he said "i want you to play the little fly eater and i want mr. webber to play the young leading man." i said "why?" he said "look at his neck!" i said "what about it?" >> in my country the guy with
the bull neck plays the (bleep) part. >> rose: (laughs) >> that's bela lugosi so you open your first year ever looking to be hired and that happens to you. but as i look back on it, i enjoy the ride, i was paid well. not fabulously well i was in really good movies. and some great attempts that didn't necessarily become well seen movies. like the one jack and i did. it was wonderful. "smile." a movie nobody ever saw" about the california junior miss pageant. "after dark, my sweet." a knew see there on that weekend three movies open all if you're -- at different theaters in the sex-plex. one is "after dark, my sweet." one is "the grifters" and one is
laura dern in "wild at heart "for david lynch, all in the same complex. well, except for "the grifters" the other two ate it. and the guy that wrote "after dark, my sweet" wrote the grifters. so if you were lucky enough in those days to get one of your independent films made and financed and got into cannes it seems like the independent film in that day was put in the independent film thet sore there weren't but 105 seats or something. "on marvin gardens" we were doing a scene where i have to go over and tell jack that i love him. and i go up and i put my arms around him. well, we did three or four takes and it's a nine minute scene and jack and i both turned and we called him curley bob because he's a huge guy and had this great hair and jack says "curley what do you want?
what do we have to do?" and i said "yeah, bob, what is it?" >> he ripped his sleeve up like this. he says "goose bumps, i want goose bumps." oh, my god. so we do it six more times and say okay, that's it. now we're in the other set and jack and i both go up and said "roll your sleeve up." and we rolled his sleeve up. and he says "what do you see? what do you see?" and jack says "i just see a big jewish arm. there's nothing on it." and i said "i really don't see anything. it looks like maybe you ate too many hershey bars when you were young, but they aren't goose bumps." he says "they are goose bumps and what does it tell you?". >> we don't know. "$15 million opening weekend." >> rose: (laughs) >> and that's how one of the independent filmmakers who'd done "five easy pieces" and what else, is brilliant, is
interesting in opening weekend. >> rose: who were your best friends in hollywood? is jack one of them? >> all my friends -- real, dear friends, are girls. the only male friends that i've maintained through the year is jack and when jack saw the movie we showed it to him very early because he'd done "about schmidt" for alexander, he was a big fan of it. he's hosting a big screening for us in hollywood. he loved it, he was very proud of me and he did a wonderful thing for me. when we did "drive, he said" which is a movie jack directed and i won the national film critics award for best supporting actor and we were shooting in atlantic city on "on marvin gardens" so we went to the algonquin and hollis alpert was the critic who gave me my award but they were all there. afterward we went home and the next morning when i got back to the hoe toll go to work i had a little gold statue on my dresser
and on it it said "first gold, jack." and i just loved that. and it was so sweet. and he's been always encouraging about the work i do and always kind of keeps track of what i do and like wise i remember the night he won the oscar for "cuckoo's nest" he called me -- i left him a message on his -- i think it was just message machines then. it must have been 1976 or 1977. not cell phones but message machines. i left him a message just congratulating hip and i said "it's about time they realized who can bring it and who can't and you certainly bring it." and he sent ae message on my service about an hour later saying "dernzer, i got gross." >> rose: (laughs)
>> and he also did a sensational thing for me as a human being which indebted me for the rest of my life to him which is when we were doing "marvin gardens" there's a scene where we drive out of the convention hall on a golf cart after we've crowned the liberal miss america and it's ellen burstyn, julie, robin jack and i and burstyn, because she's been playing the miss america song on the organ, has to jump on the back of the golf cart and as i pulled it out, because i'm driving, jack is sitting next to me and there on the back ellen fell off. i stopped the car immediately. jack -- everyone look to ellen including me. jack put his hand on my knee and he said "are you all right?" he's been my friend and i love him for the rest of my life because that's where he looked first. >> rose: are are you stock?
" >> yeah, it's just big stuff. >> rose: you have a big heart. >> well, if you're going start from the heart like i do, my partner wendy and i we started a little company and it's called publicly private. that's what acting has always been to me. if you are willing to expose your heart when the switch is on or you're in the theater and start with the that and expose that and only stuff you would show anybody or nobody in private but do in the public you're being publicly private, you just might do something with your career. and i think that's true of writing or anything else but a lot of people don't start there and they start with who is the character, how do you build a character and nebraska is very simple. if you stand at home all of right field -- all of lights are out in right field with him.
he's got too to play with center and left field lights in a night game and secondly there's the -- what is woody basically? he's fair. and when you grow up on lake michigan like i did in illinois and you get about 150 miles beyond where we grew up it starts getting very black and white all the way to the rockies. and in that black and white section of the country-- which is what our movie is about and dealing with-- there is a sense of honesty and fairness. there is not in the little corridor that i live in. and this i grew up in i.it's not they weren't those people, they were those people. but the magic of it is you get out there and you get alexander payne who's from there and he's not picking on these people, he's, you know, showing you who they are and saying, hey, folks,
take a look at what i grew up in who these people are. and woody, a character like i play in the movie is kind of a monument to alexander. not because he's got it all together, he doesn't, he's lost a lot, he's going to lose a lot more, but he's still there and they don't move. and they stay there. and? why because they're proud of who they are and what they came from. and the sad thing is now they're tenant farmers on their own family farms because the corporations have bought up all the farms. and yet they still stay there. and they're forthright and they're honest and the good part about the movie for me is that wood gee fair therefore he thinks everybody else should be fair and would be fair. how can you tell somebody on national television or send them a letter saying "woodrow t. grant won a million dollars" and have it not be so? >> rose: exactly.
alexander payne, you said, you didn't know your father well but he helped you know your father. >> he gave to me the things i expected to get from a father. my father gave me a chance to learn and a sense of privilege, if you will. and alexander naught on the back burner and came to all my sporting events. gave a damn what i did after school. i never got that at home. alexander gave me that. he cost me the role because i think -- because laura starred in his first movie "citizen ruth." so i'd only met him for an hour, that was 18 years ago. but there was something in -- he's a movie fan so he sees movies that i've been in and there wasing? there that he felt he could use to surprise the folks. and i think that was part of why he cast me because we felt we kind of put a surprise out there
and who was going to play the role and the way he played the role. i don't think people would anticipate the performance that i do in this movie. i don't think there's another movie that i've done where you can say oh, yeah, he's obviously woody. because i'm always the quick guy, the guy that drives it, the guy that does this or that and the guy that motivates him will be turning one way or the other. and the biggest problem for me in the film was to be detached. and the wonderful thing i've always thought when i'll do with the people in my family who many many have been there. the derns didn't live as long -- every macleash male-- archibald, bruce, and norman-- the three brothers, bruce being my grandfather and archibald being his brother, they all lived to be at least 98. and the women also. and the dern men went much, much earlier. so i law a lot of it around my house.
however, i always felt that just maybe they get a little more than you think they do. they can't respond verbally, sometimes they'll smile when you say he actually thought that was funny or he's just goading me on? and throughout the movie when i say to will -- will forte who's fabulous in the film and did a wonderful job. >> rose: you said he carries the movie. >> so human. and a lot of times i just would say "huh?" he'd say how do you know when it's right? how do you know when you do this "what?" so i would do it. but a lot of the times it was what i would get in my household from a grandfather who would say to me "huh?" and what he was saying was "huh?" when are you going to tell me something that means a (bleep) thing instead of all the stuff you go on? huh? do you have more game or don't you. so they were a little ahead of
where i thought they were and don't be down on them because they still get it. and woody still gets a part of it but he's always about 20 minutes away from a nap throughout his entire life. >> rose: (laughs) >> and alexander does that great. like the shot you showed of the eight guys sitting watching the football game and the women talking in the kitchen. where are the men? they're napping on the couch. >> rose: did you get to know archibald macleash? >> a little bit. two ways i got to know him. one is he lived in massachusetts. >> rose: concord, massachusetts. >> conway. and at the end it was boylston near harvard but he'd been librarian of congress. so he would come at new year, every new years the macleash brothers would get together and have had the fix there and my dad's folks would come until. adlai stevenson, james farley who was former postmaster
general. >> rose: he was a campaign guy. >> so he came and one time i said -- you know, i was 11. i said, you know, archie, what -- i don't understand what some of your poems mean." and he said "i have a famous quote, haven't you read it?" i said no, sir, i have not." he said "well, a poem must not mean, it must be." and that's a famous quote of his. and the other quote is i was always fascinate bade book of collected poems he wrote and he said how do you get -- i was like 16 now. i said "how do you get to a point where you have a title like that on a collected book of poems?" he says "i'll tell you, 1924 i left yale and went to paris because that was the thing to do. and they were all there, trust me. you folks think you got collections of them? that was a collections" and he's the first one that used the term
to me. "that was a collection of downtown folks." >> rose: hemingway and -- >> music, writing, art, all of them. singing. so he said i was there five years and it kind of faded out and i left. and i was very disillusioned with myself as a writer, i was very disillusioned with everything that had happened there and i put all those poems together and i think it won him his first pulitzer prize and the title -- he said what turns you on about the title? and i said just the title itself. and he said let me tell you what it means to me. he says you tell me the title of the book and i'll tell you what it means to me. so i said archie, you say to me the title of the book is the music crept by me on the waters. >> rose: the music crept by me on the waters.
>> missed it. i was in paris five years and never got what was really going on. i missed it. five years of my life. i didn't understand that it was a collective of an exchange of ideas and we were in school. we were in a community, i could have learnd from the greatest people my n my generation and i was there too self-possessed, too down here that i missed the whole movement and the music crept by me on the waters. he said the facts that you get that -- he turns to my mother jean, he says jean, this kids -- he didn't say got game but he said this kid's got -- he can express himself, he's out there. five years later -- six years later i've decided to become an actor, i've left the university of pennsylvania, i realized i had to do three things: go to new york, try to become a member of the actor's studio, work for kazan, those are my three goals, a lot of people's goals, not just mine. i then start having a movie career. my mother gets extremely upset
because my grandfather macleash does not like westerns and she said "now i pick up a paper today and i see you got a little bitty part in this new western. she said "when are you going to stop that? i can't take him to see movies? we can't go together. it's just he and toy go to a movie. what do you want from us?" i said "mother, it's not a western. "she said, oh, really? they shoot horses don't they is not a western?" and when i just started my mother says "why don't you -- i've done five years married to diane who was laura's mother and then i married andrea. after all this time my mother writes me a letter, i asked her for $500 to help us through a time. she writes me a letter and she says "why don't you come back to chicago, you can live with me, i'll put you through law school and you can get this whole theater plaything movie thing
out of your genes and everything by doing plays at the goodman theater." i said "why did archie get a break?" she said "stop right there, archie's an artist. he's a man of letters." i said "what am i?" "you're somebody that's making a living pretending. that whole generation of men in my life, they were giants to me and the reason i glomed on to him the most was because? he wrote a play called "j.b." and he was a man -- but there were big men. my father's sister married a judge named herbert f. good rich. he was on the third circuit in pennsylvania, in philadelphia. and he was on with blackman marshall and good rich, they were the three circuit court judges and my uncle herbert had written a tort law book that you have to read your first year
about tort law. and so i went one day he allowed me to come down to watch the third circuit debate a case between good year versus due pond and they were two younger lawyers and that night at dinner he -- he said lad, what did you think of what you saw? i said it wasn't right. you never let either lawyer finish what they were doing. you guys interrupt him all the time. particularly justice marshall. he was bummed because this and that. he says, "bruce, stop right there, it's not our job to educate litigators at the second-highest court in the land in an extremely important case on how to present their case and when they're not ready it's not our job to coach them. they come on, they present it or they don't." and that's the first time i heard the phrase. he said, bruce, every week some
do and most don't. and i said before you go on and tell me that it wasn't right, what went on, let me tell you something, i have the best job in this country. i said what is that? he said, i get out of bed every morning, i get to go down to the courthouse to work with a chance to be fair. i never forgot it. >> rose: what do you think all of this attention and award in cannes will do? do you even think about that the or do you just simply enjoy the experience and all the recognition that's come from you having the role of a lifetime? >> where i sit in that room hoping the phone rings. >> rose: (laughs) that's what i honestly do. are they going to see it? will they see a difference? is there a chance to maintain? i'd like to be an octogenarian, that's only been done 11 times in my family so i'd like to be the 12th. but it's just that i -- i look
forward -- future opportunities. heston once --, i said to him, you know, i don't know how you judge actors. he said an actor is only as good as his next film. and i loved that. and i always find that's the same way. i look forward and one of the things i enjoy more than anything else is how the other folks see me and then have the courage to cast me and in this case i lucked out big time. he's an amazing guy. i'm very proud of "nebraska." as a collective it's the best collective group of actors together knowing they all had to pull their orr at the same time, the same way each day all risk and have fun. he has fun. movies should be fun
mr. hitchcock's films were fabulously fun. not to everybody but you know the ultimate hitchcock story is karen black's very first day she's on the set, she comes in "are you ready sdmarn" "yes." "well all you have to do is open and close seven cupboards in the kitchen. no dialogue, nothing, just go and do each one and then we're off." so she goes and she does it. cut. now we're over here in the other room, boys. she starts to move and karen raises her hand like she's in fifth grade and says "mr. hitchcock?" "yes, karen." she said "it's my first day, i was terribly nervous and everything but i'd like another. i'd like another because i think i can do it better and everything." "why? ." she said "well i just -- i was panicky, i can be more honest." so he says "all right, we deal a mark." so she goes to her mark, he says go. she went around, she opened all
the seven things, he said "thank you, karen, we're over here." she comes running after us as he finally has gotten out of his little small director's chair where his butt is so big the chair gets up with him and he would say to me "bruce, a hand, please." so i would pull the chair off his butt so he could look like he wasn't carrying around a chair. and she said "mr. hitchcock, you never turned the camera on." "that's right, karen." "why would you do that? i told you i wanted another one. i'd like another one." he says "i have the one i like." !c]:j that's hitchcock. >> rose: that's hitchcock. who was -- anybody that was as good as hitchcock for you? >> i would say there's three -- >> rose: alexander payne for sure. >> kazan, hitchcock, alexander payne. the others quentin i would think would be there but i worked for three hours for him on django so
i didn't have much to see. jack as a director was absolutely fabulous. >> rose: what is jack going to do? will he continue to act? >> he's sharp as a tack! he gets it. who could sit through this pathetic laker team this year and he's there every night and they play in the gym, that's all. that was the wonderful thing about cannes. when we went to cannes i'd never been in a gym as big as cannes. that's 2,000 plus people watching a movie that you're in. >> rose: you've never been in a gym that big? >> i call them gyms. movie theaters, palaces. i just -- the wonderful thing about cannes for me was the explosiveness of the reaction the minute the movie start and alexander and i were next to
each other and we looked at each other and we said "they got it and they're reading subtitles." so we said maybe at home they'll even get it more but they got it over there which made paramount realize that we may have a movie that will work in maybe any language because those folks were in every family and every country somewhere. >> rose: black and white was the right thing to go? >> alexander will tell you when he first saw it on the paper he somehow knew it should be black and white and when you go out there it's -- he knows he's gonna shoot landscape and texture of faces. and black and white, the texture of those faces in there, you go back at the history of movies, look at the women from the '30s and '40s and those magnificent faces. just incredible. that's black and white. color and s wonderful. they can look beautiful. this kid will look beautiful eating a sandwich but it's just
-- i don't know, it was the right thing to do and it's kind of a salute to the people that he believed in in everything and it's also that part of the country. very black and white. especially the wintertime there's just nothing going on. >> rose: going back to kazan and the political problems he had, what did you think about? >> i was a freshman in high school when that happened but tying it into nebraska the first screening we had a woman came up to me, an older woman, mid-'90s and she said "that's the best movie i've seen since grapes of wrath and i want to host a screening." and i said that would be lovely. two weeks ago she hosted a screening in l.a. her name is marcia hunt. she was the first blacklisted woman in american history from the arts. 1947, five years before kazan. mr. kazan, as i understood it,
was preparing "viva zapata." mr. zanuck had gotten him in, he got a subpoena and they said go to washington, d.c. zanuck said you go to washington, d.c. and you tell them the truth about anything they ask you. don't volunteer anything, just answer the questions. truthfully." otherwise "viva zapata is off. and he said okay, he went. they read him a list of 22 names were you at that party at so and so's house on the night of -- he says, well i'm not sure but i knew obviously you were going ask me about something i didn't know that night and they read the names and he knew ten that he saw at the party. he didn't elaborate, nothing else. >> rose: he didn't say they were members of this communist party or not? >> no, the lawyers said that -- david cohn yet wasn't right
there. >> rose: roy cohn. >> roy cohn. but senator mccarthy was there. so i never judged it. i can only tell you this: that the most vivid memory i have in my intercareer, the first play i was in was called "shadow of a gunman" it was a sean o'casey play. a guy started directing it, it was the first actors studio production ever in the theater since the group theater in the '30s. this was the actor's studio. 17 days into the play the kazan and strasberg walked in and said jack, what's going on? and we were still sitting at the table, eight days from the actor's studio opening on broadway. risk, real risk for them because it was putting lab work in a play and people were going to say, well, they can't do anything different than anybody else has done. they said what are you doing, jack? he says we're still working on character development. lee went nuts and jack was gone.
we came back after lunch and lee said "i'm going to stage this son of a bitch in three hours." but with the post-nasal drip all the time. and so he did that. at the end of it opening after noon we had a rehearsal until 5:00. we finished. the play is opening at 8:00. mrs. o'casey is there from ireland, there's a lot of people big investors and everything and kazan says to mr. strasberg, he says, lee, you forgot something. he said, oh, really, what? he said a curtain call, you didn't stage a curtain call. now, lee's daughter sue soon is the star of the play along with bill smithers and he says "oh, my god, you're right." well, you people come out, you come out, you come out. there were seven of us. you come out, you come out and bill you come out, jerry you come out. susie you come out last.
two curtain calls and that's it. two more times, that's it you go. i raise my hand like karen black did. i said "but mr. -- and i'm a member just joined the actor's studio and i said you didn't mention my name for the curtain call." he said "that's right. the" i said "why?" he said "you die in the play and when they go home on the bus or the subway or in their khark or their limo i want they should think you really died. so no curtain call." >> rose: (laughs) the next night i'm sitting in the alley of our theater which was next to the music box and each night at 7:20, as i found out later, a big limousine would come in, up the driveway and a huge man would get out of the front seat. i mean 6'7, big older man with a pink poodle in each arm and walk into the theater. and i'm sitting there ogling out of the back door comes a little tiny probably 88, 90-year-old
woman with a pink poodle in each hand, goes in the theater. he came out to me the second night i was doing that he said "what are you doing out here?" i said "i'm just watching opera. i love the opera of life." and he said "oh, really. " i said "be here tomorrow night at 7:20 and you'll see opera, sir." because he'd seen me run in the garden and that stuff so they were track fanings. >> rose: and you were a runner. right. >> so the next night he comes and he comes about one minute early and he says "this better be opera." limo pulls up and everything else, the two people go in with the poodles, i turn around and he has tears streaming down his face. and he says to me "that's opera! and i'll never be a part of that because i'm a greek jewish immigrant from istanbul who came to ellis island when i was eight years old and i'll never be a
part of that because that's the american theater and they'll never include me and maybe they're right." because that was alfred lunt and lynn fontaine. that's why i looked at kazan. and he just was it and he made good movies and i look at the body of work and the guy i don't know what anybody would have done in the position he was in in that day, you know, you went there -- i mean, the guy's -- had the standard answer in the godfather. hi knew what to say and they were talking about something else. or the germans at nuremberg, a lot of them raised their hands and said "i was on vacation, i fref switzerland, a u.s. tree ya we were just passing through." >> rose: bruce dern, great to have you here. >> it's a thrill for me to be with you because you've become the man at what you do and if cronkite is the thing you
measure by or david brinkley you are delight with them, sir, for the rest of your career. and i've watched it from the beginning. the man is interviewing dr. jarvik, christian bernard, one of the space guys that walked on the moon, excuse me. and it was fun! and here's all these things and charlie asked me something, he says "well how do you feel about all this space stuff and everything?" i said "you know, charlie, i'm just hoping i can get on american 644 back to l.a." >> rose: (laughs) i'm just happy you came here and sat at this table much success for "nebraska" and for you and i hope the phone will be ringing tomorrow morning and the morning after that and the the morning after that. >> thank you, sir. >> the opportunity to take everything that you have learned and pour it into a work of art is a great thing. thank you. bruce dern for the hour. thank you for joining us. see you next time.