Film actor, TV talk-show host, director, producer and comic personality Charles Grodin lives in Fairfield County with his family and co-stars in the current Ben Stiller film, While We’re Young. We talked with him recently in anticipation of his next appearance at the Ridgefield Playhouse on April 21 for Charles Grodin: A Comedic Journey Through Showbiz.
What will you highlight in your show on April 21st?
Well, what’s different about this is that there’s no jokes: Everything in it was actually said to me. …For example, when I first came to New York, and I asked my agent, “Should I get pictures taken?” He said, “Yeah, so the people who don’t want to see you will know who it is they don’t want to see.” It wasn’t until I was, say, 37 years old that people knew who I was. I mean, I was in Rosemary’s Baby, but I was one of the doctors, but not the one who made her give birth to the devil. I’ve worked a lot, but I stopped in about 1995, because I wanted to be a stay-at-home Dad for my son. I told David Letterman about that and he asked me, “What did your son think about that?” And I said, “He didn’t like it.”
How was your experience in the recent film, While We’re Young?
It’s funny, but I’m supposed to be a documentary director, but it’s kinda funny that they asked me, because they hired me to be a documentarian, without knowing I already was. I had already directed a documentary, Simon and Garfunkel: Songs of America in 1969.
You probably are asked most about Midnight Run or the Beethoven films, right?
That’s right, depending on how old they are. …Midnight Run is probably the best film I’ve done. I liked it very much, and I got along just great with Robert De Niro, and the director was terrific—he let us improvise. It was a very happy experience. I remember it was the last day of shooting, and I was sitting in a café on a hill with De Niro, and he says, “Where you going after this?” And I said, “I’m going home to Manhattan, to my wife and son.” And I said, “Where are you going?” And he said, “I’m going to Tonga. You can’t come all the way to New Zealand and not see Tonga!” That’s the difference between Robert De Niro and me: I can come all the way to New Zealand and not see Tonga.
What do you like most about Fairfield County, where you live?
You don’t have to walk down the street sideways. …And compared to Manhattan, when you’re driving your car, it’s just a much easier place to be. The only negative for me is that just about all of my friends live in Manhattan or Los Angeles.
You’ve cultivated something of a cantankerous persona, whether appearing on talk shows, or even hosting your CNBC show, Grodin.
I was definitely doing it contrarian. On my first appearance with Johnny Carson, I decided right away to do something different. When he asked me if my family had seen The Heartbreak Kid, I said, “They’re waiting until it comes to the neighborhood theaters.” One time I came on Letterman, and I threatened to bring out my attorney. …Unfortunately, many people didn’t know I was kidding.
Buy your tickets to see Charles Grodin at the Ridgefield Playhouse
April 21, 7:30 p.m.
For more information, call (203) 438-5795 or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org