Not quite grumpy old men–Morgan, Michael and Alan
First of two parts
LOS ANGELES—When you spend a morning talking to Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin—all Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning veterans—in separate but consecutive interviews, the hours and bon mots fly fast. Morgan, the voice of God, is turning 80 in June. Michael and Alan, both born in March, just turned 84 and 83, respectively.
The three not-quite grumpy (au contraire, they’re all charming) men star with Ann-Margret in “Going In Style,” a Zach Braff-helmed comedy where the three octogenarians attempt to rob a bank.
There’s an easy camaraderie among these gents, having known each other for a long time. Morgan said, “I have known these two guys for years. As a matter of fact, Michael and I have made six movies together—this is No. 6. I’m a big fan of Alan’s work, mindset and attitude. And he has a very lovely wife (Suzanne Newlander).”
Excerpts from our fun chats:
You have a big birthday coming up. What presents would you like to get? And how will you celebrate your special milestone? No presents. Well, the biggest present would be silence, quiet. I have two lady friends—one is my business partner, and the other is my life partner. One is in Mississippi (where Morgan lives), and the other is in California. And my daughters—they’re all making big plans (laughs).
Are you looking forward to it? No (laughs).
In the film, your character was given a watch with his granddaughter’s photo. What is the most precious gift that you ever got? My kids.
Your characters do a daring act at this late stage in their lives. Are there still some things that you dream of doing, not necessarily rob a bank? No. All of the daring things that I dreamed of doing, I have done. Now it’s time to sit down and shut up (laughs).
Now that you are successful, what’s your relationship with money? I read this somewhere, but it’s very germane to me. I have tried both [rich and poor]. Having money is better (laughs). I have been poor. I mean, poor. Money works miracles.
What inspired you to become an actor? It sounds a little blasé, or maybe that’s not the word. But I was born and not well-suited for anything else. On my first time onstage, I was 8. There wasn’t anything I had to learn. Just the words.
So you instantly felt comfortable on the stage? Very. I always said I felt that I had power when I walked onstage.
As kids, we sometimes try to see what we can steal, and we usually get caught. When you were a kid, what did you try to steal? I always got caught (laughs). That’s why I am a good person today. As a youngster, I learned two things that I could not do successfully—lie and steal.
What are the pros and cons of fame? The pro of fame is you get work. The con is that you have no privacy. So you pretty much become a hermit, which is what I am. My hermitage is in Mississippi.
Has your attitude toward fame changed through the years? Fame is a good thing. I want it; you need it. To be an actor, you need the fame to continue working. You can be an actor and be a complete nonentity, but you won’t work a lot.
Was that supermarket chase scene fun to shoot? It was. Everything but riding in the grocery cart. They did whatever they could to make it comfortable, but at this stage [in my life], I’m not that flexible.
Are you afraid of getting old and of death? Too late (laughs)! I’m not afraid of death. If you’re afraid of death, you will not attempt a lot of things in life. I have attempted them all, except climbing mountains. I won’t do that. I just don’t understand that at all (laughs).
How do you want your eulogy to go? Eulogy? No, I decided, I told my girlfriend, that I knew what the epitaph on my gravestone should read: “Roadkill” (laughs).
As for eulogy, people who come are going to pretend that they loved you all your life and say how great you were and about when you did this and that. I don’t even want to be there. As a matter of fact, I don’t plan to be there (laughs).
(To be concluded tomorrow.)
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