Copyright © 1997. All Rights Reserved.
"My name is Richard... and I'm a talkaholic"
Drunks: yapping a bunch about drinking a bunch
Directed by Peter Cohn
Starring Richard Lewis, Parker Posey and Faye Dunaway
Friday, July 25 - 31
You may remember funny boy Richard Lewis from such roles as playing it all coy with Jamie Lee Curtis on TV's Anything But Love. Or comedy specials like I'm Doomed, in which Lewis waxes neurotic over Being A Jewish Guy Who Wears Too Much Black and The Family Who Nags Him. Perhaps you've seen him mumble and repeatedly touch his hair. This fall he's back with a new series (Hiller & Diller, with Eugene Levy and Kevin Nealon - after Home Improvement no less), and he's got a slew of movies under his belt that aren't Robin Hood: Men In Tights or Wagons East. (But he's got those, too.)
First out of the gate is Drunks, a made-for-cable drama that's doing the theatre rounds. It's a first-names-only affair, with Lewis starring as Jim, an angry youngish man addicted to booze, heroin and touching his own hair. The flick opens in a church basement Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Jim seems like he's got his act together, but hanging around a bunch of drunks bums him out, so he scrams to the liquor store. The movie then alternates between Jim's bender and the AA meeting as it rolls on without him. A big-name cast (Faye Dunaway, Dianne Wiest, Amanda Plummer) deliver alco-monologue after alco-monologue (not surprisingly, mono-man Spalding Gray pops up as Louis, the drunk who thinks he's stumbled into a choir practice), while Richard Lewis roams Times Square, bottle in hand.
As required by law, Parker Posey is also in Drunks, as Debbie, a young woman who dreams of being the Janis Joplin of the '90s. Here's an interviewing tip: when talking to Richard Lewis all you have to say is, "How the hell does Parker Posey end up in every single movie?" Then sit back and relax, while the man in black does the talking.
"In fact," he'll likely say, "Parker actually showed up in one of my old family movies which was taken 20 years before she was born. It was my bar mitzvah film and there she was! It was like that last shot in The Shining, where Nicholson shows up in that circa 1920 picture.
"But Parker really is a top-notch actress. In Drunks there are so many outstanding performances, but I never got to see them 'cuz my character bolts from the AA meeting and I, for what it's worth - when actors hear this stuff I always feel I can hear them laughing - but I did study method acting and Stanislavsky, so consequently I didn't want to sit around and watch everybody 'cuz my character wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. It's not so profound, it's not like, 'I gained a hundred pounds for the role,' but I left the church, and I went home..."
(Gotcha, Richard. Say, have you ever been to Jamie Lee's hou....)
"...So, to the point, and I don't think I've ever made a point come to think of it, I never saw Dianne Wiest and Faye Dunaway and Amanda and Parker in Drunks until I saw the first cut. It's like an all-star dysfunctional team. Batting third - Perc-o-dan, her-o-in: Di-anne Wiest...."
(I'm getting a sandwich - want anything while I'm up?)
"...Drunks is playing all over Europe and soon in Russia, which is an interesting place for it to play. You would think that the percentage of people who live alcoholically is pretty high there, so I figure it'll either be a smash or somebody's gonna torch the art house. I might win an Oscar or be assassinated. I'm joking; I might just meet a guy named Oscar who tells me where the good restaurants are...."
"...I've also got three or four other independent movies that will slowly but surely be coming out, and you can either ask me about them or not depending on whether you have to go to the john...."
(Shake, shake. Huh? Pardon?)
"...Hollywood doesn't know how to look at you when you're in a sitcom, you're doing stand-up, and then you play a junkie. It's like, 'Awww man, can't we pigeonhole ya? Give us a break.' Ironically, in a movie I just finished called Game Day, I play a basketball coach - I love basketball - and this guy is a pothead, for sure. He drinks heavily, but is a functioning alcoholic - without giving too much away, it's another look at that lifestyle. My character in Drunks struggles to stay sober and in Game Day it's a guy who doesn't want to straighten out. I was also in Leaving Las Vegas, so I hope I don't get stereotyped - 'It's about drugs, get Lewis!' There's a myriad of ways you can deal with alcohol and drug abuse - and I think I'd better play a circus clown fast or I'm in a lot of trouble. With my luck it'd be a clown and instead of a barrel, he'd be in a liquor bottle rolling around...."
(Shee-it! I wish I could ask a -)
"...and you ask far too many questions...."
(Lessee what's on TV? Oooooh, Hinterland Who's Who.)
"...I went to school in the '60s but I'd hardly call myself a druggie, I'm too much of a hypochondriac. I used to joke about smoking grass - I put a rear view mirror on my stationary bike. That's how paranoid I was...."
(Hmmm-mmm-mmm. Tell me whutcha want, whutcha rilly rilly want -)
"...It just dawned on me, I'd like to apologize, I haven't let you ask me one question, and that has a lot to do with why I'm in psychoanalysis. I try not to let anyone ask any questions because they might be my family...."
(I'll tellya whut I want, whut I rilly rilly want!)
"...I needed a hug for about 20 years, until I got out of the home-slash-mental health facility. It's true a house is not a home, but in my case it was a home, in the truest sense. Filled with loving people who didn't know what they were doing. If I was raised by wolves...."
(Man, I need a... glug glug glug glug. Thaaaaat's better.)
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