Q: I told my mom I was interviewing you, and the first thing she said was, “You know he tangos?”
A: Yeah, I dosocially. The older you get, the harder it is, but my wife, Luciana, has got me doing yoga, which helps. You can’t learn tangos in a class. The beginning and the end of the tango is a walkthey have this embrace, that embrace, but the walk can’t be taught.
Q: In your new film, Lucky You, you once again play a classic masculine character.
A: Well, I always try to find the contradiction, the vulnerability, in a guy. I was doing research on Lonesome Dove, about the Texas Rangers. On the border at one time there, their leader was shot downand, en masse, they just wept.
Q: But Kilgore in Apocalypse Now is recklessly confident.
A: But in the original version, I save a baby’s life and put him in a helicopter. Francis Ford Coppola cut that outit really pissed me off. They put it back for the Redux version. We got that story from a helicopter pilot over there who’d seen a guy save a baby. People have hobbies amidst these thingslike, my character surfed. They say that during the Six-Day War in Israel, they couldn’t find an officer, one of their head guys, when they wanted him. It turned out he was snorkeling.
Q: So part of being a man onscreen means showing some vulnerability. How does that translate to the way you live your life?
A: Well, a guy once told me, quoting a philosopherwho was it, Emerson?“Don’t be a farmer. Be a man on a farm.” You have to be a human being first, and whatever you do is secondary. There’s always that struggle to maintain your ideals. A lot of people say I’m a prick, but you have to fight for things.
Q: Coppola called you “ornery,” didn’t he?
A: Ornery, yeah. I liked to mess with him. We got into arguments. I said, “What’s a capitalist like you got a picture of Mao Tse-tung over your piano for?” And he’d just walk away. But he’s a talented man. I give him his credit, because I respect him. Some other people I work with, I don’t respectespecially when there’s treachery involved. This movie I did up in Canada, Broken Trail, was one of the greatest jobs I’ve ever done, and the most difficultbetween the studio, the director, and us it was a nightmare. They wanted to rewrite the whole script, and I wouldn’t let it happen. I said, “We will practice anarchy on a daily level until we get the script back to where it was, or until they come put me in jail.”
Q: So, basically, you just have ideas and aren’t going to compromise, and so some people think you’re ornery or hard to work with.
A: Yeah, exactly. That’s why I took it to these people. But I mean, you think I’m hard to work with, try working with Wilford Brimley!