Q: Is that right?
A: It’s like Richard HarrisI worked with him. Great storyteller. One time he was onstage, and he was drunk. And someone in the audience yells out, “He’s drunk, he’s stunk-up!” And he yells back, “You think I’m drunk, wait till O’Toole comes on!”
Q: Your dad was a retired Navy captain, and you’ve referred to him as a “gentleman.” Think it’s hard to find true gentlemen anymore?
A: Yeah. Maybe I’ve tended away from that way myself at times.
Q: How so?
A: In this business, you get into it with people. One thing I like about Argentina: They hold the door, they wait on you. You get a sense that it’s nice. Civil.
Q: You had mentioned they use the word elegant a lot over there, tooeven for men.
A: We don’t use that word so much here.
Q: That’s telling.
A: Yeah, I’ve seen some pretty raunchy guys that are elegant, though, so you can’t quite come up with a pattern. In Russia, you see people go to the opera in sneakers, jeans. They look like slobs but are cultured, interesting people. In Cuba and South America, they’ll iron their one suit, put it on, and go out and be social. It used to be with the tango, you’d always have to have a suit and tie. That sense of eleganceit’s nice.
Q: How come you never had kids?
A: I guess I’m shooting blanks.
Q: Did you ever try?
A: Shit, yeah. With a lot of different women, in and out of marriage. I thought of adoption, but we haven’t yet.
Q: Your wife is 40 years younger than you. Do your friends ever give you crap about that?
A: No. In fact, when I came back from Argentina 10 years ago with Luciana, I said, “Wilford, I’m getting static from people up here because I brought back a younger girl.” And he says, “Let me tell you something, my friend: The worst thing in the world for an old man is an old woman.” But when I met her father, he said, “I don’t know whether to call you ‘Father’ or ‘Son’!”
Q: Is the age difference ever difficult?
A: Well, even after we were intimate, one or two times she called me Señor.
Q: Not during intimacy, I hope.
A: Ha! No.
Q: I find as I get older, I become more afraid of things because I have a sense of what they can do to you. As you’ve gotten older, what’s become your biggest fear?
A: I think of the other side. The fear of not being able to keep your present-day health.
Q:Have you ever had a scare?
A: I was floating down the upper Ganges once in a raft, and I remember I just sensed death all around. I knew that this would be it. I slipped from the raft, and I grabbed the rope. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t grabbed it.