Q: Your longtime partner, Jessica Lange, has two Academy Awards, but when you were nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Right Stuff in 1984, you didnít attend the Oscars. Why is that?
A: It was too many people. Iíve never felt great in crowds, and certainly not when theyíre puttiní the spotlight on you like that. Iíve been to one Oscar thing, I think, with Jessie, when she was nominated forIím not quite sure what for now. I think it was where she played Patsy Cline. Iíve always felt uncomfortable in those situations.
Q: Your acting career was taking off at the time. Were you getting lots of offers?
A: Yeah. I turned a lot of stuff down. I still mainly considered myself a playwright at that point, and I just felt like, if I start doiní this stuff and become a quote-unquote movie star, itís really going to be difficult to have anybody take my writing seriously. So I kind of backed away from it.
Q: What did you turn down?
A: Oh, well, I guess the most notorious one was Lonesome Dove. And then the big Clint Eastwood Western, Unforgiven.
Q: You passed that up?
A: Yeah. Iím not even sure why, now. Then there was another one called Big that Tom Hanks did. And Warren Beattyís Reds. Stuff like that. But I couldnít see myself doiní it.
Q: Your agent mustíve wanted to kill you.
A: She did, yeah.
Q: When I mention your name to women, they actually moan. Are you aware of this reaction?
A: Ha! Thatís very flattering. No, the first thing is, if women do have that response, they always try to hide it. Thatís the last thing in the world theyíre going to reveal. I mean, I wouldnít mind if there was some revelation of it, but itís not the case. So you really donít get that much perk out of it.
Q: Youíre 64. Is writing harder now or easier?
A: Both. Once I get into it, thereís something more accessible about it now. But itís tougher to begin nowto really begin, and to really commit. I think you have more doubts about whatís valuable, I guess.
Q: Because particularly back in your early days you were spitting out a flurry of one-acts
A: Yeah, you didnít give a shit. Just go. Just go. The great New York poet Frank OíHara, he said you go on guts. Thatís what he said. You go on guts. Thatís what you feel like when youíre that age. But now itís like itís like you go on terror! Youíre terrified. Itís still guts, but itís a different deal.
Q: Whatís else has changed as youíve gotten older?
A: Well, I notice Iím a little slower getting up on a horse. Fishiní in a river, sometimes I get out of breath and Iím a little more tentative about getting into deep water. The physical limitationsyour balance isnít as strong as it used to be, you canít jump fences.