truly experiential, you know? He could see that they were gripped by something
that involved them, whether it was partly personal or partly imaginative, it really
doesn't matter. As long as it's something that stirs the actor, truly stirs
the actor, you know? Where their heart is beating faster, where they're sweating,
where they're crying, where they're laughing, where they're blushing. Those are
the things you want to get to. You know?
B: That was a long winded answer.
H: That's a great answer. When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?
B: I think I always wanted to be an actor, because everybody in my family
was very interested in acting, and I was very fortunate to come from New York,
where there was a lot of theatre and a lot of movies around. Both my grandmothers
were pretty theatrical people, and my mother was also a storyteller. There was
a lot of interest in the theatre. At that time, theatre in New York was very strong,
and middle class families like my own were regular theatre goers.
H: So you had support from your family... emotional support I'm
B: Certainly I think so, in that way. And in the negative sense I didn't
have much else I knew how to do. I was interested in entertaining. I wouldn't
say just acting, until a little later. But entertaining. Being a singer, and a
dancer, and I won talent shows. And then, when I started seeing people like Montgomery
Clift and Marlon Brando, I started to, uh... and John Garfield was my first hero.
When I first saw those people, I was very taken back by the fact that they were
speaking in ways that were very familiar to me. They were not removed in a Hollywoodish
way, but in a very real way. You know?
H: I had similar experiences. When I watched Marlon Brando in Julius
Ceasar, that was the first time I understood that speech ['Friends, Romans
B: Sure. So, yeah. I was very taken back by the neo-realist movies that
came out of Italy after the war. By Fellini and Rosellini. There's a certain reality.
A street reality. And then Kazan came along too. And he had that certain kind
of reality too. And the way he used actors.
H: Were you involved directly with him at Lincoln Center?
B: Yeah. Right. I first met Kazan when he was doing a movie called America,
America and he interviewed me for it. And then about a year later, I auditioned
for Lincoln Center, and I got into that company. I was one of about twenty younger
actors that he took into that company, and I trained with him for a year. Along
with Bobby Lewis. And then I did After The Fall with him, and I did The
Changeling with him, and I played the lead in that play. And I also understudied
in another play called For Whom Charlie which he directed. So I had a nice,
you know, a very strong relationship with Kazan, who was a huge hero.
H: Which piece did you use to audition?
B: I used Hotspur. I used the speech where he decides to go against
the king. I came out with a butterknife. I didn't have a sword, so I put a butterknife
there. And got into the company. And we trained for a year, and at the end of
that year, they decided who they would take into the company. They took me, and
Faye Dunaway, Salome Jens, and... I can't remember them all now. But it was a
wonderful group of actors. And I was one of the ones who got a really big chance
to do a really big role with him the following year.
H: At this point, were you already in the Actors Studio?
B: No. I got into the Actors Studio after I did The Changeling.
Lee [Strasberg] came down to see The Changeling and he asked in the Studio
who the actor was who played the part that I was playing. And an actor at the
Studio called me and said 'Barry, Lee was asking about you at the Studio. This
would be a good time to get in.' I had auditioned for the Studio when I was seventeen
with George Segal, the film actor. But I was told to come back when I was older.
This was much older. So I went down to the Studio and I got in as an observer
and the very first audition I did, I screwed up... because, uh, with a guy named
Bobby Walden. I did A Long Day's Journey... and I came in arranged my furniture
for the first five minutes and I had about thirty seconds to act in. They give
you five minutes. And then Shelley [Winters] says to me, 'Barry, don't ever do
that again. We passed you, but don't do that again. You're gonna blow it for yourself.'
H: But you did pass?
did pass. I passed the first audition.
have been a great thirty seconds.
it was a good thirty seconds, but the next time I came in I just went and did
the scene. I remember sitting in the corner, and I said to the actor playing with
me, 'Let me know when we're next, and I'll come down from the bar.' I was playing
Jamie and I was supposed to be a little drunk. I'll have a beer up there and then
I'll come down from the bar, instead of sitting there and getting all tense. And
I'll just go right on the stage. And that's what I did. I sat at the bar and Bobby
said, 'It's comin' up.', and then I came down and I went straight up the stairs
and into the room and did the scene.
by the bar, do you mean an imaginary...?
bar on the corner.
You were really in a bar?
Really in a bar. Having a beer, you know. And waiting. It was a good atmosphere,
you know, because the guy was supposed to be coming from a bar. I wasn't drunk.
But just being in a bar, and I think I was nursing a little beer.
little 'preparation' there.
I wouldn't drink and then act. It would be too much... I mean... you need control.
You need yourself all together to act, you know? You've gotta act the drunkedness.
Maybe in a film, if you have one little scene, I've tried that. I think in The
River, that Mark Rydell did, we had a scene where we had to be drunk, this
short scene. And I think I drank all during the scene, and by the last take I
was pretty... you know... but that's a film scene with just a couple of lines,
without any movement, you know.