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MATTHEW BRODERICK IS WORKING HARD And Donít You Forget it!
Interview by Avery Cardoza
 
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Ferris Bueller has grown up and is working hard on his career, thank you very much. So get over it. Okay, we got that out of the way and weíll withhold the standard jokes that Broderick must hear ad nauseum when he interacts with fans in public places. (Although, like many of his fans often do, it is tempting to throw a random line out there.)
Not that Matthew Broderick hates the attention, but he doesnít always love it either. As we sat for the interview off-hours in a quiet downtown restaurant, he spied a woman taking a picture of him with her cell phone. This rubbed him the wrong way, causing him to get up and confront the amateur photographer. The incident sparked a classic monologue when he sat back down to continue our discussion.
ďYou know, if someone starts to take a picture, itís fine, but it will keep happening. So Iíll sometimes say, ĎYou got it already?í I think itís some primitive thing, where the woman is pretending not to take the picture, but I donít like that she thinks I donít know she did it, so I have to say something in order to show that I was not fooled. And then you can take the picture if you want. But I like to show that I caught you. I try not to obsess over it, because I could become a crazy person.Ē
Amid flickering glances over my shoulder in the direction of any possible future wayward lenses surreptitiously aimed at our table, we proceeded to discuss what fires up Broderickís emotions (besides the sneaky phones). Of course, remaining anonymous, or at the least, unbothered, is a challenge when youíre a movie star. In public, there is no day off (I couldnít resist, I triedóforgive me, Matthew), especially when youíre accompanied by someone perhaps even more famous than yourself. Just in case Broderick fears not to be recognized (which would be an even greater calamity for a star than bothersome intrusions by fans), he got that problem under control when he married Sarah Jessica Parker, the star of the hit TV show Sex and the City.
Broderick, whose eponymous role in that 1986 comedy classic Ferris Buellerís Day Offóa film heís constantly identified with despite his many other successesóhas had a tremendous career. He has thrilled both big-screen and live-theater audiences in a long list of memorable appearances. On the stage, his stellar performances in Brighton Beach Memoirs and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying earned him Tony Awards, while Biloxi Blues, The Odd Couple, and most recently, the blockbuster hit The Producers, have also packed Broadway theaters and brought him critical acclaim.
In addition to Ferris Bueller, Broderick has starred in critically and commercially successful movies such as War Games, Election, Glory and the animated blockbuster The Lion King, taking on the memorable voice of the adult Simba.

Broderickís latest work appears in Bee Movie, the new animated movie written and directed by Jerry Seinfeld. The star-studded cast of this feature includes Seinfeld, who plays the main character, Barry B. Benson, Broderick, who plays Bensonís best friend, Adam, as well as Renťe Zellweger, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Patrick Warburton and Kathy Bates.
Whether heís on the big screen, live in a theater, or sitting across from you at a table in a restaurant, you can count on Broderick to be entertaining. Hereís what he had to sayÖ

PLAYER: How did you get the role in your new film, Bee Movie?

MB: I became friends with Jerry SeinfeldóI donít remember how that happened. His wife did something with my wife, and we had a couple of dinners.

PLAYER: Was he funny in person?

MB: Yes, very, very funny. So I got to know him a little bit, and he talked about the movie. And a year later or so, he said he saw me in a Letterman appearance and thought, ďThatís the guy.Ē

PLAYER: What was it like doing an animated feature?

MB: Animated movies take a lot of time. They draw a little, you record a little, and they draw a little more. You go back and forth. I didnít even know until the end what my character looked like. I had seen drawings of my character but it was without movement.

PLAYER: So, there wasnít really a finished script before they started recording?

MB: There was a script, but they kept rewriting it. Weíve been recording Bees for about two years and itís only just now finished.

PLAYER: Thatís a long time.

MB: Yeah, it sure was. But it was really fun. It was a nice job.

PLAYER: Did you interact with the other actors or were you secluded in a recording booth?

MB: I had a lot of interaction because it was Jerry and I in most of our scenes. He played the main bee. We would have two microphones, be in a room, and just go through stuff. He was also directing it, so he was there all of the time.

PLAYER: What was it like working with Seinfeld?

MB: Heís such a nice audience. He laughs hard and always made me feel good.

PLAYER: Is that typical for comedians youíve worked with?

MB: Some comedians donít laugh with you too much. I can hear them take it in if you make a joke, but they donít usually let anything out. But he does. I guess because he was directing it too, so it was important that he looked happyóotherwise you feel like youíre doing a bad job.

PLAYER: Are you happy itís finished?

MB: Iíd be happy to keep doing it, but yeah, Iím glad itís done. I still havenít really seen it. Iím curious to see the final version.

PLAYER: Is it typical for you not to see a movie youíre in until itís released?

MB: Yeah, particularly with animated films because there isnít anything to see. All I saw was a version that was 75 percent line drawings.

PLAYER: Before you see the actual release of a film youíve acted in, do you know if itís good or bad?

MB: Itís very hard to tell. I usually canít even tell when I see it! Iím not sure Iím the best judge until some time has passed.

PLAYER: Too emotional?

MB: Yeah. Iím too self-conscious about watching myself. I donít really enjoy it.

PLAYER: Is it strange seeing yourself on the big screen?

MB: Itís very disturbing, but I think you get used to it. There are a lot of actors who look at dailies or watch between takes. I donít do that. I canít really go watch my performance and adjust it. I have a vision in my head, and hopefully some spontaneity with the other actors and whateverís happening. I donít want to step out of that.

PLAYER: What else are you involved in?

MB: I did a bunch of little movies, one with Helen Hunt and Bette Midler called Then She Found Me. So that will be coming out. And I did this little movie, Diminished Capacity, with Alan Alda.

PLAYER: Why do you do small budget films?

MB: You know, Helen is an old friend of mine and a lot of times good scripts are smaller movies. She directed it too, so I was very thrilled that she asked me to be in it.

PLAYER: Youíve performed in many plays. Itís unusual for a successful Hollywood actor to do as much live theatre as you do.

MB: I always thought of myself as a screen actor and a live one as well. I did both right from the beginning. I went through a period where I didnít do a play for about five or six years, but thatís the longest Iíve ever gone.

PLAYER: Is it just a matter of what comes your wayómovie or play?

MB: Itís sort of whatever comes thatís the best. When Iíve done a bunch of movies I start to miss the theatre, but I have the same problem the other way. Like, if I do a lot of plays I get sick of that too. It becomes repetitive. Iím about to do a little movie now and after that Iím going to do a play that my friend Kenny Lonergan wrote. That will be my first one in a year.

PLAYER: What type of time commitment is a play?

MB: It depends. In this case, rehearsal is for four weeks, preview for three or four weeks, and then it runs for three months. But The Producers was six weeks of rehearsal, a month in Chicago, at least a month of previews in New York, and then a solid year in New York.

PLAYER: Why did you stop The Producers? Did you just not want to do it anymore?

MB: By the time my contract ran out, I was definitely ready for a break.

PLAYER: But they wanted you to stay?

MB: I think they did.


PLAYER: It canít be easy to replace a star in a play.

MB: In most plays they can, but The Producers was very associated with Nathan Lane and me so they had a little problem. They made some mistakes and it didnít always work as well after we left.

PLAYER: What do you consider your greatest role? Or would you say you havenít played it yet?

MB: Well, you know, I like to think thereís always something great coming up. I certainly liked War Games; and of course, my role in Ferris Bueller. Iím also proud of Election and Glory. Itís hard for me to choose.

PLAYER: Was Ferris Buellerís Day Off the movie that really got Hollywoodís attention?

MB: Yeah, but War Games helped as well.

PLAYER: Is there a role that youíd say, ďThis is my defining role?Ē Or do you think that part hasnít arrived?

MB: I think I havenít quite gotten there yet. I would have trouble saying that. You know, maybe on stage I could feel that a little more. Like Brighton Beach Memoirs that Neil Simon wrote, that felt fully realized.

PLAYER: Youíve tended to play a lot of nice-guy roles. However, what would be your ideal role if you could play anything? Would you play a tough guy? Or a guy down on his luck?

MB: Well, you get sick of playing nice people sometimes. Itís good to play roles that have some anger in them. But itís also hard because you donít want to stretch so far that itís not good for the play or movie. I did a play where my character cut someoneís head off and kept it in a hat box under my bed. It was fun to play someone like that. The Producers was great because the guy I played was kind of crazy. I get sick of roles where the people are just nice. A lot of times in the lead roles, things happen and you just have to react. I like that too.

PLAYER: So youíd really like to get into a role where you can show a different side than youíve been playing so far?

MB: Definitely. I think everyone wants that.

PLAYER: Have you turned down a role because you felt it might typecast you?

MB: I have, particularly early on in my career. There were a lot of teen comedies that came out after Ferris Bueller that I stayed away from.

PLAYER: That definitely would have put you in a certain box.

MB: Itís very hard to predict what will happen, but I try to be associated with some kind of quality. Some things donít work, but I at least try to work with great people when I have the chance.

PLAYER: Letís say you have a script with a bad director attached to it, or even a bad script with a great director. How do you weigh that out?

MB: Or you have a bad director and a bad script and it works out great. Truthfully, I think it comes from the script, but the people involved matter as well. Very often Iíve read something and thought, ďWell, this part isnít that great,Ē or ďI donít really want to do this,Ē but so and so is writing it, and this woman is in it, and this guyís in it and I think I want to be part of that group, you know?

PLAYER: Have you ever worked with a director you didnít like?

MB: Absolutely. Itís unusual, but it happens.

PLAYER: How do you deal with it?

MB: Well, you do your best. I try to trust myself, but if youíre in an uproar with a director, thereís not much you can do. In a film, I really try to serve the director, because I can win an argument on the set, but Iíll lose it in the editing room.

PLAYER: How about life as a celebrity? I can see youíre clearly uncomfortable getting too much attention. And your wife is a celebrity as well. When you go out, do you both get mobbed? Do you sometimes hide and she gets the attention?

MB: She gets the attention mostly, so I can hide very easily when Iím with her.

PLAYER: So you like that?

MB: Yeah, but I donít like her getting bothered. You know, Iíve been a celebrity, or whatever I am, for a very long time, so Iím very used to it. Most people are very friendly and I like it.

PLAYER: You canít escape it in public.

MB: Sometimes when youíre having a romantic time or discussing something serious or important, someone will interrupt and tell her how great her show is. If they tell me how great I am itís not as bad! Itís what we all want. Thatís the thing. I desperately want it, and Iím annoyed by it. Itís like a battle. But I have to admit I get a lot of advantages out of it. I can get tickets to things any time and people are very friendly to me. I hate celebrities who whine about being famous. I just think itís revolting.

PLAYER: Any stories where some fan got so intrusive that it got under your skin?

MB: I had a guy on a subwayóthis is minor but it always made me laughóand he said, ďDid anyone ever tell you that you look like Matthew Broderick? I mean, you look exactly like him.Ē And I said, ďYeah, Iíve heard that before.Ē And he said, ďYou even sound like him.Ē

PLAYER: He was serious?

MB: Yeah, but it never occurred to him that I was him.

PLAYER: Thatís pretty funny.

MB: At baseball games, a lot of people have said to me, ďIs this your day off?Ē Iím amazed that they think Iíve never heard that before.

PLAYER: Ferris Buellerís Day Off was a good flick.

MB: Yeah, Iím very happy about itóbut you can tell your readers, Iíve heard that joke.

PLAYER: If a month goes by and youíre not involved in a project, do you get itchy or start doubting yourself?

MB: I can go more than a month, but at a certain point I get nervous. I have no faith in any of this process. But at the same time, once you have a kid itís a little different. I love having time with him. Iíve had three months off and itís been great to spend a real summer with him.

PLAYER: How old is he?

MB: Heís almost five.

PLAYER: I read that your wife said having a child allowed you guys to have a renewed lease on marriage.

MB: I donít know about thatówell, I guess it did. I think itís hard to be a couple endlessly and not have a kid because you need something to focus on.

PLAYER: Or you need the woman to focus on something else, otherwise sheíll rag your ass.

MB: Yeah. Sheíll follow you and say, ďPick that up and pick that up.Ē But that still happens, even after you have a kid.

PLAYER: Her attention is diverted from you, though.

MB: Yes, sheíll tell him what to do for a while.

PLAYER: Any big actor influences?

MB: When I was a kid I liked Chaplin. Buster Keaton was a big influence. Also Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. And I loved Peter OíToole and Marlon Brando. You canít call them influencesóthat sounds laughableóbut theyíre actors that I loved.

PLAYER: Do you pick up anything professionally from watching movies?

MB: I think it can be inspiring, although I donít think I know how they did it or how to do it. But at least it gives me a good feeling that itís possible to do it well.

PLAYER: Have you ever been embarrassed by any film youíve made?

MB: Yes, I have.


PLAYER: Anything you want to mention?

MB: I donít want to dwell on that.

PLAYER: Nothing?

MB: Not really. I donít want to hurt anyoneís feelings, including my own.

PLAYER: What do you like about plays?

MB: Well, the live aspect of it all. Things happen in the order they happen and you can tell what the audience is feelingóor you think you canóand you can adjust. If theyíre restless, you can speed up or slow down. You can tell how a joke is going by how people respond. If itís going well you might stretch it out a bit and add a few lines, you know, do your long version of the joke.

PLAYER: And in the movies, you canít really adjust like that.

MB: Well, thatís it. Itís hard when you donít have an audience to know when itís one too many. However, with movies I try to forget about that. I donít think too much about continuity. I just try to do what feels good for that scene because I donít know where that scene will end up.

PLAYER: They can get creative with how they cut it.

MB: They often do.

PLAYER: Any recent movies that caught your attention?

MB: I like The 40-Year-Old Virgin a lot. That was really funny. My old assistant Michael Arndt wrote Little Miss Sunshine so I enjoyed watching that. I watch a lot of sports and reality TV. I donít watch movies that much.

PLAYER: Why is that?

MB: I donít know. Going to the movies is always a challenge. Like, am I going to be jealous or annoyed? Itís a little bit of my work, in a way. Itís not necessarily relaxation.

PLAYER: So you very specifically watch sports and reality TV showsóand not movies.

MB: Oh, I hate sports right now. It makes me so miserableóitís too heartbreaking.

PLAYER: I hear youíre a big Mets fan.

MB: Yeahóthatís been a catastrophe in the making right now. They were about to blow a seven game lead a few days ago. I was in such an incredible rage last night for hours.

PLAYER: How about the game where they made six errors.

MB: I didnít see that one, thank God.

PLAYER: Has there ever been a role that you saw and said, ďThat should have been me?Ē

MB: I actively try not to think about show business that way because itís too painful. There are people who spend their lives saying, ďWhy arenít I up for that?Ē Or theyíre on the phone with their agent all of the time. I see it happen. I always wanted to be an actor and Iím very glad that I am one, but I try very hard not to live or die by it.

PLAYER: That is very difficult to do.

MB: It is difficult. And I donít know if I am explaining what I mean by that, but I try not to put all of my self-worth into how successful I currently am in movies or plays. It can really hurt your feelings and you can start to be someone who is a professional whiner, getting disappointed all of the time. I donít want that. Iíve done pretty well. I like what I do, so I try not to get too into ďWhy donít I have what so and so has?Ē It would be a miserable life. A director, Mike Nichols, gave me that advice a long time ago. He said, ďJealousy will eat you up. Itíll be your whole life. Donít do that with acting because youíll go crazy and thatís all youíll be.Ē

PLAYER: Do you have aspirations for directing or writing?

MB: I directed a little a long time ago and Iíd probably like to do that again some day as I get older. I donít seem to be a writer. I canít make myself writeóI donít know how you people do that.

PLAYER: You know, play off paranoia and these scenes. Go at it a little at a time, and you might come up with something thatís a lot of fun.

MB: Yeah, youíve witnessed my paranoia, thatís right.

PLAYER: You seem more reserved than extroverted, which is a bit of a contradiction in an actor.

MB: Thatís an irony, you know. Since I was a kid, Iíve always been a little shy in public. I didnít rush into class and say, ďHi, everybody.Ē I used to hide in the back. For a while, anyway. But because Iím an actor it seems I should be very comfortable with that stuff.



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