One-On-One with Garry Marshall Part II
Creator, writer and producer of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy; director of Overboard, Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries and New Year’s Eve, are just some credits among GARRY MARSHALL’s incredible body of work. A gratified alum of Northwestern (his sister Ronny and all three of his children also graduated from the University), he vowed years ago, “When I made a dollar I figured I better give something back.” So he financed the Barbara and Garry Marshall Studio Wing along with the Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center, named after his mother, a former dance teacher.
In 1996, his beloved Falcon Theatre broke ground, opened the following year and has been incredibly successful ever since! The 130-seat intimate theatre, located in the heart of Toluca Lake, is in the midst of its 2013-2014 five-play season. Thousands have enjoyed live performances throughout the years along with convenient local dining and free parking! For more information on upcoming shows and subscriptions to the Falcon Theatre visit FalconTheatre.com and read Marshall’s Part Two interview for The Tolucan Times right here:
Which do you prefer: directing, writing or producing?
Writing by far, because that is who I really am … People rarely say, “Let’s get Garry to direct a picture; he’ll make shots through the window and from a helicopter.” They say, “Get Garry to fix the script.” And I do.
Are you still in touch with Ron Howard (of Happy Days)?
Yes, we have a pact, Henry [Winkler], Ron and I. We get honored because people think we can fill tables so we give each other plaques! Ron gave me Italian of the Year … We love each other; I’m even going to use Ron’s daughter Bryce [in a project]!
One of your classic comedy films is Overboard…
I was waiting to do Beaches and it got pushed back so I did Overboard. I knew Goldie [Hawn] from the old days and it was her picture; she hired me! That was one of my all-time favorites and it was not a hit, but it runs forever! The only place it was a hit was Perth, Australia – why I have no idea! It was marketed as something for sophisticated adults, but it was for kids! It was funny, had heart and was done well.
What was your proudest professional moment?
My son teaches at New York’s Film Academy and was sent to Russia to teach directing. The only picture they knew well was Pretty Woman! It’s nice to still be around and have stuff known you did years ago. Another was [on the set of] New Year’s Eve when my wife was in it one day – she’s a nurse. She never bothers me, but in the middle of getting ready to do a scene she asked if she could talk to me for a second and I thought it was something about the kids. She wanted to ask me about the scene and I told her I didn’t have time. She was worried because there were four people in her scene and the three others all had Oscars! (Laughs) They were Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro and Halle Berry so I told her that means they’ll do a good job! She was a little nervous, but she was fine. We’ve been together 50 years now!
Ron Howard usually casts his brother Clint in his films, why do you always cast your friend Hector Elizondo?
Hector is a good luck charm for me. We’re both from New York, play drums, basketball and softball. To this day we still play, in the Senior Softball League. It’s good to have someone from New York with me and he’s a great help because as a respected actor he can talk to the other actors if they’re in trouble or he’ll tell me who’s upset! And then I fix it. It is very comforting; he always does well for me.
You also seem to have a special fondness for Julia Roberts.
She has a great heart and she’s quite a good mother. I talk to her still; she came in and did Valentine’s Day.
So whose idea was it for her to say, “Big mistake … big … Huge!” (a line made famous by her character in Pretty Woman) in Valentine’s Day?
The crew was waiting for something and I said, “Julia, come on, one for the crew!” so she did it! I honestly didn’t think anybody was going to get it, but when we put it in there were screams from the audience! They still know all the dialogue from Pretty Woman. It was a surprise.
What made you establish the Falcon Theatre here in Toluca Lake?
I co-wrote a play called The Roast for Broadway a while back and it lasted three nights. It only really lasted one night, but you gotta stay three or you get no insurance. It closed and Cats came in and ran 18 years. Mine was not such a success, I might add! (Laughs) Later in life I’m wondering what to do with myself after 12 years of TV and movies … and one of those life-moments happened when I was staying at a hotel in New York: I’m allergic to everything so I take pills and I couldn’t find them, I looked under the bed, but instead I find these (shows me the bottle)… It was empty, but I took it as a sign from above. I am superstitious. Look at what I pulled out from under the bed… (Has me read the bottle label out loud: “Take one at bedtime as needed for sleep. Tennessee Williams. 1981. Valium.”) I don’t take Valium by the way, but he did! There were also a couple of strange bow ties in one of the drawers in that room. It was the Elysee in New York on Madison Avenue; he died at that hotel. So I said someday I’ll build my own theatre. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my daughter, Kathleen who supervises. We built [the theatre] from scratch and we’re in our 13th year! We started out with 20 subscribers; now we have almost 1,500!
Tell me about this season’s line up at the Falcon.
We run a house of comedy with five-show seasons and they’re all hits! Our first one, Twilight Zone Unscripted did improvs; the audience told them what to do with a few key words and they did it! [Now playing] The Mystery of Irma Vep is a mystery-comedy. The Troubadour Theater Company, a great comedy troupe directed by Matt Walker, has been with us for 10 years. Matt is a genius! His show Walkin’ in a Winter One-Hit Wonderland is coming for Christmastime. Everybody comes to the Falcon at Christmas! Then we have Bunny Bunny about [the late] Gilda Radner and The Last Act of Lilka Kadison from Chicago’s Looking Glass Theatre. And the Falcon has free parking — nobody else has that and we do!
What made you write your memoir My Happy Days in Hollywood?
It’s about making my pictures and written with my daughter, Lori who is very good. I’m very comfortable working with stars because I’m not afraid of anybody; I’m from the Bronx and I love actors! I also feel very strongly that one has to take adversity … a couple years ago I got throat cancer, was in the hospital, they fixed it then I had repercussions from radiation so I was sick again. Now I’m feeling fine and working away! I shot New Year’s Eve while I was sick from the radiation, but I got through it. I have a very good crew of people!
What are your upcoming projects?
I have a father-son movie that takes place in senior softball, one of my favorite subjects. I’ve got another one I hope to do with Bette Midler. I must say I like TV again so I’ve been creating shows and of course I love theater!
For ticket information for the Falcon Theatre, call or visit FalconTheatre.com.