Billy Crystal: Bette Milder and I are like a pair of old shoes
Wednesday 5 Jun 2013 6:00 am
How would you sum up your character in the film Parental Guidance? Artieâ€™s a baseball announcer but in the minor leagues. Heâ€™s done it for 35 years and moved his family around to pursue his dream. Then he gets fired. Heâ€™s set in his ways but inside is a grandfather waiting to come out. Iâ€™d say heâ€™s funny and irascible but willing to change.
Have you ever had the same dilemma, finding yourself out of work? Every time they say: â€˜Thatâ€™s a wrapâ€™ on whatever project, youâ€™re out of work â€“ but nothing with the finality of what Artie is facing. At that age, itâ€™s likely he wonâ€™t get another chance. As an actor, you get to a certain age and the way the movie business is, they think only kids go to see movies. But then with the success of adult-themed movies, like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, you wonder why they donâ€™t make more of them.
You have a great rapport with Bette Midler. How was working with her? It took so long for us to work together but it was well worth the wait. Weâ€™ve known each other for thirtysomething years and when the time came to make the movie I looked at [director] Andy Fickman and we both went: â€˜What about Bette? She seems perfect.â€™ And we fell into a rapport. It felt very natural. We were like a pair of old shoes.
You also get to sing togetherâ€¦ That happened by accident. We were in an old train station in Atlanta, Georgia. There were all these tiles and it had a great echo. It was cold and we were entertaining the little ones, who were getting a little bored, so we started singing old rockâ€™nâ€™roll songs. And I said to her: â€˜Why donâ€™t we sing in the movie?â€™
Are you on Facebook or Twitter? I tweet a little bit but Iâ€™m not on Facebook. I have friends like Steve Martin and Albert Brooks who are great tweeters but itâ€™s too much pressure for me. Tweets have to be funny when youâ€™re in the public eye as a funny person.