Steve Guttenberg: The Luckiest Man in Hollywood
The house sits at the end of a cul-de-sac, no more than a quarter of a mile from the ocean. The front is thick with flowers (I told you, he does his own gardening), and the large Mediterranean-style house is gorgeous. Inside there are pictures of Guttenberg's parents and sisters and sisters' kids in every room. He lets me walk around and snoop. Then we sit out by the pool, while the dogs. Diva and Bucky, dive in, get out and slobber all over us.
"This place is not bad." I comment.
"I told you," he says, "I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
"Since I saw you the other day." I tell him, "I heard Jay Leno do a joke that had you as the punch line, and a friend called and read me an excerpt of a new book about the William Morris agency, which described you as the luckiest white man on earth."
"You know, I was thinking about this since I saw you. I'm different from other people. I'm very friendly. I believe in kindness, and I realty believe in good neighborliness. You know, the Talmud says that one of the greatest blessings in your life can be a good neighbor. There are people here in Los Angeles who live next to each other and have never met. So when I do a movie, and I'm on location with people for three or four months, I like to get to know them. You spend all this time together and you get intimate. And then, boom, the movie's over and you go back to your life. But with me, if I see them a year later, I'll say, 'Hey, how's your father? Did he have to have surgery?' And they look at me like I've got two heads. I don't want anything from them, I just want to share some happiness, to he a good person. I've got a theory. Right now, it's very hip to punch somebody out, it's very hip to trash a hotel suite, it's very hip to he very late. But one day, kindness and niceness will be very hip..."
"And you'll be way ahead of the curve," I say.
"Exactly. There are some people who act like I'm weird, and it hurts me very much. And others who really understand. Like Mickey Rourke, I miss Mickey still. I met him on Diner, and he became sort of a mentor to me. We were intimate, in that we told each other the truth about our lives at that point. He was like an acting coach to me. We went to Barry [Levinson] at one point and said we'd like to have a scene together. And Barry said, 'Sure." So he wrote the scene where Mickey and I are at the counter and he asks if I'm still a virgin and I say, 'Technically.' And that's the scene where he picks up the sugar bowl and pours the sugar in his mouth. He was trying to steal the scene, but I didn't mind. I love a guy who steals the scene, because as long as I'm on the team, you can steal any base you want. Because I know I'm getting my World Series ring, too. And a few months ago I ran into Mickey at a horse show..."
"What the hell was Mickey Rourke doing at a horse show?"
"I really don't know. I didn't ask. I was just so happy to see him. He's had some tough limes, and I'm still a big fan of his. He came over to see me, and he looked like hell and he was with some sort of bodyguard type. And I hadn't seen him in four years, and it was like no time had passed. I may be one of the only people in this town to think this, but I believe that he's gonna come back in a big way."
"You're right. You may be alone in thinking that. But I like that you're loyal. That counts for a lot."
For the record. Sieve Guttenberg recently made three new movies: The Big Green, a Disney film in the same vein as The Mighty Ducks; Home for the Holidays, a family comedy that Jodie Foster directed, in which he co-stars with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr.; and Me and My Shadow, a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper, co-starring Kirstie Alley. If his luck continues, one of these films will make enough money to pay off the national debt. And there will probably be a whole new crop of jokes about Steve Guttenberg. And he'll be as nice a guy as ever.
Martha Frankel Interviewed Rebecca De Mornay for the October Movieline.