Thursday, October 01, 2009

BeansTalk Interviews Legend Norman Lloyd

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Norman Lloyd on
Suspense and the Superfluous

TCM Suspense Special Begins Friday

by BeansTalk's Managing Editor

Let’s address the elephant in the room (or, at the very least, the first question everyone seems to ask when they realize Norman Lloyd has just been interviewed): the iconic legend, 95, has both a brilliant memory, and the ability to weave enthusiastic tales of his 70-year plus career as though he’s telling them for the first time.

Lloyd sat down with BeansTalk to discuss his role in TCM’s “A Night at the Movies” October documentary special, “The Suspenseful World of Thrillers.” As the star of two Alfred Hitchcock classics, “Saboteur,” and “Spellbound,” and the producer/director of TV’s “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” Lloyd’s more than sufficiently qualified.

The special Lloyd appears as part of October’s Friday night lineup of films that include “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Rear Window,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” “The Parallax View,” “The Boys from Brazil,” “Rebecca,” “Gaslight” and others.

TV fans may best know Lloyd, who also worked with Jean Renoir in “Southerner” and Charlie Chaplin in “Limelight,” for his role as Dr. Daniel Auschlander in the watershed television series “St. Elsewhere,” a role Lloyd cherishes. “[St. Elsewhere] was absolutely the highlight of my life. It remains and outstanding experience in career. It lasted six years, but could’ve gone on longer, but for whatever reason, it did not, unfortunately.”

The medical dramady, “was as high a level as anything I’ve ever done in pictures. I loved it.”

“No one touched the writing they did in that show. They were the first to go into so many subjects that had never been tackled before, AIDs, dialysis…it was incredible what they went into, and the humor! The black humor was fantastic. It was so good, not enough can be said about it. There were such good actors, too Denzel Washington, Ed Flanders, there was no better actor in America than Ed Flanders. Why it’s not playing in syndication right now, I don’t know. It’s very sad.”

Dozens of books have been written about Hitchcock, many citing his often challenging personality (he was supposedly dogmatic and fastidious; it is often noted the director “hated” actors), but Lloyd enjoyed a long and fruitful association.

“He appreciated what I did as an actor,” explains Lloyd, who first met Hitchcock in 1942, when he was hired to star in “Saboteur.” “I enjoyed him so much as a personality, his sense of humor and so forth. I really caught on to his point of view. I understood the way he said things and as a consequence of that, he trusted me to be fair, to work for him in the capacity of producer, and actor and he hired me again. We had a mutual understanding of what we wanted to do.”

Citing his work as a stage actor as the most “comfortable” part he’s ever had (choosing from film and tv acting, directing and producing), Lloyd becomes uncomfortable when asked about what he’s watching today. “I watch sports,” he concedes, “and movies, a lot of the old movies, the ones on TCM. I don’t know if that makes me old fashion. I don’t think I am, I think I’m cutting edge and avant guarde.”

(image above: Los Angeles Times)

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