I wonder what they'll think. I'm sure, with my film with Larry David, there will be the predictable comments made about it. It'll either be, "Gee, Larry is doing Woody." Of course, he's not — he's got a highly distinctive personality. Or it will be, "Gee, I see Larry David on television all the time and he's so hilarious. I can't believe that anyone could make him unfunny." There will be a portion of people who will say, "I love Larry David on television and I loved him even more in the film." You know, I'm not a good judge of these things, so I could be wrong when I tell you this, but it doesn't seem to be my usual kind of film. But I don't know. In addition to Larry, who is full of insecurity and who's nothing but great, there are two wonderful performances in it by Patricia Clarkson and Evan Rachel Wood.
That's a riot.
How exactly did that come about?
Someone who married into my family, Mark Stern, is very involved with the Los Angeles Opera, and he's prevailed on me any number of times to please come and direct an opera, despite the fact that I tell him I don't know the first thing about it. I've never directed on the stage except for my own one-act plays. In addition, [Los Angeles Opera artistic director] Plácido Domingo and I have talked on and off over the last 20 years — he spoke to me years ago about doing La Bohème as a movie, and that never really materialized. Here, we talked about a few other operas, and I was very reluctant, because I don't want to disappoint everybody, which I'm sure I will. He said, "What if we do the Puccini trilogy — it's three one-acts that are always done together? The first two, Billy Friedkin will direct. You'll only be responsible for a one-act, a one-hour opera, and it's funny." You know, funny to opera people is not funny to the Marx Brothers. But I agreed to do it, because Mark Stern is a friend of mine and Plácido Domingo is someone who I have enormous respect for, and they both assured me I would be able to do it. And I said I would years ago, because these things are planned years in advance. I figured, "Eh, I'll be dead before it happens. I'm 72. I'm never going to make it to the opera." But it came around, and next Monday, I start rehearsal. I'll just do the best I can and then get out of town and let them tar and feather Friedkin.
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