Ten years ago this month Richard Dreyfuss stood at the absolute pinnacle ofthe Hollywood heap. At the age of3() he had become one of the youngest Oscar winners for his performance in The Goodbye Girl and the receipt of the statuette was just the icing on a fairytale-cake of a career that already included three of the biggest popular hits of the decade ; Jaws, American Graffiti and Close Encounters ofthe Third Kind. A certain, inevitable period of anti-climax could then have been predicted but nothing compared to what actually happened.

After a couple of flop films. he began rejecting material that became gold in other actor‘s hands; All ThatJazz and Arthur brought Oscar nominations to the performers who stepped into his shoes. His own tour de force performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway? was critically

Madeleine Stone as Maria in Stakeout

undervalued and commercially disastrous. Then, there was an ominous absence and the received impression that he had pressed the self-destruct button on a once glowing career. The reason, as he now candidly explains, was his coming to terms with an existence of ‘stupidity, fear and good-old fashioned American hedonism.‘

In October of I982, Dreyfuss was involved in a spectacular 100mph car crash that led to his being charged with possession ofcocaine. The fact

For actor Richard Dreyfuss life really did begin at forty. As his new film Stakeoat reaches Scotland, he tells Allan Hunter how nearly dying made him give up drugs and start living.

that he had not died or been responsible for anyone else‘s death allowed him a second chance to appraise his lifestyle. ‘I was doing two grammes ofcocaine. twenty Percadon pills and about two quarts of alcohol a day. The only difference between John Belushi and me is that he‘s dead and I‘m not,’ he states with a blunt honesty that borders on the confessional. ‘The night I had this

Older and wiser

accident I was trapped, pinned beneath my car for about fifteen minutes before anyone got to me and I didn‘t know whether I had broken my spine or anything but I knew that l was in deep trouble and that I was going to be arrested and that I would have to go through some kind ofa public gauntlet. I lay there long enough to know that finally. whatever I had been doing had caught up with me because it had never occurred to me before, and I had been a pretty devout drug taker. that there were any consequences to my actions.‘

Assisted by a ‘group ofvery

Mellow charm

supportive people'. Dreyfuss was able to conquer his drug dependency. In the spring of 1983 he married Jeramie Rain, a television producer, and is now a proud father of two. Last October was his fortieth birthday and he‘s not ashamed to concur with the cliche that life has begun. Older and wiser, he has lost much of the ebullient cockiness that was the trademark of his youth. Displaying a mellow charm and unimpaired wit he is an open and astute conversationalist willing to discuss any aspect of his rollercoaster life,

He considers himselfextremely fortunate to have resumed his film career with such consistent success; five hit films over the past two years is a remarkable record by anyone‘s standards but a particularly heartening one for a man who was




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practically written off as a burnt out star. ‘There was a very generous attitude among people when they

Personal charisma

saw Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Critics and so on were saying, ‘Oh, gee, look who‘s here again'. I was real lucky, I did three hits in a row. This has been a great year, I think almost a unique year.‘ Following his roles in Stand By Me and Tin Men, Dreyfuss can currently be seen in

two contrasting releases that

highlight his versatility. In NUTS he is overworked lawyer Aaron Levinsky, defending obstreperous client Barbra Streisand. in Stakeout he is brash, sexy cop Chris Lecce enjoying a fatal attraction to the woman that he is supposed to be discreetly observing. The former is a diligent, self-effacing character performance, the latter a juicy leading role that relies heavily on his personal charisma. ‘They were completely different work experiences,‘ he confirms. ‘I finished work on NUTS on one of the last

6The List 4- 17 March 1988