about the big time. 'I‘wenty years ago he was a struggling actor in New York. who did little Super-8 movies on the side. Giving us the whole rags-to-riches bit he‘s keen to talk about his earliest filmic endeavours. ‘I came home one night to my apartment in the Village. and when I open the door there's this huge cockroach staring at me. ready to attack. So I grab my little movie camera and my light and chase the sucker all over the place. Handheld camera till I catch the bastard in the bathtub and kill him. Hah!‘
‘The first date I had with my wife (actress Rhea Perlman. now in Cheers) I bring her to my place for obvious reasons. I cooked a little dinner then I showed her my movies. The first one was The Death Of The Roach. She looked at me like how am I gonna get out o fthis guy 's apartment? Yeah. but I had her coat and shoes so she couldn‘t leave .'
In 1975 he went west to Hollywood with a grant in his hand from the American Film Institute to make another short called Minestrone (‘An
Italian movie director sees this diver in his soup and thinks the little guys trying to steal his ideas'). eventually to be screened at Cannes. and with his actor’s calling card a part in the Oscar-sweeping film adaptation of Ken Kcsey"s One Flew ()l’t’l' The Cuckoo's Nest (produced by Michael Douglas no less). Although work was steadily coming in. Taxi was to prove his making. He recalls the audition with some fondness.
‘I went to the studios and they told me that Jim Brooks. Dave Davis and Ed Weinberger were geniuses from The M ar'v Tyler Moore Show and. like. television history. Now personally I‘d never seen any of these shows so I read the script for the first episode of Taxi and I'm Louie. the tough one who runs the joint. I really want this part so I know I have to make a good impression. I walk into this gorgeous office and the casting director introduces me to all three of them. The actor‘s hot seat is there waiting for me. ‘There‘s one thing I gotta get straight before we start.‘ I said. ‘Who wrote this shit?‘
The producers cracked up with laughter. DeVito got the part. and the rest passes for history. These days he‘s influential enough in Hollywood to pick and choose his material. On Throw Momma Front The Train he even had an artist specially create a Hawaiian shirt that would make a neat transition to a shot of a plane taking off over some palm trees. ‘He had to paint it in the same ratio as the movie screen so it would work perfectly. Five thousand bucks fora shirt. I think I'll wear it tomorrow. but maybe it’s still dirty.‘
Time‘s up and we’re ushered away. but the unfortunate gofer is summoned to his side once more. ‘If I give you this shirt now. will you get it cleaned by tomorrow. What do you mean. the laundry staff stopped an hour ago‘.’ I wanna wear that shirt tomorrow. Just see to it. right.‘
The War Of The Roses (/5 ) opens at the ()(leons in Glasgow and Edinburgh and both U ( 'l multiplexes from Fri 23 Mar.
‘You might not know this,’ Danny confides, ‘but Mike Douglas is one of the sickest people you’re ever going to meet in your life. A greatguy though, gives a hundred per cent. Onlytime he’ll back off is when there’s an LA Lakers game on, ya know whatl’m saying. And he is completely naked in that bathroom. Yep, there’s a nude scene in my movie, but they still show it on airplanes. The Pope could see my movie.’
The List 33 March 5 Apt ll l‘Nll5