From HE’s John Heard obit, 7.22.17: I knew Heard slightly in the early ’80s. He wasn’t a friend but I was close at the time with Keith Szarabajka (Missing, Marie, A Perfect World, The Dark Knight, Argo) and he was genuinely friendly with Heard and so I kind of absorbed the camaraderie of that. (Szarabajka and I met while working as waiter-busboys at the Spring Street Bar & Grill in the late ’70s.)
I ran into Heard a few times at Cafe Central and The Allstate, another popular actor haunt on West 72nd Street. He had an off-and-on alcohol issue at the time, but he was a good egg and a seriously emotional guy.
In ’82 or thereabouts Heard experienced a momentary attraction to a woman I’d been involved with a few months earlier — i.e., photographer Sonia Moskowitz. He approached her at a bar one night with “you wanna get married?” But when I told him a day or two later that Sonia and I had gone out two or three months earlier, Heard apologized, as if he’d done something improper. “No, no, it’s cool, man…life moves on,” I said, but Heard was all “Jesus, man, I didn’t know…shit, sorry.”
In the spring of ’83 I saw Heard knock it hard and straight in Total Abandon, a courthouse stage drama written by Larry Atlas. Or so I recall. I certainly remember going up to Heard after the matinee ended and saying “Wow, man…that’s a tough role to play twice a day” and him smiling and shrugging and saying “naaah, just a workout.”
Heard’s Vin Makazian, a Newark detective with a gambling-slash-alcohol problem, was one of the most indelible Soprano characters.
Tony: What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
Heard: I don’t think there are any. I think people pretty much got me down.
Tony: What do other people think of you?
Heard: Ah, you know, curmudgeon, slumped over, not a happy-go-lucky guy, kind of always finding fault with everything around him.
Aside from that, a good sense of humor, a good heart. But I don’t know. That’s a tough one because you think about that when you get older: how people characterize you. The only thing on the web is [that] I’m sort of an obnoxious white guy, from the movie Big I think. I used to be a good actor. When I was younger, I was gonna be a big star.
Tony: How many of your films do you still watch to this day?
Heard: None. It’s painful. Try it sometime. Take a little video of yourself and play it back. Especially when you get older.
Tony: In some ways, do you feel like you’re still waiting for your dream role?
Heard: I think I had my time. I dropped the ball, as my father would say. I think I could have done more with my career than I did, and I sort of got sidetracked. But that’s okay…that’s alright, the way it is. No sour grapes. I mean, I don’t have any regrets. Except that I could have played some bigger parts. I could have played Hamlet, I could have played Iago in Othello, I could have played Long Day’s Journey, and I had some problems, and it didn’t work. And those…I regret. I regret not having those heavyweight parts under my belt.