Six years and eight months ago I did a phone interview with actor-producer Norman Lloyd, whose performance as a blind ex-teacher in Curtis Hanson‘s In Her Shoes had moved me a great deal. After that I visited Lloyd at his home in Brentwood and chatted some more and took some photos and basically felt honored and gratified that I’d gotten to know one of the great old gents of Hollywood and the theatre.
Todd McCarthy, Norman Lloyd following this afternoon’s discussion in the Salle Bunuel.
Lloyd was 90 then and sharp as a whip. Spoke like a scholar, no memory loss, right on it. And he was just as lucid and mesmerizing this afternoon when he sat for an interview with Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy and French film scholar and gadfly Pierre Rissient inside the Salle Bunuel.
The man is now 97 and still playing tennis and looking hale and hearty and giving off that same old gusto and elocutionary pizazz. Will he ever ease up and just plop in front of the tube and slurp his soup like a regular old person? Nope.
For an hour or so Lloyd regaled the crowd with tales of working with Orson Welles, who directed him on the New York stage in “Julius Caesar” and “Shoemaker’s Holiday” in the late ’30s, and with Elia Kazan on stage, and on film with Alfred Hitchcock twice (he acted in Saboteur and Spellbound), Jean Renoir (The Southerner), Charlie Chaplin (Limelight) and so on.
Here’s a clip of him talking about working with Chaplin:
In ’05 I wrote that “I want to be just like Norman Lloyd when I’m almost 91. He’s done everything, been everywhere and knows (or knew) everyone. And he’s healthy and spirited with the intellectual vigor of a well-educated 37 year-old.” Can I also be like Lloyd when I’m 97?
Lloyd spoke at length about working with Hitchcock as a producer of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” the long-running ’50s TV series, and particularly about how Hitchcock revived his career when he insisted that Lloyd work with him on the show when Lloyd was blacklisted. Lloyd and McCarthy didn’t even get around to talking about his being directed by Peter Weir (Dead Poet’s Society) and Martin Scorsese (The Age of Innocence), or playing his ongoing role as “Dr. Auschlander” on St. Elsewhere in the ’80s.
Thanks to McCarthy for urging me to come and listen. The theatre was fairly full, which I didn’t expect. “How many people these days know Norman Lloyd?” I asked myself as I bounded up the Palais steps. Answer: Quite a few, at least among the Cannes faithful.