Police Academy Week: a chat with actor/memoirist Steve Guttenberg
- The Lonely Island talks about the slightly more mature Wack Album
- Michael Shannon on General Zod, the NSA, and the genius of David Letterman
- How Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg turned their fear of Jesus into an ensemble comedy
- Clive Owen talks about playing an MI5 agent in Shadow Dancer
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, a.k.a. Jaime Lannister, talks his big Game Of Thrones season
For much of the 1980s, Steve Guttenberg was one of the most bankable movie stars in the world. After moving from New York to Hollywood in his teens, Guttenberg landed a lead role in the 1977 teen sex comedy The Chicken Chronicles and the 1980 Village People musical Can’t Stop The Music, but his career really took off when he was part of the ensemble in Barry Levinson’s 1982 classic Diner. The 1984 surprise smash Police Academy helped make Guttenberg a major movie star, and from there, he went on to star in three of the film’s sequels, in addition to headlining hits like Cocoon, Short Circuit, and Three Men And A Baby.
Guttenberg’s subsequent vehicles (Surrender, The Boyfriend School (a.k.a. Don’t Tell Her It’s Me), High Spirits) didn’t fare anywhere near as well with critics or audiences, and Guttenberg took an extended break from the big screen in the 1990s, not appearing in any films between Three Men And A Little Lady in 1990 and The Big Green in 1995. Since then, Guttenberg has maintained a lower profile, but he’s continued to pop up in television and film, perhaps most memorably in a Party Down episode where he played a fictionalized version of himself. The A.V. Club recently spoke with Guttenberg in connection with the release of his new memoir, The Guttenberg Bible (which covers the first 10 years of his professional acting career, leaving room for a follow-up titled The Guttenberg Bible: The New Testament). The actor spoke about acting opposite the Village People in a debauched mega-production, why he’s flattered by the Simpsons episode that references him, and why people should stop writing memoirs about being molested.
The A.V. Club: What led you to write this book at this point in your life?
Steve Guttenberg: I’ve been writing for a while—screenplays, primarily—and I’d tell my friends stories from the beginning of my career, and they’d say, “Hey, that would make for a funny book.” They inspired me to do it. So I was talking to my agent one day and I brought it up, and he said, “You know, it might be.” So we went and saw the book agent, a guy named Mel Berger, and he said, “Write 40 pages and let’s see if anybody’s interested.” It took a little while, but then St. Martin’s [Press] was good enough to say they’d like to put out the book.
AVC: What was the most difficult aspect of writing the book?
SG: I would say getting downtown every day. [Laughs.] I live on the upper west side, and my office is on Greenwich Street downtown, so I would say the subway, that was probably the toughest part.
AVC: Not the actual physical process of writing itself?
SG: Well, I’m joking, I mean, any kind of writing that’s meaningful becomes hard work, so there were times when it would really flow, there were times when I’d get 10 pages a day, and then there were days when I would do three pages. Depends on the thickness of the material. If it’s satisfying, it’s hard, but it’s pretty wonderful.
AVC: Did writing the book inspire soul-searching and introspection?
SG: Well sure, when you’re going over periods of your life, you remember certain things, certain events, certain people that you’ve forgotten. You’ve forgotten certain lessons or people you were very close to, and then you haven’t seen them in a while. I think if you can go through life with the correct regrets, then looking back on it, like I did, a certain portion of my life is pretty enjoyable. All my regrets are ones that I’d like to keep.
AVC: What, to you, are the correct regrets?
SG: How you live your life. You have your thoughts, and then they become your words, right, your words become your actions, and then those actions become habits, and those habits create your character, and then your character defines your destiny. And I’ve always been proud of my character and how I live my life. So my regrets are few, and the ones I do have, I’m glad I have. Everyone has to have some regrets, and I think my regrets are noble. Sometimes it’s good to miss a bus. It might be the wrong bus. So I’ve been very lucky in things I wish I would have done or attended or been around, but a lot of them turned out to be lucky breaks that I wasn’t there.
AVC: From the book, it seems like a lot of your character comes from where you come from, and your parents specifically.
SG: Yeah, absolutely. The values I grew up with from my mother and father aren’t based on money or success; they’re based on the types of actions and reactions you have to life. It was never a place of “You have to do better than him.” It was always “You have to do your own best, and that will make you happy.” And what life really is all about is happiness. It’s not money, or stature, or the amount of cars you have in your driveway. Life, a really successful life, is one in which you are loved and love somebody else, or some other people. They always taught me to be philanthropic, and they always taught me to be kind to people that are less fortunate than me. They also taught me to be tough and to have a hard exoskeleton, because this business, one that you are in also, in show business—because any writing or any television, any entertainment, any sports, is all show business, and it’s the hardest business in the world. It’s brutally adult and honest, and sometimes that can kill people. You look at Jimi Hendrix and John Belushi and people like that, the fame and fortune just killed them.
AVC: A lot of artists come from backgrounds where they’re tortured, they have a lot of insecurities, and that drives them. That doesn’t seem to have been the case with you. You had a pretty happy, normal upbringing. What do you think drove you?
SG: Same thing friends of mine always joke that Frank Sinatra had, in Hoboken: He just wanted to be heard. That’s it. I just wanted to be heard. I still do. That’s it. It’s the same thing for Picasso or Renée Fleming; we just want to be heard. You know you’re writing. You want to be heard. You believe you have a voice that’s worthy of someone listening, and I think that’s what drove me, not to show anybody or anything like that. I think that sometimes, demons make for a very interesting person, a very interesting actor, but a tortured person. I wouldn’t want to be anybody else. I’m very grateful for the upbringing I had. I’ve got friends, and I know other actors and singers and performers that are really interesting people, really interesting artists, that come from a tough background, and I wouldn’t want their lives. I’m really blessed to have such a good family. You can be talented and come from a normal background too. Not everybody has to be James Dean.
AVC: In the book, you write a lot about your early experiences in Hollywood, sneaking into a studio lot and setting up a makeshift office there. What was that like?
SG: It was just fantastic. You know, when you have nothing to lose, the sky’s the limit. It’s a high sky out there. I was 17 and a half, and Hollywood and California and Los Angeles was just an oasis, you know? It was just so fertile, and it just looked like a big, fat piece of peat moss that anything would grow in, and I thought, when I first came out there, that I could just throw my seeds everywhere, and at the right time, they’re gonna grow. I also wasn’t part of the crowd. There’s a really great power in being ignorant. There’s some power to not knowing the rules, because I didn’t know I’m not allowed to do that. I didn’t know that’s not acceptable or those sort of things, so when I first came out to California, there were no computers and no cell phones, and California and Hollywood was a much different place to break in, only because of the ability to mingle. But it’s always the same. It’s a very tough environment, but if you’re handy enough, you can find the cracks in the wall.
AVC: What was the deal with your make-believe office?
SG: Well, you know, it’s important for everybody to have somewhere to go. Actors and artists are, I think, in extreme need of some place to go. Man needs purpose, you know. Men and women need purpose. That’s why actors can go crazy, is that they can just be in that apartment all day. So I just really wanted to be in the middle of it, and it seemed to me that sneaking onto a lot and finding an office, it wasn’t premeditated. I never thought, “Oh, I’m gonna go get an office at Paramount.” I just was walking around and walking around, and I found this old building, the Lucille Ball makeup building, that nobody was using. And I just thought, “How great.” I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to do that. Why not? It was empty for 30 to 40 years. Why not use it? So having this office gave me a place to go and a sense of belonging. Even though I wasn’t in the Hollywood crowd yet, I had an office in the middle of it, and I was able to feel as if I was a part of the business.
I think that’s a lot of being an artist, too, is feeling you’re part of something. Your work will help the whole. I think that’s a great part of being an actor, is that you can’t just do one-man shows; you gotta be part of something, even if it’s just a feeling. And that was the feeling I got from being in this office. It was fun, you know? I could be there as much as I wanted, in the middle of the night I went to the commissary and I stole food and I brought it back. It was just a really—I don’t know if there’s any other feeling other than maybe when the settlers came out West, and it was just a wide-open prairie, and it could be anything you want. You could build a city there, you could build a farm there, there’s just nothing like fertile land, and that’s what Hollywood was to me.
AVC: In the book, you talk about being tempted to quit acting after your first few successes. What do you think you would have done if you hadn’t continued to pursue acting?
SG: My thoughts were to become a dentist when I first went to Albany State. I didn’t know where I would end up, but I knew I’d be happy, and I knew I would have a nice life. That was always my goal, to have a nice, happy life. That’s, to me, being rich.
AVC: At what point did you realize that acting was your destiny, that this wasn’t something you would eventually phase out of?
SG: I think I’m just sort of getting that now. [Laughs.] I think everybody wants to quit this business five times a day. You have those moments where everything’s great, but there are those moments where everybody wants to quit. When I was doing Boys From Brazil, I got done with it and I was going back to school, and I got a call from CBS to come do a television series in L.A., and I guess there was a little moment where I said, “Gee, I’m gonna go back there and try again, take some more. Go back there and carpetbag it again. Go out there and see what I can do and then come back.” I don’t think I ever thought I was going to keep doing it. I always thought at one point, I just wouldn’t want to be in that atmosphere my whole life. I tried to quit after the first year. The culture and the value system of the business, not the onscreen business, but behind the scenes, really rubbed me the wrong way, and I just said, “I wouldn’t wanna do this for the rest of my life and be around these type of people.” So that’s why I quit.
AVC: You were turned off by the values of Hollywood, as opposed to the work itself?
SG: Well, no, they have—there are values in the business, but the values are skewed toward success. The biggest caveman in the cave gets to do whatever he wants, even if he killed somebody. If he’s the guy who brings home a deer, you know, it’s okay. And the value system of how hot you are, and who’s hotter, and being shoved aside for some actor who’s got more on the ball at the moment, and everything keeps changing. I couldn’t really find true friendship out there. And I have since, but you know, it’s business. It’s not show-friendship, it’s show business.
AVC: One of your first big movies was Can’t Stop The Music, which was produced by Allan Carr.
SG: Yeah, he was a really glamorous guy. Lived in an incredible home, and traveled in limos and private planes. He was a typical Hollywood animal. When he was in power, he had lots of friends, but when the power waned, there was nobody around. Zero. What happens sometimes in show business is, people cultivate their business, but they don’t cultivate their integrity and their friendship tools. Sometimes when you can’t do something for anybody, your supposed friends sort of melt away. So he was very powerful for a while, and really was the king of Hollywood. I find this with a lot of guys when I’m one-on-one with them, that they go back to a normal way of communicating, because I’d say most of the time, I don’t want anything other than to see if I can connect with somebody and have a friendship. So I think he valued my ability to talk to him about, you know, the New York Yankees. Even if he wasn’t interested, it was so much better than him sitting with somebody asking him to do something for them. I thought he was really a bright guy. I thought he was also a typical Hollywood animal, in that he was an outsider when he grew up as a kid, and he was an oddity. When you’re a young man liking theater and musical theater, you know, you’re not too popular. So I think he enjoyed sort of being a regular guy with me, and me treating him like a guy, as opposed to a powerful, off-center guy. I think the greatest compliment you can give somebody is to treat them as a human being, as opposed to what they do for a living.
AVC: The filming of Can’t Stop The Music had to be insane.
SG: It was. It was one of those times when, it sort of reminded me of maybe like— [Laughs.] You see this movie [Salmon] Fishing In [The] Yemen? It’s about this sheik who wants to build this huge pond to fish in in the Middle East, and money’s no object. I think that’s what happened with us on Can’t Stop The Music, because Allan was so powerful that money was no object, and it was this incredibly vulgar, exciting set to be on. Somebody wanted caviar from Japan, boom, it was flown in. Those people don’t feel good that day, boom, we’re not gonna film that day. There were allowances. I think when we made that movie, the budget was $23 million, which was one of the highest budgets ever in 1977 or ’79, and it was just fantastic to me to be in the company of the Village People—who I thought were all straight. But so did the country, right? So did everybody who bought their albums.
You know, every teenager who bought a Village People album thought they were really a cowboy and really a construction worker. Valerie Perrine, just going up to her house and her showgirl friends, it really was such a Hollywood atmosphere. Really, what Lucy wanted to see when she came out to California in all those Bill Holden episodes, it really was Hollywood. I remember going to several parties at Allan’s house, and the piles and piles of food. I came from a regular background, so I guess what I saw most was the waste. But there’s tons of waste on every film. It really doesn’t matter the budget, as long as it hits a bull’s-eye. Even if you have a small budget and it doesn’t hit the bull’s-eye, it’s a drag for everybody. But as long as something hits, Allan did Saturday Night Fever and he did Grease, so whatever he wanted, he got. It was sort of fun for me to be in the middle of that.
AVC: How much of a presence were drugs on the set?
SG: I never saw any drugs. Not on the set, but I saw drugs off of the set. You know, they were at people’s houses, and certainly at the producers’ houses. There were piles at the parties, but I never saw people doing it on the set, or people having breakdowns, or anything like that. I don’t think anybody did it. I didn’t know anybody who did drugs at work. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. Just one guy, actually. One guy I’ve seen do it, but that’s it.
AVC: Your co-stars in Can’t Stop The Music were Bruce Jenner and the Village People, none of whom are actors. How did that affect the filming? What was it like to act opposite non-actors?
SG: You know, acting is a very broad term. Rihanna is in a new movie, I think it’s Battleship or something. Rihanna is a singer, but she’s an actor. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an actor. Lassie is an actor. The dog on Frasier was an actor. What’s the definition, you know? The true definition is the guy right now in Minneapolis at the Guthrie Theater doing Long Day’s Journey Into Night. He’s an actor. But the term is very loose. Let’s say on Transformers, acting against these green screens, I mean, is that acting? Was Chewbacca, the actor who played Chewbacca in Star Wars, was he an actor?
AVC: Can’t Stop The Music was directed by Nancy Walker, an elderly character actor. She was a strange choice for the job, to say the least.
SG: That was insane. It was insane because she didn’t want to be a director, and I think she sort of was a traffic cop. She was brought on to be a traffic cop, and Allan was really directing creatively. Allan was the architect and the owner of the house, and she was sort of the interior decorator, but she didn’t make a move without him. It was really like a directing committee. Bill Butler, who was the director of photography, he had a hand in it. She didn’t like it. I don’t think she enjoyed it.
AVC: Were you emotionally prepared for the worldwide success you experienced in the 1980s?
SG: You know, hopefully you have a foundation that prepares you for anything, good or bad. It’s hard to take the bad stuff, but I don’t think there’s any difficulty taking success unless you don’t like yourself, and then you spin into that tailspin of “I don’t deserve this.” But for me, success has always been fun and easy. I like winning. I’ve always liked winning. When you have the No. 1 movie in the world, you win. I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s not without its challenges. You have to watch yourself pretty good. You gotta make sure your ego doesn’t get out of control, and sometimes you have to edit your thoughts because you start to become a little omnipotent, but I was pretty lucky. I think I was lucky. I still am very lucky. I just always sort of wind up in the right places. My memoir doesn’t have any rehab, no child molestation, which seems to be the real sort of in-fashion color these days. You know, you go to somebody’s kitchen. It’s all light wood, ’cause that’s the style of today. The style of today’s memoirs are, “I was molested, I was in rehab, I killed somebody, I hurt somebody, I ruined somebody’s life.”
I was really lucky. I just didn’t ever have any of that. There’s a lady whose book is out right now, I noticed on the news, and the first thing they talk about is her molestation and the problems and the drugs. I said to myself, “What’s with our society that that’s so fucking interesting? What is so interesting about molestation? How much can you read about it? I mean, is every celebrity, is that the only way you can write a memoir? Can’t you write a memoir that is sort of funny?” But that’s our society today. Our society is so tapped into, oh gee, shock. And I don’t know why anybody would want to tell anybody that you [were] molested. Why the hell would you tell anybody? I mean, you can tell your friends, but why would you tell the public?
AVC: It might be cathartic for the person writing it, to exorcise those demons.
SG: Fuck that!
AVC: It might help remove the stigma and shame of being molested.
SG: Aw, bullshit. I don’t think so at all. Tell your friends, tell your family. Should there be a camera in the bathroom? I mean you know, certain things just shouldn’t… You know, I think there are certain times I guess those books make sense, but every memoir? [Laughs.] Every memoir? All right, already. Every book? Sometimes it’s useful. I can understand if you want to tell people. But I don’t know how telling John Doe who lives in Des Moines, Iowa, who’s never going to talk to you—what good is telling him, giving him a psychiatrist report? I don’t buy it. I think it’s bullshit. I think it’s complete and utter salesmanship, and I just do not understand why anybody would tell anybody that stuff. I could see once or twice, a book comes out and people read it, but I wanna write my memoir, I’m gonna tell everybody how Uncle Phil molested me? What would I want to do that for?
AVC: There aren’t a lot of dark times or shadowy secrets in your book. What would you say was the darkest period covered in the book?
SG: Oh, I don’t know. I think the darkest times probably were, in the book, just where movies didn’t work. In life, there were times that were very dark for me, but they’re nobody’s business but mine. There were absolutely things that happened to me that could be termed terrible, but I just didn’t think it’s anybody’s business, and I don’t think it would be interesting. I really wrote the book to make people laugh, and to give people an idea of what it really is like to build a house—as opposed to just seeing the house, you see the basement. I think it’s interesting to show people certain things about moviemaking and show business that you would never see. I’d say certain dark periods were when people disappointed me, or used me, or played me for a fool. Those are probably the times when I would be more disappointed, but I was lucky.
AVC: It seems like you had overwhelmingly positive experiences on the films you worked on and the people you worked with.
SG: Yeah, I think that’s okay.
AVC: Why end the book where you do, with Three Men And A Baby?
SG: I wrote the book, and the first draft was 600 pages. And at the end of that 600 pages, I got to 1986 or ’87, and I thought, “Oh my God. If I write this ’til the rest of my life, this is gonna be a 3,000-page book.” I couldn’t write any more than 10 years. There wasn’t room. It’s not gonna be Christopher Plummer’s book, you know, 600 pages. It was my first foray, and I thought, “Well, that’s kind of a good amount of time, 10 years,” and I thought it was also interesting to end it where I liked how movies end, sort of at the beginning. I ended it before Three Men came out, which was the beginning of something else. I always liked that in a movie, when the movie ends and you think it’s sort of into another chapter of the movie, but it’s over. I think it was surprising to the audience to read it and go, “Wait a minute, what about the rest of that?” I think it’s a style. I really came upon that style just because of necessity. My editor said, “This is 600 pages. We gotta edit, you can’t write any more.”
I ended the book with the beginning of having a No. 1 movie. 1987. And man, I’d never had a No. 1 movie for the world, and that’s a whole story. The fame was just bigger than I’ve ever experienced. So it was a period of being sort of a medium star, and then all of a sudden I just went to another level. The same integrity that Hollywood has, which is that you spend more than you make to impress people you don’t like who don’t care anyway, and that was the whole thing. Then the money really got crazy, and the fame really got crazy, and was bigger than anything I’ve ever seen.
AVC: Then you took a step back from that. Between 1990 and 1995, you didn’t appear in movies. What was the thinking behind that? What was going on in your life at that point?
SG: Well, I had the luxury of time that I’d not had when I first left home. You gotta remember, I left home at 17. So I missed a great deal of my own growing up. I think that was very tough for my parents, and tough for my family. I went into a different planet, you know? So for 10 to 12 years, I was away a lot. I missed so many things with my family. I’d become everything I ever wanted to be. The business didn’t owe me a thing. It gave me everything I ever wanted. It gave my family security and experiences that we all never would have imagined to have. But I wanted to just be a little closer to my family. You know, in show business, you can’t make a living. You can only make a fortune, but you can’t make a living. And I decided I’d like to work when I want to work. Wanting to work is a luxury; having to work is not. If you’re an artist, an actor, and you don’t have to work, then you do work that you wanna do. So I did theater that I really wanted to do, and I did some small independent movies that I really wanted to do, and I wrote and I painted and I got to see my parents all the time.
Paul Newman gave me a great quote one time. I met him several times, but I’d say about five or six years before he passed on, I was sitting with him and he said, “You know, it doesn’t matter who you are. Right now, I’m the guy on the salad dressing. People don’t know who I am. I’m the guy on the salad dressing.” And he said this great quote that people say, “At the beginning of your career, it’s ‘Who is Paul Newman?’ and then it’s ‘Get me Paul Newman.’ Then it’s ‘Get me a young Paul Newman.’ Then it’s ‘Who is Paul Newman?’” It doesn’t matter if you’re Picasso. Ask one of your, I’m sure you know some teenagers, ask them if they know who Picasso is. Ask them if they know who Gregory Peck is. Ask them if they know who the secretary of state is. They don’t know any of that, you know? I was driving with my nieces and nephews, it was really interesting. I was talking about War Of The Worlds. They said, “Well, who was in the movie?” And I said, “Well Tom Cruise was in the movie.” My nephew, who’s 11, said, “Who’s Tom Cruise?” And you know if Tom ever heard that, he’d be like “Oh no.”
And the same thing happened to Paul Newman, and it’s gonna happen to Brad Pitt and George Clooney and you and me and everybody. Thirty, 40 years from now, some teenager’s gonna go, “Who’s Bill Clinton?” It’s just the way it is. My goals have always been pretty modest, and I’ve been lucky to exceed them. And I say lucky to exceed them, but you know, show business has never been my everything. It’s a means; it’s not the end. It’s a means to the end. I want and have always wanted freedom. That was always my goal, to not have a boss, to not have anybody tell me what to do. Luckily, as an actor, I got that. I’ve always, and I think it’s cyclical, but I don’t know if I’d want to work as much, I don’t know if I’d want to work every day now, because it’s not my everything. It just isn’t.
I have a wonderful family and friends, and interests and hobbies. I think when show business becomes your everything, you’re very dangerous. To a lot of people, it is life itself, it is life itself. And if it doesn’t go your way, people can run into tailspins. Because, as I said, it’s full of people you’re trying to impress who don’t care anyway. Why would you tell something private to a guy in Des Moines who’s reading about you? Tell your best friend; tell people who care. So I think that in show business, everybody wants attention, but you have to be smart about that attention.
AVC: Are you familiar with the Simpsons episode “The Stonecutters,” where the shadowy society says “Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star? We do.”
SG: Well, of course the elite attitude is, “Oh, I only want the Ivy Leaguers to know me and to love my work.” No. Untrue. Whether it’s Robert De Niro or Laurence Olivier or Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep did Mamma Mia! You know why? Because it’s a fun role and she gets to sing and all that, but also, it’s gonna be commercial. It’s all about commerce. Movies are not made like paintings, where you can make them for free and put them at the side. Movies are supposed to make money. That’s what they’re supposed to do. I don’t care if it’s an independent film or it’s a huge film. They’re supposed to make money. So where does the money come from? Believe me, the one-percenters are not supporting the film industry. They’re not. It’s the 99-percenters. It’s the stonecutters who are supporting the industry. So the funny thing about that skit was that it’s the dumb lugs who work in the factories who liked my movies, but that’s what every filmmaker wants. [Laughs.] Except for maybe Werner Herzog, and even he wants people to come to his movies.
That’s why when a movie comes out, we all pander to that wide audience. Why do you think Howard Stern got a billion dollars? Not from the one-percenters who listen to him; it’s the 99-percenters. That’s what we’re all going for. Why is Vera Wang in Target? [Laughs.] You know, Tommy Hilfiger selling at factory outlets. Everybody wants that big commercial audience. My audience has always been a pedestrian audience. Even if you’re an Ivy Leaguer, it’s fun to go down to a pedestrian audience. The Hangover. Hello. If The Hangover didn’t make any money, you think Bradley Cooper would do it? I don’t think so. I think everybody wants movies that make a lot of money. I always thought that was funny, I thought that was a really funny and a clever, clever line. That “Who’s making Steve Guttenberg a star? We are, we are.” What was so bad, that they like movies and they paid all the money and the movies made hundreds of millions of dollars? That’s pretty good, I think. I think that’s really what, check out Ralph Fiennes in Wrath Of The Titans. [Laughs.] This is Ralph fucking Fiennes, okay? All right? He’s in Wrath Of The Titans, okay? Let’s all be honest. It’s about the green. It’s about the green.
AVC: You portrayed yourself in the TV show Party Down. How did that come about?
SG: I was in Times Square and I saw an ad for Party Down. So I called Rob Thomas, who’s a wonderful guy and a great writer, and I wanted to tell him, “Hey, there’s a great big poster in Times Square for your show.” I took a picture of it on my phone and I sent it to him. And he said, “You know, it’s so weird that you texted, because we’re thinking about doing a Steve Guttenberg episode. Would you be interested?” I said, “I’ll do anything with you.” So a few weeks later, he called me and said, “We got the funny script, what do you think?” I read it, and I loved it. It’s the greatest compliment, I think, to an artist to be parodied. If you have a chance to parody yourself, it’s like Bill Holden in the old I Love Lucy episodes, right? That was one of the first ones, isn’t that great? Seeing Bill Holden in the Brown Derby and bothering Lucy, I just thought, “What a compliment. Of all the actors that they could have chosen.” I mean, if you see now Life’s Too Short, the Ricky Gervais/Warwick Davis show, Liam Neeson does a great turn in it. So do Johnny Depp and Sting. You know, we all love playing ourselves a little blown-up. It’s fun, it’s fun, it’s fun to take the piss out of yourself.
AVC: To what extent did the Steve Guttenberg of that episode resemble the actual Steve Guttenberg?
SG: I would say just the six-pack. [Laughs.] Maybe a little bit of me. No, not even. My sense of humor was an odd sense of humor in that show, you know, sort of like an egotistic but fun-loving guy. It’s probably a tiny little bit like me. I think it was a good blow-up of me. I didn’t really recognize that much of me in there at all.
AVC: There have been rumors of either a Police Academy reboot or another sequel. How do you feel about that?
SG: Well, you know, I’m really lucky that so many of my movies play all the time. It’s not because of me; I just got lucky. I’ve got five, six, seven movies that play all the time. There are other really fantastic actors who’ve done great work, but their movies come out, they do well in the theater, but you can’t play them anymore. For some reason, they just don’t resonate. So I’ve been lucky with my movies that they play all the time and they resonate, and they’ve been good.