RICHARD ANDERSON 'CJAD' RADIO INTERVIEW
The interview was aired on Monday, October 31, 1994 at 10pm eastern.
It was conducted by Peter Anthony Holder, the evening talk show host on
CJAD 800 AM, Montreal.
CJAD: On the line with us right now is actor Richard Anderson, perhaps best known for his role as Oscar Goldman on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MANand also on THE BIONIC WOMAN. For those of you who were fans of those two shows, there is good news. It's back, at least in the form of a movie of the week. It will be on CBS on Tuesday, November 8th. Richard Anderson is with us right now. Hello and how are you sir.
RICHARD: Fine Peter, nice to talk to my friends in Canada.
CJAD: Nice to talk to you to sir.
RICHARD: And probably some people in Buffalo and Vermont. Americans as well.
CJAD: Certainly in Vermont. That's correct. A lot of people, as I've mentioned know you from the role as Oscar Goldman in THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. That show was on for quite a few years in the 70s along with THE BIONIC WOMAN. I understand in this particular instalment of the show, you have more of a role then just actor. Is that correct?
RICHARD: That's correct, exactly. The idea of bringing the show back in 1988 as a two hour movie was mine and I took it to the NBC network at that time and they bought it and the studio owned it, and they agreed, so we did the first RETURN OF THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN/BIONIC WOMAN and out of 90 shows it was number four, so that told us all something. Then we did the second one in 1990 and it fared equally as well. Then CBS decided they wanted to do this last January after I talked to them. So as a result they decided by now I should be an Executive Producer. I did produce the last one as well in 1988. I'm wearing that title as well, and I find it stimulating because I can have a little more input and also find out more of what Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner want to do. Being an actor, I understand where they're coming from.
CJAD: It doesn't make it any more difficult as somebody who puts on more than one hat in the same production?
RICHARD: Easier. Easier in the sense that the more an actor or anyone in the business can know about the other side, the better. It makes it simpler and easier and of course you also learn to appreciate, and this isn't necessarily for audiences to even care about, because they don't have to care. Their interest is in what they see....but the preparation of a motion picture is something that's quite a job. There's preproduction, there's production, and what we're doing now, which is post production. We're getting the music this afternoon. We're going to hear it. We've been editing it for a month. We are now going to dub it next week, and for those who are not familiar with that, we are going to be putting all of the effects, all the music, all the voice overs, all the sounds from the different places we've been, it's put in the final editing and that's called dubbing. Then we deliver that to the network next week or the week after that.
CJAD: You've played Oscar Goldman for quite some time. Obviously you're quite attached to the character. Did you think you'd be still playing that role when you first took it on in 1974?
RICHARD: Well, I liked it. It had a nice ring to it when my representative called and said, "how would you like to be in THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN." I said that has a nice sound to it. I somehow got a voice inside that said, "I think we're on to something."
CJAD: We have since heard a lot about bionics in the medical field, but when you first got the script did it seem a bit far-fetched back then?
RICHARD: No, not to me. I'm an optimist, so when they talked about cybernetics, bionics, replacing maybe an arm that had been severed at the elbow and that they can replace it and have it work like.....fingers and everything work through the nerve endings, it made sense to me. And of course, we had been on the air three years and a man in Boston had that problem and exactly the same thing happened to him and it worked. Of course today, it's just routine.
CJAD: Over the years in your career, you were probably one of the busiest actors in Hollywood. For people like me who were couch potatoes and watched everything when we were growing up on TV, you're one of the people whom we've seen a lot of. You've had a variety of roles in various television shows, both as series regular or as guest star. What do you think you owe your good fortune to in all these years when, let's face it, especially in the Hollywood community, a lot of people are not doing as well as you have on an ongoing basis?
RICHARD: First of all, I'm grateful. And secondly, I try to make myself castable in the sense to be versatile. I started out actually, as you look at my works, I started out in live television, and from there went into motion pictures. I was at Metro Goldwyn Mayer for six years and did 30 movies there and got started in my career there. Then I went to Fox and was under contract there, then Universal and did six television series and numerous pictures and miniseries, and as you say, guest appearances. But the thing I felt was, the important thing was to be useful. In any business, durability is the big factor, so I made myself available and I did my homework.
CJAD: Going from live television and in series television and then into the movies. A lot of people who make that jump to the movies like to stay in the movies and don't return to television, yet you did. Was anybody trying to coax you out of that move when you went back to TV?
RICHARD: Well frankly, when I went into television, that's where the audience was. And in my opinion, still is. We're going to see now....there are people that have been successful from television into motion pictures and some have not. It depend on a lot of factors.
CJAD: A lot of the characters you play, I guess before Oscar Goldman.....you either play authoritative police figures of some kind or villains.
RICHARD: Well they saw an awful lot of me as an authority in the sense that in the PERRY MASON series in the last of its original I played the Lieutenant Detective Steve Drum, the police element. In DAN AUGUST, I played the boss. The head of the police department. In THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN I'm the Washington man. In THE BIONIC WOMAN, the Washington man. In COVERUP I was the ambassador. And then there were several other series. In BUS STOP I played the District Attorney. So I guess you might say people see me in that direction. But I also wanted to show some versatility and asked to play parts that weren't so straight on and the good guy. I thought it might be interesting to play those other parts. So when I started doing one or two, I got a string of villains which are fun to play too.
CJAD: Do you ever have to concern yourself with being typecast?
RICHARD Well I don't think there's anything wrong with being typecast, if you are typecast in the right thing. I'm very grateful to Oscar Goldman. He's been very good to me. We have plans beyond this show in terms of more. It's a show that doesn't go away, Peter. It's a show that seems to have durability. We look at STAR TREK and we say what's happened there. Well, not only are they doing a new series on syndication, but they've done six motion pictures. We have plans to make a motion picture of this as well. Originals, and other people starting out in bionics. Then maybe another syndicated series, where some of us will appear occasionally. And when we announced this show, BIONIC EVERMORE, the reaction was just phenomenal. People grew up, as you say, with the show. They have fond memories of it and they want to see more of them. So that's really kind of what prompted me to say, "let's bring the show to the forefront." Because in my opinion this is what the public wants. They want a family show. They want a show that has adventure and action, but also has a medical message.
CJAD: You mentioned the possibility of syndication down the road and also the possibility of a major motion picture, but you didn't mention the possibility of a network series. Is that out of the question?
RICHARD: Not at all. Not at all. I don't want to promulgate too much about this. I believe in doing it and then talking about it. But, since you seem to be so interested in BIONICS and the principals in it, I wanted you to know that we have lots of plans for BIONICS in the decades to come.
CJAD: Even through you are wrapped up, to a certain degree, with this particular project, you still do other things. I understand you were working on a motion picture recently?
RICHARD: Yes, it's called THE GLASS SHIELD. It's a thriller and it was very well received at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994, in June. It's directed by a very talented man, Charles Barnett, who now will be working on another film that he's invited me to join. It's a major role that I'm playing and it will be released in it looks like next February by Miramax-Disney. So we're very flattered to have a distributor of the calibre of Miramax, who as you know did THE PIANO and is now showing PULP FICTION. They are a daring group and have been very, very successful.
CJAD: You seem to have no problem going from the small screen to the big screen. A lot of people do.
RICHARD: I wonder why? Why would you say, Peter?
CJAD: I would say, the fact that you're a character actor has a lot to do with it. They have an easier transition then leads do for instance. Is that a possibility?
RICHARD: That's a good answer, yeah. Well, we're going to see. We're going to find out here soon about one person who has decided to go from television into a big picture.
CJAD: Oh, David Caruso?
RICHARD: Don't you think?
CJAD: Yes, that will be interesting to see. It's ironic that he's being replaced on a television show by someone who made the same move several years ago. Jimmy Smits. So it's interesting to see that transition.
RICHARD: Well, you know, the world is only about three blocks square, I always say.
CJAD: Are there other things on the horizon for yourself?
RICHARD: Well I'm pretty much concentration on the next project here at Universal and entering into discussions with them about more BIONICS and the network as well. In addition to that I'm supposed to do another movie with Charles Barnett, which is in the beginning stages. Very interesting script about the American middle west, which I'm always fascinating by. I'm also involved in other areas of the business. I do a lot of commercials in which I meet a lot of interesting and different people. I've been doing the KIPPLINGER WASHINGTON LETTER for twelve years. I think that spills over into Canada. It's a Washington newsletter. A Washington man as you say. I do other commercials and info- commercials as well. I'm always looking at new scripts as well, but you've got to be careful these days.
CJAD: Why is that?
RICHARD: Well the audiences these days are making a lot of pictures that they don't care if they are in the theatres or not. They just really one day in the theatre and then they go right to cassette. There's nothing wrong with that, except I try to get into projects and enterprises that have some sense. That have some integrity and that have some standing. It's not that easy.
CJAD: With the diversity of roles you've had over the years, is there something you haven't done yet, that you've been wanted to do?
RICHARD: People always ask me what my favorite part is and I say" I haven't played it yet."
CJAD: So you're still looking for that classic part?
RICHARD: Not really looking. I figure if you don't look, it happens better. Don't get in the way of it, you know. It's just a philosophy of mine. I find that there are a lot of things going on that you don't have anything to do with. Higher powers and all of that. So I don't think about that very much. But when something comes along that really fun, why I'm glad to do it and it's whistling to work.
CJAD: I mentioned earlier that you are a great character actor and you've been nominated for an Emmy as a supporting actor. That seems to be what you've done very well for years and years and years.
RICHARD: Well it's true. Tommy Lee Jones has proved he can do everything. Character work. Leading work. It all depends......I'm sure audiences have heard this a thousand times. You know, timing and whatever you might call it. Providence, luck or blessing, or whatever. The whole thing's an adventure, Peter.
CJAD: Did you ever at one point say, "I want to be the leading man?" Was that a goal of yours?
RICHARD: I never thought much about that. I grew up in movies. I kind of took an analysis of leading men in motion pictures, as a boy. I looked back upon them, and at Metro I worked with them all. The big ones. Gable, Tracy, in various film. I found out they were all character men. Trained on the stage. Played a lot of character roles. They play a certain part and then the studios in those days used to write the scripts for those people and made them into what we would call first parts. Leading men. They don't do that any more. A great many people play....look at Bruce Willis. He plays characters in motion pictures as well as leading parts. No I can't say that I ever differentiated between the two because it never occurred to me. You just play the part you play and sometimes they see it and say, let's do a series out of it and that has happened to me on several occasions.
CJAD: You mentioned some of the things they don't do any more in Hollywood. One of the things they don't do any more is they don't have the studio system, which you were part of when you first started. I understand that you kind of bucked the studio system at one time.
RICHARD: That proves my point exactly. There was a chance to do a picture that I wanted to do in Germany for an American company. It was called PATHS OF GLORY. It was directed by a young man called Stanley Kubrick at that time. It was a picture that's turned into a classic. It has been played at all the universities and certainly television and revived in theatres and I think it's been playing in Paris for 20 years. It turned out to be one of the great anti-war stories and I had a major role in that. That really kicked me into a lot of parts after that. That was a successful picture on the inside. The town loved it and I think I had new respect for my work, because it was much more serious as a film then the kind of pictures they were making at Metro Goldwyn Mayer during the heyday of the stars.
CJAD: Was being an actor something you've always wanted to do?
RICHARD: I guess so, yeah. As a boy, my Mother used to allow my brother and I go to movies at a very young age and I was very impressed by it. Impressionable. I felt it was something I needed to do. I guess actors become actors for very special reasons. It's what I do. It's my profession and I think acting is an honourable profession, as Gregory Peck has said many times. My sense is it's not everything. It's not all you do in life. I'm interested in travel and I hit the tennis ball a bit. I'm interested in people. I read voraciously. I'm a history buff. I've met an awful lot of interesting people in this world, through the film medium. It's led me in other directions as well, which have been equally satisfying. Balance. Balance is the key.
CJAD: Well you've been rather successful as an actor. Now, successful as an Executive Producer. The upcoming movie of the week is BIONIC EVERMORE and it's airing on CBS I believe on November 8th, is that correct?
RICHARD: BIONIC EVERMORE.
CJAD: Starring Lindsay Wagner and Lee Majors and of course Richard Anderson. I thank you, Mr. Anderson for talking with us this evening.
RICHARD: The pleasure is mine, Peter.