It's safe to say that once they made Robert Mitchum, they then turned around and broke the mold. The late actor was a one of the kind talent -- a fantastic performer who was every bit as interesting when he was just being himself. He was the antithesis of today's celebrities -- Mitchum didn't care about fame in the slightest. A tough guy actor who often made you believe he was more than capable of doing everything he'd done onscreen in real-life, Mitchum was always a great interview. While surfing around, looking for something else entirely, I stumbled across this Salon piece from back in 1997. In it, author Dick Lochte reminisces about the actor's career after his passing and shares excerpts from a four-hour chat -- one filled with vodka, no less -- they'd had twenty years earlier. It's a great piece of writing, made memorable by Mitchum's characteristic candor and humor. Don't expect any politically correct answers in this one.
As is to be expected, the discussion covers a lot of ground. And since copious amounts of booze were involved, it does tend to jump around a bit. Still, it's Mitchum being Mitchum, which means you'll have a great time with it.
Hit the jump to read a few of the highlights before you check out the full interview at Salon.
When the subject of Night of the Hunter comes up, Mitchum reflects on the finished project in a way only he could: "That was a lovely exercise. But they worked on it for five months after I was finished and Charles (director Charles Laughton) put in a lot of shots of owls and pussycats. Said he thought I was too horrific and he didn't want people dragging their children off the streets when I passed by. The character was too strong for him, but that was what he asked me for to begin with. So he tried to undercut it with root beer floats and lacy laundry."
His thoughts on art and commerce: "The less I like the script, the higher my price. And they pay. They may pay in yen, but they pay. Not that I'm a complete whore, understand. There are movies I won't do for any amount. I turned down Patton and I turned down Dirty Harry. Movies that piss on the world. If I've got $5 in my pocket, I don't need to make money that f*cking way, daddy."
Finally, the actor sums up his existence like this: "I've been called a cynic, which I surely can't deny because I am a cynical-style girl. I happen to believe a certain amount of cynicism is inherent in the beast. But there's a little romanticism in there, too. And more than a little hedonism. You can use this to sum it all up: I know what I'm doing is bullsh!t. But I've got to admit, it's also a pretty good ride."
Looking back now, "a pretty good ride" sounds like an understatement.