Welcome to The B-Side, from The Film Stage. Here we talk about movie stars! Not the movies that made them famous or kept them famous, but the ones that they made in between.
And today we talk to the legend Richard Dreyfuss, currently starring in the film Sweetwater, in theaters now. Written and directed by Martin Guigui, the film tells the true story of basketball icon Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract. Dreyfuss plays league president Maurice Podoloff, stuck between a desire to integrate the sport and a perceived need to keep the more racist team owners happy.
We chat with Dreyfuss about the new film and a select few of his lesser-seen gems. Among them are the Steven Spielberg 1989 romance Always (“It was my chance to play Spencer Tracy,” Dreyfuss says of the film), the gambling comedy Let It Ride, and the Sidney Lumet drama Night Falls on Manhattan.
We marvel at Dreyfuss’ ability to play complex characters, often understanding two opposing things as true at the same time. His innate charm often serves as a balm when playing thornier cads and conmen. The man himself speaks to what he searches for in his characters, marks the pronounced post-war change in Jimmy Stewart’s career as an essential reference point, and comments on his reputation preceding him unfairly at times.
For more from The B-Side, you can check out highlights of actors/directors and the films discussed in one place here.
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