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Interview with Steve Guttenberg
September 23, 2002   6:00pm (pst)    

    I had the opportunity tonight to speak with Steve Guttenberg about his upcoming movie P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD.  Which is due out in theatres January 10th, 2003.
    I called Steve at his office in Pacific Palisades and found him to be warm and funny and very charming.  This was actually my first celebrity interview (my first interview period, to be more honest) and he instantly put me at ease.  Please excuse my paraphrasing, my tape recorder was experiencing technical difficulties   - sorry about that Steve!

This is what we talked about...

KATHY - Your new film, P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD is an adaptation of both the novel and the play by James Kirkwood (A CHORUS LINE).  What in particular was the appeal for YOU to bring this story to the screen?

STEVE - This has been a favorite story of mine for years.  It's about 30 years old, yet it's as timely now as it was when it was first written.  I started working on the story on the 25th anniversary of it's release.
    The play, is primarily about two men and the at times violent relationship between them, but I've always seen it as more of a story about the relationship between two countries and how you need to overcome violence to get along.

That is a very important message for our time, isn't it?

    Absolutely.  And because it was so important for me, I knew it was a story I had to make myself.
    Besides, if it came from a studio, it would have never been offered to me.  It would have been cast with Matt Damon or John Leguizamo or someone like that.

It's a bit edgier than most of the films your fans are used to seeing you in.


What negative impact - if any - do you think the implied homosexual elements in this story, could have on some of your fans?

    The audience is very intelligent.  They will be able to see the story for what it is.  My fans know they can trust me.  They know they won't be disappointed and I try my best to never let them down.  I have the greatest fans.

You've made a few movies during your career that could be considered risky choices.  Is that a conscious decision when you're selecting a script?

    I've never consciously looked for a project because I thought it would be risky.  I look for a project that feels right at the time or something that I can feel very passionate about, like P.S.

Getting back to P.S., you not only star in this film but you also wrote the screenplay.  Had you done much writing before this?

    I've done quite a bit of writing, as most writers do, but most of it is as yet unproduced.  Most of what a writer writes goes unproduced.
    I did have a great deal of help from Christopher Vogler.  A great writer, his book "A Writer's Journey" should be required reading for any screenwriter.  I found him to be an invaluable asset.

And this also marks your directorial debut.  Congratulations, that's no small feat.

    Thank you, you're such a doll.

What was the largest obstacle you encountered as a first time director?

    (laughs)  What wasn't an obstacle?  Everything was new.  The entire process was new for me, from writing to the casting.  Film stocks, lenses, angles.  Editing.  Marketing, releasing and distributing.
    I had seen these things done before on the other films I've worked on and the television I've done, but it's a whole other thing when you're doing it yourself.  Like I said, everything was new.  Everything was an obstacle.

Did you have a mentor to help along the way?

    Lots.  Lots and lots, but I don't want to be a namedropper.

Oh, come on...

    I've worked with a lot of great people through the years and I found them all to be enormously helpful during production.  They were really there for me.

How did you decide on your cast and crew?

    First I happened upon a great Line Producer.  Kyle Clark.  Actually, Kyle was my driver about ten years ago, and since then has worked his way up through the industry.  He's amazing.  Very knowledgeable and very driven.  And most importantly, he's honest and I know he's someone who can be trusted.    The rest of the cast and crew came together pretty easily.  I knew I had to find the most talented people, who were available when we needed them for what we could afford to pay them.

Did Steve Guttenberg, the director, find it difficult to direct Steve Guttenberg, the actor?

    (laughs)  Well, that actor, Steve Guttenberg is a real ugly cuss.  (laughs again)
    Actually, we had about two months of rehearsal time before filming began, so by the time the cameras finally rolled, they got along pretty well.

Did you find yourself becoming a bit schizophrenic during filming of were you able to maintain a level of sanity?

    I was pretty schizophrenic to begin with, so if anything, it probably normalled me out.

So do you consider yourself a bit of a control freak?

    Not freak so much, I prefer "Control Requester".

As writer, producer, director and actor, you've now seen the sights from both sides of the camera.  Which view do your prefer?

    It depends on where you're standing.  If you're an out of work actor or an out of work director, the scenery isn't so great.
    There are elements of all of it that I really enjoy.  It would be too hard for me to chose one over the other.

Do you have any plans to return to the director's chair anytime soon?

    As a matter of fact, I'm already starting work on my next project now.

So, then, when you read a script now, do you read it from an actor's perspective or a director's?

    Neither.  And both.  I just look for whatever I feel is the best material.

Can you tell me a little bit about your next project?  Or is it too soon to share those secrets?

    Lets just say it's a story filled with real good laughs....

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