In September 1977 I was given permission by Roy Scheider to start his Official Fan Club. As a 16 year old kid whose favorite film was (and still is) “JAWS,” I was in the proverbial hog heaven. Roy passed away on February 10, 2008 at the age of 75. This weekend I was going through a box of some old fan club material (fan letters, etc) and came across an interview I did through the mail with Roy in February 1980 shortly after he was nominated for an Academy Award for “All That Jazz.” He was also appearing on Broadway with Blythe Danner and Raul Julia in the play “Betrayal.” The papers are yellowed but Roy’s handwritten answers to my question are still bold. Unless you were a member of the Fan Club you are reading this for the first time in what is truly a MovieMikes exclusive. Enjoy!
Mr. Scheider, let me first say congratulations on your Academy Award nomination!! I found your performance to be fantastic!! (NOTE TO THE READERS: Please excuse all of the exclamation points. I was 19 years old at the time) I am crossing my fingers from now until April 14th (the night the awards were presented) Though your ability is all that’s necessary to win the Oscar a little luck also helps! Congrats again!
Q: There is much talk of “All That Jazz” being almost a Bob Fosse biography. What is your opinion? I noticed some similarities.
ROY SCHEIDER: Yes – in New York there is too much “bio” talk. It is somewhat biographical but only 1/3. The rest of the nation identifies with the character of “Joe Gideon” as just another crazy workaholic.
Q: You were nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “The French Connection” but lost out to Ben Johnson in “The Last Picture Show.” Now you’re nominated as Best Actor for “All That Jazz.” What do you think, truthfully, your chances are for the Oscar? I personally think your closest competition is Dustin Hoffman (nominated that year for “Kramer vs Kramer”), who you worked with in “Marathon Man,” and the closest he is second!
RS: Ben Johnson won because he had a very dramatic private scene and because he was a veteran actor. We all pay our dues. Dustin will win – – -he has paid his dues. (Of course, Roy was right. The winner on Oscar night was Dustin Hoffman)
Q: I recently saw your first film, “The Curse of the Living Corpse,” on television. What, in your opinion, have been the major breakthroughs in films and production qualities since then and “All That Jazz?”
RS: “Living Corpse” was my first. It cost $35,000. “Jazz,” my last, cost $10.5 million and was directed by a genius filmmaker.
Q: There was talk some time ago about a film from the people who did “Animal House” and Zanuck/Brown to be titled “Jaws 3, People 0.” Were you approached to perform in this film and, if you weren’t, would you? I am aware of your reluctance to do “Jaws 2.” Also, hope you didn’t mind the “All that JAWS” poster!! (I had sent Roy a mock up poster combining his characters from “JAWS” and “All that Jazz” entitled “All That JAWS.” As this was early 1980 I’m going to go ahead and lay claim to being the first person to come up with that).
RS: 1. Definitely NO! 2. Not bad – – “J’s” seem to be lucky for me.
Q: What was the hardest part of making “All that Jazz?” I’ll assume it was the dancing.
RS: Yes. Not the learning or the doing but the repeating, again and again, for the camera angles. I’m getting older and those were muscles I’d never used.
Q: What was it like returning to the stage in “Betrayal?” Did you realize you had missed the live audience? Would you like to do another play in the near future?
RS: It is refreshing. Like getting on a bicycle again. It’s good to be dealing with ideas. I’ll be tired of it by June. Yes – – I’ll do it again in the future.
Q: What other projects do you have in the works? Films, plays…giving dance lessons?
RS: Reading film scripts.
Q: Finally, when you win the Oscar can I have the carnation you wear in your lapel?
RS: I won’t, so there goes your carnation. If I do you’ll get it!