Here’s an interesting interview by the New York Post with Richard Belzer of Law & Order SVU. He gives a lot of interesting information about what makes “The Belz” tick.
Q&A WITH RICHARD BELZER
THE UNCONVENTIONAL ACTOR/COMIC/WRITER (PHEW) TALKS DOGS, ANCIENT HISTORY AND BEING TOO FUNNY FOR THE ARMY
By LARRY GETLEN
January 4, 2009
Richard Belzer is best known for playing detective John Munch on "Law and Order: SVU" (and on any other series that'll have him - he's played Munch on more shows than any actor has played the same character in TV history). But his start in show biz was on the stage. Belzer is known for his unconventional attitudes - he proudly embraces the term "conspiracy theorist" - and this has made him one of the top comedians throughout the '70s. Last year, Belzer brought his comic sensibility to publishing with "I Am Not A Cop!" a book that featured an actor named Richard Belzer who plays a TV detective named John Munch. But for those who'd like to see that sensibility in its original habitat, Belzer appears with Richard Lewis at Town Hall on January 17.
You've played Detective John Munch on 10 separate tV shows. At this point, do shows want Munch on just because of the record?
I think it's more flattering than that. People are so enamored of the character that when they see in a script, "detective," they think, let's bring Belzer in. They did that on "The X-Files," on "Arrested Development," on "Sesame Street." It's been so much fun.
You recently released a novel with yourself as the main character. Why did you take that approach?
I've always been fascinated by the confluence of celebrity and reality, and I'm a big fan of film noir. I wanted to combine all those elements into a kind of 21st-century, noir-mystery comedy. The idea that I'm an actor who plays a detective on TV who gets caught up in a real crime appealed to me because it gives me fictional license, but I can use a lot of reality. It's kind of a reality novel.
You started your movie career in the cult classic "The Groove Tube," from the early '70s , which was druggie and raw. Can you imagine a movie like that succeeding today?
No. We laid out the joke in a very prosaic way because we were kind of the first people to do satire of movies and television at that level.
The "Weekend Update" format for "SNL" and the "Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow" tag line came out of "The Groove Tube," didn't they?
Yes. One of Lorne Michaels' direct influences in creating "Saturday Night Live," by his own admission, was "The Groove Tube."
It's hard to imagine, but you were in the Army. How did you get along there?
I was discharged - under honorable conditions - for being non-adaptable to military service. I was deemed too funny to carry a gun. I was in for seven months, went through basic training, got a top secret clearance to become a radio intercept operator, went AWOL once. I was too funny for words and was asked to leave. I didn't want to kill anybody. Call me crazy.
HOw did having testicular cancer change your life?
There are a lot of cliches about near-death experiences, how they make you appreciate life more. I think they're much exaggerated. It was very sobering and you do learn to value things you hadn't before, but life is so complex. You still have to earn everything. I wouldn't recommend having cancer for the wisdom.
* "[Bob] Cousy was one of the early players to dribble behind his back and do behind-the-back passes. He was a legendary ball player in the '50s and early sixties that I tried to copy."
* "I take photos. I shoot a lot of landscapes and flowers, people and animals. I'm getting ready to publish a book of my photographs. I'm using Panasonic Lumix with a Leica lens. It's a small digital camera that takes incredible pictures, and it's become an opiate for me. It gives me hours of unending joy."
* "If you Google my name and 'Bebe,' there's thousands of entries of my dog on red carpets. The photographers will say, 'Bebe, over here!' They don't care about me anymore."
* "I have a house in Bozouls, in the southwest of France. It's a little farming village. [My wife and I]have a beautiful 500-year-old stone mill house on a waterfall. The day-to-day lifestyle of French country living is totally antithetical to anything I do in America."
* "I'm a big, big fan of black and white film noir. Films like 'Out of the Past' and 'Murder, My Sweet.' The idea that the films of the '30s and '40s were coming out of the Depression and World War II, I'm fascinated by the psychology of what purpose they filled. Some of them were light and frothy, some were anti-prison-abuse films, and Hollywood was really raw and evolving."
* "I'm a bag [I think they meant big] fan of Roman history, particularly the period prior to and after Julius Caesar's reign. On some level they were so incredibly advanced and yet barbaric at the same time. Things haven't changed much."
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