July 7, 2020 Interview – Steve Guttenberg
Back in the 1980s, one of the most easily recognizable faces on the silver screen was Steve Guttenberg. Known for his leading roles in Hollywood hits such as 1984’s Police Academy, 1985’s Cocoon, 1986’s Short Circuit, 1987’s Three Men and a Baby, plus more, Guttenberg is an exceptional, underrated talent. Tied with Gene Hackman for appearing in the most films in The Screen Actors Guild from 1980-1990, Guttenberg is an actor who continues to regularly study the arts into the present day.
Spending his time in theater and partaking in various other artistic endeavors, Guttenberg recently took on roles in the hit ABC series The Goldbergs, as well as in Hulu’s Into the Dark new entry Good Boy. Always happy to be working and taking on new challenges, the seasoned actor sat down to talk his career, artistic fulfillment, starring in Good Boy, plus a lot more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in entertainment as an actor for over four decades, attaining a massive amount of success in film/television. What initially inspired you to pursue a career in acting?
Steve Guttenberg – We have a family friend who became my godfather who was very successful as an actor. He had a very creative and fulfilling life, so that is what attracted me to the craft. As I started in theater, around 12 years old, I found it very rewarding.
Cryptic Rock – It really took off from there for you. Through everything, you have always shown a lot of diversity in film, from hits like the Police Academy movies to more serious roles, as well. Is it important to you to show that diversity as an actor?
Steve Guttenberg – You always want to keep popping up in different holes, to quote Jack Nicholson – who was and still is one of the greatest actors around. An actor can only do what he’s offered. I was very lucky, and continue to be, in getting offered interesting, challenging parts that fulfill me, as well as give me time and space to apply my craft.
Cryptic Rock – Well, you have shown yourself to be very versatile. Speaking of different roles, you star in the new Hulu Into the Dark Horror film Good Boy. How did this project come about for you?
Steve Guttenberg – We got a call from Jason Blum’s office inquiring if I would be interested in doing one of his films. Judy Greer was starring in it, and she’s a fine actress, so I was really excited about working with her. I also found the script to be well-written and not by the numbers. I thought it was a great idea to do it.
Cryptic Rock – It is an interesting story which is complemented by a great cast. You have this little dog named Reuben who looks harmless but clearly is not. What do you think Reuben is?
Steve Guttenberg – I think it warrants a thought into something supernatural. I think that is where the real magic comes in.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, there is an unknown force behind him. You portray Don, the boss of Judy Greer’s character Maggie. What was it like playing him?
Steve Guttenberg – This character was pretty easy. He’s a supporting character and the idea of a supporting character is to be a wall that helps hold up the building, which is Judy Greer. My job is really to make Judy look good, and that’s what any supporting part does. You are supposed to be there and make sure everything you do entitles the lead character to do her job the best she can.
The director, Tyler MacIntyre, is a very talented guy. Aaron and Will Eisenberg also made a script that gives credence and believability to the idea that this is a dog with super powers. My job was really just to make Judy look good, and that’s not hard because she is such a great actress.
Cryptic Rock – Everyone involved really did a great job. It is a fun, entertaining installment in the Into the Dark series. You have worked in Horror a little bit in the past, is it a genre you would consider doing more in the future?
Steve Guttenberg – Well it’s called show business. The show would be to do King Lear or Henry IV, and the business is to make money. There are certain Horror films like Rosemary’s Baby (1968) that elevate to cinema. That’s what you aspire to do with any Horror movie; to elevate it to cinema. As I said, it’s business though.
There are certain genres that satisfy the audience in a business sense, one of them would be an Action picture, and the other would be a Horror picture. Many of them, although they are written and directed really well, are revue pieces. They are very important to our industry and I’m always happy to be in a picture that creates commerce. Not only does it satisfy the audience, but it helps the industry. That’s another part of the actor and an artist’s job: to continue to strengthen of the industry.
Cryptic Rock – Of course, very good point. We spoke of how you were very active in the ’80s both in film/television. In fact, you were one of the most active actors in Hollywood at the time. What was that period like for you?
Steve Guttenberg – You know, being an actor is the same every day. From when I started when I was 12 to today, I try to be very creative every day. I take classes every day, whether it’s art, singing, dance, or mask training. The perception to the audience and buyers is that you have periods of being very busy and not very busy. That is actually not the truth for me, because nothing has changed. I’ve never been without a job, including when I was a waiter at the age of 18. I’ve never been without a roof, without food in the fridge, or without the ability to share this all with my family.
The time that it was perceived that I was very busy was a perception from the outside. That doesn’t matter to me, really what matters to me is how I perceive myself. I’ve never perceived myself any different from the day I started until today. I work hard every day, I put in a 10 hour day every day. I have a great family, friends, and quality of life. I’m an artist and I make my living creating art. There are some times when people buy your paintings at the gallery, and there are some times when people don’t buy your paintings at the gallery. That doesn’t matter! What matters to me is if I am artistically fulfilled, and I am.
Cryptic Rock – That is the most important and if you are fulfilled creatively, everything else will follow. Beyond Into the Dark’s Good Boy, do you have any other projects coming up?
Steve Guttenberg – Yes. Right now I’m writing a play for well-known, successful Broadway Producer Julian Schlossberg. That’s what I have on tap for now.
Cryptic Rock – Excellent. Where will it be shown?
Steve Guttenberg – The first place we’re going to do it is the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey, which is a highly-regarded regional theater. We’ll go from there. Hopefully it will be good and we’ll be able to continue it.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool, everyone will have to look out for that. You recently had a role on ABC’s hit series The Goldbergs. What was it like working on that show?
Steve Guttenberg – They are a very talented group of people. Adam F. Goldberg runs a tight ship and employs everybody that’s a talent in the Comedy business. The people who have gone through that show are a who’s who, especially on the writing and behind the scenes; they are great directors and writers. Adam is also a complete business unto himself.
I enjoy it. I enjoyed creating the character of Dr. Katman. I really had a creative experience doing it.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear, and your character was a great addition to the show. Last question for you. You mentioned you enjoy Horror films that turn into cinema. If you have any favorites in that genre, what are some of them?
Steve Guttenberg – I would say Wait Until Dark (1967), Frankenstein (1931) , Dracula (1931), and The Exorcist (1973). I actually thought Get Out (2017) was also very finely done too.
Cryptic Rock – Those are all classics. Get Out, on the more modern end, was well done and very psychological.
Steve Guttenberg – Yes. All Horror is psychological, because if you’re mind doesn’t take a leap of faith, then you really know it’s a man in a monster suit. I think the devices that Jordan Peele used in Get Out were terrific. Ultimately, it was derivative of other films we’ve seen, but it was done so well.