Tony Danza Talks Working with Joseph Gordon-Levitt on ‘Don Jon’ and Going Back to Acting Class

Don-Jon-Tony-Danza-Joseph-gorden-levittTony Danza was always impressed with Joseph Gordon-Levitt—even back when they appeared together in Angels in the Outfield in 1994.  Now Gordon-Levitt is directing his old co-star in the new film, Don Jon.

“I’ve always had sort of a paternal thing for him.  It’s kind of a cool symmetry, actually,” Danza said in an interview with The Huffington Post.  “Here’s a little anecdote: I really had a paternal thing for him.  I can’t help myself; I do that with kids.  He was so terrific in that movie; such a good kid.  I’m an inline skater, he’s an inline skater.  So we would skate together around Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.  The smooth concrete there; it’s fabulous.  Every once in a while, I’d say, ‘Come on, Joe.  Get your skates, we’ll go skating.’  He’d say, ‘No, I’m following the director today.  I want to see what he does.’  So he always had this in the back of his mind.  At 12!  I was mad!  I was like, ‘I’m going to be a jerk and you’re going to be a director.’”

Initially, Danza could have felt reluctant taking on the part.  After all, Don Jon is Gordon-Levitt’s first writing and directing project.  But with Danza’s years of experience in the business, he knew he would be taking a good risk.

“I had no thoughts about not taking the role,” Danza admitted.  “What I did have thoughts about—really concerns—was that here I am going into a production with people like Joseph, who just worked with Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan, Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johansson and Glenne Headly.  To be perfectly candid, I was afraid of looking like a minor leaguer.  Like they brought me up to the big show and I looked like it.  I didn’t want to look like a AAA player or AA player in that situation.  I didn’t really have legitimate concerns, though; there’s a certain truism that when you play with a better tennis player, you play a little bit better.  Well, when you act with those kind of people who make it so real, it makes it that much easier.”

Another element that made the process go smoothly was the amount of rehearsal time Gordon-Levitt allowed on Don Jon (which happens to co-star the actors Danza mentioned.)  “We did have a rehearsal.  Joseph believes in that,” the 62-year-old said.  “I’ll be honest with you: I worked really hard on the prep.  I worked on my own.  I was determined that if I was going to get this chance, I was going to be the best I could be.  Just serendipitously, right when this movie came, I had decided to take a 10-week beginners Meisner acting class in New York.  I just wanted to go sit in a classroom.  I went to 54th street, to the acting studio, and I took a 10-week course: twice a week, almost four hours per night.  It was me and a bunch of 25 year olds, and it was fabulous.

“Then, when I got the movie, I mentioned it to the teacher and he said, ‘Well, let’s work it.’  I got together with this troupe of actors and we made dinner and had dinner scenes.  I got to do it and do it and do it.  I’m a big believer that if you can act then you should just learn the damn thing.  Learn it so it’s in your bones.  Like a dance number.  You wouldn’t go out and perform a dance number until it’s in your bones; it’s the same kind of thing with acting.”

Don Jon has been shown at the Sundance Film Festival and the South by Southwest Film Festival.

1 Comment

  1. Ben Leasure via Facebook

    March 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Impressive!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/bill-hader.jpg
Bill Hader: “I kind of fell into acting” (video)
Bill Hader, starring in the soon to be released The Skeleton Twins, talks about the film and how he fell into acting and then got “crazy lucky” in this quick video from USA Today. Share on Tumblr
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/director-john-carney-narrates-a.jpg
Director John Carney Narrates a Scene from ‘Begin Again’ Starring Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo
Director John Carney (Once) narrates a scene from his new film, Begin Again. Starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, the scene shows the first time the two characters meet. I haven’t seen it yet but I’ve heard it’s great.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/holler-if-you-hear-me-gma.jpg
Watch the Cast of Broadway’s ‘Holler If You Hear Me’ Perform ‘California Love’ on GMA
The cast of Broadway’s newest musical, Holler If You Hear Me with music from Tupac Shakur, performed on Good Morning America this morning. Singing ‘California Love’, the cast (including the teriffic Christopher Jackson – read our interview here), show why they’re the most energetic and inspiring group of actors on Broadway. Holler If Ya Hear [...]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/behind-the-scenes-of-dawn-of-the.jpg
Behind the Scenes of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ with Performance Capture Actor Terry Notary
Actor Terry Notary is 1 of 5 actors playing the apes in the new Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. “When you see armies of apes,” he says, that’s “five of us.” Check out the video where you can watch his performance capture work.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/melissa-mccarthy-daily-show.jpg
Melissa McCarthy and John Stewart Talk About Terrible Commercial Auditions on ‘The Daily Show’
Melissa McCarthy stopped by The Daily Show last week to plug about her new movie, Tammy. She talked about how she loved working with her husband, Ben Falcone (director of Tammy) and then segued into talking about some horrible working situations. The always hilarious McCarthy then started to tell host John Stewart about a particular [...]