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

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/sag-foundation-conversation-with.jpg
SAG Foundation Conversation with the Cast of NBC’s ‘Marry Me’
Earlier this month NBC put in an order for five additional episodes of its freshman romantic comedy series, Marry Me. While that isn’t exactly the shot of confidence that a full-season renewal provides, it’s enough to keep fans of the comedy — which is about an engaged couple who are determined to get married despite […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/michael-caine.jpg
Michael Caine Talks About Acting With Your Eyes and Does an Amazing Cold Read of a Script
This week acting legend Michael Caine appears in his sixth film directed by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar. In an interview clip from The New York Times that was shot around the release of the last movie Caine worked on with Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises, reporter Melena Ryzik spoke to Caine about his six-decade career. In […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/director-dan-gilroy-narrates-a-s.jpg
Director Dan Gilroy Narrates a Scene from ‘Nightcrawler’ Featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo
Nightcrawler is easily one of the best movies of the year and its star, Jake Gyllenhaal, is outstanding. Definitely check this out when you have a chance. In the above clip, writer/director Dan Gilroy narrates a sequence from the film that features Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. He talks about giving Gyllenhaal a small piece of […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/matthew-mcconaughey-talks-losing.png
Matthew McConaughey Talks Losing the Lead Role in ‘Bernie’ to Jack Black
Though Matthew McConaughey has increased his earned plenty of respect since he started taking on more substantive movie roles in the last few years (with Dallas Buyers Club even earning him an Oscar for Best Actor), one director that always has been a fan of McConaughey is Richard Linklater. Linklater gave McConaughey his first big […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/watch-benedict-cumberbatch-film.jpg
Watch: Benedict Cumberbatch Film the Smaug Motion Capture for ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
Though Peter Jackson‘s movie adaptations of The Hobbit haven’t received the same critical acclaim as his films based on the book’s sequel, The Lord of the Rings (turning a 300 page book into 9+ hours of film tends to do that), fans are still eagerly anticipating the release of the final part of The Hobbit […]