Red Carpet Interview
Lifetime Achievement Award Male Character Actor – 21st Annual LA Music Awards
Writer, performer, director, producer and Oscar-nominee, Larry Hankin, is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces in the world of character actors. Through the years he has made us laugh with his memorable portrayals of zany characters, in standup comic clubs, on the legit stage, in A-list features, and on some of televisions’ top rated situation comedies.
Upon graduating from Syracuse University, with a degree in Industrial Design, he made a beeline for New York City with designs on the entertainment industry and started plying his unique brand of humorous storytelling in coffee houses in Greenwich Village. These stints led him to open for acts that included Woody Allen, jazz legend Miles Davis and pop icons The Lovin’ Spoonful.However, still looking for a steady paycheck, he decided to check out Chicago, where he soon landed a steady paying gig with The Second City comedy troupe. But, when a splinter group of malcontents decided to head west, Larry was invited to join ‘The Committee’ and soon found himself in middle of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district doing political-satirical-improvisational theatre. Destined to be famous, two years later, they returned to New York City, headlining the Great White Way at Broadway’s St. James Theatre, for a limited three-month run. Upon hearing the news, his showbiz hating father simply replied, “And then what?”
And, so began his odyssey to Hollywood where his long, lean, lanky, buffoonish frame began getting him plum roles in film and television; parts in soon-to-be-classic television shows such as “Laverne & Shirley,” “Eight Is Enough,” “Family Ties,” and “Alf,” with early film appearances in “American Hot Wax” with Jay Leno and “Yours, Mine and Ours” with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, leading to his featured role as Charlie Butz, the man in the cell next to Clint Eastwood in “Escape from Alcatraz.”
But comedic storytelling still called to him, so with his Alcatraz paycheck, his biggest to date, he decided to write, direct and star in “Solly’s Diner,” debuting his wry comedic alter-ego, Sometime Jones, on film. The production was a huge success leading to an Oscar nomination in the ‘Live Action Short’ category, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The film was also picked up for television and video distribution, in addition to being screened at national and international festivals, that included Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as Goteborg, Sweden and Venice, Italy.
On a roll, he went on to appear in John Huston’s “Annie,” “Running Scared” with Billy Crystal, three John Hughes’ pictures “She’s Having My Baby” with Kevin Bacon, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” with Steve Martin and John Candy, and “Home Alone” with Mcaulay Culkin, as well as “Billy Madison” and “Pretty Woman.”
Television guest shots led to his recurring role of Mr. Heckles, the downstairs neighbor on “Friends” and to his impersonation as ‘the Other Kramer,’ who stole the raisins, on “Seinfeld,” in the ‘TV Show within The Show,’ episode
On stage, Larry played Jacques, in the American premiere of the French farce “Jacques and His Master,” opposite David Rasche (“Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”) at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. The play won the coveted Triple Crown, nabbing Critic’s Choice Awards from the Los Angeles Times, Herald Examiner and the Daily News. Rave reviews singled out Hankin as “delicious,” “fiercely comic” and “a road-wise hobo.”
But story writing, story telling and film production still called to him. He was haunted his by his gaunt counterpart Sometimes Jones, and after his real hair turned white, Jones’ alter-ego, a delusional aging biker named Emmett ‘Sagittarius’ Deemus emerged.
These vagabond satirical stories became the basis for Hankin’s book Fables of Sometimes Jones, as well as a CD “Larry Hankin:Pomes & Stories” released on New Alliance Records
Returning to the stage, Larry produced his poetic one-man show, “Emmett Sez,” which recalled the eccentrics’ manifesto of a homeless beggar, former businessman and philosopher, who dares to steal a Hell’s Angel motorcycle for an adventure of a lifetime. It opened at the Met Theatre, to rave reviews. “A Don Quixote for the 90’s,” was the banner headline in the Los Angeles Times; LA Weekly proclaimed Hankin, “…a wiry, homeless sage…an underclass Will Rogers, spouting yarns, witticisms…both brittle and sharp…an amalgam of Lewis Carroll…and Grimm fairytales, all starring Buster Keaton.”
With these accolades Hankin decided to take a sabbatical to develop both Jones and his feuding uncle Emmett into a series of short fables into a full-length feature script entitled “The Outlaw Emmett Deemus.”
But, once again, on his storytelling journey, he strayed into the land of Randalf, the long lost younger brother of Gandalf, the Grey, the great wizard from The Lord of the Rings, creating a magical, mystifying and amusing tale of wizardry going amok…by happenstance, for the right reasons.
So, next up for Larry Hankin and his cast of alter-egos, Sometimes Jones and Uncle Emmett, (among other luminaries, such as Osama bin Laden, magic frogs and serial killers), is the Larry Hankin Funny Short Film Festival, a compilation of shorts that explores the relationships between Jones, Emmett and Hankin, reeled into delightful spoofs that are sure to delight audiences around the globe.