The Kominsky Method star Paul Reiser takes his turn answering Queue’s Q’s.
Queue: What was your first role, and can you tell us about that experience?
Paul Reiser: My first acting job — and it’s kind of crazy that I would start at such a high prestige gig — was in Diner in 1982. I stumbled into that by accident and it sort of became the launch for everything. And then, ironically, there’s a Diner reference this season, and Barry Levinson is in this season. So Diner’s the gift that keeps giving.
Who or what inspires you the most?
PR: I have often said, and told my wife, that without her I would have no career. I write down everything she says, put it in my brain, and it takes me somewhere. So marrying a smart woman was really clever of me. And then, I’m often creatively inspired by snippets of dialogue. Walking into a store or driving by someone, you hear the tail end of somebody else’s conversation out of context. I always find it a launching pad for a moment or a scene. So, my wife and total strangers: Those are the two that inspire me.
If you could play any other character on The Kominsky Method, who would it be?
PR: I’d probably want to be Michael Douglas, just to experience the thrill of working with me; I would like that. He had that joy every day. But I think that the character of Sandy Kominsky is so well-written and so deep and so rich, it’s hard to imagine going back and reshooting it now, with me — I can’t, so I think we’ll go with what Michael Douglas has done.
What is your favorite on set snack?
PR: Well, here’s where COVID paid off because normally on a set I will start off snacking very healthfully, just a little carrot and a piece of celery, and then a couple of weeks in, it’s the Hershey’s Kisses and the little mini Hershey’s bars. And it’s all sitting out, so you just go and take these silly handfuls. But with COVID, they changed the protocol, so you couldn’t take, you had to ask. It’s a very different thing to say to somebody, “Yes, can you give me 97 M&Ms please?” So, that went away, and you end up saying, “Give me one carrot.”
What inspired you to pursue a career in acting?
PR: As a kid, I was drawn to comedy and stand-up more than acting. I never watched actors and said, “I want to do that.” But I would watch George Carlin, Robert Klein, and any number of guys, and just go, “Oh, that seems like a thing.” And growing up, one of the only actors, there were very few, that moved me, was Peter Falk, who I got to work with about 15 years ago. I wrote a movie for the two of us just because I’ve wanted to work with him for so long. I idolized him. There’s something that Peter Falk does onscreen that is different from what anybody else does. It’s not acting; it’s just something that speaks to me. He was an inspiration for me. I don’t think I watched him and said, “Boy, I want to be an actor because of that.” But I was drawn to him and whatever magic he was spinning.
What is your dream role?
PR: I don’t know that I have one — and I’m always surprised when something appeals to me because most things I’ll read and go either, “Gee, that sounds like everything I’ve ever done,” or, “Boy, that’s so different. I don’t think I could do that.” And then, once in a while I’m surprised. It’s fun to yell at people because I don’t do that enough in life; maybe I should. So, any role that’s a little bit more cantankerous than I allow myself to be in reality is always appealing.
What was the last thing you watched on Netflix?
PR: I just finished watching Shtisel, which is mind-blowingly good. The writing on that show is so moving and deep that it’s kind of inspiring.