Famed journalist and writer Lawrence Grobel, who has just released two books of screenplays, shares some of his favorite things, his greatest extravagance and biggest regret in this spontaneous and funny Q&A. The Mozart of interviewers makes for a great interview himself, and here’s proof.
What are the first things you do in the morning?
Turn on NPR and my Kindle around 7:00 a.m. Listen and check emails and Words with Friends (I play with 7 different people). Occasional sex, if I’m lucky. Do my limited exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, leg-ups, and hand weights). Bathroom. Breakfast. Ready to start the day.
How does a perfect day look like for you?
When I’m doing something creative. And sex, if I’m lucky.
What does luxury mean to you?
Doing what I want to do and not having to answer to anybody but myself.
What’s your idea of poverty?
Not doing what I want to do and answering to someone not myself.
What is the best idea you’ve ever had?
I just had one that could be a fantastic idea, having to do with holograms, but I can’t tell you anymore.
And the worst?
Not an idea, but a decision: not to write Ava Gardner’s book when she asked. And not to sue the producer and writer who stole my Evening with Truman Capote play (based on my book of conversations with Capote) and turned it into TRU that went to Broadway.
When and where do you most like to write?
My office on the top floor of my house. Any time after 9:00 a.m. I rarely write at night any more, though if I had a big project, then I’ll work until my head hurts.
If you could commit a crime without ever being caught, what would it be?
Something that would bring me many millions of dollars so I could help my family and friends.
What do you think is the biggest myth about journalists?
That we write fake news.
What is the form of art that touches you the most?
All art touches me. Great paintings (Picasso, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Hopper); sculptures (Michelangelo, Rodin, Moore); poetry (Eliot, Donne, Dante, Yeats, Ginsberg); crafts (textiles, glass, clay); voices (Pavarotti, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Morgana King); and, of course, literature (too many to name, but starting with Joyce, Fitzgerald, Dostoevsky, Donleavy, Mailer, Capote, Bellow, Roth).
What’s the most terrible thing you would do for money?
I wouldn’t. Money doesn’t mean that much to me. It’s a means to an end. But certainly not worth a piece of your soul.
What’s your favorite part of the day and why?
Morning, noon, night. I love being alive.
What is the most useful invention for you?
Seriously? Probably the car, the airplane, the telephone, the computer, our Vitamix, a good coffee maker. And today it’s over 100 degrees, so I’d have to include the fan that is blowing on me as I write this.
What is your biggest disappointment?
That I didn’t do Ava Gardner’s book and didn’t sue the thieves who took my Capote play and ran away with it.
What is the movie scene that always makes you cry?
I’m a sucker for emotional moments, ever since I watched the kid give up his seat on the rowboat for a woman and he went down on the Titanic. I’m talking about the 1953 or ’58 b&w film. But I’ve cried numerous times since then, and am not ashamed of it.
What would you wear at a costume party?
I’m lazy, so probably a mask would do it.
What is the quality you most admire in a man?
What is the quality you most admire in a woman?
How do you take your coffee?
With milk. Sometimes with sugar or agave, sometimes not.
What’s your favorite meal?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Who is your best friend?
My wife. My daughters.
Is there anything about you that you think other people find weird?
Probably a lot. You’d have to ask my wife. And daughters.
What’s your biggest regret?
Not writing Ava, not suing the Capote play. How many times do I have to repeat myself!
What advice would you give yourself now?
Move to London for a year and work with Ava when she asks.
Sue Jay Presson Allen and her husband Lou for stealing Capote.
Oh, and accept Grove’s offer to publish my Michener book.
Who or what do you miss the most?
My parents. My two brothers-in-law’s.
What is your idea of Paradise?
Writing well. Reading great writing. Sex with my wife. And wading into the lagoon on Brando’s island in Tetioroa.
What do you do every night before you go to sleep?
Read. And, occasionally, sex, if I’m lucky!
You can find Larry’s new books on Amazon:
SCREENPLAYS: Conversations with Brando & The Black Eyes of Akbah (Vol. 1)
Semnat de Corina Stoica
SCREENPLAYS: Catch A Fallen Star & Begin Again Finnegan (Vol. 2)