Exit Interview: Peter Boyle
Exit Interview: Do you still have family here?
Peter Boyle: I have friends there, but I’ve lived in New York since 1960.
EI: I understand you were the life of the party at Dirty Frank’s bar.
PB: Actually, yes. I used to hang out there. When I’m in Philly, I go down there. Dirty Frank’s has become an institution.
EI: Any tales of drunken singing from the bartops, or a boozy knock-down-drag-out?
PB: No, no, no. I wasn’t into that scene. There was just a lot of drinking. Pretty straightforward.
EI: What led you to pursue the Christian Brotherhood?
PB: When I left West Catholic, I studied at La Salle. It’s a hard life, and at a certain point it got too hard for me. I didn’t go from there directly to Dirty Frank’s, but I was curious about life.
EI: Is it true that seeing Sheena: Queen of the Jungle was the last straw in your decision to leave?
PB: Well … it’s highly exaggerated. It might have pushed me over the edge.
EI: I also heard that you passed up the lead in The French Connection because you felt it—
PB: I have nothing to say about that. Next question.
EI: Sensitive subject?
PB: I don’t want to talk about it.
EI: Okay. Well, did you have a philosophy against making films that glorified violence?
PB: No. But I did a movie called Joe and I became identified with right-wing politics. I wanted to get out of that.
EI: Taxi Driver was violent, but not in a glamorous way.
PB: And I didn’t do any of the violence. I’m not against violence per se, but, uh, what can I say. It was a long time ago.
EI: It’s easy to pick out some of your finest movies—Taxi Driver, Monster’s Ball, Young Frankenstein—but is there one stinker you wish you could erase from your résumé?
PB: There is, but I erased it so thoroughly I can’t remember it. I wiped it out. But I’ve been in a few bad ones.
EI: I’ve noticed you’ve been in a few movies with exclamation points—Speed Zone! and Turk 182!—and colons—Kickboxer 2: The Road Back and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed—in the titles.
PB: That’s completely unintentional. Although I do like punctuation. I believe in it, and I practice it myself.
EI: Should that be a warning for other actors? Too much punctuation in a title, stay away?
PB: Well, I think you’ve got to be wary.
EI: Because Kickboxer 2 …
PB: It’s not a masterpiece.
EI: Another little-known fact about you is that John Lennon was your best man.
PB: We knew John and Yoko. My wife [former Rolling Stone writer Loraine Alterman] and I had a very low-key wedding. At the last minute, I asked John to stand in as my best man. And he said yes. The rest is history.
EI: Did he sing?
PB: No. But he is John Lennon. And everything he does is memorable.
EI: Was there a heavy amount of recreational drug use at the reception?
PB: No comment. Actually, there wasn’t.
EI: The “no comment” was better, but we’ll get you on the record saying “no.”
PB: Yeah, that’s good.
EI: Any star-studded tales from your heyday in New York during the late ’70s?
PB: I’m sure there are, but I can’t fish one out at this second. The ’70s was an exciting time in New York and in my career. I wish I had been more together to enjoy it.
EI: Together, as far as …
PB: I wish I hadn’t been partying so much. Because I don’t remember all the parties.
EI: Half your memoir has probably disappeared.
PB: Yeah. I’ll have to make up some of it.
EI: When you signed on for Raymond, did you have any idea a show starring a no-name comedian would keep you
employed for nearly a decade?
PB: No, but I was hopeful. Not only was he funny, but he was a very likable guy, which is unique among stand-up comics.
EI: Ray isn’t the usual self-loathing, depressed comedian?
PB: Well, I didn’t say that.
EI: So he’s got a healthy dose of self-loathing.
PB: You got it. Just wrapped in a nice package.
EI: When you see people on the street …
PB: Do I get recognized more after doing the show than
before? Yes. Believe me, being in about 18 million living rooms every week, people think you’re part of their family.
EI: Do fans expect you to act like Frank Barone?
PB: Well, I do say “holy crap” if they ask me to.
EI: Is that enjoyable or just annoying?
PB: Because Raymond is so popular, it’s enjoyable. When it first happened years ago, it made me uncomfortable.
EI: Are you at ease with your celebrity now?
PB: Ahhhhh … yeah. Especially when I get a good table at a restaurant. On a very small, practical level, that really helps.