Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Actor explains "Gould movies"

Cleveland Press January 26, 1971

"There are no Elliot Gould movies," the man on the phone said emphatically. "That is just studio promotion."

The man on the phone was Elliott Gould. At least he said he was Elliott Gould. He sounded like Elliot Gould.

"The first couple of them, were Elliott Gould movies," Gould said, contradicting himself. "I'm no longer interested in what is, called an Elliott GouId movie. Now I want to direct.

"THERE IS NO real Elliott Gould," the voice continued.

"He is sensitive, nervous scared and ignorant and wants to be loved."

Just like the roles Elliot Gould plays, I ventured.

"But I've never looked for roles to suit me," the voice continued. The identity crisis has passed for the time being. The fellow wasn't talking about himself in the third person anymore.

"MY BEST WORK is to come," Gould stated. "I'm aware of the criticism about how I'm making too many movies. I want to play everything I can. Being ignorant has protected me.

"I want to do things that are funny, but not for the sake of being funny. I want to do a lot of things. My next film will be a tragedy with a lot of comedy in it.

His newest movie is "I Love My Wife," which he describes as a "... complex, infantile, funny, ignorant documentary about marriage."

" 'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice' was important because it gave me an opportunity to show I knew something and could do something. I gained confidence.

"'Mash' was like getting into the game and scoring a point.

" 'GETTING STRAIGHT' -- I had never had to express myself until that one; I played an ignorant person groping in dark places and felt a sense of power."

GouId has completed a movie for Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, an experience that apparently has had a profound effect on the actor.

"Working with Berman was a blessing for me," he enthused. "I've never come into contact with that kind of artist -- so open an loving. I hope to play 'Othello' for Bergman maybe in two years.

"I'VE ALWAYS BEEN intense," he said switching from the professional to the personal. "I had to be, but I no longer have to be. I couldn't relax because I was aware of the word 'relax.'"

I asked him how he was now.

"Right now? Talking to you I'm relaxed.

"I can't make plans. I'm only professional at my work and I used to think I had to be professional as myself," he said in another mood of self analysis. "I'm always aware of too many things.

"I cannot settle for less than the best in my work but now I've learned to settle for less in other things. I used to look at the directions for assembling a toy for a four-year-old and my eyes would glaze and I couldn't breathe.

"Now I've accepted that, and I don't try -- or I get someone to help and I'm not embarrassed.

Elliot Gould, it seems, has the same troubles as the rest of us. He should relax more.