Dennis Boutsikaris, the Greek-American actor that portrayed Paul Wolfowitz in W. , talks about his career, his role, and his collaboration with Oliver Stone and Josh Brolin.
Where are you from?
Born in Newark, NJ and grew up in Berkeley Hts. New Jersey. Graduated Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.
What is your Greek Background?
I’m Greek on my Father’s side. My mother was Jewish. Half Greek/Half Jewish—when I met the comedian Jack Carter he said “Half Greek/Half Jewish? You go to confession, but you bring a lawyer”
Have you ever been in Greece?
Was it difficult at first in Hollywood?
No. I was working on Broadway and Off-Bway in New York and all of my film and television work came out of there. I moved my family there when I did my first series but moved back immediately when the job ended. I only keep an apartment there, but my house is in Nyack, NY.
People with long Greek last names usually change them to something shorter, but you didn’t…
My father used the name Baron when making Restaurant reservations but it never occurred to me to change it.
Do you have Greek friends or Greek friends that work in the industry?
I meet Greek people in the film industry all the time. There is an unspoken and sometimes VERY spoken brother and sisterhood which I love. I’ve had people come up to me on the street and tell me their last names almost before saying “hello.”
How it is to work with Stone?
Fantastic. He is passionate, thorough, smart as a whip, funny, and a true collaborator. I was very happy to be around that project. When I showed up they had already been filming for about a month and Josh Brolin was really living inside his George Bush skin and you forgot he wasn’t the President. Oliver was very particular about how much Ear Hair I had in the film and at one point it looked like I had a racoon tail coming out of them. There was a funny moment that I think was cut because of time or it was too cheap of a laugh where the president tells Wolfowitz to trim the hairs. Fun to do. I guess I’m glad its somewhere on the cutting room floor. Although, come DVD time, I’m sure it’ll be hidden among the special features.
You portrayed a person who is described as « the major architect of President Bush’s Iraq policy and … its most fanatical and hawkish advocate» what’s appealing in thiskind of role?
Your Question contains the answer. All of that was appealing. But, I really had a very small role in this film. I was happy just to be there. Except when it was three thousand degrees in Shrevesport and we were walking around in suits making believe we were at the Crawford Ranch. We marched up and down this field from sun up to sun down with breaks for changing our sweat drenched clothes. I think it was truly the hottest day on earth. The dogs we were using had to be wrapped in ice packs it was so hot. I envied them.
What are your personal feelings towards the real Mr. Wolfowitz?
Critics have said that «W.» almost creates a positive image for President Bush. Do you agree?
Bush is a human being and W explores his life. Positive? No. Human? Yes
What are your feelings towards the current administration?
Tell us a few words about your play in San Francisco?
Called THE QUALITY OF LIFE. I co-star with the amazing Laurie Metcalf and Jo Beth Williams. We performed the play in Los Angeles last year to great success and are continuing now. About two families dealing with personal tragedies. Truly great play that we hope to move to New York.
What do you usually do in your free time?
Parent my two children, work on an old farmhouse I own in upstate NY, play bluegrass banjo, and do lots and lots of worrying.