Don Johnson discusses his new film Book Club…
Tell us who you play and how you would describe the character.
I play Arthur Riley in the movie, Book Club, we don’t know a whole, a great deal about him but in my story and my movie that I made in my head, he’s one of those guys that started out with a small radio station and he bought more. And then he’s turned into a conglomerate and he’s just sold all of them, you know, to like Clear Channel or something like that. And made a big score and now he’s just looking for happiness, companionship in his life.
How would you describe this movie?
It’s hilarious. I mean, honestly, seldom do I get an opportunity to see something that I’ve done and sit there like an audience member and get lost in it, forget about the characters, forget about my character and forget about everything else and just enjoy the movie. And that’s the experience that I had.
What was it about this film that made you want to do it?
Well, I’ve known Jane for 40 years, like it says in the script, she and Arthur have. And I’ve had a crush on her for 40 years. So, when the opportunity came up, I went, a lifelong dream fulfilled [LAUGHS]. Thank you, universe! And so, we got to work together and I got to play out that fantasy. And I learned that she had a crush on me for 40 years too. We just kept missing each other with relationships. Next life.
How do you make each other laugh?
Well, it’s smarter intelligent humor. Jane is a very direct person. She’s wonderful to talk to. She’s got better stories than me. And I’ve got some pretty damn good stories.
What was it like working together on this film?
It was a breeze. I mean, she’s a pro, you know, and we developed shorthand very early on. And it was just easy. Like, just easy. There wasn’t a lot of trying to make a connection or build a relationship or anything, ’cause fortunately, we already had that-that affection for each other. So we could just use and translate right into the characters.
In your mind, what was the relationship like between Arthur and Vivian in the past and what is it like now?
Oh, well, in the past I think they were white-hot. I mean, I think they fought and they made love and they had, you know, a white-hot relationship and according to the script, he asked her to marry him and she turned him down because of her ambition. And I think that happens a lot in real life. People just are on different trajectories. And then they were fortunate to come back together and find each other.
How would you describe the relationship now?
I see them as being the, one of those couples that you’re just jealous of. You know, you just go, “Wow, I want a relationship like that and I want to travel the world with that person, and I’m watching them and they’re having so much fun and they’re laughing, really enjoying their time on the planet together and with each other.”
How would you describe her character?
Vivian is one of those alpha female personalities, once she sets her mind to something, she can do it. That’s very much Jane, too. Jane is irrepressible. When Jane focuses on something, that thing gets moved or levitated [LAUGHS].
What do you think of the overall casting and what they bring to the story?
Honestly, I’m being 100% honest. I don’t think you could cast this movie any better than what Bill Holderman did. I mean, it’s just, the nuances and the characters and the way they play with each other and the men, how they worked so well with each other and the women. It’s truly an ensemble piece where it takes all the pieces to make it, but it’s just beautifully done.
It’s just sculpted and orchestrated and, I don’t know if Bill had that by design or if he just got incredibly lucky. But I’ll take either.
The director and the writer are both first-timers.
It can be really great with an author/director. It can also be challenging sometimes because a lot of times people get confused that the script is not the movie. And the movie’s not even the movie until you get it all finished and edited and scored and, you know, and sweetened and all that stuff.
I’ve learned in the past that when someone is directing their own material, sometimes they get obsessed over certain little bits that, when the movie is finally finished and put together doesn’t mean anything. But that wasn’t the experience on this. Bill was very well prepared and, you know, let’s face it, those are a lot of powerful personalities. And for him to get the performances that he got and for everyone to walk away and not want to kill each other is kind of amazing.
The scene where Jane’s heel went and she went down in the rose bush.
Oh my God. I was standing next to her and we were waiting for the camera to roll. And the next thing I know, I turned to Jane and she’s toppling over. And it was like one of those things in slow motion where I’m like trying to catch Jane before she falls into the roses. These rosebushes are really tall, kind of mature, big thorns rosebushes. I thought, okay, movie’s over. But I did finally catch her and helped her out of the bushes.
And she went, “No, no, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.” You know, and everyone is freaking out. She had one little scratch on her arm. I don’t know how because the, it was a pretty thorny rosebush. And stood, up, [CLAPS HANDS AND BRUSHES SHOULDER], you know, let’s go. Gotta love it.
Do you think this will cause audiences to think of age in a different way?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, we’re all healthier and we live longer. And I’ve got a pretty active life and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. And I think that’s not the point of the movie. The movie is to make you laugh and that, it does. It’s hilarious. I kind of feel like that this is one of those, sixty is the new forty, or something like that.
What valuable thing have you learned from Jane Fonda?
I’ve been learning from Jane for 40 years. She’s a delightful person in my life. I enjoy every minute that I’m with her. Were I to do it all over again, I would figure out how to spend more minutes with Jane.
Book Club is available to Download & Keep September 24th and on Blu-ray and DVD October 8th
Book Club © 2018 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved