Saturday , June 15 2024

GalaxyCon: Close Encounters of the Richard Dreyfuss Kind

Richard Dreyfuss defines working actor, with 125 IMDb credits and six more on the way. Dreyfuss answered questions at the 2023 GalaxyCon Austin from former wrestler, now podcaster, Milo Beasley.

GalaxyCon, which calls itself a “Festival of Fandom,” came to Austin, Texas, for the first time this September. It brought together celebrities, artists, writers, voice actors, entertainers, creators, and fan groups to interact on the topics they enjoy. Topics included comic books, pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, gaming, and cosplay.

The First Time

Dreyfuss and former wrestler, now podcaster, Milo Beasley

Beasley asked Dreyfuss if this was the first time that he had visited Austin. Despite a decades-long career making films all over the world, Dreyfuss was an Austin newbie. He asked the crowd for suggestions on what he should visit. The crowd erupted with a roar of suggestions. I was able to pick out Torchy’s Tacos and Amy’s Ice Cream. This interaction established a crazy, fun tone for the rest of the interview.

And, to the cheers of a segment of the audience, Dreyfuss admitted chocolate ice cream was his favorite.

What’s Your Favorite?

Having determined Dreyfuss’s favorite ice cream, Beasley moved on to filmmaking. He asked if Dreyfuss had films he was particularly proud of or ashamed of.

Dreyfuss replied, “I think I seriously have the best body of work of any actor. I am proud of my work, and you’ll not find a film I’m ashamed of. I’ve never walked into a project that I didn’t think would reveal something about me.”

Dreyfuss emphasized the importance of making a difference through storytelling. “Close Encounters took eight months to make. And Close Encounters will be watched 300 years from now. People will be asking why we made it the way we did.”

Special Encounters

Beasley asked about the casting for that film.

“When we were making Jaws,” Dreyfuss recalled, “Steven [Spielberg] told me about his plans to make Close Encounters and the role of Roy Neary. I decided in my head that I was going to play that part, no matter what. Every day I would go to his tent and say something like, ‘You don’t want so-and-so, he’s too hard to work with,’ or ‘You don’t want that guy, he’s too crazy.’ Finally, one day he looked up from his desk and said, ‘OK, you’ve got the part.'”

Dreyfuss also shared what really went into some of Spielberg’s casting decisions.

Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws

“You’ll notice something in the last 20 minutes of the film, during the landing strip scene” Dreyfuss said. “There is one common denominator among all the actors. They all have that childlike sense of wonder on their faces. He cast for that. It was something you had or you didn’t. If you did you could have that part.”

François Truffaut was also in the film. Dreyfuss praised him as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He did lament one thing, though. “With his thick French accent, I never knew what the hell he was saying.”

Real Encounters?

Beasley asked Dreyfuss if he had any thoughts on the reality of UFOs.

Dreyfuss recalled. “There was this book I read written by ‘Anonymous’, a high CIA official. His idea was that they are us. They are us later.

Dreyfuss in Close Encounters

“Dinosaurs would have continued to dominate the earth if it wasn’t for that meteor. We are the extinction level event for us. The writer of this book says it takes so long for a civilization to develop intergalactic travel, he’s convinced that we developed it, and we sent folks off. When they decided to come back, everyone from their time is probably thinking, ‘What’s with those golden arches?’ They are the former dominant life form from Earth. Anyway, that’s what I think.”

Fan Encounters

Beasley asked Dreyfuss if he enjoyed fan conventions like GalaxyCon.

Dreyfuss admitted that he originally thought autograph conventions were “tacky.” “Then I realized,” he revealed, “that this was a way to say ‘thank you’ to the people supporting my films. People come up to my table and I get to have these great conversations.”

Dreyfuss had one convention memory he regretted. He explained, “The longer conversations you have, the less money you make. One time I just had really brisk conversations and made $8,000, because I needed it. But if I had been in that crowd, I would have been pissed.”

Dreyfuss in American Graffiti

Beasley wondered if the tables had ever been turned and Dreyfuss had ever gone all fanboy over anyone.

Dreyfuss said, “Only once when I was in a room and Cesar Chavez walked in.” He also said, “I do have great respect for actors like Mathew McConaughey and Matt Damon who put their work at the service of the nation. There is something larger than just the art form. When you’re acting you step into someone’s life.”

How Could You?

Beasley then made a reference to the 2008 film W., in which Dreyfuss played former vice president Dick Cheney.

Beasley asked, “But how could you play Dick Cheney?”

Dreyfuss joked, “Hey, there’s a little bit of Dick Cheney in all of us. So, watch your step.”

For more GalaxyCon fun, check its website which contains links to all its social media, and info about its other events online and in Des Moines, Richmond, Columbus and Raleigh.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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