We ComiConverse With John Diehl

Elodie Cure Elodie Cure
May 12th, 2017

French aspiring writer and interviewer. TV shows and films connoisseur. Overpowered by curiosity.

We ComiConverse With John Diehl

John Diehl is an actor whose career has spanned more than 30 years.  Most known for his role of Larry Zito in Miami Vice, he has played alongside many well-known actors such as Kurt Russell and Bill Murray. Here, John Diehl speaks exclusively with ComiConverse contributor Elodie Cure about his career, the entertainment industry, and how he has evolved over the years.

We ComiConverse With John Diehl

Elodie: You began your career during the eighties. How would you describe the changes in the cinema industry since then?

John Diehl: Well, there has been a lot of changes. We are almost talking about 40 years. For Miami Vice we did the pilot in 1984 (counting). It’s been like 35 years. There has been a lot of changes. Surely there’s a lot of the technology today, it has changed a lot of stuff. Some for the good, some for the bad but you still need a human being to do the movies, the television or whatever it is. And technically, they got that down perfect!

Elodie: With hindsight, if you had the choice to begin a new career again, would you start it in the eighties or nowadays?

John Diehl: I think I would rather start nowadays. It seems to be very excited with all the new stuff, with the technology too and everything that they can do. They make things easier and maybe even more actor-friendly in a way. Before, when they were shooting film with big huge cameras, everything was like just placed, just right and then you get to watch it. Today it’s not so important, you can be more free. But also, back then, even Miami Vice was slow, a pretty slow show - cool clothes, cool cars and cool guns. So today, I would rather start a career now than back then.

John Diehl

Credit: IMDB

Elodie: You had the chance to play in both series and films. What do you prefer? Why?

John Diehl : Probably films off the bat...If I had to choose series it would probably be because you make a lot more money and it’s the closest to having a regular job for an actor as there is I guess. But nowadays of course, they make such good things. The TV stuff is just as good as the movies and everybody does all the stuff. But a film is always fun and it ends. There is a beginning, a middle and an end to the film. Then everyone goes home. You might never see each other again or you might work together again. I think film, and of course theater,  but if it is a choice between film and TV I would go for film.

Elodie: Which one of your works has left the strongest mark on you?

John Diehl : For film, I think Wim Wenders the German director who has made wonderful films. I’ve always admired him as an artist and certainly was a fan of his, for doing stuff like Wings of Desire, Paris Texas. I had worked with him back in 1997 or so. And he just called me out of the blue asking me if I wanted to be in his movie [Land of Plenty]. I was gonna be the sidekick but then it turned out he wanted me to play the main guy with Michelle Williams. That was a really great experience. It was guerrilla filmmaking though too: not a lot of money involved but it was just really fun with great people and it was very creative. Then in theater, doing Sam Shepard’s plays was really instrumental on how I am as an actor. I did a lot of Shepard’s stuff.

Elodie: When you get a new role, how do you approach it?

John Diehl : It’s always different for me. I never got educated as an actor. I just started doing theater and stuff, so it’s always new. There is no technique involved for me. If it’s something that is really far away from who I am, then I have to do more research or something…I have to look into it more but every part, has also ‘you’ in it too. So you have to blend those things together. Nowadays I like the stuff that’s most like me, that I can understand, ‘earth’ characters that are more on my side of things.

Elodie: Is there a director you would like to work with?

John Diehl : There are a few that I would like to work with again. There are some that I worked with more than once that I really liked. Who I would like to work with including my son who is a filmmaker and a wannabe actor too [thinking]... I can’t think of anyone right now that I would enjoy just kind of being around and hanging out with because you want to be able to do that too with a director. You would want to have a kind of a level ground, a mutual respect for each other for what you both do, and an understanding like that. I would work with Wim Wenders again for sure.

Elodie: In which current TV show would you like to play?

John Diehl : They make so much good stuff now. I don’t know half of them. There are so many stations too, like 500 stations and there used to be 3 stations. I think The Wire. That is an old show now but it was so well done. I was just mesmerized, I couldn’t not watch it. Otherwise, I’ll go with whatever.

John Diehl

Credit: Universal Pictures

Elodie: What are your upcoming projects?

John Diehl: I would like to do a play because I’ve have been thinking about … I’ve quit acting many times. Being a character actor, you have that very distinct ability to be able to work again after you quit. You can work till the day you die. So there is that part of it but I do wanna quit all the time. But now I am thinking that I wanna go back to how I started which was go and do a play. What play don’t make money but do a good play with good people. That’s what I wanna do now and put more time  into it. That's the next thing and I work on art, I like doing art, making art.

Elodie: What was the funniest moment you had on the Miami Vice set?

John Diehl : There was that funny moment I had on a show. I forget [what] the name of the episode was. It was an episode where Mike Talbott, my partner Switek. He was doing the stand-up comedy routine. I was in the audience and was supposed to laugh. I was sitting there. They were shooting the film and everything and I am not laughing. I couldn’t laugh. Then something happened. Maybe I got tired of not laughing, maybe I tickled myself or maybe he actually said something funny for a change [He said a lot of very funny stuff] but I started laughing. I couldn’t stop. They said ‘cut’ and I was still laughing, my stomach was hurting. That was the biggest laugh that I had doing [Miami] Vice.

Elodie: Thanks a lot for you time John. And good luck your new projects.

Elodie Cure is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter @Elodie_Cure.

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