The interview of film and theater star Matthew Broderick hosted by actor Alec Baldwin at the Hamptons International Film Festival on Saturday afternoon was billed as a "conversation." In hindsight, it's clear why the event didn't promise to stay on-topic.
Broderick and Baldwin traded lightning-fast banter in front of the often-laughing full-house crowd as they bounced from topic to topic, including discussions about Broderick's first roles in theater and film, an Abbott and Costello impression, working with Marlon Brando and an unusual interruption from the crowd.
Broderick, a veteran of the screen and stage and a two-time Tony Award winner whose iconic films include "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "The Producers," "Glory," "WarGames" and more, first talked about why he decided to be an actor, initially joking that he had no answer.
"I guess I thought it'd be easy money," Broderick said.
"It really is," Baldwin quickly replied. Broderick later said that he was inspired by his father, actor James Broderick who starred on the TV show "Family" in the late 1970s.
The topic of the conversation often shifted to Broderick's impressive theater career, specifically his first role in the Torch Song Trilogy and his work on The Producers. Broderick said he was surprised how much audiences embraced their adaptation of Mel Brook's original movie.
"It was incredible. It was like 1924 when people gave a damn about theater," he said, emphasizing the second syllable in "theater" because, as he joked, it "sounds more pretentious."
The most bizarre moment of the night happened during the question and answer period at the end of the talk, when a woman shouted to Broderick and Baldwin that she was being spied on through the Patriot Act, had "taken on the Catholic church," said her life was being threatened and needed their help. The woman was quietly ushered out of the hall as the crowd laughed over her yells.
Immediately after, Broderick showed his signature quick wit when an audience member asked if he could share how he met his wife.
"Sure, right after I'm assassinated," Broderick joked.
In between questions, Baldwin interjected his own experiences into the talk, which led Broderick to quip, "You know, this is more about me."
In the few serious moments of the conversation, Baldwin praised Broderick as an actor he admires.
"He's never lunging for the cheap laugh," Baldwin said. "[He is] funny and smart at the same time."
Broderick spoke about his time working with Marlon Brando on The Freshman, saying that the most surprising thing about Brando was that he memorized lines and rehearsed like any other actor.
"He was an actor," Broderick said. "I had thought he would just float in and things would happen."
Broderick and Baldwin also answered questions and gave advice to several aspiring actresses from the audience. One woman asked how actors can get their first big break. Broderick admitted that a lot of it has to do with luck.
"It's so hard to give advice on that; all I can say is something happens," he said. "If you like it, keep at it."
"You make your own luck," Baldwin added, "But the thing is, always be working. Even if it's off-off-off-off[-Broadway], be in shows and do shows and be in productions."