CNN LARRY KING WEEKEND
Interviews With Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates, Martin Scorsese
Aired January 25, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mrs. Michael Douglas is a mom and sexier than ever. I'm getting raves for her latest big screen role in "Chicago." Tonight, get to know her off screen.
And then, Kathy Bates, one of Hollywood's most acclaimed actresses, find out how she got too sexy for Jack Nicholson in her latest movie.
And then, the great filmmaker Martin Scorsese on working with Leonardo DiCaprio, his obsessions with New York City, violence, and religion and more.
And they're all next on a very special LARRY KING WEEKEND.
Welcome to a very special edition of news weekend, saluting certain Oscar winners. Later we'll be dealing with "About Schmidt" and Kathy Bates and "Gangs of New York" and Martin Scorsese.
But we begin with Catherine Zeta-Jones one of my favorite people. She plays Velma Kelly in the award-winning film "Chicago." She recently won the Best Supporting Actress Award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association for her role in that. She's in my opinion a certain Oscar nominee. She's my former co-star in "America Sweethearts" where I got to yell at her.
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES, ACTRESS: I know.
KING: So pregnant again?
ZETA-JONES: I know, the baby machine has kicked in.
KING: The baby machine.
KING: How old is the other one?
ZETA-JONES: He's 2 years and four months and is a complete joy, complete joy.
KING: And is he expecting a little brother or sister? Is he happy about that?
ZETA-JONES: Well, you know, for a long time I kept asking him what would you like, would you like to have another baby and a brother or sister? And we have some friends who live next door and they have a boy and a girl, and he just says no thank you momma.
ZETA-JONES: So, but since then he's really become acclimatized and he likes to feel and he's felt the baby moving, so I'm getting there, or I should say me and my husband are getting there.
KING: When we did "America's Sweethearts" you were leaving from finishing that movie to go do "Chicago."
KING: And you were telling us how you did a lot of musicals in London.
ZETA-JONES: Yes, I mean I remember saying to you...
KING: You were a hoofer.
ZETA-JONES: I did stuff when I was a kid. I was 12 and 11, like just auditioning after a publicity stunt around the country. I got into "Annie" and "Bugsy Malone" and then I left school at 15 with my parents' permission and went to pursue a life in the theater wherever that may be, on stage singing and dancing or straight acting, and singing and dancing came my way before straight acting, and I had the classic situation that actually happened to Shirley MacLaine where I was an understudy, and I was second study.
KING: She was in "Pajama Game."
ZETA-JONES: Exactly, and I got to take over the lead and David Merrick was in the audience, so I...
KING: What show?
ZETA-JONES: "42nd Street" in London, so that was when I was 17 years old. And, when I finished the show I hung up my dancing shoes never to think that I would actually have to bring them out again, because really frustrating more than anything is that, oh you're a musical comedy actress. That means you act a bit, dance a bit, sing a bit, but you're a jack of all trades master of none, which is really frustrating when you know the kind of talent that comes out of these Broadway shows.
KING: Oh, and "Chicago," that role you have is a classic great role.
ZETA-JONES: It was so much fun, I can't tell you. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
KING: Hard work?
ZETA-JONES: Hard work, of course it was hard work. I think that's what made it so exhilarating when we've seen the fruits, I'm speaking for all our cast members, the fruits of our hard work because it was hard and then we get to see it and then people appreciate it. You know so many times you work hard in a movie and it doesn't just turn out the way it's supposed to turn out and it's always disappointing.
KING: The brilliant aspect was it's very hard to bring Broadway to the screen, and certain "Cabaret" was a great success. This may be the best ever, the adaptation very hard to do.
ZETA-JONES: Well, it's interesting Kander and Ebb, you know, who did do "Cabaret" are our assistant songwriters and I think Bill Kander, our writer, and our amazing director just put the missing link in. So many years, this has been going on for 30 years, Larry that people have been trying to make "Chicago" with so many manifestations, so many people attached.
KING: It's hard.
ZETA-JONES: It's hard and Rob Marshall, his brilliance along with Bill Kander found the missing link that were put on screen.
KING: You can not not like "Chicago." It's a great movie.
ZETA-JONES: It is fun.
KING: Now last week at the Golden Globes now you win the Broadcast Film Critics Award Best Supporting Actress. Golden Globes you're nominated for Best Actress.
KING: But you weren't. The star of that movie is really Renee Zellweger.
ZETA-JONES: Sure, but I was just thrilled that they even considered me as a Best Actress. You know I was really quite surprised, I mean when I had the nomination. I didn't care what it was as long as I got it. It was so thrilling.
KING: How long did it take to shoot all that jazz, that scene, the opening scene?
ZETA-JONES: Three days.
KING: Three days is all?
KING: I would have guessed a month.
ZETA-JONES: Three days of bashing it out, of Rob Marshall shouting to me, fabulous darling, one more time. Of course, the magic of movies is that you can cut certain things but I've done theater before where you start at the beginning. You have a beginning, middle, and an end. In movie making of a musical it goes on for days.
KING: Was Renee a dancer?
ZETA-JONES: No, she was a gymnast and she's very athletic. I mean she's very fit, very athletic, and extremely gung ho.
KING: It shows.
ZETA-JONES: I'm doing it, you know, and she -- and we all did. We worked really hard to pull it off.
KING: True you cut your hair short so people would know you were doing the dancing?
ZETA-JONES: I put a wig on.
KING: Oh, you put a wig on.
ZETA-JONES: It's a wig but don't tell anybody.
KING: But that was to show people.
ZETA-JONES: Yes, because I said, I mean why put -- my hair can look like a wig anyway so why put that on. When I'm moving around and dancing that it could be anybody, you know. If I'm doing this, I want -- one, it was the character more than anything, but that was one of the things. I just wanted -- I wanted this sharp short cut.
KING: It's a hell of a movie. We'll be right back with more moments with Catherine Zeta-Jones on this edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CHICAGO")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look down at the Bible, raise your right hand, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?
ZETA-JONES: And then some.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you please tell the court if the object I am holding is the one you happened to come upon in the defendant's jail cell?
ZETA-JONES: Yes, it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you would read for us, please, Ms. Kelly.
ZETA-JONES: I haven't worked in a while. "What a laugh! Plugging Fred Casley. The big baboon had it coming. I'm just sorry I only got to kill him once."
RENEE ZELLWEGER, ACTRESS: I never wrote that!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Catherine Zeta-Jones. Were you pregnant wrapping the movie?
ZETA-JONES: No, could you imagine? That would have been torturous jumping off that chair. No, I actually got pregnant the end of my last movie with George Clooney. So no, I can't even imagine.
KING: What movie with George?
ZETA-JONES: I did a movie with George with the Coen brothers called "Intolerable Cruelty" that's coming out in the fall, which was...
ZETA-JONES: Yes. After doing "Chicago," I remember saying to everybody around me, well I have no idea what I'm going to do next because nothing is going to be as fulfilling and then the call came in for me to do a movie with George Clooney and the Coen brothers, which turned out to be a fantastic experience.
KING: They experiment a lot?
ZETA-JONES: They're just fun. They're just fun to work with. They just love the process of making movies.
KING: How do you and Michael balance the careers?
ZETA-JONES: Well, we try -- now it's different for us.
KING: You live in Bermuda, right?
ZETA-JONES: We live in Bermuda which is...
KING: Not exactly Hollywood.
ZETA-JONES: No but that's the great thing about it. We're so accessible to everything but to bring up our children it's a wonderful place to be. And, what we try and do now is just if Michael's doing a movie then I won't do a movie. We'll go en masse together, you know.
And then if I'm doing -- he was with me all the time on "Chicago." Really he just was playing Mr. Mom and just loved it, and I love being just wife when he's working. It's more of an oh, how are we going to work this out, but otherwise it's easy.
KING: Why haven't you ever worked together? You know he'd have been a pretty good Billy.
ZETA-JONES: I know.
KING: Michael could have played that.
ZETA-JONES: Yes, as long as they didn't shoot his feet. He's really good from the waist up when it comes to dancing. KING: Are you going to work with him?
ZETA-JONES: I am. We're just in preparation hopefully on a script preparation, I can't say in physical preparation on a movie that we may be doing in the fall together which would be with Stephen (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE) directing if everything goes well.
KING: Comedy or?
ZETA-JONES: Yes. Well, it has to be. I mean I wish that I could have done "The War of the Roses" with Michael, you know, because like who the hell wants to see me and him having a lovey dovey moment? No, I don't want to see that and I'm sure the rest of the world doesn't want to see it. So, I think we found something which has taken us a long time with a confrontation and a Bogey, you know, kind of Lauren Bacall kind of relationship, so I think that will work.
KING: A couple other things. You're suing "Hello" magazine because they ran photos of your wedding?
KING: What is it, you had a deal made with someone else?
ZETA-JONES: No. It was a big conspiracy to get someone to come in, break in basically, break in and violate our wedding, and it's not about a monetary thing. It really is a personal thing of our trust because everybody at our wedding was under suspicion of who took photographs because no one took photographs at our wedding except for our photographer. And, it was just really heartbreaking to think that one of our friends could have done it and we found out who'd done it.
KING: You did.
ZETA-JONES: We are going to go to court and let it come out.
KING: Not friends anymore?
ZETA-JONES: Oh no, they weren't even -- we didn't know them, so it has nothing to do with us.
KING: Isn't "Hello" like sort of "People" magazine in Great Britain?
ZETA-JONES: Yes, but you know it's not about being annoyed at a certain magazine. It's just the principle that we want to set. We want to set just a presence of what is right and wrong, you know.
KING: Is the movie musical back or does it have to be special?
ZETA-JONES: I hope so. I hope so. Well, when they're good, they're good. When they're bad, they're horrid, so...
KING: Would "42nd Street" make a good movie?
ZETA-JONES: I don't know. It's been done as a movie I think. KING: A long time ago.
ZETA-JONES: A long time ago and I mean I'm the first person to say let's bring it back. I'm the first person to say I don't want to look at one every other month but they're very expensive.
KING: You could do that with (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ZETA-JONES: Oh, I'd love it, yes. I'd like to do anything, anything to just have a good old sing and dance.
KING: Now the tricks of the trade are you singing when I see you singing or are you lip-synching to a pre-recording?
ZETA-JONES: I am lip-synching. We all recorded the soundtrack, which is remarkable, in a week. When you think of, you know, bands or recording artists take a year to record an album, we recorded it in a week, pretty much two takes were done, and the hard part was to find the character in the first few weeks of rehearsal and then just synch to it because it's in stone. You can't change it. So, it was -- that was one of the horrid mechanics of doing a musical on film.
KING: So you're actually -- are you just moving your lips?
ZETA-JONES: No, you're singing out.
KING: You're singing.
ZETA-JONES: Because you can't -- if you move your lips.
KING: There's no microphone.
ZETA-JONES: If you just move your lips there's no...
KING: But there's no microphone, right?
ZETA-JONES: No but you have to, when you sing you don't sing like that. You know your voice, your throat and your diaphragm...
KING: But it's hard to shoot isn't it? I mean it's kind of difficult?
ZETA-JONES: I just sang until I was hoarse because I was singing it straight out every time I did a take because I didn't know how else to lip-synch. I couldn't just move my lips. So, it was an experience, I'll tell you. I applaud the Golden Years of Hollywood when these kind of movies were being made...
ZETA-JONES: ...on a weekly basis in different studios. I don't know how they did it.
KING: At MGM and Paramount, yes.
ZETA-JONES: Like that. Like that you know. I think of my father-in-law who's doing his 86th film in his 86th year of living on this planet, 86 movies. I have no idea.
KING: Amazing, Kirk Douglas.
KING: Queen Latifah, have fun with her?
ZETA-JONES: Oh, she's amazing. Yes.
KING: She is amazing.
ZETA-JONES: She is a real talent, yes.
KING: They changed that character a little from the show. In the show she was meaner.
ZETA-JONES: I think that's just her portrayal. It wasn't that they changed it.
KING: She (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She liked it.
ZETA-JONES: She made it much more accessible to and fun, you know, I think that was really her doing.
KING: How about the wonderful Mr. Reilly?
ZETA-JONES: Well, what a year he's had.
ZETA-JONES: When you think of "The Hours," you think of -- not "The Hours" but...
KING: Yes, "The Hours."
ZETA-JONES: And also with -- in "The Hours" and "Gangs of New York." Sorry, I just had a complete mental (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: He's in three major movies.
ZETA-JONES: Three major movies.
KING: Has that ever happened?
ZETA-JONES: I don't know.
KING: I don't think so.
ZETA-JONES: But that's what's great about him because he is, I can't even say a jobbing actor but he's so versatile. You know he can move from one to the other.
KING: He's a classic character actor.
ZETA-JONES: And he said to me he didn't know until like two months ago that all his movies were coming out within the same week. KING: Same time and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Catherine Zeta-Jones it's a delight knowing you and I salute you.
ZETA-JONES: Thank you. It's always a pleasure.
KING: If you haven't seen "Chicago," by all means do and you'll thank me for recommending it to you. Catherine Zeta-Jones and don't be surprised if she isn't nominated for Best Supporting Actress award when they make those nominations in advance of the March Oscars.
Kathy Bates is next and then Martin Scorsese. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CHICAGO")
ZELLWEGER: You know what, I was there that night, I was there the night that you got arrested.
ZETA-JONES: Yeah, you and half of Chicago. Look at this, Momma? An editorial denouncing me at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) magazine. "Not in memory can you recall so fiendish (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
QUEEN LATIFAH, ACTRESS: Baby, you couldn't buy that kind of publicity.
ZETA-JONES: Couldn't buy it? I guess I can keep this.
QUEEN LATIFAH: Nice try.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ABOUT SCHMIDT")
KATHY BATES, ACTRESS: When I had my hysterectomy, that boy did not leave my sight for one minute. Not one minute. People used to raise their eyebrows because I breastfed him until he was almost 5, and I say, well, you just look at the results. I raised a sensitive, devoted boy, who has turned into a sensitive, devoted man. And he's also quite easy on the eye, if I do say so myself. Don't you agree?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING WEEKEND one of my favorite people Kathy Bates, the actress currently costarring in "About Schmidt." She has earned the Best Actress Oscar in 1991 for "Misery," was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for "Primary Colors."
One of the proudest moments in my long career has been that I was in the same movie with Kathy Bates in "Primary Colors." I lived. She got to kill herself. How did this "About Schmidt" role come about?
BATES: I was sent the script by Alexander Payne, and I had seen "Election" and "Citizen Ruth" and I was so taken by his vision, and I also knew Jack was involved and once I started reading it, I knew it was something really special.
Alexander and his partner Jim Taylor wrote it and I just thought it was terrific.
KING: It's a phenomenal role and a hell of a movie. You never worked with Jack, had you?
BATES: No, never. This is my first time and I thought this was perfect.
KING: What was it like?
BATES: Oh, well it was like dancing with Fred Astaire, you know. It was just so comfortable and he's a real hard-working actor. He's just down to earth. He was very focused and committed while he was doing this and, of course, never worked with him on anything else so I wouldn't know how he is on in other parts.
But this part particularly was very different for him from any other parts that he's played and it was much more repressed and held in. You know he just really, I think, studied all of the clowns like Chaplin and Harry Langdon and tried to get that kind of walk.
KING: Serious business.
BATES: Oh yes, it was a total physicality.
KING: Different for you too? Have you ever played a nude scene before in a movie?
BATES: Yes, once in a movie that not very many people saw. It was called "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" and it was based on a book by Peter Mathison (ph). And so, I did nude scene in that. But this was very different.
KING: I'll bet.
BATES: Because Alexander said his concept for the scene was to have Roberta appear at the very back of this long haul and approach sort of like Omar Sharif does in "Lawrence of Arabia" and appear at the edge of this tub. And so, it was a big deal for me.
KING: Are you nervous to do a nude scene?
BATES: A little bit.
KING: You know the audience is going to laugh at home, right?
KING: Laugh in the theaters and laugh when they get it on home video. It's a funny scene.
BATES: Absolutely but what I wasn't prepared for is that a lot of women I keep hearing now who have seen the movie are having the same reaction. They're going like you go girl because they see themselves.
One of my best friends I went to school with and grew up with in Memphis sent me an e-mail last night and she'd just seen the movie and she said you look just like me. You know I think a lot of women across America are identifying with Roberta when she climbs into the tub.
KING: What was it like to watch it?
BATES: The first time it was like you're gearing up for it. I know it's coming. I know it's coming and then I saw it and I thought oh, that's great you know. It looked good to me and I felt comfortable with it.
KING: What's your determining factor on selecting a role because you're called a great character actress, right, which is by the way a great compliment. It means you can play anything, right?
KING: What's your rule of thumb?
BATES: It just jumps right off the page at you.
KING: Your part or the whole thing?
BATES: Well, I want the whole thing to be great first of all. I want it to be something that I'm engaged by, something that I want to see and the part has to be something too that I feel is real and whole.
And that's what I liked about Roberta was because she has some really difficult qualities and she talks too much about subjects you don't want to hear about like her hysterectomy and nursing her kid and all this stuff.
But on the other hand, she's happy in her life and she's comfortable with who she is and she's not ashamed to express herself as an artist even though the art might not be great, and those are qualities that I really love. I like to look for characters that have opposite qualities that make them seem...
BATES: Yes that make them seem more human.
KING: You did the play "Frankie and Johnny," right?
KING: Did you have to get nude in that?
BATES: Well, not as much as I hear they are nowadays.
KING: Half the play I guess is now.
BATES: No. No, we had some nudity, brief nudity at the very beginning and I think it was half lit and all that kind of stuff.
KING: Who costarred with you?
BATES: F. Murray Abraham began and then when we opened off Broadway it was Kenny Welsh.
KING: Do you like the stage as much as film?
BATES: Yes, I do. It's hard. It's really hard. It takes a lot of stamina.
BATES: It's been a long time since I've done it.
KING: Eight o'clock every night, two o'clock.
BATES: Eight shows a week, you know. You can do nothing else. I did a wonderful play in New York years ago called "Night Mother." We ran for 11 months and it was -- it's your whole life. I mean you sleep all day long.
KING: You do get the audience feel. You get that.
BATES: Oh, yes. It's the actors' median, it really is, because once that show goes you know it's you especially in a two-hander like "Night Mother" or "Frankie and Johnny." It's just a great feeling.
KING: Is film acting different?
KING: The process?
BATES: Yes. Well film acting I think you know you have to create a whole character and then you have to break it up in little pieces like a mosaic almost. Each little piece has to be brilliant and has to be full and you want -- you know sometimes you only got four or five shots, four or five takes or whatever and so you want each one to be great but maybe a little bit different so I felt like it was creating a mosaic.
And also I think in film acting you're most often asked to play more like yourself. You're given an opportunity in theater, I think, to play characters that are a little more far a field, and so the theater really is the actors' gym.
KING: Marlon Brando taught a course in acting and he called it lying for a living. Do you like lying for a living?
BATES: Well, I'll tell you what, you know, a few years ago it kind of hit me that I was spending about 90 percent of my time pretending to be other people and I turned around because I'd get home from jobs and I would like have no life.
You know I felt like I had, you know, costumes in my closet but I didn't really have the experience with my own life. So, in the last five years I've really tried to develop that side of myself, like what do I want? I've been studying French.
KING: The real you?
BATES: The real me, what interests me, you know, apart from my work because my work I love but I want to have my own life. So, I've been painting a little bit. I've been studying French. I've been, you know, interested in other subjects and reading a lot and all that kind of stuff, you know, to fulfill that side of my life and sort of replenish between roles.
KING: Martin Scorsese still to come. Our guest is Kathy Bates, costarring in "About Schmidt" a terrific movie and she's terrific in it. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ABOUT SCHMIDT")
BATES: After tomorrow, we'll all be one big family, and I am going to insist that you consider this your second home. I'll set a place for you at the table for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. Oh, and we don't give traditional gifts for Christmas. We make them. We're a very creative family. It can be a painting, or a poem, or a song, you know, whatever inspires you. Oh, and of course it goes without saying you'll come with us to our time share up in Breckenridge. It will just be you and me while the kids are out on the slopes.
Here we are, a divorcee and a widower. Sounds like a perfect match to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MISERY")
BATES: Paul, do you know about the early days at the Kimberly diamond mines? Do you know what they did to the native workers who stole diamonds? Don't worry, they didn't kill them. That would be like junking a Mercedes just because it had a broken spring. No, if they caught them, they had to make sure they could go on working, but they also had to make sure they could never away. The operation was called hobbling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Kathy Bates, currently costarring in "About Schmidt." She's certain to be, it would be a shock if she were not nominated for an Oscar. Oh, you didn't get the movie "Frankie and Johnny" but because of that you did "Misery" right?
KING: Because you had time to do "Misery"?
BATES: Yes, yes. Well, Rob Reiner...
KING: And you win an Academy Award for that?
BATES: Yes, well Rob Reiner, I'm glad he goes to the theater, because when I moved out to L.A. from New York back in the late '80s, for some reason I started doing a lot of theater out here and he was dating Elizabeth McGovern at the time, and he came to see us (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And I think he saw me in this kind of fanatic character and got the idea to use me in "Misery."
KING: Was that a tough shoot?
BATES: It was so much fun.
BATES: Yes, the toughest part was the big fight scene at the end, but it was fun because it was my first big movie and Rob had a fabulous crew. I used to sit on the set. I didn't know from the trailer, you know.
I felt so lonely out there so I would like sit on set with the crew in between shots and I learned so much there watching these great people work. I mean he had such a fantastic group. And Barry Sonnenfeld was the DP. It was his last movie before he started directing movies, and it was just a terrific experience.
KING: Did you like working with Jimmy Caan?
BATES: Yes, yes, he's a great guy. He's a handful but he's great.
KING: So it was fun even though you were playing someone very un-fun like?
BATES: Yes, yes, I love that.
KING: Villains are fun?
BATES: Yes, oh yes, you can really get your hands into all kinds of crazy stuff.
BATES: No but, you know, you want to make her feel...
KING: Make her human?
BATES: Again it's that contrapuntal thing. You want to make her human and Rob was very hands on with that. We wanted to make her crazy but specifically crazy. Why does she fly off? You know what is it that's going on in her life that triggers it? So, it was a lot of fun working with him.
KING: Why did you choose this career? BATES: Oh that's such an interesting question. You know I don't think I knew for a long time why. My mother used to tell a really corny story that when I was born the doctor smacked me on my behind and I thought it was applause and I've been looking for it ever since.
So, I guess I must have been dramatic early on. But for a long time I wasn't sure if it was the right career for me and I kept going back and forth in my mind. But now later in my career, I really feel that especially with film that you can create a character or a story that people empathize with and I think empathy is the great...
KING: Thing you're looking for?
BATES: Yes because it lowers all the barriers. I think if you empathize with another human being and you walk in his shoes for a while, you can't kill that person, you know what I'm saying?
KING: That's why some people say it's good to take drama courses even if you don't want to be an actor.
BATES: Right, yes, because empathy I think is almost subversive, you know, because it teaches us that we have so many similarities.
KING: Did you like it right away or is there an aspect of it you don't like?
BATES: No I don't think so.
KING: You like everything about it?
BATES: Yes, I like everything about it. Yes, it's got its tough things sometimes but it's playing an instrument but this is the instrument.
KING: Have you reached a point where you're always getting scripts?
BATES: I get some but I think we all want the great scripts and they're few and far between.
KING: How did you like doing "Primary Colors"?
BATES: Oh, I loved it. I loved working...
BATES: And Elaine May's script and it was such a great cast and I just hooked up with Adrian Lester last week and he was in town and I've kept in touch with him and there was such a terrific group of people, an ensemble.
KING: The more I see that movie the more I realize how great a movie it is.
BATES: I know. I know. It just came out at such a weird time.
KING: Yes. Travolta, had him down.
BATES: I know. When I first heard John was doing it, I thought I don't know. I don't know if I could see that, you know, and I remember walking onto the sound stage and there he was because we were all there for costume, you know, makeup tests and everything. I went oh my God.
KING: Your other movies, you did Woody Allen's "Shadows and Fog" so I must ask you what was it like to work with him?
BATES: Well, it was very unusual because you don't get, you know you've heard you don't get the script. You just get your part and it was my experience that he sort of stood next to me and not in front of me to talk to me and just said quietly what he wanted and so it was very different. You know, he's very...
KING: Do you like it?
BATES: Yes, but it was a very different way for me to work. I rather like -- I want to know the whole thing, you know. I don't want to...
KING: So he has a point though, doesn't he?
KING: The character doesn't know what's going on in the other character's (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
BATES: No. No, it's true. It's true. It's true.
KING: You also did one of the great screen hits of all time, "Titanic."
KING: And you played a real person.
BATES: Yes, I did. It was fun.
KING: How was it?
BATES: I did some research about her and learned that she used her celebrity to try and help others after that event and did a lot of charity work, and also that she was never really accepted by that class. She could afford...
KING: Molly Brown?
BATES: Yes, Molly Brown could afford to be with the Asters and all these people but she wasn't really of the same background as the rest of them. KING: Back in our remaining moments to "About Schmidt." When you read the script and got to do it did you think it would be treated as well as it has been treated?
BATES: I hoped it would be. I hoped it would be and I'm thrilled that it is. I just keep running into people in New York and L.A. who've seen it and they are so affected by it and they loved it and they're laughing and they're still getting an emotional response from it as well.
KING: We should give credit to the rest of the cast.
BATES: I know.
KING: It's a terrific kid, the kid who plays your son.
BATES: I know. I know. Dermot Mulroney plays Randall. Oh, he's terrific.
BATES: And Hope Davis who plays Jeanie who is Jack...
KING: What a scene that is.
BATES: Howard Hesseman.
KING: Howard Hesseman.
BATES: Oh, he's fabulous I know.
KING: And still around?
BATES: Oh, yes he's wonderful. We went out and bought jazz CDs together while I was there. It was a great group of people really and Jack's fabulous in the part.
KING: You're a great actress, terrific lady.
BATES: Thank you.
KING: Kathy Bates. She costars in "About Schmidt" and we certainly thank her for being with us.
Martin Scorsese, pretty good night, huh, is next. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ABOUT SCHMIDT")
HOWARD HESSEMAN, ACTOR: As father of the groom, I'd like to welcome our guest.
BATES: Larry, we know who you are, and you're going to have plenty of chances to make toasts tomorrow and the next day.
HESSEMAN: Will you let me finish, please?
BATES: Can't we just enjoy our food?
HESSEMAN: OK, enjoy your food. But I have something I want to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GANGS OF NEW YORK")
CAMERON DIAZ, ACTRESS: Look where you're going, Johnny. Quite a pair of conversationalists, aren't you?
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: Maybe not, but we're deep thinkers.
DIAZ: Well, gentlemen, I leave you in the grace and favor of the Lord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING WEEKEND, an honor to have him with us, second visit for him, Martin Scorsese, not even arguable, one of the great directors of all time.
His films have included "Casino," "Taxi Driver," "Color of Money," "Alice Doesn't Live Here," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "The Age of Innocence," "Goodfellas," "Raging Bull," and now "Gangs of New York," which I have said publicly and privately "Gangs of New York" is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It is a brilliant film based on a true story of a sad chapter in American history, the biggest riots ever were conducted by the Irish.
MARTIN SCORSESE, DIRECTOR: Yes.
KING: When did you get on to this?
SCORSESE: Well, actually when I growing up in Little Italy on Elizabeth Street, the church around the corner was actually a cathedral, St. Patrick's old cathedral, and I was about 7 years old and I began to -- I immediately knew that there were Sicilians on Elizabeth Street. There were Neopolitans on Mulberry, but Patrick was not an Italian name, so we knew that.
So there were people there before us, and I learned about them, and I learned about this incident where groups of nativists called the No-Nothings tried to attack the church in the middle of the 19th century and they marched from the bowery down Prince Street straight to Mulberry.
KING: Five Points.
SCORSESE: Yes, as they approached the church, St. Patrick's old cathedral which was built in 1810, the church was surrounded by the Irish men, women, and children, and the No Nothings turned and left, and that began this extraordinary history between...
KING: All revolving around the Civil War?
SCORSESE: Yes, but actually before that. Really it was about this first great wave of immigration which the Irish were in a sense testing what America is supposed to be.
KING: So you held it in your mind all these years?
SCORSESE: All these years and I learned those cobblestones in that area, ghosts come right up through. You know you just feel those stories. My father told me stories about the 40 thieves also, a gang that he had known.
KING: The film technique, it has such flavor. It looks like a painting this film. Did you like -- was this the largest cast you ever worked with?
SCORSESE: Yes, I mean the extras a lot, I'd say maybe about 1,000, and it's a matter, you know, the issue was communication getting the right assistant director. My assistant director (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he's been with me 15, 16 years, and I got this extraordinary second unit director named Vic Armstrong who does the Bond films, and he was in the second unit. Yes, he was doing second unit for me. I'd draw him pictures. He'd go get it. So we sort of owned those streets because it was built (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: It took a long time to make, didn't it?
SCORSESE: Yes, I mean you know the film because none of that exists in New York anymore, it just doesn't. Nothing from the 18th Century of the poor area exists. We had to rebuild everything and so the cost was prohibitive of the past 25 years or so. And finally we pulled it all together. Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis and a number of people pulled together and finally got it made.
KING: We taped this a week ago so we've taped it before the Golden Globes so we don't know if you won Golden Globes and I guess they're indicative of an Oscar. But what one can not believe is you have never won an Oscar. How do you explain that to yourself? I mean you're always acclaimed. You're well liked out here, aren't you?
SCORSESE: I think. I mean I lived here for 12 years or 13 years. I went back to New York in the early '80s.
KING: Do you think it's just luck of the draw?
SCORSESE: I think it's luck of the draw and I think maybe the pictures were rather tough and I think citing, let's say the actor, in the case of Robert DeNiro, Paul Newman, Ellen Burstyn, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), people like that they feel that maybe that the film has been recognized to a certain extent.
But somehow and the thing is that when you mention that to people a lot of younger people, a lot of people even the academy say not it's ridiculous. We gave you one, at least two. I say no, no, no. They think they did.
KING: I told someone we're doing you today, he said triple Oscar. How many nominations have you had?
KING: Do you think "Gangs of New York" could do it for you or do you stop thinking that way?
SCORSESE: Well, you stop thinking that way. The way I figured over the years, the kind of pictures we got made with the budgets we had, with the actors that were so wonderful and studio people really, really believing in me, I mean the reward was getting the film made.
KING: Has there been one where they didn't let you make that you wanted to make?
SCORSESE: So far.
SCORSESE: But "Gangs of New York" was the last one. That was the one but we got it made.
KING: Because "The Last Temptation of Christ" would have been the most difficult, right?
SCORSESE: That was the most difficult, yes and we had started working on it at Paramount Pictures back in the early '80s but a couple of the theater chains pulled out. So I mean you know when you say oh the studio didn't do the film, but rightfully so. I mean if you spend $19 million or $20 million on a film at that time that's what they were going to do, you have to have a theater to show it in.
So, if the theater chain is pulling out, what are you doing to do? So that's when it stopped and finally we pulled it back together. Tom Pollack (ph) over at Universal got it together for us and we did it for a very low budget.
KING: What's it like for you? You brought actors to fame. I mean DeNiro certainly owes a lot of his career to you and others, Harvey Keitel and others that you brought along.
KING: What is it like when you direct a film star like DiCaprio?
SCORSESE: Well, the thing is that it's a very interesting situation because I always knew DiCaprio as an actor and that's because Robert DeNiro told me about him ten years ago when he did "This Boy's Life." But Bob told me...
KING: And he wasn't famous? SCORSESE: But he wasn't famous. Bob doesn't usually -- usually DeNiro waits for me to ask is there anybody new? What about this person? What about that? He said he's a kid you have to work with. He was 16 years old at the time he said it. So, I started watching this now.
I'm watching DiCaprio in "Gilbert Grape." I watched him in all these other films and then the "Titanic" happened. You know he had best of both I think, but the thing is I always knew him as an actor.
KING: Did he take to directing well?
SCORSESE: Oh, yes. We actually evolved the character together in the picture. We really had a good time working on it.
KING: Now you get a performance from Mr. Lewis?
KING: That is almost beyond belief. You have to call this one of the great screen performances of all time as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the film producer said to me, if he doesn't win the Academy Award, then hand it to him now. Did you realize this while shooting it that you were getting it?
SCORSESE: I felt it, yes. I felt it. But I also felt, you know, it was an ensemble because we're all working together. What we were able to do is that DiCaprio's performance came up extraordinarily so. He went to emotional levels I didn't think -- I didn't expect in certain scenes. And then add to that Daniel. Well, I should say Bill, because he's very thorough and once the character...
KING: Bill meaning the character?
SCORSESE: Yes, Bill the Butcher, because once the character takes over with him, it's like kind of magical in a way, but it has a kind of interesting thing because he really speaks like Bill. He doesn't talk to you -- he used that accent all the time he was speaking to me, whether he called me on the phone or whether it was just about lunch.
KING: Sounding like Bill?
SCORSESE: He was Bill.
KING: And he's the kind of guy who becomes...
SCORSESE: He really -- yes, I should say the character becomes him. It's an interesting thing. It takes over him and sort of possesses him.
KING: Is he an actor that doesn't like acting? Is it true that he may give it up?
SCORSESE: Yes. He took a sort of sabbatical for like five years, and I think it's a very painful process for him. Yes, I mean, a lot of people, any actor get up there in front of a lens and do what they do, I don't know how they do it.
KING: This is a great movie, "Gangs of New York." We'll be back with more of Martin Scorsese. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GANGS OF NEW YORK")
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, ACTOR: Anything in your pockets tonight?
DIAZ: Well, I haven't started working yet.
DAY-LEWIS: What about that locket that I gave you?
Apologies, my dear. Pick it up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GANGS OF NEW YORK")
DIAZ: Try it and I'll bite you!
DICAPRIO: If you were going to bite me, I don't think you'd warn me.
DIAZ: Find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Martin Scorsese is the guest. The film is "Gangs of New York." What was the hardest part for you about filming this?
SCORSESE: I think ultimately the hardest part of the process was balancing the history with the personal story because it's not a documentary, but I wanted some historical base for this story, which at times becomes like a fever dream. It almost becomes unreal at times.
But we had to find that proper balance and I think it was in the writing and in the shooting but particularly in the editing, particularly in the editing. It was almost as if you remade the entire film in the editing.
SCORSESE: It was like a giant piece of sculpture. We just kept chipping away at it and chipping away.
KING: That's where a film is made.
SCORSESE: I believe so, yes. Yes. Yes.
KING: Directing violence, there's some violence in this film.
SCORSESE: Yes. Yes.
KING: Does that come, for want of a better word, easily to you?
SCORSESE: Well I mean...
KING: Because there's some directors good at it and some who are not good at it.
SCORSESE: I know. I know. I mean I must say that when I was growing up I was around a lot of it and not because of the people I was living with were that way but I came from sort of a...
KING: Tough neighborhood?
SCORSESE: Tough neighborhood but it was a working class, working class, but it was right off the bowery too, you know.
KING: I know right where it is.
SCORSESE: Yes. Yes. It was kind of rough and as a kid you're exposed to things and those left a strong impression on me. So in a sense the violence is part of life in a way. It's an option that is, you know, drags us back to being beasts but it is part of being human and it can't be denied and it can't be completely erased. It doesn't happen, pretend it doesn't happen, no it does happen.
This society that we're showing in "Gangs of New York" not only was violence an option, violence was an every day occurrence. They were dirt poor. I mean the people were just struggling to get food in their mouths let alone have a place to sleep.
KING: What was your first movie?
SCORSESE: The first film I directed? A film called "Who's That Knocking at my Door" with Harvey Keitel and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It was sort of a rough black and white sketch for "Mean Streets."
KING: "Mean Streets" was the film that made you famous, right?
SCORSESE: Was the first, yes. Yes, 1973.
KING: DeNiro and Keitel.
SCORSESE: Keitel, yes.
KING: Are you going to do a movie about Howard Hughes?
SCORSESE: Yes, it's called "The Aviator."
KING: With DiCaprio?
SCORSESE: Yes, it was a project that he was involved in.
KING: Is this based on a book?
SCORSESE: No, no. It's based on a number of books actually and the difference here is that when I read the project, it says "The Aviator." So, I opened it. It didn't tell me anything about it and after about 10 pages in, I realized it's Howard Hughes directing "Hell's Angels" 1928. That's an extraordinary movie. I mean the dialogue scenes...
SCORSESE: Yes, I mean the best aerial scenes to date still. If you see it on the big screen, the restored version, it's amazing. But it only goes up to 1946. It deals with his obsession for flying and the seeds of his own destruction.
KING: The Spruce Goose?
SCORSESE: The Spruce Goose thing.
KING: When do you start shooting?
SCORSESE: We hope to go in June.
KING: How much preparation before you shoot?
SCORSESE: This one as much as possible.
KING: Is that important to a movie how much goes in before you...
SCORSESE: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely and particularly these days, you know, but in "Gangs of New York" we hardly used any computer generated images. There may be seven or eight.
KING: They do a lot of that now, right?
SCORSESE: Yes, they do it, but we actually build the sets. We had the actual -- putting somebody way in the background is really two or three people in the background, maybe of 100 or whatever, so we actually have to go and place them. But I had to then figure out way in advance what action they were doing in the background and work it out with my ADs and work it out with my second unit director and that sort of thing. But here the computers, I think with the computer you have to -- you have even more choices, so you have to be...
KING: It's a better way to make a movie?
SCORSESE: Well, I prefer the other way because in a way, yes, they give you a computer and say all right now, Marty, the plane is going here. What kind of sky?
Well, to me I'm a New Yorker. I hardly see the sky. What do I -- you know what I'm saying? It's blue, right? Well no, it could be gray. That's true. It could be gray. How many clouds? Suddenly you're painting. It's a whole other thing. You have to find another way to do it. So in the case of "Aviator," I have to be very careful. I have to have enough preparation to do the aviation scenes on paper and draw the shots on paper.
KING: Why do you like directing?
SCORSESE: It's interesting, you know. Having had asthma when I was 3 years old up to maybe 40 years of it, I guess the only place they could take me, my parents, was to the movie house and I would just be in the movie theater and I'd go through these emotions up there on the screen with them and I guess it's a way of trying to get back to that time.
I am fascinated by movement. I'm fascinated by the movement of the frame and the fact that when you cut one shot to another something else, it seems like it becomes more than just two shots. It becomes a third shot in your mind's eye. Something else happens. And I used to go and look at films and say why does it affect me that way and I'd go back.
KING: You didn't want to act? You wanted to direct.
SCORSESE: No, first when I was kid I didn't know that there were people behind the camera. I was about 6 or 7 years old. I thought you had to be in front of it and be an actor. And then at a certain point I started seeing films like "The Bad and the Beautiful" and "A Star is Born" films like that in the '50s which showed you the process of filmmaking and I thought that was fascinating.
KING: Could HBO ever get you to do a film or is it too expensive and it's too much?
SCORSESE: I'm thinking about it. No, no, no. I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it. I mean, there's no doubt because HBO you're able to explore certain themes. You have to shoot fast.
KING: Go farther?
SCORSESE: Yes, yes, yes, and make a longer picture too, you know.
KING: And not be hampered by what will be the gross be?
SCORSESE: Exactly, exactly, exactly.
KING: Does that get to you after a while?
SCORSESE: Yes, because I mean the films I made over the years, I think the biggest grossing film I made was "Cape Fear" 1991.
KING: It scared the dickens out of me.
SCORSESE: That was Bob DeNiro and Spielberg's idea for me to do that.
KING: Remake of the Robert Mitchum.
SCORSESE: Yes, it's a great film, you know, so I don't want to...
KING: And you put Mitchum in it. SCORSESE: Yes, and Gregory Peck too just as a little blessing there on the movie.
KING: That was the biggest grossing film?
SCORSESE: That was the biggest I made, and so naturally when I start to hear the grosses I'm just nervous about will I be able to get enough of a budget for another film? You know, I really have to think in those terms.
KING: If you never did another thing and never had made a movie and all they show is "Gangs of New York," you stand head and shoulders. I salute you.
SCORSESE: Thank you, sir. Thank you.
KING: Martin Scorsese, again, "Gangs of New York." Is it possible to do something five stars? This has got it. Thanks for joining us for this edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. See you tomorrow night and good night.
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