Tuesday, May 24

Aaron Eckhart’s Teen Obsessions: ‘Pink Floyd Saved My Life’ | Aaron Eckhart

Rocky, Grease and Star Wars

I saw Rocky at the Century 21 theater in San Jose, California, when I was 11 years old and your mom still had to take you to the movies. Everybody wanted to be a boxer; they all ran upstairs; they all made the impression: “Adrian!” It remains one of the best movies of all time. I recently spoke to Stallone on the phone and had to say, “Man, you changed every kid’s life.”

I must have seen Grease seven times. He knew all the songs. He wanted to be in the Travolta gang and was madly in love with Olivia Newton-John. Then Star Wars came out and put a hole in my face. I loved the Stormtroopers and the bar with the strange aliens. Harrison Ford was a true movie star, as were Stallone in Rocky, Travolta in Grease, and McQueen, Nicholson, Redford, Newman, and Eastwood before them. They were so cool, low key, and confident. We had real American heroes in the 70s.

You’re a good man charlie brown

The album cover for the original cast recording of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
I love … the album cover for the original cast recording of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Photograph: Records / Alamy

I was living the California dream in Cupertino: surf, girls. My father worked for a computer company, but he wanted to see the world. One day, I came home from scout camp and he said, “Family meeting in the living room. We moved to England. “So we moved to Ripley, near Walton-on-Thames. It was a difficult adjustment. It was fall, so it rained. But before long I was skiing in Switzerland, playing sports in Europe and going to London every weekend I said to my older brother, “We are the luckiest boys in the world.”

I went to the American Community School in Cobham, Surrey. I was on my way to rugby practice, at age 14, and there was a flyer in a post: “Auditioning for You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” I had never acted, but I thought, “I’ll try.” I was the only one who tried out for Charlie Brown, it was a small school, and I got the lead role. I had seven singing solos and I loved it. My next work was The Cinderella Complex. That’s where I met my first girlfriend, this lovely Iranian girl named Maisoon, and I thought, “Hey! This is all working. “

British rock and heavy metal

London influenced me a lot. I played a lot of football and rugby. He went to London to see theater at the Hippodrome and went to all the concerts he could. It was the 80s, but I didn’t get on the Culture Club and Duran Duran train. I liked hard rock more, so I went to see Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. My first concert was Foreigner, with the support of the American rock band Gamma, at Wembley in 1982. I saw the Stones at Wembley. We had a piano at our home in Walton and our tuner knew Def Leppard because he tuned his pianos. So I signed all my Def Leppard vinyls, which was a big problem. Also, the house we lived in was rented by Eric Clapton’s mother.

After London, we moved to Sydney. I went to school for a day and said: no way. So I did my correspondence school and my mom was my teacher. I have never seen a diploma. I don’t even know if I have graduated from high school. Then we moved to Hawaii, France, and Switzerland. My parents eventually moved to Israel, Stockholm and Munich and I moved to New York to become an actor.

Dave Gilmour, Slash and Eddie Van Halen

Axl Rose and Slash of Guns N 'Roses in Brazil in 1991.
‘Slash is talking to you and compliments Axl Rose with such humility’ … Guns N ‘Roses in 1991. Photograph: Kevin.Mazur / WireImage

Pink Floyd saved my life. They helped me get over the girls and the rejection of my awkward teenage years. Only a couple of guys take the guitar to another level. I recorded Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii from TV to VCR and watched it over and over again. I was paralyzed by how David Gilmour combines his guitar playing with Roger Waters’ voice. Slash transcends the guitar. His guitar playing on Guns N ‘Roses goes beyond riffs. He is speaking to you and compliments Axl Rose with such humility. The same goes for Eddie Van Halen. Gilmour, Slash and Van Halen are my guitar heroes.

He was also trying to play the guitar. I wanted to be a songwriter for my entire teenage years, so all I did during my time in England was try to write songs and play guitar all day. He was a decent songwriter, but my shyness and embarrassment eventually got the best of me. I just didn’t have the confidence to flourish and instead dedicated myself to acting.


Christopher Ryan, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer in The Young Ones.
Totally out of the box … Christopher Ryan, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer in The Young Ones. Photograph: Everett Collection / Alamy

I came to England in the early 80’s when there were still only three television channels. He was used to seeing Emmerdale Farm and Yes Minister. Then The Young Ones came out and it blew my mind. I loved the irreverence. I loved that they share this house, but they are all so different. I loved how they hit each other. It would just change from one thing to another. It was totally out of the box.

I would watch it with my family or friends from school and record it on our VCRs so we could memorize the lines. Even today, 30 or 40 years later, I will see Vyv [Adrian Edmondson] or Neil [Nigel Planer] on something and think: “It’s Vyv!” or: “It’s Neil!” I can still quote the lines.

People in America know The Young Ones. Here too he had life. We also have The Comic Strip Presents … with that guy [Alexei Sayle] who made that song about that car [Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?]. I particularly remember the episode Didn’t You Kill My Brother? where he plays the gangster twins.


Blood on His Hands ... Joseph Millson as Macbeth in the 2013 Shakespeare's Globe production
Blood on his hands … Joseph Millson as Macbeth in the 2013 production of Shakespeare’s Globe. Photograph: Tristram Kenton / The Guardian

Acting is very cathartic. You are always analyzing yourself. People say, “What’s so difficult about acting?” Most of the movies are about murder and betrayal. Look at Shakespeare. Shakespeare writes about everything bad in life. It takes a lot of introspection to be an actor.

Macbeth was a great play in my life. The idea of ​​blood on your hands, betrayal, killing your friends for power and money… is still powerful. I see Macbeth in everything that is happening today. People sell their souls. And I see Lady Macbeths everywhere, leading their husbands to commit murder and treason. You look at the wife and say, “Her hands are stained with blood.”

I’ve been to courses, but I’ve always been terrified of Shakespeare. Schools make Shakespeare too big and too complicated. It’s the ultimate prize, especially as an American. I am amazed by actors who have done Shakespeare, like Mel Gibson and Ralph Fiennes. I just wish Shakespeare hadn’t been built with so much mustard on top that he could try and fail.

Aaron Eckhart’s latest film, Wander, is in theaters July 26


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