IIt seems appropriate for a man whose most famous role had him wrestling with the nature of the time that Christopher Lloyd arrives for our interview a half hour late and somewhat nervous. I had the impression that it was happening the next day. Back to the future indeed. But Lloyd soon pulls himself together, showing Doc Brown’s trademark malicious grin.
Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there: Zoom is wreaking havoc with his hearing aid, so we must rely on the skill and patience of his wife, Lisa, to get all the questions across. Which brings us clearly to the subject of our talk: his new movie, Senior Moment, in which he stars alongside Jean Smart and William Shatner, who play a pair of older lovers in this decidedly old-school rom-com. “I enjoy playing characters the age I am now,” says 82-year-old Lloyd. “I mean, they are just as interesting as the younger characters.” In fact, Lloyd has been playing them for some time; It’s hard to believe he was only 47 when he starred in Back to the Future. “However, they still haven’t chosen me as an older lover,” he laughs. Instead, he’s playing Shatner’s best friend.
Lloyd has always excelled in supporting roles. Since his first film appearance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975, he has been a contrast to some of the most charismatic leads of the time, from Jack Nicholson to Michael J. Fox to Raul Julia. He and Shatner first appeared together in 1984 in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in which Lloyd played a Klingon commander. They have since met regularly at Star Trek conventions, though friendship wasn’t the reason Lloyd took on the latter role.
In fact, Lloyd has said that he has no time for friendships. So why this small role in this decidedly small movie? “I really don’t care as long as I’m working,” he says. “Whether it’s a leading man or cameos, or supporting roles, I love doing it. I do not wait for the ideal role to arrive, I will accept what is given to me ”. That might explain his busy, if rather low-key, career since the big roles of the late 1980s and early 1990s. A string of hits, including the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and two Addams family films. surely they would have given him his choice of roles. But it is not the fame that drives him to work.
“I need to express myself,” Lloyd explains. “And gradually I discovered that by acting in a role, I could relate to people. So I stuck with that. “It is that passion that also explains the lack of friends in his life, something that he has often joked about in the past. That was true from a young age: he dropped out of high school before graduating. And he didn’t keep in touch with anyone when he went to New York and trained with the renowned Sandy Meisner at the Playhouse School.He may be known for his comedic skills, but Lloyd takes his craft very seriously.
“I’m essentially a method actor,” says Lloyd. “There was a phrase Meisner used: ‘To act is to act sincerely, in imaginary circumstances.’ So does that mean that he sometimes takes his character home? Perhaps you could explain why he is now with his fifth wife… “Yes, I am so into this that I want it to continue like this. But I’m always very into myself, ”he laughs. “So it doesn’t change too much. Let me ask Lisa … Does it ever bother you when I get home from work and I’m still in character? “
“No, you’re amazing,” comes the reply off-camera.
“She is my best fan,” says Lloyd.
It seems that number 5 is charm. “Five is the last,” Lloyd agrees happily. “Number 5 is sitting right here!” says Lisa.
Still, couples around the world were under unusual strain last year. It must be even more difficult when Lloyd is used to filming away from his California home for half the year. “It was good,” says Lloyd. “We have dinners at home; Lisa prepares wonderful food. I think we got to know each other better and better. “
“And I go hiking with your ex-wife every morning.”
“It’s funny how life turns out,” says Lloyd.
Not worried about what they may be talking about?
“I can deal with that,” Lloyd says. “And I’m glad they’re having fun.”
Lloyd isn’t that close to his other exes: screenwriter Jane Walker Wood, number 4, is the only one he’s still in contact with. He met his current wife, Lisa Loiacono, then a real estate agent, when he sold the house he shared with Wood. She and her new husband are now in a bubble with Lloyd and Loiacono, and the couples eat together regularly.
Despite achieving fame through children’s movies, Lloyd has never had children of his own. As a child, he was one of seven siblings, although he says the age difference between them (he was the youngest by seven years) means that his childhood memories are primarily of him and his parents. His father was a lawyer, his mother, Ruth, a singer, from whom he must have inherited his love of show business. He grew up in Westport, Connecticut, but most of his brothers and sisters were absent.
“We really didn’t all grow up together,” Lloyd says. “My brothers were already in the world doing whatever they wanted. My two brothers were in the Second World War; one was a pilot, another was a Marine. Thank God they both came back alive and well. But I grew up pretty much alone with my parents. “The sadness in their voice is not something I remember hearing in any of their movies.” They dispersed. By the time I was a teenager, they were in Seattle, California, Texas, Michigan. everywhere “.
You have the feeling that this is not the whole story. And in fact, he talks briefly about his brother Samuel. “He’s passed away at this point,” Lloyd says. “But he was an actor, mainly in theater. He was influential in getting me there and got me started. “But when I ask if the two were close, all I get is a short, sharp,” Yes, we were. “Perhaps the memory of Samuel and his nephew Sam Lloyd Jr, who starred in Scrubs and died last year is still too crude to speak of.
Lloyd is on much happier ground remembering his favorite co-stars, none other than Michael J. Fox, with whom he clearly still feels a close bond. “It’s so cool,” says Lloyd. “He is brave, has a great sense of humor and a wonderful outlook on life. I have so much admiration for him. From the first time we met and filmed together, the relationship has always been there. And I know that if we were willing to do something else together again, it would still be there. We just have a natural chemistry. “
But he’s more enthusiastic when we get to his role as Fester Addams on The Addams Family and Addams Family Values, a part that he wouldn’t be averse to revisiting in Tim Burton’s upcoming Wednesday Addams Netflix series. “When I was a kid I used to fill this cartoon magazine, and there was always an Addams family strip,” says Lloyd. “And I got very involved, when I was eight or nine, with Uncle Fester. I just thought he was the best. It’s a bit wicked. It is fun to watch. He was a character. So when decades later, out of nowhere, Paul [Rudnick, a script doctor on the first film and writer of its sequel] He asked me if I would like to be Uncle Fester in the movie, I just jumped on it.
“And it was great, we really felt like family. I remember once we were all sitting in our costumes and we all felt like were the Addams family, real people. “
So, after fulfilling a childhood dream, and after appearing in over 100 movies, as well as 84 episodes of the TV sitcom Taxi, is Lloyd considering following the Senior Moment character into retirement? “No, no, no, no, no,” he says. “I love working. And I’ll keep going, as long as I keep going. “
But maybe in a slightly different direction. “I want to take on a role where the character wants to make some change, some civil cause that I can support as an actor,” says Lloyd. “I want the thrill of making a point.” He may not be politically active, but he has strong opinions and is delighted to have seen Donald Trump’s back. “Trump has done a lot of damage in many areas of life in America. He just trampled everything and everyone. I’m optimistic about the future now, and a big part of that is that we have Biden, who is a kind-hearted man. “
Lloyd also has his first foray into action cinema on the horizon, starring opposite Bob Odenkirk in Nobody (“It was a lot of fun, all the guns and the fights. I’ve never been into anything like this”), and the day after speaking , will get on a plane for the first time in a year to fly to Boston to make a film directed by George Clooney and starring Ben Affleck, an actor for whom he is particularly effusive.
“I’ve been watching a lot of his movies lately,” says Lloyd, “because he plays my son in the movie. Now I’m a huge Marlon Brando fan; I grew up with him. And I feel like Ben Affleck has a Brando feeling for him. He is playing so many roles, in such a powerful way. He is very talented. I’m a bit tense because I’m going to work with him in the same room because he has a great presence. “
Lloyd is still nervous about work, even at 82?
“Oh yeah. In a play that you rehearse for four weeks, prepare your role. But here you wake up in the morning, you go to the venue and meet them for the first time. And then you have to sit down and perform with them! You take a leap and hope that what you have prepared works with what they have prepared and with what the director wants … I don’t sleep much the night before the first day ”.
And with that done, Lloyd will head straight to rehearsals for his biggest challenge yet: as King Lear in this summer’s movie. Shakespeare & Company Season in Berkshires, Massachusetts. Despite having appeared in the play three times before, he had never thought of taking on the lead role until recently. “I had a brainstorm about five years ago and thought, ‘Why not give it a try?’” He says. It would have happened last year had it not been for the pandemic. But at least that gave him a little more time to learn the text. “I want to know every line, every syllable, by the time we start rehearsals. I don’t want to have to worry about my lines. So every day I spend considerable time trying to learn them. “
“He’s been working on it for five years,” Lisa intervenes.
“And I’m almost there.”
Senior Moment is in theaters across the US and on demand from March 26th
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism