Warren Beatty Jokes About Nobel Prize "Possibility" In Light of Bob Dylan's 'Bonnie and Clyde' Connection at NYC Gala
The actor-director-screenwriter-producer, who was honored by the Museum of the Moving Image earlier this week, pontificated about the current state of the movie industry, wondering if a film like 'Lawrence of Arabia,' "an unknown actor in the desert with a camel," would get made today.
Warren Beatty's latest movie, and his first since 2001, Rules Don't Apply, doesn't hit theaters until Nov. 23 but the cast of the upcoming Howard Hughes film was out in force in Manhattan earlier this week, where Beatty was honored by the Museum of the Moving Image.
Beatty's young co-stars, Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, who play an aspiring young actress and her ambitious studio driver, respectively, joined fellow Rules Don't Apply cast members and frequent Beatty collaborators Oliver Platt and Paul Sorvino as well as numerous other actors featured in the forthcoming Fox film, like Matthew Broderick and Candice Bergen, as well as Hollywood titans like Sony's Michael Lynton; Rules producer Brett Ratner; former Paramount and Fox head Barry Diller, who now serves as IAC chairman; Sony Pictures Classics' Michael Barker (also co-chairman of the Museum of the Moving Image board); and Beatty's wife Annette Bening in celebrating the multi-hyphenate.
Noteworthy past Beatty collaborators like Bonnie and Clyde screenwriter Robert Benton and Mandy Patinkin, who appeared with him in Dick Tracy, and Shampoo's Lee Grant all took the stage to introduce clips of some of Beatty's best-known work and share stories about working with him. (Earlier Patinkin and Sorvino, who also appeared in Dick Tracy, told The Hollywood Reporter they would be up for another Dick Tracy film, which Beatty has said he's considering making.)
When the Oscar winner finally took the stage at the end of the evening, he indicated that he didn't expect his colleagues and friends to be so effusive in their praise but admitted, "I liked it."
The actor-director-screenwriter-producer also couldn't help himself from editing and analyzing his speech as he went along, saying that he wrote down a few things and thought about making a few jokes, which he went through, explaining his approach.
In his first, he said that he originally thought Bob Dylan was best-suited for the role of Clyde Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde and in light of the musician's recent Nobel Prize win, and delay in acknowledging the accolade, Beatty jokingly wondered if he could take on Dylan's latest role of Nobel prize winner.
"I knew that Bob Benton was going to talk about Bonnie and Clyde so I was going to say, 'Do you remember many years ago, when I said to you that the person I thought was most suited to play Clyde Barrow was Bob Dylan? Do you remember that? I really felt that. And then I changed my mind.' Then I was going to say something like this, and I don't know if this is going to work but I'm going to try it anyway, I was going to say, 'Bob Dylan and, now look, the Nobel Prize.' And then I thought I would kind of stumble around and mumble a little bit and say, 'Speaking of the Nobel Prize, do you think it would be inappropriate or maybe in poor taste to inquire about the possibility?…I'm happy to travel. I said yes and thank you right away for this.' I was going to say, 'I'm known for being very decisive.' And really Stockholm is not that far away. It's really very tempting. So that's what I was going to do and it sort of worked," Beatty said to rolling laughter and applause.
He also attempted to joke about the election: "Tonight of course the temptation is to try to be funny about politics, yes? This week. But the truth is I just can't think of a joke in this campaign that hasn't actually happened. So I decided to not try that," he said.
That didn't stop Diller from making a crack about the consequences of the upcoming presidential vote, saying in his remarks about Reds that 100 years from now "is going to be one of the great artworks of the 20th century."
"If there is going to be a 100 years from now. Six days, we'll find out," Diller interjected to laughs and applause from the well-heeled audience in Manhattan.
Instead of talking about Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, Beatty focused his remarks on the current state of the movie industry.
"When we study now how long is a movie current now, how long is it hot, is it a few weeks? It used to be a few months and sometimes it would be a year. It could be more than a year. I think we have to figure out how in the movie business we convince the modern Medicis, the patrons of the arts, to invest in what we would have to call mid-price movies. Movies that cost more than $3 million and less than $103 million," Beatty said as his speech turned serious. "One of the greatest movies ever made, Lawrence of Arabia, would cost in today's dollars about $170 million to shoot, and with marketing costs that would be about $340 million, and that would mean it would need to do about $680 million to break even. It's four hours long and it can only play one time a night. It's not a sequel. It's an unknown actor in the desert with a camel. Would it be made today? I think we have some thinking to do about that and the brevity of currency."
Barker earlier explained why Beatty was the right person for the museum to honor.
"Warren Beatty is a cultural icon. He's one of the most important figures in the history of American movies," Barker told THR, later adding that his favorite Beatty movie is Bonnie and Clyde but he also has "deep affection" for Shampoo and Bulworth. "He's made movie after movie after movie about a character he knows very well. I think it's very important for the museum for people not to forget how culturally he is important. His process of making movies. His involvement with the issues of the world and taking on those issues from all different angles. That's why those movies are so good. That's why he has that gift where he can be the actor, the producer, the director, the screenwriter, all rolled in one."
Still onstage, Barker quipped that had Beatty turned down the honor, "We would have asked Annette [Bening] to get this award. Because she is pretty much the most amazing person I have ever worked with."
Barker also praised Rules, despite it being distributed by a rival studio, and added that the title was particularly apt for a Beatty film.
"Warren's movies have always been about characters who used the rules to break the rules," Barker said. "He understands and makes it very clear, and he makes it clear to us time and time again, that this is what freedom in America is all about."