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Valentine's Day - Hector Elizondo interview

Hector Elizondo

Interview by Rob Carnevale

HECTOR Elizondo talks about reuniting with Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall for Valentine’s Day, as well as his general musings on love, marriage and romantic movies…

Q. As the Garry Marshall veteran, how has it been working with Garry over the years? Has he changed?
Hector Elizondo: Working for Garry is… we do films together in between playing softball and basketball. We believe that the game – whether it’s ball kicking, hitting or shooting – is a metaphor for life. In between, we do movies. Other than that, I don’t think we’ve played much basketball but he still hits the right field very well with men on bass. That’s important. We always have fun while we’re working in spite of the long hours.

Q. Were the two of you friends before you worked together?
Hector Elizondo: We really became friends… he met me before I met him. He saw me on stage in New York 400 years ago. We actually became friends after I accidentally… I didn’t know who he was but I was invited to his basketball game – a famous Saturday morning basketball get together. I remember that someone was defending me… this tall gentleman who was strapped up and who had very fast hands. I flipped a past behind my back to my player but Garry’s mouth was in between them – my pass and the other fellow – and he sank to one knee, checked his teeth to make sure they were there and everybody was silent. Everyone took a deep breath. I was like: “What’s the matter? It was an accident!” And he says: “Come over here…” I thought this was going to be a long afternoon. He was still on his knees. So I asked what was wrong and he replied: “You’re a terrific actor but a lousy passer… I think I’ve got a movie for you.” So, that’s the way it started. We did our first movie together shortly afterwards.

Q. What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?
Hector Elizondo: I suppose spending part of my honeymoon at Joshua Tree national park. It’s a desert. But coming from New York City, it was my first exposure to the desert and it was spring-time, so there was a carpet of flowers… and great colour.

Q. Do you pay much heed to Valentine’s Day yourself? And would your partner’s throttle you if you forgot? And what are your plans for this Valentine’s Day?
Hector Elizondo: Every day is Valentine’s Day! I’m a hopeless romantic. It’s not a special day for me. Would I get throttled if I forget? I don’t think so, no. But I do get fed very well.

Q. Why do you think people love watching love stories?
Hector Elizondo: During the darkest periods in recent history, of course, the most subversive things you could do is think, read if you can get the material and remind yourself that love exists. That’s why Chopin exists…

Q. Are there any great screen moments that you think are great?
Hector Elizondo: A Man & A Woman is one of my favourites, and Il Postino I liked very much.

Q. How has marriage changed your life?
Hector Elizondo: Well, after you free yourself from the incredible expectations of love through the media from the time you were so high, you realise that it’s the spaces between the notes that make music. It’s the strings vibrating at the same time but separately that makes a good marriage. It messy, it’s complicated and it’s quite wonderful. To find out whether somebody has your back, that’s a big test… and whether or not you help someone paint their apartment with gloss paint! That’s difficult to do. Or help them do their laundry, or bring chicken soup preferably when they’re sick. That’s the detail of it… that someone has your back always.

Read our review of Valentine’s Day

Read our interview with Garry Marshall