Interview: Film Icon Warren Beatty Knows ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

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Average: 5 (1 vote) You were famously political, even working on the George McGovern presidential campaign of 1972. Since you were a Democrat, how did the assassinations of Jack and Bobby Kennedy affect you as a Democrat and a citizen? And how did you collect yourself to start again in politics after those events?

Beatty: As a child, I was always interested in politics in Virginia, and it became something that was always a part of my life. I had the great honor to know Jack Kennedy because he wanted me to portray him in a movie. Was that ‘PT-109’?

Beatty: Yes. I’m not being indiscreet, because Cliff Robertson did a great job, but I didn’t want to do it. But in the process, I became friendly with Jack Kennedy, Pierre Salinger [Kennedy’s Press Secretary] and Bobby Kennedy. I never got over those assassinations.

Warren Beatty at the 1976 Democratic National Convention
Photo credit: File Photo You were at the 1968 Democratic National Convention here in Chicago, correct [the convention was interrupted by protests against the Vietnam War]?

Beatty: Ooooh yes. [laughs] Were you? Well, I was eight years old at the time, but only 60 miles away in Michigan City. I do a film tour of Chicago, and I always talk about how ‘the whole world was watching’ when we go past the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue.

Beatty: That was the night everyone was getting tear gassed. That included me. I was in Grant Park, across the street from the Hilton, where Hubert Humphrey [1968 Democratic presidential candidate] was staying. I was appropriately and dutifully being tear gassed, and I looked at my watch and it was 10:30pm, and I thought ‘this is awkward, I’m supposed to have a meeting with Hubert Humphrey.’

I went across the street, and went up to the 31st floor, where I was greeted by John Bailey, who was the chairman of the Democratic Party. By the way, I always liked Hubert Humphrey, who I felt was put in at terrible position that year, and he asked me to do a campaign film. I said to him I would, but on the condition that you have to announce that you want to get out of Vietnam. He said, ‘my boy, I’m going to do that within the week.’ Well, he didn’t do it in a week or two weeks or two months. How did you react to that?

Beatty: I went to do a movie in France, where they were having there own political upheaval in 1968, and what happened, happened [the election of Richard Nixon]. If you had a celestial phone to call anyone who has passed away in your lifetime, who would you call and what would you say to them?

Beatty: Oh, you don’t ask difficult questions. [laughs] Well, of course I would talk to my mother and father. I would ask them how they are, and I would tell them how I am. It sounds like a cliché. Actually, it’s very beautiful. Is there anyone in your career you’d like to call?

Beatty: There would be a lot of people I’d like to call and thank. I’m not going to run with that ball, on that question you’ve just asked. It’s a very good question, and if we were to spend a couple of days talking, I might be able to give you a specific answer. Would you like to do a one sentence summation, if I mention certain people?

Beatty: I may walk away from it, but try me. Vivien Leigh.

Beatty: One of the most beautiful and unpretentious friends that a person could have. Woody Allen.

Warren Beatty in Chicago
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for

Beatty: Smart as hell. You know, I was instrumental in getting him to do his first movie [‘What’s New, Pussycat?’]. Since his quote about coming back in another life as my fingertips, maybe I should correspond with him now, and tell I’d like to come back as his…[never answers] So you’d like to reply to it?

Beatty: I have never replied to it. [laughs] Jerzy Kosinski [author, acted in ‘Reds].

Beatty: Are you familiar with Kosinski? When you get Kosinski in a room, there is never anyone funnier. The only competitors offhand would be Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters. Elaine May.

Beatty: Brilliant, truthful, hilarious, deep and trustworthy. Hal Ashby.

Beatty: Lovable, brilliant, not so outspoken, but when he spoke he was never wrong. Madonna.

Beatty: [Sighs] Admirable, highly disciplined and lovingly unpredictable. Fatherhood.

Beatty: The best thing that ever happened to me…[quickly adding] but don’t forget to mention my marriage first. [laughs]

For an interview of actors Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins for “Rules Don’t Apply,” by Patrick McDonald of, CLICK HERE.

”Rules Don’t Apply” opens everywhere on November 23rd. Featuring Warren Beatty, Lily Collins, Aiden Ehrenreich, Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Oliver Platt and Annette Bening. Written and directed by Warren Beatty. Rated “PG-13” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2016 Patrick McDonald,

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