After his impressive performance in “Escape From Alcatraz,” Larry Hankin focused his efforts on Sometimes Jones – a character he couldn’t get out of his head.
“I always wanted to do the stuff that was in my head,” Hankin pointed out. After ‘Alcatraz,’ I had a shitload of money at the time. It happened that my friend Harry Mathias – a cinematographer – needed a reel. Harry asked me to write and direct something he could film, so we decided to make “Solly’s Diner.” I didn’t want to be a filmmaker, I just wanted to see Sometimes Jones.”
While Hankin and Mathias agreed on working together, they disagreed about the quality of the finished product – a disagreement Hankin is glad to have lost. “Harry wanted to hand it to the Academy,” Hankin recalled. “I was totally against it – I didn’t think it was good enough. A month later Harry called and told me he had sent it in despite my disapproval and that we’d been accepted and nominated.”
As for the entire Academy Award experience? “I bought my girlfriend a dress and we rented a limo and it was great,” Hankin said. “Until they announced, ‘The Winner of the Oscar for Best Short Film goes to Not Larry Hankin.’ At least that’s what I heard. I just wanted to go home, because unless you win, nobody wants to talk to you.”
That feeling was short-lived because just a few days later Hankin’s phone was ringing off the hook with calls from managers and agents wondering what his next project would be – a question for which he had no answer. “They all looked at me like I was nuts,” he laughed. “Turns out you don’t make a short film unless you have a project in the works.”
Staying busy would not be difficult for Larry Hankin, whose credits include: “Annie”, “Home Alone”, “Pretty Woman”, “Armed & Dangerous”, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, “Billy Madison”, “Seinfeld”, “Friends” and many more.
Hankin says he gets recognized “99%” of the time for “Armed & Dangerous”, “Billy Madison” and “Seinfeld” – but that doesn’t mean all of his memories from those experiences are positive – especially one widely known to many moviegoers.
“I don’t like doing the Weasel laugh,” he admitted. “The weasel laugh was a punch line to a joke and in the middle of shooting the scene, Adam (Sandler) said, ‘Hankin, do that weasel laugh.’ I still have people that ask me to do it when they see me and I hate that laugh.”
Most of his experiences are positive, however, and Hankin credits another Larry with being one of the best people to work with in show business. “I really learned a lot from Larry David. He’s a genius, no question about it – he’s always thinking, very calculating,” he said. “Larry saw where I was coming from – I was trying hard to do ‘nothing,’ but he told me to do the nothing you want to do – stop doing the something you’re doing. He was kind about it and he really just understood. It was really cool – and it’s what great directors do.”
More recently, Hankin has be seen as Gandalf in a college humor webisode, Old Joe in “Breaking Bad” and in the recently released “Pain and Gain.”
“It was amazing to work with The Rock,” Hankin explained. “And Michael Bay is an amazing filmmaker. If Don Siegel was the Yin, Bay is the Yang. If I had to be honest, I would say that ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Solly’s Diner’, the College Humor experience and ‘Pain and Gain’ are really a true cross-section of great filmmaking that I have been fortunate to be part of in my career.”
Larry Hankin is putting all his efforts into his next project – Emmett Deemus. “I put Don Quixote on a motorcycle,” Hankin described. “‘The Outlaw Emmett Deemus’ short films have won prizes at a few film festivals and I am turning it into a feature film. Everything I learned over the years is being put into this. I’m a learner. If I am part of something, I am on set, always learning.” For Larry Hankin, that knowledge gained over his 50 years in show business is immeasurable and beyond compare – something that separates him from his peers.
When asked about perhaps coming full circle and actually enjoy an Oscar Nomination if it comes his way this time – Hankin – with the same spirit as the kid who used to get police protection during his comedy routines, heartily agreed, “Right The Fuck On!”