Rob Reiner and Albert Brooks Interview for Behind The Lens Series

Rob Reiner and Albert Brooks Interview for Behind The Lens Series

When you get the chance to sit down with Rob Reiner and Albert Brooks, it’s a moment to cherish. This week, I had the privilege of interviewing them for Deadline’s Behind The Lens series. Reiner, known for his directorial prowess, has ventured into documentary filmmaking with “Albert Brooks: Defending My Life,” now available on HBO and Max. This documentary is a treasure trove for fans, offering a blend of humor and surprising insights.

Our conversation, lasting half an hour, was filled with laughter and revelations. In a preview clip, Brooks shares a fascinating story about his friendship with Stanley Kubrick, sparked by Kubrick’s admiration for Brooks’ film, “Modern Romance.”

Reiner’s vision for the documentary was inspired by the conversational style of “My Dinner With Andre.” This format allowed Reiner to weave in clips from Brooks’ iconic comedy routines, his seven directorial films, and his memorable roles in movies like “Broadcast News” and “Drive.” When asked about his favorite Reiner film, Brooks’ answer was as surprising to Reiner as it was to me.

Despite their long friendship, Reiner and Brooks had never collaborated professionally until now. Reiner once offered Brooks a leading role, which he declined. The film in question could have been quite different with Brooks on board. We also delved into the evolving nature of the entertainment industry, their thoughts on streaming, and their upcoming projects. Reiner is working on a sequel to “This Is Spinal Tap,” while Brooks is set to co-star in “Ella McKay,” directed by James L. Brooks.

For the full interview and a deeper dive into the lives of these two legends, you can watch the complete episode of Behind The Lens.

Albert Brooks once said, “I had a very famous agent and he said to me, ‘I don’t know why you always take the hard road.’ And my answer was, ‘You think I see two roads.’” This quote encapsulates Brooks’ unique approach to his career. My admiration for Brooks began years ago when I interviewed him for The A.V. Club. That interview covered a wide range of topics, from his new film to his legendary late-night TV appearances and his philosophy behind “Defending Your Life.”

Years later, I was thrilled to write an essay for the Criterion Collection’s release of “Lost In America,” a project Brooks himself suggested. This opportunity allowed me to highlight Brooks’ genius and his significant contributions to American comedy.

The new documentary, “Albert Brooks: Defending My Life,” directed by Reiner, offers a comprehensive look at Brooks’ career. It features clips from his late-night TV bits, “Saturday Night Live” shorts, and his work as an actor and voice talent. Reiner, who has known Brooks since high school, captures the essence of Brooks’ unique comedic style.

Brooks’ influence on comedy is undeniable. His seven directorial films have been both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. His roles in “Drive” and “Finding Dory,” and his voice work on “The Simpsons,” showcase his versatility. The documentary, filled with testimonials from big names like Steven Spielberg, Chris Rock, Judd Apatow, and Alana Haim, underscores Brooks’ impact on the comedy world.

Comedy fans and casual viewers alike will find value in this documentary. It highlights Brooks’ innovative approach to comedy and his ability to stay ahead of the cultural curve. The film also explores Brooks’ creative process and his willingness to test new material on national TV without prior rehearsal.

Brooks’ career has been marked by his trust in his creative instincts. He has always been selective about his projects, often fighting to maintain his vision. This documentary sheds light on his journey and the challenges he faced in the industry.

Reiner’s documentary is a heartfelt tribute to Brooks, filled with clips from his early TV appearances and his feature films. It also includes interviews with colleagues and admirers like Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Sarah Silverman, David Letterman, Larry David, and many more. These testimonials provide a deeper understanding of Brooks’ influence and his unique approach to comedy.

The film also delves into Brooks’ personal life, including his relationship with his parents. His father, Harry Einstein, was a comedian who passed away after a performance at a Friars Club roast. Brooks’ mother, a frustrated performer, never fully approved of his career, often asking, “Well, what did Johnny think?” after his TV appearances.

Reiner’s documentary is a comprehensive analysis of Brooks’ career, filled with hilarious clips and insightful interviews. It highlights Brooks’ daring approach to comedy and his ability to create memorable routines without prior rehearsal. The film also features stories about the making of his films, including his surprise when Meryl Streep agreed to star in “Defending Your Life.”

“Albert Brooks: Defending My Life” is a must-watch for fans of Brooks and comedy enthusiasts. It offers a deep dive into the life and career of a comedic genius, showcasing his unique approach to comedy and his lasting impact on the industry. For those who appreciate Brooks’ work, this documentary is a true gem.

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