Larry Hankin: Artist, Actor, Writer, & Oscar-Nominated Film Director on why Creativity Belongs in the Driver's Seat
Larry Hankin, Artist, Actor, Writer, Director, Hollywood legend on why Creativity belongs in the Drivers Seat Episode Summary Larry Hankin is perhaps the most recognized “that guy” character actor in Hollywood; having appeared in over 200 films and TV shows, you definitely know his face. His filmography reads like a who’s who of Hollywood he has had roles in Laverne & Shirley, Friends, Escape from Alcatraz, Billy Madison, Home Alone, Seinfeld, Breaking Bad. He's also a writer and short film director (one of his films even earned him an Oscar nomination) and a painter. Larry lives in Los Angeles.
We talk about his struggles with ADD, ADHD, OCD and Dyslexia and the gifts these things have given him along the way, his favourite acting roles and what he thinks the purpose of life is.
Larry Hankin is perhaps the most recognized “that guy” character actor in Hollywood; having appeared in over 200 films and TV shows, you definitely know his face. His filmography reads like a who’s who of Hollywood he has had roles in Laverne & Shirley, Friends, Escape from Alcatraz, Billy Madison, Home Alone, Seinfeld, Breaking Bad. He's also a writer and short film director (one of his films even earned him an Oscar nomination) and a painter.
Larry shares that as a young child 70-odd years he had this huge creativity in him but it was knocked out of him by parents who wanted him to have a stable career as a doctor or lawyer. He shares the pressure of what it was like to try to shove down his own desire to be an artist to obey his parents wishes,
Larry opens up about what having ADD, ADHD, OCD, & Dyslexia has been like for him and the gifts these things have given him along the way - but my favourite moment comes towards the end of the show when he muses about what it was like to star alongside Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz.
He muses about the importance of failure and how we have to come to accept it, because it is a part of learning. And at one point he gets esoteric about why we’re here and why the cosmos let us in.
Larry’s life story comes across as a wild, lucky adventure - opening for Miles Davis, getting hired by Second City, Starring beside Clint Eastwood and even being nominated for an Oscar. Through listening to Larry it becomes obvious very quickly that whether he wanted to or not Larry always placed Creativity in the Driver's seat of his life. I suspect it was because of this that he managed to manifest so many of these incredible experiences for himself.
Larry and I talked about the importance of Acceptance (which happened to be the word I pulled for the show) and acceptance is something that he embodies this so perfectly. He had these things inside him that he just had to follow. And he accepted that there was almost another person inside him running the show and that his job was just to do the things in the outside world to set that inside guy up.
I was struck by Larry’s unabashed loyalty to his own quiet inner voice. From the time he was so small he saw that the people around him didn’t want him to live for himself and despite immense pressure to obey them, to make them happy, to fulfill his obligations as a SON, he never betrayed himself. He followed his heart and it led him on some incredible adventures.
When he said, “I’m here to do what I’m here to do. That’s why I was born and that’s why the Cosmos let me in” I actually got the chills. That loyalty to his inner self, no matter what pressures were presenting themselves to him, is something I aspire to.
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About Larry Hankin:
Larry Hankin is perhaps the most recognized “that guy” character actor in Hollywood; having appeared in over 200 films and TV shows, you definitely know his face. His filmography reads like a who’s who of Hollywood he has had roles in Laverne & Shirley, Friends, Escape from Alcatraz, Billy Madison, Home Alone, Seinfeld, Breaking Bad. He's also a writer and short film director (one of his films even earned him an Oscar nomination) and a painter.
Exploring characters, rants, stories on stage, in his one-man show, and in his many film shorts, Larry has recently produced a compilation of it all in his book “The Loopholes Dossier”, which has just been published and distributed worldwide by Bookbaby Publishers and is available in all the places you’d expect to buy books. And you can buy his paintings and his wonderful t-shirts on his website. Larry lives in Los Angeles.
Resources used in this episode
FULL TRANSCRIPT: Creativity belongs in the drivers seat
Larry Hankin 0:01
But there is a great satisfaction and incredible high from doing something that you wanted to do. And that nobody can stop you from doing. And you know that you did the best job you could under the surface. That's the best I could do, man, you can't get any more out of me. That's the best I could do. And if you can say that you get high from that, and it makes you want to do more, and it gives you greater strength. So it's not just doing the Stations of the Cross, do this and be creative. And then and don't let them do that and be quick. No. The point is that if you do what's best for you, you will get high and better at being you.
Kate Shepherd 1:01
Thank you to everyone who has been leaving reviews for the show. On Sundays, I often make myself a cup of tea and read the new ones that have come in over the week. They bring me so much joy and motivation and inspiration to keep going. So if you haven't left one yet, yeah, I ask you to please leave on today. They're also a really powerful way to help me grow the show. I've been wanting to branch out and talk to people in other fields for the show. And so when I was presented with the opportunity to interview Larry Hankin jumped at it. I'll admit I was a little nervous, was the first time I interviewed someone from Hollywood. And this guy is somewhat of a Hollywood legend. Larry is perhaps the most recognized that guy character in Hollywood. You definitely know his face. His filmography reads like a who's who of Hollywood. He's had roles and Laverne and Shirley friends Escape from Alcatraz Billy Madison home alone, Seinfeld Breaking Bad, Barry. I mean, he's been in over 200 films, you know this guy, and there's so much more to him. He's also a writer, and a short film director. One of his films even earned him an Oscar nomination. Before the interview. I had a sneaking suspicion that Larry had a profound depth to him. And I was not wrong. I learned that Larry has been an artist since the time he was a small child. He's a painter, and a funny guy and a performer at heart. The things that Larry shared floored even me, he talks about what it was like as a child 70 years ago, having to shove down his own desire to be an artist to obey his parents wishes. What having OCD, ADHD and dyslexia has been like for him, and how it ended up being one of his greatest gifts. But my favorite moment comes towards the end of the show when he muses about what it was like to star alongside Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz. Be sure to stick around to the end of the show for my takeaways from our conversation, including the thing he said that gave me the truth bumps. I wonder if you'll get them at the same time as I did. A lot goes into producing creative genius. A small contribution from you will have a direct impact on whether I'm able to continue to bring you these conversations I create thoughtful bonuses to thank my supporters extra as I think you won't want to miss, head over to patreon.com/creative Genius podcast to see if one of the options might be a good fit for you. And please consider buying some of my artwork as a way to support me in this work from gratitude birds and other paintings to my handmade nature inspired jewelry morning moon. Everything I make, including this podcast is intended to ignite joy. Maybe keep my work in mind next time you need a gift for yourself or someone you love. Thank you. Larry's life story comes across as a wild lucky adventure. Opening for Miles Davis getting hired by Second City starring beside Clint Eastwood and even being nominated for an Oscar through listening to Larry, it becomes obvious very quickly that whether he wanted to or not, Larry has always placed creativity in the driver's seat of his life. I suspect it was because of this, that he has managed to manifest so many of these incredible experiences for himself. And one final warning before we head into the episode. Larry has a tendency towards colorful language. He may or may not drop a few F bombs. Be warned. Larry, welcome to the show. I'm so happy to have you here today.
Larry Hankin 4:23
I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to be anywhere.
Kate Shepherd 4:27
That is that is the secret of life, I feel like well, I want to tell you a little bit about why I've created the show and what what what I'm trying to do here. I had this sort of aha moment, a little while ago where I realized that humanity is glitching. What I came to was I realized that it's glitching because we have come to a place where we've really, we've really tried to suppress creativity. We make people scared about expressing like the real art that's in them or the real voice that they have or the real you know what's really in them and And I think as humans were designed to express those things. And so of course, we're glitching now that we can't, you know, we feel this fear that things should look a certain way or be a certain way or sound a certain way. So I want to have conversations with people like you who are brilliant creatives, and who have a real stream of creativity, like clearly moving through them to talk about, you know, how, what is it like to let this stuff out of us? Because I feel like when we challenge some of these limiting beliefs around creativity, we can start to address things like mental illness and depression and anxiety and some of the bigger things that are making us glitch as people. People. I want to tell you, I rented Escape from Alcatraz last night. Oh, good movie. Yeah. And I spent the last couple of weeks watching as many clips of things with you in it as I could get my hands on. And I just want to, I just want to say you're an incredibly talented actor, and human being well, that's
Larry Hankin 6:01
good to hear. i It's interesting. I'm just trying to do good job trying to show up.
Kate Shepherd 6:12
But thank you. Well, you're welcome. You're welcome. And I just I want to start off by saying that and I wanted to ask you, because I was when I did a little bit of research about you for the show. I learned that you did a, you did a degree in Industrial Design. And then
Larry Hankin 6:27
Got a degree, yes I earned a degree in Industrial Design. Yes. A complete waste of time.
Kate Shepherd 6:34
Well, yeah. Cuz it led you like you finish that you graduated from that and you do, it's almost like you turned on your heel, you move to granite, and then you're doing stand up suck. That's exactly what I did. So okay, so tell us, why did you do that degree and if you had this stuff in you before that, you know, you wanted to do acting, you wanted to perform, you have this stuff and what made you What made you do that?
Larry Hankin 6:54
Okay, he goes, I was inculcated, as a young child to honor my parents, not a good way to go. Parents, little kids don't understand that parents are human beings of the same species that they are, and they make mistakes, you know, and they're doing it for love. And that is the one of the biggest mistakes ever. I cook this food for love, you got to eat it. You know, those kinds of thing. So I was a good son. And when I had this creativity, it was pretty much knocked out of me, kicked out of me and denied you don't need to do that. You got to get a career as a doctor or lawyer to take care of us in our old age is the message that I was getting. They never said that. But I mean, you know, I just said, you know, I don't like the set up here. I'm being set up for something. That's, that's all I knew. I didn't know anything else. I just knew as a small child, I'm being set up for something. And they just didn't like it. But I was you're supposed to honor your parents. So I did. And I did everything that they told me to, unfortunately, left out everything I wanted to do. So that's what was going on as I grew up. And then when I got to college, I didn't. I didn't want to I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to paint really. And that was a funny guy, you know, but I didn't know anything about showbusiness. I wanted to paint. So I wanted to go to they wanted me to go to college, they wanted a degree. They wanted to burn the sun. To carry on the name, I'm not into that crap. So I went to college and they said, Well, you can choose your own college like giving me hope, okay, you want to do it your way. You can go to any college you want, but we have to agree to it. So I was looking for colleges, you know, what the heck, I want to be a painter. So I saw a Syracuse University. And it had to be you know, within a certain distance, I couldn't go overseas, I couldn't go across country had to be, you know, where they could get their hands on me where they could visit me. It's not like limited my thing and I finally got to Syracuse University, and I saw industrial design. And I just because I was a pretty stupid kid and naive. I was very naive. I didn't know anything because of my upbringing. So I thought design design is art. So that's the school I picked industrial design because it was industrial design. And when I got there, it's industrial. And I had signed up I was there I had moved in I was in the freshman dorms and so, you know, you just put your head down and you just barely get through it. You know, somebody said yesterday. If you're going through hell don't stop keep going. I just get have, you know And luckily, I hung around at the drama department and a really cool drama department and very, at the time famous teachers and head of the department. I don't it doesn't go through now and they're gone. But but so I have arrived and I met Carl Gottlieb friend who was going he was in the writing department, literally, I don't know, newspaper, you want to be a writer. So he signed up in the drama department. So he would take me over there. I got into a couple plays through him. And Carl later years and years later down the line, we remained friends, he wrote joy, he wrote all the joys movies, who knew? But anyway, so when I graduated, when we graduated, we graduated the same time. And I was supposed to go to I was a good student, industrial, I was like an A student in industrial design, just because if you put something in front of me, I have like OCD, ADHD, kind of dyslexia. If you put something in front of me, I'll try to do the best I can. If you just get me to focus on it. I'll do good. I'll do better music. But but you got to get me to focus because my mind is going a million miles. And now. I said, well, they they got me to go there. I'm going to Detroit. I'm going to design future cars, futuristic cars, for a lot of money, a huge amount of money. I was one of the top students in the design department. And he and I said, Where are you going? And he said, Well, I'm going to Greenwich Village, and I'm going to be a writer. And we're going to just get a job at a newspaper or something. Maybe review movies, I don't know, maybe write screenplays. But I'm going to Greenwich Village and I go, what are you going to?
I said, Well, he's just going to go so well. That sounds better than Detroit. So, and I went to Detroit, they they the school in Detroit flew eight colleges, two students each says like 16 students, there's probably four colleges, there was eight students in the group two from each college, I was one from Syracuse, there's another guy. And I just looked around, and I was very problematic, I guess, is what I just kept on asking really interesting questions that they never, you know, we're, you know, like, who did this? You know, I pick up like, they had plastic cars on their desks that they had designed, you know, they took it to all the design departments, you know, say, like, this is my, you know, my, so it was like a little car, you know, so I picked it up and looking at it, who did this? And he's nobody really liked that. I said, No, no, I don't like this. I thought this is I just want to know, who is it? The head of the department did that. They said, well, they said, Why don't you like it? I said, Well, I expected more from Ford, you know, or, you know, Chevrolet wherever the fuck I was. So, he was so I saw he marked that. You know, okay, this guy. And I thought, okay, my decision was, there's nothing I can say, right? In this city. That's just all I thought that was. Okay, I'm out of here. So when I got back, I said, Carl, where are you going? He said, Brad, it's real is that? How about if we were roommates about that? They said, great, man. That's, you know, half the cost. And I don't know what he didn't know what he was going to do. And neither did I. But we showed up in Greenwich Village, and he got a job in a newspaper. Very small, like a neighborhood newspaper, you know, maybe 500, you know, sales or 1000, or whatever. I bet he was reviewing all the movies because your Life magazine, Newsweek, New York Times, and his little paper all reviewed the same movie. I mean, in those days, you just you wore a suit. That's him why wine before you go in and you got the cold shrimp, you know, the bowl of cold shrimp. And what he would do and I was swabbing duckboards in a bar from two 2am to 6am. That was my job. And I never looked back. I thought, Man, if I was in, if I was in Detroit now I'd be designing cars for $75,000 a year. And I'd rather be here I mean, it was just that easy.
Kate Shepherd 14:43
Why why because what were you what and where was your art and that here's
Larry Hankin 14:46
the thing, you know, I have ADD ADHD, dyslexia and and cod and small, but they're all in there. And I cannot do anything I don't want to do I just can't do it, you can't force me to do it. I mean, I'll try to do it. Because if I don't, you're going to hit me with a stick. But I won't do a good job. And I want to leave, and I'll get out of there. As soon as you put that stick down, I'm gone. I mean, it's just that weird. And through my whole life, that's, if I if I don't like to be here, you're gonna know that.
Kate Shepherd 15:24
So how did you end up doing stand up? And how'd you end up performing? Well, I had my
Larry Hankin 15:28
days and nights free. I was working from 2am to 6am. So I would sleep, you know, maybe Carla go to work every day, you know, but I would sleep late, I would hang out, you know, it's great, as in the village had two afternoons to myself and a park. You know, and I'd be calling friends who were out of work. I used to hang around with other actors. I wasn't in there. But I used to hang on my friends. However, that happened. I so they didn't have anything to do. So I'd go to auditions with them, you know, I'd wait outside, or I go to their agents office and you know, or wait for coffee. I'm going up to my agent, you know, I Okay, I'd wait and o'clock. Yeah. And we would just walk around New York, it was great to not have to go clean the depth boards and you know, sweep up. But right before going to work, I was in Greenwich Village, I was hanging out in the coffee houses. And I would see you know, open mic nights. Were you know, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and maybe Sunday. So those are four nights now where you could just sign up at eight o'clock and all of them. And then you would be on a list. And so and it was Greenwich Village from Greenwich Village, there's only four or five blocks. Without You know, I would say 20 coffee houses with open mic nights. And I would just go from open mic and I would just listen. Or I would stay in one place and hear all the comedians, it was mainly comedians were open to like next and folk singers. So I couldn't play guitar, but I would listen, I was a funny guy. I I won funniest in high school, two years in a row. So I thought, wow, hey, man, this is a snap, man. No, no, it's making you laugh. And your friends laugh is not like making people paid to laugh. I mean, yeah, they wanted to laugh, but they paid money. Even if it was like $2 for a cup of coffee. You know, it was still and but here's the great thing about open mic nights, and I'm gonna go back to it. open mic nights you up, you get three to five minutes. So I always watch and I say hey, I can do that. I'm a funny guy. So I would you know, just sign up, get on the stage. And I would say what I said to my friends, or I didn't write anything, I thought you just get I mean, that's how naive I was. So you just get up on the stage and you talk and they either laugh where they go. But an open mic nights, everybody's there to either for two reasons to get up on the stage for three minutes. And everybody knows if you get up on the stage in your bed, it's only three minutes. And I'm here to either get up after you. Or I'm here for my friend to see him get up. So nobody bruise because they don't want to if I boo you, you're going to boom, my friend. So they would just politely sit there for three minutes. And that is such a forgiving, open thing. I mean, talking about you know, why can't we all get along and art and blah, blah, blah. That's what you need to do. So your bad, you'll get better. It's not rocket science. And all I did when I didn't get a laugh was I would say okay, I get off the stage so I can do better next time. That's all really simple. do it better next time. You know,
Kate Shepherd 19:04
you found something that you liked, which I think is really interesting because you so you have this like natural skill for industrial design your top of your class you it was it was easy for you. You were good at it, but you didn't fight it. Yeah, but now here's this other thing that you found that you weren't good at right away when you free. But yeah, but you liked it so much that you do it for free. And it led you to this. I mean, you had to practice over and over again and yeah,
Larry Hankin 19:28
go home and you know, car was around I go into a closet and we had a little tiny apartment, man. I mean, it was only one bedroom and I slept in in in like a cubby hole. We you know we were we switched every once in a while but but I saw I go in the bathroom and do it in front of a mirror with you know, with the you know, either either a knife, fork, so I would just rehearse you know at home and then I would go and do the same thing and I would end up but I did know here's the The thing though, and this, if we're talking to people who want to be artists, or want to express themselves, there's something you got to understand. You got to understand that you're going to fail. I mean, that's part of learning. Especially in show business, they don't like it, you know, but you just got to get through that the non acceptance part, you know, think about prints. You know, the rock guy. When he first started, he would dress in the weirdest drag you had ever seen. But his talent was that guitar man. He played an incredible guitar. So he got dressed him in net stockings, and you know, like, crushed dressing and stuff. And I couldn't watch it. I just I said, this is ridiculous. To me. It was ridiculous. It wasn't I didn't care he just ridiculous. So my ears were closed, because of what my eyes were saying. And that you gotta you got to, there's no connection between your eyes and your ears, folks, that two different circuits. When I started listening to his records, and his music, I got a wound. It's kind he's really incredible. So then I put up with his net stockings and his bullshit, because man, the music The guy was, and I got, oh, I see where you're going. You gotta get my you were trying to get my attention. But you didn't get my attention. But you got the paying customers attention. And now I'm buying your record. Okay.
Kate Shepherd 21:34
I feel like you have a little bit of that. In you, you strike me as somebody who thinks differently than most people around you, you know, you create characters that are a little bit. Yeah, you're not doing what everybody else is doing. But like you said, That's really hard. How do you navigate that? How do you because it's a lonely road, sometimes,
Larry Hankin 21:51
as much as I wouldn't say, want to do your show, you know? Or if I didn't like being on your show, you would you would pick that up? I mean, you would get the this guy's not, you know, okay, I can't prevent that. In other words, I have no, I have no wall between how I feel and you. That's just I was born with that I you know, whatever it is, I probably psychiatrists can knock that out of me. Or some good parenting. So that works both ways. It's a yin yang thing as much as I go. I go. Ah. So you can't stop me. You can't stop me. Either way. You can't stop me from leaving. Goodbye. I'm sorry. I'm out. And I can give you plenty examples.
Kate Shepherd 22:39
What is that in you? What is that in you? Like what I mean? You know, yeah, we can say it's,
Larry Hankin 22:44
well, I'm gonna get esoteric now because I don't know any way to explain it. I want you to ask the guitar player, you know, how are you doing it? You know, how do you you're not looking at your hands. But you just how do you do that? And he said, I don't know. And I kept on pressing him. And he said, Look, man, I don't know, you know, I did I just I just play the guitar. That's what I do. I learned how to play the guitar, you know? And sometimes you just have to, okay, you don't know, fine. Now, I try to learn the guitar and I suddenly, I'm playing the guitar, and I'm not looking at my hands. And I'm going okay, Larry, Where's that coming from? The only answer I can come is there's somebody else inside me taking care of that. So don't pay attention to him or that, just learn something new, and it will get shifted over to him. And he'll take care of it. And so that's, that's the only way I can explain what keeps me or what sends me away as I trusted. Okay, the esoteric part is, a lot of artists says God given or it's, I must do this, or that's what it must be. It's like Bob Dylan said, I was doing I was born doing it. You know, playing guitar and writing songs. I came out of the womb writing songs and playing guitar. I just had to get my hands on a pencil and a guitar to express it. But nobody's gonna stop me from doing what I was born to do. Well, sometimes parents don't like that. So they kick it out of you or they something to suppress it. It's not welcome in the house. It's a waste of time. So, but a lot of people don't take that. They take that as guff. Don't give me that guff. Dad. Don't give me that guff. Ma'am. I'm doing this or I'm running away from home. I dreamed about that a lot. Running away but I never did because I was a good stuff. So so that's the only explanation I have is I listened to me. I listened to my body I listened to I listened to me Now it gets me in a lot of trouble. So you know, I'm not saying do it my way, you asked me how I do it. You didn't ask me? Should everybody do it this way? And that is your, okay. Why am I here? That's a big philosophical question. Why are we here? Okay. I had to come to terms who that. So here's how I came to terms with it. I'm here to do what I'm here to do. That's why I'm here. That's why I was born. And that's why the, you know, the cosmos, let me in on here to do something. And it's what I have to do, not what you have to do, Katie. And I just go with that. And it gets me into trouble. Because sometimes why I mistake, you know, I got this, no, this is not why I'm here. And once that I realized that you can stop me from going to where I should be or doing what I should be. So I'm aware of that, that message. I'm not here to do this. I basically, it's even more more specifically, I wasn't born to do this. That's all I you know, you're doing something, you're doing something and then it just starts getting worse. Now, there's a lot of times that I want to write something and I want to write something because I was born to write or be an actor or be a funny guy. But it's something that I want to do and it's not working out. Well, that's where he you know, that's where you got to do you want to be famous and successful and good at what you do, or you just want to do what you want to do. And that's enough, that's the second layer. Doing what you want to do is okay, but a lot of people just want to do heroin. It's what I want to do. Yeah, but it's destructive. So, no,
Kate Shepherd 26:57
I think I think it's important to to ask yourself, like what part of you wants to do it because there's the part of you that is like, the rational mind where it's like, here's the like, if I do these things, I can have a good life. But then there's the other part of you that's like this ethereal thing you can't touch. It's the creativity. It's the thing you're talking about when you say like I was born, it's the thing that tells you what you were born to do and what feels right and what doesn't feel right. And it you know, it depends on who you're asking. Because, you know, I'm sure that ego just wants to
Larry Hankin 27:27
listening to it's, you're talking to who is that person listening to? Are you listening to me? Yeah, here's a Sufi tale. It's short. So the Sufi the head Sufi, says, Okay, I'm, I'm retiring now I'm too old. So I'm picking my next guy. It's Johnny, Johnny, you're the next head Sufi, okay. And Sam comes up to the Sufi and says, Hey, man, what are you picking? John, and I've been here long before John, I've been with you every. I've been following you around. I've read every book. I've danced, every danced. I've met every person, I've been every place. And you've done everything that you've said and done. And you picked John who just came here like three weeks ago. What? What is that all about? You should simply said to Sam, if you don't, everything I've done and read everything I've done and thought everything I've thought you haven't been listening to a word I've been saying. So that's, I don't know if you can make sense of that. But that makes perfect sense to me.
Kate Shepherd 28:42
I absolutely know what you're talking. It's,
Larry Hankin 28:45
you can't damage yourself. Like I said, a lot of people just want to do heroin, and they love it, but they're damning is damaging it. So if you love something, I mean, it's damaging you. You weren't born to be here because Nature doesn't work that way. It doesn't work to to well, biology. Life doesn't work that way. You are you're born to prosper was that guy from says Star Trek? You know,
Kate Shepherd 29:17
oh, yeah, live long and prosper. You are
Larry Hankin 29:19
born to live long and prosper. What doesn't help you live long or prosper? Now so in other words, you gotta is just living longer and prospering or am I just, you know, making an ass of myself.
Kate Shepherd 29:34
What were you born to do?
Larry Hankin 29:35
I'm a performer! You can't keep me off a stage or getting up in front of a. We're having dinner with eight people. I eventually, I'm going to be telling stories. I'm gonna I'm gonna make sure that everybody knows I'm here. That that's what I do. That's what I do. I mean, I'm not going to take over. I didn't say that. I'm just going to make sure everybody He knows I'm here. I'm not going to be silent. Let's I want to be silent. Now I'm going to make sure nobody knows I'm here.
Kate Shepherd 30:06
You're so good at listening to yourself. You are. I just am so struck by that. How good what a good listener you are to yourself.
Larry Hankin 30:13
Well, a lot of doctors tell me the same thing. If I get sick, I try to heal myself. Not really to heal myself, but so I can do my other thing better. Right, so I don't have to stop.
Kate Shepherd 30:25
Right it all served that Muse Yeah, yeah. Yeah. This episode of creative genius is brought to you by mourning Moon nature jewelry. Instantly familiar yet, unlike anything you've ever owned, this extraordinary handcrafted heirloom jewelry is famous for its incredible detail of actual textures from nature, get 15% off your first order and feel the Wonder use coupon code, creative genius, at love morning mood.com. I spent a quite a bit of time watching little clips of you over the last little while. And then again last night, I watched Escape from Alcatraz and I was just really struck by what a what a great actor you are, what a great performer you are, and, and how and I was thinking about it, you know, like you, you have? I mean, you've been in hundreds of films, I feel like and you've you've over and over and over again, taken small parts and made them incredibly memorable. And I feel like, I don't know you. Well. So I don't want to ask you because you're tapping into something. And I wanted to know, like, what, when you're up there, and you're performing and you know that feeling like I know it from being a painter, and I had no idea that you were a painter? Actually, I didn't find that about you until just now. But I know that feeling of like when you tap into that flow state, and you're, it's almost like you just get taken away. And does that happen to you when you're performing?
Larry Hankin 31:52
There's one, there's one other thing that I haven't mentioned yet about all the bullshit that I just handed you. But the other thing is that there, if I do everything that I've just said to you that I do. So let me make that clear. Not that you should do it. But if I do everything that I say I should do, there is your reward for that. And I haven't brought that up and no artists ever brings that up. But there is a great satisfaction and incredible high from doing something that you wanted to do. And that nobody can stop you from doing. And you know that you did the best job you could, under the circumstances. That's, that's the best I could do. Man, you can't get any more out of me. That's the best I could do. And if you can say that you get high from that. And it makes you want to do more and it gives you greater strength. So it's not just doing the Stations of the Cross, do this and be creative and then do it. And don't let them do that and be know that that's the point is that if you do what's best for you, you will get high and better at being you. That's all that's all you want to do is be you and you are very unique. Everybody is very unique. And art expresses the uniqueness that lets when I play music, it's different than when you play music, even if we play the same song, because the strings for some reason is magic. It it taps into and that's hearing. It's hearing, you know that. And then I bring that back to the open mic night the hearing. The audience does not respond and that's good. When people blew you, I mean, it's like what the hell you hear you. But you know, I mean, sometimes I had to get off the stage, but people come at you with beer bottles. Now I was just doing something that I was doing an open mic night where they just sat there until they're you know, the next person came up. And I had to take I had to I had to quit. I mean, I walked get back on the stage, you get that guy out of there. Get that guy out of there or talk to him with the beer bottle. He's gonna come up again. And it was just a dance floor between me and his table. So I said you get that guy out of there, talk to him get the beer off the table, whatever. But I'm not going out there until you get that guy out of here because his Kingston Trio doesn't come on for 10 more minutes you got 10 more minutes to do get out there you fired I'm fired. I
Kate Shepherd 34:45
did that leads you to sort of a different So was there like a transition from when you're doing a bunch of stand up to then when you got it? I just told you the transition. Okay, that was it. So then what happened next?
Larry Hankin 34:57
Go came out with a beer bottle. Man. He says, Did that happen? In the hotel room or on the stage? I said, No, no, what happened on the stage man? He said, You know, he's trying to be funny. He said, Well, I said, Yeah, man, I don't like that. I'm a middle class Jewish kid man. I'm not into you know, fighting from you know, I can't do that. Even if it's for the Kingston Trio. He said won't join Second City man, they they had they own the theater of a guy comes in through a beer bottle, they'll kick the guy out. So I auditioned how to audition. But I got in it was a weird audition, but was unique. But the audition, this is the audition. And it was for the head of Second City. The big guy by all this bone, son, I can't remember his name anyway. Just said, I come here. It was an office. There was not on the stage. He said, you know, go to a cook, go to the this building. It'll Manhattan into an office big, big, huge office. And he was in one of the offices. And he said, Oh, hi, Larry. Okay, I see I'm here. You are here for the audition yet. Okay. There's a key is a key in this room. Find it. That's it, you want me to just look for a key. Oh, and don't try to make me laugh. I left enough. Just look for the didn't say fucking look for the key. That's all. It was that we got attitude. So I look for a key in the room for about, I don't know, a minute and a half, two minutes, maybe just even sitting there. And he's watching. And then he goes, Okay, thank you. That's it. That's it. Thank you. And I left and then three days later, Callie, you're in you're in and I was they sent me to school to learn improvisation. You know, they have their own theatre, improv. And then I was on the main stage. And I was in second city. And then from there, five of us. One from a couple from the New York company, the director from New York company. I was in Chicago company, one to one person from there. And we all went to California to start the committee. We didn't do that. This went up on stage time. We're gonna go so I went any said jump in the car we're going now with the director said he drove up. I was fired. I stayed for a week and Chicago hanging out at the theater because I didn't know where else to go. And the director, he drove up. He said, you know, kid runs into the bar. I was hanging out in the bar of the Second City. So Larry Hanken here. Yeah, what? Outside in the car wants to talk to you. I go running outside. And it was Alan Meyerson, the head eventually of the committee's jump in the car going to San Francisco, we're starting our own committee call is full of five people and two kids. There were, you know, luggage on the thing. We're going with San Francisco. So this was getting me to West Coast. You see that? The following the trail here. And so we got there, and nobody came for the first year. But we didn't care. Don't quit your day gig was art. But nobody had a day gig. Our gig was here. And when was a year and a half, we were a tourist attraction. And then Hollywood started to come up to watch the show because it was a cheap ride. Clean, fair, round trip. $35 round trip there. And back to green light. People were coming up because it was a hugely successful show. And the money was incredible. That was the only real big mistake. It was like going to college again. But the money was so huge. To just go down for like a day or a week. And an improv you can take off. Somebody else can take part because it's improv. If he doesn't like what you were saying, they'll say his own thing. Who cares? So we went down, and then you come back and take your own place. So you're going back and forth. And this took about two or three years for a big hit. And then a lot of people would start going down and not coming back. You know, they would just stay there. And eventually I had to go to I mean, I was because my company, the original company, were all didn't come back at one at a time, they would just go and not come back. So I was acting now improvising was second, third and fourth companies now. I mean, I stayed for another two, three years, because I loved that I didn't.
This was it for me. And then when the director Alan Myerson, the original director left and didn't come back Okay, he left me in charge of the company shots directing the committee. But not I decided this is not what I was born to do. I wasn't going to direct I was going to perform. So I left. You know, next time I got a call, I went down, lover, pay Penny Marshall came down, I came up. And then I got a call saying a Penny Marshall saw Yeah, you're tall guy. She's doing a dance thing for prom, Laverne and Shirley, she needs a dance partner, The tall guy is a tall guy and accompany Larry somebody she wants to dance with with him. You know, he's a physical comedian. So I went down and I stayed, I got a agent and I became an actor. So you you asked me about the point about what is it that makes me an actor? Where do I go? That is when I was going to public school. And that I don't know, that's the dyslexia think I will be sitting in class. And this is, you know, in public school, all throughout public school in high school and college. And I never questioned it or made a point of it. But I see now, I wouldn't be sitting, I never sat up close, I sat in the back. And every once in a while somebody poked me. You know, like from the next desk? Hey, what do you what are you staring at? Because I would sit at my desk and just and the teacher, which is Larry, what are you looking at? Not? Outside just outside? Okay, just pay attention. Okay. And that was a pay attention, pay attention. But when I act, that's where I go. And doing that, as a child growing up, whatever space that was just got stronger and better. So when I act, it's, it's a safe place. It's an it's an, it's an there's, it's nothing, there's no, no good bad in between high low, nothing, it's just rest. It's a trade. It's a bird. It's, you know, whatever, whatever it is. But what when I asked, that's where I go. Now where that is, who knows.
Kate Shepherd 42:18
I have two small children, they're seven and nine. And I'm an artist.
Larry Hankin 42:23
That's fine. But they go there all the time. But
Kate Shepherd 42:26
I go there all the time, too. So like, I'll be sitting there at dinner. And I'll just be like, you know, my, my door will open and I'll just and they're like, Mama Hello, where did you go. So I know that place you're talking about and I, but I never made the connection between, you know, so when I'm painting for example, if I, if I'm trying, if I'm trying to do something specific, it never works, there's just always crap that I create. But if I can go to that place, and it's an accident that I go there, like when I I'll make a painting go, Oh, that was really amazing. What What was different about that one, oh, I was in that nothing space. When I did that. I
Larry Hankin 43:00
was trying to write a query letter yesterday. And I had to, you know, had it all finished. And now it's like correcting it and type, you know, typos and stuff like that. And it was on this computer, and I'm looking at the screen. And I noticed that I would sit for you know, maybe, I don't know, doing what you were doing, you know, doing what I was doing, just you know, but at the page, reading and reading, and then suddenly now I couldn't be five minutes could be three minutes, you know, and I'm reading and just sitting there. If anybody walked into the room, and you just was watching me, it would be really weird. Here's this printing up and this guy just sitting here watching it. And then suddenly I see, oh, that sentence. I don't need that. And I would cut it out. So I a lot of people don't know that. contemplation is part of expressing yourself. And your art, your thing, whatever, whatever it is, we will talk to you will tell you, it'll maybe take five minutes, just sit here.
Kate Shepherd 44:04
You wait a minute, and you get quiet and you go, you said it much better than me. It can come out well, I said it because I was able to say because of everything you just said, I'm listening to you. And then that's what came out. You have to straddle both worlds. You need your rational mind to navigate the human physical world that we live in. But if you're just using that you're going to be having a miserable time. Because so you need to you need to contemplate and you need to be quiet and you need to let that other thing catch up with us. The
Larry Hankin 44:35
inside guy and the outside guy on the outside. The inside guy takes care of my fingers playing the guitar. Yeah, and he takes care of what color it's going to be just stare at it and he'll tell you. Oh, kind of a burnt orange brown. Okay, cool.
Kate Shepherd 44:53
What do you think that part of us that inside guy is what's its mo because it feels like it has a really different mo than the house. That guy totally different Mo.
Larry Hankin 45:01
He's pretty quiet. I kind of think it's part of your your subconscious or your your maybe your ID. I'm not too into psychology psychology, but I did try to figure it out with the with the guitar thing with my fingers. Cuz I noticed that when I was trying to place my fingers on the right chord, it took me five minutes to get each finger on the right string in the right quadrant of the stem there. But if I didn't look, it would just my fingers would just go to the right place. Wow, well, how did that happen? So honestly, that's that guy. He kind of, I guess if it's really, really quiet, if it's really quiet, you got to be a you got to be relaxed. When you're centered. I think that that's, it works the best. I know. When I do my arch my roles. I get nervous, I get very nervous before I go on, whether it's stage or movies or wherever. And I try to quiet myself. I can't talk to anybody before I act. i My mind is just I when I don't know where to place my mind where to focus my mind on the conversation or the memorization. So I have to sit quiet, and people think I'm weird. So I hear Marlon Brando sometimes do that, or a couple of actors do. But I have to sit very quiet and get my mind still and go on. So then, in our conversation, I would say that's me trying to calm my mind. So that guy can focus my mind on acting, and go into his place. But I have to quiet. I can't just talk to you. And I've seen actors do this, I blows my mind. You know, they'd be talking to you. And then you go, Hey, Hank, and you're up and Okay, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You go, oh, yeah, where? Where are we now? And then they go act, and then they come back? How did you do that? Man? How did you? I can't do it. I've tried and it just screws up my acting. So it's everybody's, again. You have to do a little self observation. You have to think about yourself, you know, you know, I was I was watching some ad just before we went on. For some. I don't know what it was quiet, calming stuff. And she said, I, I had to quiet myself to find myself or something like that. And I'm there. Yeah. But it's even in the ad sometimes. But it was being used terribly. To sell a product or something like that. Yeah. But But I said, Oh, but other people know about it. Even advertising people they know.
Kate Shepherd 48:12
Yeah, well, because we're all the same thing. At the end of the day, no matter what we pretend. Or no matter what that rational mind wants to make us look like. Are you using
Larry Hankin 48:19
a great word and introducing this whole thing? About? Not not Quirk? A glitch? Huh? You said we as a? What? What? What were you using that in reference to?
Kate Shepherd 48:36
I feel like humanity is glitching? Because he is glitching. What do you think is the answer to that? Like, what do you think is causing that?
Larry Hankin 48:44
You know, every day we're evolving every single day are evolving. You have no control over it. It's maybe a 1000s of 1000s of 1000s of a hair breath inch per day. But we're evolving. Look where we started. And if we don't keep that in mind, we're gonna stop evolving and start going extinct. Yeah. And we don't keep extinction behavior in mind. You know, like, like clean water, clean air. Enough room, nature, air. I mean, come on. Stop it.
Kate Shepherd 49:25
I wanted to there is there's actually quite a few other questions I want to ask you, but I'll limit myself. I did want to ask you what your favorite role that you ever played was like, What did you just enjoy what felt the best?
Larry Hankin 49:38
My favorite role would be? Well, Charlie Butz, but I didn't know it at the time. I was just, I was I was Larry Hanken. Being on camera with Clint Eastwood. That was I was a kid. I didn't know what was going on. I mean, everybody was putting me on on that show. Have the I guess it was just a Larry her while you're doing but but they did it because they liked it, you know, because he's a naive kid who really wants to. He's so trying so hard to be such a good actor. And Clint Eastwood wasn't trying at all. And that was the secret. That's what I learned from Clint Eastwood. He's like a cork, I guess. And that's for life, too. But But I noticed that whenever I was in the scene with Clint Eastwood, and then sometimes we just mean him. As hard as I was going to be Charlie Butz, and remember my lines and everything like that, no matter how hard I try, he would just be a little better than me. And I started to notice that because I was on the show for three months, that he wasn't trying at all. What he would do is he would float on my energy. I swear to God, oh, man, this is gonna I'm gonna be so cool. And he would just, oh, man, I'm just gonna be so cool. He would just use my energy. And he would just say, oh, yeah, yeah. But he would answer my energy. So acting is really reacting. And I didn't know that. But that's what improv is. It's just reacting, you can't plot because there's no, there's no words, there's no script. So you have to go on what the other person said, again, hearing, you know, you what he said, and what happened before in this scene. And that's all you can speak to who I am and what he just said, you can't think, you know, if I just say this thing, well, then we could kind of do that. And and there you were, oh, that Yeah. So you just have to, and that's what he was doing. He was just being wherever Larry took him. Larry is fine.
Kate Shepherd 52:07
You know, for all the people that are listening to this, who are saying, Okay, I know the inside guy, and I know the outside guy. I have I have, you know, inside being outside me. And I really just want to let that inside me run the show a little bit more, because I realized I've been trapping myself in this prison of, you know, letting the rational mind run my life and it's not working. And I frame it as a billboard question. I say, if you had a billboard, where you could put this a message on this billboard, and all the people who are struggling with that, would read it and hear you. What would you what would you say to people?
Larry Hankin 52:40
You got to get your mind quiet enough to hear yourself. So quiet your mind so that you can hear yourself? That's what I'm talking about? That's what you want to hear your DNA? I mean, it's not that difficult. I mean, you know, you don't have to hear your DNA. i Yeah. Oh, is that my pancreas? Is that my DNA? No, I'm not talking about that. Yeah, come on. No, you know what I'm talking about,
Kate Shepherd 53:07
I know what you're talking about. I also want to ask you what you're working on right now. A book, a book? Yeah.
Larry Hankin 53:16
How I got to talking to you, I take about, I'd say 45 of the best jobs that I've had best to acting or stage or committee or second city, or coffee house, or on the road with the Kingston Trio or Miles Davis? Do I open for just the best of those. And I tell you what I was going through doing the show and being with the star, you know, and it's it's funny and kind of sad as I I'm trying to learn to be better, trying to do everything that I'm telling you now. I'm just trying to keep my balance and why do I keep forgetting my lines? And what can I do to help myself and what can I learn from watching Clint and
Kate Shepherd 54:09
so and when is that available now? Or is that your what you're working on? I'm
Larry Hankin 54:13
trying to get a publisher or I gave up everything I kind of dropped out for a while now getting back in is I didn't want to do acting anymore. So I left I mean, that's, you know, that's my formula. Don't like it. Yeah.
Kate Shepherd 54:27
Well, I'm gonna put links to all of your everything in the show notes on the website for this episode. Is there anything that that you think I should have asked you? Oh, and that
Larry Hankin 54:37
guy. Okay, that's my that's my biography. It's called that guy. Okay. And it's a cautionary tale.
Kate Shepherd 54:45
I love it. I really want to read it.
Larry Hankin 54:48
It's really cool. So they'll both be coming out pretty soon. I'm trying to get a literary agent or a publisher, but if not, I'll publish it myself.
Kate Shepherd 54:57
Thank you for coming.
Larry Hankin 54:59
Thank you for having me.
Kate Shepherd 55:00
Well, the word I had pulled before today's show was acceptance. I feel like Larry embodies this so perfectly. He had all these things inside him from a very young age that he just had to follow. And he accepted that there was almost this other person living inside him really running the show, and that his job was just to do all the things in the outside world that would set the inside guy up, I was struck by Larry's unabashed loyalty to his own quiet inner voice. From the time he was small, he saw that the people around him didn't want him to live for himself. And despite the immense pressure to obey them, to make them happy, to fulfill his obligations as a son, he never betrayed himself. He followed his heart. And it led him on some incredible adventures. Earlier in the show, I told you that one of the things he said, gave me the truth bumps. And it was when he said, I'm here to do what I'm here to do. That's why I was born. That's why the cosmos let me in that loyalty to his inner self, to His purpose. The reason he's here, no matter what pressures were presenting themselves to him, is something I aspire to. And in fact, the reason I have this show, I feel that it's all of our jobs, to have that kind of loyalty to our purpose, to our gift. Larry has recently produced a compilation of all his characters, rent, stories on stage, parts of his one man show and his many film shorts, in a book called the loopholes dossier. And he has some beautiful and affordable artwork available too. You can find all the links to His books, His work, and a full transcript of today's show in the show notes on Kate Shepherd creative.com. If you've not already left a review, please do that right now. Make sure you're subscribed so you don't miss an episode. And please consider supporting the show. There's an option for as little as $5 a month, which is kind of like buying me a thank you for making me this podcast coffee. I really can't do it without your support. Thank you for listening. And if you ever want to reach out, know that you can send me a DM on Instagram at Kate Shepherd creative. Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter. I pick a random person from my email list once every month and send them an original piece of my artwork. It's one of my favorite things to do. It takes a lot to put together the show. Please consider supporting me to do it. You can visit patreon.com/creative Genius podcast to find out more. And please keep my jewelry or paintings and especially gratitude birds which keeps selling out in mind. Next time you're looking for a treat for yourself or for a loved one. You can find everything I've mentioned on Kate Shepherd creative.com Thank you for being here, for opening your heart and for listening. My wish and intention for the show is that it reach into your heart and stir the beautiful thing that lives in there. May you find and unleash your creative genius