I recently interviewed Broadway legend Joel Grey for a Stage Directions cover story that’s out this month. During our thirty minute-interview we covered everything from his early days through his major successes to being enticed out of retirement to work on two Tony Award-winning revivals: The Normal Heart (as co-director) and Anything Goes (as performer).
While Grey is best known for his Broadway work, particularly his Tony and Oscar-winning turns as the Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret, he has made numerous film and television appearances across the decades and has been seen on the small screen a few times over the last few years. One very funny role emerged in the Eighties action movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins in which he played Master Chiun, the martial arts master who schools the titular hero in the ways of discipline and power.
“Well, it didn’t have much of a life,” Grey recalled of that cult film, “but there are people on the street that don’t talk about Cabaret or talk about anything else than Remo Williams. That’s fun. I mean, a few people, but people.”
One director the famed actor fondly recalls is the late, great Bob Fosse and “his magnificent eye for the films. I think he was a great film director,” declared Grey. “He was a film dancer for many years, and I think he always loved it. There was a focus that happened in his movies that I don’t think was necessarily in all of his stage work. All That Jazz. Lenny. Star 80.”