Saturday, October 24, 2009


My friend, the poet Harry E. Northup, is interviewed on the web site Cult Film Freak, and it's well worth reading every word of.

Harry is one of the few other poets I know who've made their living acting in films and on TV. But unlike me, Harry was originally a film actor and then became a poet.

His book REUNIONS, which I've mentioned many times, including in lists, on this blog, remains one of my favorite books of poems.

It's a poetic journal turning the daily life of a working film actor and poet into exquisitely rendered lyrical takes that capture better than anything else I've ever read what it's like to live the life of any kind of freelance artist, filled with the daily creative and financial challenges and struggles, but also with sometimes small but precious creative rewards and insights. And all taking place on movie sets or in his L.A. neighborhood, a maybe less fashionable part of L.A. than we usually encounter in movies and books but a vibrant and vital one that is as unique as any great neighborhood can be. I highly recommend it (here's a link).

But this interview is mainly about his roles in films and what it was like working with Martin Scorcese and Jonathan Demme among the handful of great directors Harry's worked with almost exclusively (unlike me who made most of my rent payments with checks from playing bad guys on TV, and not classic TV either—I'm planning on trying to get any tapes I have of some of these performances onto DVDs so my grandkids can check them out someday, and in doing the first one, a JAG I played a hardcase detective turned psycho on, I had to not only laugh but was impressed with how grounded and real my performance was, thinking if I'd done the same turn on THE SOPRANOS I'd have probably gotten offers from some of these same great directors or at least had a shot at some more classic films than the ones I mostly appeared in).

So, here's the link to the interview, if your a film buff at all, I think you'll get a lot out of it, and you'll know who Harry is and the great contribution he's made to the art of film acting, as well as to the art of poetry.


-K- said...

Just like I reached for "Basquiat" after being reminded of it in your "Biopic" entry, I'm now going to reach for "Reunions," which I have on the shelf right behind me.

I only met Harry two or three times but both he and his wife (Holly Prado, also a poet) are really warm, genuine people.

harryn said...

once again, i look forward to the book and the interview - it'll be interesting hearing his perspective on the survival 'struggles' of another artist in this culture - Lord knows, we have our challenges ...

the "lally excerpts" dvd should be interesting as well - though some of the 'tough guy' tv isn't always my favorite [i know the industry enjoys its ratings] - one of the things you did that i really enjoyed was a bit on 'nypd blue' [i believe] - where you played an artist - after i got over the fact it was you, i really believed the role to be accurately and sensitively portrayed - the audience was able to see the subtlety of dilemmas the artist struggled with as they moved through a less than hospitable world - and at the time, there were more artists i knew that lived that way than the basquiats and warhols [which i really didn't think was as great a film or depiction as the hype surrounding it - like having donald trump relate to rent control tenants] ...