Interview to Chris Lemmon

Chris Lemmon

Chris Lemmon

Chris Lemmon remembers his father with a one man show based on his book “A twist of Lemmon”.  Piano music, memories and chats, in perfect Sixthy style!

Both your parents were actors. When do you decide to be part of movie world? You began as a talented classical pianist…

I tried very hard most of my life to become anything “other” than an actor, as I wasn’t thrilled about the concept of following in King Kong’s (my father’s) footprints. I even went so far as to try to become a concert pianist, studying piano most of my life. But becoming an actor, for me, was inevitable.I started working at the age of 21 to pay the bills, and just kept working. It’s been a wonderful ride, the business has been good to me, and now I find myself with a new show I wrote that allows me to both act *and* play my music. So I’m delighted.

For which reasons did you start to write “A twist of Lemmon”? What  were your needs?

My memoir “A Twist of Lemmon” was written out of a desire to find catharsis after the loss of my father.He wasn’t just my father, you see, he was also my best friend, and his loss was devastating for me. I found writing down my memories of our times together very comforting, and as I did more and more would come back to me. I felt I had a story worth telling, and even more important, a tribute to a man that was so worth writing about. This was when I decided to publish, and was so flattered as an artist to be chosen by Algonquin Books, whom I feel did a wonderful job with my work.

Watching some videos of your one man show, I’ve found a sixties mood. A piano music, some deep and funny chats and emotions. In your life, how much important are memories?

A really good question! Memories are the entire reason for the creation of the book, and consequently my one man show which it became. I’ve often said that memories are the greets gift we have in life, and really the only thing those of us who are lucky enough to can take with us on or journey after we pass. One of the other very important sub-texte of my story is loss of innocence. We all lose the lion’s share of our innocence as we grow and mature, but is our society losing its innocence at an ever increasingly rapid pace as we dive headfirst into this age of technology? Hard to tell, and a fascinating question in my opinion. There was an entire section of my show that in fact was dedicated to loss of innocence in the show that spoke about the 60’s being the battleground between the innocent 50’s and the tumultuous 70s. Unfortunately, a good writer must be able to edit out even those sections of their work that they feel are quite good in the interest of creating a show that has constant forward motion to its pace, and the “60’s jazz poet” feel of that long middle section slowed the pace of the show too much – after much reflection I was forced to cut it.

When you were a child, I think you followed your father on his sets, what do you remember of that experience?

I always had a blast visiting my father on his sets, and write about a number of the experiences (especially the funny ones) in my book. But my favorite set as a child will always remain “The Great Race”. I still remember that Blake Edwards had given all the stars golf carts made up to look like the cars they drove in the film, and every day at lunch they would race back to the commissary, cutting each other off, and playing road tricks – just like in the movie… Ah memories…

Chris with his father out of Billy Wilder's office.

Chris with his father out of Billy Wilder’s office.

Your parents had a not common job. And they are so famous, in particulary your father I guess.  What was ur relationship with his starhood when you were young? Did you assume that their job was only a work or something more?

I learned, as most of us do, so much from both my parents that it is impossible to enumerate it all here; that is one of the main reasons I wrote my book, to try to answer that impossible to answer question I was asked more than any other, my entire life: “What is it like to be Jack Lemmon’s son”? I don’t meant to be a cop-out, but the best answer I have to that question is – come see the show!

You have acted beside your father. What did you learn by him and you mother during your life? In one hand, in order to your work and in the other hand about your values…

Pop and I were really only able to work together once, because we look and act so much alike that it is very apparent we are father and son, and you can’t just keep playing father and son over and over again. The film we made was truly a family affair – written and directed by Blake Edwards, starring his wife Julie Andrews, and my father, and co-starring all the kids from the Edwards clan and myself. The Edwards and the Lemmons have always been best friends, and even though Pop and I could only work together once, it truly was a family affair, and one of the most enjoyable professional experiences I’ve had.
And nowaday, by your home production, you can work beside director Charlie Matthau, the son of the other half of the Odd Couple…

Yes, I’m very excited about working with Charlie Matthau on the film I wrote “Publicity Stunt”. The film is an homage to the great comedies of bygone eras (Some Like It Hot – It’s A Mad Mad World, etc…), and a tip of the hat to the great comedy actors who are still with us, (Don Rikles, Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, etc…) it is only appropriate that Charlie who is one of my best friends, as well as an extremely talented director, should be at the helm. Fingers crossed that our funding will come through soon.

The Stone Manor Productions works on theatre, movie, Tv…and so on. A lot of projects as the last movie “Pubblicity stunt” beside Gene Hackman…

My company Stone Manor Productions, was developed by my wife/partner Gina Raymond and me to bring responsible entertainment to the marketplace. I am so proud of the accomplishment we’ve been able to achieve so far, and look forward to the goals that we’ve set for ourselves in the future. My father once said to me, “If you can touch just one person, then you’ve done your job”. That is my mantra now, and I do my best every day to live up to it.

To finish, may you tell me some anedocte, little story or memory about Jack…

My favorite memories of Pop came from the times we spent playing the Pebble Beach Pro/Am Golf Tournament, which we did for a decade together. The truly funny stories are to numerous and involved to tell here, that’s why I wrote the book, and now the stage show. But what I can say is that my father was known to the world as “The Everyman” (he was known to himself as “America’s Sweetheart”, but that’s another story 🙂 And I can honestly say, that he was never more “Everyman” than during his outings at Pebble. You see, for 35 years my father came to Pebble with one goal in mind – to make the cut, and play on Sunday. He didn’t even care about winning, he just wanted to make the cut. For 35 years he tried, and in 35 years he never made that damn cut! But you know what? He never stopped trying. Every year he would return with renewed vigor, and every year he would give his all, and every year that damn cut would slowly slip away. And every year the perennial fans chant would grow: “This is the year Jack! This is the year!” Because you see, in him, they saw themselves. Trying their hardest, being knocked down, but getting back up and trying again. Refusing to accept defeat. I think in these difficult times the example my father set has never been more appropriate. He was a great gentleman, one of the most emotionally generous people I’ve ever know, one of the most delightful people to be around you could ever hope to find, and maybe most important, he always raised the bar wherever he went, facing life with humility, and true dignity. there was only one Jack Lemmon, and I cherish every moment I was lucky enough to spend with him.


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