Issue: Issue Winter 2007/2008

Ray Bradbury Interview

Ray Bradbury’s relationship to Hollywood extends from his early teen years to present time. His writings have been made into films and television series, and his plays have been produced on many of Hollywood’s equitywaiver stages. In September a reprise of “Falling Upward“ will open at Theatre West. In an exclusive interview with Discover Hollywood, Bradbury shared some of his thoughts on Hollywood’s renaissance.

DH: Tell us how you helped launch the Hollywood renaissance.

RB: Years ago I met with the Chamber of Commerce and told them that people wanted something to see when they visited and I told them to build a set from one of the greatest movies of all time to give people a real Hollywood experience and now my dream has been built at the Hollywood & Highland. I did it with no money, just my big mouth.

DH: Your literary career is among this country’s most distinguished, but you’re known for your opinions about Los Angeles and where it’s heading.

RB: Years ago Pasadena called me because the city was dead. I told them to rebuild the Pasadena Playhouse as it was the most important theatre of its kind in the United States Neither the mayor nor the city council thought much of the idea, but the community did and got behind the idea and brought back the theatre. I opened one of my plays there – “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.” Restaurants and theatres bring life to an area. I’d like to see the Ricardo Montalban Theatre come back. When it was the Huntington Hartford I did my play “The Meadow” with James Whitmore – a wonderful theatre. I’m working to put another play in there.

DH: What is occurring in Hollywood today is an unprecedented building boom not seen since the 1920’s and 30’s, there are over 5,000 new apartments and condominiums being built within a 1/2 mile radius of Hollywood & Vine.

RB: I’m working right now with the city and the mayor to build a monorail all over the city. Too many businesses were destroyed when the subway was constructed—monorails make sense.

DH: There’s never a lack of things to do and you’re sure going strong at 87.

RB: That’s right, you see what just one person can do. All it takes is love and passion – a little anger can go a long way.

DH: What future do you see for our city and live theatre?

RB: It’s all about love. Doing theatre doesn’t make sense. I’ve written and produced many of my own plays in small theatres in Hollywood and never made any money from them, but I don’t care. I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love it. Stay away from Broadway, it’s all about money. Last year one of my plays opened off-Broadway and also went to the Edinburgh Festival and I’m doing another. Last year I wrote nine plays and I’ll open three new one-acts at the Fremont Theatre in South Pasadena. The people who love theatre and create it have to love it the way I do and have to put their own money and time in it. What’s the future of the theatre – everybody has to invest in it. To hell with others, find the money and just do it.

DH: When did you fall in love with theatre?

RB: I was 12 years old, living in Tucson and they were having tryouts for the Christmas pageant. They didn’t have a lead and my teacher told me, “Get up on stage.” She made me get up and I read and sang a song and got the lead. Then, when I heard the applause, I fell in love.

DH: What inspired you to write “Falling Upward” and your other plays about Irish life?

RB: I wrote the screenplay for “Moby Dick” and was in Ireland with John Huston for the filming. After I got back, one night I heard in my head the voice of my Irish driver who said “Put it down,” – so I wrote about the people I had gotten to know. Not long after some of my friends got together and read the play. You can’t really know a play until you hear it read. It read beautifully and everyone said, “You’re a playwright.” I produced my first play at the La Cienega Theatre putting about $18,000 of my own money in it. It ran for quite a while, and I never made any money on it. But I didn’t do it for the money. It’s all about love, you see.

DH: What do you see in your future?

RB: I’ve written nine one-act plays within the last year. Last year there were six productions of Fahrenheit 451. I’ve been writing plays for 46 years – I’ve written 40 plays, 100 short stories and 64 TV shows; writing is constant with me plus rebuilding the city.