Alan Alda
(© Tristan Fuge)
Alan Alda
(© Tristan Fuge)
Not one to rest on his laurels -- which include two Tony Award nominations, an Oscar nomination and 31 Emmy Awards nominations -- Alan Alda keeps on working. He's co-starring as Arthur Shaw, a corrupt money manager, in the new film Tower Heist, starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, and his new play, Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie, is now receiving a full production at the Geffen Playhouse. TheaterMania talked to Alda about getting even, the ecstasy of acting, and why Madame Curie captured his heart.

THEATERMANIA: Tower Heist is a revenge fantasy for people who have lost all their money to bad banking practices and Bernie Madoff types. Even though you're the bad guy, how fun is it to make that retribution come alive on screen?
ALAN ALDA. The idea that it's even possible to get even is an appealing idea and those of us who've been stolen from can at least, for two hours in a movie theater, think it's even possible to make them pay for those misdeeds.

TM: Did this plot hit home personally?
AA: I've had some money taken from me, because of a bad tax shelter. They actually took most of the money I had at the time. It was investment fraud. A lot of very well known people got caught up in it. I was on a soundstage and got a call asking 'how do you feel about you and Walter Cronkite getting robbed liked this?' I was so stunned I went outside and walked right into a metal railing! It's a terrible feeling and the people in this movie have the same feelings because this person who looked them in the eye and told them how much he cares for them has taken their life savings.

TM: How do you not judge a character like yours?
AA: You can't see your character from the outside -- you can't say "I'm playing a villain!" You've got to say "I deserve to have all that money. You don't deserve to have it, I deserve to have it!" That makes it an act of imagination.

TM: So you still enjoy acting after so many years?
AA: When acting is fun, it's an ecstasy that takes you away from real life. On stage you get that ecstasy for a couple hours a night, in a movie you get it in 30 second bursts.

TM: And how would you describe your feeling about seeing the first fully produced production of Radiance?
AA: I love it!

TM: Marie Curie was one of the most brilliant female scientists of all time. You show her as a woman in love - flaws and all. Why is it important to tell her whole story?
AA: One of the reasons that I concentrated so much on the human side of Marie, still respecting her science, was to see her as a three-dimensional person. It's very important for not only women to see this and be inspired, but men too.