John Astin


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In this three-and-a-half-hour interview, John Astin talks about his childhood and how an early experience seeing a production of "Our Town" made him to decide to become an actor. He recalls moving to Los Angeles and appearing on the westerns Gunsmoke and Maverick. He describes being cast as "Harry Dickens" alongside Marty Ingels on I'm Dickens... He's Fenster. Astin outlines his time as "Gomez Addams" on The Addams Family, discussing how he got the role, his fellow castmates, and the longevity of the show in reruns over the years. He recalls transitioning from acting to directing with his Academy Award nominated short-film "Prelude," as well as directing several episodes of Rod Serling's Night Gallery and CHiPs. He concludes by discussing his stint on Night Court, his philosophy of acting, and how he'd like to be remembered. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on December 20, 2015 in Baltimore, MD.

"What 'The Addams Family' says is that it doesn’t matter what you’re like outside, it’s inside that counts. That’s why people who are disowned by society like the show so much. Real values are there underneath. During the run of the show psychiatrists wrote articles about how it was the healthiest show on the air. It was an affirmation of life."

Highlights
John Astin on becoming inspired to get into the theater
05:28
John Astin on working with Marty Ingels on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster and on writer Mel Tolkin
03:24
John Astin on cartoonist Charles Addams, on how he was almost cast as the butler on The Addams Family, and on the romance between "Gomez Addams" and "Morticia Addams"
08:50
John Astin on directing the short film "Prelude" and what attracted him to being a director
06:24
John Astin on studing theater in New York with Harold Clurman; various acting techniques and methods and his own approach to the craft
16:26
John Astin on the on-going popularity of The Addams Family
06:20
John Astin on appearing on Night Court and on his philosophy of acting
03:58
John Astin on what he wishes he'd known as a beginning actor and director
05:01
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on radio he listened to growing up and going to baseball games; on the first time he saw television and early television shows he enjoyed, and on his early interest in music
15:54
On his education; on becoming inspired to get into the theater; on transferring to a school with a theater program and deciding to become an actor
14:32
On his theatrical education; on his method of acting
16:27
On his early years as an actor in New York City; on starting to make a living as an actor and appearing in "The Three Penny Opera" in New York; on his earliest television appearances and appearing on live television
18:37

Chapter 2

On moving to Los Angeles; on appearing on Maverick
11:55
On being cast on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster; on his character, "Harry Dickens," on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster and on the slapstick of the show; on working with Marty Ingels on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster; on why the show was short lived
19:46
On being cast on The Addams Family; on making The Addams Family work; on casting The Addams Family, including Ted Cassidy as "Lurch"
16:38
On working with Carolyn Jones as "Morticia Addams" on The Addams Family; on his character, "Gomez Addams," on The Addams Family; on the on-going popularity of the show; on the theme song and opening credits of the show and on the revivals and legacy of the show
30:16

Chapter 3

On directing the short film "Prelude" and what attracted him to being a director
06:24
On directing and appearing on Night Gallery for Rod Serling; on directing CHiPs
19:23
On his directing style; on his influences as a director and actor; on Night Court; on his philosophy of acting
14:55
On teaching acting and his love of film; on what he wishes he'd known as a beginning actor and director
09:15
On his children becoming actors; on his longevity in the industry and his favorite projects; on his then-future plans and how he'd like to be remembered
13:42
Shows

Addams Family, The

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John Astin on being cast as "Gomez Addams" on The Addams Family
09:56
John Astin on making The Addams Family work and on the romance between "Gomez Addams" and "Morticia Addams"
05:11
John Astin on casting The Addams Family, including Ted Cassidy as "Lurch"
01:24
John Astin on working with Carolyn Jones as "Morticia Addams" on The Addams Family
02:49
John Astin on his character, "Gomez Addams," on The Addams Family
06:30
John Astin on the on-going popularity of The Addams Family
06:20
John Astin on improvisation on the set of The Addams Family and the family dynamic of the show, and on the stunts on the show
05:31
John Astin on the theme song and opening credits of The Addams Family and on the revivals and legacy of the show
05:42
John Astin on the cancellation of The Addams Family
03:19

CHiPs

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John Astin on directing CHiPs
01:44

I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster

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John Astin on being cast on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster
06:18
John Astin on his character, "Harry Dickens," on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster and on the slapstick of the show
05:32
John Astin on working with Marty Ingels on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster and on writer Mel Tolkin
03:26
John Astin on why I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster was short-lived
04:21

Maverick

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John Astin on appearing on Maverick with James Garner
02:16

Night Court

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John Astin on appearing on Night Court and on his philosophy of acting
03:58

Night Gallery

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John Astin on directing Night Gallery for Rod Serling
15:39
John Astin on appearing on some Night Gallery episodes
01:59
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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John Astin on his character, "Gomez Addams," on The Addams Family
09:56

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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John Astin on his influences as a director and actor
08:05

Pivotal Career Moments

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John Astin on his influences as a director and actor
08:05

Pop Culture

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John Astin on his character, "Gomez Addams," on The Addams Family
09:56
John Astin on the theme song and opening credits of The Addams Family and on the revivals and legacy of the show
05:42

TV Theme Songs

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John Astin on the theme song and opening credits of The Addams Family and on the revivals and legacy of the show
05:42
Professions

Actor

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John Astin on his method of acting
09:14
John Astin on appearing on Night Court and on his philosophy of acting
03:58
John Astin on his longevity in the industry
02:04

Directors

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John Astin on his directing style
02:49
John Astin on his influences as a director and actor
08:05

Performers

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John Astin on his method of acting
09:14
John Astin on appearing on Night Court and on his philosophy of acting
03:58
John Astin on his longevity in the industry
02:04
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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John Astin on directing and appearing on Night Gallery
17:38

Comedy Series

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John Astin on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster
19:45
John Astin on The Addams Family
46:54
John Astin on appearing on Night Court
03:58

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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John Astin on directing CHiPs
01:44

Western Series

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John Astin on appearing on Maverick
02:16
People

James Garner

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John Astin on appearing on Maverick with James Garner
02:16

Carolyn Jones

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John Astin on working with Carolyn Jones as "Morticia Addams" on The Addams Family
02:49

Rod Serling

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John Astin on directing Night Gallery for Rod Serling
15:39

Mel Tolkin

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John Astin on working with Marty Ingels on I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster and on writer Mel Tolkin
03:26

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