Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tavis' Interview with Craig T. Nelson

Thanks to PJ, I was able to read the transcript between PBS' Tavis Smiley's interview with Craig T. Nelson who acted as the father of Tyrone Giordano's character, Thad Stone in The Family Stone.

It is intersting that Craig did not mention Tyrone at all. Initially, PJ and I misread that it could be the "fellow" that is Ty but apparently, Craig was referring to "Jack", whom I believe, is Marlee Matlin's interpreter -- from what I understand, he is CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). He could have taught the fellas how to sign, not Ty himself. I'm not certain about that, though.

Either way, the interview seems to indicate that Craig enjoyed his unique experience of being the parent of "deaf child".

[snipping the transcript that was taken from]
Tavis: Let me come back as I promised I would to "The Family Stone.” There's a character in this movie who is deaf. And everybody on the set of course had to learn sign language to – (moves hands) I'm acting stupid, doing stuff that I don't know what I'm doing over here. So everybody had to learn sign language to make this happen.

Nelson: I'm with you on that.

Tavis: You knew where I was going, didn't you? I have heard from some friends of mine that you had a little trouble, challenge with the sign language stuff.

Nelson: Well, I thought I was coordinated 'til it came to...

Tavis: This does not count.

Nelson: (laughs) Yeah. Well, I was in the trailer and I was rehearsing on my own, which is a big mistake. And I got a little too...

Tavis: Wait, hold up, hold the phone. I want to just know how you do this. How do you rehearse sign language by yourself?

Nelson: What you do is, you stand in - you read it first, and then you've got with a sign language expert, Jack, who's assuming that you're a semipro, and that you know basically what you're going to do, and you're not gonna hurt yourself. So they let you go. And I'm old enough to be let alone in my trailer now.

So I go in and I'm looking in the mirror and I’m trying to figure out how I can talk and do this at the same time. And I put my finger in my eye, and I realized that I'm probably going to need help, you know, like a medic. And, so I'm really embarrassed about it. And actually the first person I see is Luke Wilson, who you don't want to tell anything to, because it gets spread. In five seconds, everybody, “you okay? Are you going to sue?” Yeah. What am I going to sue for?

Your confidence is basically - but the interesting thing is that for me, in watching the actors and watching the experts do sign it, there's short hand involved, it's a whole language in and of itself. And you just don't go to a different country and the sign language is going to be the same. It changes, and much like our slang does. So, but they have cutoffs.

So, you're doing it thinking that, hey, how does this look, and they're looking at you like, when are you going to get finished with this? You know, cut to the chase, whatever that sign is. So, I just barely, I just basically went and did my own. I figured, what the heck. The family's been together long enough. They know what I'm doing.

Tavis: I suspect that there are probably families where that happens, though. I'm sure somebody will get a kick out of it.

Nelson: I'm sure they do.

Tavis: I'm sure they will, yeah.

Nelson: The fellow that was teaching us sign language is very good. He's born of deaf parents, and yet he speaks. I mean, he's got a voice. And so, he's very interesting. It's a whole - that's a whole other world that you don't get not only involved with, but you don't see, you don't become part of, because we make it separate. It's like, deaf? Whoa.

Tavis: See, you've addressed now the funny side of trying to learn how to do this stuff. Did anything occur to you? I assume it did. Anything occur to you on the serious side of this equation about what it means to live a life where you're...

Nelson: Yeah. Being able to express yourself visually and tactfully. And without this modification of sound. And it's fascinating, because the resonance that we hear oftentimes influences - when you listen to a great actor, Olivier or Richard Burton comes to mind, because he had that mellifluous voice and that tonality. And it's not used so much anymore.

It's substance and quiet, you know. But, with those guys it was that sound. And it became like music. So, their hands in expressing themselves are so wonderful to watch, because you get a whole sense of personality. And it's a whole different - it's reality of understanding and trying to get into another person, which I just found interesting.
[snip the transcript]

Great job, Tavis.

Confidential to RT101: Please. Get. A. Clue. I represent me. I do not represent the Deaf Community. I try to entertain others. Yes, I'm being compared to Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern and I find that amusing and felt honored by that. Howard Stern RULES! Case closed. Go and whine about something else. You're good at that.



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