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A visit with Billy Crystal on the set of “Parental Guidance”

The inspiration for the movie "Parental Guidance," now filming in Atlanta, came after comic actor Billy Crystal and his wife Janice had their grandkids for five days. AP photo

The inspiration for the movie "Parental Guidance," now filming in Atlanta, came after comic actor Billy Crystal and his wife Janice had their grandkids for five days. AP photo

You already knew Billy Crystal was one of the funniest and most talented actors of our time. He’s also one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet.

We visited the set of “Parental Guidance,” the movie is he filming in Atlanta, on Tuesday when the project was shooting a scene in Piedmont Park. Crews had constructed a professional half-pipe for the scene, featuring skateboarding pro Tony Hawk. In the movie, Crystal and Bette Midler star as a couple whose three young grandkids run them around in circles. The scene they filmed Tuesday involved a 6-year-old’s unauthorized, al fresco bathroom break.

“I have a 6-year-old peeing on a half-pipe,” Crystal said. “Life is good!”

Billy Crystal, far right, and director Andy Fickman at work Tuesday.

Billy Crystal, far right, and director Andy Fickman at work Tuesday.

Amid the movie’s comic scenes, the couple he and Midler play work to reconcile with their estranged daughter, played by Marisa Tomei.

We got a few minutes with the comic genius during a break. ”Hi, I’m Billy,” he said, sitting down in a canvas-backed chair.

Here’s a Q & A from our visit.

AJC: Tell us about “Parental Guidance.” (It’s due out next November).

BC: We wanted to make a fun movie that had a good heart. A whole family can enjoy this movie.

AJC: It’s somewhat autobiographical?

BC: This is how the whole thing started. Janice (his wife of 30+ years) and I had the kids for five days.

AJC: Oh my.

BC: That was the original title of the movie: “Oh my!” Kids are the toughest take-home exams. Listening is more important than talking.

Tony Hawk warms up before shooting a scene.

Tony Hawk warms up before shooting a scene.

AJC: What do your grandchildren (ages 8, 5 and 2) teach you on a daily basis?

BC: To take a deep breath before I bend.

AJC: Did they sort of serve as consultants for the movie, to ensure the movie authentically portrayed young people?

BC: They don’t even realize it. You watch them and get ideas for scenes.

AJC: What did your grandparents teach you when you were a child?

BC: Don’t put your finger in the pot! (His grandmother was a great cook). They taught me love, responsibility.

AJC: Tell us about your character in this movie, Artie.

BC: He’s a minor league baseball announcer who’s just gotten fired. He’s not in good shape.

Tuesday was a beautiful day to film a movie in Piedmont Park!

Tuesday was a beautiful day to film a movie in Piedmont Park!

AJC: So while it’s a comedy, it sounds like the movie also touches on more serious, real-life issues.

BC: It says something about fractured families. It’s all about real things.

AJC: Eddie Murphy seems a little stressed about hosting the Oscars. What advice do you have for him?

BC: You’re always nervous about it. Just have fun! He’s a great talent.

- Jennifer Brett/The Buzz/jbrett@ajc.com

13 comments Add your comment

Kareem

October 26th, 2011
11:22 am

Where the white women?

Mr. Ed

October 26th, 2011
11:29 am

Thanks, for the Billy Crystal update. Did serve up his funny quote?

“You look marvelous!”

Dirty South TV

October 26th, 2011
11:31 am

Kareem: They’ll be on The TMI Show this Thursday night at 8:00p.m.

Jennifer Brett

October 26th, 2011
11:34 am

Mr. Ed no but he did indeed look mah-velous.

Jennifer

coachx

October 26th, 2011
11:36 am

Thank for not writing about the reality house wives.

Love the Eddie reference with the white women…LOL

Jim Warren

October 26th, 2011
12:15 pm

Did you snag a chat with the Divine Miss M?

That would be delish, doll!

Jennifer Brett

October 26th, 2011
12:25 pm

Agreed! But no she was not there.

Jennifer

Roekest

October 26th, 2011
12:35 pm

Witch! WITCH!!!!!

Crystal is the Man.

arlene

October 26th, 2011
12:41 pm

I love Billy Crystal…saw him several years ago in his one-man show. He is a fine performer, and a great family man. May he and Janice always remain happy and blessed.

Ugene

October 26th, 2011
1:27 pm

Waiter there’s too much pepper on my paprikash…

James Kirk

October 26th, 2011
3:47 pm

I love him, but he’s looking more and more like the King of Saturday Night every year. Sic transit gloria mundi.

carla roqs

October 26th, 2011
4:01 pm

not remotely interested.

Ray

October 27th, 2011
10:25 pm

It’s good to know that he’s a nice guy too– because he seems like he is in all of his films.
I think he’s a very good actor– but it’s great to know that he’s not faking being nice.