Tony Bill seems to have it all going for him – successful actor, producer and director – so it was with great pleasure that we were able to pick his brains recently on the many strings to his bow and how he became involved as a producer with The Sting, which gets a beautifully buffed and shined Blu-ray re-release this week.
HeyUGuys: How did you come to meet David Ward? I understand that you first met him when he had already written Steelyard Blues and was working on The Sting?
Tony Bill: David was just out of film school at UCLA and had written Steelyard Blues. His agent sent it to me and I asked to meet him, because I thought it showed a lot of original talent. I asked him what he wanted to write next and he told me a 3 minute idea about a movie set in the 30′s about confidence men.
How and why did you first get into producing? You already had a lot of experience as an actor, why make the change?
I didn’t really enjoy being a movie star. Actors wait for the phone to ring: a producer gives the party rather than waiting to be invited to the party.
Which of acting, producing and directing do you find the most difficult and which the most personally satisfying?
As with almost all things in life, the rewards are commensurate with the difficulty. Directing is, for me, the most difficult and the most rewarding.
Are there any films you would have liked to produce, but which got away from you?
No, because I deal almost exclusively with first-time writers and original material.
You haven’t acted or directed for a few years now. Do you intend to get back into those roles, or does your focus lie elsewhere now?
I haven’t really acted since Shampoo. I only manage to direct every few years, because it’s so difficult to get any movie made and because my tastes do not run to the obvious, the remakes, or the cartoonish.
How is the documentary AERO coming together? It looks like a fascinating project.
It’s on hold for a while.
The Sting Limited Edition Digibook Blu-ray is released 11 June to celebrate Universal Pictures’ 100th Anniversary