The Reel Breakdown

First Person: How the Diceman Threw Drama for the Woodman on 'Blue Jasmine'

The Reel Breakdown

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Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, and Andrew Dice Clay in 'Blue Jasmine' (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

By Andrew Dice Clay

I get a call from my manager, Bruce Rubenstein, and he said, "Woody Allen wants to meet with you." I thought it was a joke!

Woody was casting for the part of Augie, a blue collar guy who wins the lottery and loses it all when he invests the cash with his shyster brother-in-law. Once I realized it wasn’t a joke then I was like, okay, Woody Allen: Let's go see what’s up over there.

So, the day of the audition came and my wife Valerie and I pulled up to an apartment building on Park Avenue in Manhattan. We went right up. The guy didn’t make me wait. I was blown away because he was just standing there in a cool hangout room with his producer and casting person. So I said, "The first thing I want you to know is the Diceman is not in the room. I’m just here as myself I want you to know that."

And then Allen said, "Well, we're doing a little movie. Do you mind reading a few pages?" Would I mind? So, I went into the next room with the casting lady and read through it just one time and I said "I got it. I see what it is."

I come back into the first room and Woody stands within six inches of me, right up close. I’m facing the casting lady and we do the scene together. After, I say, “If you want me to change it up a little…" And he says "Well, you have the essence. It was perfect."

So I was, "Okay, I’ll be seeing you on the set. Hah-hah!" And then a couple of days later I was at my home in Vegas and I saw the text from Bruce, my manager: "You got it."

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Listen: It was an emotional moment. I lost my parents in the past five years. My father was always in the business with me. It was pretty emotional to get into a movie directed by one of the great filmmakers of all time — for a serious role, a straight man. Even to this day it's still a little overwhelming to me.

Honestly I was never a Woody Allen freak. I always had my favorite movies: I loved "Broadway Danny Rose." He's so wacky in that, so nervous, he just played it to the hilt — and "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Bananas" and "Small Time Crooks." I also love "Annie Hall," but I was really young when that one came out.

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Sally Hawkins and Andrew Dice Clay

Sally Hawkins and Andrew Dice Clay in 'Blue Jasmine' (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)

On the set, Woody and I would talk about standup comedy, how Woody started out, the kind of clubs he would do like The Bottom Line. We talked about understanding character comedy and personas. He understood how a comic's mind works. He knew that the real great comedians can go dramatic.

When I'm on stage as a comic I'll say I'm the greatest in the world, but I haven't done a movie in over 12 years. I hope I did the kind of job Woody wanted from me. I was prepared as far as the lines go, as far as acting I believe I read the lines and did them the way they were meant to be said.

I'm not a guy that went to acting school. I used a comedy stage to learn how to act. Years ago, when I did "Crime Story" for Michael Mann, one of the writer/producers said to me, "I gotta tell you, when I watch you do a scene everything you do looks wrong. And when we go into the editing room, it looks perfect. Can you explain that to me?"

I can't, but that's the kind of actor I am. Years ago, James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, these were guys that had their own method. That's what I try to do. I never go by the book. To play Augie, I was doing something I've never done on film, stripping down to a regular guy and playing that kind of role.

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Woody gave me the best compliment. We were on the set and he was talking to a writer's son, and he says, "Andrew Clay is somebody you want to know because he is the greatest natural actor I've ever worked with," I had to say "Please don't say it again," because once I take off my leather jacket, I'm very modest. You'd never know it seeing me on the comedy stage.

Today, Leonard Maltin sent me a tweet saying how great I was in the film. I never was at that place in the business where I thought I'm above it all. With this whole resurgence I'm very humbled. I'm excited about it but, honestly, if I didn't have to go to the premiere this week, I wouldn't watch "Blue Jasmine" for two years. I'd rather hear people talk about it than see it.

"Blue Jasmine" opens in limited release on Friday.

Watch: "Blue Jasmine" Theatrical Trailer:

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