Seven Emmy Awards. Six Golden Globes. A Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. Those are a handful of the honors bestowed on actor Alan Alda over his storied career. We all know him from his star-making turn on the classic sitcom M*A*S*H. Or from his more recent, also Emmy-winning, work on The West Wing. Or from his Oscar-nominated role in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator.
But perhaps you didn’t know that Alda currently hosts a podcast about communication. Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda focuses on connecting with those who touch your life in rich and meaningful ways. It’s something I definitely learned about Alda as we recently discussed his role in Netflix’s acclaimed Marriage Story. When he talks about the podcast, you hear the enthusiasm and joy in his voice and realize how very important it is to him.
“The theme that runs through every episode is about communicating and relating with other people,” Alda explains. “There isn’t any profession or any line of work or activity or relationship that doesn’t require us to relate to somebody as well as we can.”
Clearly a student in the overall human condition, Alda talks about the “nuture and torture” that humans are capable of given the right circumstances. It’s this blend of nature and torture so vividly on display in his latest project – Netflix’s Marriage Story. Alda co-stars as attorney Bert Spitz, Charlie Barber’s (Adam Driver) attorney in an increasingly painful and costly divorce. Directed by Noah Baumbach based on his personal experiences, Marriage Story is currently in limited theaters nationwide but drops December 6 on the streaming network.
Alda talks to me in our podcast interview about what draws him to projects like Marriage Story. He also talks about his 60-plus year marriage and the secret to maintaining such a long-lasting union, quite unlike that of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson’s marriage in the film. Additionally, he describes the beauty of acting in an ensemble that includes not only Driver and Johansson but also long-time friend Laura Dern.
Alda’s performance in Marriage Story is so smooth, so seemingly effortless, that you almost forget what a great actor he is. He manages to support the excellent ensemble of actors while still carving out intimate and charming moments for himself. He’s also one of the nicest people with whom you’d ever have the chance to speak.