An Evening with Richard Dreyfuss, featuring The Goodbye Girl

An Evening with Richard Dreyfuss, featuring The Goodbye Girl

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Friday, April 19


Location: Enzian Theater


Richard Dreyfuss was born on October 29, 1947, in Brooklyn, New York. Some describe him as an American actor known for his portrayals of ordinary men driven to emotional extremes. After spending his early childhood in Brooklyn and Queens, Dreyfuss moved with his family to California, where he began acting in plays at the West Side Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles. He studied drama for a year at San Fernando Valley State College (now Cal State Northridge), and shortly thereafter, he won a recurring role on the short-lived television series Karen (1964). During the late 1960s and early ’70s, Dreyfuss acted mostly onstage in everything from repertory theatre to Broadway shows, and he landed occasional small roles on television, but this then led to a starring role in the hit film The Graduate (1967) and a major screen appearance in Dillinger (1973), for which he received critical praise.


Perhaps Dreyfuss’ most breakthrough role was in George Lucas’s American Graffiti (1973), and his work in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) remains one of his most-praised performances. For director Steven Spielberg, Dreyfuss starred in two of the most popular films of the decade: Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Dreyfuss capped this successful period with an  Academy Awardâ-winning performance in the Neil Simon comedy The Goodbye Girl (1977); at age 29, Dreyfuss became the then youngest recipient of a best actor Oscar®.


 In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Dreyfuss appeared in The Big Fix (1978), The Competition (1980), Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981), The Buddy System (1983), Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Stakeout (1987), Nuts (1987), and Tin Men (1987). In the 1990s, he continued to receive critical praise in Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990), What About Bob? (1991), and Once Around (1991). His sensitive multilayered performance in Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995) earned Dreyfuss another Oscar nomination.


In 1996 in collaboration with Hugo Award-winning author Harry Turtledove, Dreyfuss released a critically praised novel, The Two Georges, a humorous look at what American life might be like had the United States not won the Revolutionary War.


Some of his best-known work at the turn of the 21st century was made for television, including Lansky (1999) and Fail Safe (2000). From 2001 to 2002 he starred in the series The Education of Max Bickford. More recently he portrayed corrupt investment manager Bernie Madoff in the acclaimed television miniseries Madoff (2016). In 2004, Dreyfuss starred in a Broadway show, a revival of Larry Gelbart’s Sly Fox.


Then Dreyfuss decided to join Oxford University St Antony’s College as a senior research advisor and spent four years studying the damaging effect of the lack of civics being taught in the American school system over the last 50 years. Dreyfuss divided his time between London and the U.S., becoming an activist in what he realized was the one issue he had been concerned about for the majority of his life. In 2005 he met, fell in love with, and married Svetlana Wolfe of St. Petersburg, Russia, and together they have been on the quest to make sure that civics learning became a priority in U.S. education. They started a non-profit called the Dreyfuss Institute, a nation-wide enterprise to encourage, revive, elevate and enhance the teaching of civics in American schools.


While Dreyfuss tried to turn sharply away from acting, a number of feature film projects drew him back to his craft including Poseidon (2006); W., Oliver Stone’s biopic of Pres. George W. Bush; and My Life in Ruins (2009); Leaves of Grass (2009), Piranha 3D (2010), RED (2010), and Book Club (2018).


Dreyfuss has four adult children and is also a doting grandfather. He and his wife Svetlana live near San Diego, California and are loving life to the fullest. Dreyfuss is currently publishing a book on the damage created by civics’ absence which he affirms puts us in harm’s way because “we don’t know who we are as Americans.” Dreyfuss says he would love to find a way to film the Civic War, “just as the intense first act of a story that no one has written.”


The Goodbye Girl

Directed by Herbert Ross

USA, 1977, 111 MIN

Rated PG


In a textbook example of a brilliant screenplay finding the perfect cast at the perfect moment in time, The Goodbye Girl stands proud as one of the most hilarious depictions of love overcoming seemingly total incompatibility ever committed to screen. After being dumped by her live-in boyfriend, an unemployed ex-chorus girl (Marsha Mason) and her precious daughter (Quinn Cummings) are reluctantly forced to share an apartment with a neurotic off-off-Broadway actor (Richard Dreyfuss) in this masterful romantic comedy by the great Neil Simon. Time magazine noted, “It is rare that an actor can move an audience from hilarity to sorrow in a matter of seconds, but that is what Dreyfuss does in The Goodbye Girl. Astoundingly enough, a small movie has given birth to a major star.” Nominated for five Academy Awards®, including best picture, best actress, best supporting actress (for 10-year-old Cummings), and best screenplay, The Goodbye Girl made star Richard Dreyfuss (at the age of 30) the then youngest-ever recipient of the Oscar® for best actor. With an additional four Golden Globe wins, including best motion picture, musical, or comedy, the film’s place in cinematic history was cemented in 2002 when the American Film Institute named it one of the “100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time.” The Florida Film Festival welcomes you to a celebration of this cinema classic on Enzian’s big screen, followed by a conversation with Richard Dreyfuss.


Mr. Dreyfuss will be in attendance for a Q&A following the film. For an opportunity to meet him, please purchase a Producer Pass.