Most people know Penny Marshall as the star of Laverne & Shirley and the director of Big and A League of Their Own. What they don’t know is her trailblazing career was a happy accident. Marshall’s hilarious new memoir,My Mother Was Nuts, offers an intimate backstage pass to her extraordinary life.
Question: In the book your write a lot about your travels all over the world - from motorcycling across France to exploring the Caribbean. What was your favorite place to visit, and why? Are you a fun person to travel with?
Penny Marshall: Definitely Annecy in France. I went with my daughter and my niece during the motorcycle trip. There was a lake, it was very beautiful. Am I fun to travel with? Sure. I can fix a motorcycle, I found out! Didn’t know that I could do it, but someone had to. But I can pretty fun, when I’m not tired.
Q: You've launched the careers of some of Hollywood's biggest stars including Tom Hanks and Mark Wahlberg. What is the secret to spotting talent?
PM: It’s all instinct. I knew Tom already from acting with him on an episode of Bosom Buddies. Mark I didn’t know at all. I have an instinct for recognizing talent. And it was true for a lot of the girls in A League of their Own, as well. I have an instinct that tells me what’s special: if they have a little underbelly of something to make them more interesting.
Q: You write that you don’t rattle easily: "I’m wonderfully, oddly, almost irrationally calm and together in a crisis. It’s when everything is calm that I get a little nutty." Why do you think that is?
PM: I’m a Libra! I balance things out.
Q: You've surrounded yourself with hilarious people your whole life. Who is the funniest person you've ever worked with?
PM: Robin Williams, definitely. He would entertain Bob [Robert De Niro] and the extras on the set of Awakenings. He was hysterical. We needed that, you know, since we were on the set of a mental institution.
Q: Lastly, how do you feel about the Lakers' chances this year, now that Dwight Howard's on the team?
PM: And we got Stevie Nash! It’ll be a good year. You know, Dwight and I were in a scene together in my brother’s movie Valentine’s Day, but it got cut out.