One of Hollywood's finest explains why audiences loved the film and why he still loves to perform
With a film that he played a big supporting role in grossing over $240 million dollars, 86 year old Mickey Rooney is just as excited about performing as he ever was. In the family friendly Night at the Museum, Rooney stars with fellow legends Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs as night watchmen in a very special museum. The film follows Larry Daley (Ben Stiller), a bumbling security guard at the Museum of Natural History, who accidentally lets loose an ancient curse that causes the animals and insects on display to come to life and wreak havoc.
Mickey Rooney recently took some time to sit down with us and discuss making the film, why audiences fell in love with it and what he's working on now.
Mickey Rooney: Sorry that we're late but we're doing so many things that we're happy to be doing this.
Oh, that's no problem. Basically, sir, what attracted you to the role of Gus in Night at the Museum?
Mickey Rooney: Well, I was hired to do it! (Laughs) That was my attraction. I don't pick the roles. Your agent gets a call for you and you go and they all get together, everybody has fun at the reading... and they say, "There's chemistry here." So that's how it happens.
Why do you think audiences fell in love with this film?
Mickey Rooney: I think because it was not only funny but it was clever. The effects, the dinosaur coming to life at night in the museum. The children and the families I think will love it because it's not only a learning film, which is true, about the museums but the fact is that Ben is great in it. Robin Williams as Roosevelt. Dick Van Dyke, myself, Cobbs. We all had fun doing it. It's the most fun I've ever had on a picture.
Having done the amount of movies and things you've done in your career what is your take on a movie like Night at the Museum? Which has effects that weren't even conceivable when you were starting out?
Mickey Rooney: That's right.
Are you amazed when you sit back and see that...
Mickey Rooney: I think everyone is. If they aren't there's something wrong with them. I think that's the happiness of it.
What was it like working with Ben Stiller and Dick Van Dyke?
Mickey Rooney: Nothing but a lot of fun. A lot of fun.
What would you like audiences to take away from their experience of watching Night at the Museum?
Mickey Rooney: It's for the whole family. Night at the Museum is for the whole family. The children. You don't have to watch for language and this and that, you know?
Aside from visual effects what is the biggest change that you've seen in the film business since you started out?
Mickey Rooney: I think you'd have to write a book about that. I couldn't explain it, thoroughly.
As far as being a performer are you still as excited about doing it as you were when you were younger?
Mickey Rooney: Oh, certainly. You bet. It never stops.
Having done a show like the The Twilight Zone and then later The Night Gallery, what was it like to work with Rod Serling?
Mickey Rooney: You don't work with him when you do those things. You do what he's written.
So you didn't work with him you worked with people who were working with what he had written?
Mickey Rooney: Right.
What are you working on now?
Mickey Rooney: Everything. We're going to Europe, Jan (Rooney; Mickey's wife) and I doing our show. We're going to Ireland. We're going all over. It's called "Lets Put On A Show!"
Night at the Museum is currently available on DVD from Fox Home Entertainment.
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