Veteran TV actor discusses what it's like to be in on the con
Robert Wagner recently sat down with television critics to discuss and promote the new season of the AMC original series Hustle which stars Robert Vaughn. Mr. Wagner appears in the premier episode of the season and his character is instrumental in bringing the London-based characters/actors to Hollywood for a magnificent caper.
Can you talk about coming into an established ensemble and what you thought about it, and how did you get involved with the show?
Robert Wagner: I had seen Hustle, several [episodes]. I liked the writing very much, and I was very flattered that they asked me to come... And I admired the cast very much, and I liked this character a great deal, and it was very well written - all the things that an actor enjoys.
Have you ever worked with Robert Vaughn before?
Robert Wagner: Yes, we worked together in Towering Inferno, but we didn't have any scenes together.
Was this a great chance for you to work together?
Robert Wagner: I enjoyed it very much, and Robert's so wonderful in this character and is the glue that keeps it all together, and I enjoy working with him very much. We've known each other for a long time. We both started around the same time.
What was the biggest thing you pulled off as Alexander Mundy on It Takes a Thief?
Robert Wagner: I think the biggest thing we pulled off was to have Fred Astaire come on the show. That was a big help. And -- the way we introduced him on the show was we sucked all the money out of the casino in Venice through the vacuum. You know, they put them in the wall. Did you ever see that show?
No, I did not.
Robert Wagner: It was terrific. We sucked all the money out. Fred Astaire went dancing away with all the money, and it was terrific. We had some very good cons on that. But this show is so well written, and it does have so many different aspects to it. And it's subtle, you know. I think it has a subtlety about it that is very ingratiating and the humor that's there is, I think, really wonderful...
How much are you still sort of defined by your past roles in the public eye? Can you still not walk down the street without somebody remembering you from Hart to Hart or has that waned over the years?
Robert Wagner: It's just amazing. Television is just amazing - how many people see it and how many people recognize you, and I think once you've had the opportunity and have been in front of the public for the amount of time that Robert [Vaughn] and I have been there, it's very flattering to have people come up and say hello to you. It's a tremendous industry. I've been in places where people come out of the woodwork. And you would never think -- small towns in France or traveling through Europe - and [there are] so many of those people there that recognize you, you know, and you've been in their homes. I find it to be a very flattering thing.
Are you only in the first episode of this show?
Robert Wagner: (Nodding 'yes'.)
And you did a guest stint on Boston Legal. Is that the sort of work you want to do now, just recurring guest appearances?
Robert Wagner: It depends on the character. If it's well-written, you know -- on Boston Legal I loved that character. David Kelley and Bill D'Elia wrote that, and it was a really interesting guy to play. This [Hustle] is a very well-written show, as I said before. That's what really attracts me.
Are there any plans to do another Boston Legal episode?
Robert Wagner: I would -- I don't know. If they come to the West Coast.
What are your favorite roles or movies you cherish the most in which you have appeared?
Robert Wagner: I've really been very fortunate, you know, to have worked with some wonderful, wonderful people. One of the big highs was doing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Lawrence Olivier and my late wife, Natalie Wood. And we did that in England, and we had, like, a five or six-week rehearsal. Tennessee Williams was there. I watched them rewrite part of the third act of that. It was a very highly charged, emotional time for all of us. Very exciting. That was a highlight. I've had a lot of them, but that kind of stands out right now.
The new season of Hustle will premier later this spring on AMC.