Published May 21, 2012
In the 1980’s Steve Guttenberg was one of the reigning box office stars with hits like ‘Cocoon,’ the 'Police Academy' series and ‘Diner.’
‘The Guttenberg Bible’ is Guttenberg's account of the highs and lows of Hollywood, like how he managed to secure an office on the Paramount lot when he was still a teenager.
What makes this celebrity memoir different from all the others is that the 53-year-old actor astutely describes what it’s like to hustle for roles and how the industry treats you when you’re hot and when you’re not.
His Hollywood tale is also unusual in that the ‘Three Men and a Baby’ actor never had a problem with alcohol or drugs. He remains extremely close to his parents, who figure prominently in the book as the voices of reason, and does not seem bitter at all about his fall from the heady heights of the 80’s.
FOX411: You snuck on the Paramount lot when you were 17 years old for two years!
Steve Guttenberg: It’s true. I got my own little office and probably did a lot less illegal doings than the government’s doing right now. (Laughs). I was able to splice a phone line from one of the stages. You have to go to sometimes great lengths to get your dreams come true. No one is going to give you anything or help you. You have to do it on your own.
It’s like anything, if you look like you know what you’re doing, people believe you. So much of it has to do with timing. There were no cell phones, no computers and the world was a lot simpler.
FOX411: How on earth did you even get on the lot the first time?
SG: I wandered up and noticed everyone was punching their time clock sheets so I just walked up and found a blank one and punched it. I waved to the guard and he waved me over and said, ‘I don’t recognize you. Who are you?’ I said, ‘I’m Michael Eisner’s son.’ (Eisner was at the time the head of Paramount). He said, ‘He’s got little kids.’ I said, ‘I’m his step-son.’ So he said, ‘Well, I’m going to make a call.’ I said, ‘You can make a call but when you make that call just give me your name because my Dad is going to be really mad that I’m late and when I walk in I’m going to give tell him your name.’ We had a little bit of a stand down and he said, ‘Why don’t you go in?’
But who in this business hasn’t gone a little bit under the wire to get somewhere? That’s what’s great about our country.
FOX411: Cutting corners?
SG: Listen, try to be an actor in North Korea or Russia or France. It’s not as easy to get things done. There’s just not that, we-can-do-it-ivness. The American way is we’re going to get it done. The American spirit is a very, very strong spirit. My parents are very pro-America and they’ve always taught me you can be anything you want to be, and I wanted to be a movie star. The only way Steve Guttenberg from Massapequa, Long Island was going to be a movie star was if I forced it. I have to fight every day for my career. I love it, it’s a game. It’s always been a game and I love the game.
FOX411: You say that when you’re hot studio heads want to keep you on the phone as long as possible.
SG: Yeah he wants to keep you going as long as he can because he wants to hook you in. He wants you to like him and that friendship is a Hollywood friendship. Love ya baby. Talk to anyone who has any brains about L.A. and they’ll laugh because the culture is one of when you’re hot you’re hot, when you’re not, you’re not.
I remember having a studio head hug me tightly and say, ‘You’re in the family.’ Family? I remember thinking, what family? And then a few days later the deal didn’t work out. I saw him and he didn’t give me a hug. That’s just the way it is.
The business has given me all my dreams, it’s taken care of my parents and sisters, given us security and amazing experiences, it’s a sexy business and it’s just wonderful but it’s ruthless and merciless. The streets are littered with dead bodies. Literally, you don’t find that in other businesses.
FOX411: Most would think that no longer being hot must be devastating to an actor.
SG: Of course, if you believed it. Once you realize it’s show business, not show friendship, then you’re ok, but if you believe that they really love you, that your agent loves you, then you’re in trouble. My parents taught me, you just grab as much as you can, just have a good time but don’t believe for one second that anybody out there loves you because they don’t.
I see newcomers come along and their agents kissing their ass, they’re best friends, buying each other gifts, going on trips together and then all of a sudden you go, ‘What happened? What happened to Christmas at the Hilton in Kona?’ and he’s like, ‘Oh that guy’s a prick. F**k him!’
FOX411: You were discreet in the book but it sounds like you had a lot of fun.
SG: It’s still great. The great thing about being a movie star is you’re always in the club. I was on a plane the other day and a woman was talking really loudly on her phone. I kind of looked at her and she looked back and gave me a face like, ‘F**k off,’ and then she recognized me and gave me a look like, ‘Oh my God it’s you!’ and she swooned! I thought how cool is that?
Listen, I’m a nobody. I’m sure if George Clooney was there she’d have had a heart attack but the great thing about being famous is it’s a new religion. Jesus is not the big name anymore. The big names are Brad and Angelina. That’s just the way it is. If we walked Jesus, Brad Pitt and George Clooney down Fifth Avenue, I think Clooney and Pitt would get a lot more attention.
FOX411: You also say it’s not true when actors say filming love scenes is uncomfortable and not enjoyable.
SG: It’s completely not true. It’s the most fun way to get your ya-ya’s in the whole planet. One of the greatest inventions man ever made was the love scene. Don’t believe anyone who says it isn’t. They’re fantastic.