Dan Aykroyd’s career spans three decades. He is best known for his roles in The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor. The Canadian was in Australia last week to promote Crystal Head Vodka, part of the portfolio of Aykroyd’s Patron Spirits Company. I caught up with him to chat about how he prepares for a role, owning his own island to escape fans and his hopes of working with Baz Luhrmann.
Have you been to Australia before?
This is my first time. I’m a hermitic Canadian so I don’t go too far from home.
Out of all your films, do you have a favourite?
My favourite to work on was Blues Brothers because we got to sing, play an instrument, wreck cars, produce, write, act. I have never had more of a complete multi-tasking film in my life.
How do you prepare for a role?
I am of the school of coming in the make-up chair in the morning and learning the script then, because if I learn it the night before I am going to be running it in my head, and it’s best to do it cold for the director and let him or her tune the performance. So I don’t do much preparation at all.
Do you do anything to get into the character?
Not really. I am not that school at all. I turn it on and off – and maybe the work shows that! (Laughs.)
I loved the movie Trading Places. If you could trade places with anyone, who would it be?
I don’t know … There is no one out there that I would like to be in his or her shoes. I think it would be a step down for me to trade with someone else! (Laughs.)
How do you cope with being recognised around the world?
When people come up to me and it’s their special moment, I want to make it special for them. It’s almost like you are a faith healer and you want to give your energy to them. And you know, I like people, so it’s not a problem for me.
Do you have any off-limits times?
Yes, I usually ask them to wait until after the meal. Everyone always wants a picture with their cell phone, so that is something we deal with … But let me put it this way: I own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, so I will get on that if I want to be alone. And I have my own island in Canada … and believe me, there is nothing on there except an Airstream trailer and a camp fire. I go there when I want to be alone.
If you hadn’t gone down that path of acting, what would you be doing today?
I would probably have gone into the corrections business because it’s fascinating, the physiology of the deviant mind and how to correct it or deal with it. I would have built a good career as a really cool prison warden, with more in common with the inmates! (Laughs.)
What is the funniest rumour you have read about yourself?
When Donna and I were married there was a piece in The [National] Enquirer that [said] I took her to [John Belushi’s] grave, we ate chicken, drank whiskey and went looking for UFOs. Well, that wasn’t true … that night! (Laughs.)
You have worked with so many amazing people. Is there anyone you hope to work with in future?
I would like to work with your director Baz Luhrmann – I am a big fan of his, and I thought his Gatsby take was brilliant.
What do you do for fun?
I like to watch movies with my family and we take trips where we travel a lot by car together … Mainly fun for me is being with my family.
Do you have a secret talent?
I am an expert in cleaning out drawers and making them neat! I also like mowing my lawn … It’s very zen to go back and forth.
WE WENT TO Nomad, Surry Hills.
WE ATE Snapper tartare with lemon and saffron crackers; Nomad charcuterie selection.
I WORE Dion Lee.
WE DRANK Crystal Head Vodka martini and cosmopolitan.
Photo: Wolter Peeters