In his new book "Dropped Names," the distinguished American actor Frank Langella offers a series of sketches of his decades of impressions of other celebrities, ranging from Marilyn Monroe to the Queen Mother and Yul Brynner toJohn F. Kennedy. It's an unusual demi-memoire, told through candid encounters with others who are described, Langella says in his preface, not necessarily as they were in reality but as he perceived them to be in that moment. Langella spoke by phone from his home in New York.
Q: Why write about other people?
A: It all started with my writing about my memories of Jill Clayburgh after she died. And then I started to feel very strongly about all the people with whom I have engaged over the years.
Q: We generally think of namedroppers as pretentious bores. Yet here you are with a whole book along those lines.
A: Ha! As an actor, you find yourself with remarkable people. I came up with 110 names, and then whittled it down to 66 or so. When it was all put together, I decided there was no other name for it. They had all dropped dead and I was dropping their names. Why call it anything else?
This piece ran in full in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email.