Veteran character actor Irwin Keys has stayed busy for 30 years now in films such as 'The Warriors', 'Friday The 13th', 'House of 1000 Corpses' and The Coen Brothers' 'Intolerable Cruelty'. Irwin's breakout role as Hugo Mojelewski on 'The Jeffersons' also started a successful run of t.v. show appearances including 'Moonlighting', 'Thirtysomething' and 'Tales From The Crypt' amongst others. However, it is his role as 'Shorty' on David Lynch and Mark Frost's 'On The Air' that has brought him to the Archive...
Twin Peaks Archive: Did you always want to be an actor?
Irwin Keyes: I didn't always want to be an actor. I found acting while I was in college at SUNY New Paltz, N.Y. The Director of the play approached me, that they needed a guy like me in the Gorky play THE LOWER DEPTHS. I did the part and discovered I could finally do something RIGHT!!! From there I continued Acting to this day. SUMMERSTOCK, to NYC, to LA.
TPA: Your breakout role was...
IK: Hugo was my first acting role in California. One week i was in NYC. Next week I was Acting in LA on the #1 Show in America, THE JEFFERSONS. My role became a recurring character. The Audience loved what I did. They laugh to this day.
TPA: Were you aware of David Lynch before OTA?
IK: I knew who David Lynch was. I don't remember an audition. Just a meeting. He knew who I was. He built the role around me. The role of Shorty the Stagehand. All of the slapstick just happened.. I lite up the screen.
TPA: How long did it take to shoot the show?
IK: We did the pilot first. Then when they had the ok. We shot the other episodes. Groundbreaking! A sitcom without a laughtrack... I guess 7 weeks or less?
TPA: Lynch directed the first episode...
IK: David was quiet and sensitive as a Director. He knew what he wanted and made it happen.
TPA: Where was OTA filmed?
IK: MTM Studio in Studio City. Across the street from SEINFELD. I knew Jerry as a kid on Long Island. He was always driving his bicycle on the lot.
TPA: Your favorite episode is...
IK: I love the MR. PEANUT episode with Chuck McCann and his hand puppet. I pulled the plug on the bitch actress. She got rolled up in a carpet. The cast came out to sing the Mr.Peanut song. What a show!
TPA: What was it like working on a show people will be talking about 50 years from now?
IK: Great! They gave me a job!!!
The Warriors (1979)
TPA: OTA had such an amazing regular and guest cast...
IK: I had a great time on the show. All nice people. including the Bitch Actress!! I hear the Japanesse just loved the show. We need more OTA's today.
TPA: Did you take any photos or keep any goodies from the set?
IK: Sorry nothing to remember the show except my cap. That belonged to me from my cab driving nights struggling to get started in NYC. In the 1970's alot of actors drove cabs part time.
TPA: Many claim that your role as 'Wheezy Joe' in The Coen Brother's 'Intolerable Cruelty' really stole the show... What reaction did you get from Hollywood for a scene that got the biggest laughs in the film?
IK: No one steals nothing from George Clooney. He is a great guy! George is generous and shares. Miguel's cousin by the way. George knows that every film is an ensemble. Each person in his movies count. What we did together made a better movie. Better that the Coen Boys ever expected when they wrote it. The reaction I got from the big Hollywood Studios is that I have never done an 'A' Movie since. Why? Hollywood now makes films all centered around the lead actors. They don't want the audience to recognize anyone but the lead actors. Not like the great ensemble films of the past like CASABLANCA.
TPA: What's next for you?
IK: Opens on DVD 3/11/08 in my new horror film WRESTLEMANIAC. One of the great reviewed films this year. The audience will love this new horror film.
TPA thanks Irwin for his time!