By Ed Symkus
More Content Now

Rob Reiner is and always will be best known for his stint as ultra-liberal Mike Stivic on the TV classic All in the Family, which ran from 1971-1979. But earlier, in 1966, Reiner was already flexing his improvisation muscles in the sketch group The Session, where he also started dabbling in directing. Though hes acted in supporting roles in a number of films over the years the most recent being a dazzlingly funny appearance as Leo DiCaprios foul-mouthed dad in The Wolf of Wall Street hes really made his mark as a director, with films as far-ranging as This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, and The Bucket List. His newest, And So It Goes, traces the relationship of a curmudgeonly Realtor (Michael Douglas) and his free-thinking neighbor (Diane Keaton). Its often funny, sometimes slightly nasty, eventually kind of romantic. Reiner, the son of comedy legend Carl Reiner, visited Boston recently to talk about the pleasures and difficulties of making films.

You have a great track record of moneymakers, along with a few clunkers. Is it easy for you to make a movie these days?

Every movie is hard to get made now because the studios are only making three types of movies: the big action tent pole superhero movies, animated pictures and R-rated raunchy comedies. So for me its difficult. I looked at all the films Ive made over the years and I realized not one of them could be made at a studio today. So for me its always about getting independent financing, and finding ways of putting it together that way. If I have an idea that I like, and I develop it, then you have to find actors who are meaningful to foreign distributors that way you can get pre-sales. So its difficult.

Are you saying that no ones interested in making romantic comedies like And So It Goes?

I dont know. For me its all about having a story about characters that you can relate to and that are going through something that you can connect with. So if you have that, it doesnt matter what the genre is. Itll work.

Why do you think people will relate to Michael Douglas rude character?

The thing about Michael is, even if hes playing a character that isnt so sympathetic at the beginning, hes a likable person, and that shines through. In the movies Ive made that are about men and women, theyre all basically the same. Its always about the woman who is more mature, more connected to her feelings, knows more of what she wants. And the guy runs around like an idiot, trying to figure out what hes doing, and then he realizes that what he wants is right in front of him.

Are you hinting that youre making autobiographical movies?

Well, I can only tell stories that are coming out of something that I know anything about. So the guys are always the same, the girls are always the same, and they all fumble around trying to figure out how to get with each other.

Where did the idea for this film come from?

When I did The Bucket List I had just turned 60. So I was for the first time really understanding the preciousness of life. You kind of intellectualize these things when youre young. When youre older, you kind of internalize what it means to get older, what it means where you dont have all the time in the world, and you want to be able to live every moment. So thats what made The Bucket List. And thats also what made And So It Goes come out of that movie. Because if you find somebody it doesnt matter at what point in your life you have to embrace it because this is it. We dont have any other chance. So I wanted to tell a story about two people finding each other at that point in their lives.

Diane Keaton is a club singer in the film, and you appear as her pianist. Why are you in it and do you really play?

No. I faked playing the piano. And Im in the movie because I dont have a lot of money to work with. I looked around to see if there were any actors that would work for scale, and I found myself. And I leapt at the chance to play a part where you can have a toupee thats undetectable.

Back when you were a kid, and you were acting and directing, what was the reaction from your parents? Did your dad want you to go into show business?
Albert Brooks and I did some summer theater together when we were 18. Then I formed The Session with Richard Dreyfuss, David Arkin, and Larry Bishop. I was acting in that, but I was also directing it. Around that time I also directed Richard in a production of Sartres No Exit. Until I did No Exit my dad didnt know if I was gonna be any good. He was concerned. But he came to see me after that production, and thats when I got his first stamp of approval, where he looked me right in the eye and said to me, That was good. No B.S. And I knew at that point I was gonna be OK.

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.