Making the upcoming film 'Where the Money Is,' their best laughs weren't always in the script

By Liane Bonin
April 20, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Warner Bros.

In the recently released black comedy ”Goodbye Lover” (which earned a C grade from EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum) Dermot Mulroney got a chance to frolic with Patricia Arquette and Mary-Louise Parker. But that experience probably won’t leave as lasting an impression as his next film ”Where the Money Is” (due later this year), in which Mulroney costarred with a 74-year-old guy named Paul Newman.

”Working with him would have been intimidating if he was a different type of person,” says Mulroney, 35. ”I first addressed him as Mr. Newman, of course, and he practically punched me. He said, ‘What is this Mr. Newman crap? The name’s Lardass!’ That’s his big joke.”

Though calling Cool Hand Luke a blubber butt may have a certain appeal, the less-than-cordial moniker starts to lose its shine after, say, the 300th time you’ve heard it, according to Mulroney. ”I got really tired of it,” he admits. ”But it also made me comfortable the moment I met him. He puts people at ease right off the bat, and we’ve remained friends.”

Good enough friends, in fact, that Newman confided in Mulroney about his retirement plans. According to previous reports, ”Where the Money Is” is supposed to be Newman’s last film. But Mulroney heard otherwise: ”You know what he told me? ‘Just one more, man. One more great role, and then that’s it.’ So, as far as I’m concerned, this is his second to last movie, because I think he wants to do 74.”

Regardless of when Newman actually retires, Mulroney doubts that his new pal will ever become a mellow senior citizen. ”He sent me a note the other day, and the P.S. said, ‘Do something nasty to your neighbor. You’ll get a big kick out of it,”’ says Mulroney. ”That’s just the kind of guy he is.”