HFPA in Conversation: Timothy Hutton's Eclectic Journey

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros September 25, 2019
Actor and director Timothu Hutton, Golden Globe winner

frederick m. brown/getty images

A two-time Golden Globe winner, Timothy Hutton is starring in a new TV show, Almost Family.  He plays a fertility doctor who has used his own sperm to conceive at least 100 children “It is based on some true stories.  A couple of IVF doctors who had clinics were using their own material to try to make the clinic more successful and nobody knew that they were actually the offspring of these doctors,” Hutton tells HFPA journalist Ana Maria Bahiana at the Hilton hotel.

Hutton's Dr. Leon Bechley's biological daughter finds out about his father’s secret - Bechley babies - and it causes all kinds of problems between them.

“The show has a very good mix between comedy and drama.  There’s some very, very awkward and funny situations when people start to realize that they’re related, they share the same father.  A lot of these people didn’t have a real strong sense of identity until they hear that everything they thought they knew about their parents turns out not to be true.  It goes to the heart of people wanting to connect and wanting to know what family means to them and get an understanding of how they have moved through the world based on who they are truly from.”

Hutton’s own identity began to form in the mid-1970s when he reconnected with his father and was part of the cast of his high school's production of Guys and Dolls.  After working in several TV movies he got a part in Robert Redford’s Ordinary People.  He won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. “I remember very, very well that time and the process of auditioning for it.  I heard about a book called "Ordinary People" by Judith Guest and that they were going to make a movie and Robert Redford was going to direct.”

The casting director for Ordinary People requested him to come in to audition based on his work in the TV movie Friendly Flyer. “I went to the audition. I wasn’t given the script yet so I went and I bought the book and I started reading the book.  I didn’t have enough time to finish it before the first audition.  But I couldn’t believe how brilliant and moving it was.  I went to the first audition and they gave me just one scene to look at and then go into the room.”

At the time he was living with his mother in Berkeley, Northern California. “I’d borrowed my mom’s car to drive down to Los Angeles for the audition.  This is before cellphones or emails.  If you wanted to make a phone call you went to a payphone.  I went to the audition and I didn’t know how it went.  I remember there were a lot of people auditioning for the same role.  I thought ok well, this is going to be an interesting movie, I’m glad I had the opportunity to come in and read the scene.”

Then he drove back from Los Angeles to San Francisco. “I arrived some seven or eight hours later and walked in. My mom said, “what are you doing here, they called and they said they want to see you tomorrow morning.”  So I drove back down to Los Angeles, another eight hours or so and went to a second audition.  It’s worth noting that Redford wasn’t part of the process yet, his casting director and his producer were trying to find the right group of people that would be the final people to audition.”

He thought the audition went ok, but because he wasn’t sure and drove back to Berkeley. “My mom said again, “what are you doing, they’ve asked for you to come back tomorrow afternoon.” I remember going to sleep and waking up really early, five in the morning and just barely making it to the audition.”

Then he gave them a payphone number. “That was next to a restaurant and I would just wait to see if the phone rang.  This went on for a while and when it got to the sixth audition that’s when I first met Redford and Elizabeth McGovern.”

The rest is history.

Listen to the podcast and hear what he thinks about the different platforms that are available for consumers; how was it working with Robert Redford on Ordinary People; what is the best state of mind for an actor; how he chooses his roles; what went on in his mind when he was reading the script for Taps; when he knew acting would be his profession; whether his father influenced Hutton’s career; what kind of memories he has of his father preparing for a role; what kind of memories he has from the Golden Globe gala; whether he wants to direct again; why he didn’t watch movies when he was a kid; what movies and actors touched him when he was a young adult; how was his experience in a hot air balloon while shooting the film Torrents of Spring; and whether his kids following are in his footsteps.