Steve Guttenberg’s book, “The Guttenberg Bible” reads more like a novel. A story of one man’s quest to overcome all obstacles and become something more.
Steve had always dreamed about becoming an actor but faced adversity right from the start. In fact, the book begins with one of his very first agents telling him he’d never amount to anything in the business.
He was told everything from not looking “Hollywood” enough to having an odd last name. But rather than give up on his dream Steve decided to take a chance.
After graduating high school he put off starting college and made an exodus to Hollywood with the intention of staying for only a few weeks. His plan was to come back home if things didn’t work out. But instead, he wound up staying and becoming one of the most successful and sought after actors of the 1980′s.
With nothing to lose Steve snuck onto the lot at Paramount Studios lot and set up his own office. From there he would eventually go from driving a Pacer to driving a Ferrari. From sleeping on a sofa to hosting parties in lavish homes. From bit parts in commercials to starring in major motion pictures.
Along the way he kept journals documenting his experiences if for no other reason than for his own personal keepsake. These experiences became the genesis for “The Guttenberg Bible”.
In “The Guttenberg Bible” Steve chronicles the journey through the first ten years of his illustrious career and tells amazing stories along the way. From becoming buds with Colonel Sanders in an early Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial through his own personal encounters with acting kings Gregory Peck and Tom Selleck as well as young up and coming actresses Kim Cattrall and Sharon Stone.
Steve also tells tales from some of his biggest movies: “Miracle on Ice”, “Diner”, “Police Academy”, “Cocoon”, “Short Circuit” and “Three Men and A Baby”.
The Guttenberg Bible is much more than just a memoir. It’s also a story about family, a journey of self discovery and a how-to book for success. To never allow anything to stand in the way of reaching your goals. To me, its gospel.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Steve and getting more details about the creation of The Bible. Along the way, he even tells another story that didn’t make the book.
Judging from my own experience reading “The Guttenberg Bible” and speaking with the man himself I can only hope there will eventually be a “New Testament”.
goJimmygo (gJg): Steve, the thing I like the most about your book is that it doesn’t read like a typical memoir. It reads more like a story.
Steve Guttenberg (SG): Thanks. I loved writing it.
gJg: Why did you decide to write a book at this point of your career?
SG: You know, I’ve actually been telling these stories to a lot of friends for a long time and a friend of mine told me that they would be a great idea for a book. So what I did was write about forty or so pages, shopped it around and before I knew it I wound up having a deal.
gJg: You said before that you kept a whole bunch of meticulous journals from your experiences that you were able to draw from.
SG: Yeah I did. I kept a lot of journals. I really wanted to be good about chronicling that trip because I really didn’t know where it was going to take me or what was going to happen. So I just decided to just write it all down so that one day even if didn’t work out I could say look back and say: “See? look where you were!”
gJg: What was the writing process like for you?
SG: In the beginning I would go to my office every day and pretty much write from nine to five. At one point I actually had around 600 pages. I sent them to my editor and he said “Uh oh! And this is only the first ten years of your career?” After I explained to him that it was he said: “I think we’re done. We can’t do the whole career right now.”
So we whittled it down to 300 pages and it worked out great!
gJg: Did you have any moments of self discovery while you were re-living all of these moments again?
SG: Absolutely. When you start really examining your life it takes you to whole other place that you don’t go to during your normal work day. It can be wonderful but then there are times you don’t really want to re-live as well. There’s a certain amount of uncomfortableness involved with it too.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a great career so far and a great personal life. I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world and I never forget that.
gJg: I love the way the book ended where you’re back where you started from again. You mention your parents quite a bit in this book. How are they doing?
SG: They’re well! Everyone is good. Thanks for asking.
gJg: How about your Red Ferrari?
SG: Ah, I wound up selling it. You know, it was just SUCH a bother to have.
gJg: One of the stories I enjoyed was about the stalker you had.
SG: Yeah, you haven’t really lived until you’ve had a stalker…
gJg: You’ve worked with some really great actors over the course of your career. What was it like to work with Gregory Peck and Colonel Sanders?
SG: You’d be surprised, Sanders was a lot more dedicated to the material than Peck was. Harlan was a stickler for the written word.
gJg: As a guy here’s a question I absolutely have to ask: What was it like to kiss Sharon Stone?
gJg: I’ve heard rumors about there being another “Police Academy” and “Three Men and A Baby”. Any truth to that?
SG: Oh absolutely. “Three Men and A Bride” is being developed as is “Police Academy” and even another “Short Circuit” as well.
gJg: Would they be bringing back all of the original characters from Police Academy?
For Police Academy I think it would be wise to bring back all of the original characters. Kim Cattrall, David Spade, Sharon Stone. Audiences always like to see familiar characters and what’s happened with them.
gJg: Any regrets over the course of your career?
SG: I really don’t have many regrets. I’ve been very lucky. I’m living my life the way I want to live it. I’ve been fortunate to have a big backbone that my parents gave me. It’s all about character. Your character is what’s going to make everything work.
gJg; Were there any films that you turned down that went on to become hits?
SG: Not really. I have a pretty good nose for these things. The ones that were successful I had a feeling would be at the time. I remember I enjoyed the script and then as we started filming I would begin to envision myself being part of the audience and knowing that it’s going to be a great film to watch.
I put myself into a “movie” mindset. Movie makers don’t really think the way “normal” people do. That’s why we’re all oddballs.
gJg: Weren’t you afraid at all about the repercussions of sneaking onto the Paramount lot and creating an office?
SG: I wasn’t afraid of anything. I didn’t have anything to lose. I feel the same way today. Everything that I value I will never lose. The people who love me. The people I love. I’ll never lose the ability to sit in a park and watch the wind blow or play ball in Central Park.
We have great liberties in this country. I can go anywhere I want to go in this country and I don’t need a lot of money to do it. You don’t need to have a fancy car. As Cee Lo Green might say: “I may not be able to afford a Ferrari but I can get you there!”
That’s what everybody wants… to just get there.
gJg: Are there any good stories not in the book that you can tell?
SG: I tried to put as much as I could into the book but here’s one for you:
One night my friend Epstein had invited twenty of the Oakland Raider cheerleaders (The Raiderettes) over to my house for this party. Woody Harrelson had helped set it up with him.
So the party was really rockin’ but I am a real stickler about my place. So they were passing around potato chips getting crumbs everywhere and one of them was having sex in the bathroom with one of my friends and somebody else was in my bed….
But the last straw came when one of the Raiderettes said to me: “You don’t have any food? You just have chips?” At that point I just had enough and said:
“All of the Raiderettes… OUT!!!”
My friends just couldn’t believe that I wanted them out. But I said “Look, I don’t know who these people are and they’re making a mess”. I said: “That’s it I want them all out!”
Woody laughs about this now but back then I remember he just got on his knees and started crying. He kept saying: “You CAN’T!! You CAN’T make these girls go!!”
I said “Woody, you’ve got to help me get them out of the house. I’m uncomfortable with them here.”
It was the only time I ever saw a grown man cry. The day I threw out the Raiderettes… .
gJg: Since your memoir reads just like a story I’m curious: have you ever considered writing a novel?
SG: I would love to write a novel. The next one will probably be one. I love writing, it’s really fun.
gJg: What’s next for you now?
SG: I’ve just got done completing a run of the Woody Allen play “Relatively Speaking” in New York and we’re planning to take it now to LA. I also have a few other projects that I’m setting up around town.
Other than that, I’m just enjoying life. I’ve got a wonderful family and I’m really taking advantage of the time I have to spend with them. Life is too short, you know?
gJg: What message do you want people to take after reading your book?
SG: That you can be anything you want to be in this great country of ours. This is the only country in the world that everyone wants to come to and live in. The freedom and liberty we have in this country makes it possible for a guy who’s failing in school to become a doctor and a guy who has a funny last name and an odd look to become a leading man.
It’s the greatest country in the world…and I sure do love it!