This Is Us star Griffin Dunne says this huge star saved him from drowning as a kid

Virgin Radio

3 Jul 2024, 13:21

Griffin Dunne talks to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio

Credit: Virgin Radio

Griffin Dunne told Chris Evans that he has a big film star to thank for saving him from drowning when he was a child.

The acclaimed actor, director and producer joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar to talk about his book, The Friday Afternoon Club, and spoke about his coming-of-age in Hollywood and Manhattan.

Speaking about the tone of his book being “very funny, crazy, absurd and, very, very sad and quite tragic, he said that when his parents met “my mother found this guy very, very funny, and they fell in love, and this was in New York, and she was wanting to be an actress and more of a model. And then they moved to Los Angeles, and my father became an executive for television.”



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The American Werewolf in London star continued: “And what was really unusual was, people in television and movies, they never intersected in Hollywood. They just never happened. It happens now, but it never happened then for some reason. Even though he was in television, he would give these parties that were terribly important to him, to know these famous movie stars and directors, and so he would give parties, and they would come, the greatest filmmakers, to our house.”

Speaking about the types of people who were present at the shindigs, the actor told Chris: “Billy Wilder, Grace Kelly, my mum knew Grace Kelly quite well. David Niven, Joseph Cotten, and then a young Dennis Hopper would come, Warren Beatty, a young Warren Beatty.  

It turns out that a James Bond star was also at one of the bashes, and it was a good job that he was. “Sean Connery was swimming laps in our pool,” Griffin said. “And I was trying to impress 007, and I wasn't a very secure swimmer, and I dived into the deep end, which I had not done, and I sank like a stone.

“I'm under the water, and I'm looking at all the party people at the edge of the pool, totally ignoring me. They don't even see a little kid struggling to get back up. And then I feel this hand on my rump, and he pulls me up, puts me on the side of the pool, and he goes, ‘a wee bit early for that, laddy.’”

Griffin would go on to work with a host of big names, including Matthew McConnaughey in Dallas Buyers Club and Madonna in 1897 flick Who’s That Girl.

Regarding the latter, he said: “I've still never seen anyone as famous as this. Like famous, crazy, famous, you know, like pinwheel eyed fans just tremoring around her, and paparazzi, these long lenses I would see in the corner my eye.” 

Speaking about the level of fame that Madonna and the likes of Taylor Swift have achieved, Griffin said: “Both Madonna and Taylor blow my mind for being able to handle that with such grace and humour, it looks horrible to me.”

The new memoir centres around a tragic event which took place in Griffin’s life; the death of his sister Dominique, who was killed by a violent ex-boyfriend at the age of 22. It also focuses on other key moments in his life. “When I wrote it chronologically, I would just sort of tap into my parents’ childhood, which was,  each in their own way, in different parts of the country, quite lonely, and my father was beaten by his father, and so I'd be writing about that kind of stuff. 

“But then I would also be really, really funny.” Giving an example of getting arrested for stealing “processed cheese out of a supermarket,” he said: “It's the tumult of life, you know? Happy, sad, happy, sad.”

Read what Griffin told Chris about how his father inspired his This Is Us character here.

The Friday Afternoon Club is out now.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with webuyanycar weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.