(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "A BEAUTIFUL MIND")
JENNIFER CONNELLY, ACTRESS: I'm wondering, Professor Nash, if I can ask you to dinner? You do eat, don't you?
RUSSELL CROWE, ACTOR: On occasion, yes. A table for one; Permetheus (ph) alone chained to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bird circling overhead. You know how it is. I expect that -- that you wouldn't know. Leave your address in my office. I'll pick you up Friday at eight and we'll eat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING WEEKEND. We hope you're enjoying this evening with some great talent. And, hey, nobody's better than this lady. Jennifer Connelly, she costars in "A Beautiful Mind," based on the life of the Nobel prize-winning mathematician John Nash, who descended into madness, paranoid schizophrenia, and won the Nobel Prize. She won the American Film Institute award for the best featured actress for her role as Alicia (ph) Nash. Nominated for a Golden Globe as well. Certainly heading for, I would guess, an Oscar nomination -- how did you get this part?
CONNELLY: I worked with Ron. He was my...
KING: Ron Howard?
CONNELLY: Ron Howard. He was a producer on a movie I had done called "Inventing the Abbots (ph)" a long time ago. And so I had a meeting with him first, and then I auditioned for it with Russell. I went in and read a number of scenes. They put me through the gamut.
KING: Did they put a lot of women through this?
CONNELLY: I don't know, I kind of stay out of that part of it and just sort of do my gig.
KING: Did you like it right away?
CONNELLY: I loved the script right away. It was one of those rare scripts that you read and it just seemed to have all of the elements. It was, you know, a beautifully written story; it's very compelling. All the more intriguing because it's, you know, based on a true story.
KING: So you wanted this part?
CONNELLY: I really wanted to do it. I thought, you know, if only I get to do this, I'll never ask for one of these special parts (ph) again.
KING: Please, God, I won't make a request again, huh?
CONNELLY: I promise I never will. And, you know -- and, of course, then you're spoiled then. And it was remarkable; I loved working on it.
KING: Was the doing as good as the expecting?
CONNELLY: It was better. It really was.
CONNELLY: Because, you know, I loved -- I loved working with Ron. He really respects his actors, and thereby commands a lot of respect. I never felt that I came away from a scene not having been able to explore something I wanted to. Russell is great to work with as an actor. He's as...
KING: Because? He gives?
CONNELLY: Because he gives you a lot -- there's a lot to work with there. He's very spontaneous, he's very present, he's very available; he's thoroughly prepared, but then likes to sort of find things as he gets on to the set.
KING: Can that throw actors?
CONNELLY: I don't' know.
KING: It didn't bother you?
CONNELLY: I can't speak for others, but for me it was really exhilarating, you know? Because nothing was ever the same; nothing was ever predictable. It was like nothing was just on paper. The room was just always very dynamic. So I really enjoy that.
KING: The woman you play is a living woman.
CONNELLY: She is.
KING: She's up at Princeton, New Jersey, right now.
CONNELLY: They're together and...
KING: Did you meet her?
CONNELLY: I did. I wanted to meet her before we started shooting, even though -- you know, just as our film is inspired their lives, and so our version of Alicia (ph) is fictionalized, I still wanted to meet her. I felt -- it just felt right to me. I was looking for some jam (ph) of wisdom and insight and inspiration, I guess.
KING: Was it difficult to play someone who is both heroic, steadfast and puts up with a lot?
CONNELLY: I felt it was really -- I felt it was really important that she be human and plausible, and not turn into some kind of impossible martyr hero. And I was really happy that you see her kind of devolve into her own chaos and struggle with this choice. You see her kind of wrestle with her own grief and self-doubt. I loved that section of the movie. I think without it, it -- you wouldn't have sort of stayed with her or believed her choice to stay with him.
KING: Are you surprised at all at how well it's being received? I mean, this is not your everyday pop movie.
CONNELLY: I don't know. I mean, it's -- but it is, because it's a love story underneath it, you know. And it's a story of human triumph and of human will and a sort of miraculous recovery. And so, you know, I guess there's a part of all of us that wants to see that. You know?
KING: Did you learn more about schizophrenia doing this?
CONNELLY: I did in my research. I read -- you know, I read a lot.
KING: It's a puzzling disease because it never -- it's not curable, right? You can arrest it. CONNELLY: Some people have -- you know, have recovered from it, but it's rare. You know?
KING: Now you've been doing movies a long time.
CONNELLY: A long time. I've got two kids (ph) now.
KING: What did you -- were you a kid actor?
CONNELLY: I was a -- I was a kid in movies. I don't know if I was an actor. It took me...
KING: Well, what was your first movie?
CONNELLY: "Once Upon A Time in America." I was eleven.
KING: The Jewish Mafia movie.
CONNELLY: It was 20 years ago.
KING: James Woods, Robert De Niro.
CONNELLY: James Woods, Robert De Niro. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) directed it.
KING: Who did you play?
CONNELLY: I was -- Robert De Niro's character is in love with this woman Deborah (ph).
KING: You played her as a child.
CONNELLY: I played her as a child. Elizabeth McGovern played her as an adult.
KING: That's right. Oh, I remember the scene where he looks over at a little...
CONNELLY: I was dancing. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) flower songs (ph).
KING: Yeah, she dances.
CONNELLY: That was me.
KING: That was her. Were you living -- were you living in L.A.? Were you like a young...
CONNELLY: No, I'm a New Yorker. I'm born and raised in New York. I always lived there; I still live there.
KING: Always wanted to act?
CONNELLY: I didn't want -- I had no aspirations to be an actor as a kid. It just -- I sort of came in the back door, it was a haphazard kind of beginning. I had to really re-choose it, since I sort of took it for granted that that's what I did. Because I sort of somehow kept working through the years.
KING: New York stage?
CONNELLY: I never have.
KING: Want to?
CONNELLY: I do. I'm a little intimidated. It seems a very different kind of medium. I have no experience, but I would like to.
KING: Well now, obviously, this movie's going to lead to -- I mean, let's be obvious. It's going to lead to enormous things for you, one would guess. I mean, but being objective, you're going to get a lot of offers. Have you already signed on to do another film?
CONNELLY: I'm going to work with Ang Lee (ph) next, who I think is fantastic.
CONNELLY: "The Hulk;" he's doing "The Hulk." A very interesting choice.
KING: Do you play Mrs. Hulk?
CONNELLY: I play Betty Ross (ph), who's a scientist and his partner. I'm really looking forward to it. I think he's -- you know, he has quite a vision.
KING: Who's in it?
CONNELLY: Eric Banna (ph), an Australian actor, who was in "Black Hawk Down" now as well, and was in an Australian movie called "Chopper," which I thought he was fantastic in.
KING: Do you like to take risky roles?
CONNELLY: I do. I like to challenge myself, you know. I -- that's -- it feels like that's what I like. That's what I look for.
KING: Are you excited about all of this, this year? I mean...
CONNELLY: It's fun. You know, I love to work. It's my favorite part of it is just, you know, doing the rehearsals, doing the research, being on the set, and...
KING: Right. Let me say, it shows in the finished product.
CONNELLY: Thank you.
KING: You're terrific.
CONNELLY: Thank you.
KING: Jennifer Connelly, you won't see better performances this year than we're talking about tonight. And she is magnificent in "A Beautiful Mind."
We're going to close it out with John Turturro in a moment. He plays an old friend of mine, Howard Cosell, in a made for TV movie, "Monday Night Mayhem." John Turturro is one of the best. He's next. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "A BEAUTIFUL MIND")
CROWE: May I present...
CONNELLY: Ms. Alicia (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Professor, please, you and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CONNELLY: Wait a second, I'm sorry. I want a copy of this first big date and all. So you guys (ph) need to look good, which is not the state you found yourselves in altogether (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Here. I'm surprising him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just keep on surprising...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MONDAY NIGHT MAYHEM")
JOHN TURTURRO, ACTOR: I know you're hiring (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And, OK, we've done a lot together: '68 in Mexico City, Ali, all the fights for racial equality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, Howard.
TURTURRO: I have been the main instrument of your crusade to eradicate the kowtowing to the poobahs (ph) of sports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surely an eloquent instrument.
TURTURRO: And now when you're starting up the biggest venture in the history of ABC Sports, I'm on the outside looking in. It's unjust.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Howard, I had to get all the pieces of the Monday night package in place. And don't you realize, Howard, that I just couldn't risk hearing a "No," from the one man who could make this the most distinctive sports show in the history of television ever: Howard Cosell?
TURTURRO: Oh, well, OK then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We wind it up tonight with one of my favorite people: John Turturro, one of the great actors. And he's going to play Howard Cosell in "Monday Night Mayhem." It's a made-for-cable drama, starring him and the others, featuring that Monday night football crew. It premiers on TNT this coming Monday night, tomorrow night, January 14th.
How did you get this part? You, to play Cosell?
TURTURRO: Well, somehow they sent me the script and they thought, "Well, maybe, you know, you can do it." So I was flattered, because I grew up, you know, watching Howard like everyone else on "Wide World of Sports" and the Olympics and then "Monday Night Football." So it was a big challenge.
KING: Now is it difficult when someone knows someone so well, as so much of the population knew Cosell, if (ph) you were going to act it, rather than imitate him?
TURTURRO: Yes. I think it's -- the difference between an impression and a performance is that there has to be many more colors in a performance, and you have to have a certain musical variety. An impression is more of a sketch. And a performance is more of a detailed painting. At least, you would hope that.
And I think the fun thing about it is you have to deal with the outer accouterments of a guy like Howard, because we all know what he looked like and sounded like and the way he stood. But all the inside things, and the things that drove him and made him tick, those were the fun things to, you know, to try to discover as much as possible. And I had a fair amount of preparation time.
KING: Having known him well myself, he was a complicated man. Not just what the audience saw, it was a lot deeper than what they saw, right?
TURTURRO: You know, I think there's -- you know, a lot of people didn't know he was -- he was a family man, he was tremendously patriotic. He was passionate about civil rights. I think he was very insecure, in some ways, because he was a pioneer. And there was a tremendous contradiction to him. Almost sort of a walking contradiction. There was -- he was the sort of person who could be gentle, and I know he's quite, you know, romantic and loving towards his own family. And then on the other hand, you know, he could be quite superior and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at times.
KING: And, of course, he died very bitter. The movie doesn't take it to that, does it?
TURTURRO: No, no. It takes it to when he just -- when he left the show, you know? No, it doesn't go to that -- it doesn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Now we know that John Voigt (ph) plays him for Michael Mann (ph) in the movie "Ali."
TURTURRO: Yeah, right.
KING: That had to be a tremendous kind of makeup job they did. Were you considered for that part? TURTURRO: Well, I had read it, and I think Michael's a great director and I think John's (ph) a -- you know, a great actor. So I was sort of looking to stay closer to home, because my wife was pregnant and we're going to have our second child. And when I received this script, I thought, "Wow, this sort of explores many different facets of Howard." And that's what appealed to me. It's harder to do a movie, sometimes, made for television, because the schedule is shorter. But I had a tremendous amount of preparation time, so that was an advantage.
KING: Do you -- do you like the term when people refer to you as a great character actor?
TURTURRO: Well, you know, I grew up loving Edward G. Robinson, and other guys like James Cagney, too. And so to me, everyone -- every character I play is a character. I don't -- you know, I come from the theater. I like playing different kinds of roles, whether they're dramatic or comedic or, you know, theater of the absurd. I like doing different parts, and I think every part is a different character.
KING: Certainly, "Barton Fink" was wild.
TURTURRO: Yeah, that was -- that was definitely out there, and my work with those guys.
KING: How about "Quiz Show," working with Redford?
TURTURRO: "Quiz Show" was a great experience, because Redford, you know, came to me early on, and I had put on -- I decided to put on a bunch of weight there. And he was -- you know, we got along wonderfully well. And I was sort of the only actor cast for a long time because he couldn't make up his mind. He's a very interesting man. I'm very -- I'm very fond -- I have fond feelings towards him and working with him. He was -- he's a very funny guy.
You know, he's a real black Irishmen in some ways. And I never -- I never knew that. You know? But he was endlessly interesting. He was very -- I mean, it meant a lot to him, the film, because he lived through that period of time. And Herby Stemple (ph) was a fascinating person to explore. A person who had a...
KING: And you explored him perfectly, I might say, John.
TURTURRO: Oh, thank you. Thanks so much.
KING: "Monday Night..." -- are you happy with "Monday..." -- is this your first TV movie?
TURTURRO: No, I've done one for HBO years ago, "Sugar Time (ph)", where I played Sam Giancono (ph). And then one many years ago.
KING: Oh, I remember that.
TURTURRO: Yeah. So, no -- yes, I'm very -- I'm very pleased with the -- the final outcome of it. And I think Erin Stickerson (ph) did a terrific job. And John Heard (ph), as (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he's tremendous in it. And my brother Nicholas (ph) plays Chet Forty (ph) and he's really -- he's good in it too. And Eli Wallach is in it and Patty LePone (ph). So it's a very good cast.
KING: Does Patty LePone (ph) play your wife?
TURTURRO: She plays Emmy (ph). That's right.
KING: And your own brother plays Chet -- the late Chet Forty (ph), who directed those shows.
TURTURRO: That's right, the director of it. And I think it's really entertaining and humorous and it has other -- and it has dramatic aspects to it. And I think there's -- you get certain, you know, aspects of who they were and the pressure that was under -- they were under, and how they created the show.
KING: Did you do any shooting in stadiums?
TURTURRO: Yes. We shot in Giant Stadium, outside of Yankee Stadium. We shot the whole film in New York and New Jersey and the surrounding areas.
KING: And what's next, John?
TURTURRO: Well, I have a couple of films coming out this coming year. I star in a movie with Adam Sandler called "Deeds." It's a remake of "Deeds." That was a lot of fun. And I'm going to probably be doing another film come this February. And I hope to direct my -- my third film this summer.
KING: You are one of my favorite people, John. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.
TURTURRO: Oh, well thanks very much. And I'm really honored to be on the show.
KING: John Turturro, he plays Howard Cosell in "Monday Night Mayhem." It premiers tomorrow night on TNT.
When we come back, gospel great Yolanda Adams (ph) will stir your soul as she sings "Never Give Up." But, first, we want to pay tribute to Dave Thomas. The founder of Wendy's old-fashioned hamburgers and its premier TV pitch man died Tuesday of liver cancer at age 69. Dave Thomas was much more than a terrific business man, an outspoken advocate for adoption, creator of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. He transformed a personal shame into the source of a lot of public good. He told me about it in March of 2000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE THOMAS, FOUNDER, WENDY'S: Yeah, I didn't want anyone to know that I was born out of wedlock. And I didn't want to know anyone -- or let anyone know that I was adopted. I mean, I just didn't think that, you know, it was really important to me. And I was at a manager's meeting one time and I was just talking to our people and I said, "Look, how many of you have seen your mother and father?" I said, "I've never seen my mother and father. And if I can do this, you can do it." And a manager came up to me -- one of the young men -- he says, "Why don't you talk more about adoption?" And I said, "Well, if it will help, I'll do it." And so that's the reason why I went public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We close tonight with the wonderfully talented Yolanda Adams (ph). Boy, can she sing. Her newest album is titled "Believe." She's going to sing a song tonight called "Never Give Up." You were doing a photo shoot on September 11th?
YOLANDA ADAMS, SINGER: I was doing a photo shoot on September 11th and we were scheduled to be in New York. And, as you know, the Millennium Hotel was one of the hotels that was destroyed, and we usually stay there. So, you know, I have to thank God for that.
KING: Was it tough to even do any kind of work through it?
ADAMS: It was very tough. It took us a good seven hours to like regroup. And then after that, we finally got the shoot on, but it was tough.
KING: Now you also took part in the John Lennon tribute concert in New York, right?
ADAMS: Yes I did. Yes.
KING: That must have been fun.
ADAMS: Oh, it was wonderful. First of all, it's an honor for any gospel artist to be a part of such great musical structures like that, you know? And for Yoko Ono to be there during the rehearsal, it was -- it was wonderful.
KING: Thanks for doing this.
ADAMS: Oh, thank you for having me.
KING: Yolanda Adams (ph) closes it tonight with an appropriate tune: "Never Give Up."