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Andy Griffith serves up special performance
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published June 25, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. - At age 81, Andy Griffith has been discovered.
Sure, he'll always be known as Sheriff Andy Taylor, gentle father to son Opie and gunless lawman of Mayberry who dispensed homegrown wisdom on The Andy Griffith Show. Or as disheveled yet shrewd Atlanta defense lawyer Ben Matlock.
But he's now a new type of star in the critically acclaimed film Waitress. In a movie starring Keri Russell as Jenna, a top-notch piemaker trying to leave her brutish husband, Griffith steals the show as the cranky owner of the diner where she works.
"I'm glad to be back, " Griffith said. "I loved working in the film, and I just thought it was actually wonderful."
The movie was written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, who was found slain in her Manhattan home office not long after Waitress was accepted at the Sundance Film Festival. Griffith said Shelly, who also stars in the film, "knew exactly what she wanted to hear."
"She wanted me to be very firm, and she kept after me to be firm, be firm, " Griffith said. "I said, 'I'M TRYING.' She said, 'That way.' "
Griffith lives a fiercely private life with wife Cindi in the North Carolina Outer Banks town of Manteo. Until Waitress, he hadn't appeared in a live-action film since 2001. He said he got three scripts at once and chose Waitress for the quality of Shelly's writing and because Joe "was a good, pivotal part. Joe means a lot to this film."
Griffith was on the set for just four days of the 20-day shoot, but he didn't disappoint, producer Michael Roiff said.
"We were so excited about the performance he was delivering, " Roiff said. "In the editing room, putting scenes together, (Shelly) and I would just look at each other and think, 'How did we get so lucky? Who let this happen in our movie?' "
Equally important to Griffith is the praise of his friends, including Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, who played Opie.
"Ron Howard called me a few mornings ago. He and his wife had seen it, and he wanted to tell me how much he liked it. And he thought I was good in it, too, " Griffith said.
Griffith is still looking for work. Asked when he'll get a part in a Ron Howard blockbuster, Griffith chuckled and mentioned an earlier phone conversation with him. "And he said, 'Sometime, it will happen.' I look forward to it when it does happen.
"At least Ronnie still knows that I'm a pretty good actor."