“Uncle Pete is sort of the world’s worst person, and a lot of people don’t think of me that way,” reveals Alan Alda as we chat via webcam(watch above) about his role in the new drama series “Horace and Pete.” He readily admits, “It’s fun to play people that are different from you. That’s part of the fun of acting. It’s some of the most wonderful writing I’ve ever seen.”
The top secret series, which streams on the website of creator Louis C.K., is about a run-down family bar in Brooklyn now run by Horace (C.K.) and Pete (Steve Buscemi). Alda plays the last owner and current bartender, a foul-mouthed, bigoted man who enjoys telling stories and offering free drinks, especially to women.
Alda is best-known for playing nice guys, his charitable work and speaking out for women’s rights. Because of that, he says the role of Uncle Pete is unique on his resume: “We all have a lot of different people in us, but it’s the actor’s job to find and build somebody else out of spare parts of yourself. A few of which you can put together by intuition and figure out how you can be pretty much that person.”
If he reaps an Emmy bid for Best Drama Supporting Actor, it will be his 35th overall. He has racked up six wins, with his most recent being in this category for “The West Wing” (2006). The other five came for his long-running CBS comedy series “M*A*S*H”: three for acting (1974 twice, 1980), one for directing (1977), and one for writing (1979). He was inducted into the television academy’s hall of fame in 1994.
Of that 1970s classic program set during the Korean War of the 1950s, he says, “We always knew it was something that was bigger than all of us. We really respected the premise of the show, the fact that it was based on the lives of real people who had been through a really horrific experience. We tried to be true to that and find out as much as we could what that was like in spite of the fact that a lot of the shows were knock-out silly and sometimes crazy.”