Why Alan Arkin Works Harder on ‘The Kominsky Method’ Than Any Other Role

Alan Arkin won an Oscar for his role in Little Miss Sunshine and a Golden Globe for The Russians are Coming the Russians are Coming. Tonight he is Emmy-nominated for his role on Netflix’s The Kominsky Method. Arkin plays Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas)’s agent and best friend Norman Newlander. 

Alan Arkin
Alan Arkin gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Netflix

Arkin has obviously worked hard in his career to earn such awards, and many more nominations. If he wins the Emmy for Kominsky it will be fitting because he says it’s the most demanding role he’s played. Showbiz Cheat Sheet was on the set of Season 2 with Arkin in February. The Komisnky Method returns Friday, October 25 on Netflix.

Most roles Alan Arkin plays these days are less streuous

One advantage of getting older is that you get cast as ailing old men, which are very easy parts to play. 

The Kominsky Method
Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas in The Kominsky Method | Michael Yarish/Netflix

“Well, I’m a very old man so when I get a script and I see I’m on a gurney for about four weeks, I’m happy,” Arkin joked. “Look, no dialogue.I just have to stay here and look pained and have the thing up my nose. I’m a happy guy.”

Chuck Lorre wrote The Kominsky Method as a two-hander between Douglas and Arkin. 

“This guy is making me work, though,” Arkin jokingly complained. “He’s making me say the lines.”

It took 50+ years to get a role like Norman

Arkin has been acting since the ‘60s, and has played many rewarding roles like Grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine, Lester Siegel in Argo, Yossarian in Catch-22 and Roat in Wait Until Dark. Norman tops them all though.

“I’ve got to say that what Norman is becoming is fast becoming one of the most complex and richest and multi-varied character I’ve ever played in my life,” Arkin said. “We are jumping from farce to comedy to near tragedy almost on a moment to moment basis from episode to episode. We are jumping from naturalism to realism to close to surrealism in one episode, and I’m in heaven in that regard.”

The Kominsky Method
Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in The Kominsky Method | Michael Yarish/Netflix

Arkin has done it all, but usually one at a time. Combining genres and performing styles in one role takes the cake.

“Being able to jump styles is, to me, one of the most exciting things about this series,” Arkin said. “I love that aspect of it, and I’m constantly surprised at the number of directions that I’m forced to take within one episode. It’s very exciting.”

Alan Arkin gets to elaborate on ‘The Kominsky Method’

Chuck Lorre writes long passages of dialogue for both Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin on The Kominsky Method. Both Sandy and Norman are storytellers.

Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

“It’s just another aspect,” Arkin said. “I mean, I think actors tend to do that. Actors tend to live anecdotal lives for the most part. An actor wants to tell you a story that lasts about two and a half minutes, and it’s part of our lives. So I think it’s just Chuck picking up on that fact. We tell stories, and jokes are part of that. So it feels very natural. If it’s there, it’s fine. If it’s not, it’s fine too.”

Michael Douglas lets Alan Arkin touch him

For two Hollywood legends, it’s surprising they met for the first time making The Kominsky Method. It only took a half hour at lunch for them to get along. Fortunately, Douglas was cooperative with The Arkin Method.

Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“Acting is very visceral, and I like to touch people,” Arkin said. “”I like to manhandle them. I like to play. I like to talk on top of people’s lines like people do in life. Once in a while, you wander into somebody that says, ‘Please don’t touch me,’ and then you are dead for the next four years. But there was not that.It’s gotten enormously comfortable for me.”