There’s no doubt that “M*A*S*H” star Alan Alda is a master craftsman at his trade of acting. But he definitely does not like rehearsing.
Alda talks about his distaste for this somewhat usual acting ritual during an interview with SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.
“One thing I miss about theater, even though I loved doing television, is the rehearsal process,” Carteris said. “Because I do love the discovery, the time that you have to discover and to rediscover, to rediscover, through a rehearsal process.”
“I have to say I hate rehearsing,” Alda, who played Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce on “M*A*S*H” on CBS, said.
“Oh do you really?” Carteris asked. “I love rehearsal.”
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Compares Taking Part In Rehearsal To Lifting Weights
“It’s like lifting weights,” Alda said. “It’s good for you but I don’t like it. You know in French they call it ‘repetition’ and that’s what it feels like, repetitions. Repetitions are boring.”
“Yeah but you’re doing a year a show, that’s repetition eight days, eight shows a week,” Carteris, who found TV stardom on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” replied.
“Yeah but it’s always different,” Alda said, speaking of theater work aside from “M*A*S*H” on TV. “Rehearsal isn’t like that. You know, people say, ‘How can you do the same show day after day?’ Well I don’t do the same show day after day. It’s spontaneous, it’s always different.”
“That’s how I feel rehearsal is,” Carteris said. “It should be,” Alda replied.
Alda Won Five Emmy Awards As Actor, Director On Classic TV Series
Alda won five Emmy Awards for his work on “M*A*S*H” as an actor and director. He’s also picked up another Emmy for his work on NBC’s “The West Wing.” Alda also has performed on stage and in movies.
These days, Alda, 85, is dealing with Parkinson’s disease which he has had since 2015.
But “M*A*S*H” will forever be tied to Alda’s name and reputation. The show was still popular when it ended in 1983. Some of his costars, though, would have liked the war-themed show to continue. Alda admits he pushed for the show to come to a close.
“Some of us said, ‘We could go one more,'” Alda told Carteris. “The head of the studio said, ‘Why do you want to stop? I love it.’ We could have gone on, we could have enjoyed it, but we were too old for the characters. Those people [who actually were in “M*A*S*H” units] were in their 20s.”
“M*A*S*H” debuted on TV screens in 1972, adding to a juggernaut CBS lineup filled with “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and other shows. Alda was part of that first-season cast along with McLean Stevenson as Lt. Col. Henry Blake, Wayne Rogers as Capt. “Trapper” John McIntyre, and Larry Linville as Maj. Frank Burns. Stevenson, Rogers, and Linville have all died since the show was on the network.