Patrick Stoner: I was thinking about my first interview with you [for THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN]. I should have known then that you NEED to be in charge. You were being your usual, charming self when somebody in the other room made a sound, and you whipped around and yelled, "Keep it down in there!" You could have heard a pin drop after that.
Danny DeVito: Yeah, what you've got to understand is that this is my whole life. You pour yourself into a project -- MATILDA took two years to complete -- and finally it's done. It means EVERYTHING to you. You want to talk about it and share some of your feelings. You don't want some characters in the next room who are bored, running a tape machine, to break your concentration. YOU don't want that to happen in your interview, either. This MATTERS.
Stoner: I guess that's true. I mean, this is forever. You, your work, lives forever.
DeVito: Right. On film, or [points to video camera] on tape. That's nice, isn't it? It lives forever.
Stoner: And it takes over your life? How about Rhea [Perlman, his wife and costar in MATILDA]? Do you take it home with you?
DeVito: It's at home, on the set, in restaurants [laughs]. Yeah, it's everywhere. Rhea's great. She's my support. We talk about everything -- about our own parts, about the casting. For example, we were watching MRS. DOUBTFIRE, and I saw little Mara Wilson, and I turned to Rhea and said, "She could be Matilda." And Rhea said, "Yep, she's the one."
Stoner: Have you always wanted to be the one in charge -- people coming up all day, with questions and complaints?
DeVito: I suppose so. Well, look, if you're a creative artist, there's nothing better than being a director. It's a collaborative art. No other art is like that. A painter can just paint; a musician can just play. But a director needs a lot of other artists to do his work -- writers, scenic artists, cinematographers, performers, lighting and sound experts. . . it goes on and on. They come up all day long, but they're making suggestions in their area, and the director -- whose vision is the final word on a set -- decides which suggestions to take and how to adapt them to his needs. Then, after months of that when you don't think it will ever come together, you have a final product. It's your baby, but it's everyone else's baby too. It's like a family of artists produced it.