Legendary Actor Scott Glenn — How to Be Super Fit at 85 & How to Pursue Your Purpose

Legendary Actor Scott Glenn — How to Be Super Fit at 85 & How to Pursue Your Purpose

Start (00:00:00)

  • Legendary actor Scott Glenn, known for his roles in "Apocalypse Now," "The Right Stuff," and "The Silence of the Lambs," shares his secrets to maintaining super fitness and pursuing his purpose.
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  • Scott Glenn's illustrious career spans nearly six decades, with notable performances in acclaimed films and recent TV series.
  • He will return to HBO for season 3 of "The White Lotus."
  • Scott Glenn embodies mastery in physical fitness, mental well-being, and spiritual fulfillment.

Idaho vs. Los Angeles. (00:07:25)

  • Scott Glenn, an 85-year-old actor, maintains exceptional fitness, career success, and fulfilling relationships.
  • Glenn moved to Idaho in his late 30s after his wife encouraged him to join a challenging mountain expedition.
  • Despite initial altitude sickness, Glenn embraced the physically demanding experience and discovered a passion for rock climbing.
  • Under the guidance of experienced climber Tony Jones, Glenn's rock climbing skills improved, and he was introduced to advanced techniques.
  • Glenn's time in Idaho transformed his life, emphasizing the importance of stepping out of one's comfort zone and embracing new challenges.

Apocalypse Now, self-confidence soon after. (00:13:41)

  • Scott Glenn had done a lot of work in New York, mainly street theater and improv.
  • He moved to LA to do his first film, Baby Maker, and had small parts in big movies like Nashville and Apocalypse Now.
  • While working on Apocalypse Now, he realized that he lacked self-confidence as an actor.
  • Francis Ford Coppola offered him a small part in the end of the movie, which Glenn saw as an opportunity to learn from Marlon Brando and other great actors.
  • After Apocalypse Now, Glenn returned to LA with newfound self-confidence and arrogance.
  • He was locked out of Universal Studios due to his arrogance and had to prove himself again.

Burt Lancaster’s movie star lessons. (00:17:41)

  • Scott Glenn, an 85-year-old legendary actor, felt he had become a "show business politician" in Los Angeles and moved to Idaho to pursue his interests.
  • While in Idaho, he received a call from a friend offering him a small part in a movie in Mexico, where he met Burt Lancaster.
  • Despite initial reservations, Lancaster was impressed with Glenn's wife's pottery and commissioned her for a piece.
  • Lancaster recognized Glenn's acting potential and offered him valuable advice on the differences between stage and film acting.
  • Glenn emphasizes the importance of hard work and dedication, having learned from a versatile mentor who was an aerialist, traveled with a carnival, and fought in tough man contests.

The birth and death of Wes Hightower. (00:23:21)

  • Scott Glenn, now 85, landed a role in the movie "Urban Cowboy" while on a road trip with his wife.
  • After meeting a real-life bank robber and bull rider in prison, he accepted the role and learned bull riding techniques from him.
  • With the support of the director, Jim Bridges, and the cast, including Deborah Winger and John Travolta, Glenn secured the role and made his mark in the film industry.
  • Glenn's life changed after starring in "Urban Cowboy" without auditioning again, leading him to decline TV series offers to focus on acting and outdoor activities in Idaho.
  • While playing the character "West High Tower," Glenn became so immersed in the role that it affected his personal life, causing his wife to leave him temporarily.
  • Realizing the impact of his performance, Glenn symbolically ended the "West High Tower" persona and returned to Idaho.
  • Upon his return, he found scripts for lead roles in movies offering substantial money, marking a significant turning point in his career.

Catching the attention of James Bridges. (00:32:37)

  • Scott Glenn met James Bridges after Ed Peron recommended him for a role in a movie.
  • Bridges was impressed with Glenn's acting and decided to write the script for Urban Cowboy with him in mind.
  • Glenn's screen test involved a confrontation with a "Bandido Texas" while Deborah Winger was performing a bull ride.
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Scarlet fever. (00:35:57)

  • Scott Glenn's initial dream was to become a writer, not an actor.
  • At the age of 9, he contracted scarlet fever and was critically ill.
  • Crystalline penicillin, a thick substance, was used to save his life.
  • The experience of fighting for his life transformed him into an athlete.
  • He developed a love for his fantasies and imagination during this time.
  • Glenn believed he was directly related to Lord Byron on his mother's side.
  • After recovering from scarlet fever, his bones were soft and he limped for almost 4 years.
  • To overcome his physical frailty and embarrassment, he became an athlete.

From Marine to police reporter. (00:37:44)

  • Decided to pursue a life of adventure and writing instead of an imaginary one.
  • Enlisted in the Marine Corps for six months as a reservist due to limited technical abilities and hearing loss.
  • After completing his service, worked as a police reporter for the Kenosha Daily News despite not knowing how to type.
  • Witnessed a shooting incident and covered the story, leading to his appointment as a police reporter.
  • Realized that being a police reporter involved more than just covering exciting crimes and often required interviewing people in difficult situations.
  • Started acting in high school and college, performing in plays and musicals.
  • Moved to New York City to pursue acting professionally and landed his first role in the play "The Impossible Years".
  • Gained recognition for his performances in films such as "The Right Stuff", "Silverado", and "The Hunt for Red October".
  • Continued to act in both leading and supporting roles throughout his career, appearing in over 100 films and television shows.

Berghof Studios and parental advice. (00:42:27)

  • After receiving feedback on his stiff dialogue, Scott Glenn took an acting class in New York and instantly felt a connection to the craft.
  • His father, who had a background in gambling and drinking, advised him not to set deadlines for his acting career and to fully commit if he loved it.
  • Glenn's father, who came from poverty, valued the help he received from charities like the Salvation Army and left his former lifestyle to sell tools after meeting Scott's mother.
  • Scott's mother, who also grew up in poverty, was a loving and physically artistic person who had access to ballet lessons through a wealthy aunt.
  • Scott's parents had a functional and loving family, and he was raised with unconditional love, although his father once hit him for making his mother cry, demonstrating the importance of respecting and listening to his parents.

Converting to Judaism. (00:50:59)

  • Scott Glenn converted to Judaism in preparation for his marriage to Carol.
  • His friend, Rabbi Milton Badle, initially hesitated to perform the conversion due to his conservative beliefs and doubts about Glenn's knowledge of Judaism.
  • Glenn explained that his motivation for converting was to protect Carol from potential anti-Semitism during their travels.
  • Rabbi Badle was impressed by Glenn's sincerity and agreed to convert him.
  • Glenn underwent a conversion process while simultaneously performing in an Off-Broadway play.
  • Rabbi Badle provided guidance and direction during the conversion process, acting as a mentor and director.
  • Glenn's Jewish name after the conversion is Abraham Ephraim Ben Abraham.

Lao Tzu: the ultimate mystic? (00:53:51)

  • Scott Glenn finds Lao Tzu's writings resonate with him as an honest description of inner and outer truth.
  • He believes that the mystical side of religion is the practical side, while orthodoxy is the impractical side.
  • Orthodoxy is under fire and diminishing because it is not practical and does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
  • Mysticism tries to dissolve the ego altogether, while orthodoxy tries to preserve the ego.
  • Glenn believes that there is something in him that will continue after he dies, but he does not believe that he as an individual will continue.

“Crazy Whitefella Thinking.” (01:03:08)

  • Scott Glenn was offered a regular role in the final season of "The Leftovers," which included a challenging seven-page monologue.
  • To memorize the monologue, Glenn applied positive reinforcement techniques he learned from the book "Don't Shoot the Dog," starting from the end and gradually working his way through.
  • During filming, director Mimi Leder suggested that Glenn have a part of himself watch his performance to allow for more direction, which he initially resisted but eventually agreed to try.
  • Glenn's approach to staying fit at 85 includes waking up early and looking in the mirror to remind himself to stay out of the way and let things happen naturally, avoiding editorial decisions or trying to force big moments.
  • Glenn's manager advised him to avoid seeking external validation, such as Emmy or Oscar awards, and to stay focused on his craft.

Getting out of the way and Erwan Le Corre. (01:08:46)

  • Scott Glenn talks about his experience working with Vince Vaughn on the set of "Bad Monkey".
  • Vince Vaughn suggested they improvise a scene instead of following the script, which Glenn found refreshing and liberating.
  • Glenn realized that he shouldn't edit himself or the character he was playing and that the best performances come from spontaneity.
  • Glenn discusses his approach to staying fit at 85 years old.
  • He emphasizes the importance of staying active and moving your body regularly.
  • Glenn also mentions the benefits of eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.
  • He believes that staying fit is essential for maintaining a high quality of life as you age.

Lessons from the “morally phenomenal” Marlon Brando. (01:12:06)

  • Marlon Brando supported two villages in the Philippines with his pay and kept it a secret.
  • Brando taught Scott Glenn that acting is not about squeezing something out of a moment, but seeing what the moment presents.
  • There are two basic schools of acting: the Russian school (Stanislavski) which focuses on the character's internal emotions, and the RADA technique which focuses on external characteristics.
  • Brando used a mix of techniques, sometimes using a mirror to create an expression, other times using audio recordings to help him improvise.
  • Brando believed that the little girl who was dancing freely had more potential to be a great actress than the one who was hiding behind her mother's dress, as she didn't need permission to express herself.

How Scott’s childhood bout with scarlet fever informed his life’s course. (01:16:41)

  • Scott Glenn had scarlet fever as a child, which damaged his auditory nerves and left him with hearing loss.
  • As a result of his hearing loss, Scott developed the ability to read lips.
  • Scarlet fever also led Scott to discover his love for physical activity and sports.
  • Scott believes that his experience with scarlet fever shaped his life and led him to become an actor.
  • Scott Glenn maintains his fitness by following a regular workout routine.
  • His routine includes cardio, strength training, and stretching.
  • Scott also emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet and adequate sleep.
  • He believes that staying fit is essential for maintaining his health and well-being.

Daily routines and exercises of an in-shape 85-year-old. (01:19:20)

  • Scott Glenn, an 85-year-old legendary actor, follows a unique fitness routine to stay active and fit.
  • His morning routine includes physical exercises like ear massages, horizontal breathing, head tapping, humming, and "baby fit" movements.
  • Glenn incorporates functional movements and exercises that are easy on his joints and tendons, such as bear crawls, kettlebell swings, push-ups, and resistance band exercises.
  • He emphasizes the importance of recovery and rest, focusing on breathing and meditation, particularly on the diaphragm, which he believes is the most important muscle.
  • Glenn learned about the significance of breathwork from natural movement expert Irun Lur and practices six breath holds, each with increasing difficulty and diminishing rest periods, three times a week.
  • He meditates on peace, clarity, and focus during his breath holds, which have helped improve his physical and mental well-being.
  • Glenn aims to achieve a two-minute breath hold by the time he turns 86, currently at a minute and 40 seconds.

Securing a serendipitous skill set. (01:35:27)

  • Scott Glenn credits his success to unexpected opportunities that arose throughout his life.
  • Despite not considering himself exceptionally intelligent, he excels as a firearms instructor due to extensive experience rather than natural talent.
  • Glenn's acting career took off when he accidentally joined the Actors Studio and received exceptional training from renowned acting coach Lee Strasberg.
  • He gained valuable skills in combat shooting from experts like Scotty Reeds and scuba diving from legendary diver James Stewart, both encounters happening by chance.
  • Glenn's interest in skydiving led him to meet a four-time world champion who offered to teach him freefalling techniques.

Thailand talk. (01:42:28)

  • Scott Glenn is going to Thailand to film a TV show called White Lotus.
  • He wants to learn the basics of Krabi Krabong, a Thai martial art.
  • He plans to visit Lumpini Stadium or Rajadamnern Stadium to watch Muay Thai fights.
  • He recalls filming a movie in Thailand called Off Limits and losing filming locations due to the King's 60th birthday celebration.
  • Two of his friends who were in the movie, Gregory Hines and Fred Ward, have passed away.
  • Fred Ward was an accomplished athlete and trained Muay Thai with Scott Glenn in Thailand.
  • Scott Glenn had adventures in Thailand and saw a lot of Muay Thai.

Increasing surface luck. (01:46:33)

  • There are different degrees of luck, some of which are outside of our control.
  • One way to increase the surface area for luck to stick is by being a good student.
  • Scott Glenn suggests not arguing with a Jewish girl from Brooklyn, as they will win and lead you in a better direction.

How Scott met and fell in love with his wife. (01:47:19)

  • Scott Glenn met his wife, Carol, in a New York movie theater, and they instantly connected.
  • Despite initial hesitation, Scott pursued Carol, who had a date that night but chose to stay with him instead.
  • They have been together for approximately 55 years.
  • Scott Glenn, an 85-year-old actor known for his tough guy roles, admires his wife's lineage of Jewish rabbis and Israeli air force members.
  • Carol has a unique quality that makes people seek her approval and want her validation.
  • She is funny and doesn't take Scott Glenn too seriously, which he appreciates.

“Just dance.” (01:53:19)

  • Scott Glenn was advised to focus solely on dance to improve his skills.
  • He stopped other activities like acting, martial arts, and wrestling to dedicate himself to dance.

Mistakenly calling Rudolf Nureyev Russian. (01:54:01)

  • Scott Glenn met Rudolf Nureyev while filming "The Right Stuff" in San Francisco.
  • Nureyev corrected Glenn when he mistakenly referred to him as Russian, clarifying that he was Ukrainian.
  • Nureyev showcased exceptional physical fitness, such as descending a flight of stairs on his hands.
  • Glenn observed the remarkable athleticism of ballet dancers like Nureyev and Makarova, who displayed incredible feats of strength and agility.

Poetry (01:56:12)

  • Poetry is one of the most elemental ways humans communicate deep ideas and feelings.
  • Scott Glenn believes he is directly related to Lord Byron, a famous poet.
  • During the pandemic, Scott Glenn wrote a lot of poetry, which he calls "observations."
  • He discovered that he liked his wife, Carol, better than anyone else he knew during the pandemic.
  • His book, "Friction Zone," came out of the pandemic and is a collection of his poetry.
  • The metaphor of "friction zone" is about trusting your body to do the right thing, like when riding a motorcycle.

What Laurence Olivier knew about the value of tenacity. (02:00:16)

  • Tenacity is the most important quality for success.
  • Keep getting back up after being knocked down.
  • Don't give up on your dreams, no matter how many times you fail.
  • Laurence Olivier, one of the greatest actors of all time, attributed his success to tenacity.
  • Olivier said that if you stay persistent and never give up, eventually you will achieve your goals.

Parting thoughts. (02:01:56)

  • Legendary actor Scott Glenn, at 85 years old, emphasizes the importance of having a clear purpose and blueprint in life to stay fit and motivated.
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