‘Kominsky Method’ mines tales of declining health and relevance
Chuck Lorre’s latest TV project, “The Kominsky Method,” premieres Friday on Netflix.
The gentle, 10-episode comedy stars Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin as LA acting coach Sandy Kominsky (Douglas) and his longtime agent/friend, Norman Newlander (Arkin), whose emotional bond deepens following the death of Norman’s wife, Eileen (Susan Sullivan) as the friends face mortality and the realities of advancing age — aggravated by the reapparance of Norman’s estranged drug-addict daughter, Daphne (Lisa Edelstein).
Lorre, 66 — who co-created CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” “Mom” and “Two and a Half Men” (among others) — spoke to The Post about “The Kominsky Method” and the 12th and final season of “The Big Bang Theory.”
The effects of aging play a big part in “The Kominsky Method” (enlarged prostates feature prominently). Did something spark this idea?
Well, between myself and my peers we’re all getting older and dealing with issues of losing loved ones and health issues and feelings of irrelevance, when you’re on a cultural bullet train and … you don’t necessarily know what’s going on half the time. There are other issues as well — dealing with grown children, both the good and the bad of it. I also wanted this to be an homage to the craft of acting.
Did you have to do any research into prostate problems?
How old are you? You’ll be doing the research soon. Hang in there, it’s a joy (laughs). It’s helpful that it can be laughed at; there’s no real alternative other than shrugging and laughing at entropy. I felt like this is an arena that had a lot of wonderful stories I wanted to tell — again, not just the physical stuff, but dealing with grown children and just navigating your relevance in this world as you get older. Thank God Michael and Alan said yes — otherwise that first script would’ve become a doorstop.
Tell me about Norman and Sandy.
Actually, the character of Norman is drawn from several people I’ve known over the years — one an agent and one not. A big part of that character, and another thing I’ve been fortunate enough to witness, [is] that really long, loving relationship between two people that lasts decades. Those have become rare, and when you see it, and are around it, it’s wonderful. It’s very much a part of Norman’s character … He’s absolutely, unconditionally in love with his wife after 40 some odd years.
Sandy is initially self-centered but eventually grows as a person.
That moment when he leaves their house [after visiting a dying Eileen for the first time] and throws his arms around Norman, that was really a wonderful moment to see, for me. Without words, that spoke to something shifting in Sandy, coming to visit this woman who, as gracefully as possible, is planning for her own death. Michael read that first script and I got a phone call and he said, “Let’s talk.” A lot has to be said for the bravery of this actor. He’s shown it his entire career, picking parts that are not necessarily easy or graceful or elegant. He never flinched when we were doing this.
Why is “The Big Bang Theory” ending?
It began with a conversation with [star] Jim Parsons, who wanted this to be our final season and wanted to move on and do other things. I just couldn’t in my wildest dreams imagine “The Big Bang Theory” without Sheldon — frankly, I couldn’t do the show without any of the principal [cast members]. The ensemble became this beautiful, precise, wonderful comic engine. I might be choking on tears if it’s too close to the ending; it’s going to be really hard to say goodbye to this. It has been, for the most part, 12 years of absolute joy. What a rarity that is: to have fun and be proud of the work and enjoy the camaraderie on a show. It’s going to be a hard thing to let go of.
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