Broadway Legend Michael Crawford on Gene Kelly

For, Matt Wolf interviews Broadway legend (and former Phantom of the Opera) Michael Crawford. Among the topics they cover is Gene Kelly’s direction in Hello Dolly! (1969).

The section citing Gene is reprinted below; the rest of the interview may be found here.

Your screen role as Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly! got a new burst of attention from the Oscar-winning animated film Wall-E.
I suddenly had street cred! [Laughs.] I had this enquiry asking would I mind if they used me singing “It Only Takes a Moment” for a Pixar film, and I thought that was the end of that. Suddenly I get a letter saying that they had used it and it was in this film and would I like to see a preview. So there I am in this empty cinema in [London’s] Soho with my three Australian grandchildren, and I’m in tears at the opening title alone, it was so moving. Then I had dinner one evening with Andrew Stanton, the director, in Los Angeles. He said that out all of the films he had seen, this was the most innocent and appealing love song. I told him that when I was cast, [director] Gene Kelly told me he was looking for an “attractive idiot” and his wife thought me attractive and he thought me an idiot so I got the role! [Laughs.]

What do you remember about the experience of filming that actual number?
When I sang the song—when we recorded it—there were tears in my eyes; my face went all sorts of shapes! Here I was, a naive young man singing to this beautiful girl, and I couldn’t believe I’d found love. It was a delightful song to sing honestly and sensitively. When we finished it, Gene went “Cut!” and held me; he was the most wonderful man.


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