”My latest project is coming out the end of November, Vienna, which is for initial broadcast on YouTube.com. It’s about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. I’m Freud and my old colleague, Stacy Keach is Jung. We did this on our computers through Zoom. Stacy did this from home in Poland, and I was in Bridgehampton, together with a writer, Jim McGrath. I don’t know how the whole thing works!” This description is from the highly credentialed, accredited actor, Harris Yulin who celebrated his 84th birthday this month.
You’d recognize Yulin from his abundance of roles in movies, television shows and plays. For example, he actually goes back with Stacy Keach to 1971 when they both starred in Doc, one of Yulin’s first film roles. Keach played Doc Holliday and Yulin portrayed Wyatt Earp.
Prior to Vienna, Yulin participated in a reading of The Soap Myth at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. Yulin is interested in content related to the Holocaust. This play has had a whole schedule of readings where Yulin was preceded by Richard Dreyfus and the late Ed Asner.
Yulin says, “The Holocaust continues to be a topic of plays, movies and new written material because it was a period so horrific having taken place in the Western world. It has garnered more impact for many reasons. Such an event continues to come to some kind of understanding beyond blaming the perpetrators. …How did this happen? How can people get to this point when they could commit such acts?”
Another Hamptons credit from several years ago was when Yulin starred as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.
Yulin began renting places in the Hamptons about 25 years ago. “(Then) about 17 years ago I decided to buy in Bridgehampton. The ocean is the main reason. I was brought up by the ocean in California. It is the ‘great mother’ for me. It is close to New York where I often work.”
Yulin occasionally travels to California for work and some leisure. “My favorite spots are in Mendocino County and San Francisco. I like the Sonoma wine country. I enjoy the Big Sur in Monterey.”
As a character actor often called upon for authoritative, imperious parts, Yulin is remembered for his role as a crooked police officer in the 1983 film Scarface. “It was a surprise to me that this production would become such a major hit. I never figured it would have such an impact where it has become a cult in some respects. People still come up to me 40 years later and ask me about this movie.”
But Yulin’s most challenging role? “The first half of Lear was one of the most difficult parts I had to master. And I have played Claudius three times trying to get it right. And, Propsero, I would like to improve on that …”
Harris Yulin has done his fair share of directing and is a recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award for Directing for The Trip to Bountiful at Manhattan’s Signature Theatre.
Yulin waxes on one of his contemporaries, the late Eli Wallach (a Hamptonite) who he sometimes collaborated with, and who worked right up until his passing at age 98. “In his later years, he could seem somewhat uncertain. Yet, when he started playing a scene, he was transformed into a much younger, more active, more vigorous man … an amazing actor. … I watched him with awe. I hope I can go on with some of that energy and quality …”
Watch Harris Yulin in Ozark seasons 1 and 2 (2017–18) on Netflix. He is actively writing a one-character play — part autobiography, part fiction — connected with William Shakespeare.