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Q and A With Garry Marshall

The renowned director discusses his new film, New Year's Eve, plus the secrets to his health.
By Stephanie Stephens
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Seventy-seven-year-old Garry Marshall has directed some of the most popular movies in recent times, including Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, and The Princess Diaries. He also worked on hit TV shows, including The Lucy Show, Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, Laverne and Shirley, and The Odd Couple. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Marshall's whole family was involved in show business. His mother ran a tap dance school; his father created industrial films (and later became a producer); his sister is actress Penny Marshall and his brother is TV producer Ronny Marshall Hallin. Garry Marshall sat down with WebMD the Magazine and told us about staying healthy on the set, his thoughts about aging, and his secret health weapon: napping.

For your newest film, New Year's Eve, you just directed an ensemble cast of stars, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert De Niro, and Ashton Kutcher. How didyou keep track of everybody?

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Sometimes, I couldn't figure out where they all were! Seriously, though, it was a lot of stars who were never all together but were shooting different days, different locations. A lot of them came to the Dec. 5 premiere in Hollywood.

You've directed popular films, including Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, and Valentine's Day, last year's "prequel" to New Year's Eve. What's to love about this latest movie that, to quote from the film's web site, "celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances, and fresh starts?"

It's about decisions and what to do with your life. I like to do love stories, and this was a chance to do romantic comedy with intertwining stories. It's a kind of raucous, partying love letter to New York City that was influenced by Billy Wilder's [1960] film, The Apartment. I always try to make work that lasts, that you'll want to watch more than once.

What New Year's health resolutions do you make every year?

When you get to my age, you get whacked. Things happen with your health, but it has all worked out. My sister, Penny, and I -- despite what the gossip says about her -- we take care of ourselves. We just try to stay healthy and to be with happy people.

What starring role does your family play in your health?

I've been married to Barbara for 48 years. She's a nurse, and I listen to what she tells me. I also chase six grandchildren -- two 16-year-old twins, and kids ages 8, 6, 4, and 3.

Your mother was a dance instructor. Did you ever dance to keep in shape?

My mother danced all her life, but I was no good. I was a drummer, though, and I still play. I also play softball and I swim.

During long shooting days, how do you make time for physical activity?

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