There's a man small of stature but incredibly big on talent and Hollywood luster at the center of the box-office blockbuster Night at the Museum, which to date has raked in more than $563 million globally. Just before reuniting with ol' Rexy, Mickey Rooney — who in the Ben Stiller-fronted comedy plays Gus, a night watchman with a surprising agenda — gave TVGuide.com a call to tout Museum's Tuesday DVD release.
TVGuide.com: I understand you're on your way to the Museum of Natural History to bid "Rexy" [Night at the Museum's two-ton, 13-foot-tall T-rex model] farewell.
Mickey Rooney: That's right. [Chuckles] He's going on a cross-country trip.
TVGuide.com: I wonder if he thinks to himself, "Meh, I'm too old for this."
Rooney: As do I! But it's interesting, everybody likes Night at the Museum.
TVGuide.com: What does it mean to you at this stage of your career to be part of a family-friendly blockbuster like this?
Rooney: I was happy to play with some of the greatest people in the business. Ben Stiller... my wife Jan and I knew his parents years ago when I was doing Sugar Babies. Jerry Stiller stopped my wife once in the street and said, "Jan, Jan! I want you to know how much we loved Sugar Babies." Robin Williams, he just sent me a [Night at the Museum] script bound beautifully with a picture of him as President Roosevelt. I was so touched, that shows the kind of person he is. And Dick Van Dyke and I made a picture together a long time ago called The Comic.
TVGuide.com: What was your reaction when you found out you and Dick Van Dyke would be working together again?
Rooney: Oh, it was wonderful. We had a lot of fun.
TVGuide.com: Do you two have the impetus now to launch a series of Abbott and Costello-esque movie capers? Like "Mickey and Dick Meet the Mummy"?
Rooney: No, no.... But we'll let it happen if that's what people want!
TVGuide.com: Was there one part of the movie that was most enjoyable for you to do?
Rooney: No, there's not just one. It's like a business, you don't take it apart. You do everything as it comes along. All of us played off each other so well.
TVGuide.com: You, like Museum's museum, must possess some Ancient Egyptian artifact at home that keeps you young, right?
Rooney: [Laughs] No. I've got news for you: My wife Jan and I have been married 34 years....
TVGuide.com: And that's what keeps you young?
Rooney: You bet!
TVGuide.com: So what do you think about these Museum "kids," Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson?
Rooney: Oh, just wonderful. Just fantastic. They really delivered.
TVGuide.com: They're serving this generation of comedy well?
Rooney: Yes, you bet.
TVGuide.com: What's your take on the state of today's comedy? Are you ever taken aback by what's out there?
Rooney: I don't want to be quoted about that. [Laughs] Everybody has their time and place, and you've just got to let it happen.
TVGuide.com: Which of your many, many roles were you most nervous going into?
Rooney: I was never nervous doing any of them. I'm a professional. I do what I do because that's what I do!
TVGuide.com: It wasn't a matter of you having any reservations about playing such an abrasive type?
Rooney: No, no, no....
TVGuide.com: You would have had it in you?
Rooney: Yes, you bet.
TVGuide.com: If Judy Garland were still with us today, do you think she would still be acting, as you are?
Rooney: Oh, I have no idea, but I certainly would hope so. I did seven musicals with her, and the songs were songs that people will remember — "Girl Crazy,""Strike Up the Band." And then of course I did Black Stallion, and a picture I made here in New York with Anthony Quinn, Requiem for a Heavyweight....
TVGuide.com: What else do you have going on these days?
Rooney: Jan and I are touring the country with our show called Let's Put on a Show.
TVGuide.com: Great title there. I "wonder" where it came from....
Rooney: Well, that's right, I used to say that [in several film roles]. But Jan and I are going to be doing that.
TVGuide.com: A little singing, a little dancing...?
Rooney: Right, and some jokes. Music, music, music — with lyrics you can understand! We were off-Broadway a couple of years ago, for about five weeks, and it went rather well. We both sing, and we have a live trio, film clips — maybe some obscure ones people haven't seen. It's a little bit about our life together. We have a lot of fun.
TVGuide.com: Aside from the tour, anything else? Maybe Dancing with the Stars?
Rooney: No, no. [Laughs] C'mon! I've got other things to do!
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