Rob Reiner on His ‘Idol’ Carl Reiner and the ‘Tragedy’ of Donald Trump

The 70-year-old Rob Reiner pays tribute to his 95-year-old father and laments the “tragedy” of Donald Trump at an iconic Hollywood ceremony.


HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The night before he was scheduled to place his hands and feet in cement outside the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, 95-year-old Carl Reiner tweeted, “Excited & worried about ceremony at Grauman's. Excited to be 1st father-son to put hand prints in cement & worried I wont be able to get up.”

The Daily Beast can report that he got up.

Reiner was joined by his son, director Rob Reiner — combined age: 165 — who joked that they should also dip their bald heads in the cement. “That’s never been done,” he pointed out. As Carl noted in his tweet, they were the first father and son duo to receive one of Hollywood’s greatest honors at the same time. For comparison, Kirk Douglas made his hand and footprints in 1962, but it took 35 more years before his son Michael Douglas did the same in 1997.

As spectators that included Carl’s fellow nonagenarian, All in the Family creator Norman Lear, assembled in front of the Chinese Theater Friday morning, the theme music from Rob’s film The Princess Bride played through speakers out onto Hollywood Boulevard. That film’s star Cary Elwes was also in attendance, catching up with his old friend Billy Crystal, AKA “Miracle Max,” who spoke lovingly of the pair before they took the podium together.

“I’ve known this guy for almost all of his life,” Carl said of Rob, his arm around his son’s waist as they stood side-by-side before leaving their prints in the wet cement. He said that, to this day, one of his favorite movies to sit down and watch is The Princess Bride, and not just because his son directed it. “Anytime you feel low, put on The Princess Bride and you will go away smiling,” Carl said, before quoting the iconic line — “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die” — to the crowd’s delight.

“My father was my idol, I looked up to him. He stood for everything I wanted to be in life,” Rob added. He told the story of informing his mother at eight years old that he wanted to change his name. When she told Carl that Rob had said this, he was “so upset” because he knew his son would have trouble living up to his already outsized reputation in Hollywood. He asked his son, “Robby, what do you want to change your name to?” Rob replied, “Carl.”

During his introduction, Crystal began by calling Carl Reiner a “prophet” of our current political moment because he was the one who screamed the title line in the 1966 film The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. “And he also made The Jerk,” Crystal deadpanned.

It does not take much to get Rob Reiner going on the subject of Donald Trump, who like both father and son, has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But unlike them, Trump has not put his hands in the cement. God forbid tourists could walk right up and compare their hand size to his.

“This is a tragedy of epic proportions, what we have going on in our country right now,” Rob Reiner told The Daily Beast in an interview following the ceremony. “It’s a real test to our democracy, whether we can withstand this kind of disruption. To have a president who is so ignorant, so egotistical and a pathological liar — and he definitely has some kind of mental challenges, I don’t know what it is, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Reiner, an outspoken critic of Trump both during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, has also become more political in his creative endeavors. He currently has two politically-charged films in the works — LBJ, starring Woody Harrelson as the 36th president of the United States and Shock and Awe about the run-up to the Iraq War.

Just last week, he screened LBJ at the Annapolis Film Festival in Maryland. “I had seen the film a number of times with an audience and it took on a completely different meaning now that Trump is in the White House,” Reiner said. “When you think about what’s in the White House now and when you think about — aside from Vietnam, which was a terrible tragedy — [Johnson] was a brilliant legislator and one of the most accomplished presidents in our lifetime.”

“You can’t even compare them,” he continued. “One was a thoughtful, brilliant political mind and the other one is, I don’t even know how to describe it. To hear journalists and pundits use the term ‘liar’ as much as we hear about a president of the United States, that in and of itself is astounding. The idea that we have a pathological liar running our country, you can’t even wrap your mind around it!”

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But as angry as Reiner can get about the state of the country, today he was just happy that he could celebrate this momentous occasion with his dad. “It’s pretty amazing,” he said, reflecting on the ceremony. “If you go down Hollywood Boulevard, we have our stars on the Walk of Fame, next to each other, which is really cool. But this was beyond that.”

“Growing up as a kid, I just wanted to be him,” Reiner continued of his father. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Now I literally followed in his footsteps.”