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What Henry Winkler Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Courtesy

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked Henry Winkler — who plays Uncle Joe in The French Dispatch, out in theaters now — about the cheese, camera, and socks he can’t live without.

My dog Sadie, who is right in front of me now, will bring me a blue racquetball 24 hours a day, and she will want to run and play fetch. She’s a three-year-old Labradoodle. She was chocolate brown, and now she’s kind of gray beige. Her sister Masie is a two-year-old goldendoodle and has about ten pounds on Sadie. She’s bigger. Masie doesn’t play ball, but she lies in wait. So when I throw the ball and Sadie runs for it across the backyard, Masie leaps out of the bushes and chases Sadie, and Sadie knows every hiding place in our backyard. She will run into the rosebushes and look out as if to say, “Ha, ha, ha, ha, I faked you out.” They are unbelievable. They are so adorable. Sadie likes the racquetball because it’s smaller and blue and she can hold it in her mouth. I believe that Sadie was a soccer player in South America in another life. Her eye-and-mouth coordination, hand-to-mouth, is shocking. She plays goalie. She rests in the middle of a doorway and assumes the position and waits for you to kick the ball and will stop it from going through.

I’ve had this for a very long time. Being so dyslexic, I’ve never turned a button in my life. I thought an f-stop was a train station in Manhattan. I’m not kidding. Then I realized you could point and shoot, and now I feel like a cameraman. I feel very, very accomplished, but it’s still on the same setting since it came out of the box. I like to shoot two things. My grandkids and nature. I love reflections. I love shooting puddles. There is so much you can find in a puddle. You can find the branch of the tree behind it. You can find the building across the street. You can find the painted curb above it.

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Going to a Broadway play or the movies, which we have not done for two years, really is missing in our lives. We went to the Landmark at least once a week. I like that it is a multiplex, that there are so many movies to go to, and that the popcorn is popped, not in a plastic bag that is dumped.

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Being raised in New York, I would have to say I’ve been eating Katz’s for 50 years. Katz’s will send you dry, vacuum-packed bags of pastrami and rye bread, and then we assemble it at home. When you stand on line and wait for it, you can’t have lean. It’s got to be at least half-fatty. You can only eat half and then you got to save half of it.

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I will have to say that stinky French cheese, a great Munster on a baguette with butter, might be — I don’t know what; it’s indescribable. I get it at the Beverly Hills cheese shop, and Norbert Wabnig, the proprietor, the cheese man, helps me. It’s a soft cheese and you leave it out and it becomes room temperature and it just drizzles onto the baguette. I’m going to have to stop this interview now because I’m going into the kitchen to have some French cheese on bread.

From $825

I’ve been fly-fishing since 1986, and Winston is the first rod that I ever got in the ’80s for fly-fishing for trout. It’s a wonderfully, beautifully made rod — it’s like you’re traveling with a helper to catch a fish. And it’s my favorite color: forest green. Right now I go to Idaho, but I’ve also had the pleasure of going to New Zealand, Argentina, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming. My fly-fish style is ugly, but I catch the fish. Every time I go fishing, I put my catch on Twitter and then I give it a kiss and send it on its way and hopefully next year it’ll be larger and I’ll catch it again. I cannot even begin to tell you how during the pandemic I wept over the fact that I could not go. I go twice a year. Some people live by a stream, and I break the commandment: I envy them.

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I love a heavy cream for my coffee. The coffee comes from Gotham Roasters in New York, and they roast a blend called Brooklyn Blend with a hint of chocolate. And I can only have it with heavy cream. I mean, half-and-half is just out of the question. The heavy cream is a flavor. The addition to the Brooklyn Blend is shocking. It’s revelatory. I mean, it’s just delish. Knudsen’s, which is the Southern California heavy cream, works beautifully.

I love socks. My favorite at the moment is a muted aqua with beautiful pink trout. Wherever I see a sock store, I’m drawn to it like a divining rod to water. I like pink and green. I have cobalt blue with red lobsters. I have stripes. My sock drawer is my color wheel. I’m not loyal to any brand that doesn’t have really good elastic and falls to your ankle after two washings. That really bums me out.

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I got a call at the end of shooting Barry in November 2018: “Would you like to be in Wes Anderson’s movie?” And it’s one of those questions where there is not even a millisecond of hesitation. We finished Barry. I went to the SAG Awards. Then I flew to Paris and took a three-hour train ride down to Angoulême, in the middle of France. I stood for three hours while his incredible costume designer fit me. It took 22 minutes to get my hair curled, my mustache on, and made up because Lois Smith was going to be in that chair right after me. After I got made up, we got into a van and were taken to a room made out of velour because there are no trailers. And then I’m on set playing Bob Balaban’s brother and Adrien Brody’s uncle. Bob and I are the financiers for Adrien’s art business. While on set, we got to spend time with Benicio del Toro, who is like a dessert you don’t want to end. When Wes called my name, I thought, Oh my God, Wes Anderson is going to give me direction right now. He said, “Henry, can you move a millimeter to your left?” I said, “I can, and here I go.” What I always say is that you learn the language of Wes or you go home. I was lucky in my life to have been asked by Wes Anderson to be in his movie, honest to God.

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What Henry Winkler Can’t Live Without