The importance of seeing Borgnine in 'Red'

Ernest Borgnine and Bruce Willis star in RED,

Ernest Borgnine and Bruce Willis star in RED, directed by Robert Schwentke and released by Summit Entertainment on October 15, 2010. (Credit: Frank Masi)

The spy movie-action thriller-comedy "Red" may have more Oscar winners per capita than any movie of recent memory - Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Richard Dreyfuss and, yes, Ernest Borgnine, who has only a couple of scenes in the Robert Schwentke- directed film, but after nearly six decades as an actor shows no real signs of slowing down.

"Slowing down?" the actor said. "Hell, no, I'm just getting started."

He actually did more work just a few years ago, Borgnine conceded. "People look at you and say, 'He's an old man, he can't do that.' But I'm only 93. I'm still going strong."

The actor, who was the unforgettable Fatso Judson in 1953's "From Here to Eternity," won a best actor Oscar for "Marty" (1955) and starred in TV's "McHale's Navy" from 1962 to 1966, is busy influencing yet another generation of viewers - he regularly voices Mermaid Man on Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants." In "Red," he plays Henry, the Records Keeper, who provides Bruce Willis' Frank Moses with information he probably shouldn't have, and does it from what is supposed to be the CIA's subterranean nerve center. It was actually an old-style bank vault in Toronto.

"I tell you, that safe was the thing that scared me," Borgnine said. "I said, 'Anybody got the number for this safe? In case anything happens?' And they said, 'Oh, no, that's why we have three fellows standing by here, just in case it shuts, 'cause we don't know the combination.' I said, 'Thanks a lot.' "

Borgnine's contribution to "Red" was so brief that, outside of Willis, he never got to meet his co-stars. "It was bing, bang, boom, thank you, ma'am, and I was gone," he said. "But Bruce was in my scene and he'd be walking back and forth and occasionally come up and put his arm around me and give me a squeeze. And I thought that was very nice, you know? After a couple of times, I thought he wanted to go steady."

It would have been nice to have met everybody else, he said, "although I know Morgan Freeman from way back. And as far as Helen Mirren goes, I'd be shot by her anytime."

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