Dan Aykroyd: ‘I still have the lizard brain of a 20-year-old’

The actor, 69, talks about crying over his kids, not being able to cook and still having 80% of his dance moves

I am actually one of the few people on the planet who is a heterochromiac syndactylite. I have webbed middle toes on both feet. I also have different coloured eyes: one is brown, one is green. I don’t know how many of us there are: I heard seven.

I think I still have the lizard brain of a 20-year-old. I wake up every morning and I have the same vision, the same perception – except when I start to move. The lag between my perception of how young I feel and that mobility… There’s a lag there.

I’m a terrible cook. I do not like cooking at all. I love to eat, I go into kitchens and watch fine food being prepared, but I can barely make toast.

I’ve had some shows again this summer. It was great getting back into dancing on stage, which is always exciting. I’ve still got about 80% of the moves.

Treat everyone as you’d want to be treated or better. My father had thousands of government employees. He treated everybody – from the road crew to the executives who were cutting the cheques – the same. He was a magnificent man and he was a humanist. I’m descended from spiritualists and the spiritualist community in Lily Dale, New York. It was a great tradition, very tolerant.

I’m a trypophobe. I have a fear of looking at small holes. For instance, a sunflower after the seeds have been extracted would give me the shivers.

I have come close to dying six times in various accidents, including on a boat accident and twice on a motorcycle. When I was a young actor, I fell 50ft from a warehouse ceiling and bounced off a light standard where they were hanging theatrical lights and hit the floor – I walked into the ambulance. I thought I could hop over a window, but went through the skylight. That was in my early 20s. So I’ve still got three of my nine cat lives left.

I was happiest at the birth of my daughters and then subsequently seeing them thrive and be funny and be good compassionate people.

I’m afraid of extremist human beings who take their views and their opinions to violent ends.

I inherited a kind of a short fuse from my mum and a slow fuse from my dad. So my human temperament is somewhere in between. But I’ll lose my temper if I see somebody being mistreated.

I wish I listened more. I wish I had not spoken up as much and had listened more and absorbed more instead of trying to get my own piece out there, my own two cents, always trying to be the clown in the room. That is my regret: that I haven’t listened.

When did I last cry? Oh, Jeez, I cried this morning, just looking at a picture of my kids. I’m very lugubrious, especially now, at this point in my life. An object or a photo will suddenly set me off.

I’m an optimist, 100%. If you have a vision of what you want in life, you just got to visualise it. Just visualise everything you want to happen. I know it works. I’ve written screenplays that I’ve had produced and I had nothing when I sat down with a typewriter or a word processor or my pen and paper. Nothing, just a blank mind and blank paper. You have to be an optimist to be a writer.

Dan Aykroyd is the founder of Crystal Head vodka which released its new Pride magnum in partnership with the Kaleidoscope Trust in the UK to support LGBTQ+ rights worldwide. Available from The Whisky Exchange

Roz Lewis

The GuardianTramp

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