Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, and More Draw Crowds at Tribeca Film Festival Premiere

Scores of actors including Tribeca Film Festival founder De Niro attacted some of the biggest crowds of the festival at the premiere of ‘It Takes A Lunatic,’ a documentary about renowned acting coach Wynn Handman.

Billy Lyons, Robert De Niro, Wynn Handman, Michael Douglas, and Richard Gere at the premiere of 'It Takes a Lunatic.'

Saving the best for last is typically the MO at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the 2019 festival was no exception.

On Friday evening (the second-to-last night of the festival) some of the biggest names in film gathered in Lower Manhattan for the world premiere of It Takes a Lunatic, the debut documentary by director Billy Lyons about the life and work of legendary acting teacher Wynn Handman. Former students and famous friends of Handman, including festival founder Robert De Niro, Tony Roberts, Annaleigh Ashford, Michael Douglas, and Richard Gere attended the screening. The latter two appear in the film.

Billy Lyons and Wynn Handman at the premiere of ‘It Takes a Lunatic’ in Tribeca.

Douglas, who studied under Handman as a young actor, offered up an intimate (and somewhat gross) anecdote about Handman’s impact on his career.

“Before I was his student, when I was in college, I had stage fright, and I used to, before I went on stage, I had a wastebasket I’d get sick in,” Douglas revealed with a laugh. “I struggled with my confidence early on, so I’m grateful that Wynn Handman really helped me and gave me my confidence.”

Michael Douglas at the premiere of ‘It Takes a Lunatic’ in Tribeca.

In the film, Douglas, along with a host of other successful actors, delves even deeper into his former mentor’s teaching methods and legacy.

But not every one-time student of Handman’s got the chance to speak about the him in the doc. Tony Roberts, for instance, spent many years under Handman’s direction. The film and theater star, who boasts a decades-long career of his own, took the opportunity to comment on his teacher at the premiere.

“Just being in Wynn’s presence is always such a positive learning experience, and he’s such a kind man,” Roberts said. “I started studying with him when I was about 22 years old, and I miss him.”

Roberts explained that he last worked with 97-year-old Wynn on a play roughly 30 years ago, and saw him most recently at an event honoring the renowned teacher around ten years ago. Wynn’s lessons have clearly had a lasting impact on students, however, because Roberts spoke highly of the icon despite their years apart.

“[He is] sensible, kind, productive, and enthusiastic about acting,” Roberts said. “I’m sure [audiences] will love him. I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t.”

Wynn himself briefly spent time greeting guests at the premiere’s red carpet before Lyons helped him into the theater.


Written by Hillary Maglin