“I thought I couldn't be killed, I thought I was immortal, and I thought I would always be smarter and faster. ... And the other reason was, of course, that while I knew I was immortal, I also knew that I was a worthless piece of dog dung and I couldn't stand myself and I would do anything to not be me,” he said.
“Every once in awhile I would do something that if it had been just a millisecond different, I would not be here today. I would either be dead or be in prison.”
After his fateful 1982 car accident, Dreyfuss entered a rehabilitation program and made his career comeback in Paul Mazursky's popular 1986 comedy “Down and Out in Beverly Hills.” He was nominated again for an Oscar for his performance in the title role of the 1995 musical drama “Mr. Holland's Opus.”
More recently, the native New Yorker played Vice President Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone's biopic “W.,” a megalomaniacal military contractor in the actioner “RED” and a Tulsa drug kingpin in Oklahoma-born and bred actor/filmmaker Tim Blake Nelson's indie black comedy “Leaves of Grass.”
Calling himself semi-retired from acting, Dreyfuss in the past few years has taught at Oxford University, studied a wide range of subjects from history to politics and passionately campaigned to bring civics courses and critical thinking back to U.S. classrooms.
Expressing a desire that his keynote would make the audience think, Dreyfuss encouraged recent graduates of Mission Academy to reach beyond sobriety.
“Remember, sobriety is a fabulous goal, but is it better to be a sober wife beater than a man who drinks occasionally and loves his family?” he said.
“You have (graduated from) a sober high school, I commend you. I truly commend you. But as you grow up, you'll find that what also counts is good acts and moral behavior and being kind and patient and being a loving parent and husband.”