“I did noth­ing wrong,’ em­bar­rassed Wil­lard says

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

LOS ANGELES — Fred Wil­lard said his re­cent lewd con­duct ar­rest at an adult movie the­atre was “very em­bar­rass­ing” but in­sisted he did noth­ing wrong.

“It’s the last time I’m go­ing to lis­ten to my wife when she says, ’Why don’t you go and see a movie?”’ Wil­lard said dur­ing an ap­pear­ance Thurs­day on Jimmy Fal­lon’s NBC show Late Night.

The 72-year-old ac­tor and Fal­lon cracked racy jokes about pos­si­ble ti­tles for the movie that might have been play­ing when Wil­lard was ar­rested July 18 dur­ing a rou­tine check by po­lice at the Hol­ly­wood-area the­atre.

Then the con­ver­sa­tion turned se­ri­ous for Wil­lard, whose cred­its in­clude the movie Best in Show and guest roles on Mod­ern Fam­ily and other TV shows.

“Fred, I know this must be a tough time,” host Fal­lon asked.

“It’s very em­bar­rass­ing. It’s as em­bar­rass­ing as hell,” Wil­lard replied. “But let me say this: Noth­ing hap­pened. I did noth­ing wrong. Ev­ery­thing is be­ing sorted out as we speak.”

He has great re­spect for the po­lice, Wil­lard added, “but if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, ev­ery­thing seems sus­pi­cious.”

He’s tried to laugh it off but the in­ci­dent is “very painful,” said Wil­lard, who was fired as nar­ra­tor of the new PBS se­ries Mar­ket War­riors im­me­di­ately af­ter his ar­rest.

The Los Angeles City At­tor­ney’s of­fice de­ter­mined that Wil­lard’s case was el­i­gi­ble for a di­ver­sion pro­gram that will keep him from be­ing for­mally charged with lewd con­duct if he com­pletes the re­quired cour­ses. Wil­lard will pay $380 for the pro­gram.

Talk shows can be use­ful for celebrity ef­forts at dam­age con­trol. In 1995, Hugh Grant vis­ited Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight af­ter be­ing ar­rested with a pros­ti­tute on Hol­ly­wood’s Sun­set Strip. Fal­lon was sym­pa­thetic to Wil­lard. “You’re a good man. ... You’re one of my favourites,” Fal­lon said, then nee­dled him with, “You can come to our show and do what­ever the heck you want, ex­cept for cer­tain things.”

Wil­lard was nom­i­nated four times for Em­mys for guest roles on Mod­ern Fam­ily and Ev­ery­body Loves Ray­mond. In Pixar’s 2008 hit WALL-E, he voiced the char­ac­ter of Shelby Forth­right, the CEO of a ubiq­ui­tous big-box chain called Buy’n’Large.

In ad­di­tion to Best in Show, Wil­lard has also ap­peared in other Christo­pher Guest mock­u­men­tary films, in­clud­ing This is Spinal Tap and Wait­ing for Guff­man.

Wil­lard is host­ing Trust Us With Your Life, an im­prov se­ries air­ing this sum­mer on ABC.

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