Richard Dreyfuss

Who Mentored Richard Dreyfuss?

Interview  Watch the video of Richard Dreyfuss.

Watch a public service announcement featuring Richard Dreyfuss in support of National Mentoring Month.

Richard Dreyfuss is a well-known stage and screen actor. His films include Jaws,The Goodbye Girl, and Mr. Holland’s Opus.

Someone asked me, why was Rose Jane such a great teacher? And I said, because she believed that we were as great as we thought we were. She was an extraordinary drama teacher who filled us with confidence. And confidence, as an artist, is incredibly important.

I had a teacher who expected us to fail all the time. And yet somehow, everything I came to love in my life I learned in her class. Because she had no patience for us. “Come on. Shakespeare. Come on, let’s go.” And I swear, when Mr. Holland’s Opus opened and I was thinking about Mrs. Wilcox, I tracked her down. Because I realized this weird thing, that I owed her something. I had always told the story of this grumpy woman. But I found her in San Diego. I called her up and said, you won’t remember me but I was in Horseman Elementary in 1962. And I want you to know that everything I ever came to love — history, Shakespeare — I learned in your class. And she said, “Thank you very much,” and hung up.

And I swear, those two people, those two teachers clearly and profoundly affected who I am.


Giving back, or being part of a community, and sensing your obligation or sensing the weave of community, is not only a good and decent thing, it’s been the goal of western civilization for 5,000 years. It shouldn’t be thought of as something extraordinary. It should be thought of as business as usual.

On an individual basis, it’s fun. It’s fun to see the light in someone’s eyes. It’s fun to give your own eccentric experience and have it land. That’s fun. And you live longer. You live in their thought, and their thought, and their thought. For whatever reason that we fear death, it’s always nicer to think, someone will be thinking of me in 200 years, or someone will be thinking my thought. Or I will have contributed to that thought that still lives.