Over the years I have had the opportunity to interview many interesting people and I would say actor Wayne Diamond, who plays the “high roller” part in the motion picture Uncut Gems, is on top of the list as a colorful, high energy, positive thinking, living the dream of success type of guy. If or when you see this movie you will forever know Mr. Wayne Diamond for his performance in this film. It is a career maker. Diamond has also been a huge presence in the Hamptons for over 30 years. He explained, “I personally know the real billionaires out there and the ones who say they are, but really aren’t.”
It’s no wonder the man who made tens of millions at a time revolutionizing what sort of dresses women would wear back in the 1970’s is the talk of audiences after they see Uncut Gems. “I always knew I wanted to be an actor and work in the garment industry. One day my dad said, when the acting wasn’t going that well, ‘Wayne, you belong in the garment center. You are a born garment salesman.’ So, I listened to my dad.” He stated that was the best advice he ever received in his whole life.
In the wide-ranging interview, Diamond opened up about who he is – although never revealing his age, only saying he was older than I am and I am 67-years-old. I asked him what was the first defining moment in his life? He said, “It happen at a place called Morgan’s, near the garment district in NYC. I was sitting at a table with some of the older guys (successful in the garment industry) and I was easily the youngest successful guy – like 23, and all the boys bought me a bottle of Dewar’s (scotch) and put my name on it and put it behind the bar. I was now one of them. Along with my Bar Mitzvah, it was the most defining moment of my life.”
As far as being in his first big-time motion picture, I asked Diamond what was his first impression when he met Adam Sandler? He said, “I saw him playing on a basketball court out on Long Island, he was playing with all these big guys. I was really impressed, he came over, shook my hand, a real mensch! So nice, incredible, just a nice guy. Not like some protected people, Adam is a regular down to earth super, super individual.”
I had to ask Diamond what was his first impression seeing himself on the screen at the film’s opening night? He said, “Everybody asks that question to me. When you see yourself, you’re embarrassed. When I came on to screen, after the helicopter, everybody in the audience was laughing and going in unison, ‘Wayne, Wayne, Wayne!’ This opening was in Toronto, I did the red carpet. I like to make people laugh, I always have, But seeing myself was insane, I was embarrassed, I felt like hiding under the seat! I looked like this cartoon character. I was hiding I just couldn’t look at myself.”
Diamond noted he quit his first job when asked to shine his boss’ shoes. He explained, “I didn’t go to college to shine guys’ shoes.” He moved on to create one of the first high end brands. He shared, “My brands were the first high end disco dresses. They were in demand, everyone at every disco across the U.S. wore them.” Wayne Diamond was there, maybe at the starting line when the eggcorn of branded women’s fashion became the tree.
Then I asked him what was his best decision? He replied, “Retirement and going into acting. I made my money, I was done, I had a big home in Old Westbury, and had a luxury condo on Fisher’s Island, one of the biggest and most gorgeous, and I said to Helen, ‘I have enough, I don’t need any pressure, I don’t need any of this. Let’s sell the house and the condo and move to the City.'” After a lot of looking, Diamond chose the Upper East Side, but he noted, “Truthfully, I am in the Village every day.”
When asked to speak about the movie, Uncut Gems, you could hear the excitement in Diamond’s answer. He said, “I met Josh Safdie when he was young, perhaps 13 years ago. He was with Sebo [Bear-McClard]. They took my number, they said they were doing videos. Four months later, I received a call to do some music videos, which I did. I worked on a radio show for Sebo. I always had fun working together with those guys, no matter what we did. For five years they were texting me and emailing me, but I never looked at that stuff. Anyway, I got an actual phone call from the Uncut Gems casting director, and he says, ‘Sebo and the brothers [Josh and Benny Safdie] want you down here for a screen test.’ After some scheduling, we get together, they give some lines, I do the B.S. and afterwards Sebo says, ‘I love you, I love you, you are so perfect I can’t believe it.'”
Diamond went on to explain, “They asked me if I was afraid of helicopters. I had not a clue what that meant, but I learned. I showed up for my day of shooting proud that I memorized my 200 lines cold. Of course, they changed every one of them, and kept saying, ‘Wayne you were great, we are going to add more lines!'”
Finally, I asked Diamond what was the last day on the set like? He said, “The last day was so sad. We [the cast and crew] were a family by that point. We spent 16 hours working and still didn’t want to leave. You live in that moment and don’t want it to end.”
Now Diamond is ready for what’s next. He is hoping to get a larger part in another major motion picture. He mentioned he thought Adam Sandler should have been given an Oscar nomination at the least. “Adam wanted to do a serious role and did, and let me tell you, some of those rough scenes he took a beating, but he never complained,” he noted. “It was a sin he didn’t get nominated, although he won some other awards.”
The actor admitted he loved the buzz of making a major motion picture. I think we will be seeing much more of Wayne Diamond soon. There is no doubt the lens for the big screen loves his face.