Evan Handler : feeling luckier and luckier every day.

co-written by Joanna Feldheim & DeMane Davis. photos by Mackenzie Stroh.

Mackenzie Stroh

"It's seemed like the older I've gotten, the more people have insisted I take my clothes off on camera." 

 

I met Evan Handler the Summer of 1975 on a bike trip through New England. We were 14, rode 620 miles and innocently kissed in an orange tent.

Things were so much slower in the 70's. Nicer. Puberty came in gracefully and technology wasn’t a pervasive distraction from the beauty and climb of the Blue and Green Mountains.  

 

PRITI founder, Joanna Feldheim (left) & 
actor and author, Evan Handler (right)
somewhere in Vermont, 1975.
 

Forty years later, I have become a designer, potter, devoted Iyengar yoga student, product developer, mother of two and founder of Priti Collection. Evan has become an actor, author, screenwriter, father of one and journalist— best known for SEX AND THE CITY; Showtime’s CALIFORNICATION (final season began April 13th); and two memoirs about his unlikely recovery from acute myeloid leukemia (Time On Fire: My Comedy Of Terrors and It’s Only Temporary: The Good News And Bad News of Being Alive.)

We recently caught up and he was gracious enough to answer a     few questions:    
 
JF: It's been over 20 years since your recovery from leukemia; do you still feel lucky to be alive? 

EH: Well, I'm in my fifties now, so I feel luckier and luckier every day — just for different reasons than before.

 
JF: How often does your near death experience inform your decisions and/or emotional state?  

EH: I'm not really sure it informs my decisions with any regularity. Unfortunately, I'd say it has sculpted a lot about certain emotional responses I can be prone to, even nearly thirty years on. It's important to remember, I think, that the period of danger I endured was extended. Things were acute, with my life expectancy fairly grim, for a period of five full years. And, of course, like anyone who's endured the treatments I did throughout the second half of the 1980s, I am at increased risk for any number of unappetizing long-term after effects. So, it's transitioned from a fear of something chasing me, which has gotten farther behind, to what's in front of me, which everyone deals with at some point. That's enough to settle in and establish some patterns, I'd say. 

 
JF: Do you have a routine that centers you...a daily practice of some kind? 

EH: Ha! Maybe a couple of glasses of wine each evening? I wish I had a more inspiring response. And there were certainly periods along the way when I was more devoted to various diets, maybe some meditation, or at least steady vigorous exercise. At the moment, I'm afraid I'm more like the gunslinger, toward the end of his reign, who knows everyone's just looking for the chance to be the one to take him out. So, the filmmaker inserts shots every now and again of his trembling hand reaching for a shot of whiskey off the bar. Except any more than two and I don't feel well the next day, so it can't tip over into anything too pathetic.

" The lesson...I think, is to work hard against a tendency to stop doing the things you loved to do when the body worked better."

 

Mackenzie Stroh

JF: Are you still running or, as you’ve called it: “trudging,” or is there some other form of exercise you do on a regular basis? 

EH: I did get back to doing some exercise a few years ago, after falling off that wagon for quite some time. I lost 17 pounds leading up to my 50th birthday, which felt quite good, and I've kept the majority of it off by being more careful about what I eat, and exercising somewhat steadily. Still it's a struggle. The lesson in it, I think, is to work hard against a tendency to stop doing the things you loved to do when the body worked better.

Until sometime in my thirties, I used to play tennis, take meaningful bike rides regularly, dance, etc. For some reason those things all slacked off, and now I'm trying to reestablish routines that include those kinds of games, pass times, and sports, instead of just visiting the gym. I have a highly developed sense of inertia, so it's a challenge.

JF: What is it like as a man growing older in Hollywood? Do you feel pressure to remain youthful or go under the knife? 

EH: I'm not really sure what to make of the question. All I've done since I turned 42 is play out one of the most viewed romances in TV history on "Sex and the City," and engage in every conceivable type of nudity and sexual activity on "Californication." 

It's seemed like the older I've gotten, the more people have insisted I take my clothes off on camera. I cringe a lot when I glimpse scenes from the first few seasons of "Californication," since it was before I dropped a few pounds. I encourage everyone to concentrate on the slimmer image.


JF: What do you feel is the biggest threat to the future of your daughter’s generation and how are you working towards eliminating it? 

EH:  There's really no greater threat to all of us than the ravaging of the Earth, which is continuing at a blistering pace. I try to support various organizations, and do some work with the Center for Environmental Health, who do a tremendous job of combating corporations that are putting harmful materials into either their products, or the environment.

 

Mackenzie Stroh

"...parenthood trumps everything else." 

JF: What is your routine for accessing local/global news? Do you have consistent channels or blogs you tap to stay informed?  

EH: I spend way too much time coasting from one web news source to another, then commenting about what's going on on various social media. It's an incredible distraction, and can delude one into thinking you're really involved in something.

 
JF: Which accomplishment(s) are you most proud of? 

EH: I definitely felt a huge leap in pride when I published a book about my experiences with illness, and my bouts with the medical community. Putting something into the world that I felt was of great value, and that stemmed from such trauma, really trumped any experiences I'd had to that point. But, in more recent years, parenthood trumps everything else. We have the sweetest, kindest, gentlest, and most generous little girl, and that's something that makes me more proud than anything else.

 
JF: Since you have recently completed the seventh and final season of Californication, what will your new focus be? 

EH:  I do not yet know.

 
JF: Do you recall that kiss in 1975?  

EH:  Of course I do. It was a lot more than one kiss, though. It was sort of a nightly routine, as I recall. So I'm thinking I remember it better than you.

 
JF: Haha yes!  So— have you taken any bike trips lately? 

EH:  We just helped our daughter (seven years old) learn to ride a bike. Not trusting ourselves, we hired a "teacher" for a couple of hours, only to see that she'd already largely taught herself at school. It was incredibly exciting to watch her just ride off, and her sense of freedom and accomplishment was beautiful. She'll have to spring for her own kissing lessons some day, though.

 

  • Melanie says...

    Oh I’m a super fan (Handler) So glad I stumbled on this interview. Now a fan of Priti

    On May 30, 2018

  • Bob Feldheim (Joanna's Dad) says...

    Beautifully done. Compassionate. Quite moving. A very inspirational message overall.
    Congratulations to all involved.

    On Apr 16, 2014

  • Bob Feldheim (Joanna's Dad) says...

    Beautifully done. Compassionate. Quite moving. A very inspirational message overall.
    Congratulations to all involved.

    On Apr 16, 2014

  • Lezle stein says...

    You guys must have been so cute together!
    Yay that Evan is ok and yahoo for Priti!

    On Apr 15, 2014

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