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Paul Reubens has 'very few regrets'

Paul Reubens is on tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of  “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” the movie debut that still defines his impact on American pop culture.

Released in 1985, it also marked the feature-film debut of a young director named Tim Burton, who’d won the gig on the strength of two shorts he’d done, “Vincent” and “Frankenweenie.” 

“Actually, I had to talk the studio out of a director they thought should direct the movie,” says Reubens, who’s on tour through March with stops this week in San Antonio, Austin and Phoenix. “I told them they had the wrong director and they grudgingly gave me one week to find someone else who’d be approvable, available and affordable. The three ‘A’s’.”

Someone Reubens knew had just seen “Frankenweenie” and suggested he check it out.

“I knew about 20 seconds into it that he was the guy,” Reubens says. “He was the absolute right decision.”

Actor Paul Reubens, playing the character Pee-wee Herman, launches his Pee-wee Herman show at a press conference at Club Nokia on December 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

The birth of Pee-wee Herman

The childlike character had been a part of Reubens’ stage act for several years by then. It even landed the improvisational actor, who joined the Los Angeles comedy troupe The Groundlings in the ’70s, a Pee-wee HBO special in 1981.

“More than any other character I had debuted at The Groundlings, Pee-wee was an instant hit,” Reubens says. “The first audience reacted so favorably, and the character felt so familiar and right, it wasn’t hard to realize Pee-wee was a character I needed to pursue.

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