It has its kings and its queens, its princes and princesses, and a fair sprinkling of the indie branch of this royal family have a role to play in Ruby Sparks, a new romantic comedy about a novelist who dreams his dream girl into existence.
Directed by the makers of Little Miss Sunshine, the screenplay is by Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of Elia On the Waterfront Kazan), who also stars in the movie alongside real-life partner Paul Dano, of There Will be Blood fame.
Playing a psychiatrist in the film, and sitting opposite me in an Edinburgh restaurant, is one of the original indie emperors – Elliott Gould. The cafe, as serendipity would have it, is called The Outsider.
The star, who visited the capital in June to chair a film festival jury, is famous down the generations. Some will know him from the swinging Sixties comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, others as Trapper John in Robert Altman's MASH. Later still, he was the best Philip Marlowe outside Bogart in another Altman, The Long Goodbye, then Reuben Tishkoff in Oceans 11, 12, and 13. To younger generations still he is Ross and Monica's dad in Friends.
Given his part as a therapist in Ruby Sparks, what better way to start than with the tale of the Freudian analyst who once asked Gould if he was aware he was oblivious to reality. "Of course," replied Gould. "What reality, whose reality?"
I'm feeling rather spaced myself when we get to the end of the afternoon and an interview that, interrupted with a couple of car journeys, ranges from his first wife Barbra Streisand and the family's Scottish nanny, to arguments with Altman and giving career advice to Mick Jagger (he told him to get into acting). Gould, now 74, has lived the life. And then some. And then some more.
Paul Dano had a similar experience of being it the eye of a conversational hurricane when he played Gould's patient in Ruby Sparks.
"He is a fascinating guy. You ask him a question about something and you go around the world before you get the answer. Just amazing stories."
Gould knows Scotland well, tracing his connection back to the Scottish nanny he and Streisand employed to look after their son, Jason. When Gould came to London in 1978, he employed her again to look after his second son and daughter.
The bond with Scotland goes further – from working with Sean Connery on A Bridge Too Far, to his daughter, Molly, visiting here in her first year at university and meeting her future husband.
"I love it here, I really do," he says. "I very much love the UK, and this is still considered UK, isn't it? I'm not into politics. But I don't know another place like this."
Besides chairing a jury in Edinburgh he was starring in Fred, a drama about an elderly couple facing up to the fact the wife is moving into a care home. His work rate remains phenomenal. Last year he did seven films, from the micro-budget Fred to bigger studio productions. Gould is a grafter, always has been.
Born in Brooklyn in 1938, he started out as a tap-dancer. From the theatre he moved into film, earning his first and only Oscar nomination for 1969's Bob & Carol. During that time, from 1963-71, he was married to Streisand. They were among the grooviest of showbiz couples, but with both of their stars in the ascendant at the same time, the marriage came under strain.
"It was heartbreaking for me for my first marriage to have had such limitations. I really loved Barbara, and she knew it. But there was something more important to her." Is he still in contact with Streisand? "Oh yeah. We're family."
After Streisand he went on to marry Jennifer Bogart – twice. He sounds like a die-hard romantic. "People look at it that way but I just don't give up. I really believe in responsibility ... It would be romantic to people from the outside, but inside it has to do with a commitment. Giving it every opportunity to work."
The year after Bob & Carol, Gould confirmed his place on the A-list with the Oscar-winning MASH, playing Trapper John to Donald Sutherland's Hawkeye Pierce.
Altman had originally wanted Gould to play Duke Forrest, the American Southerner. Gould said that would drive him crazy, but if Altman hadn't cast Trapper John yet, Gould had what he needed for it. "I've got the juice," he told Altman, "the spirit, the heart for it, the energy. I can be irreverent."
By all accounts it was an interesting shoot, with the late Altman's then revolutionary improvisational style taking some time to bed down with the actors. "He had his hands full with me," says Gould. "Donald and I weren't crazy about him. He thought we wanted to have him fired but I was in no position to do that and I wouldn't want to do that. He said to me later on, 'I learned how to put [a film] together in chaos and therefore I create chaos in which to put it together.' I thought that's a little criminal. You are dealing with experts here."
The two made it up eventually. It was Altman who cast him as the private eye in 1973's The Long Goodbye, a love letter to the detective movie. It is considered by many to be Gould's finest film.
"The Long Goodbye meant so much to me. I said to Altman, 'I always wanted to play this guy.' He said, 'You are this guy'."
Gould still dreams of making a sequel. "What we accomplished with The Long Goodbye is like an American jazz piece. It has really held up."
Gould's CV is remarkable for its range, from his spell with Bergman (The Touch, 1971; another unhappy experience with a hard taskmaster) to The Muppet Movie. An agent advising a young star today might say he has packed in too much, and that it pays to be more discriminating. To Gould, acting and producing are what they have always been – a way to earn a living and support his family, which now includes two grandchildren, ages eight and 13. "All I want to do is to continue to work for the family. I'm not interested in parties. My priorities are pretty clear."
He still thinks Hollywood is capable of making great films, although the one he cites as his favourite from last year is the Oscar-winning Iranian drama, A Separation. But that's Gould, a man who instinctively sides with outsiders, and parts that could only be played by outsiders.
He's happiest "possibly now", he says, because he has a sense of purpose. "I've been able to get under my insecurities, under the roots of my insecurities, and how I've been able to do that has been to recognise and accept my limitations. I want to be reasonable and I want to be sensible. I wasn't. I just blasted through and seemed to have everything made, but that wasn't true. You have to work for it."
He did, and still does.
Ruby Sparks opens on October 12.