AN INTERVIEW WITH SALLY KIRKLAND

Sally Kirkland has had one of the most fascinating careers and lives of any Hollywood actress. Her Golden Globe-winning turn as ANNA (1987) is just one of many committed, heartfelt, vivacious performances in a career spanning over five decades. I spoke to Sally about some of the highlights of her career.    

Can you talk about your mother, who was also named Sally Kirkland and was a famous fashion editor?
She was the fashion editor for Vogue in 1947, and then she became the first and only fashion editor that Life magazine ever had, from 1947 through to 1969. My mother put people like Jackie Onassis, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn on the cover, and made total fashion icons out of them. She was also a senior editor, and so she got to play a part in who went on the cover of the magazine, whether it was to do with fashion or not. I was the most outgoing of all the kids of the editors, so I would get asked questions like ''Who are these mopheads?'' And I would tell them ''They are The Beatles! For Heaven' sake put them on the cover!'' I had to educate them about was going on with my generation. My mother was allowed to bring me into 'The Tower,' where they would have all the potential covers on the wall.

What was it like to be the daughter of such a famous woman?
It was extraordinary for me to be the daughter of someone so hip, and to know what the fashion trends were going to be way before my friends. She was the first person to bring Italian fashions into the country post-War. She was the first person to announce fashion trends like the mini-skirt, the no bra look and hippie chic. Irving Penn, who died recently and was one of the most famous photographers that ever lived, would get together with my mother when she was at Vogue and do things like get stepladders and have a different model on each step. She was the first person to use multiple models in double-page spreads. I was lucky because I got to go to Paris for the collections and meet people like Chanel, Rubinstein and Givenchy, and go to Italy and meet all the designers. She was a brilliant woman - she spoke Italian, French, and Spanish. 
 
What were some of the positives and negatives of being her daughter?
My name was Sally Kirkland Jr. so I had a huge insecurity problem about being the daughter of a famous woman whose byline was Sally Kirkland. On the other side of the coin, growing up with her was very magical. I'm sure I would never have been an actress if it was not for her being so totally in the public eye and putting me at age 5 in front of the camera to be a model. I would do shows with the likes of Carol Lynley, Sandra Dee and Tuesday Weld, who were also child models and were the same age. Because of my mother I got to meet Jackie Onassis. I was playing her in a stage play called 'Fitz n' Bisquit',  and in the story Jackie doesn't want her husband to be the President. In one scene she is on their sailboat and she puts a rope around her neck, and throws herself overboard, in an attempt to kill herself and make a statement about how she didn't want to share with him with the world. It was a very emotional role. Jackie knew both the playwright and my mother, and she came backstage to tell me how touched she was and how great she thought I was in the play. I think we were even crying together. That's the sort of thing that wouldn't automatically happen without my mother being who she was.

 After being a child model, did going into acting seem like a natural transition?
I was always in front of the camera so it did seem like a natural transition. The fashion show runways led to me being comfortable onstage, and being filmed by so many photographers made it easy for me to get in front of a film camera.

How did Shelley Winters become your godmother?
She was my godmother not in the religious sense, but in the sense that she sort of adopted me when I was eighteen. My mother was so busy that I never saw her, and my father couldn't stand that I was in showbusiness. Shelley's daughter hated that her mother was an actress and didn't want to be one herself. Shelley took me in and helped get me into the Actors' Studio and into the unions. I remember she had Martin Luther King and his wife over for dinner once when I was there, which was quite an experience for an eighteen year old. She would have me help her learn her lines for all of her movies, from about 1961 onwards. Shelley would take me with her when she went on The Johnny Carson Show, and I would sit in the green room and watch her. The reason I threw water in Rush Limbaugh's face when I was a guest on a chat show and he was being insulting was because Shelley had done the same thing on a chat show. I got my aggressive chutzpah from my mother, but I learned how to survive men and the film business from Shelley. 
 
Did Shelley give you any advice that particularly stuck in your mind?
She was really concerned that I didn't know enough politically, so she made sure I read all the newspapers every day and followed all the news stories. Lee Strasberg told me to go to the opera, the ballet and the museums and take in all the arts, but Shelley told me that ''You're not talking with any kind of awareness of what's going on in the world. You've got to start being conscious of what's happening internationally, socially and politically.'' She was a very political person and she helped the Kennedys a great deal. I inherited all this from her and became an activist fairly early on in my career. I was the first nude actress in American theatre in 1968 when I did the play 'Sweet Eros', and there was nowhere I could go in New York City without people knowing who I was. They were all so shocked. This was before 'Hair' or 'Oh, Calcutta!' When the New York Times called me and asked me ''Why are you doing this, Ms. Kirkland? You're a Shakespearian actress with Joseph Papp and you're taking off all your clothes.'' I told them ''I'm opposed to the Vietnam War, and you can't carry a gun on a naked body.'' This quote appeared in history books of the '60s. I was very much part of the generation that was having a sexual revolution in the arts. Tom O' Horgan, who directed 'Hair', was my director with the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club, and he was experimenting with all his very outrageous theatre.  I remember around the time of the Columbia riots, I was in a play called 'Tom Paine' and all the college kids would come, and afterwards we would have debates with them about whether anything had really changed since Tom Paine's day.  

How did your time at The Actors Studio affect your outlook towards acting?
It was the place to be at that time. They had really famous people there, and totally unknown people like myself. The older talent would observe the younger talent, and we would learn from them. At the time I was there, Lee Strasberg was teaching the acting sessions, and Elia Kazan and Harold Clurman were teaching the playwright and directing sessions. The actors were allowed to sit in on the playwright and directing sessions and vice versa. We were being seen by the most brilliant writers and directors in New York, and so most of my commercial work came out of being in The Actors Studio. Lee Strasberg told me I was the youngest person he ever took in. I learned The Method, which is basically 'truth'. I had gone to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and learned how NOT to act. It was very indicative in that worst way of British acting where you speak well and move well, but it isn't coming from the heart. The British actors nowadays are very Method. My favourite actor is Michael Fassbender, who is German-Irish, but he's totally Method. With the Method, you use your own personal life and your imagination to come up with the character. You use emotional recall and you use 'personalisation', where you use someone from your own life for the character you're playing or playing opposite. There's also the 'as if' method, where you imagine how you would act in a given situation outside your own experience, eg. murdering somebody. And there's also 'sensory work', where you work out every possible experience that could happen to you, like how it feels to drink alcohol, or have rain on you, or give birth. You have to do tremendous research on all the possible situations that a person can go through. I just turned 72, but figure I started learning all this when I was 17. It's almost like breathing for me now.

What did you find rewarding about acting when you started?
I started when I was 10, and I was very very shy, and it was a way for me to hide behind characters so the real Sally Kirkland wouldn't have to emerge. As I did it more, I grew to love playing so many different kinds of women. Actually, because I went to all-girls schools and was 5'9'', I would be cast as the leading man until I was 18! It gave me a lot of power, and I got to do Shakespeare very young. When I did ANNA, for which I won the Golden Globe (Best Actress in a Drama), I was reaccessing my male voice from when I was a young girl playing men.

How ambitious were you when you started acting?
I wanted to be the best actress in the whole world and I really saw a difference between being the best actress and being a celebrity. I already knew what being a celebrity was because I kind of inherited that. I had to learn how to be a great actress. I had a great teacher in Shelley, who taught me about 'dramedy': when the audience thinks they're going to laugh, make them cry, and vice versa. If you check out Shelley's performances, she does that almost every time. It's a way of being unpredictable so the audience doesn't know where you're going to take them.
 
Which role was the first to give you satisfaction as an actress?
Even though it was a small role, it would have to be THE STING (1973). I had a scene with Robert Redford, and the part was enough for me to sink my teeth into and for people to remember me. Over the years, a lot of people have told me that their favourite Redford moment is when he is watching me strip with that huge grin on his face, holding a champagne glass in one hand and a bunch of roses in the other. Redford turned up for rehearsals and watched me in the wings. He said to me ''Wow! Where did you learn how to do that?'' I had been taking dancing lessons since I was 11 or 12 years old. We already knew each other because we had worked with each other on THE WAY WE WERE (1973), and had even double dated once. The director, George Roy Hill, actually wanted to cast Valerie Perrine for the role, but I think she was too famous at that time. He wanted to go to Vegas to find a new Valerie, but Redford told him he should use me. I didn't know that story until the day of the rehearsal. I asked him if he had had anything to do with me getting the role and he just shyly looked down at his shoes and said ''Oh, I just thought you'd enjoy it.'' Redford was lovely. He treated me like I was a star, which he didn't have to do.

How was working with Mel Brooks for your cameo in BLAZING SADDLES (1974)?  
It was such a small role and I had just done THE STING and THE WAY WE WERE, so I asked Mel Brooks if I could do it uncredited, which was a stupid-ass thing to do! Every time I saw Mel and Anne Bancroft at some social function, they would come out with my line: ''Tuna Surprise!'' At that time I was still intimidated by Hollywood, coming out of New York theatre, and this was an hilarious experience. I was there when they were filming the horses coming through the wall. Working with Mel was like working with Jim Carrey on BRUCE ALMIGHTY (2003). They were both always telling non-stop funny stories when we weren't filming, and they're both very sweet, kind people. I became close with the lead, Cleavon Little, and we hung out a lot in his dressing room. 

Can you talk about your experience filming Tony Scott's REVENGE (1990)?
I loved working with Tony. He was the most easygoing, fun guy. If he had demons, one would never know it. It's so tragic what happened to him. I think he made me look more beautiful than any other film director has ever done. Tony later told me it was between Faye Dunaway and myself. I came in for the audition with him and Kevin Costner, and I began telling Kevin how I loved him in NO WAY OUT (1987), FIELD OF DREAMS (1989) and BULL DURHAM (1988). Kevin interrupted me and said ''Sally, don't you remember me? I was the stage manager at the Raleigh Studios when you were making HUMAN HIGHWAY (1982) with Neil Young. I learned from you, Dean Stockwell and Dennis Hopper and everybody.'' I was very humbled because I didn't remember him at all! I think REVENGE is an underrated, beautiful movie and one of Tony Scott's best. I think whatever problems the film has are because there were too many chefs. Ray Stark wanted his say, it was Kevin's first time producing and Tony had his ideas. I don't know if all of them came to an agreement ultimately, but Ray Stark stepped in to oversee the edit of the theatrical version.
 
Did your friendship with Costner lead to your role in J.F.K. (1991)?
No, it was through Oliver Stone. He and I already knew each other socially. Back in the '70s, being from New York, I was so bored in L.A., so I used to get millionaires to lend me their houses and I would throw parties in honor of my friends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Bob Dylan. Oliver used to come to these parties, and he would also come and speak in front of the acting classes I was teaching. When I heard he and Kevin were making J.F.K., I told Oliver ''You've got to put me in this movie. My mother knew J.F.K. and  Jackie, I lived with Shelley ... I feel like I'm family!'' Oliver told me all the parts had been cast. I wouldn't give up and told him 'You're Oliver Stone! You'll think of something!''A couple of days later he called me and asked me to come to his office and improvise four different women for him. There was the journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, the daughter of chat show host Irv Kupcinet, a doctor  and Rose Cheramie, who worked for Jack Ruby as a stripper and other things. In my audition, I started off in my white suit playing Dorothy Kilgallen, and by the time I got to Rose Cheramie as a stripper, I was down to my G-string and tassles, which I was wearing underneath the suit. Oliver told me that the character of Rose had a kid, so she was working as a stripper, prostitute and drug runner for Ruby in order to raise him. On top of all that, she was suffering from heroin withdrawal at the start of the movie and had just found out that there was a plot to assassinate JFK. She's completely hysterical. I really went for it in the audition, screaming and crying. Oliver said ''How did you do that? You did all those emotions so fast!'' He was blown away and pretty much hired me on the spot. We all had to sign these waivers saying we wouldn't talk about the film until after it opened. What was great about the film was that the Newsweek review said the most authentic performance in the movie was mine, although they mentioned my character and not my name! Oliver was amazing to work with. He was very intense, as am I. I told him I wanted him to take me to a strip joint so I could get a feel for the character, and we went to one that definitely could've been The Carousel, which was the strip joint owned by Jack Ruby. I asked the strippers if they would let me strip, but they said it was against the union so they couldn't let me do it. It was a really exciting movie to do. You could feel that electricity that you were dealing with John F. Kennedy, conspiracy or otherwise. People were fascinated to see where Oliver was going to go with this film. I remember going to the Academy screening, and everyone gasped in the first scene. It was such a shocking opening.
 
How was it to work with Neil Young as a director on HUMAN HIGHWAY (1980)?
I had a good time making the film. I loved Neil, and working on the movie was like a commune experience. He was really great with actors, and is of course a  brilliant creative genius. Neil also has a great sense of humour, and when we met for my audition, we discovered we were both Scorpios. We had a lot of fun with that. I remember Dennis Hopper and I would follow Neil around like groupies in San Francisco. There was this blending going on where Neil's music for the film ended up on his album Trans (1982), and Neil's song 'My My Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)' ended up in Dennis's film OUT OF THE BLUE (1980). Neil shot one part of the film on location in San Francisco and Taos, New Mexico, and then the other a few years later at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. That period in between was very important for me because in that period I gave up all drugs.
 
What was working with Dennis Hopper like on the film?
Dennis is a great actor and I adored sitting at his feet, listening to his stories. When it came to doing our scene together, where he was a chef and I was a waitress, he started throwing a knife at the wall, which wasn't part of the script. I kept thinking ''Neil, please step in and stop Dennis from killing someone.'' But it was Neil's first time directing and he didn't know how to deal with a situation like that. The AD would speak to Dennis, but Dennis was bound and determined to keep throwing this knife at the wall. Eventually I went over to him and said ''Look, you're my friend, but there's teenagers on the set and what you're doing is dangerous. You even asked the prop master to sharpen the knife, which is against Screen Actor's Guild rules.'' But he kept doing it nonetheless. In the end I reached up to grab his fist to try and stop him, and the damn knife came down and severed the tendons on the first finger of my right hand. I had a curled up, crippled hand for over a year, and even to this day the finger doesn't look like the rest of my fingers. Neil was really sorry about what happened and even said ''It's okay to sue me Sally. I have insurance.'' I did that, but I somehow I ended up losing the case because nobody wanted to believe my story about the amount of drugs Dennis was on. Dennis and I did reconcile later on, and he played my ex in EDTV (1999).  

Did you enjoy working with Ron Howard and Matthew McConaughey on EDTV?
Ron Howard is one of my favourite directors, and gave me a 45 minute audition! I had a huge crush on Matthew (as I did with Jim Carrey on BRUCE ALMIGHTY). He treated me like a queen from beginning to end, and he brought Sandra Bullock with him to see me in a play I was acting in, complete with champagne. Just recently I got to celebrate all his award wins with DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013).

How was the experience of making BEST OF THE BEST (1989) with Eric Roberts? 
I loved doing that one. I was always a fan of Eric Roberts, and I've done two or three things with him. He is such a committed actor. He really learned how to do Tae-kwon-do. Eric did all his own stuntwork. I really respect his talent.  
 
Is it true you nearly played Sean Penn's mother in AT CLOSE RANGE (1986)?
I did three screen tests and Sean was trying to get James Foley to hire me, but I believe Jack Nicholson called in a favour and Millie Perkins got it. Meeting Sean was similar to meeting Kevin Costner because I began by telling him how much I loved his work and he asked me if I remembered him. He told me ''Sally, you were the first acting teacher I went to, and you turned me away.'' Sure enough, he was right. Martine (now Jazelle) Getty had brought him to me when I was teaching at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. He had this fire in him, and I could tell within two minutes he was going to be a star. I said to him ''You should go to a private coach because if you come here, they won't let you audition for two years.'' I recommended he go and study with Peggy Fury, who would teach him what he would have learned with me. And he did that. I've been in this business so long that I keep meeting big actors whom I met when they were unknowns and I  have forgotten I have already met! Bob Dylan invited me to go to one of his concerts sometime in the '70s, and I went with Jon Voight, his wife and his little daughter. That little girl was Angelina Jolie! I remember telling her back then that she should be an actress. She shouted to her mother, ''Mommy mommy, did you hear what Sally said? She thinks I should be an actress!'' A similar thing happened with Gwyneth Paltrow. Both had charisma that was all over the place even at such an early age. Because of my psychic connection with my mother, and my experience assisting the photographer Howell Connant, whenever I met beautiful models, I was able to instantly tell if beautiful women such as Lauren Hutton and Ali MacGraw had it in them to make it as actresses. 

Can you talk about your most acclaimed role, as ANNA?
Other than becoming a soul initiate and a Reverend in the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, playing ANNA would be the best experience of my life. It was a role where I knew I was going to be able to use my entire acting instrument, be it dramatic, comedic or improvisational, or learning a new language. I'm happiest when I'm being fully utilised. I've done so many cameos and I feel great whenever I work, but one always wishes to be the leading lady. When I read Agnieszka Holland's script, and saw her film ANGRY HARVEST (1985), I knew that whoever played Anna was going to win awards. It was such a well-written role, and there were so many emotional changes to the character. The casting director, Caroline Thomas, really fought for me because initially the director, Yurek Bogayevicz, didn't think I was right. I had heard rumours that Vanessa Redgrave's agent was trying to get the role for her, and names like Shirley Knight and Lee Grant were being bandied about. I was relentless in getting the role. I would stand in the rain outside Bogayevicz's apartment waiting for him, so I could persuade him to cast me. I sent him flowers all the time, and wrote him long letters. When I finally got the call to do an audition, I was at the airport waiting for a plane to Australia. I was going there for a week to teach acting to a hundred people, sponsored by Insight Seminars. I told Yurek that I couldn't just not go. The students had paid good money for me to teach them, and they were connected to my spiritual path. I thought ''If he really wants me, he'll wait a week.'' Yurek couldn't believe it. I knew that if God was in my corner, they'd wait for a week, and they did.

How did you end up putting on a special presentation of ANNA at The Actors Studio before your audition?
Lee Strasberg had just died, and Al Pacino was moderating. I put on a half hour of the script without Yurek's permission. My students from class played all the supporting parts. Maggie Wagner, who is the niece of Mark Rydell, played the Paulina Porizkova part. I had Pacino, Robert De Niro and Shelley Winters in the audience. It was an amazing day. It was so intense for me trying to cut my teeth on the role in front of my peers. After it was over, Al came over and said ''You know, I think you should go to Long Island for the weekend and just relax before your audition on Monday. You've got it down perfect.'' When Yurek found out what I had done, he was furious. In my audition, I would have been ready to act out the whole film for him, but he told me to throw the script away and jump on one foot and tell him a nursery rhyme. So I did 'Humpty Dumpty' in a Czech accent, which of course is in the movie. Paulina Porizkova had already been cast and helped me get the part by saying yes when Yurek asked her if she wanted to work with me. I think Paulina was a little intimidated by me at first because I was really in character and Anna was a bit of a monster. I know Yurek came up to me one day and said ''Sally, I think you should go to a psychiatrist.'' I said ''No, I'm just fine. Your Anna should go to a psychiatrist.'' He gave me a love letter really when he cast me. People are sometimes shocked at how intense Actors Studiosstudents can get. We want to hold on to our characters off-camera. Paulina helped me with my Czech and I helped her with her acting. She was the number one model in the world at the time, so if we needed cars moving off the street she would just wink at the policemen and they'd rush over and move them! You wouldn't believe what Paulina got done for the movie! We needed someone to score the movie and she just happened to be engaged to Ric Ocasek from The Cars. So we got Greg Hawkes from The Cars to do the music for nothing.

How was the experience of winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama?
I did an acceptance speech and invited all 88 members of the Foreign Press home with me! I also talked about helping peace in the world by having artists from different countries work together. This was before the Berlin Wall coming down, so now it feels like I was really in the moment before the big moment. It was also amazing winning the Independent Spirit and L.A. Film Critics Circle awards, and being nominated for the Oscar.                    

Can you reveal one of your success stories as an acting teacher? 
One of my students in New York was Sandra Bullock. She didn't realise she was going to be a star. She didn't see what I saw the minute I saw her. Sandy had this insecurity about her, and her boyfriend wanted her to get married. I told her to tell her boyfriend to come over and talk to me! I had her do a scene from a play called 'The Trip Back Down'. It was a scene between a racing car driver and his wife, and was all about career vs relationship. I said ''Sandy, even though the roles are reversed, see if you can use your relationship with your boyfriend to make the scene work.'' I also had her do 'The Tempest', 'Everything I Learned from Harvey Lembeck' from 'Theatre Games' which was comedy improv and all that. We put on a showcase, and the director Dan Adams saw that and put her in her first movie, which was originally called RELIGION INCORPORATED but later released as A FOOL AND HIS MONEY (1988).    

What are some other films you're proud of? 
THE HAUNTED (1991) is a good film, and I was nominated for a Golden Globe for it. I play Marilyn Monroe if she had lived to be in her fifties in NORMA JEAN, JACK AND ME (1998). HIGH STAKES (1989)  is another one I'm proud of. I play a stripper in it, and it's kind of a precursor to PRETTY WOMAN and STRIPTEASE. Bob Dylan gave me two songs free of charge. Bob is the person I love the most in the world, alongside my spiritual teacher of forty years, John Roger.   

I spoke to Sally by telephone on 27th November 2013 and would like to thank her for her time.  


Check out Sally's site.

Thanks to Kennet Karlsson.
 

CARL GOTTLIEB ON 'JAWS'

Carl Gottlieb is best known as the co-writer of one of cinema's most beloved blockbusters, JAWS (1975). He also acted in the film as newspaperman Meadows, and co-wrote the first two sequels. His book on the making of JAWS, 'The Jaws Log' has been described by Bryan Singer as 'a little movie bible'. Carl's background is in comedy, and outside the JAWS series he wrote the comedies WHICH WAY IS UP (1977), THE JERK (1979), CAVEMAN (1981) and DOCTOR DETROIT (1983), the last two which he also directed. I spoke to Carl about his early friendship and collaborations with Steven Spielberg, writing and making JAWS and how he came to work on JAWS 2 (1978) and JAWS 3-D (1983).   
   
How did you and Spielberg become friends and collaborators?
I saw his short film AMBLIN' (1968) and liked it. We had the same agent (Mike Medavoy) and became friends. It's one of those friendships that's lasted over the years where you barely remember the first 'Hello'. It's like I didn't know him and then I did. We used to go out to screenings together. I remember watching Brian De Palma's CARRIE (1976) with him. My wife and I had a house that was conveniently located in Hollywood and a lot of people used to stop by. I had filmmaker friends, and Steven was one of the frequent visitors. Hollywood was a much smaller town in those days. The era that Peter Biskind wrote about in 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls' was just starting. There was a great sense of community. If you made movies, liked rock and roll and lived in L.A., you were part of this extended family.

Why do you think you became friends?
We kind of saw things the same way. In some ways I was kind of a mentor to him because I had been in town for a year or two longer than he had. I had a little more experience. I had been on stage in San Francisco and in L.A., and I had been working in television. I acted in two of Steven's television movies, SAVAGE (1973) and SOMETHING EVIL (1972).

Why do you think you collaborated so well?
For the purposes of collaboration we were relatively ego-less. I'd come from a tradition of improvisational theatre where collaboration was instinctive and necessary. We got on well and there was nothing to prove. We could simply concentrate on the work at hand, whether that be a spec script or a project we thought we could do. Steven was a bit of a loner and a techno-geek, and between the two of us we had a composite personality.

You and Spielberg worked on several projects that never came to pass before JAWS. What do you remember about them?
There was one about WWW1 American ace pilots overseas, and one about a guy working in a hotel in the Catskills. People liked the ideas and were receptive to the pitches, but Steven was always locked-in to direct so if they bought the pitch then they also bought Steven as director. Nobody was willing to do that at the time.

How did you get involved with the JAWS script?
Steven sent me the Howard Sackler rewrite to read. He also wanted me in the movie as Meadows. Steven wanted me around to improvise some humour, provide some naturalism and help with the townspeople he was casting in the film. When I knew I was going to be involved in the movie, I read the book and found it to be a very good 'beach read'. I thought Sackler's rewrite improved upon the book in some areas, but was deficient in others. I had a lot of thoughts about how to fix the script and I put them in a memo which Steven gave to the producers. We all sat down and talked and they decided I would do a 'dialogue polish'. I was paid the writer's minimum on a week's guarantee. It turned into twelve weeks!

What did you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the Sackler script?
It was an efficient re-telling of the novel with some story elements played down, but the characters were kind of cardboard. The thing I have to give credit to Sackler for is that he at least provided motivation for Quint's malevolence towards sharks. In the book there's no reason stated and Quint is like an existential being. Sackler was a sailor and he knew about the Indianapolis, which made a perfect backdrop to Quint. My task was to rewrite dialogue and concentrate on the relationships.

What did you like the most about the story of JAWS?
The beauty is in the complex nature of the heroes. It's this trio of primal man (Quint), intellectual man (Hooper) and Everyman (Brody). One of them working alone couldn't kill the shark but the three of them working together could.

Why was the love triangle between Ellen Brody, Chief Brody and Hooper removed?
The love triangle was still in the script almost up until the first day of shooting because story-wise it would have added interesting tension to the scenes at sea between Brody and Hooper. But once we started working with the actors we found that their personalities were not consistent with the characterisations found in the book. Hooper became a scruffy rich kid with an intellectual passion for fish. Ellen Brody became a very loving and considerate wife. In the book she allows herself to be seduced by Hooper to break away from the tedium of being an island wife after being a summer person. I was in the very enviable position of being able to write dialogue for specific actors, not an ideal of their characters. I was able to shape the story to the strengths of the very capable actors, and to talk with them every day and consult on any problems they were having with their characters.

If one reads the book, Richard Dreyfuss would seem like an offbeat casting choice for Hooper. How did he get cast?
I came onboard two weeks before shooting began and they still didn't have a Quint or a Hooper. The studio (Universal)and the producers (Richard Zanuck and David Brown) wanted Jan-Michael Vincent as Hooper and Charlton Heston, or maybe Lee Marvin, as Quint. I would have liked to see Marvin play Quint but he was on a real fishing trip and didn't want to cut it short to do a movie. We were scrambling and we managed to get Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. Richard had turned the part down before I came on the picture. He had said to Steven the famous line "This is a movie I'd rather see than be in." I saw his name on a list and said to Steven "I know Ricky. Let's give him a call and get him up here. I'm sure he'll do the picture if you really want him." Steven replied "Sure. I wouldn't have offered him the part the first time if I didn't want him." So I called my wife and she tracked him down in New York City
. He came up to Boston for the afternoon, and he walked into the hotel looking like Hooper - he had the rimless glasses, the scruffy beard and wool watch cap. Steven and I looked at him and then at each other and said "Don't change a thing!" Richard told us "Wait a minute! I haven't said I'm going to do this movie yet." He told us that he couldn't do "all this hero shit." We talked to him about the character and what he needed as an actor to be persuaded to get involved. I reassured him that the role was now more likeable and more humorous. He knew I could handle humour because of my comedy background.

How locked in was the script once shooting began?
It was not at all locked in. We had enough to start shooting the first ten days. I was writing frantically ahead of schedule. Steven and I were sharing a house on location and we just lived the movie. If I wasn't on call as an actor that day I was holed up 
in the cabin writing the rest of the movie.

When the shark started acting up did you write new scenes?
We gave a lot more care to the Mrs. Kintner story, and the mystery of whether the shark had indeed been caught or not. We also added the scene with the two fishermen escaping the shark at night. All these problems were solved on location as we went. It's a terrible way to make a movie but there are other classic films that were made under that kind of pressure.

 
As problems ensued were you ever worried about your own part getting reduced? Was it ever a temptation to ensure you had a lot of screen time?
The scene where Brody and Hooper go out to sea and discover Ben Gardner's boat was originally a daytime scene in which my character was involved. There was an accident and I fell overboard. It threw us behind schedule for an hour or two in the day so we decided to keep filming and come back to it later. As the film evolved we realized that my character didn't have to be in the scene. We felt the discovery of Ben Gardner's boat would be much scarier if we did it at night. The hardest thing I ever did as an actor was to write myself out as a writer! It's a mark of how selfless we all were whilst making the movie that I didn't immediately try and think of other things for Meadows to do. Murray Hamilton was a wonderful actor and as personified the conservative spirit of the town council so well that I felt Meadows was superfluous a lot of the time. Meadows ended up being a 'yes man' standing to the side of the Mayor. It was painful but everybody was just trying to make the best movie we could. There weren't a lot of concerns about "Oh, my line count has gone down."

How much of you is in the character of the newspaper editor Meadows?
I had been a journalism major and I had worked in newspapers so I was actually equipped to play Meadows. Dialogue such as burying the reward ad to the back of the newspaper was based on my experiences working on a newspaper in Syracuse, New York. There's an in-joke in the film. When the photos are being taken of the shark that has supposedly killed everybody, I say "Call Dave Axlerod
in New York." Dave is a college friend of mine and he is always tickled when he hears that line in the movie.

How much of an influence was Craig Kingsbury (who also plays Ben Gardner in the film) on the character of Quint?
In many ways he was the model for Quint. He was an old fisherman and handyman who lived on Martha's Vineyard. Steven told me to hang out with Craig because ''...he has a mouth on him." Sometimes I would simply transcribe what Craig said and put it into the mouth of Quint. Shaw would then put his own spin on it. Shaw built his own character but he took the attitude and dialogue from Craig. Craig was probably the only man in the whole of New England to have been arrested and spent a night in jail for drunk-driving
a team of oxen!

How did he and Robert Shaw get on?
Craig didn't like actors. He saw it as a sissified way of making a living because he had worked with his hands all his life. But he and Shaw were very similar and they got on well together. Craig was an outsider on the island and that suited Shaw, who had his own house and kept to himself whilst making the movie. They both liked the grape!

Were you surprised by the great chemistry between Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss?
One of the miracles of the film is that the chemistry between the lead actors suited the chemistry between the fictional characters. They had some of the same quirks
and since I was writing for those specific actors I was writing for attitudes that were half in place already. I could amplify them and write to the actors' strengths. Their great chemistry is one of those ineffable accidents that you really can't control. You hope and pray it will happen and on JAWS we were lucky.

How did he handle the different temperaments of the three leads on such a long, challenging shoot?
Nobody wanted to be there as long as they were. Shaw was the one who was best compensated because he had escalators written into his deal. However bad he felt about having to go out on a boat all day for maybe ten seconds of useable film, he had a paycheque at the end of the week that would at least make him smile. When you're working strange hours and you're only friends are the people working with you, little things like the caterer providing the same meal three days in a row can take on huge significance. Steven was very good at listening to the concerns of each of the actors. I'm pretty sure each actor thought Steven was taking care of them personally. He had that knack. He wasn't asking anyone to do anything he wasn't willing to do himself. Steven never had a day off. He was there from the first day to the last day. When my work was done, I just got out of there. I bought a new car with my money from the movie and drove back with my wife to California in it.

Spielberg shows a definite gift for getting good performances from non-professional actors in JAWS. 
Had you seen this before in your previous collaborations?
No, because the two TV movies I did with him were done under strict TV conditions. But I quickly noticed on JAWS that he was getting performances from local, non-professionals that felt real, such as Peggy Scott who played Polly or the actors playing the town council members. You can see such performances a lot more in his earlier films.

What kind of actors is Spielberg attracted to?
Part of the genius of directing is casting - knowing with some certainty that an actor will give you a performance that's consistent with their character and the story, and can work with the other actors. Steven has that gift. He chooses to work with non-professionals, and extremely seasoned actors whom he trusts to do the actor's work and bring in a fully-realised performance. Some directors make casting choices out of ego. They pick an actor who might not be right for a part, but their ego tells them that they can get a performance out of them. Sometimes it can work, but it mostly doesn't. Steven isn't like that. 


As you were sharing a house whilst filming, did you have any insights into his frame of mind during the difficult shoot?
I watched him fret and I knew his insecurities and anxieties. I admired his ability, apart from me or two or three people, to keep them to himself. To the crew he had to be the captain pacing on the quarterdeck. The loneliness of command. He couldn't for one minute let the anxiety show through. Steven is such a good filmmaker and understands the filming process so well that when he asks for something or insists on something you can see it's not an ego exercise or anything other than a necessity for the art of the film.

Has Spielberg changed much over the years?
I don't see him often now. As I said in my book, he's like a volcano or the Pope now. You can only see him from a distance. When you're rich and powerful, your circle of friends changes and I understand that.

When did you realise JAWS was going to be at least a hit?
I'd been around audiences long enough to know that after the first paid preview it was going to be a popular movie. Of course I had no idea it was going to be a hit of the magnitude it was. The studio released it on an unprecedented 400 screens because it was a summer movie and they wanted to make as much money as they could before summer was over. But it kept on going. Nobody knows how the leap from hit movie to blockbuster happens. It happens very rarely. It's an accident of cultural history.

Is the success of JAWS down to the fact everybody collaborated so well?
Absolutely. The film won Academy Awards for Editing, Score and Sound. Those were huge contributions to the finished product. It really was a very happy and fantastic collaboration, with Steven, the auteur, as the guiding hand with the concurrence and sometimes advice of Richard Zanuck and David Brown. After the failure of 1941 (1979) and then the huge successes of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) and E.T. (1982), Steven was more willing to admit that were collaborators in the process of making JAWS. Previously he had been happy to accept
the credit as the wunderkind who had made the biggest film of all time and as the next Boy Genius after Irving G. Thalberg.


Was JAWS the best collaboration of your career?
It was actually the second best collaboration of my life. The first was when I was writing for The Committee, which was a satirical improvisational revue. We were doing thirteen shows a week, six days a week, making up improvised social satire and comedy as well as it's ever been done. When a live performance is over, it's over. The next day you have to do it again. JAWS just stays there.

Have you ever worked as hard on a project since JAWS?
The movie I wrote and directed in Mexico, CAVEMAN with Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach and Dennis Quaid, was a rewarding but tough shoot. It's interesting to have JAWS as your maiden voyage. After that nothing could be difficult!

How were the experiences of making JAWS 2 and JAWS 3-D?
They got into trouble writing the sequels and gave me a call. I was happy to do them and I got paid a great deal. I thought I did a very workmanlike, professional job given what I had to work with. JAWS 2 was in its time one of the most successful sequels ever and I'm pretty proud of it. The gimmick of having the kids replicate car cruising culture in sailboats was a great idea and I'm really happy I had it! I remember Scheider hating having to do the film but he was the only actor who had a sequel clause in his contract.

How do you feel about being associated with such a hugely popular film for so long?
When you're attached to an iconic film you have to be gracious about it and acknowledge that it has changed your life. It was a great experience and I'm very happy to be considered a part of it. As the years go by there's just Steven, Richard and I left from the above the line crew. It might have been more fun if it had happened a little later in my career because it's hard to top a film like JAWS. But you can work a lifetime in the arts and not have a success like that, and I'm so happy it became the iconic film it is.

I spoke to Carl by telephone on 29th November 2012 and would like to thank him for his time.

The website for the updated and expanded version of The Jaws Log.  

CANDY CLARK ON 'FAT CITY'


Candy Clark is most famous for her Oscar-nominated role as Debbie in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and as David Bowie's girlfriend, Mary-Lou, in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976). Candy reprised her role as Debbie in MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1979), and can be seen in such notable films as HANDLE WITH CARE (1977), Q - THE WINGED SERPENT (1982), BLUE THUNDER (1983), AMITYVILLE 3-D (1983) and AT CLOSE RANGE (1986). I spoke to Candy about her expereience making her debut film, the John Huston classic FAT CITY (1972).   
 
Before making FAT CITY, you were a successful fashion model in New York. What encouraged you to become one?
It seemed like something I could easily do. It also paid well!

Did you travel to New York with the idea of becoming a model?
No, I just went there on a one-week vacation. I was supposed to be going with a friend of mine, but she stood me up. I had bought a youth-fare ticket that cost about $45, and I boarded a midnight TWA flight. The airplane was making its landing around dawn, and I was determined I wasn't going back to Texas when I looked out the window and saw New York City all pink and gold in the morning light. I fell in love with NYC from the air. 

How long did you model for?
From '68 to '71. It took me about a year to get comfortable in front of a camera. I had the misconception that you had to freeze for the camera, so it was an uptight experience for me. I eventually realised that the camera freezes you. Then it became fun. I was started to get some repeat clients. Mostly I did teenage modelling for magazines like Seventeen, Ingenue, Glamour and Co-Ed. It didn't pay as well as catalogue modelling but it was better for your status as a model if you had tear sheets from magazines in your portfolio.

Did you ever come across Patti D'Arbanville in New York?
Yes, we both used to go to a nightclub called The Salvation down on 1 Sheridan Square. We had a mutual friend in Leslie Schiff. I went to his apartment one evening, and there was Patti, all dressed in black leather. She kind of glared at me, and wouldn't speak. I later found out she was only fourteen years old. After that evening though, we've been friends ever since.

You were an extra before FAT CITY. What was the film you did?
I went to a casting office and got a part as an extra in the Dustin Hoffman film WHO IS HARRY KELLERMAN AND WHY IS HE SAYING THOSE TERRIBLE THINGS ABOUT ME? (1971). I was in a crowd of about two hundred people. It was about $35 a day and was lots of fun, so I wanted to do more, so I went to Lynn Stalmaster's office to drop off my picture and try and get more work. Fred Roos was there, who was casting THE GODFATHER (1972) at the time. As he was leaving, Fred asked me if I wanted to go with him to see the screen tests being done for THE GODFATHER in Queens. I met Jimmy Caan and other actors, and even did a little screen test of my own with Francis Coppola. I went back every day to watch the actors trying out. They couldn't get rid of me!

How did you get involved with FAT CITY?
Fred Roos called me from L.A. and said ''I want you to ty out for this part in FAT CITY.'' I really just wanted to be an extra. Plus, all my hard work in modelling was starting to pay off. Weeks went by, and Fred kept insisting, so I told him ''OK, but I want to go to Disneyland and I want to go to the Academy Awards.'' I thought I was driving a hard bargain but to my surprise he said ''Yes, I can arrange that.'' 

How was the experience of attending the Academy Awards?
It was really exciting, and the highlight of my trip to Hollywood. I sat on the third balcony behind this huge pillar with rented binoculars that I got in the lobby.

What was the experience of auditioning like?
It was hard because I really didn't know how to memorise anything or how to do a scene. On the big day of the audition, I wore a silk blouse, which was a mistake since it was a hot summer's day and it made me sweat. I was really scared when they called me in. Fred was there with John Huston, the producer Ray Stark and a guy called David Dworski. It was an emotional scene and when the crying part in the scene came up, I figured I would duck my head and pretend to cry, with my hat from Disneyland covering my face. I said ''Thank you'' and pretty much ran to the elevator, just mortified. I heard Fred come up behind me and say ''They want you to come back to do a screen test.'' I remember standing there, pushing the elevator button repeating ''I just want to be an extra!''

How did you prepare for your screen test?
I called my mother in Fort Worth and asked her to come to L.A. to help me learn the lines. Jennifer Salt and Margot Kidder were also testing. I remember arriving and there was this cutaway car with just seats and a steering wheel. I did my test with Jeff Bridges, who was very handsome, very down to earth, and didn't seem like he was an actor. I didn't know he had already been cast. I thought I was terrible in the test, but lo and behold, I got the part.

Did you have any problems adjusting to acting?  
Yes, I sure did. Pretty quickly they realised I couldn't act at all. They got a coach, Jeff Corey, up from L.A. to Stockton where we were filming, to try to teach me acting overnight, but it was impossible. My role progressively got smaller and smaller.

What are your favourite memories of working with John Huston?
He was one of these Hemingway types: manly, British accent, tall, elegantly dressed. I would hang out on the set watching the actors work, and on one nightshoot he wore a Sherlock Holmes cap, a matching cape, and a beautiful Irish wool suit. He was always smoking and inhaling Dunhill cigars. He was also a bit of a bad boy and tried to get Jeff and me to drink tequila with the worm in the bottle. We were too chicken.

How was he as a  director?
He was very patient and forgiving. He tried to help me but I was pretty hopeless. I didn't understand movie set language or what he was trying to get me to do. It was a whole other world. He'd simply say ''Let's do it again!'' I wish I'd made the film farther on in my career. I could have done the part really well, and been proud of my acting.

What was the experience of fiming in Stockton like?
We were there for two months, and we all had a lot of fun behind the scenes. Everybody socialised together and it was a close, tight-knit group. We all stayed at the Holiday Inn, next to the Civic Center, where there was always something going on - roller derbies, boxing matches, dances. We used to eat all the time in a restaurant called The Azteca, on the wrong side of the tracks. The food was great, and it was fun hanging out with John Huston, Ray Stark and the actors. One day we went there and there was blood on the sidewalk, so we never went back. Stockton was a little surreal. They had these parks where classical music was piped in through megaphones, and lonely old, sometimes drunken men would just sit around waiting for the crops to come in.

What are your strongest memories of Susan Tyrell?
She was just like her character, Oma. She lived on a houseboat, and Jeff and I would visit her sometimes. There were always these strange and unique characters there - people she'd met on the street or in one of the parks. I remember there was a guy who played the pie plates, spoons and washboard. It was all very entertaining and artistic.  

How about Ray Stark?
Ray was crazy about John Huston, and got up early every morning to cook his breakfast for him. After we returned to L.A., he invited Jeff and I to his house in Beverly Hills. Ray had all these beautiful, oversized bronze sculptures in his backyard, and he inspired me to collect art.

What was your reaction when you saw the final film?
I thought it was fantastic. Leonard Gardner's writing is like Steinbeck to me; just great, great writing. The film really captured these people who never really succeed and live on the fringes of society. Susan Tyrell was superb and completely deserved her Oscar nomination. Stacy Keach and Jeff were superb too.

How do you feel about your performance now?
I just cringe with embarassment when I see myself in the film. I didn't understand what the scenes were about or the urgency needed in certain scenes. I was just reciting dialogue. People watch the film now and they don't know what I was going through. I basically tried to model my way through the picture, as it was all I knew. After the film I became determined to improve as an actress, and came back to L.A. and started taking acting classes. I slowly but surely started to figure out what acting was supposed to be about.  

I spoke with Candy by telephone on 11th August 2012 and would like to thank her for her time.

My interviews with Candy about AMERICAN GRAFFITI and THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.  Steven-Charles Jaffe talks about FAT CITY.  

PACING THE CAGE - A Review


Directed by E.B. Hughes. Denny Bess, Reyna Kahan, Mark Borkowski, Ron Rey, Sayra Player, Don Striano, Conor Romero. 75 minutes.

PACING THE CAGE is the feature directing debut of former sports photographer E.B. Hughes. It's a miniature character portrait of a middle-aged man opening up to love and trying to overcome his addictions, demons and criminal past. It tells the story of ex-con Max Lyons (Denny Bess), who upon returning to 'normal' society is faced with an unpaid debt to a vicious gangster (Mark Borkowski), a heroin habit and and depressing employment prospects. Max must somehow find a way to start again and get off the road that put him in prison.

Hughes favours very naturalistic performances that open up the awkwardness of human interactions. Denny Bess creates a vividly soulful, sweet but palpably tough character that makes the audience invest in his story. Mark Borkowski is chilling as the livewire, unpredictable gangster Lucius Jones. The first part of the film is very low-key and intimate, but upon Borkowski's arrival, the rest of the film has a palpable tension even when Borkowski isn't in a scene. Hughes is also good with female actors, drawing a very real performance out of Reyna Kahan, whose performance as the sensitive, vulnerable Sara, Max's new love, is a standout.
 
The film successfully balances tones: it's a human, sometimes humorous story with a lot of heart, and a brutal, gritty crime thriller, but it also has both a strong male and female personality to itself that makes the film a rich viewing experience. It also has a restless street energy and a palpable  feel to its New Jersey and New York locations. One can see the influences of filmmakers such as John Cassavettes or Jerry Schatzberg in the freewheeling, edgy but humanistic style, and films such as STRAIGHT TIME (1977) in the basic story, but it overcomes its influences to become a film very much its own.  The film is refreshingly unpredictable, never quite going where you expect it to, and each scene brings a new flavour and teaches you new things about the characters. Some of the performances may lack polish, and the film is engrossing enough that at only 75 minutes it feels short, but there's emotional honesty, heart and care in this piece of work that signifies E.B. Hughes as a talent to watch. 

Paul Rowlands is a Japan-based writer. After completing a BA Humanities course (majoring in English and Science) at the University of Chester, he moved to Japan in 1999. He writes for the James Bond magazine, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, has had articles published on Press Play and has had an almost lifelong obsession with cinema, something the advent of DVD only increased. Paul is also a writer of so far unpublished short stories and novels, and is planning his first short film.