Bill Heck spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about playing the scene-stealing Young Mickey Donovan on Showtime’s Ray Donovan and Jon Voight being generous with the character’s interpretation.
Any actor looking to learn the craft of conveying body language to make an audience believe in what you’re doing needs to watch Bill Heck’s performance on Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 (“The Transfer Agent”). Young Mickey Donovan’s mini dance during a robbery spoke volumes about the character, a lasting immersive visual to frame on the wall.
During an exclusive interview with The Natural Aristocrat, Bill Heck discussed his fine-tuned work as young Mickey Donovan, Jon Voight sitting down with him on the second day of shooting, a Ray Donovan prequel show à la Better Call Saul, and even some preliminary thoughts on The Irishman’s de-aging tech! For those wondering about Jon Voight’s best tip to Bill Heck delievered in classic Mickey Donovan fashion…
“They got great writers, amazing story, everyone really knows what they’re doing… But every now and then before a take, just as they call action, tell yourself, ‘I don’t give a s**t!’ Throw it all out the window and do whatever the f**k you want!”
Interview with Bill Heck on Young Mickey Donovan:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Did Jon Voight personally comment on your performance? I’m curious what he thought of you playing young Mickey Donovan.
Bill Heck: Jon sent me a very lovely text after the episode aired, and it was a delight to receive. He was more than generous during the job. We were shooting up in the Bronx, and I think on the second day, Jon had the day off and came from the place where he stays during the season in Greenpoint (Brooklyn).
He came all the way up to the Bronx to sit down in the hair & makeup trailer with me and talk about the character and thoughts he had. And he was really curious to hear thoughts that I had. Jon was very generous and interested that I make my own choices, what views I had on the character, and really encouraged me to make it my own. As much as I could! You know, not to just do an impression. Which I’m no good at anyway! (laughs)
But it was amazing! It’s amazingly generous for Jon to come all the way up the Bronx and and sit with me to chat for almost an hour. We exchanged numbers and texted back a few times throughout the shoot. He really gave me permission. That is a real valuable thing to have as an actor. So he was lovely the whole way through. Then at the wrap party he said there with me and my wife [Maggie Lacey] for a long time. Just couldn’t have been more pleasant and more supportive. He was a real gem.
I thought the flashbacks could be a show in itself, something like Better Call Saul.
(laughs) We should put you in touch with the producers!
There’s just so much story there to explore, and it sounds like you’d definitely be willing to go back. Is that something you could see happening with Ray Donovan?
The impression I got from everybody was that they were pleased with how the flashbacks went generally. David Hollander, the showrunner, seemed pleased with how things went. I don’t know what their plans are for next season, by any explicit means. But I wouldn’t be shocked, I think they were definitely pleased to tread new ground in that way. And I had an interesting time, I wouldn’t be averse to any additional exploration, certainly!
Were you picked originally for this role because of your performance in 2013 film, Pit Stop? Even for anyone just watching the trailer for that movie, when you push off, there’s something instantly noticeable about your body language. It’s subtly reminiscent of the way you portrayed young Mickey Donovan. In general, as an actor you had great control of body language on Ray Donovan.
Thank you! That’s a really interesting parallel, I certainly wasn’t doing that consciously. I guess there’s a slight parallel in the characters in that they’re both trying to find their place in a world where they maybe feel a bit out of place. Or are not quite sure of how up to the task they may be. But no man, that was a long time ago that movie! It’s a project I hold dear. I’d encourage people to see that sweet little film.
What was it like working with Aidan Pierce Brennan as young Ray Donovan? Doing all those “Ray Ray” scenes. Those were some intense scenes, especially when Mickey’s stealing his wife’s money out of that can as Ray watches.
I mean on one hand, for me as a person being able to see what’s happening in that scene, it’s heartbreaking. But Mickey thinks he’s doing the right thing to a certain degree. Mickey maybe understands that it’s morally complex but he doesn’t pay attention to that side of things because he’s got a plan. And his plan is going to make things right.
Even if he’s deluded himself about how possible it is or what right is right or what’s best for his family. He’s moving forward in a way that he thinks is best for his family. So, in that sense even though he’s maybe got some conflicted feelings about how it may be perceived, he’s optimistic.
Do you feel in pilfering the money, that maybe Mickey was trying to protect the Donovan family as well? From the aspect that maybe James Sullivan would do worse if he didn’t pay back something.
Absolutely he’s telling himself that, yeah. Mickey’s got rings of stories that he tells himself and he believes them! Mickey doesn’t imagine that he’s deluding himself. He’s not as far as he can see in the future. He’s going to handle it, you know? It’s like he tells Ray as he’s going out, ‘everything’s gonna be fine,’ right? So I think Mickey believes it or at least he knows that to survive, he has to believe that.
That little dance Mickey Donovan does right when he’s about to rob that van, was that intentionally written into the script? Or was that you personally making an on-the-spot, Mickey influenced decision there?
No, I just tossed that in. Kyra (Sedgwick) who directed the episode and David Hollander, the showrunner, Jon, everyone included were extremely encouraging about being playful. It was a very available, open generous set. A very fun set and the character is a fun character.
I asked a few of the people which episodes of previous seasons I should watch to get a decent idea of Mickey. Everyone was really open and interested in making me feel comfortable riffing, more than I have in past gigs. I felt like I got to stretch my arms and play a little bit, which was a real joy. I had an ample opportunity with this character to do so.
Yeah, I thought those little details really made the scene. Kind of like what they call reveries on Westworld, those extra touches that make a character feel real. I mean obviously there was that iconic teeth sucking thing that Jon Voight does often on the series.
There were a couple of teeth sucking scripted moments. (laughs) That was the only little characterization that they specified! I threw in a few more here and there, and replaced a few here and there. I’m not quick to recall which ones they used in the edit but that one they definitely zeroed in on. I think at some point here I was like give me a tooth suck right here. (laughs)
Do you feel you were able to study the character more through watching other Ray Donovan episodes, meeting Jon Voight in-person, or a mix?
It’s definitely a mix. Early on I had to rely on the episodes, I think maybe watched in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 in total. I had a dialect coaching session where I’d work with the material and met Austin (Hébert) who plays Jimmy (Sullivan) and we worked through some of that and just spent some time building on it. Playing around and then we actually shot the van robbery, that was the first thing I did.
That was before I met Jon, the second day was when Jon came up and definitely he helped me expand on all the work I had done before. Just being around him you get a sense of how he’s carrying himself through the world generally, and how it applies to the work you see him do on the show.
I think maybe the most pointed tip he gave me was like, “They got great writers, amazing story, everyone really knows what they’re doing… But every now and then before a take, just as they call action, tell yourself, ‘I don’t give a s**t!’ Throw it all out the window and do whatever the f**k you want!” (laughs) That was advice to an actor that would definitely inform where the character came from and where he lives. So it was very helpful and fun.
What’s your viewpoint on a film like The Irishman where they used the same actors for flashbacks with de-aging VFX technology? Is there always going to be a place for other actors to play a major part of flashbacks or do you feel as the price of the tech drops the industry will become heavily reliant on it?
It’s a tricky one, my friend. (laughs) You know I have not seen The Irishman, though I’m certainly a lover of Scorsese and his crew. So I can’t comment on that directly. I certainly suspect it’s obviously something they’ll decide when it’s appropriate to use and when not. And I’m sure as you say it will shift as technology becomes more advanced and more affordable… I don’t know, I think that’ll come down to each individual artist.
I find it hard to imagine that a community of artists, especially when you’re speaking about a collaborative art like filmmaking or storytelling in general… That most artists would opt to interact with something that is not available to them at the moment.
You know to try and create a story or human moments, that is sort of waiting on the computer, three weeks down the road. So, in terms of The Irishman they were still working with the guys there in the room. But I can’t really speak to how the de-aging tech effected the work as far as The Irishman goes.
I think the artist will always choose what’s most fun, what’s interesting to them. I think some will find the technology very intriguing and it certainly is in its way, and some will say, ‘I want the whole warm body.’
I think actually the evolution of that question will lie more with audiences. What they’re interested in receiving. How crossable the uncanny valley truly is… Because the people are going to decide if they’ll buy it or not. That’s a good working answer down the line one way or the other.
Are you going to appear in any other flashbacks in this season of Ray Donovan? Without any spoilers of course.
That’s it for me… At least for this season.
You’re going to be in a new Netflix show called Locke & Key that’s arriving on February 7th. What kind of character will you be playing in that?
Locke & Key is based off a graphic novel series, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. It’s a series of books that is just gorgeous. It’s beautiful. It’s sort of family drama, meets horror film meets father legacy. In that series, I’ll play the father of the family that comes to live in my childhood home. I don’t know how much I can say beyond it…
I mean it’s all in the books for anyone and they’re well worth the read. The show looks amazing and all the people that I’ve worked with who’ve seen bits of it are extremely pleased with it. So I’d say it’s well worth the look this February.
I saw Liam Neeson at BUILD series and he joked around, then got a bit serious, about how theatre actors are just better actors than TV/Film-only ones because they get to perform every night. How they get more practice in and have to constantly adapt to a live audience. Since you’ve had experience on both sides of the aisle, on-stage and on-screen, what are your thoughts?
(laughs) You know one of the things I love about what I do, and brings me into context with what other people are doing, is that there’s no real template for it. There’s not one way to get where you’re going. Nobody’s ended up where they are for the same reasons. There are definitely skill sets that come with different environments and different experiences and different lengths of experiences.
There are certainly things that I know having come up in the theatre side and being trained in storytelling and acting… That I wouldn’t know had I just come up through the Television ranks in Los Angeles. But there are definitely things that that those guys know that I don’t. That I’ve had to learn later in life that I’m still learning.
I think it’s hard to stick a pin in any one answer about what’s going to make an actor better, more effective or not. Aside from maybe if they’re still curious, if they’re still interested, if they still feel like they have something to learn. Anyone that thinks they’ve got all the answers about anything, is more likely than not to not know anything.
Do you feel you prepare any differently as an actor than from when you first began? Do you have any kind of ritual every morning to kind of get into that kind of mindset or is it different for every role really?
Yeah it’s different for every role, every circumstance. Like if I’m doing a theatre gig, I have a pretty standard warmup just to get get into my body. But I switch it out based on what I have to do for a show and where I am. Mickey is an easy guy to get into physically to kind of shake your fingers up in the right way and feel it through your body (laughs) as opposed to maybe a more still character.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the comments on the Ray Donovan fan group on Facebook but a lot of people commented on your performance and the episode (“The Transfer Agent”). Do you read those usually? You should go check it out!
(laughs) Oh no, that’s dangerous man! I’m glad to hear it came off well though for sure.
Bill Heck on Social Media:
Charlotte Nicdao spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Poppy’s endearing and eccentric personality quirks like a fascination with dinner parties and shovels on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
Charlotte Nicdao took a Myers-Briggs personality test in-character as Poppy to get into the role’s psyche on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. Nicdao believes Poppy is the type of personality that can become a “mastermind” at any individual specific thing by being hyper-focused on it… But be terrible at everything else in the process. Hence, Poppy’s insistence on making her early season ideas of in-game dinner parties and a seemingly throwaway item like a shovel work.
During a roundtable press interview in New York City, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the makeup of Poppy’s personality with Charlotte Nicdao and why sometimes ‘a shovel’ is more than a shovel.
This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
Interview with Charlotte Nicdao on Poppy:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Poppy has these unique personality quirks about her like being exceptionally keen on dinner parties or even shovels. I think that says a lot about her character’s backstory. Do you feel it’s true that Poppy has never been to a dinner party before?
Charlotte Nicdao: We did have this idea that she’s incredibly intelligent but just can’t get her head around how to connect people. That’s the thing that Ian, Rob’s character, is really, really good at. And maybe part of the reason that Poppy isn’t able to get credit that she deserves. But Poppy just doesn’t really understand how other people function. I did this thing before we started shooting called a Myers-Briggs test for the character. You know those personality tests? I answered it the way that I thought that Poppy would answer it and it was fascinating what came out.
Poppy has a personality type, and I think this is really accurate to the character, who would become focused on one specific thing and become a mastermind at it. And it could be anything! So, this kind of person could choose to be social and be brilliant at it… But be terrible at everything else. And I think that’s who she is. Poppy’s the most brilliant coder in the world! Everything else is just a mess. (laughs)
Was the use of a shovel supposed to be a symbolic metaphor for always trying to kind of dig yourself out of Ian’s plans?
I didn’t think of it like that but I like that analogy! I think it was a really cool idea for me that Poppy is someone who’s basically been with the game since its inception… And is in charge of creating all these ideas that Ian has, turning them into something that’s playable. The thing that she holds dearest to her in the expansion, her beloved idea, is a tool that allows the players to do what she’s done: create something that’s lasting, that then other players can interact with. I thought that that was quite beautiful, which is not something that you would usually think of in association with a shovel.
There’s a part in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Quest where Poppy tells her boss David [David Hornsby], ‘you know that’s why your wife left you.’ That was pretty brutal! How did it make you feel to say those words?
Megan Ganz (Series Co-Creator/Writer/Executive Producer) came up with that on-set. She came up to me and was like, “When she says this, throw that in!” I love it when Megan is on-set, she gives me really good jokes!
Charlotte Nicdao on Social Media:
The Natural Aristocrat recently interviewed Charlotte Nicdao’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet co-star F. Murray Abraham (C.W. Longbottom) on his role and backstory on the series.
More Interviews at The Natural Aristocrat:
F. Murray Abraham spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the backstory of C.W. Longbottom on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, one of the definitive highlights of the new Apple TV+ series.
Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham’s ‘C.W. Longbottom’ is one of the top reasons to watch Apple TV+’s new gaming focused comedy series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. C.W. Longbottom is a writer still living off the prime of his prose, providing backstories for the show’s ‘faux’ game Mythic Quest… While laying hints to the groundwork that led to ink on paper, including a lost love that led to a lengthy stay at a hospital. If you get the drift!
F. Murray Abrahjam’s uncanny pitch-perfect comedy timing is a driving force on the show’s opening episodes. During a roundtable press interview in New York City ahead of the show’s Apple TV+ premiere, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the mysterious C.W. with F. Murray Abraham and the vital importance of a backstory.
This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: My favorite part of your character C.W. is the mystery surrounding your own backstory while simultaneously being the giver of backstories. Throughout Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, C.W. peppers in these hints like the girl he had a fling with in Morocco inspiring him. Poppy [Charlotte Nicdao] yells at C.W. around episode 2, “Enough with the backstory!” As an actor, have you ever picked up a script in your career and thought there was too much backstory?
F. Murray Abraham: I could be flip and say everybody else is a back story. (laughs) I’ve worked with Harold Pinter, he directed me in my first Broadway show. That was a play that he bought, we became friends. He became friendly with quite a few people, he’s a good guy. He didn’t look like he was, he was called the Sphinx but in fact he was very funny. Anyway, we had a play of his that was being done in town at the same time, and he was overseeing it. It was an off-Broadway production and there was something wrong with it. We were looking at the script and talking about it… He said, ‘I want to cut this and I want to cut this and try this. It’s not working.’ I said, “You have to try it, you really have to try it and try it and try it before you throw it out.” Because I believe that the discovery is not over until it’s absolutely impossible.
In a time crunch business like this one, you don’t have that much time. So, going into it with a good script which is what these have been so far, is really essential. My backstory, I want to examine that more and more because what he represents when I’m talking about another century, which is what it is, another century. It was kind of the heyday in the 60s and 70s for writers. There was a lot of money being thrown around. So, if I said at that time because I had won a series of awards, my character, ‘Yes, I want to write this book but I want to write it in Morocco. I want to write it in New Orleans. I want to write it there.’ I mean C.W. could do that and it was a style. It was a way of living. It was fun to travel in those days and it was possible to introduce his idea of a back story, his idea of how much it meant.
I think that he was kind of coddled at the time. And he still is coddled in a way in this current situation, he’s looked after, kind of. He’s put up with for certain things. I feel that backstory is essential. Ms. (Ashley) Burch brought this up earlier, fighting for the back story is something that she does because she understands the value of it. I think it’s essential to the success of this series, that each of us starts to reveal their backstories because it’s not enough to see how friendly we are with each other. And we are by the way! We have to start seeing the characters fleshed out a little more. I would like to see something on my character’s tragedy. I would like to touch on that. Or a love. There is much to explore!
C.W. is my favorite character on Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, your comedy timing is so precise.
Thank you, I love the character! How can you not like playing this character? I’m a flamboyant actor to begin with. My favorite characters on stage have always been that kind of character. I love Opera and one of the reasons is the gesture. I think that the theatre is suffering because it’s too kitchen sink stuff. I think it’s more designed for a stage as a stepping stone to the movies and television. There’s nothing wrong with that but the essence of the theater, the size of the theater is missing. I think it’s necessary.
Circuses and Opera are fun because of that size. I live for it. But if you were to try to capture what it means to go to a Greek drama. Some Greek tragedy pick one, Oedipus. They really only lasted if you do them, the way they were supposed to be done written. It’s only about an hour long and at the end you’ve come out of this with a cathartic experience… But that can only be accomplished by the screaming and the Sturm und Drang on the sides. And I think this character still is attached to that world.
He’s funny because he’s absolutely sincere about it and I’m sincere too. But also he just has a good time, I think it’s important that he relishes this life. I think it’s one of the things that keeps him alive and keeps him functioning. What it does is keeps him youngish. I feel the same way about myself. I believe that the only way to stay young at least in your mind, in your heart, is to work with younger people and to continue to work. Some of us are not lucky enough to continue to work, to get to work.
I believe you can find the work, whether you are a famous actor or you are still struggling. As an older man in this business, there are so many theaters in New York, you will find a place to work if you put yourself out there. Even if it means reading plays. What I’m suggesting is that in this production, in this series, you have four generations of actors. I don’t think there is another show that can claim that. And it’s not just an old guy who happens to be peripheral. He really has something to say and it’s important to him, and it becomes important to the show.
But more importantly or as important, he has something to learn. And he’s not beyond learning! That’s an interesting aspect of this character, and that’s where Ashly (Burch) steps in because she takes it on herself… Without being snotty and nasty to me, to teach me how to do this. In return, I try to teach her what it’s like to work the classics into her work.
Just wanted to say, I really enjoy your work as Dar Adal on Homeland!
Oh man, those are some great scripts!
Watch Apple TV+’s new gaming development/streaming world comedy sitcom series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet now.
Katharina Kubrick spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about the timeless nature of her father Stanley Kubrick’s films, the new ‘Envisioning 2001’ Exhibit at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), Stanley choosing Steven Spielberg to direct A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the Barry Lyndon threats, The Irishman’s de-aging tech, and much more.
It was a great honor for The Natural Aristocrat to interview Katharina Kubrick, daughter of Stanley Kubrick, about her late father’s lifetime of contributions to cinema at the Astoria, Queens based Museum of the Moving Image. New York City’s MoMI will be home of the Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey Exhibition open now until July 19, 2020. Rarely does The Natural Aristocrat get sentimental but to be personally connected to Stanley Kubrick’s family and history in any fashion is truly surreal.
Katharina Kubrick discussed film as an art form, why her father’s work connects seamlessly with generation after generation, her favorite part of MoMI’s Envisioning 2001 Exhibit, Stanley as a family man, and questions film aficionados may be wondering about. Including: Would Stanley have embraced The Irishman’s de-aging technology? What ultimately made Stanley decide to hand directing of A.I. Artificial Intelligence to friend Steven Spielberg? The details of the threats made during production of Barry Lyndon, and the tragedy that made Stanley abandon flying.
Watch the full interview with Katharina Kubrick above or read the transcript below:
Interview with Katharina Kubrick:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: You mentioned earlier at the ‘Envisioning 2001’ presentation that younger fans have come up to you and said, ‘this film is G.O.A.T!’
Katharina Kubrick: (laughs) I’ve only just learned that phrase!
It really makes Stanley’s work timeless. What does it mean to you to have multiple generations always returning to these films no matter how many decades pass?
You know, why do people still listen to Bach? Why do people still look at Van Gogh’s paintings? I think if the art, whatever it is, whatever form it takes, whether it’s a painting or music or film is honest and speaks to people, then it will last. I think a lot of people think that film is a sort of a one view consumer project.
I mean obviously a lot of films are. But if you’ve put a lot of heart and soul, thought and effort, and money into making a movie, to my way of thinking, you should be wanting to make a film that lasts. Why would you make something that you just think, ‘Oh, people are going to forget it by the time they’ve walked out of the cinema’?
Film is one of the great art forms, it involves story and music and acting and design. And it is so all encompassing of all the arts. You have a lot of different artistic disciplines that come into making a film. It’s new, in terms of world art but I think good films make a great contribution to the quality of our lives. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? (smiles)
Were you were heavily impacted by your mother Christiane in pursuing art as well?
Yes, my mother is an artist. She’s a very good painter and has a very good website, ChristianeKubrick.com. Stanley found her when he was in Germany making a film called Paths of Glory, and wanted an actress for the last scene. He was watching television and saw her in a play, called her agent, asked for an interview. And you know the rest as they say, is history.
She had been acting for a living but didn’t really want to be an actress, she always wanted to be an artist. Being with Stanley meant that she didn’t have to act anymore and she could be a painter. So there were two artists living in the same environment and encouraging each other. They were a great team those two. (smiles)
I’ve noticed while listening to you earlier and in general that Stanley always wanted to make his work a family affair. He’d feature you and your sisters in film cameos, utilize family-made paintings and music. Essentially, want all of the family involved in some fashion.
I think if Stanley had his way we would all have worked in the film industry because as far as he was concerned… Why wouldn’t you want to work in the film industry? He was very pleased that I went into the art department and films and had my own career apart from working for him. My late sister Anya was an opera singer, so obviously the film business wasn’t for her. And then my youngest sister [Vivian Kubrick] made a documentary on The Shining.
So, he was very keen for us to be involved because he thought it was the best business to be in. He would involve us whenever he could. We were always together as a family. We always traveled everywhere together. Everything was based from home. And so we were all if not directly involved, we were all there and he would show us drawings or concepts or talk to us about ideas he had. “What do you think about this, and what you think about that?” We were always a team.
One of my favorite movies personally is Barry Lyndon. I’ve read that Stanley received threats for having British soldiers essentially on Irish soil?
No, they were Irish soldiers. Well, what we had is a British film crew and we were in Waterford (city in Ireland) and the soldiers were all Irish soldiers and a lot of the crew were also Irish. But the main film unit was British. We were renting a house and there was a cleaning lady and she said some guys came to clean the windows or paint the house. I can’t remember which way it was. And they said, ‘Oh you know, these people are not who they say they are. We know who these people are.’
There were difficult times in Ireland at the time. And then I think there was a phone call received and it was made very obvious that we needed to not be there anymore. That there was a potential threat against the crew, if not us directly.
I was actually not in Ireland, I was back in England at the time when it happened. They just had to hightail it out of there. Stanley said it’s just a movie, it’s not worth anybody getting hurt for. So he was very pragmatic from that point of view. They moved to England, the whole unit move to England. I went back on the picture and we all started looking for locations again, and we set up the production offices in Salisbury (city in Wiltshire, England).
I’ve always been curious about A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a film that Stanley started being interested in making all the way back in the 70s. From what I’ve read over the years, Stanley really wanted to make this film and it seemed stuck in development limbo. Eventually he asked Steven Spielberg if he would direct the picture.
Why did Stanley feel the technology was never quite good enough prior? I’ve read Jurassic Park had a considerable impact on Stanley decidedly pushing for Spielberg to direct, although Spielberg still wanted Stanley to direct the film. Would Stanley have directed the film after Eyes Wide Shut had he not passed?
No, there were certain sequences in A.I. that CGI hadn’t caught up to at that point. They weren’t very good at doing fur and water. Stanley was very impressed with Jurassic Park. When he approached Steven and said, “I really think you should direct this and I’ll produce,” Steven was surprised obviously. But then I think very encouraged and he didn’t give it back. Stanley was going to do it, after Eyes Wide Shut it was fully his intention to work on A.I.
He told me that he thought he would make it too dark and that it was more Steven’s subject matter. That the two of them would collaborate very successfully. They were really good friends and they talked about it a lot. I think it probably would have been a very good collaboration. I feel is already a really dark film and Stanley thought that Steven’s sensibilities were more appropriate for the subject matter.
I think they more or less agreed that Steven would direct it and Stanley would produce it. I’m very pleased that Steven made it.
How do you feel Stanley would have looked at the de-aging technology recently used in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman?
I haven’t seen The Irishman but Stanley would have loved all the new technology for sure! I think he would have just been finding ways that he could incorporate all the new stuff into a new story. He never knew what film he was going to be making next. Stanley was a voracious reader and he said that finding a good story that he wanted to make and fallen in love with was the most difficult thing for him.
It took him years to decide what to make or to find a good story that would sustain him throughout the filmmaking process. Because you have to really love it and believe in it and trust in your instincts. And then you have to do all the research, which was part of the thing that he liked doing a great deal, was the research. It’s like he cut filmmaking into thirds first third was research, second third was filming it, and then the last third was editing. That was his favorite process of the whole thing, the editing.
Did you personally watch Doctor Sleep?
Yeah, I’ve seen it. Well, I haven’t seen it finished. I saw it a couple of months before it came out.
You mentioned earlier how much Stanley loved New York. I’ve read that after Stanley got his pilot license, he felt that commercial airlines weren’t safe and didn’t really like traveling by flying anymore. Do you feel the choice affected his life in any way?
He did have a pilot’s license and he flew a very small plane himself. What happened was that his good friend was killed in an air accident. Stanley, being his close friend was sent all his personal effects and I think it just freaked him out completely. He just couldn’t cope with it. He just didn’t fly, didn’t have to fly. We always went everywhere by ship.
What’s your favorite part of the ‘Envisioning 2001: Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey’ Exhibit here at the Museum of the Moving Image?
I like seeing all the sketches and the the artwork, actually. It’s good fun. It’s very interesting to see the process, the way people’s minds work in getting to the final result. There’s lots to see!
Be sure to check out the full MoMI Envisioning 2001 Exhibit Press Presentation and The Natural Aristocrat’s tribute article to Barry Lyndon’s use of Handel’s ‘Sarabande’ as a prominent piece overlaying the film.