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Tuesday 16 July 2019
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FLUFFER AND STANLEY KUBRICK

FLUFFER AND STANLEY KUBRICK

I really don’t know why so many actors complain about Stanley Kubrick. Much like Alfred Hitchcock, he was quite simply the best director who has ever lived, and so was William Wyler.

We first worked together on a little picture called Spartacus, which sadly never got the commercial or critical success it really deserved. I was a Roman or something, and so spent all day sitting around in a toga with my sandals on waiting to be called, but it was well worth the wait. He’d put his arm around my shoulder, give me a couple of pointers like ‘all you need to do Neddy, is walk down the steps, turn to Olivier, and give the line: action!’ 

And that was it! You were off! 
I’d walk down the steps, turn to Larry, do the line, Kubrick would shout ‘cut!’, give me the thumbs up, and that was it, on to the next scene. 
I know that some people complain that he’d make them do endless re-takes, but I like to get it right first time, every time. You really do get to the bar a lot quicker that way. 
It’s only because I kept calling Olivier ‘Larry’ and not ‘Crassus’, that my scenes couldn’t be used in the final cut. If truth be told it was quite a relief, as to this day I can’t believe that anyone’s watched Spartacus without thinking that it must be the worst film they’ve ever had the misfortune to yawn their way through. I tried to add some comedy to the final scene, by waiting until everyone yelled ‘I’m Spartacus’ then shouting ‘and I’m Sir Edwin Fluffer!’, but Tony Curtis was furious and pushed me over.  
Peter Ustinov thought this was hilarious and told the story over and over again in his one man show for many more years than anyone cares to remember. I tried to make him shut up by hiring a hitman, but that’s another story…
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