Despite leaving nearly three messages Sir Edwin’s agent still hasn’t heard anything about his client’s offer to appear on In The Actor’s Studio. Here are just a few of the pearls of wisdom the screen veteran hopes to share with a small but appreciative audience about making a living in this business he still calls ‘show’.
It’s very difficult to appear in a science fiction movie and not end up with egg on your face. The costumes are ridiculous, the dialogue is utterly meaningless, but they do attract the kind of audience that wear t-shirts and so don’t think twice about paying $25 for your autograph. The thing to remember about pictures set in space is that everywhere’s called Planet This or Zone That. When I was filming The Black Hole and the cast started staring at me because I’d forgotten a line I’d just say ‘I’m nipping out to the Smoking Sector: anyone want a cigarette?’ and walk off. It worked every time. At the wrap party Maximillian Schell gave me an ashtray, which I like to believe was his way of saying ‘I wish I’d thought of that’.
When Lee Marvin asks you to go for a drink after work it’s probably best to say no. If you’re working the next day there’s every chance you’ll be late on set, which causes no end of problems. The release of The Dirty Dozen was delayed by quite some time because Lee and Robert Ryan went out for a quick one and didn’t get back for eighteen months. And that was only because the authorities in Mexico were very understanding. Lee put his time in jail to good use creating a beautiful corkscrew with an ornate carved handle that he used to scratch off his lottery tickets.
3D is another one of these newfangled ideas that’s actually been around for so long that everyone forgot it existed in the first place. After the success of Creature From The Black Lagoon I was cast in the sequel, Raccoon From The Rocky River, playing a Canadian Mountie who gets bitten by a radioactive raccoon. Sadly it wasn’t as much fun as it sounds, and several takes were ruined because I kept bumping into the set. It wasn’t until years later that Sophia Loren told me you don’t actually have to wear the glasses while you’re filming. Sometimes I wish it had been pointed out at the time, but life’s too short for regrets. That said I am sorry I ran over Linda Hunt, but she ran out from behind an ice cream van and I didn’t have time to break.