INTERVIEW: “A 2014 SPACE ODYSSEY, WITH KEIR DULLEA AND GARY LOCKWOOD!”
…Somewhere in deepest Londinium, a truly unique event was about to begin…
To join a select group of journalists, for a ‘Q and A’ session with Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood, star protagonists of Stanley Kubrick’s legendary cinematic opus, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
…Undoubtedly, I had enthusiastically chosen to accept, and yet, somehow, I could not dismiss the overriding feeling that the stars had aligned and the opportunity had chosen me…
Arriving early, I took the space and time to dwell upon the imminent proceedings. Only in November had I disembarked upon my journey with the blockbuster movie…and now, I was installed in a low-lit, BFI Southbank Studio, sharing a front-row, replete with male counterparts, conversing about Kubrick’s created world and the chance for further enlightenment thereof, with the giddy excitement of a child, about to unwrap a plethora of gifts, on Christmas morning!
Our expedition ‘Captain’ was Rhidian Davis, Producer of the BFI’s hugely impressive ‘Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder’ Season. Relaxed and congenial, he was also enlivened by the audience response to the scheduled UK-wide selection of events, particularly indicated by all of the “really positive” social media feedback. As he waxed lyrically, the gentle hum of classical music began piping through the surround-sound, in turn, sending my mind through its own wormhole, to the opening sequence of ‘2001’..Seemingly, wherever I went, my world was happily fated to an endless soundtrack, without the need of Soundcloud! Yet, with a topline punctuated, every so often, by the swing of a door, I would fall back into the realms of the present…to darkness falling…to the majestic ‘2001’ trailer…to new voices joining the chorus…and, at its close, to the recognition of the word “Fantastic” being uttered by one particularly familiar American accent…
…That of ‘Dave Bowman’…the one and only, Mr Keir Dullea! (Cue internal applause!)…quickly followed by another Stateside inflection, which (by process of elimination), could have been (and was) none other than ‘Frank Poole’, a.k.a, Mr Gary Lockwood! (Ditto, with the applause!)… In stature, they were the exact opposite! Dullea, tall, lithe, piercingly-bright-eyed, silver-haired, bearded and elegantly-suited, with an air of suave, Savile Row. Lockwood, gracefully-greying, with eyes of warm, deep-set intensity and an imposing silhouette, wrapped in smart-casual attire, signalling the powerful physique of his days as a quarterback and stuntman. Yet, we were to learn that their personalities made them quite the most perfect interview double-act and their arrival had signalled our take-off, into streams of consciousness, run-on lines and priceless memories, which were to become an integral part of my own, and went a little something like this (‘stage directions’ and all!)…
[The room falls into an enjoyable outer space silence].
…Of the premiere of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’…
KD [Thoughtful. Considered. Bowman-like!]: “It blew me away… Nothing readies you… The ‘Dawn of Man’ Sequence surprised me the most..”
(It transpires that they had seen no rushes of that section, as the scenes were filmed after they had wrapped their own).
GL [Excitedly, as if reliving the moment.]: “Everyone was reading about the hype of the film… but it wasn’t all that well received..”
(Save for the shuffling of a few pens on paper…the room is still, as we absorb their every word).
KD [Glancing over to GL, continuing the thought.]: “…[It] got unbelievably mixed reviews…I began to doubt that it was going to happen [be successful]…Not that it was less of a film…”
…On how they initially got cast…
KD [Measured, with a wry smile.]: “I went to a fortune teller at the Battersea Funfair and the palmist said that he saw a rocketship [in my hand]!!…I returned home and my wife said I was to call my agent…I was told that Stanley Kubrick had offered me the part…but I was also in a play with Laurence Olivier, in London, already…”
GL [Confident. Quickly chimes in!]: “I knew it was over! I knew it would be the job! None of us was going to be in a better part than that! Warren Beatty said ‘They were lucky!’…”
KD [Buoyant.]: “He was right!!!”
(The men look at each other in recognition of two friends having been in the once-in-a-lifetime experience, together. They chuckle along in the moment of nostalgia…Their warmth is infectious and the smiles spread around the room!).
…On Kubrick, himself…
KD [With a real sense of awe.]: “In general, people rave about the experience. Kubrick was so easygoing with us. I felt I was in the presence of genius…He was the most prepared of any director I’d ever worked with. Part of his genius was the way he cast…He cast well.”
(At this point, we learn that prior to ‘2001’, Gary Lockwood was a stuntman and had already been in such epic films as Kubrick’s ‘Spartacus.’ He asked Kubrick why he had been cast)..
GL [With a cheeky glint in his eye.]: “He said, ‘I thought you could do a lot, without doing anything!’…”
KD [Still caught up in awestruck mood.]: “[Kubrick] was the most curious man I’d ever met…”
GL [Bursts into the hushed atmosphere. Continues his thought!]: “People who are really good at something have to have a good I.Q! When the ‘Pentax’ was invented, he gave his daughter the ‘Pentax’ and told her to photgraph everything that looked good. She had ‘the eye’…”
(Recounting Kubrick, increases the momentum of memories, so much so, that the energy behind Gary’s statement somewhat renders it an announcement! The gravitas has us on tenterhooks…)
…Of the movie…
KD [With deep respect.]: “The genius of this film has withstood, generation to generation. What a compliment to Stanley Kubrick.”
(The silence is golden. We all feel the respect. We all agree).
…Of the films, ‘Gravity’ and ‘Interstellar’…
GL [Bold. Objective.]: “ ‘Interstellar?’ It’s not as good as ‘2001’ but there are some really great moments! Symbiotically… all things in ‘2001’ seem to work…I don’t think ‘Interstellar’ did that. The great sci-fi movie, other than ‘2001’, is ‘Blade Runner’… It’s incredible!
KD [Deliberate. Pensive.]: “ ‘Gravity’…It’s a different experience. I enjoyed it enormously. I’m proud to have been part of this movie [‘2001’]. The last really great film I saw, last month, was ‘Force Majeure’..Painfully funny is a good way to describe it. Don’t miss it!
GL [Cheery. Enthusiastic.]: “See ‘Birdman’* everybody! It’s great! Neorealistic film, with trippy little bits!”
(The pace moves evermore swiftly…)
…Of Kubrick’s character profiles for ‘2001’…
KD [Focussed.]: “We had a fictional biography…We [Bowman and Poole] both had double-doctorates and by the year 2001, they would be choosing people [astronauts] based upon their psychological profile, rather than the military [background].”
…On why they were in the pod…
KD[Informative.]: “Stanley would have us improvise scenes and then he would take the workshops and work them into the film…”
…On contributing ideas, in general…
KD [In quiet, secretive tone.]: “In the end, when I’m in that 16th century room and I’m the older person eating, and the glass breaks… The reason why I asked Stanley if I could knock it over, was in order to sense things in a different way……. The old-age make-up took 12 hours to do!”
…On re-acclimatising to Earth, after so many hours in outer space…
KD [Jokily]: “It wasn’t hard…you just had a coffee!”
…On the lack of dialogue in the film…
KD [Wonderfully matter-of-fact!]: “We’ve been in space a long while…We know each other so well, that there’s nothing much left to say! It’s laidback, as it would be, after so long…One of the interesting aspects is that the computer was more human than the humans! The only real emotional scene was when I am taking HAL’s brain apart… What I used [for intention/inspiration] was ‘Of Mice and Men’…
…Of actor, Nigel Davenport, as HAL 9000…
KD [Jocular.]: “Nigel Davenport was cast as Hal before the ultimate actor…and for the longest time, it was like Michael Caine!”
(More laughter fills the studio, owing to Keir’s brilliant impersonation of an English-accented HAL…!!)
On such a high, the ‘Q and A’ session was ‘a wrap’!
Time spent in the presence of two of the wisest, most engaging, fun-loving people whom I have been blessed to meet-and-greet, was gone, in warp-speed..
The mission might have been over but, within that silent millisecond, a mental image of Dave Bowman, hurtling into the future, sprang to mind…Proof positive that, not only would the film continue long into my own…but, having met these delightful gentlemen, the words “Open the pod bay doors, HAL” would never be the same again!
©AFROW2014-2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARMEST AFROW-THANKS TO…
MESSRS KEIR DULLEA (KD) AND GARY LOCKWOOD (GL)
RHIDIAN DAVIS (BFI)
SARAH HARVEY PUBLICITY
THE BFI’S LEGENDARY ‘SCI-FI: DAYS OF FEAR AND WONDER’ SEASON CONTINUES…
*(Since the time of going to press, ‘Birdman’ has received 7 Golden Globes Nominations).