• Kathy Bates won the Oscar for Best Actress in Misery, co-starring James Caan and made into a movie from a book by Stephen King. Director Rob Reiner told her that she had the lead part of Annie Wilkes, and Ms. Bates, who had never had the lead in a movie before, said, “The part. I’ve got it?” Mr. Reiner nodded and said, “You’ve got it.” Unbelieving, Ms. Bates said, “The Annie part. Annie Wilkes. That part?” Mr. Reiner nodded again. Still unbelieving, Ms. Bates said, “Annie Wilkes. The lead. And I’ve got it and it’s all set and everything?” Mr. Reiner replied, “All set.” Ms. Bates said, “Let me just get this straight — I am playing Annie Wilkes, the lead, in Misery?” Again, Mr. Reiner replied affirmatively. Ms. Bates said, “It’s done and everything, I mean, I am definitely playing Annie, and that’s set and done and everything, no mistakes or anything?” Mr. Reiner said, “It is so set you wouldn’t believe it.” Ms. Bates sat silently for a moment, then asked, “Can I tell my mother?”
• Jack Pierce was a master of makeup, and he created the makeup for such movie monsters as Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man. When making up actor Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster, Mr. Pierce made sure that the mask he had created came down only as far as Mr. Karloff’s eyebrows. That way, the actor could use his eyes and mouth to express emotion. In the three movies starring Mr. Karloff as the monster, he moves very awkwardly — the result of having a heavy rod placed along his spine, and of wearing boots that together weighed 26 pounds. Mr. Karloff’s performance as Frankenstein’s Monster was very sympathetic and thousands of children wrote to him and showed compassion for the monster. Mr. Karloff remarked, “These children saw beyond the makeup and really understood.”
• Some people know what they like very early in their life. When Honor Blackman was 15 years old, her father let her choose which of two presents she wanted to receive: a bicycle or lessons in elocution. Young Honor, later to become the female lead in the movie Goldfinger and one of the female leads in the British TV cult classic The Avengers, chose the elocution lessons. (Another thing she likes is anecdotes. She tells about a young, overly enthusiastic director explaining the fine points of direction to actress Irene Handl, who listened patiently for a while, grew bored, and eventually told him, “Excuse me, I think you’ve mistaken me for someone who gives a f**k.”)
• In Quentin Tarantino’s first film, the hit Reservoir Dogs, Kirk Baltz played a rookie police officer who is tortured by the sadistic Mr. Blonde, played by Michael Madsen. To get into character, Mr. Baltz asked Mr. Madsen to put him in the trunk of his car, then drive him around for five minutes. (In the movie, the police officer is put in the trunk of Mr. Blonde’s car, then driven around.) Unfortunately for Mr. Baltz, Mr. Madsen also wanted to get into character. Acting like the sadistic Mr. Blonde, Mr. Madsen drove Mr. Baltz around for not five minutes, but for 45 minutes.
• In Spike Lee’s movie Jungle Fever, the beautiful Halle Berry plays a crack addict, a role she wanted because too many people assume that beautiful people don’t get addicted to crack — or so the people casting this kind of role seem to think. She worked hard to prepare for the role. She asked co-star Samuel L. Jackson to drive her around some of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. She also visited a crack house in the presence of some police officers — who made her wear a bulletproof vest. Finally, for the 10 days before filming started, she did not take a bath.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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