Thursday, April 15, 2010

PETER MAYHEW: 2002 INTERVIEW


Peter Mayhew is luckiest man in the world. He’ll tell you so himself. He was the right size, in the right place at the right time. You can’t help but notice Peter Mayhew. ‘Abbie Hoffman’ came to mind when I saw him sitting at the autograph table at Dragon*Con 2002. ‘Abbie Hoffman playing for the NBA’ is what I thought when I passed him walking through the hotel lobby. David Prowse didn’t seem so big anymore. The wild hair Mr. Mayhew sported made me wonder if he had to wear a costume to play Chewbacca.


I sat with Mr. Mayhew on day one of the Dragon*Con convention. What follows is based on my memory two weeks later. I think I lost the tape of our conversation when I dropped my backpack on Kenny Baker’s wife.


Rusty White: I’ve always thought you would be a good guy to have at my back in a bar fight!


Peter Mayhew (Laughs) Thanks. I think.


RW: How did you get the part of Chewbacca?


PM: The suit fit.


RW: Simple as that?


PM: Pretty much. I was the right size.


RW: Sometimes you hear actors complain that a part stereotypes them to their detriment. Has Chewbacca been a problem for you, professionally?


PM: Are you kidding? This has been the best thing that ever happened to me. In the last 25 years, I’ve been able to travel all over the world, get paid for it. I never have to pay for a thing. I can go out in public without being recognized. If I want to be recognized in public, it will happen. "Star Wars" was great to me. I’m set for life. I just got back from Australia. They had a "Star Wars" convention down there.


RW: Do you do a lot of these fan conventions?


PM: Quite a few. This one’s the best.


Mr. Mayhew nodded his head. I looked in the direction he was pointing. A buxom blonde in a Victoria’s Secret get up is posing for pictures.


PM: This convention is the best one in the world. You just wait. You’ll see. This place gets wild.


I’m amazed how much Dragon*Con has in common with certain alternative lifestyles conventions you hear about. The blonde moves on down the line.


PM: The fans are great. You’ll see.


Being a somewhat overweight writer, rather than a celebrity, I don’t think I will be having the same type of fan interaction as Mr. Mayhew.


RW: What do you see as the appeal of Chewy’s character? Life wouldn’t be quite so good if you had been saddled with a character like Jar Jar Binks or those pesky Ewoks.


PM: Chewy is just a great big teddy bear. He is loyal to his friends and he will rip apart anyone who threatens his friends.


RW: I was hoping for a scene in which Chewy looks around to see if anyone is looking and then squashed a few Ewoks for fun.


PM: (Laughs) Yes, I can see that. George Lucas puts those types of characters in for the kids. Same with Jar Jar. Annoying bastard, wasn’t he?


RW: Jerome Blake said that several of his costumes in Episodes 1 and 2 were equipped with an internal cooling system similar to an astronaut’s pressure suit. Did you have anything like that in Chewy?


PM: No, it was bloody hot most of the time. Of course, when we filmed "Empire" in Norway, I was the only one who stayed warm. I could have made a fortune renting out that costume.


I pointed to one of the photos of Chewbacca that line his table.


RW: Was that your own hair?


PM: Hehe, yeah right.


I pulled a book from my backpack to have Mr. Mayhew autograph. He studies the picture intently.


PM: That is a rare photograph. There’s George, his DP…these were the guys that George started making movies with. All of these guys were the core group. I’m the only cast member.


Mr. Mayhew seems to drift back in time to a place long ago and far, far away. He signed my book. A couple of the convention’s most nubile fans approached. Mr. Mayhew returned to the present.


PM: Good morning ladies!


I nodded to Mr. Mayhew to say thanks. He smiled and turned back to the two young women. I left, a bit envious, to let Chewbacca cash in on his animal magnetism.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

ARIA GIOVANNI: 2003 INTERVIEW


This is my 2003 interview with adult film star Aria Giovanni.


The Adult Entertainment industry is a thriving, multi-billion dollar business. Obviously aided by the Internet, erotica and pornography are now in more homes than ever. And not just hidden under the mattress. A number of the guests at DragonCon 2003 are involved in the business of sex. In addition to a number of Webcam Girls, the DragonCon 2003 guest list included two successful stars of the adult entertainment industry. Melissa Wolf is a long time veteran in the world of magazine modeling, circuit dancing and adult film. Aria Giovanni is a relative newcomer when compared to Ms. Wolf, yet she has made her mark by appearing in the films of erotica master Andrew Blake. Both ladies sat down with me to shed some light on what it takes to survive and thrive in a very tough industry.


Aria Giovanni is a brunette beauty who has done magazine layouts and videos for Penthouse magazine. She has also appeared in four films by the current auteur of erotica Andrew Blake. Mr. Blake’s films transcend 99.9% of the films produced in the adult film industry. In addition to her erotic adult films, Ms. Giovanni appeared in Marilyn Manson’s experimental film "Doppelherz," the R-rated "Survivor" spoof "Survivors Exposed" and Fred Olen Ray’s "13 Erotic Ghosts."


Rusty White: I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that Andrew Blake is really a well-known Hollywood director. His sense of cinema and camera artistry is amazing.


Aria Giovanni: I have people ask me if he is really Steven Speilberg. No, he’s a real person. Not a director using a fake name.


RW: You’ve been successful in a tough industry. Any words of advice for others thinking about entering the adult industry?


AG: I think the most important thing to know is what you don’t want to do. Where you draw the line in the sand. A lot of people go into the industry not knowing where that line is. I was one of them. I crossed it. You can’t take it back. It’s going to be thrown in your face constantly. If you know what you don’t want to do, more than what you do want to do, that is the most important thing. Because you never want to look back and regret what you’ve done. Because it doesn’t go away.


And it’s a lot of hard work. You have to be ready to work at it, and to work on your own. To be your own boss, make your own decisions. Go after your own jobs, be on time, make sure that you’re groomed properly. It doesn’t seem like a lot of things, but you really have to work hard at it because people are not chasing you down. Especially in the beginning where you have to chase people down. You have to put your name out there. You can’t depend on other people to do it for you.


RW: You have worked with who a lot of people believe is the best erotic director around, Andrew Blake. How is he to work with?


AG: Definitely, he’s an artist. I love working for him. Not only because the end product is good, but we are taken care of. It’s not like two people rubbing each other in the wrong direction. Ever thing falls into place. It’s an easy day. It’s not grueling. You have a lot of fun. The girls get along on the set. I have a lot of fun shoot for Andrew. And then, you see the end product, it’s amazing! What he does with the camera. You say, "I remember shooting that, but I don’t remember it looking that way. Wow!"


RW: Do you feel stigmatized working in the adult industry.


AG: I really haven’t had anyone come up and say I’m going to Hell. But I don’t put myself in a position where I will offend anyone. I don’t do this in church, or promote my work at schools (laughs). I do it in the proper environment with a respect for the people who are around you. I really haven’t had any problems with people being affected with what I’ve done. I try to portray my work as responsibly, as beautifully and artistically as I can and yet being nude at the same time. We are born naked. I don’t have a problem with nudity. I don’t think its wrong. This is more than a job. It’s a business. I’m incorporated. I run my own website.


RW: That was my next question. Are you your own boss?


AG: I am my own boss. I decide who I shoot for, when I shoot, when I travel, when I stay home, when I take a vacation, when I do nothing and when I do everything. Not a lot of people can say that. When business is bad I have myself to blame. When business is good, the same thing. I have to motivate myself to find new things to bring in new revenue.


RW: Was this a long process, becoming your own boss?


AG: Of course. You don’t walk in and incorporate with out proving yourself. I incorporated right before I launched my website. After that you’re out there pushing your brand name. In any field possible. I’m not just talking about nudity. Whenever I get the chance to attach my name to something else…I’ve done a cover of "Heavy Metal." I have attachments to comic books. It happens that way in many different things. Is it something that is reputable, something I am interested in, then I do it. If it’s a good decision from a business standpoint.


RW: Tell me about your website.


AG: I’ve had my website for almost two years.I update five times a week, which is unusual for a single model site, because most update two ties a month. I have glamour, candids, fetish, amateur, artistic nudes in one section. All different types of photos. I also have a weekly diary. I have an appearance page. My net buddy section. A links page, a message board. There’s a lot on my site.


RW: Do you have a webmaster, or are you like Asia Carrera who does her own site.


AG: No, that’s not possible for me because I travel so much. I set up my own photo shoots, I make up the photo galleries, I control the content and my webmaster uploads it to the server. I own my site outright. That’s another thing that is different. Most folks have a rent share site. They only get a percentage of their site. I pay my webmaster by the hour. I have total control.


RW: Thanks for your time.


AG: My pleasure.

MELISSA WOLF: 2003 INTERVIEW


This is my 2003 interview with adult film star Melissa Wolf.


The Adult Entertainment industry is a thriving, multi-billion dollar business. Obviously aided by the Internet, erotica and pornography are now in more homes than ever. And not just hidden under the mattress. A number of the guests at DragonCon 2003 are involved in the business of sex. In addition to a number of Webcam Girls, the DragonCon 2003 guest list included two successful stars of the adult entertainment industry. Melissa Wolf is a long time veteran in the world of magazine modeling, circuit dancing and adult film. Aria Giovanni is a relative newcomer when compared to Ms. Wolf, yet she has made her mark by appearing in the films of erotica master Andrew Blake. Both ladies sat down with me to shed some light on what it takes to survive and thrive in a very tough industry.


I had seen the beautiful face (and other parts) of Melissa Wolf over the years. I never put a name to the face until now. The centerfold model and adult actress claims to have made more appearances in Penthouse magazine than any other model. Ms. Wolf was decked out in a latex cape, bustier and cap studded with spikes. Underneath her obvious physical talents lay a sharp business mind. Ms. Wolf gave me a few moments of her time.


Rusty White: You’re in a tough industry. Any words of advice for young women who might be considering a career in the adult industry? There have been a lot of victims in the past; Savannah is just one example.


Melissa Wolf: Yeah. I think the best thing to do, obviously, the number one thing is "Don’t do Drugs!" Do not get involved with them. Drinking is okay socially, but never at work. The magazine industry, as you know is not what it used to be. That’s what I’m really known for. I’ve been in over 110 issues of Penthouse Magazine and now they’re going Chapter 13. It’s become so acceptable, I mean, these young college girls will go to a regular nightclub and lift up their shirt for a drink. So why would any of these boys want to go to an adult club and pay admission and the outrageous prices for drinks and pay for a girl to take her top off when they’ll do it a bar for free. So it’s hurting the industry a lot. Words of advice to these girls is…You can do the magazines and make your mark, but you have to be really smart about it now a days because it is just not what it used to be. Now it’s starting to peter off into the beach. It’s not what it used to be.


RW: Yeah, you have the "Girls Gone Wild" DVDs, two for ten bucks.


MW: Yeah, that’s what I mean. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Girls will lift up their shirt just to be on a video. It’s really hurt the industry a lot. It really has.


RW: How is work on a film different from doing magazine layouts?


MW: Film shoots are always harder. You have to be on top of your game. On photo shoots you can be a little sleepier, a little tired and still look hot and sexy.


RW: What did you think of "Boogie Nights"?


MW: It was a great movie. That era was before my time. I was like 13. I remember when Marilyn Chambers came to Bellingham Washington for a book signing when she was really hot. I was only 10 or 12 then. Then eight years later I was performing on stage with her. I was her opening act.


RW: Do you have your own production company?


MW: I do. I have my own company now. Lesley Wells has her own company. A lot of girls have their own companies now.


RW: So it’s getting easier to control your own product?


MW: Oh yeah. Girls are getting smarter. I mean, look at Jenna Jameson. She was the one who just marketed herself to either Wicked or Vivid. She went into them and said "I’m going to produce it, I’m going to pick my own crew and I’ll give you a percentage for marketing it." She owns and controls it all. I remember when I was on the circuit and she first came out. She danced on the circuit and her career just took of. She took it to the next level. She became the next Marilyn Chambers, or even surpassed it.


RW: Do you think the type of success Jenna Jameson has can be attained by others?


MW: It can happen. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time.


RW: What do you have coming up next?


MW: My Halloween party. This is the 3rd Annual Fantasy Fest Halloween party. We bring in features from all over the country that entertain in all the local strip clubs across the US. They come in, ad we invite all our fans. The party is $100.00 per person, but it’s catered and that includes all the food, beer and wine. It goes from about 9PM until about 2 or 3 in the morning. The following day, all of us girls get together and for $150.00 the guys can come and do a photo shoot for one or two hours. I know that’s what they like because they fly in from all over the country. And the November 1st at the Gold Rush Showbar in Atlanta all the guys will get free admission to come in and see our showcase. There will be about 15 performers, so it will be a really big show.

NOAH HATHAWAY: 2003 INTERVIEW


This was my interview with former actor Noah Hathaway at the 2003 DragonCon convention in Atlanta, GA.


Actor Noah Hathaway became a teen heartthrob in Wolfgang Peterson's fantasy epic "The Neverending Story." As one fan at DragonCon put it: "You were the cute one!" Mr. Hathaway was making his first fan convention appearance at DragonCon. Fans of "The Neverending Story" and "Battlestar Galactica" lined up to meet the young man. Mr. Hathaway has retired from the movies. He and his wife are in the beginning stages of opening a Chopper Shop in Miami. Noah told me to sit down and hangout a while.


Rusty White: So, this is your first convention?


Noah Hathaway: First convention! Yeah. Man, it's a blast. Everybody is so nice. It's funny. That's all I keep saying, that everybody is so nice. But that's true you know. In LA everybody ain't so nice. It's an amazing change that everybody who comes to my table is 100% good human being.


RW: It's kind of a show from this side of the table to, this being a costume convention.


NH: Absolutely, absolutely. I wish I got to get up and see a little more yesterday, but I got stuck in here. But yeah, the costumes are incredible, the lack of costume is incredible. I hear tonight is wild. I'm judging the costume contest, so I'll have a good seat.


A Fan named Jamie: Some are scary!


NH: I've heard. Some are good and some are scary.


Jamie gets and autographed photo of Mr. Hathaway as Atreyu from "The Neverending Story." Jamie says the photo represents "an enduring childhood memory."


Noah has some elaborate ink on his right arm.


RW: How long did it take to get that tattoo?


NH: I did about 5 four-hour settings. That's about all I could take.


RW: You must be married. It takes someone who is married to endure that much pain.


NH: (laughs) That's funny that you say that. This is our wedding ring.


He shows me his tattoo 'wedding ring.'


NH: That hurt more than any other tattoo I have. We are in the shop. I can handle a lot of pain. He does the first line and my eyes budge out. I yell. My wife is sitting there freaking out. When they do her, they actually had people coming in the shop leave because she was yelling. The manager had to come in as say "Come on honey, please keep it quiet." I had never experienced, I mean this sucked! I would never do a finger again. This (his arm) was easy. They only part that hurt was the elbow.


A group of fans come up and share their memories of "The Neverending Story" with Noah. One girl picks a photo from his table. "You were the cute one!" she says. Several other ladies receive hugs from Mr. Hathaway. Like many kids of the 80s, these folks have fond childhood memories of the Wolfgang Peterson film.


RW: That is so cool.


NH: Yeah, it always makes me feel good. People are so grateful. You never think when you are shooting a movie, or you are doing what you're doing that people, that you touch people. This is really showing me what certain movies mean to people. I never knew. I've had people come up to me crying, hugging me, telling me... I've gotten this a lot. I had people tell me that "Your movie got me through a lot of really hard times." I was blown away by that. I never knew that it was deep with people. It's really touching. It's overwhelming at times.


FAN: I have a question for you. At the end of the film, Bastian leans out the window and screams the Empress's new name but you can't hear it. I've played it a million times and can't make it out.


NH: 'Moon Child.' There is a thunderstorm on the soundtrack. Everybody has the same question.


The fan is also a biker. He tells Mr. Hathaway that he is going to send folks to his website.


RW: You've got a website coming up.


NH: Yeah. I've been building a site. I'm trying to open a Chopper shop this year. I've been welding away, making frames and pipes. It's called 5150 Choppers. So I'm trying to start a website. We don't have any bikes completed. We'll have one or two by the end of the year. I already talked to the guy who founded DragonCon and he said "Absolutely, if you want to come next year and bring the bikes." So we're going to do a "Battlestar Galactica" themed bike and bring another one of the bikes.


FAN: You grew up cute! I bought my first color television set to watch "Battlestar Galactica." I'm not sure what I think of this new version of it.


NH: Everybody says the same thing. We all feel the same way.


FAN: The previews look interesting but the Sci-Fi channel is notorious for screwing things up.


RW: Speaking of "Battlestar Galactica," memories of Lorne Greene.


NH: What a wonderful man. We used to lay down in the trailer together and go over our lines. He'd have his arm around me and we'd go over our lines. He was like a grandfather to me. He really was. He was like my dad. Too bad he passed away. A great actor, a great man.


RW: Motorcycles?


NH: Yeah. I've been riding since I was a kid. I've probably had 15 different bikes. I raced super-sport bikes a little bit. I had my first Harley when I was 16, so it was something I've been tinkering with. So I want to open my own shop. We're going to try and open this year in Miami. It's hard. You're starting out in the garage and see where it's going to take me. We'll bring them to the conventions and that'll help spread the word.


RW: Make the ride to Sturges.


NH: Yeah. I don't know about making the ride. We might make the trailer ride. That's a hell of a long ride from Miami. But I think about them. I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming about them. My wife gets mad because that's all I really think about or do these days. So, we're just going to try and get a couple of bikes up and going by the end of the year. It takes,…for people who've been doing it ten years, some bikes take 6 months to build. It'll probably take me the rest of the year to get one done.


RW: I like that show on Discovery.


NH: The Biker Build Off. Billy Lange, he's the man. That's who I've kind of been stealing ideas from. Everybody steals ideas from each other. He's amazing. So that's kind of what we'll have our bikes look like, but they'll be a little different. They'll be pretty badass looking.


RW: Do you feel conflicted. Would you rather be in Milwaukee this weekend for the 100th birthday party for Harley Davidson?


NH: I don't know. Harley's been influential, but I'm not a big Harley fan. They're very limited. The bikes we're building… I build the frame, pipes, handlebars. We're sending stuff to get patented so people don't steal our stuff. Everything is from scratch. With Harley, you build it, then you've got to take it apart. Break the neck. They started it all, but I like the way bikes are going now.


RW: It must have been an overwhelming project, working on "The Neverending Story."


NH: It was awesome. Everything was huge. It was supposed to be a three-month shoot. Turned into a six-month shoot, turned into a little over a year. So, I was in Germany a little over a year.


RW: Was there a language barrier with director Wolfgang Peterson?


NH: He had broken English.


A couple of fans come up and buy autographs. Noah feels uncomfortable taking money for pictures.


NH: That's a little thing I'm getting used to. It was nice to have the wife here yesterday to take the money. It's a little weird exchanging pictures for money. You know what I mean. It makes me a little uncomfortable. I guess I'll get used to it.


RW: Everyone who comes here expects it. I interviewed Kim Hunter at a festival in Memphis. It was her first one right before she died. She was totally unaware that she was supposed to bring pictures or charge for autographs. She was doing it for free. She said "I guess I could have made some money if I'd known."


NH: It's just weird. When you've never sold a picture or autograph in your life. We had a showing of "Battlestar" in LA last week. I walked out the door and there were 50 people. I signed a ton of autographs. Other actors walked away without signing. These are the fans. I guess it depends on who you are.


RW: Back to Wolfgang Peterson.


NH: He had broken English. Half way through the film he stopped speaking English entirely. I speak French fluently, so that really helped. He stopped speaking English entirely halfway through the film. Spoke solely in German. I picked it up pretty quick. Couldn't speak it much, but I understood what they were talking about. His English was so-so, but now, we've bumped into each other a few times. His English is perfect now. This was his first American movie, so it was a little rough.


RW: What kind of movies do you like?


NH: I'm a martial arts buff, so anything martial arts. "Blade Runner," "Scarface," "Apocalypse." I like "Citizen Kane." I like a lot of stuff. I'm an action fanatic. I love John Woo movies. I'm not a huge drama person. I think I liked them more when I was younger. Now, I'm getting a little older, got more responsibility, I don't need to be depressed. You know, it's rough enough out there. I don't want to sit and cry for an hour in a movie. I'd rather have an action or a comedy.


RW: Besides the Chopper business, anything coming up.


NH: Not really. I have some friends trying to drag me back into acting, but I'm fighting them and trying to focus on getting this chopper thing going. I'm not a mechanic and I didn't grow up with my dad being a mechanic, so I'm learning as I go. Which is kind of rough.


RW: Trying to make your own mark as your own man.


NH: Trying to, trying to.


RW: Good luck with 5150 Choppers and thanks for your time.


NH: It's been fun. Thank you.

DAVID HEDISON: 2003 (mini) INTERVIEW


This was my interview with actor David Hedison at the 2003 DragonCon convention in Atlanta, GA.


As a small child in the early 1960s, I looked forward to Sunday evenings. At 7:30PM ABC showed "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." The series starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison as the top officers of the nuclear submarine "The Seaview." David Hedison also starred in the original "The Fly" with Vincent Price. Except for the graying hair, Mr. Hedison appeared as fit and trim as he did 35 years ago. Mr. Hedison has appeared in over 100 films and TV shows during his 50-year career, with more movies on the way.


Rusty White: You worked on a number of projects with producer Irwin Allen including "The Lost World" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." How was he to work for?


David Hedison: He was, I tell you, he was fantastic because he had such great enthusiasm. And he was a great salesman. He would go in with a project, would go into the networks and sell the idea because he got so involved with it and loved it so much. He exuded all that enthusiasm to the ABC brass and they just bought everything he said. He really was incredible. He loved his work. He loved actors. He and I had a lot of differences. I didn't agree with a lot of things he wanted to do, but the show was quite successful so who am I to say.


RW: I imagine you are referring to the addition of monsters to "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."


DH: Those I thought were difficult, unrealistic. Richard Basehart and I wanted very much to make a more realistic kind of show and work a little more on our characters. Which never happened. If Richard was sick one day, they would just give me his lines. They were all interchangeable. It was just one of those unfortunate things because there was never anything totally specific about either one of our characters. We were just very solid, grim personalities, and that's the way it was. But we had great fun and I loved working with Richard. He was fabulous.


RW: He struck me as someone who could be very intense. I loved his breakthrough film "The Fourteen Hours" where he played the man threatening to jump off a hotel ledge. It appeared he had a deep intensity that may have come from his true self.


DH: Yes. That's the way he is. As a personality he was more of an introvert, while I am more of an extrovert. He's very sort of into himself. But he and I got along great and became very good friends. Our families are friends.


RW: In "License to Kill" you made the best Felix Leiter, and I thought Timothy Dalton was a great Bond. You believed he could be a cold killer when he needed to.


DH: He was very good. A fine actor.


RW: I'd have liked if you had played Felix in other Bond films, but they went and fed you to that shark.

DH: I did it with Roger in "Live and Let Die" and Timothy in "License to Kill." Originally in the book "Live and Let Die" Felix was fed to the sharks, but they switched it all around for the movies.


RW: What do you have coming up?


DH: I did a film in New York, a low budget film called "Death by Committee." That should be out next year. And I did one in LA called "Spectres," and it was an interesting film. It should be our next year also. So I have two films coming out in 2004.


RW: "Spectres." What is it about?


DH: It's a ghost story. The other one is sort of a comedy/drama. "Death by Committee." It's all about reality shows and how one contestant tries to get even with the host. It's a very funny kind of film.


RW: Who directed that?


DH: Michael Bergman did the first one and Phil Leirness, he did "Spectres" and he wrote it as well.


RW: I appreciate your time.


DH: My pleasure. Thank you.

MARC SINGER: 2003 (mini) INTERVIEW


This was my interview with actor Marc Singer at the 2003 DragonCon convention in Atlanta, GA.


As a criminal defense attorney, I've developed a pretty good bullshit detector. Having two teenage kids has also honed this talent. I tell you this up front, because I was very impressed by a simple selfless act by actor Marc Singer. Some journalists might report what I saw differently, but he impressed me as a sincere guy. The hot ticket at DragonCon this year, as far as female fans were concerned was James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The fans lined up by the thousands to get his autograph and have their picture taken with him. Reporters didn't get within feet of Mr. Marsters. As I was beginning to interview Mr. Singer, the huge line of fans was turned away from Mr. Marsters by the Atlanta Fire Marshall. Mr. Singer excused himself and went over to the discouraged fans and assured them that they would get back in. He walked up and down the line talking with the disappointed Marsters fans, gave out hugs and posed for pictures. I guess Mr. Singer must be a parent because when my little one gets upset, the best way to get her back in line is to distract her with another activity. Mr. Singer wasn't trying to hone in on Mr. Marster's fans. Hell, the crowds at Mr. Singer's table were big too. He was just being a decent guy, making the fans feel good in a crowded hot room. I thought to myself that he must be a decent guy in real life. He certainly appears to be one on screen.


Rusty White: "If You Could See What I Hear."


Mark Singer: That was the kind of film that when I was working on it, it didn't even feel like it was at work. It was really more like being on vacation. We filmed part of that up in Nova Scotia, in Canada. One of the most gorgeous spots on earth. I'll never forget the cast members that I worked with. We were all like children again on that film. We had the change to be in a beautiful spot, we got to have fun with one another. The script was wonderful. I had a great time.


RW: The scene in which you drove the car stands out in my memory. For an acting point of view, how difficult was it to portray blindness behind the wheel. I believed that you were blind in the scene.


MS: It is difficult. If you do being blind correctly you enter into a kind of state of hypnosis wherein your eyes still register color and shape and form, but your mind refuses to tabulate the results. So you are effectively mentally blind at least to your surroundings. In order to achieve that state, it was actually more difficult than people might imagine. Because you have to in a way, trust in a very Zen like way that you are not going to wreck the car. You are responsible for the camera crew that's involved inside the car with you and also with the other actors. There's a bit of danger involved but it is also a lot of fun.


RW: In watching it, I believed you were a blind person. It wasn't difficult to suspend disbelief.


MS: I appreciate it. The most daring thing that actors do, the thing that makes the work always the most exciting is that we do operate, when we are operating correctly, we operate on the edge. There are so many hidden edges to our lives all day long. We all live many faceted lives, and actors get to stand around on the edge of those facets and look around to the other side of the crystal, see what's coming up and dare themselves to go to that new plain.


RW: What training have you had as an actor?


MS: I am a classically trained Shakespearean actor. In fact, I tour universities teaching Master classes on Shakespeare. And also lecturing on the perils and joys of professional acting.


RW: I have a ferret that the wife brought home. All it does is eat the carpet and bite my feet. You seemed to have better luck with yours in "Beastmaster." Any tips you care to pass on?


MS: Basically all ferrets do is nibble on humans and eat carpet. But they more than make up for it by their beauty, the texture of their bodies and by their lovely and playful spirits. And by also by their aggressive natures. They are just wonderful fascinating animals. I don't have any in real life, but as an actor, for a moment I get to establish a real camaraderie, a real friendship and a real sense of understanding with each of the animals with which I get to work.


RW: Thank you Mr. Singer. Thanks for your time.


MS: It's been a pleasure talking with you.

BILL MUMY: 2003 (mini) INTERVIEW


This was my mini-interview with actor/musician Bill Mumy at the 2003 DragonCon convention in Atlanta, GA.


Bill Mumy (pronounced Moo Me) is a 60s Icon. His work on the TV series "Lost in Space" and "The Twilight Zone" forever cast him in the memories of the Baby Boomer generation. Unlike some child actors, Bill Mumy has continued to work successfully in many mediums. He was half of the Musical Duo "Barnes & Barnes." They recorded the cult, novelty song "Fish Heads." In addition to his acting, Mr. Mumy is an Emmy nominated musician, novelist, comic book writer, screenwriter, voice actor and narrator for the A&E TV series "Biography." Of course I didn’t know half of this when I went up to interview Mr. Mumy. I also made the mistake of calling him Mr. Mummy. Oh well. He was cool about it. There were over 350 guests scheduled for DragonCon 2003. I wish that I had the time to research all of the guests, as I believe that Mr. Mumy would have been the subject of a great interview. Here’s what I got. My apologies to his fans, our readers and Mr. Mumy for an interview that probably doesn’t do him justice.


Bill Mumy: I’m narrating "Biography." That’s my current series. A&E. I’ve done 26 this season and I did 8 or 10 over the past few seasons. Now I’m one of the four guys who narrate the series.


Rusty White: How is the music coming?


BM: Well, I’m writing a lot, and I’m playing a lot, and I’m making records. I can’t say I’m exactly tearing up the Billboard charts, but I’m making uncompromised Mumy albums. I’m painting my canvasses and hopefully some people will listen to them.


RW: If it comes from the heart, that’s all that matters.


BM: Absolutely. It may not always be in your neighborhood record store, but you can get it on Amazon.com or Bill Mumy.com. Stuff like that.


RW: How has being an Icon to the Baby Boomers affected your life?


BM: Well, I was fortunate enough to play some roles that have stuck in the consciousness of the public. I enjoyed the time I spent working on those projects very much whether it was "The Twilight Zone" or "Lost in Space" or any number of other shows. I’m glad I’ve continued to work. You know, between some of "The Twilight Zones," "Lost in Space" and "Babylon 5," Barnes&Barnes "Fish Heads" and stuff I have been attached with a handful of things that resonate within the Id of society. And that’s kinda cool. It’s rarely obtrusive to my privacy or anything. I don’t mind chatting with the public.


RW: I enjoyed your cameo in "The Twilight Zone: The Movie."


BM: We did a sequel on UPN this year to "It’s a Good Life" called "It’s Still a Good Life." I’m back as Anthony Freemont 40 years later. It’s very cool.


My impression was that Mr. Mumy was also very cool. Maybe next time I’ll be prepared for a better interview. I liked what he had to say and how he said it.

STEPHEN FURST (mini) INTERVIEW


This was my mini-interview with actor/director Stephen Furst at the 2003 DragonCon convention in Atlanta, GA.


Rusty White: You must be really excited about the release of "Animal House" on DVD.


Stephen Furst: Yeah. It’s a great DVD. It has a lot of extras on it. I watched it and thought it was hysterical.


RW: Not everybody gets to act in what is considered an American classic film.


SF: I know. I feel very fortunate.


RW: Would you share any memories of John Belushi?


SF: He was just a really, really nice person. And a good friend. Just a pleasure to work with.


RW: Were you hurt by being typecast by Flounder.


SF: I was typecast, but it didn’t bother me. And now that I’m a director it doesn’t bother me at all. I began directing about five years ago. I prefer directing to acting.


RW: What are you working on now?


SF: I just finished a film called "Dragon Storm" starring John-Rhys Davies from "Lord of the Rings." It will be on the Sci-Fi channel early in 2004.


RW: Do you write and direct?


SF: My first picture I wrote myself. I’m not a writer. I prefer to take better writers than myself and do their work.


RW: Thank you very much.


SF: Thank you.

JULIETTE MILLS: 2003 INTERVIEW


This was my interview with actress Juliette Mills at the 2003 DragonCon convention in Atlanta, GA.


British actress Juliet Mills. Ms. Mills is the daughter of legendary Oscar winning actor John Mills. She is the older sister of 60s heartthrob Hayley Mills. Ms. Mills is currently appearing on the NBC soap opera "Passions." Ms. Mills won an Emmy for her work in the outstanding Leon Uris mini series "QBVII."


Rusty White: More than anyone else in this room, you probably have the best pedigree. Was there a lot of sibling rivalry between you and your sister?


Juliet Mills: I wouldn’t say so really. Because I am four years older than my sister, and I started in the theater. That’s where I began my career. When she started I was already doing very well in the London Theater. In fact had already been to New York and had been nominated for a Tony. And that was my life. So when Hayley broke into films at a very early age I was only too delighted. We never sort of went up for the same parts or anything like that. And so there never really as been…there’s been sort of a mutual admiration society. We both love and admire each other’s work. Actually, I suppose it was seven or eight years ago we worked together for the first time.


RW: What was that?


JM: We did a tour in England and Australia of a Noel Coward play called "Fallen Angels." We did 700 performances, and we had a great. Great time on that.


RW: I’ve always admired your father.


JM: Yes, he’s remarkable. He’s 95 now and he’s still going strong. He has all his faculties. He still regales you with stories ad jokes. He’s wonderful.


RW: He has done so much great work. He deserved his Oscar for "Ryan’s Daughter."


JM: Thank you.


RW: Have you done many of these conventions?


JM: No. This is only the second one. This is certainly the biggest one. I did the Hollywood Collector’s Convention, but this is quite a different experience. There is quite a parade of people. You certainly are not bored; I’ll say that!


RW: That photo is from "Avanti!"?


JM: Yes, with Jack Lemmon.


RW: Any memories of working with him. You’re classically trained. I believe he was a method actor.


JM: Yes he was, but he was also theater trained. And of course, he was just a brilliant actor. Very adept in any medium. He was just like he seemed to be. You know what I mean. On stage and off he was the same. He was a great actor and a great friend. He was always very sweet to me. Working with him and Billy Wilder, who directed the film. Billy Wilder was the funniest man I ever me. I never stopped laughing on that film. Just one laugh after another. Certainly the highlight of my film career.


RW: How did your role on "Passions" come about?


JM: That came about through my agent. I went and met with the producers. They weren’t sure that I could be bad enough, to play a witch. Because she’s bad, as well as funny. And so I did an audition for them, a screen test and I got the job. I love it. I’m having a great time. It is fun to play the bad guy! (Pointing to a still photo from "The Nanny and the Professor") She was very, very good, and she ("Passions") is very, very bad.


RW: I remember "The Nanny and the Professor" when growing up. Who was your co-star, his name escapes me?


JM: That was Richard Long.


RW: He died very young.


JM: He died right after we finished. He was 47. He was very, very good. He was a good actor. He was rather like Gig Young. He was a great light comedian.


I notice a photo of Ms. Mills with actor Josh Ryan Evens, who died earlier last year.


RW: It was a shame about that young man also.


JM: Oh tragic. It was strange because he actually died in the show. We taped it; of course he was going to come back to life. It was going to be the Christmas miracle. And he actually died on the same day that his character’s death was televised. We taped that three weeks earlier. It was a very strange thing. But I felt that Josh would have liked it that way because he was a showbiz kid and he loved it. Now, it’s like he’s legendary because not many people have done that, I don’t think. I comforted myself with that. He didn’t have a very long life expectancy. He was only 23. He had heart problems.


RW: He had a full life.


JM: He did! He made all his dreams come true.


RW: And you have made one of my dreams come true by giving me this time. Thank you very much.

TANYA ROBERTS: 2003 (mini) INTERVIEW

This was my mini-interview with the sexy and funny actress Tanya Robert at the 2003 DragonCon convention in Atlanta, GA.



After a smoke break I went on the prowl for more interviews. I was lucky to catch actress Tanya Roberts during a lull in the crowds. Ms. Roberts co-starred in the 70s TV series "Charlie’s Angels." She is also well known for her film "The Beastmaster." More recently, Ms. Roberts co-starred in the hit TV show "That 70s Show."


Rusty White: I’m a huge fan of "That 70s Show." Why did you leave?


Tanya Roberts: My husband got encephalitis, a brain disease during the fourth season and was in a coma for six months. I had to leave to take care of him. He’s still in a wheelchair, but I can go back to work this year. So, I’m might go back. But we’ve developed two shows while he was sick. So I’m really not sure what I’m going to do.


RW: It’s nice to see someone make that sacrifice.


Tanya Roberts: Thanks. He’s my best friend. We’ve been married 20 years. He’s coming along. That’s the good thing.


RW: Have you done many of these conventions?


TR: No, I’ve only done this since he’s been sick. It’s really trippy. It’s cool to see this side of the business.


RW: Tell me about the shows in development.


TR: They’re both for cable. One is a golfing show. I do tour events all over. And the other one is a home improvement show. So they ought to be on. We already have a couple shot. I’m also starting to do a comedy of the week with Richard Hatch. We’re doing a take off on his show "Battlestar Galactica" for Comedy Central.


RW: What’s your handicap in golf?


TR: Oh, about 18.


RW: You’ve got me beat! Thanks.

BRAD DOURIF: 2002 INTERVIEW

This is my 2002 interview with Oscar-nominated actor Brad Dourif from DragonCon in Atlanta, GA.


Like the rest of the movie going public in 1975, I took notice of the film debut performance of actor Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Dourif's tortured performance as the young man almost saved by Jack Nicholson earned him Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. He won the BAFTA as Best Supporting Actor. In the almost 30 following years, Mr. Dourif has appeared in over 100 films and TV shows. Whether playing the lead or a supporting role, Mr. Dourif can always be counted on to bring an intensity and professional edge to his work. I had the pleasure of spending a few moments with Mr. Dourif at DragonCon 2003 in Atlanta.


Rusty White: From an actor's standpoint, how important is the director in crafting your character?


Brad Dourif: It depends on the medium. If it's stage, the two most important artists are the actor and the playwright. If it's film, THE most important person is the director. The director says where the camera goes.


RW: There are directors who are rigid in what they want from an actor while others allow for more give and take. Which do you find more satisfying to work for?


BD: If somebody is really pretty rigid about what they want, that makes my job harder. But on the other hand, it's king of a challenge. I've got to really get that far out of my own concepts to be able to really let what he wants in and try to execute it. Yeah, it's not an easy thing to do, so the challenge is fun. And if he's right, then it's great. If he's wrong, then it's just hard work for nothing. I'm fine with just about any approach as long as the person is not particularly nasty.


RW: One of my favorites is "Wise Blood." Any memories of working with John Huston you could share?


BD: He was great. Huston would go in, in the morning and you would rehearse in front of him. He would say, "You go over here, over here." You'd do it. By lunch we'd finish the scene. Have a one-hour lunch. You go out in the afternoon, same thing. Finish the scene sometimes 3:30 in the afternoon. That was the day. The guy knew what he wanted and knew how to shoot. He knew how it was going to cut. He had it all pretty well figured out. And he was improvising really off the top of his head. So, I would say that of all the people I've worked with, the person who understood what he was going to do, and took the most risks was Huston.


RW:"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" really brought you to the public's attention.


BD: It brought me from a level of total obscurity to a place of public recognition!


RW:Did that result in a loss of some of the personal freedom that anonymity allows?


BD: You know what, I've been fortunate enough not to be famous enough where that has been a consideration or problem for me at all. I can go where I want to go, do what I want to do. People are respectful and leave me alone. I don'' get swamped. I got the best of both worlds.


RW:Has that changed at all with "Lord of the Rings"?


BD: No. Not at all. Right now, I'm shooting a series, so who's going to recognize me on the street? I've got a moustache. When the series comes out and it's a hit, then I might have a problem. So far, so good.


RW:Is this for network or cable?


BD: It's for cable. It's HBO.


RW:Has it aired yet?


BD: No. It's in production now. It's called "Deadwood."

RW:Sounds like a Western.


BD: It's a Western. It's about the town of Deadwood. Will Bill Hickcock.


RW:What's your role?


BD: I play a doctor.


RW:Who is your co-star?


Brad points to David Carradine sitting a few feet away.


BD: His brother is in it. Keith. He plays Will Bill Hickcock and he's brilliant. I mean, he really nails it.


RW:"Child's Play." Do you loop the voice before or after the film is shot?


BD: I do it first. It's just like a cartoon. You do it first and then after that they match the shot footage to my voice.


RW:When you loop the voice, are you with the other actors or by yourself in the studio.


BD: Well, yeah. When I was doing the first one. There's no one else beside myself and anyone else whose voice has to be recorded. The lines are just fed to me raw. For the last one, Jennifer (Tilly) and I did all the stuff together.


RW:Are you classically trained, or are you a method actor?


BD: I'm formally trained, I don't know what classically trained really means. I've worked with Sanford Misner. And I've worked at Circle Rep with Marshall Mason and Lanford Wilson and some really good people. I was lucky. I had a lot of really good influences.


RW:Do you prefer the stage to film?


BD: No, no. I prefer film to the stage. I always like the rehearsal better than I like performing.


RW:Hitchcock said that once the cameras started rolling, he was sick of the movie, because he had already made it in his head. Sounds like you enjoy the challenge of discovering the character most of all.


BD: Exactly.


RW:Have you done these conventions before?


BD: Oh sure. Actually, I've done DragonCon before. A few years back.


RW:Do you enjoy it?


BD: I wish I was younger. I'd play a lot more. It looks like a ball! You could get into some really fun trouble here.


RW:I brought my teenagers this year.


BD: How old?


RW:My daughter is 17.


BD: Ouch.


RW:And my son's 14. I let them go out. I tried to go to bed, but I end up staying awake waiting for them to come in.


BD: Thinking about all the fun they could be having! Not too much you hope.


RW:Right! Thanks for your time.


BD: You're welcome.

ANN GILLIS: 2001 INTERVIEW

This is my 2001 interview with actress Ann Gillis from the Memphis Film Festival.


I envy Ann Gillis' grandchildren. Ms. Gillis is feisty, witty, very classy and sharp as a tack. I found her to be as warm and vibrant a human being as I've ever met. I told her on the last day of the Memphis Film Festival that I hoped I was able to do her justice in this interview. I subscribe to the Oriental viewpoint on dealing with our elders. They are wise and worthy of our attention. I hope that Ms. Gillis' grandkids recognize what a gem they have and sit at the feet of the master.


Ms. Gillis went from child star to teen star before her retirement from film in 1947. She came out of retirement in 1967 for a cameo in a little film called "2001: A Space Odyssey." Probably best know as Becky Thatcher in the 1938 movie of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" Ms. Gillis also provided the voice of Bambi's wife and mother is the Disney classic. Ms. Gillis flew in from Belgium to attend the Memphis Film Festival. I enjoyed the short time that I was able to spend with her. What follows are some of the highlights.


Rusty White: Growing up, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" was one of my favorite films. I still get a chill watching you and Tommy Kelly run from Injun Joe through the caverns. Would you share your memories from that film?


Ann Gillis: By the time it was over, I couldn't stand that movie. Of course I had to watch it hundreds of times during the promotion tour. The director (Norman Taurog) was there to make Tommy Kelly a star. The rest of the kids got no direction from the man. It was horrible. I had to do a scene in which I had hysterics. I'm 10 or 11 years old. I have no idea what hysterics are. The director won't give me any advice. He says come back after lunch ready to do the scene. My mother took me into the trailer to help me. She said 'I'll show you what hysterics are. Scared me to death. The only direction I got on that movie was from my mother.


RW: What happened on the promotion tour?


AG: We went all over the country showing the movie and making personal appearances. In New York City we had five shows a day for two weeks. I remember sneaking out and standing in the lobby. Some boy was hiding from his mother. She came after him and the boy said 'Mom, I don't want to go back inside. I hate this movie!' I turned to the boy and said 'Me Too!


RW: The Internet Movie Data Base lists "Bambi" as one of your credits. You did the voice of Falena?


AG: Yes. I was the wife and I also did the mothers voice. I sat in this big empty sound stage by myself calling out "Bambi, Bambi, Bambi" (Ms. Gillis changes her voice to suggest alarm, love and playfulness each different time she says Bambi.)


RW: You said you were alone on the sound stage. Did you do the voices before or after the animation was completed?


AG: I did it before the movie was made. They gave me a script, set me on a stool and had me do the lines. It was cold and difficult. The director was in the sound booth. He directed me over the loudspeaker.


RW: I know that Disney had already done "Snow White" by then. Did you feel like you were part of a groundbreaking film?


AG: Not really. Cartoons were common place. I just remember it being an unpleasant job.


RW: You played quite a few young girls with attitudes. Did you enjoy being able to act up on film?


AG: Yes. My mother was a bit of a snob. I really didn't get to act that way in real life, so it was a lot of fun.


RW: You also appeared in one of the great war time tear jerkers, "Since You Went Away" with all kinds of great stars. What was it like to work with the teenaged Shirley Temple?


AG: That was David O. Selznick's movie. One of the films he did for his wife, Jennifer Jones. I didn't act with Shirley. I remember watching her on the set one day. She got in place for the camera and her mother started yelling at her. "That's not your good side" and such stuff. I felt bad for her. Her mother pushed her hard, and in an unpleasant way. It made me appreciate my own mother even more.


RW: One last question, you came out of retirement after 20 years and did a bit part in "2001: A Space Odyssey." How did that come about and what was it like to work for Kubrick?"


AG: There was a casting call for American actress in London. I was living there with my husband at the time, so I said why not.


RW: You played one of the astronauts parents during the interstellar phone call scene, correct?


AG: Yes. Well, Kubrick was a real jerk. It shows you what can happen when a director is given a blank check. He hired two sets of "parents." I was the back up actress. The part wasn't scripted, so he told the two actors to go write their part over lunch and come back. They did. The actress playing the part read the lines she wrote. Kubrick fired her and said "I like the 'other one' better.


RW: The 'other one' being you?


AG: The 'other one' being me. That's how I was referred to. Well, we took the lines and started rehearsing and then filming. It was difficult because we were sitting side by side and saying lines to which no one was responding. Also, my conversation and the other actor's conversation were not related. We were saying all these disjointed lines and Kubrick keeps changing them. Then the other actor joins in by saying he had an idea for some dialogue. Kubrick lets him run with it. I was thinking, "Keep your ideas to yourself." We did 21 takes. Kubrick prints them all. In the old days a director never printed every take. Kubrick prints all 21 takes for this one little scene which lasts just a few seconds. He was set to keep going and I said, "You've got enough, I quit." I left. 21 takes, ridiculous.


Unfortunately, I was not able to spend more time talking with Ms. Gillis. While her words may seem bitter, the printed page does not capture the humor and lightheartedness with which she communicated. Ms. Gillis enjoyed her life in Hollywood and then moved onto the real world, living and traveling abroad with her husband. I enjoyed speaking with her and only wished there had been more time. She is just as saucy on screen as off. I'll never watch "Tom Sawyer" with the same eyes.

EDITOR'S NOTE

For any readers who speak Italian, you might want to check out Simone Odino's blog dedictated to "2001." You can access it at "www.2001italia.blogspot.com".

DAVID PROWSE: 2002 INTERVIEW

This is my 2002 interview with actor David Prowse at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA.


Proof of the magical spell that George Lucas’s original "Star Wars" trilogy still holds on the world is evident at Dragon*Con 2002. Fans stood in line for hours to meet actors whose faces were never shown on the screen. Kenny Baker sat in a high-tech soda-pop can as R2-D2. Peter Mayhew was wrapped head-to-toe in fur as the ultimate "I’ve got your back" buddy, Chewbacca. Three men were used to bring the villainous Darth Vader to life. I’ve always thought that George Lucas used one actor too many. While James Earl Jones’s electronically altered voice was heard, British athlete turned actor David Prowse did the physical stuff.


I had a chance to sit and talk with Mr. Prowse on Day One of Dragon*Con 2002. Mr. Prowse still cuts an imposing figure, even sitting down or walking with the aid of a cane due to an injury. I first noticed Mr. Prowse in Stanley Kubrick’s dark masterpiece, "A Clockwork Orange."


Rusty White: I know most people are here because of "Star Wars," but I’d like to talk about Stanley Kubrick.


David Prowse: He was a wonderful gentleman. I got along fine with him. They were casting "A Clockwork Orange" and I got a call. Stanley liked me right away. I think he was a frustrated sportsman. He seemed to like and respect me right away because of my sports background. There were many days on the set where he would tell me to pull up a chair with him behind the camera and just talk. He never invited any of the other actors to do that.


RW: You were a relatively new actor at that time. Did Mr. Kubrick offer much direction?


DP: Not really. My role was relatively simple.


(NOTE: Mr. Prowse played ‘Julian,’ the bodyguard of Patrick Magee’s character who had been savagely attacked by Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his Droogs.)


RW: Actress Ann Gillis said that Kubrick went overboard on the number of takes on "2001: A Space Odyssey."


DP: He did a lot of takes. No Doubt.


RW: How many times did Malcolm McDowell have to pass out in that plate of spaghetti?


DP: Only a few times. The scene following that, where I carry him (Malcolm McDowell) up and down the stairs was the hardest because Stanley kept doing take after take. After about seven or eight takes, Malcolm got heavy. I told Stanley I wasn’t going to do it anymore, "You have enough." He said OK. After that, while he had other actors do take after take, I only did a couple. I wouldn’t do more and Stanley was fine with it. Like I said, he liked me.


RW: How did the role of Darth Vader come about?



DP: My agent set up a meeting with George Lucas. They were casting in England. His attitude was, "If you’re good enough for Stanley Kubrick, you’re good enough for me."


RW: I was upset with the fact that a third actor was used in the ‘death scene’ in "Return of the Jedi."


DP: That was one of the most painful experiences of my life. The way it was done and the way that George Lucas treated me. "Star Wars" has been very good to me, but I suspect they did what they did because of money. Who knew…I don’t think anyone knew it would be 20 years before the next sequel came out. I think they were afraid they would have to pay me more money if they showed my face.


RW: You said that you had a problem with the way the scene was done. Would you explain?


DP: That scene was filmed under tight security in another part of the studio. They had me filming one scene elsewhere, to keep me busy. Meanwhile, the death scene is being shot somewhere else.


RW: So, when Luke (Mark Hamill) is helping carry Darth Vader to his ship, before the mask is removed…


DP: That wasn’t me. I wasn’t in any of that part.


RW: I guess it is some consolation that most fans associate you with the role, while few even remember the third actor'’ name. What was his name?


DP: Sebastian Shaw. He was an elderly man. He died a few years later.


RW: What did George Lucas say when you confronted him about this?


DP: Oh, some mumbo-jumbo about "this isn’t the death of Darth Vader, it’s the ‘revealing’ of Anakin." It was all about the money.


A fan dressed up in full ‘Darth-Vader’ regalia, complete with a sound effects machine asks to have his photo taken with the ‘real’ Darth Vader. I thank Mr. Prowse for his time. He asked me to remind his fans about his new website "Darth Vader: The Official Website of David Prowse." I promise, and take my leave. It’s time for me to search out and interview everyone’s favorite Wookie.

Monday, April 12, 2010

LINDA BLAIR: 2002 INTERVIEW

This was my 2002 interview (along with audience questions) during Linda Blair's 2002 appearance at DragonCon in Atlanta.


In 10th grade I skipped school to go to the first showing of “The Exorcist” at the Paramount theater in Memphis. The film amazed me as did the performance of a young model named Linda Blair. I watched as the film’s young star became an instant celebrity. I also watched as the 14 year old was mercilessly destroyed by the media. Her troubles were exploited by uncaring vultures looking for publicity. Ms. Blair’s public struggles became a thing of the tabloid press. Because of her public assassination, it was a pleasure to discover that the petite, beautiful woman is a fighter, a scrapper and a survivor. Ms. Blair appeared at a Q&A session with fans on Day Two of the Dragon*Con 2002 convention. Ms. Blair’s strength, humor and convictions were both entertaining and inspirational. She looks better than ever.


Ms. Blair talked about her films, friends and causes. She frankly discussed many of her battles with the Hollywood establishment, her heath and the press. Ms. Blair also hinted about a film project she is set to direct and star in. If her appearance at this event was any indication of her tenacity and determination, then Linda Blair might soon be rediscovered by the very industry that created and discarded her with such callous disregard. Those interested in reading about and helping in Ms. Blair’s charitable work should check her website at www.lindablair.com.


Below are excerpts from the Q&A session between Ms. Blair and the fans at Dragon*Con 2002. Questions submitted by me are marked RW. All other questions were submitted by fans.


LINDA BLAIR: Hi, lets do a question and answer session about what ever you want to talk about, psychology 101. (Laughs from the audience, but no one approaches the microphones.) OK, well we’re done. Thanks for coming.


Fan #1: I have a question about “Repossessed.” What was it like to do a direct parody of your own work, and what was it like to work with Leslie Nielson?


LINDA BLAIR: The director’s name was Bob Logan. A very dear friend of mine named Murray Langston, who was “The Unknown Comic” brought me a film called “Up Your Alley” that he had just finished, and Bob had directed it. He said, “Why have you never spoofed “The Exorcist?” I wasn’t in a place I could laugh about it. Everyone was either scarred of it or they could see what was funny about it, but I didn’t know how to laugh about it. So, I got a call and they asked me what it would take to get me to do it. So, I said Tom Hanks, he had not won the academy award yet, or Leslie Nielson, who was actually more famous at the time, and they got Leslie Nielson. So, I then had to create this character, and I was not sure how to go about it. But, an actor has to find was of creating different things. So I found “The Gremlin” and it became a lot of fun. It was the best thing I could of done, not only for myself, but, I think for many people so they could find the humor. Because “The Exorcist” is kind of serious. Thank you for bringing it up, because “Repossessed” is very dear to my heart.


Fan #2: My favorite film in the whole world is “Roller Boogie.”
Did you actually do all your own skate moves?


LINDA BLAIR: Everything that you can tell is me, is me. I could not, obviously do the ‘flying camels’ or some of the moves like a figure skater. I skated when I was very young, and I trained for nearly six weeks. It was hard. I really never skated back then. So, they had professionals for the more difficult stuff in the movie.


Fan #2: Did you get to keep the clothes?


LINDA BLAIR: (laughs) From “Roller Boogie”?


Fan #2: You don’t understand, I’ve loved that movie since I was seven years old!


LINDA BLAIR: I know there are a lot of fans of “Roller Boogie.” It makes me feel good. I’m sure I had a leotard or two for a while, but don’t think I have anything from “Roller Boogie” any more. I do have some pieces of memorabilia which I am starting to auction of on E-Bay for charity. You can go to ‘lindablair.com’ and click on “Linda’s E-Bay” and you will see the items I had up for charity. I do have the roller skates that I used in “S Club 7.”


Fan #3: You first worked with Murray Langston on “Night Patrol.” What was he like?


LINDA BLAIR: I saw Murray Langston on the “Gong Show” as did many people. I saw him do the bit with a cork-screw. The kind with the round head, and the arms. He would say, “This is my imitation of Linda Blair” and turn the head around and around. I met Murray and he had a night club. Kitty Bruce, Lenny Bruce’s daughter was a good friend of mine. I went with her, I was 15, and that’s how I met Murray. He has become one of the closest friends in my life. He was one of the kindest, nicest, funniest…he can always make someone laugh. He likes to entertain people and make them feel comfortable. I have great admiration for him.


Fan #3: I remember the film you did with Murray called “Night Patrol.” I thought it was funny. I liked Billy Barty in that movie.


LINDA BLAIR: Oh, Billy Barty was wonderful. “Night Patrol” was originally called “The Unknown Comic Movie” and it was on a lower budget. There were a lot of problems while we were filming. The director and Murray had differences of opinion. One person thinks something is funny and another person doesn’t, so there were a lot of problems. Referring to Billy Barty, they added farting noises that were not in the script. Billy was really upset about that. Then, they made Murray a police office who was speaking French. We don’t know why. They didn’t use his voice for “the Unknown Comic,” it was another person, and no one can do the unknown comic except Murray. So there were a lot of problems and Murray basically walked away from the picture and it is a shame. It became “Night Patrol” and it still has a large fan base.


Rusty White: Hi.


LINDA BLAIR: Hi!


RW: I was curious about “Born Innocent.” I believe you were 15 when you made that.


LINDA BLAIR: Yes.


RW: How difficult was that from a psychological standpoint was it to do that movie.


LINDA BLAIR: Hard. It was really hard. After “The Exorcist” came out…I mean, I was from Connecticut. I had worked in New York since I was 7 doing commercials. That didn’t prepare anybody for being launched into so called world fame. Nothing could. Being talked about in the newspapers, whether it was true or not. It was a very difficult arena. The next movie was “Airport 75,” which had some very big stars in it. My mother and I were just really amazed. We would sit there in our little trailer and say “Oh, there goes Charlton Heston…George Kennedy…Karen Black.” You know, it was really neat. Ruth Curtis, the producer of “Born Innocent” had this screenplay. At the time, teenagers were really used in Disney type movies or Patty Duke of course had done “The Miracle Worker.” There weren’t that many good roles for teenagers, and certainly not ones that told the truth about child abuse or alcoholism. So that was the first movie like that. A lot of people weren’t sure if I was up to the task or not, because there was so much publicity about “Did I make The Exorcist?” “Did I not?” “Was I the devil?” “Was I in the make-up or not?” You can tell it is me.


RW: Yes.


LINDA BLAIR: So he (director Donald Wrye) believed in me, so that is how the movie came about. It was very difficult because I was the so-called star of the film, so everything was on my shoulders. I had a great responsibility every day of my life. Then the challenge of getting through the rape scene was really hard. Five hours on a bathroom floor when you are 15 years old, soaking wet, and going through…well, obviously it was all make believe…


RW: Right.


LINDA BLAIR: …but psychologically it was hard. It really bothered me. It took me a long time to get over that. I really didn’t know how to get rid of stuff. I was always doing roles like ‘the person in jeopardy,’ ‘the person who gets abused’ in someway. I didn’t understand how to get rid of that so I felt abused. But, I worked through it over the years. As people know I have a great sense of humor. I think I’ve come a long way….And if you’d like to read my book on Psychology!!! (audience laughs) So “Born Innocent” was difficult for me, but it is very special because it made a difference to a lot of young people at the time.


RW: It was a powerful movie.


LINDA BLAIR: Thank you.


RW: Would you indulge one “Exorcist” question?


LINDA BLAIR: Sure.


RW: Did you ever meet the Mt. Rainer boy on whom the book was based?


LINDA BLAIR: No.


RW: One last question. You mentioned “Airport 75.” Christopher Lee is one of my favorite actors. Do you have any memories of working with him.


LINDA BLAIR: No.


RW: No?


LINDA BLAIR: No. That’s a lot of no’s!


(A deaf man approached the microphone. Dragon*Con’s “signer” translated this question and answer as she did for the entire program.)


Fan #4: Do you still collect horses?


LINDA BLAIR:>LB: I don’t collect horses. I used to train and show horses. I would but and sell. It is a very difficult business. My heart does not allow me to buy or sell animals anymore. I rescue dogs. I am the president of the “Pacific Coast Dog Rescue.” I help animals all around the world. In every city I go to, I like to meet people in that city who work in their community to work with animals and/or children or people that are in need of help, because I believe community service is a good thing.


Fan #5: Would you recommend that a child appear in “The Exorcist” today?


LINDA BLAIR: Do I believe that a child should be put in the position to make a film like “The Exorcist”? My answer would be no. I was not raised…I was not trained to be an actress. Modeling and commercials is quite a bit different. So I was falling into an arena.


Fan #5: So you believe a child would have difficulty telling the difference between fantasy and reality?


LINDA BLAIR: I feel that if a child went through some training they would know…I certainly knew it wasn’t real, but when a job is as demanding as a “Born Innocent” or a “Sarah T.” you have delve into…for me, the only training I had was with Billy Friedkin who said ‘You have to go find something very painful, so that you are feeling that to help you emote.” I did that and that is why the work is very believable. So, I feel that “The Exorcist”…I was raised a Protestant, so I was unaware of all the tapestries of the Catholic Church. Therefore, I didn’t know what the Devil was. That was a safety net for me, but that was still a very difficult film to make. It was long. Everything was difficult to do. I didn’t understand what it was all about. But I think a lot of kids would say “OK! I’m going to play the Devil!” Nobody forced that on me. Billy Friedkin didn’t force that on me. He never said “OK, you’re the Devil.” He just sort of made me go through different motions so he could get the look, to make the character react a certain way. I’ve had kids come up to me and act like the Devil. This is not good. It’s not. That’s why I wouldn’t encourage another child to do that. “Born Innocent” was a really heavy film. Kids are much more aware nowadays. That is nothing now. The issues they have to deal with today are much more serious. Today a child can go and talk to someone and the family will be looked at. That didn’t happen back then. It was the child’s word against the parent and the parent usually won. That’s really heavy. I told you, Psychology 101!


Fan #6: What does “Linda Blair” rent from Blockbusters? What does “Linda Blair” have in her CD player?


LINDA BLAIR: You’re going to get really board. I live with rescued animals. I literally live with animals that are very difficult. I believe there is a deeper communication. I take animals from difficult backgrounds. So I have a lot of quiet. I don’t have a lot of music. When I do, it really is, it varies. I don’t listen to anything that is heavy or dark. Not a lot of “jamming” type music because that would make me go out of my mind. It’s more peaceful and, as boring as it may seem, Top 40. I love “Enigma.” Like my personality, I have different likes. If I’m doing a particular film I might use music to motivate me. I love Country Western sometimes. A lot of things. Opera still isn’t on my list. As far as movies. I like “issue” films. I don’t know why I like “submarine” films. If there is a submarine film I’ll watch that. My dad was a Navy pilot, so I think that gave me an interest in military films. I watch many different types of films. I’m not a horror buff, which many people might think I am. I’m very earthy. I own person interest is ‘healing.‘ To make the world a better place. How do you communicate that? What’s missing in the entertainment field, because I feel there is so much violence out there that it does effect the young people. I’m getting ready to direct my first film, which I will also act in. It’ll be fun. A lot of work. But I’m up for it. It’s where I am in my life right now. I wrote a book called “Going Vegan” about my life and what happened as to why I became a vegetarian and then a Vegan. That took about six months to do. So that’s pretty much it. When I do come out, I try to have fun.


RW: You mentioned earlier, problems with Hollywood, and violence. Could you expand on that?


LINDA BLAIR: That’s just my point of view. They are a little out of touch in some ways. We have some great films and then there are too many people making violent projects on television and in films. We have other subject matters that are of interest to many people and they are not being fulfilled. Right now if you have monsters, thrillers and something else, you get your movie made.


RW: Back in the 70s you had “The Waltons.” Do you think a show like that might succeed today because it would be such an oddity?


LINDA BLAIR: Look at “Seventh Heaven.” I don’t watch it because my dogs keep the TV on “The Animal Planet.” “Seventh Heaven” is a big show, but a lot of the executives don’t trust it, and they are the ones who run the show. It’s bizarre to me.


Fan #6: What is next for you?


LINDA BLAIR: I am getting ready to direct a film that I will star in. The project is very close to my heart. I have had four film projects that I was developing over the last 15 years. One was made without me, which really pissed me off. There was a television series that was optioned by Fred Silverman. I think everyone would have been really happy with it. When you present a series in Hollywood, you aren’t allowed, I wasn’t allowed to give a written treatment. I could give an oral presentation, but if you write it down, you can’t get a “show runner.” It’s all about money. To make a long story short. We went to William Morris to get a show runner. They told us what was wrong with the project. I was curious what they meant. Next thing you know they have their version of the project with one of their writers over at Disney. I asked Fred if we were going to sue and he said it happens all the time. People don’t know that I’m a viable commodity. So that’s why I’m doing this film and I’m not telling anybody anything about the movie. I’m doing it on a smaller basis, but that will be more fun. And then I feel I’ll be an entity for Hollywood to deal with.

DAVID NAUGHTON: 2002 INTERVIEW

This is my 2002 interview with actor David Naughton at DragonCon in Atlanta GA.


David Naughton told me that people are always telling him where they were or what was going on in their life when they first saw "An American Werewolf in London." As he said that, I realized that I too, knew where I was when I saw the movie. I kept the story to myself because it wasn’t funny or interesting. I must admit that talking to David Naughton ranked #2, next to getting to put my arm around Traci Lords's soft, firm little body at Dragon*Con 2002. "An American Werewolf in London" ranks near the top of my ‘favorite movie’ list. On day three of Dragon*Con 2002, Mr. Naughton found time to sit and talk.


Rusty White: "American Werewolf in Paris."


David Naughton: Say no more. A big mistake. Terrible movie.


RW: So you’re glad you weren’t in it?


Mr. Naughton makes a face that lets me know I have asked yet another stupid question at Dragon*Con 2002.


RW: It looked cold out on the moors.


DN: It was very cold. We filmed on the West Coast of Wales. It was closer to Twickingham studios than Scotland. About 20 miles outside of London. The scenes on the Moors were the first things we filmed. We actually shot the first part of the film, first.


RW: As a serious student of cinema, I must ask: was that real sheep shit or special effects?


DN: (laughs) Everything about those sheep was real. Very smelly. They found a local rancher for that scene. In fact most of the people in the pub were locals. They were very natural, so John (Landis) used them instead of actors.


RW: You and Griffin Dunne played well together. It was real ‘buddy chemistry."


DN: We just connected right away. We hit it off.


We are distracted by a sexy-young woman in a leather Catwoman suit doing battle with a Kato wannabe. Dragon*Con is all about relaxed inhibitions. You never know what is going to happen next. I think to myself "Who knew nerds knew how to party like this?" followed by "And that they attracted so many babes!?!"


DN: Did you go to the ‘Dawn’ costume contest last night?


RW: No (damn it!)


DN: It was just crazy. The contestants were flashing the crowd. The crowd was flashing them back. Just crazy!


The Catwoman and Kato move their show down the aisle and we get back to business.


RW: Tell me about your training.


DN: I attended The London Academy of Dramatic Arts. I loved it. We lived and breathed acting. As students we could see any play in London for $5.00. It was a wonderful experience and education. I worked at the Royal


Theater as an usher. That was a big part of my education, seeing such great actors night after night. In fact, I saw Jenny Agutter in "Equus" several times. On the set of "Werewolf" I realized that this was the same woman I had lusted after when I was in school.


RW: That must have been nice!


Mr. Naughton smiles.


DN: I was in a three-year program. I left after two years to work, but I can’t say enough about how wonderful an experience it was as a young actor. I mean, we had guest speakers come in to talk about acting. I’m talking about Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson. This isn’t a lecture hall either. I’m sitting in an intimate classroom, as close as I am to you and they are casually talking about their craft. It was amazing.


RW: I asked Robert Picardo if his "Billy the Mangler" from "The Howling" could take you. I don’t think he got it.


DN: (Laughs) I’d kick his ass! John’s film was the first of the werewolf films at that time. Once he got started, all the other studios green-lighted their own werewolf movies. You had "The Howling," "Wolfen" and some others that weren’t as good as those two. But we were the first and the best.


RW: It’s a great date film. It’s very funny and very scary.


DN: Yes. John walked a fine line between humor and horror. He pulled it off. He makes you laugh and then laugh harder, and then some one gets ripped apart.


RW: How long did the transformation scene take to shoot?


DN: It was a six-day shoot with six hours a day for make-up and body prosthetics. Rick Baker was amazing. He won his first Oscar for "Werewolf."


RW: I remember reading "Famous Monsters of Filmland" as a kid. Rick Baker was always sending in his makeup creations when he was still a teenager. Then he and John Landis got together at age 18 and…


DN: "Schlock!" Did you see it?


RW: Yes.


DN: I remember those days. Rick is a genius. Funny story. Rick couldn’t get a work permit in England to do the movie. John got him in the country as a tourist. Rick and his crew had to smuggle in all of their equipment. They had trunks full of heads and arms. I would have loved to see the faces of the security agents if they had been caught.


RW: It would be worse today.


I told Mr. Naughton about Lou Ferrigno’s experience with racial profiling at the Phoenix airport.


DN: You’re kidding? They didn’t recognize the "Hulk"? They’re lucky he didn’t turn green on them!


RW: I know it was early in your career, but you were the lead in "Werewolf." Did you get residuals?


DN: No. Because it was a ‘foreign film’ I didn’t get a SAG contract. At that time, if you appeared in a film made overseas you didn’t get a SAG contract. The result was we got a flat fee and no residuals. A SAG contract would have made a huge difference on that film.


RW: So, the rule has changed?


DN: Yes, now, no matter what country, if you are a SAG actor, you get a SAG contract.


RW: What do you have coming down the pike?


DN: I did a film in Brazil called "The Flying Virus." It was written and directed by a guy named Jeff Hare. Rutger Hauer, Gabrielle Anwar and Craig Sheffer were in it.


RW: Did you film in the Amazon? My wife spent a week down there and loved it.


DN: No, we filmed in Sao Paulo. It was a city, so I didn’t get my shots. When I got down there, I wished I had.


RW: Michael Caine said that he did several films just because he wanted to travel. Ever done that?


DN: Yeah. I wanted to go to Rome. I got an offer to do an Italian film and I went. Kate Capshaw and I were the only American actors on the film. It was called "Ti Presento Un’Amica." I was told the Italian actors would be speaking English. It turned out, they spoke broken English, and didn’t understand a word they were saying. (imitates) "I’ma gonna breaka you ina halfa!"


RW: Sounds like it co-starred Chico Marx.


DN: Right! I remember I was shooting a scene with an Italian actress and I had to say the line "There’s a feast tonight, I’ll do the cooking." The actress yelled "Cut!" and went off on a tirade. She was complaining to the director that I was changing the script. She said, "He said "Aldo" is cooking! Who is "Aldo"? I didn’t see an "Aldo" in the script." She thought the words "I’ll do" was a character named "Aldo." It was like that all the way through. I don’t think the movie was ever released in America. Maybe on video. At least I got to see Rome!


RW: Most Italian films are shot without sound and the dialogue is looped in later. What was that like?


DN: Actually, this movie was shoot with synchronous sound, but you could tell that was unusual over there. We would do a scene and the crew would talk right through our shots. It was very disconcerting. The crew had to be reminded that the sound was being recorded and to be quiet.


Traci Lords’ one hour autograph session breaks up. The fans gathered around her disperse to seek new prey. A crowd moves in on Mr. Naughton. Not wanting to stand in the way, I thank my gracious host for his time. Mr. Naughton struck me as a sincere and open human being. I found Mr. Naughton to be free of pretension. I found him to be an all-around nice guy. He could eat "Billy the Mangler" for breakfast any day of the week!