Friday, 30 May 2008


Paul Dave, Senior Lecturer in Film at the University of East London, analyses the relationship between what makes the notion of « Englishness » and British contemporary cinema, through the prism of the core of this notion and of British culture in particular: Class.

« To put it bluntly [...] there [is] a certain incompatibility between the terms « cinema » and « Britain »... » (François Truffaut, quoted by Roy Armes in A Critical History of the British Cinema)

« The class war is over and we have won it. » (British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, 1959)


Cinema is both an industry and an art, but it is also the reflection of the societies, of the Histories, and of the cultures movies originate from. And one of the first (and numerous) merit of Paul Dave's book is to recall us - in spite of François Truffaut provocative's declaration - that British movie industry is not only a reservoir of technical and artistic talents for delocalized Hollywood blockbusters like Harry Potter and the excellent Basic Instinct 2 (with a fascinating use of its London locations), or « a bunch of people in London who can't get Green Cards » (Alan Parker, Will Write and Direct for Food, Page 85).

But the most intellectually attracting element of Visions of England is the angular stone of the book: the notion of Class as the essential component of the English culture, mirrored by contemporary British cinema.

« The Enchantment of Englishness is the dissociation of class and class struggle or, what amounts to the same thing, class and capitalism. » (Paul Dave, Visions of England, Preface)

Following brilliantly the illustrious paths of Eileen Meiksins Wood and Andrew Higson with an original synthesis between sociology and Cinema study, Paul Dave explores a vast period of the History of the British film industry, from the « Heritage » films of the Thatcher-Major Era to more experimental movies (e.g. London Orbital - 2002), not to forget « Fairy-tales » entries such as Notting Hill (1999), or milestones like Trainspotting (1996).

« Film historians agree that between the 1940s and the 1980s there was a progressive dislocation of the unity of the National community as imaged in wartime films. » (Paul Dave, Visions of England, Page 10)


« Let's play Master and Servant » (Depeche Mode)

« The Upper reaches of the English class system seem to fascinate film makers. In particular the monarchy, the aristocracy and the upper middle classes featured prominently in what some critics have referred to as the British « Heritage Film » . » (Paul Dave, Visions of England, Page 27)

The Heritage genre includes Merchant Ivory Productions - what director and cartoonist Alan Parker called « the Laura Ashley school of film making » in a cult-classic cartoon (See Will Write and Direct for Food, page 93 - this book is a definitive all-time favourite for the author of this review), movies like A passage to India (1984), or even Television dramas such as The jewel in the crown. In some respects it is what Midsomer Murders or Miss Marple are for British Television: postcards from the non-edge, the way continental Europeans or US viewers often represent themselves british cinema in a sort of collective phantasm (1).

« The authorities were disappointed to find, not the remains of Big Fat Paulie, but instead The Remains of the Day, a boring Merchant Ivory Film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins.
- Hum, funny how they could have confused that... » (Diane Simmons and Tom Tucker, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story)

The main characteristics of the genre, as idenfied by British film Historian Andrew Higson, are « sumptuous mise en scène showcasing heritage properties (landscape, interiors, architecture, costumes) » (Higson in Paul Dave, Visions of England, Page 28) and « a nostalgic and conservative celebration of the values and lifestyles of the privileged classes » (Ibid.)

Visions of England explores and expands the work of Higson on the subject with analysis of a string of typical Heritage films such as Chariots of Fire (1981), The Remains of the Day (1993) or later avatars like Angels and Insects (1995) or The Tichborne Claimant (1998), and even establishes a filiation between Heritage and Working Title's Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) - the matrix of some the most famous films of this company until Thunderbirds (the book of Paul Dave proposes further excellent developments on this specific point).


« Do you remember Mark Darcy, darling? Malcolm and Elaine's son? He's one of these super-dooper top-notch lawyers. Divorced. Elaine says he works all the time and he's terribly lonely. I think he might be coming to Una's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet, actually. » (Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones Diary)

Paul Dave links what he calls « the culture of the « millenial » neo-liberal capitalism » and the evolution of middle-class as reflected in the British commercial hits of the 1990s, where London has been transformed into a « Fairy-tale city of delights » or an « enchanted village » (Robert Murphy, quoted Page 45).

« The film [Notting Hill] prefers to suggest that the privilege is the reward of an unassuming English charm... » (Paul Dave, Visions of England, Chapter 2, Page 47)

Not only within this perspective, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones Diary (2001) and its sequel are the objects of the author's scrutiny but the recall by Dave of the production context of these movies (from the Working Title company) will remain to cinephiles and movie specialists as a very precious instrument of comprehension of the recent History of the British movie industry.

Such a morceau de bravoure would be sufficient for the satisfaction of the reader but Paul Dave goes on his demonstration with Miramax's Sliding Doors (1998) - six pages that deserve a lecture in cinema schools (« Sliding Doors opens up the cracks in this « new middle class » - its identity is seen to unravel under the impact of a capitalist dynamic. », Page 55).


« A working class hero is something to be. If you want to be a hero well just follow me, If you want to be a hero well just follow me. » (John Lennon, Working class hero)

« As if by a process of delayed action, Brassed Off gave expression to a popular mood disturbed by the legacy of the struggles between the neo-liberal state and organised labour that had taken place a decade earlier in the mid 1980s » (Paul Dave, Visions of England, Page 62).

Brassed Off (1996) - one of the most beautiful British film of the last century, The Full Monty (1997), Among Giants (1998), The Navigators (2001), Late Night Shopping (2001) and Billy Elliot (2000), are the on-screen elegies of the British working class selected in Visions of England, with sometimes nuances that non-British readers will certainly consider with the highest interest (« Billy Elliot is at its closest to the ideology of Blairism here in its representation of the glittering trajectory of an individual talent and success as an adequate answer to structural social problems... », Page 75).

« Thank you, your honor. With God's help I'll conquer this terrible affliction. » (Trainspotting)

Beyond downstairs lies what the British New Right called « the underclass », a notion covering « the systematically destructive effects of capitalism on particular sections of the working class... » (Page 83) Trainspotting is there used as the center of an aesthetic and cultural reflexion.


The last part of the book offers us an in-depth analysis of Performance (1970), the masterpiece co-directed by the late Donald Cammell, and, among others elements, a look at experimental documentaries such as Robinson in Space (1997) and London Orbital (2002).

Visions of England (Berg Publishers, Oxford), by Paul Dave, reinvents the study of British cinema with talent, intelligence, clearness and style through a sociological point of view that makes his work not only useful to cinephiles and searchers, but also for everyone who wishes to learn more about a revealing aspect of what constitutes the contemporary History of United Kingdom.

We would be delighted if Mr Dave could someday do the same work with British Television, or at least a 2nd tome of his great book, this time with England as portrayed in British-based American productions. Until then buy Visions of England and have a look at the catalog of Berg Publishers, especially film studies.

« The beauty of cinema is it's something that can be made locally and consumed the world over. » (Doctor Who)

(1) Interestingly enough, in an episode of the BBC Hustle tv series, when the con-artists heroes want to trick a mobster into believing they’re working in the Cinema industry they choose the shooting of a Merchant Ivory style costume drama.


Nicholas Meyer is without any doubt one of the most important artists of the american cinema: novelist, writer, director, producer. He has revisited with great intelligence the myth of Sherlock Holmes and left his mark on the Star Trek franchise and on the History of Television with The Day After - his vision of nuclear Armageddon. Adapter of Philip Roth, this man of art and culture discussed his career and his work with us.

Nicholas Meyer, you are definitely a master in the art of story telling. When did you decide to imagine stories of your own? Which books gave you the desire and the taste to do so?

Nicholas Meyer : I became interested in story telling from listening to the bedtime stories my father read to be at night, everything from Winnie the Pooh, to Grimm Fairy Tales, Kipling's Just So stories and later the Greek myths. I started dictating my own stories to my father when I was around five and after a year or two of acting as my amuensis, he told me I must do my own writing and I've been doing it ever since.

Which movies have influenced you the most?

Nicholas Meyer : The films which have influenced me were Peter Brook's The Beggars Opera, Henry V (both significantly with Laurence Olivier), plus the Marx Brothers, WB gangster movies, Around the world in 80 days and an endless list, comprising Woody Allen, Francis Coppola, Hitchcock, Ford, John Huston (my favorite American director), Louis Malle, etc.

Usually, a story teller loves to hear, read and watch good stories...

Nicholas Meyer : My story telling tastes are Catholic and ecclectic as is the case with these film-makers. I never cared if the stories were funny or serious, present day, historical or science fiction. I cared only that they were good stories.

My definition of a good story is that once you hear it, you understand why someone wanted to tell it to you. Henry James said the least demand you can make of a work of art is that it be interesting; the greatest demand is that it be moving.

How did your father and his profession, and later your teachers at the University of Iowa contribute to the edification of your cultural background?

Nicholas Meyer : My father was a psychoanalyst, whose chief preoccupation, therefore, was human behavior. Why and how people do the things they do. When I listened to him speak about searching for clues from people as to why they behaved as they did, I was irresistibly reminded of Sherlock Holmes, an association that eventually led to my writing the novel, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, as well as a general preoccupation with motivation that helps my writing.

The University of Iowa taught me technique and craft. While genius may need no instruction, chances are the rest of us could use some help. Before Iowa, I was doing things right through intuition and inspiration, but if either failed me, I didn't know how to analyze (that word again!) what went wrong and how to fix it. The writing courses that I took - also the theatre and directing classes - helped to organize my thinking and codify the process.

Your first script for television was for Judge Dee and the Monastery murders (1974), the pilot of a tv series that unfortunately never materialized. Did this first confrontation with the realities of the Hollywood system help you in some manner?

Nicholas Meyer : Judge Dee didn't become a series because the actor who played the role in the pilot died, not because of the realities of the tv system. Nevertheless, the “system” IS dysfunctional at best and not a help to taking creative chances, which was and remains a pity. It is not for the thin-skinned and humiliations come in all shapes and sizes.

Was the adaptation of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution to the big screen a kind of poetic justice for the artist you are?

Nicholas Meyer : The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was a fluke. If the book hadn't been a best-seller the movie would not have been made. Recently Universal said they didn't want to consider remaking the film because Holmes is a drug addict and that is (presently) too dark for them. Can you imagine?

Time after Time is a remarkable romantic thriller. A fight between two visions of the world: a vision of what the world should be (Wells) and a vision of what the world really is (Stevenson). Would you write the scene of the Hyatt regency room where Stevenson illustrates his vision of the world with a television set the same way today?

Nicholas Meyer : I would probably write the tv/hotel scene in Time After Time in much the same way, that is to say, I'd simply show what's on TV and let the audience - like Stevenson - draw their own, inevitable conclusions. There would be more “reality” tv, of course, but I think the same point I made then is just as true - if not more so - now.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness” , wrote Dickens. The transition between two eras seems to be a recurring theme in your work from Time after Time to Company business and, of course, Star Trek II and Star Trek VI. Is it important to understand History in order to live well one's personal history?

Nicholas Meyer : It shocks me that people are so ignorant of their own history. If we don't know where we've been, how will we be able to figure out where we ought to be going and how best to get there? In my work, wherever I get the chance to tell people something, usually (but not always) about their pasts, I will try and work it in.

The Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered country are two major Shakespearian tragedies in outer-space, served by flamboyant actors (Ricardo Montalban, David Warner, Christopher Plummer...) with magnificent soundtracks and an epic direction. How did you manage to transform these installments of the Star Trek franchise from space-operas to “Operas in space”?

Nicholas Meyer : I am not sure how I made “operas in space”. I do know that I am a big opera fan to begin with - verismo, not bel canto - so the idea of larger than life exaggeration in this material came naturally to me, as it did to George Lucas before me on Star Wars. Also, if you want things to feel “Shakespearean”, why not use Shakespeare's words? No one wrote better dialogue.

The fact that I have a musical background is enormously helpful in communicating my ideas to the composers with whom I work on my films. I always enjoy this part of the process a lot. Sound will always dominate picture so it's a fascinating business to tease out the sounds you need to complete your vision of the film from the composer.

Music is almost an actor in itself in your movies. You worked with Mikos Rosza, James Horner, Michael Kamen or Cliff Eidelman (for Star Trek VI). How do you choose your composers and how do you collaborate with them?

Nicholas Meyer : Ideally, the music is going to be the VOICE of your movie. I use temp tracks when talking with my composers, but I also engage in free-wheeling discussions with them. What I want in all aspects of directing is to work with people who will take my ideas and make them BETTER.

On Star Trek VI, for example, I grew tired of the marches that have accompanied all main title sequences since the first Star Wars. I wanted something mysterious and brooding - our film was about the Klingons, after all! - and spoke with Cliff Eidelman about the opening music for Stravinsky's Firebird, which Cliff then went out and did his own riffs on. When it came back it was pure Klingon.

Your words as an author have been illustrated by others (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution) or by yourself (Time after Time). You started your career in Hollywood as a publicist for a major company and you are also a producer. Does your knowledge of these different aspects of the industry make you more indulgent towards how the studio and the director usually treats the work of the screenwriter?

Nicholas Meyer : I have been lucky to have had my scripts directed by some very talented directors. Notwithstanding this, I find it very frustrating to see my stuff directed by others. Inevitably it gets changed and while sometimes it is changed for the better, on a great number of occasions it is merely different and that difference divurges from my original intentions in ways that are typically not improvements.

Through your different jobs (novelist, screenwriter, director, producer...) you enjoy to explore varying genres sometimes simultaneously. For instance, Star Trek VI is an opera in space but also a clever whodunnit and a geopolitical thriller. Is a situation easily transposable from a genre to another and are there timeless and universal situations or a “construction pattern” common to every genre?

Nicholas Meyer : Usually, a work of art that is successful in a given medium will resist if not defy successful transposition to another medium. There's a reason why some stories make good novels, others make good plays and still others are perfectly suited to the screen. Adaptation is a tricky process because you want the end result to be comprehensible by people who've never read or seen the original, the “source” material. But how do you make a film out of The Brothers Karamazov without coming out hopelessly inferior to the novel?

Each job of transposition presents its own set of problems. Plays tend to be wordy and there's less action than in films; novels tend to be longer than most films and require extensive pruning; also interior thoughts and feelings are difficult (not impossible) to externalize. And so on.

While certain situations may be common to the varying venues (eg: husband discovers wife having an affair), it's what comes before and after such “scenes” that make up the UNcommon construction pattern of each genre.

One of your books, Confessions of a homing pigeon, is not well-known in France, even by those who admire your work. Could you tell us a few words about it?

Nicholas Meyer : Confessions of a homing pigeon is an autobiographical novel, which tells much of my own story in a fictitious setting and with fictional changes and disguises. It is the most personal book I have written (in my opinion) and I knew it was not going to be a block-buster but didn't care; it was an important book for me to create for myself as a writer. I couldn't keep hiding behind Holmes and Captain Kirk forever.

I believe in French it was called Confession d'un Pigeon Voyageur, which sounds pretty similar to me. It's about a small boy, orphaned young and his life and loves in the company of a charismatic expatriate uncle who lives in Paris.

In your filmography there is an unexpected entry: Collateral Damage (2002). How did you get involved on this film? What was your task as an executive producer?

Nicholas Meyer : Collateral Damage was originally written by my best friend, Ronald Roose, when it was called Prey. It was about a high school teacher who goes to Libya to avenge the deaths of his wife and daughter, who died in the Lockerbie bombing.

I was the exec and helped set up the project at Warner Brothers, where we said, joking, “Now remember, this guy ain't Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's Tom Hanks”, which we thought was the whole point. Five years later, they'd wrecked the whole thing but I left my name on just to piss them off.

Talking about more personal projects, you are able to entertain audiences with intelligence, elegance and style. Are Art and Industry reconcilable?

Nicholas Meyer : It is important to remember that the Globe Theatre was a money-making operation and yet that's where Hamlet, Lear, Romeo & Juliet, etc. were first performed. Art and commerce are not irreconcilable, they are inextricably intertwined.

Movies cost too much to produce (though they needn't cost as much as they do), for them not to make a profit at the end of the day. The trick is to make art that makes money, or as Robert Bresson said, “My job is not to find out what the public wants and give it to them; my job is to make the public want what I want.”

Could you please describe us a typical day of work in the life of Nicholas Meyer?

Nicholas Meyer : My days vary. During the school year I am up, taking a daughter (any one of three) off to school, then I try to do the bulk of my writing in the morning, when I find I am fresh. I don't write when I'm not working on something but when I am, I try to write every day - no weekends or holidays allowed! Later in the morning, when I get stuck or stiff, (whichever happens first) I do a half hour on my exercycle and read something unrelated while I pedal.

Sometimes I'll swim laps afterwards, which also helps me to think about my writing and where I'm going next. If it's really going well, I'll go back to it; otherwise I use the rest of the day for business meetings, pitching projects, etc. I try to be home so as to have dinner with my family and if I'm lucky, my wife and I get to take in a movie afterwards.

In June 2000, you have donated most of your personal documents (books, screenplays, treatments, etc...) to the University of Iowa, giving researchers a unique instrument of comprehension of the art of telling stories with words or pictures. Could you explain us what brought you to make this donation?

Nicholas Meyer : The University of Iowa was the first place in my life where I was truly happy. I think I largely invented myself there, thanks to their support and their teaching, as I have endeavored to explain earlier. Since there was no undergraduate playwriting scholarship when I was there, I founded one and giving my papers simply made sense.

I try to get back to the university when I can (I'll be doing some workshops there in the fall) and I was on the board of the University of Iowa Foundation, a fact about which I have always been very proud, since artists aren't typically asked to join.

You have written the screenplay of Sommersby (1993), an US adaptation of a French movie The Return of Martin Guerre. Are there directors, screenwriters or actors from France or Quebec you admire?

Nicholas Meyer : I am a big fan of French cinema - my favorite film is Regle du Jeu by Renoir. There's a million French flicks that I love, everyone from Marcel Carne to Truffaut and especially Louis Malle. I loved Barbarian Invasions last year, as well.

In 2003 you wrote the script of The Human Stain. On what are you working currently and after Holmes and Star Trek will you explore pop culture again someday as a novelist, a writer or a director?

Nicholas Meyer : I have been adapting The Crimson Petal & The White for film, working on a new television pilot and some other Philip Roth and Richard Russo novels. I have no way of knowing when or if I'll get back to “pop” culture, since I don't really plan my career. I do what I think is interesting that comes my way and try (it's very hard!) to interest the financiers in the things that interest ME.

(Interview done in 2005)


Warren Murphy is one of the most brilliant and prolific American writers. With Richard Sapir, he has created The Destroyer, a best-seller series of books that contains everything a reader can dream of to enjoy great moments of adventure, action, humor and clever social satire. As a screenwriter he has given to Clint Eastwood the script of The Eiger Sanction, a definite masterpiece of the thriller genre on-screen.

How did you meet Richard Sapir and how came the idea of The Destroyer?

Warren Murphy : I had been a newspaper writer and editor but in the early 1960's, I was working in politics in City Hall in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the mayor's personal secretary. Dick Sapir was assigned by the local newspaper to cover news in City Hall and that's where we met and became friends and drinking buddies. We both had been writing fiction - unsuccessfully - for a long time and we decided one late drunken night to collaborate on a book.

It was probably Dick's idea to write about an assassin hired by the U.S. government to preserve the country's freedoms, but it was a long time ago and I can't be sure. I named the characters, Remo, Chiun, the House of Sinanju, and came up with the first title: Created, the Destroyer which is a paraphrase of a quote from the Bhagavad Gita.

Richard Sapir and yourself sold Created, The Destroyer to Pinnacle Books in 1971. Did the publication of Don Pendleton's The Executioner have an influence over the launching of the character from Pinnacle's point of view?

Warren Murphy : We finished the manuscript on June 25, 1963 - I remember the date because my son, Brian, was born that day - but we were ahead of our time and no one would publish it. This manuscript sat in an agent's cabinet for almost eight years until one day, a young secretary from Pinnacle Books, was having her mouth worked on by a New York dentist named Joseph Sapir, Dick's father. He found out what she did and said « My son wrote a book like that once », and she answered (with a drill in her mouth), « Have him send it to me and I'll show it to an editor ».

Pinnacle had by this time begun to publish the Executioner series and was looking for other series books. We had our agent send the book to them and they bought it three days later. So, yes, Don Pendleton's Executioner success opened the door for us - but we had, in truth, written our book many years before his first Executioner.

The first two Destroyer books are two excellent thrillers but don't have the distinctive trademarks of the series: humor, social satire, parodies and references to news of the moment. They appear with the third, Chinese Puzzle.

Warren Murphy : Remember, we wrote the first book in 1963 and got published and became « overnight successes » eight years later. When Pinnacle Books wanted a second book in the series, we didn't really know what we were doing so we did the best we could.

The first two books are okay, but just okay. It was only with the third book, Chinese Puzzle, that we decided that we would write satire and humor, and along the way, we came up with our overriding mythology: the brash young westerner trained in the secret arts by an aged, inscrutable oriental master.

It worked for us because, honestly, we feared we would be bored to death, writing the same book over and over again, the way Pendleton had to do. The head publisher hated Chinese Puzzle but our editor, Andy Ettinger, knew it was something new and different and he stuck to his guns and got it published.

You wrote the script of The Eiger Sanction. How were you involved on the movie? Was Clint Eastwood a reader of The Destroyer?

Warren Murphy : Despite his « public image » at the time of being a taciturn, minimal talent, Clint Eastwood has always been a very complex, highly intelligent man. It turned out he read some Destroyers and also some of my Razoni and Jackson detective series books.

Out of the blue one day, he called me from Hollywood and asked me if I had ever read The Eiger Sanction. I told him no. He asked me if I had ever written a screenplay. I told him no. He said, « We're doing really well, aren't we? » Then he asked me if I could write a screenplay. I said yes, and he said, « Read The Eiger Sanction and see if you can write a script for it ».

During this conversation, he was very laid back, almost to the point of coma. Only later did I learn that his option on the book was expiring; he had not been able to get a screenplay written, and he called me as an act of desperation. I found the book, read it; thought it was useless but pleasant dreck, and told Eastwood that I could write the script.

Can you explain us how you worked on this adaptation?

Warren Murphy : My first mission was to go to the public library and get out a book on how to write a screenplay because I had not only never written one but I had never even seen one. I read that book and then wrote the script in eight days. Clint took my first draft to camera. Later I went out to Hollywood to meet with him and do some final tweaking of the screenplay. Clint put me in for solo writing credit on the movie, but the Writers' Guild gave me shared credit with two others - including Trevanian [Rodney Whitaker, author of the book] - whose scripts Clint had found unuseable.

Clint has become known now after many years to be very intelligent and focused; he knows exactly what he wants, and he gets professionals to give him that kind of work. He is a marvelous man to work for and the truth is, he spoiled me for Hollywood, because I thought everybody there was like him - bold and unfraid to make a decision. I learned later on how wrong this idea was.

How did you work with Richard Sapir on a Destroyer book? How did the ideas emerged? (the intrigues, Chiun's addiction to soap operas and being the perfect « Jewish mother » to Remo...)

Warren Murphy : Dick and I worked in a curious fashion. We would kick around an idea that interested us, usually over a lot of vodka and tonics. We would also fool around with the characterization stuff - the Jewish mother, the addiction to soap operas, the references to Remo being the avatar of Shiva, the Destroyer... all that kind of brainstorming.

And then Dick would start working on the first half of the book, write his half, and send it to me to figure out, without an outline. I would figure out where the story had to go, write my half of it, and then rewrite the whole book so that it was seamless.

The producer Larry Spiegel bought the adaptation rights of The Destroyer in the beginning of the eighties and Remo Unarmed and Dangerous was shot only in 1985. According to you, why did it take so long to adapt The Destroyer on screen?

Warren Murphy : Movies take forever to make. Look at Lord of the Rings, how long it took to finally get someone interested enough to do it right. So I don't think it took inordinately long for The Destroyer to be made into a film. And we were kind of a « stealth book », selling millions of copies a year, but generally under the radar of the big reviewing newspapers and organizations.

The only people who seemed really to know about us were all the screenwriters who were stealing our stuff for their own movies.

What were your relationships with the production from the development of the project to the shooting?

Warren Murphy : Dick and I wrote a script, actually several, but the problem was they were different from what everybody else was writing. So they wound up getting another writer to work on it. His script was pretty good, but the fatal flaw was that he had a junk villain. You can't have a great hero without having a great villain. Think of James Bond: his villains are guys who want to blow up the world or steal Fort Knox's gold but the The Destroyer movie had as a villain a guy who was selling cheap rifles to the government!

So the movie was good but only a fraction of what it could have been. Dick and I tried to explain the flaw to the production people but they were all geniuses and wouldn't listen to us.

Can we consider the subsequent TV pilot has been a nail in the coffin of another attempt?

Warren Murphy : The TV pilot was okay; in fact the story was better because it came from a novella that Dick and I wrote. There is continued interest in TV or film adaptations of the series, but one of the problems now is that so much of it has been ripped off in other movies that some people can be forgiven for thinking it is « old hat ».

Still I imagine it'll be made again one of these days; and we're working now on comic books and there is video game interest.We'll see what happens.

As a talented novelist and an efficient screenwriter do you think an adaptation can be at least 60% faithful to the original?

Warren Murphy : Movies and books are different art forms, and even when one thinks that a movie has been very faithful to the book it came from, the fact is that the movie is only a fraction of the book. What a good movie adaptation has to be is faithful to the « intellectual dress » of the underlying work, ala Godfather or Field of Dreams or On the Waterfront, etc.

In your books the late Richard Sapir and yourself have often targeted with great humor the Entertainment industry. What is your feeling about the Hollywood system?

Warren Murphy : Dick and I were frankly appalled that there were so many dumb people in Hollywood, charged with the responsibility of spending scores of millions of dollars of other people's money. I think we've reflected upon that in some of the books we later wrote.

You are the creator of an other important series of books called The Trace , totally unknown in french-speaking countries except for a forgotten tv-series called Murphy's Law (1988)...

Warren Murphy : The Trace series of books which I wrote were quite different from The Destroyer and, of course, I'm proud that I wrote seven books in the series and they won seven national awards, including an Edgar. The TV series was very good, but it had only very little to do with the books.

In that day and age on television, the censors ruled supreme. Trace in the books was an alcoholic with a hooker girlfriend, an ex-wife he hated, and two children - « What's-his-name and the girl » - about whom he couldn't care less. This was too gamy for network TV... Don't forget this was the age before NYPD Blue and The Sopranos. So they fudged up the series to make it sweet rather than tart. It was well written, well acted and Maggie Han was beautiful, but it wasn't really close to my books.

Starting 1982 Richard Sapir and you started to work with other writers on The Destroyer. Sapir died in 1987, then you gradually stopped working on the title and hired « Ghost writers ».

Warren Murphy : I began working with ghost writers after Dick and I had been doing the books by ourselves for 5 or 6 years. Both of us had other projects and sometimes we just couldn't get the time to work on a Destroyer. So I picked young writers I knew and had them do me a first draft and then I rewrote it, to try to keep the Destroyer flavor.

It was later on, when Dick was working on big novels and I had a number of series going, plus Hollywood work, that I hired Molly Cochran - who eventually became my wife - as a full time ghost, and Molly did some 15 books or so in the early 80's. Molly was a terrific writer and her books were right on target, but I should point out that I always tweaked what a ghost wrote to try to keep it consistent with what Dick and I did.

Toward the end of the 80's, Dick and I were so busy with other work that we decided we would end The Destroyer. But then, tragically, dick died, leaving behind a one-year-old son, and I was faced with a dilemma. Writing the series without Dick Sapir would not be fun anymore, but I wanted to keep it alive for his family. So I contracted it out to various publishers.

Those publishers - first Signet and then Gold Eagle - selected the ghost writers, but I was fortunate in that I had at first Will Murray, a serious Destroyer fan, and then Jim Mullaney, another fan, and both were terrific writers and maintained a very high level with the series. Mullaney left several years ago and since then the longtime fans of the series feel that the quality of the newest books has been spotty.

You keep an eye on The Destroyer. What is contractually your level of control with the different publishers?

Warren Murphy : Contractually, I have very little control now over the series content; that's a bad mistake I allowed myself to make and if there's ever a new Destroyer contract, it won't happen again.

You co-wrote the script of Leathal Weapon 2 with Shane Black. How did you work on this movie?

Warren Murphy : Shane Black, a very talented screenwriter, wrote the first Lethal Weapon. He was a fan of my books and he invited me in to work on Lethal Weapon 2. While I have great regard and admiration for Shane, it soon became apparent that we did not really work well together. My way of working is to make sure the story is absolutely in place before I write even the first word. My feeling is that Shane works more by « the seat of his pants », writing right from the beginning.

So after we managed to cobble together a first draft, both of us by mutual agreement left the project and it was finished by others but let me be real clear: Shane Black is, a major screenwriting talent, far better than I am... but partnerships have to work on a lot of different levels and ours didn't. More's the pity.

Apart of The Destroyer and The Trace your books are well-known and appreciated in english-speaking countries but unfortunately unknown by most of our french-speaking readers. Can you talk to us about the rest of your litterary work.

Warren Murphy : Apart from The Destroyer, both by myself and in partnership with Molly Cochran, I have done a large body of varied kinds of work - ranging from locked room mysteries (Leonardo's Law), to big suspense novels (The Ceiling of Hell), to fantasy (World Without End), horror (Destiny's Carnival). Among many others. With Molly, I wrote Grandmaster - an epic spy novel - which won an Edgar, and also we wrote The Forever King, a modern-day Arthurian legend.

My books have won more than a dozen national awards including two Edgars, two Shamuses, many more nominations, and a lot of lifetime achievement awards. I am most proud though, I suppose, of my reputation as a teacher of writing.

The litterary work of Master Chiun is unfortunately unknown in France. The Assassin's Handbook and its sequels have no french edition and are quasi-mythic amongst loyal french fans. Are you aware of what becomes of your creation world-wide?

Warren Murphy : France has been the most consistent country of all in reprinting The Destroyer; at one time or another, we've been published in a dozen different countries, but that is arranged by the publisher's rights department and writers have very little control over that. Eventually, the two versions of The Assassin's Handbook and the book of Chiun's wisdom, The Way of the Assassin, will be published in France and other countries when I get a good publishing staff working on the projects.

You have created a website company, you are very active on The Destroyer creating spinoffs, on re-gaining the total control of the title and you work with your son, Brian. How did you start these operations?

Warren Murphy : One of the reasons I created my website publishing company, Ballybunnion Books, was because Gold Eagle clearly was not interested in promoting The Destroyer or any kind of spinoffs. So I felt it was important to get it started on my own. Sadly, some dark spirits have gone out of their way to hinder the success of Ballybunnion but eventually, I'm sure, it will all work out.

On what are you working currently and what are your projects?

Warren Murphy : I'm working right now on several different series: one about a private detective agency; the other about a secret group which fights religious extremists. When I'm done with those, I'm going to take time off and work on improving my golf game.

(Interview done in 2005)


He has been nicknamed « The Voice of God ». But Don LaFontaine is more than the voice artist moviegoers have been given the opportunity to hear in most of the movie trailers of the 20th century. He has invented the modern trailer and the influence of his work goes beyond the Cinema industry, as contemporary advertising borrows a lot to the standards he has established in more than 40 years.

« When you die, the voice you hear in Heaven is not Don's. It's God trying to sound like Don. » (Ashton Smith)

Don LaFontaine, thank you very much for accepting this interview. First, what are the origins of your name, « LaFontaine »?

Don LaFontaine: My immediate family on my father's side came from Montreal, Canada. One of our ancestors, Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, was one of the original Voyageurs who founded the fort that became the city of Montreal. We are also descended from Jean de La Fontaine, the fableist.

Before being the well-known voice-over artist you are, you were a recording engineer and sound editor. Could you please tell us a few words about this part of your rich career.

Don LaFontaine: I learned to be a recording engineer in the Army in the late 1950's. I was assigned to the U.S. Army Band and Chorus, stationed near Washington, D.C. When I got out of the service, I moved to New York, where I found work at National Recording Studios. One day I was assigned to work with a young radio producer named Floyd L. Peterson. We found that we had a lot in common, and shortly thereafter, I joined him, and we became a two man operation.

We were part of a very small number of people who were advertising motion pictures. The business grew rapidly, and within two years, we had our own building and about twenty employees.

You started your voice-over activities on movie trailers in the sixties, at a time where, for instance, Alfred Hitchcock could allow himself to visit the set of Psycho with the spectators during the trailer of this classic (almost 7 minutes, which is unthinkable today!) But as you also not only voiced them but write and conceived them, you gradually, over more than 40 years, changed this conception and literally invented the modern trailer.

Don LaFontaine: That's true. There were about six of us in the beginning. One of the most talented was a young man named Ed Apfel, who must be credited with creating some of the most popular phrases that are still used today. I found that I had a knack for writing, and now, here I am, 43 years later, still reading variations on scripts I wrote in the early sixties.

Could you explain us how you started to work on trailers?

Don LaFontaine: We began with radio commercials. Up until the early sixties, movies were promoted basically in two ways - the Theatrical Trailer and print ads. Radio and Television were not used to any great degree. Trailers were produced in house by the studios, usually cut by the film's editors, and finished at National Screen Service in Los Angeles. They were pretty much the same, overblown, flashy and star-driven.

How did the majors considered the trailer as a promotion object at the time?

Don LaFontaine: In the early sixties, a number of young men, fresh out of college joined the advertising department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, most notably Andrew J. Kuehn and Gordon Weaver. They wanted to expand the reach of their departments, and suggested that the studios go out of house for the creation of their materials. At the same time, a handful of producers, Floyd and myself among them, were petitioning the studios for work.

Needless to say, the experiment was a huge success. We rapidly went from radio spots to television spots to trailers themselves. Some of the early successes were films like Dr Strangelove, and that other Doctor, Zhivago.

Can you please explain to our readers how a movie trailer is conceived and how and when in the process are you requested to intervene?

Don LaFontaine: That process has changed over the years.These days, the trailer production house is often involved from the very beginning of principal photography, working from the production dailies to make teaser trailers that come out far in advance of the films release.

In the early days, we were usually called in when the film was in rough-cut form. We were given a black and white copy of the picture, without any sound or visual effects, often with missing scenes. Sometimes we were given a recording of the musical score, if it was available. From these materials we created the trailer, television and radio spots.

How do you succeed in creating such different vocal atmospheres, from a thriller to a comedy, without giving the feeling that this is the same voice over and over again?

Don LaFontaine: The different vocal atmospheres are « dictated » to me by the script. The words « tell » me how they should be read. If you play two trailers with the same basic theme back to back, you will usually hear a similarity in the narrations.

The question must have been asked to you a thousand times but could you describe for our readers a typical day in the professional life of Don LaFontaine?

Don LaFontaine: It's different now than it was a couple of years ago. Then, I had a limousine that drove me from session to session - as many as 26 in a single day. Now I work at home, in my own studio over digital telephone lines which connect me to studios all around the world.

These days I mostly do commercials for network television shows, with an occasional trailer thrown in from time to time. A new crop of voice actors are doing the great bulk of the trailer work, and there are far more of them today then there were a few years ago. It's a very popular field to get into.

Would you please tell us who is Nita Whitaker?

Don LaFontaine: Nita Whitaker is my beautiful and talented wife. She was the first woman of African-American heritage to win the title of Miss Lousiana, a southern state that used to be known for it's segregation policies.

She is a world-class singer, who performs in many concerts across the country, and has recently completed her third CD, LifeStories (one word). People who are interested in learning more about her should go to

In 1998, you wrote the script and produced a movie called Sandman. How did you start this adventure?

Don LaFontaine: It started with my young daughters telling me that they wanted to be singers and actresses like their mother when they grew up. I had a good video camera, so I decided to write a brief scene for them to perform. I would light and shoot it like a feature film, with multiple takes, master shots and cutaways to show them how tedious film making can be.

Well, the script sort of got out of hand. It wound up being over 100 pages long. I also wrote five songs to go into the picture. We recruited a friend in the business, Ernie Lively, to help us. He had a small film studio with professional cameras, so we decided to go for it. We had sets, miniatures, computer generated graphics, and a number of friends who had starred in televison series as guest stars. One of the kids, Blake Lively, wound up a movie star in her own right, appearing in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Accepted.

We even had a premiere. It's a great big overblown « Home movie » that the kids can enjoy in their later years.

The Internet has changed the way movies are promoted. Trailers are available on official websites, sites are devoted to trailers and even Television now uses and abuses of promotion material (trailers, featurettes...) to talk about movies.

Don LaFontaine: Trailers are still produced to be seen on the big screen. The effect of the internet can't be minimized, but I think people still want to have that big screen experience. Seeing a trailer on a small computer monitor can't compete with seeing it in a theater with THX Dolby sound coming at you from a hundred speakers.

Has the fact that the Internet is now virtually the first medium to showcase a trailer an incidence on the content of the trailers themselves?

Don LaFontaine: Availability of the internet hasn't changed the content of the trailers, but new materials are being produced strictly for computers, such as web sites for the films, themselves. They are very effective sales tools.

Besides movie trailers? What are your other professional activities?

Don LaFontaine: As I mentioned earlier, I do a great number of Television promos for our major networks. I also supply the in-show announcements for syndicated programs like America's Most Wanted. Most recently I have been appearing on camera, as a guest on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, the CBS Early Show, and a very popular commercial selling car insurance. I also have made a guest appearance in a film, I See You Dot Com, which is looking for distribution.

You are considered as a kind of Pop culture icon, and your voice is even often the subject of parodies. More than that you have set the standards used by the modern voice-over artist and in your long and creative career some of your trailers did become classics in their own respect. What are the trailers you are the most proud of?

Don LaFontaine: That's almost impossible to answer. I have worked on roughly 5000 films in my career, and voiced nearly 4000 of those. There have been many many highlights, and to single out one or two would be impossible. I have tried to do that in the past, and every film I mention seems to lead me to another one that I like equally. It's a frustrating process.

Do you know that in France there's a famous french dubbing artist who voice-overs a considerable amount of film trailers? How do you explain this similarity between the US and France?

Don LaFontaine: Voice acting for trailers is a very exacting craft. If one French actor is dubbing most of the trailers, it must mean that he has figured it out. Many people, men and women, try to break into this business, but few can make the cut. It's very different from say, selling cars or soup. It takes a special approach to the copy that is very hard to duplicate with any veracity.

On what are you working at the moment of this interview? What are your next professional projects?

Don LaFontaine: I never know what my next project is going to be. I am called upon to read for multiple films during the course of the year, recently, more comedies than dramas - which is ironic, because it is my drama read that is most often emulated - but I never know what reads are going to be used in the final product, unless I see it in a theater.

I am currently working on some materials for Dreamgirls, Hairspray and a film called Firehouse Dog. As I mentioned earlier, Trailer work has slowed down considerably for me, compared to a few years ago, and it's okay. If it all stopped completely tomorrow, I would be grateful for the run I have had. It's covered nearly a half a century, and that's good by any estimation.

(Interview done in 2005)

Thursday, 29 May 2008


The complete shooting script of the much anticipated return of the most illustrious icon of US Pop Culture is now available with scenes cut from the final version of the movie, exclusives interviews and a very interesting selection of storyboards. An instructive and useful look at Superman returns, the movie directed by Bryan Singer.

« But I always had a notion for a Superman film - that Superman would be gone somewhere and then would return... » (Bryan Singer, interviewed by David Hugues, Superman returns - The complete shooting script)


« There's a Superman for every generation. » (Michael Dougherty, co-writer, interviewed by David Hugues)

The process of producing a Hollywood blockbuster is as painful than thoughtful (or at least should be... Thoughtful, we mean) and there's no reason for the return of the Man of Steel on the big screen to be the exception to this rule. Especially when the last opus of the franchise to date was Golan & Globus's Superman IV - The Quest for peace (1987). With the triumphant rise of the dvd and the internet as an essential marketing tool the most intimate stages of a movie production are no secrets anymore for the cinema buff. And long after the on-screen release of the finished product, « Special-exclusive-alternative-director's cut-collector-de luxe » dvd editions allow easily to play to the What, if? Game.

But the most effective tool to understand the complexity of the art to deliver a blockbuster remains the movie script, remember The Avengers (1998), written at a time where movies and tv's addicts didn't have the slightest notion of what a dsl internet connection would be and where VHS was the king of the world.

« ... and that's what's great about publishing the full script. The return to Krypton is not in the movie, for example. » (Dan Harris, co-writer, interviewed by David Hugues)


« There are a lot of scenes in the script which have not made into the movie, because the movie would have been three and a half hours long...» (Dan Harris)

One cannot help to be perplex in front of the current propension of the movie industry to devise blockbusters of more than two and a half hours then stories would do with 90 minutes or 120 maximum (with a great deal of patience and without poker). The final version of Superman returns is 154 minutes long, a length which implies a lot of crucial if not drastic choices from Bryan Singer and his team from the very beginning of the film, particularly with an estimated budget of 270 millions of US dollars. A notable case of editorial sacrifice comes just after the opening credits with the abandon of the travel of Superman to his native Krypton - replaced in the movie by the cynical but funny scene of Lex Luthor (with a wig) in Vanderworth Estate.

«... and all good men deserve a second chance » (Gertrude Vanderworth, woman of faith)

Let's face it. The differences between a shooting script and what comes to the screen are always fascinating. From the conversation between Martha Kent - our man in red and blue's adoptive mother - and her friend Ben Hubbard (who said « a little less conversation, a little more action »?) to details like Lex whistling Sympathy for the Devil soon after the last breath of Gertrude, or lines from the scene of the foreign news bulletins. Or how Lex managed to send Superman away in search of the ghosts of Krypton (« Oh yeah. All these photos? These stories about Krypton still existing? It was me »).

These elements and more make of Superman returns - The complete shooting script not one more book related to a movie franchise but an amazing and revealing travel into the core of a blockbuster production. It's a production diary in its own respect.


« Lex, we only have six of those. » (Kitty, lost... with the other)

Superman returns is a very long movie but the complete script, as proposed by Titan Books, attests of the sincerity of Mr Singer and Warner Brothers, as the final result is the fruit of complex editorial decisions and not of a kind of a « pre-complete edition dvd » spoiler syndrom. Superman returns - The complete shooting script is an essential companion of the film.

But that's not enough for Titan. After exclusive interviews of Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris and the script itself comes an interesting selection of scenes from the storyboard: Lex gets funded (Lex with Gertrude Vanderworth), The Bank Robbery and Catching the Daily Planet Globe. The Bank Robbery looks as spectacular on paper than on screen and Lex gets funded deserves a particular attention. Note specially how Bryan Singer dropped the idea of Lex kicking the dog but had no objections about the concept of Kitty's pet as a lunch a la Survivor (Scooby snacks revisited?)

A Hero's welcome, A Man of Steel returns...

« In the tradition of films past, Superman flies into the heavens. He smiles at us, then turns and soars toward the sunrise. »

Thursday, 22 May 2008


« From the ultimate masterpiece of the History of the Cinema to the wine commercials », such is the common if not lazy résumé of the uncommon career of Orson Welles, the first creative renegade of the motion picture industry.

By sharing his most interesting views of the surface but also the inside of Welles’s great mysteries, Film Historian Joseph McBride gives the cliché of the self-destruction of a genius the definitive treatment it deserves and grants us with a sincere, honest and unique study of the travels and misadventures of a knight errant extraordinary in love with Cinema.

« What is surprising is that I lasted as long as I did. » (Orson Welles, quoted in What Ever Happened to Orson Welles, Page 18)


« I feel young, happy, and ready to make movies. » (Orson Welles in 1982)

The best way to try to find the answer of an enigma is to establish a postulate straight. One of the most enduring cliché in the History of Cinema is that, in 1941, Orson Welles gave the world what french director François Truffaut called « the Film of Films » and then, in the eighties, shot these infamous « No wine before its time » commercials.

Amongst the public, the general opinion doesn’t fare much better. This wonderful scene in The Last Action Hero with the sequence of the 1948 version of Hamlet, directed by Laurence Olivier (« You will now see a scene from the film by Laurence Olivier. You may have seen him in the Polaroid commercial - or as Zeus in Clash of the Titans ») could easily be transposed with Orson Welles. Was he the guy who made the voice of Robin Masters in the Magnum P.I. hit series or Unicron in Transformers: The Movie? Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (1967)? Who is this Orson Buggy parodied by the great british comedian Benny Hill in one of the most famous skits of his show?

There is something between the caricature of a so-called failed career in directing and the ashes of oblivion. What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an independent career fills the gap, with the help to the author Joseph McBride and the publisher University Press of Kentucky – home of a magnificent biography of actor Peter Lorre: The Lost One – A life of Peter Lorre.


« Despite the great acclaim the twenty-five-year-old Welles received for his first feature film, the backlash caused by its fictional portrait of the powerful publisher William Randolph Hearst caused permanent damage to Welles’s Hollywood career. » (Joseph McBride, What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career, Page 4)

« Cartoonist, Actor, Poet and Only 10 ». So is introduced the young Orson Welles under the scrutiny of public interest through an article published in 1926 by a local newspaper. Cover of Time Magazine in May, 1938, at 23, toast of the stage, sensation of the radio waves, Orson Welles is probably the first true « Wonder Boy » of the History of Entertainment industry (Time Magazine uses the words « Marvelous Boy » - What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career, Page 30).

When he terrorizes a whole country with his adaptation of HG Wells’s War of the Worlds for the CBS radio network, everything seems then possible for a man who can convince his fellow citizens that Martians are invading the US. And George J. Schaeffer, newly appointed president of RKO Pictures opens him the doors of Hollywood with a two-picture deal (signed on July 21, 1939) and a total creative control.

« But hiring the daring and controversial Welles, who was sure to take an unorthodox approach to Hollywood filmmaking, was a major gamble for a new studio president. » (What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career, Page 33) The relationship between Hollywood and the Auteurs is one of the many major issues that illustrates the paradox of Cinema being both an Art and an Industry, and Orson Welles is the quintessential cas d’école of the complexity of this paradox. After all, « Hollywood studios at first wanted Welles only as an actor, not a director » (Page 32). Welles triumphant, now inside the Dream factory, takes the road to Xanadu.


« From the very beginning on Citizen Kane, Orson was a marked man. » (Richard Wilson, Welles’s assistant on Kane, Page 32).

Resented as an outsider almost immediatly by the Hollywood system, supported (at least in the beginning) by Schaeffer but not by the others Powers That Be between the walls of RKO, Orson Welles, in some ways seals his fledging career as a director when he starts working on Citizen Kane (1941), his proto-biopic based on the life of Press tycoon William Randolph Hearst – a man less magnimous than Rupert Murdoch many years later with Elliot Carver, the villain of Tomorrow never dies (1997).

To offense the Gods is not a matter without consequences, especially if they’ve been bothered by some of your actions in the past. « Welles had been a bête noire of the Hearst papers long before the controversy over Citizen Kane. His progressive political views, expressed in speeches and print, and his politically radical work in the New York theater made him an increasingly prominent and inviting target in the late 1930s » (What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career, Page 45).

Manoeuvres around the release of the movie harm Kane in spite of an artistic plebiscit (« The impressario Billy Rose told Welles, “Quit, kid. You’ll never top it. Quit while you’re ahead” », Page 42) . But nothing will hurt Orson Welles more at the time than the torments over The Magnicent Ambersons (1942), his next film for RKO: « They destroyed Ambersons and the picture itself destroyed me » (Page 62). Cinema journalist and director Peter Bogdanovich called the fate of The Magnicent Ambersons, « the greatest artistic tragedy in the movies ».

Just a trick of the woods, woods of holly...


« Hollywood is a gold-platted suburb suitable for golfers, gardeners, assorted middlemen and contented movie stars. I am none of these things. » (Page 81)

The greatest of all Orson Welles’s mysteries is an enduring belief that the man and his career were failures beyond the promises of Kane – Welles once said about the advice of Billy Rose: « You know, maybe he was right ». Absolute masterpieces like The Lady from Shanghai (1947) or The Trial (1962) would normally suffice to put the records straight but What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career is certainly not a 344 pages rehabilitation of the Master. Film critic Joseph McBride gives an accounting of the « lost » years (at least in the american subconscious) in the creative life of Welles with a personal touch of the highest interest: « When I was twenty-three and finishing my first book on Orson Welles, I had the good fortune not only meeting the legendary and elusive filmmaker but also, even more improbably, becoming a character in an Orson Welles movie. »

August 1970, journalist and author McBride tries to catch the attention of the bohemian director – back to Hollywood after his european misadventures – when he meets Welles for the first time, thanks to Peter Bogdanovich (« I’m on the other line with Orson »). Orson Welles is about to start test scenes for his new movie project, The Other side of Wind (« Is this going to be a feature-length movie? » asks Joseph McBride, « We certainly hope so » answers Welles), the story of a disastrous Hollywood birthday party and the last day in the life of a director played by director-actor John Huston and written by Welles as a figure a la Ernest Hemingway.

But what lies beneath a situation every cinema journalist would dream of is more incredible than an encounter between a director and a critic fascinated by his works (« You’re the only critic who understands what I try to do »)... Orson Welles has a film-buff type role in his production and Bogdanovich believes McBride would be perfect for the character. The shooting of The Other side of Wind will last six years (« You’ve been in this picture for three years?» later asked Huston), then the complicated completion of the movie will be overshadowed by a long battle over its ownership.


« It’s about two percent moviemaking and ninety eight percent hustling. It’s no way to spend a life. » (Orson Welles, quoted in What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career, Page 87)

« Partly by necessity and partly by design, Welles pursued his own maverick brand of filmmaking in this later years, largely financing his own works and scrambling to get them finished and distributed. » (Page 4). So, what ever happened to Orson Welles after The Magnificent Ambersons? What ever happened to the Bold one? Joseph McBride gives the readers an in-depth view of the many lives of the cat with the magic hat: Auteur of major chapters of the great History of Cinema, actor, writer, magician, voice artist...

« As a director, for instance, I pay myself out of my acting jobs. I use my own work to subsidize my work. In other words I’m crazy. But not crazy enough to pretend to be free » explained Welles. First of the maverick directors, pioneer of a true independent way of making movies, Renaissance man in an empire of philistines. What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career is not only the sum of the infinute erudition of Joseph McBride about Orson Welles but the tale about one of the last adventurers in the movie industry by one of the protagonists of one of the most challenging of his adventures, told with humility and intellectual honesty (« My idol had stepped down his pedestal to slap me in the face », Page 160).

Orson Welles is not dead, he’s filming scenes of his next movie somewhere behind the the other side of the wind and Joseph McBride invites you to be the privilege guests on the shooting of his latest work of art: maybe it’s Mr Arkadin, maybe The Immortal Story... A release of The Other side of Wind is planned for 2008. The fascination for his work his the greatest of Orson Welles’s magic, and What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career is the ticket for the master’s next show (

« I’m just in love with making movies » (Orson Welles, quoted in What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? Portrait of an independent career, Page 87)

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


To Amandine

Vertigo and Titan Books invite us to discover and rediscover the cult-classic dystopian visions of Alan Moore and David Lloyd. «V» and his vendetta are back. This is the future, this is V for Vendetta and this is now. This is not one of your darkest nightmares... this is worse.

« London calling to the faraway towns. Now war is declared - and battle come down. » (The Clash, London Calling)

The balance between the different forces composing British society relies on an implicit and fragile deal between those who rule and those who are ruled on a subjective basis of common interests. And numerous thinkers, authors or artists, conscient almost at a level of prescience of how much the deal is fragile, regularly asked themselves what would happen - in a country with a non-written constitution - if the deal was broken by a government with nothing more to often than an excessive exercise of the attributes of its regalian functions: police, justice, and army forces.


« Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves » (William Pitt)

Numerous are the British books, television or movie productions who dare to go « five minutes into the future » (like the subtitle of the Max Headroom tv-series) in order to speculate on the idea of an England ruled by a dictatorship: George Orwell's 1984 (1950), of course - and its adaptations of 1954 (by the BBC) and... 1984, and tv-serials like the forgotten The Guardians (1971), 1990 (1977), or the underestimated Knights of God (1987).

This political and artistical catharsis found its expression not only in England but also in the United States (It can't happen here, the novel by Sinclair Lewis - writtten years before 1984, or the miniseries V by Kenneth Johnson) or in France (Les Hordes, 1991). But V for Vendetta is to us the closest of this reflection. Because the future is in five minutes...

« It was horrible. Nobody knew if Britain would get bombed or not. » (Evey Hammond)

V for Vendetta is published for the first time in 1982 by Warrior, the independant British magazine home of Dan Dare (the English Buck Rogers). Alan Moore brings his true writing talents and his political preoccupations of the moment: Margaret Thatcher is the Prime minister of the conservative British government. David Lloyd, an artist who worked for Marvel Comics UK, illustrates the dark horizons out of the brilliant mind of Moore. They give to the main character a decisive element of his mythology: the costume and the mask of Guy Fawkes (« Remember, remember the fifth of November... ») V for Vendetta stops three years after its start, with the interruption of Warrior before the publication of an episode just completed.

In 1988, DC Comics, house of Batman and Superman, publishes in colour (with the assistance of colourists Steve Whitaker and Siobhan Dobbs) the episodes de V for Vendetta from Warrior and goes on with a new material deeply awaited. Tony Weare joins David Lloyd and Alan Moore on two episodes and draws a full episode. The complete series is finally reunited in a magnificent graphic novel by Vertigo, a subsidiary of DC.


« Me, I'm the king of the twentieth century. I'm the bogeyman. The villain... The black sheep of the family. » (V)

In his introduction of the DC Comics run of V for Vendetta, republished in the present edition by Vertigo and Titan Books, Alan Moore confessed what he called « a certain amount of political inexperience » but this self-judgment may be quite harsh as the efficiency of his visions remain years after the launch of the series and the first edition of the graphic novel.

1997, United Kingdom is ruled by Norsefire, a fascist party, after a « nuclear winter » and a long string of riots and other dramatic events. Evey Hammond, 16, is caught during a stake-out of The Finger - the party's militia - while she was attempting to prostitute for the first time (« That's the clumsiest piece of propositioning I've ever heard. You've not been doing this very long, have you? ») She is saved from the Fingermen by a mysterious anarchist in costume who calls himself « V » and wears a mask of Guy Fawkes, the man behind the Gunpowder plot in 1605.

« Just His Master's Voice every hour on the hour. » (V)

The everyday life of everyone in the country is monitored by « The Ears » and « The Eye ». « The Eye » is headed by Conrad Heyer, a weak man manipulated by his wife, Helen. Helen Heyer wants her husband to be the next ruler of the government... and to pull the strings (« I'm going to be like Eva Peron, you know »). The chief of « The Finger » is Derek Almond, abusive husband of Rose Almond, whom he likes to threat with his revolver (« Don't worry, Rose. I didn't load it. Not tonight. »)

The legitimate police is « The Nose », and its chief is Eric Finch, a sincere by the book copper (« Although personnally I don't go much for this “New Order” business. It's just my job, to help Britain out of this mess »). Finch investigates the « V » case and reports to The Leader (« That you are still alive is a mark of my respect for you and your craft »), Adam J. Susan. Susan is meant to be the strongest man of the regime but he heavily relies on a computer system named « Fate » (« Please give me a sign »).

« Fate » has the voice of Lewis Prothero, former commander of the Larkhill concentration camp and doll collector (« He collects dolls, you know. Wouldn't think it would you? Big man like that collecting dolls. He's sensitive, you see. You can tell by his voice »). Prothero is on the top of « V »'s hit list. The mayhem of Norsefire can begin...


« We shouldn't have to live like this. Should we? » (Evey)

« Naiveté can also be detected in my supposition that it would take something as melodramatic as a near-miss nuclear conflict to nudge England towards fascism » wrote Moore in 1988. « The simple fact that much of the historical background of the story proceeds from a predicted Conservative defeat in the 1982 General Election should tell you how reliable we were in our roles as Cassandras » he added. But does the reliability of Alan Moore and David Lloyd as disciples of Cassandra really matters?

« This is chaos. » (V)

After all lizards from outer space in orange uniforms never visited the United States... And the side effects of national socialism, fascism, communism or even hyper-capitalism to its extremity are more or less the same (« You couldn't be expected to know they have eradicated culture... tossed it away like a fistul of dead roses », V). Even readers who reasonably don't expect anarchy to be the solution to fascism will be amazed by the ability of Lloyd and Moore to invite us in an effective dystopian exercise of everyday terror. The destructions of the Houses of Parliament (in the beginning of the book), of Jordan Tower and PO Tower or the assault of « V » on the NTV television channel as answers to the dictatorship, demonstrate visually that it can happen everywhere no matter the accuracy of their « five minutes into the future ».

« Hormone research is almost useless when rats or rabbits are used. » (Delia)

Now that in some ways our present is at risk to look more and more like the future described in the great dystopian movies produced by MGM during the seventies, like Soylent Green or Logan's run, the fears in V for Vendetta are universal and timeless both on a big scale - tyranny, perversion of science, terrorism,... - and on a smaller scale - loneliness, lack of love, hostility, etc... The originality of the creation of Alan Moore and David Lloyd lies there: their interest is focused at the same time on the fall of dominos and on each of the dominos falling.


« Become transfixed... Become transfigured... Forever. » (V)

V for Vendetta, the graphic novel, is rich of these destinies of characters, penned with great humanity and clearness (by definition not excluding cruelty), and an indisputable litterary virtuosity by Alan Moore. Lost characters with their wounded souls in search of an exit in a London which doesn't belong to them anymore: Love for the Leader, Power for Mrs Heyer, Hate for Almond (« Apparently he had forgotten to load it » - his death has a bitter taste of irony), Identity for his wife, explanations for Finch, Vendetta for « V », Father figure for Evey (« ... or perhaps I'm your father? »), etc...

« I shouldn't have taken the LSD. » (Eric Finch)

David Lloyd and Alan Moore have largely contributed to help the recognition of comics as a form of Art. V for Vendetta is essential and accessible to a wide audience, should this audience not agree with the messages of Alan Moore (through themes like anarchy, drugs, religion...) The perfect demonstration of that accessibility is that the power of the graphic novel remains intact, even beyond some of the messages of its scribe, in a movie adaptation updated to the context and the anguishes of the 21st century. « Ideas are bullet proof » says « V ».

V for Vendetta - the movie and V for Vendetta - the graphic novel are complementary. The movie is a wonderful tribute to the comics even with its differences. Perhaps Warner Brothers will consider someday the idea of a lavish miniseries for television that would stick to the book, miniseries being the ideal format to adapt a novel, graphic or not. But for the moment, watch the dvd and read the graphic novel.

Vertigo and Titan books give you the keys of your future. London doesn't belong to The Leader, London doesn't belong to Norsefire, London doesn't even belong to Evey Hammond or to « V ». London belongs to YOU.

« He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him whether London had always been quite like this. » (George Orwell, 1984)


To H.G.

To have the honour to share some thoughts with an artist of the quality of Spanish actor Juan Echanove is like a salutary opportunity to feel the essence of acting. This man of stage, cinema and television, who has worked with Pedro Almodóvar and who is also familiar to a younger public for his role of Mariano Cuellar in the Un Paso Adelante tv series kindly answers to our questions in spite of a busy schedule. Encounter with one of the most interesting artists from Spain.

Juan Echanove, thank you very much for accepting this interview. First could you please tell us some words about where you were born, about your family and your childhood before the college years?

Juan Echanove: I was born in Madrid in April 1961. My Father was an engineer and my childhood took place in an atmosphere of family tranquillity and good harmony. At the age of 18 I entered simultaneously in the school of Dramatic Art of Madrid, and in the Madrid Faculty of Law. I completed neither acting nor Law studies because in that same year I began to work professionally on stage.

Your first contact with acting took place in college. In which circumstances and what kind of institution was this establishment?

Juan Echanove: I studied until the university years in the school of the Menesian Brothers of the Park of the Avenues. This school was founded and is still governed nowadays by the disciples of Jean Marie de la Mennais, eternal aspiring to Holyness, without he has obtained it to date (among other things, say the Brothers, because of the presence in his family of Féli de la Mennais, one of the most radical philosophers and ideologists of the French Revolution - « Miscreants », like they call them).

Through these years of formation with the Menesians I began to play some theatre with other schoolmates. Different titles according to the taste of the public, such as Una tal Dulcinea, by Alfonso Paso; Los ladrones somos gente honrada, by Enrique Jardiel Poncela; The Prince and the Showgirl, by Sir Terence Rattigan; The Chinese wall by Max Frisch; Tiempo del 98, Juan Antonio Castro; La venganza de la Petra, Carlos Arniches...

Although I have to confess that my first scenic experiences have more to do with music than with theatre since the first work in which I took part was La rosa del azafrán (a zarzuela - typical spanish comic opera - by Jacinto Guerrero). There's also one solo interpretation in front of all my companions, for the occasion of I don't remember what celebration, of the song Gwendoline of Julio Iglesias. The trace leaved in the school during generations cured me of fright for the rest.

Could you talk to us about your formation at the prestigious RESAD (Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático). What were your matters of studies? Who were your professors?

Juan Echanove: During my brief artistic studies my majors were Corporal Expression and Dance, in which I obtained honour degrees, thing that was far from easy, since they were nothing else than distributed by Marta Schinca and Elvira Sanz respectively.

Anyway I have to say that the best thing I retain from my passage at the RESAD was the classes of Art of Lourdes Ortiz.

You were among the founders of the Compañía Vocacional del Coliseo Carlos III de San Lorenzo de El Escorial...

Juan Echanove: The company was directed wisely by Álvaro Custodio (a most interesting Spanish director, brother of the legendary actress Ana Maria Custodio, friend of Federico Garci'a Lorca, husband of the not less interesting Isabel Richart and, above all, a great man of Theatre). The two other directors unfortunately not went on in this profession: Jose Maria Escribano and Oscar Penas.

El Caso Almería (1983) marked your debut on the big screen next to a respected and consequent list of roles on stage...

Juan Echanove: The main reason I accepted to play this character is that I physically looked alike one of the three boys who were assassinated by the Civil Guard in Almeria. It was a very interesting experience and my first contact with the cinema. And also the first movie of Antonio Banderas...

Television has made you one of the most familiar and appreciated faces of the spanish public (and now of the french one, we'll talk about that later in the interview). Turno de oficio (1985) gave you the opportunity to be behind the camera as the director of some episodes of the sequel of the original TVE series (Turno de oficio: Diez años después, 1995).

Juan Echanove: I can only say that it was a beautiful experience. The privilege to have in front of the camera, with the power to direct them, my « masters » Juan Diego, Juan Luis Galiardo, Pastora Vega... Everything was a great pleasure. In fact, I prefer to direct TV than to perform for TV.

In 1992 you were Sancho on stage for the successful Don Quijote.Fragmentos de un discurso teatral, with the great Josep María Flotats as Quijote.

Juan Echanove: To work with Flotats... to be directed by Scaparro, and a libreto written by the greatest scriptwriter of the spanish cinema Rafael Azcona, was a delight of life and a source of joy for me.

What is the place of the work of Cervantes in your life as an actor, a director and as a Man?

Juan Echanove: Cervantes is the great source of inspiration of my sense of black humor... and the deep root of the spanish Neorealism.

With the movie Madregilda (1993), Francisco Regueiro offered you the extraordinary challenge to play one of the most risky and controversial role a spanish actor could perform: Francisco Franco, bringing you a long string of awards.

Juan Echanove: When I received the Shell of Silver of the best actor in the Festival of cinema of San Sebastián I remember that I said that the cinema is more wonderful than we could imagine, as in my case, with the character of Franco, I have been able to experiment that something filling your life with pain can provocate someday one of the greatest joys.

What is your look over the evolution of the spanish film industry since the eighties?

Juan Echanove: Well, my vision of the cinema which we do at the moment in Spain is pretty pessimistic. I'm waiting a lot from the european agreements about the cultural exception. But in general I have to say to that 80% of the cinema that is made today, for me lacks of interest.

Pedro Almodóvar is probably the most known spanish directors outside the borders of Spain. How were you engaged by Almodóvar for La flor de mi secreto (The Flower of my secret, 1995)?

Juan Echanove: Almodóvar knew me well because he is one of the few directors who go to the Theatre, and like Theatre. Not to forget the fact that he's one of these directors who understands what is Theatre. To be directed by him, the most perfectionist of all the directors I have worked left me with the conviction that he is simply one of the bests I've worked to this day.

The distribution was... magnificent! What else could be said, for instance, of Marisa Paredes? She's the Margarita Xirgu of the 20th and 21th centuries.

Un Paso Adelante (2002-2005), the Antena 3 television series is a world-wide hit. Your character of Mariano Cuellar evolved from the traitorous nemesis of the Carmen Arranz school (« who looks like Charles Laughton », says Carmen) to the sensible man of culture and taste close to the person you are in reality.

Juan Echanove: Un Paso Adelante allowed me to connect with a public - Teen-agers - which certainly would have not expressed interest in plays like The Price of Arthur Miller without this show and the fact I've worked in it.

In one episode the fantastic comedy duo formed by you and actor Alfonso Lara (Juan Taberner) shared some scenes with Juan José Otegui, a talented actor you work regularly with on screen and on stage. Can you tell our readers about Mr Otegui and about your collaborations with him?

Juan Echanove: Otegui is one of the reasons I continue working on stage as an actor, a producer, and director. Otegui is the scene... the essence... the fidelity... the illusion... the vocation.... The knowledge to do. And he does all that at 70 years. Who could give more? Who needs more?

In 1993 you have created your own artistic production company, La Llave Maestra Producciones Artísticas, in order to produce for cinema, television and theatre. With this company you have co-produced El Precio (The Price), the play of Arthur Miller.

On stage you are an actor but often also a director. Why did you need a production company at this step of your career? What makes you the most proud of with the work for La Llave Maestra Producciones Artísticas?

Juan Echanove: Without La Llave Maestra I would be forced to work in this profession without no kind of criterion and no objective. I produce so that in the future we can be proud of a repertory raised with great efforts.

You're a man of all the arts: actor, director, producer, voice artist but also singer. How were you invited on the album of Víctor Manuel and Ana Belén entitled Mucho más que dos (1994)?

Juan Echanove: Thanks to this invitation made by Victor Manuel to share scene with them, I had the opportunity to verify by myself the extremely hard and difficult thing that is a profession embraced with dedication by a lot of my friends: Music. It was an unforgettable experience. One of the few things that justify all a living!

With your book Curso de cocina para novatos (Cookery for beginners), you have proven that you're familiar with the wonderful art of Gastronomy too. Was it important for you to share your pleasure and your knowledge with this book?

Juan Echanove: There are people who spend half of their lives striking a ball and running on the grass... I don't. I sincerely believe that my way to relax is to help the others to access the pleasure of the excitation of senses. Without any doubt If I didn't become an actor I would have been a cook...

ObjYou have recently completed the shooting of Bienvenido a casa, a movie written and directed by David Trueba. What is your role?

Juan Echanove: David Trueba is an excellent director, a worthy heir of his great teachers... Rafael Azcona... and of course Fernando Trueba. He is also an excellent person. His sense of humor is one of finest I've ever seen.

I play Felix, a blind cinema critic with a dog as blind as him!

On what are you working currently?

My next project is to direct the play Visitando al Sr.Green (Visiting Mr Green, written by Jeff Baron) for the Teatro Bellas Artes de Madrid (Theatre of Fine Arts of Madrid) with a distribution formed by Juan Jose Otegui and Père Ponce. The play will be shown in january.

(Interview done in 2005)

Thursday, 15 May 2008


Sky du Mont was born in Buenos Aires and spent his childhood in United Kingdom before starting a brilliant career in Germany and internationally. From his debut on stage, his guest roles in the tv-series of Helmut Ringelmann (Der Kommissar, Derrick, Der Alte...) to Eyes Wide Shut and his comic characters in the movies of Michael « Bully » Herbig, Sky du Mont talks with us about his work and his different and numerous artistic activities.

Sky du Mont, your very first contact with acting was at the end of the Sixties with an extra part in a play where you caught the attention of the director. Could you please tell us more about this debut and how it lead you to acting school?

Sky du Mont : I was broke - as usual - and I did extra-work on plays for television. This is where a very famous german director, Fritz Umgelter, discovered me and gave me my first role in a tv-play.

I was very lucky because an acting instructor from the National Theatre gave me lessons for free as she believed in me and in my talent.

During your three years at acting school in Munich (1969-1971) which teachers marked you the most and why?

Sky du Mont : Miss Hanschke, because she taught me everything there was to know about Theatre. Everything else you have to learn while working: « learning by doing »...

After school you start your career on stage for the Residenztheater of Munich and the Staatstheater in Berlin. For which plays and which roles?

Sky du Mont : I started off with Schnitzler's Professor Bernhardi in Munich. After that I joined the Staatstheater Berlin (National Theatre) an played Gorki, Tchekov, Edward Bond, etc.

Your first movie is the Heimatfilm Das Schweigen im Walde (1976), directed by Alfred Vohrer. How did you work under the direction of this great artisan of german cinema?

Sky du Mont : As I had a tiny part there is not much to tell...

The Boys from Brazil (1976), the well-known thriller directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, constitutes the beginning of your international career. What was you role in this movie? How were you chosen? With which actors did you share some scenes?

Sky du Mont : All my scenes were with Gregory Peck. I got the part through casting and played a ruthless killer.

We cannot talk about your acting career without a mention of your participation in Mr Helmut Ringelmann's television productions. Mr Ringelmann enjoys to work with a family of professionals, technicians and artists and his actors are like those of a Repertory Theatre company.

Sky du Mont : Ringelmann was one of the most important people in my career. I was 21 ! Derrick, Der Alte... All these parts probably started my career in Germany.

How did you meet Helmut Ringelmann?

Sky du Mont : I rang his office and asked for an appointment - and I was granted one. 8 days later I got my first part in one of his productions as a man named Manuel Derrick in Der Kommissar.

Can you please talk to us about Tiefe Wasser (1983), an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's Deep Water produced by Mr Ringelmann.

Sky du Mont : Tiefe Wasser was directed by Franz Peter Wirth, a director I very often worked for.

You played a vast range of characters for Mr Ringelmann but your interpretation of the archetypal suave villain from the Munich Bourgeoisie in his Krimi Series remains very popular. Can we consider this kind of character like a role from the classic Theatre, as these shows possess the aspect and the psychology of a tragedy play?

Sky du Mont : Yes, certainly. And I always believed that even the « bad guy » has a mother and loves dogs - for example.

From 1979 to 1983 you work on international movie productions like Avalanche Express (1979) or American TV prestige miniseries and in Germany for cinema and television. But in 1985 you make your first major jump into the movie comedy world with the mega-cult Otto - Der Film, starring TV-comedian Otto Waalkes.

Was it important for you to play in a comedy at this moment of your dual career in Germany and abroad or was the opportunity to play in this one pure chance, or both?

Sky du Mont : People in Germany only knew me as the villain and it was about time that I change my character as I had on stage. I played in many comedies in Theatre but was never offered a funny part in Film or television. When Otto - Der Film came I took the chance and it became the most popular film in Germany... until Manitou's Shoe.

You have made two incursions in the Soap Opera universe with your participations in this US institution that is General Hospital and Judith Krantz's Secrets, an attempt to duplicate the genre in european co-production. Could you compare these two experiences?

Sky du Mont : Playing in Judith Krantz's Secrets was not very rewarding. It was unorganised, unprofessional and I hated the work. It was never shown in Germany, as I know.

General Hospital was a great experience. Fantastic scripts, great actors and very (very) hard work!

Your name belongs to the great History of Cinema with your role of Sandor Szavost in the last Stanley Kubrick's movie, Eyes Wide Shut (1999). How did you prepare your scenes?

Sky du Mont : When you work with Kubrick you learn your lines but don't set your mind too much on how you will play the part. Usually he wanted it completely different. Nicole Kidman, Kubrick and I rehearsed like on stage. Everybody had to leave the studio - we were alone and had all the time we needed.

What was the most important thing you learned as an actor from this movie and from Kubrick?

Sky du Mont : It is very seldom that in live one meets a Genius... Kubrick was a Genius. He was a director who listened to his actors and was not so arrogant to imply his will.

You seem to take a lot of pleasure shooting comedies. We could not imagine someone else than you as Santa Maria, the bad guy of Manitou's Shoe (2001) and you are fantastic as William The Last, and - again - Santa Maria, in Dreamship Surprise (2004).

How did this collaboration with Michael Herbig start?

Sky du Mont : He offered me the part and I said I wouldn't play it because all the jokes were on his side. When we agreed that I could play Santa Maria as a bad guy that does not take himself serious, with sense of humour, I agreed to play the part.< Herbig gives evidence of a true love for cinema as a director...

Sky du Mont : Bully is a great director and became a great friend.

What does attract you in comedies like Samba in Mettman?

Sky du Mont : In Samba... I could change completely, a wonderful chance for any actor. I love comedies because they are the most difficult in our profession.

Your first novel, Prinz und Paparazzi has been adapted for television with you as the main character and as co-writer. Can you talk to us about the book and his adaptation?

Sky du Mont : That was hard work because the ZDF wanted absolutely no conflicts in the script. People are difficult, they do have problems... so I wasn't quite happy with the film. My second novel is different, closer to reality.

You are familiar of the exercise consiting in using your voice as sole instrument of your acting work, sometimes for public lectures (Die Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers, Felix Krull, Handbuch des Aufsteigers...) or for video games (EverQuest II).

What interests you in this vocal work?

Sky du Mont : The voice is an important instrument of an actor. Lectures are a bit like being on stage, with the audience... but with less work and more money (laugh).

Actor, talk-show moderator, novelist, writer, voice artist... After your singing numbers as Santa Maria could you play in a musical?

Sky du Mont : No. I have been offered the part of Professor Higgins in My fair lady but that is something I will not do. Don't even ask me why, I have no idea.

On what are you working currently? Would you like to go back to Theatre?

Sky du Mont : No again. Theatre takes up too much time and leaves me me with so little time for all the things I like to do like... actor, talk-show moderator, novelist, writer, voice artist, etc.

At the moment I am writing the script of a thriller for television and will start shooting a movie for children in August.

(Interview done in 2005)