Feo Amante's Under the Microscope:
DAVID: Yeah. Wow, Amanda. She did Max Headroom in the '80s and all that. Amanda is a very classy lady.
Before The Kindred, I saw her in this British film where she was wearing this school girl's uniform. I kind of gasped. I thought she was stunning.
So later when I first saw her on the set, she was just coming around the corner. You see, getting in the movie all happened so fast I didn't know who I was working with beside Mr. Stieger and Kim Hunter. So when I saw Amanda walking toward me, I started laughing and turned left and walked right off the set. 'Whoa! I'm going work with that girl in that movie!' I don't think she saw me, at least I hope not. I didn't want to look like a fool before we were even introduced (laughs).
She was great to work with during the movie. The movie itself was a great time. You would think that with having two Directors on the set (Jeff Obrow and Stephen Carpenter), there would be this clash of egos all of the time. But Jeff and Steve were great. They worked amazingly well together. Hell, everyone worked well together. The producers were really nice and we all had fun. It was really enjoyable. That's rare you know?
ECM: Amanda is married to Corbin Bernson of THE DENTIST movies, isn't she?
DAVID: Yeah, I met them both at a get-together a few months ago. They're both nice folks. Unaffected, you know what I mean?
ECM: Cool. I usually read about people having a terrible time when making a movie. Especially a Horror movie with all the make-up that is usually involved.
DAVID: The make-up people are great, but you're right; that special effects make-up can be bad . . . especially if you're claustrophobic. The artists know that its uncomfortable for you and they do their best to make you feel as at ease as possible.
During the final shoot of The Kindred, they asked me to come back and try a different ending for one of the final scenes. The scene involves a lot of this slime. I'm completely covered in this foul stuff. So the day is over, I go home and try to shower all of this off of me, right? But "continuity" calls for you putting on the same clothes at four thirty the next morning. Cold slime, yuck! But you get used to it. Sometimes actors spend months in mud and slime and water to shoot a film.
ECM: What do you remember in working with Rod Steiger?
DAVID: When I first met Mr. Steiger, I remember going up to him and gushing like any young actor would. I was telling him how he was "up-levelling" our little Horror movie.
He just listened to me without responding and when I was done he said, "Uh huh." and walked off.
What I didn't realize at the time is that Rod had been going through some personal trauma for a number of years. Prior to making this movie, he had been holed up in his house with Chronic Depression. Making The Kindred was like Stieger's fight to come out . . . literally from the depression. He did it.
A bit later, he would invite me to sit down with him and we had a great conversation. He told me these wonderful stories of his life making movies, with a few stories about Brando and some hell raising. Rod is a very funny guy. You wouldn't think that because he usually plays the heavy and he has this real intense presence.
He talks with his hands a lot, and he has very strong hands and forearms. You get the feeling that he would just as soon walk through a door than open it. He's like a bull, yet he can be so delicate.
DAVID: After that, I went back to New York for a couple of years.
That's when I had just gotten into the Actor's Studio in '89. I'd written this one man show on Lord Byron. I did it as my first performance piece for the Director's Unit and the Actor's Studio.
I was terrified. Because it was a period piece and I'd written it myself. I was on the floor in front of everybody. They are sitting on this small riser and there are chairs all around the floor of this little church; a little brick church on 44th street. People don't usually do period stuff - or write it themselves. It came off well, thank God. After it was over, eventually I went downstairs to pick up my stuff and I walked in on a board meeting of the studio, while I was undressing. There was Newman, Keitel and Ellen Burstyn with about five or six others and I was like "Whoa! Sorry!" I grabbed my bag of props and backed out.
A couple of days later, my agent called me about a movie called THE DOORS. Oliver Stone was directing it. I got the script, looked at my part, and it was three sentences on the page. But the character was great. It was Jim Morrison's friend. So I figured I had nothing to lose. I wrote a whole monologue for this character and I gave him a rough voice, the same as the one I did in Jack Frost 2 later.
For my audition, I made some crude jokes at Jim's door in a cheap hotel on Sunset where Morrison lived, trying to get him out of bed before a performance. And then I described the dope I had at the theater where we were going. That it was all female buds from Kuaii, Hawaii and how they have a virgin piss on it before they send it out.
Stone loved it and said he'd use it. So I got the job and they flew me out for rehearsal with Val Kilmer. He seemed pretty arrogant, but it was part of the character I guess.
ECM: So that's how you get into character and get an audition in Hollywood, eh?
DAVID: Well that's how I did it. Movies are easier in some ways than theater. Theater is really challenging, both physically and mentally. With theater you have to put that hat on eight times a week no matter how you are feeling. Movies are more fun for me, but I get more out of doing theater.
So flying out to California, I planned on staying. We shot for a month in about ten locations. It was a huge shoot. We had a thousand extras at the shrine one day. I had two big scenes. Everybody in sixties get-up. At least 3 big cameras were flying all over the stage and out at the audience, automated by crane.
It was wild, but everybody had a good time.
Before the whole movie started shooting, though, Billy Idol went down on his motorcycle and broke his leg. So they gave him my role and hired another actor to do his. Suddenly my part is down to four seconds. The scenes I shot were mostly cut out with six other guys and four locations.
At the time I was going with this long-legged California girl who left me for an Italian guy, almost right after the wrap party.
I took a little apartment on the Pacific Coast Highway and couldn't get a job. I was almost broke and I basically hit an emotional wall. I found out later, they call it a nervous breakdown.
So I'd run in the hills for two hours a day and lost thirty pounds. I always had dry mouth and was worried. I couldn't stand myself much longer. I couldn't get along with myself. I was self-critical and angry. I couldn't get successful, get peaceful; I couldn't get what I wanted.
But, like an American male, I covered really well. I went down to Mexico to do a TV- cable series. Some soft-core porn thing. Then I did an episode of Quantum Leap.
Look I don't mean to sound glib about this. I was scared.
I had always been able to handle things. To dig down deeper and get the job done. But this had me by the balls. You can't know what this is unless you've been there. I was a gutless wonder wandering around in a sunlit nightmare thinking about suicide. The suicide stage lasted about 2 weeks out of the three years. I was a lucky one though, I had the stamina for my own insanity. Many don't. Many die.
On April Fools morning, 1994, I threw my feet over my little coffin bed and - I'd been nauseous for close to a year - and I thought to myself, 'I don't know how much more my body can take of this stress. I'm probably going to get cancer if I don't stop now. I can't explore going any deeper. I've got to fight it and go up, not down.'
So I was scared into . . .
ECM: You scared yourself really.
DAVID: Yeah. I scared myself into repeating an affirmation, over and over for about two weeks.
The affirmation was: I'm now feeling peaceful, whether I deserve it or not." You can get the idea of my state of mind where you repeat an affirmation with a negative twist!
This is where the Actor's Studio training helped me. Because I could remember in my body what "peaceful" sort of felt like. So I'd say the affirmation and try to go back to that place.
About that time my Mother was diagnosed with cancer. She'd had it for five or six years and didn't tell anybody. But because of her Christian Science beliefs, she wouldn't go to a Doctor. That's what really started to help me get out of my own chronic depression.
ECM: Just like Stieger.
DAVID: Yep. I would go down to her house, South of L.A. three or four days a week.
ECM: How did your Mother having cancer get you out of your depression?
DAVID: Because I was serving her needs, not mine. Its not easy when the parent becomes the child, physically anyway. I had to help her to the bathroom. Shakespeare called it the "Muelling, puking, infant" we all become again with age.
This interview copyright 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.
E.C. McMullen Jr. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
|Feo Amante's Horror Home Page, Feo Amante's Horror Thriller, and feoamante.com are owned and
Copyright 1997 - 2017 by E.C.McMullen Jr.
All images and text belong to E.C.McMullen Jr. unless otherwise noted.
All fiction stories belong to their individual authors.