TRISOLDE> Then, how true to the book do you feel the film was? There's always sacrifices; where do you think they shouldn't have pulled punches? (if anywhere)
.KevinConway> I have to admit, feeling, two minds about it. The internet is an incredible technological advancement, but it also scares the hell out of me. You don't know what's on there. For all I know, although she passed away, Candy Darling could have done a page and said we DID do the play and we DID do those things. You never know. One of the blessings to me about my career is that I kept my head under the radar because nobody cares, which is fine with me, they care about my personal life, I'm not ashamed about it but I don't want to talk about it with everybody. Once you do get a 'big hit' that you're in, you become like an overnight sensation after 30 years, you're fair game for whatever they come up with and I don't like that. Not all publicity is good publicity. It was so long ago that I read the book, I read it right
before we shot.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> So you seem to have kept a comfortable level of balancing work and personal life, it seems.
.KevinConway> I knew they had made some changes ... Ursula was part of that. When I got on location, and Ursula was there, I discussed the script with her more than the book. I haven't read it since 1980, I can't be more specific about changes. It was a combination about the way I played it and the director. We went a little more for the comedic slant rather than an end of the world type of scenario. I remember the book being darker. I think for the purposes of a mass audience and television we tried to keep the quote-unquote profundity of the piece light. What I always liked about Haber is that he never did one thing right, in that whole movie, and yet he bounced back, he always had a solution, although the solution was usually worse than the problem, until his solution was to give himself all the power, which was really the most boneheaded idea for the world. There's even a shot I must admit to being particularly fond of, before I go into the dome at the end, I dressed in this robe, like something out of H. Ryder Hagger, and just before I go in I cast the robe off of my shoulders. He's acting the part of the high priest, and he believes it. I always laugh when I see that, it strikes me as funny.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> I recall that scene - I'll think of your words next time I see it.
.KevinConway> I even have it on my reel of greatest hits, and I hate Hollywood and going out there, I just send them tapes when they want to see my work. I have this moment when he looks down and slips off his robe, like he's high priest of the temple. Anyway, it makes me laugh, I get a kick out of it. He's such a fool, I just found him very endearing, as villains go, in sort of a ... totally self-delusional character.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> An endearing villain. That works for me.
.KevinConway> It's not totally up to date, there are a few things missing, there are two films coming out this year, next month. I tried to make it entertaining too, it's called "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", like the Streets of Laredo, rotten teeth, one eye.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Still, it would be wonderful to see. And I'll be watching for the new projects, as will we all, I'm betting.
.KevinConway> One of them is a big Hollywood thing, and one is a low budget we did in NY, and they're both getting released in the same month.
.Jenn> Are either of them action/adventure? I'd be happy to promo them on my site, if so.
.KevinConway> One is about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I play the head of the missile command, and I look completely awful in it.
.Jenn> Oh, that might well qualify -- we use a broad definition.
.KevinConway> I even repulsed myself this time.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Sounds a bit action/adventure to me.
.KevinConway> we went kind of the look for Lamay, but he was sort of fat, so I gained a few pounds, and wore a body pad ... The other one is 'Two Family House' which is a delightful little movie. I play a drunken Irish wife-abusing jerk, and it's a comedy. I was very pleased with the movie, it turned out very well, it's really about Italians in the 1950s. Sort of a Ralph Kramden. Now I'm playing a stunt pilot that flies around in one of those spy planes. If we ever start shooting.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> There ya go, Jenn.
.KevinConway> It's a very charming, family movie. It's not a very large role, I've worked for Hallmark before, you won't see my name on it.
.KevinConway> I've done that a lot, a couple of films where I haven't taken any credit on it. The only credit that's worth anything, the only billing, is really good billing, but if you're playing a role that's really not the main character, like the main character in this movie is William Hurd and Elizabeth McGovern in this case I said don't put my name on it at all. But pay me, they are going to pay me.
.KevinConway> That was "Beachcomber" I was supposedly in right?
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> And we will never forget it!
TRISOLDE> yup, did you get paid well for it? ;)
.KevinConway> Well, you know, I actually get paid a little residual for a movie I was never in. I get a check once a year for $5 for Klute. I was hired for that movie, to play a gay choreographer. So I didn't sign a contract, but they asked me and I said OK, and they rewrote the script and removed the character, but they felt guilty and kept me on the payroll. Klute was in the 70s but because of residuals I still get a check every year.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Amazing. That's priceless.
.KevinConway> You get paid for things you didn't do, and you don't get paid for things you did do. But I'm rich so it doesn't matter.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> And charming to boot.
.KevinConway> I have a house in East Hampton, that's where I prefer to lounge.
TRISOLDE> then I could come visit you. You do mean East Hampton, New Hampshire, right?
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Well, gang, it's been over 2-1/2 hours! Anyone getting tired?
.Jenn> I love listening to people talk about the craft, but I'm questioned out.
TRISOLDE> I think the question is more properly: is Kevin tired of us? I'd love to pester him about Lord of the Rings, which he chose not to be in.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> I'm amazed at Kevin's storytelling abilities, and to keep us rapt for so long.
.KevinConway> The quick answer for that is, I was set to do it, they were going to pay a ton of money for that. The unresolved problem was the schedule. They're doing ALL of it, so a three year off and on commitment for me, it would have been a year and a half about with small breaks of 3 weeks, a month here, 3 weeks there. I wouldn't have been able to do anything else. I couldn't do it, I backed out of it. I saw myself sitting in New Zealand for like a month between shots, or flying back to NY then flying back to New Zealand after a couple of weeks. There's no way to adjust the schedule, I knew I would be miserable. I left them plenty of time to recast, I don't know who they recast. I've been to New Zealand already, bungee jumped off a cliff. I didn't think I could do it, it was really exciting, I liked it because I'm a little afraid of heights, so this was a good way to crash through that. I was showing off, there was a guy with us who was one of those know-it-all guys and I think it was more male testosterone check than it was anything, I didn't want to jump off a cliff, but this guy kept saying how dumb it was. I was going to play Theoden, a King.
TRISOLDE> :( You as Theoden would have been spectacular. They settled for Bernard Hill (Cap'n Smith in "Titanic").
.KevinConway> The bad guy was going to make me depressed, I was going to be killed, I couldn't understand why it would take them a year and a half. I'd be there right now.
TRISOLDE> Well then! Here is MUCH better!
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Agreed!
.KevinConway> The really depressing part is that he's got to be 20 years older than me. So that's how they saw me, as an old ...
TRISOLDE> er... born in '44. (sorry!)
.KevinConway> I do have a white beard though, unfortunately prematurely whitened. I don't know anything about him as an actor, I couldn't sit through Titanic. I worked with Leo in Quick and the Dead, he's a wonderful young actor, but I just got really tired of the story. There's no way it needed to be 3 and a half hours long. That's one of my main bones to pick, is the length of movies nowadays. You can't go to a movie that' s under 3 hours, there's something wrong with that. Lawrence of Arabia NEEDED to be 3 hours. Dr. Zhivago needed to be 3 hours, but not some of these other movies with a fairly straightforward story, I don't think.
TRISOLDE> I think you'd be great as Theoden because it's a powerful, tormented King, and you're good at power and torment. :)
.KevinConway> Thank you Lori, for everything.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Kevin, it's been all our pleasure. You've been delightful company.
.KevinConway> Maybe when 13 Days come out, they might contact you to do another chat.
.Jenn> Thank you, Kevin. You've been a sheer delight.
.KevinConway> Talk about Kurtis Lamay, he's a piece of work, he's a really stand up guy.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> No problem! I'd be happy to!
.KevinConway> Thanks for sticking with me past our bedtimes.
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Good luck on the current project, and we will be watching for it.
.KevinConway> Kevin has Left the Building
TRISOLDE> I've loved chatting with you. Thank you for being so generous with time and spirit. :)
.SciFi/Fantasy TV> Yawn - we all should toddle off now.
This is part 4 of a an interview with Kevin Conway. Start with Page 1