Theater archives

Ken Russell, Master Filmmaker, Speaks


Ken Russell, the British director of such lush, visceral epics as Tommy and Women In Love, swept into town to direct a bizarre theatrical thriller called Mindgame, and nicely paused for a little psychological tete-a-tete with yours truly. The result will be in the next column, but in the meantime, let me throw you a couple of tasty tidbits he lavished my way.

*When Women in Love first played, a friend of his observed the reaction of two old biddies in the audience during the infamous nude wrestling scene. They didn’t say a word, but when the actors tumbled to the ground after the wrestling ended, one of them did chirp, “Lovely carpet!”

*William Hurt, star of Russell’s Altered States, was a self-involved schmo who hated being called a preppie. Apparently he also doesn’t like being called Bill. He more recently told the theater director who’d discovered him, “You must now call me William!”

*Faye Dunaway, big surprise, is a total horror (though Russell has a soft spot for her). The two of them collaborated on Faye’s never-produced movie about Maria Callas, and he says she went through over 30 drafts of it, never finding his input quite good enough. She strangely insisted on puppets in the script because “Puppets are big now,” but Russell vehemently disagreed. At another point, they fought to the point where Russell lunged at her, putting his hands around her neck…but you’ll have to wait for the column to see how that one ended, lovies!

*Kathleen Turner agreed to swallow during the blow job scene in Crimes of Pasion, but she wouldn’t simulate it with oysters because she’s vegetarian. Again, wait till the column and find out what she did use.

Lucky youse to have all this hoary, old dish to look forward to!