Ex-Westport resident Dullea to be celebrated at flm series
During the filming of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," the classic computer villain, HAL 9000, wasn't quite as terrifying as he was when the film was released in theaters.
So says actor Keir Dullea.
Dullea, a former Westport resident who now lives in Fairfield, starred in the film's lead role as astronaut David Bowman and his scenes with HAL have a became a celebrated part of film history. However, it was only after the film was shot that HAL's iconic, cold, emotionless voice was dubbed by actor Douglas Rain.
During the actual filming, most of HAL's lines were read by the film's assistant director, who had a friendly and distinct British brogue.
"The voice of HAL for me, sounded a little like Michael Cain. So that took a bit of acting," he said. "I would be talking to that red eye of HAL but just off camera there was a live person feeding me the lines."
"David & Lisa" was a pioneering film of the American independent film movement in the early 1960s. In 1963 the filmmakers were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director and Screenplay.
It tells the tender tale of two adolescents who make contact with each other in a home for emotionally disturbed youngsters. In 1962, the film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the "Opera Prima" for "Best New Work."
Dullea recalled the film was made for a budget of only $180,000, but took off after its director, Frank Perry, delivered the rolls of film in person to the Venice Film Festival.
"Frank Perry took the cans of film on a commercial flight to Venice; he hired a translator (to write subtitles) and knocked on doors," Dullea said.
He added that making "David & Lisa" was a tremendously enjoyable experience.
"Making the film was like I had died and gone to heaven. It wasn't like a job, it was like this little family. There was a lot of love behind this."
For his moving portrayal in "David & Lisa," Dullea received a Golden Globe Award and the San Francisco International Film Festival's "Golden Gate Award" for "Best Actor." Dullea's role in the film also helped lead Kubrick to cast him in 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey" without an audition.
"2001: A Space Odyssey" is based on the Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" and the film's script was co-written by Kubrick and Clarke. Dullea, an avid science fiction fan as a teenager, said he loved the script but would have jumped at the chance to work with Kubrick no mater what.
"I would have done it if he had sent me the telephone book," he said.
Working with Kubrick proved to be everything Dullea could have hoped for.
"He made it so easy. Both Gary Lockwood, my co-star, and I felt so supported by Stanley. He was a very low-key, very quiet man, the most prepared director I've ever worked with in my life, ever. Some might call him anal in his eye for detail, but look at what it produced," Dullea said.
He added, Kubrick "contacted probably 20 different corporations (including) Parker Brothers, who made the Monopoly games, and many medical instrument manufactures; he contacted all these companies and asked their specialists and scientists to come up with their best guess of what their products would be like in the year 2001. So everything you see visually was based on the responses he got from those companies."
Dullea added that based on the science of the time, Kubrick "didn't do one thing that was phony and yet it was still a spectacular film."
Although he may be better known for his famous film roles, Dullea said he prefers the stage. He recently performed a play reading at the prestigious Actors Studio in New York City, of which he is a member.
"My first love is live theater, punctuated by some pretty fantastic films along the way that I'm quite proud of, but my focus really is on live theater," he said.