Continued (page 4 of 6)
I was in the film. It was my one acting experience. I got rheumatic fever the moment it started, so it was all over. I had to get a double. It was his favorite movie. I remember watching it with him. But he never watched his other movies. God forbid one of his commercials came on. He would instantly change the TV. He never wanted to see himself. Everything that was past was past. It’s what saved him. He had a lot of hardships in his life. He had so much taken away from him – most of his movies. And he moved on.
That’s the side of me that’s hard. If I think about everything I’ve done [to preserve his legacy], I know I’m doing it for my father, but he probably doesn’t care. I’ve spent the last 20 years going through heartbreak – it’s all emotion and I’m the only one who cares about it. That’s logical; I’m the only one who would care. But there’s another side that makes me think he wouldn’t care, and maybe I should stop. But I can’t. I want to leave his films the way they should be left. It’s not about him but what he left and how he made it. They should be left that way.
I’m talking about Othello and all of his films I’ve tried to get my hands on. We stopped Touch of Evil from being screened at the Cannes film festival [in 1998]. They wouldn’t listen to us. We wanted to see what was being done to the movie. It was being restored – footage had been added. As the estate, we wanted to see it. They ignored us like we didn’t exist. We brought in a lawyer who told them the movie wasn’t approved by the estate, and the Cannes festival didn’t show it. I was very unpopular. Chuck Heston called me an idiot on TV. I didn’t want to stop a premier at the Cannes film festival, but we wanted to see what was going on. We wanted to see the script and the movie. Is that so much to ask?
So how much filming did you actually do for Chimes at Midnight?
I was 9. My British accent was dubbed by a boy. I played the part of Falstaff’s page. It was very traumatic. I was 9 years old, I had long hair, I was starting to think about being a girl, and suddenly I had to have my hair all chopped off, looking like a boy. Nobody understands how traumatic that was for me. I was quite feminine, and suddenly I had to have this horrible haircut, which was also bad because he told me during that time nobody had good haircuts, which is a very good point.
I worked on the film quite a lot. They would drag me out of bed. I was in bed for a year. Thank God for that – we had the right doctor. The only way to save your heart is by not moving. I had cortisone injections every day. So I would be put on a pillow for filming. There were parts where they couldn’t use a double. But my part became much smaller because I was sick. The worst of it was that my father hated birthdays, like me. He hated them because on his ninth birthday, his mother died. So my ninth birthday came along. Usually, it wasn’t a big thing for him. Christmas was. But on my ninth birthday, he bought me a horse. But I never got to ride the horse, because I was sick two days later. And we ended up selling the horse. It wasn’t practical.
What were his favorite movies from the late 1970s?
He was a great admirer of Clint Eastwood and Sylvester Stallone – he thought the first Rocky was amazing.