One evening I receive a call from a woman who wanted to talk about a segment of my series (Interview) which she had just watched on television. The caller was Virginia Madsen.
The story that caught her attention was about a woman living a solitary life in an isolated mountain cabin. The character is at one with the peaceful surroundings of nature where she lives with her dogs and the comforts she finds in her collection of books. It was as though she had taken a page from Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Alone, she felt secure but the undercurrent was that she needed the quiet and safety of self as a remedy to whatever life had imposed on her in earlier times. The story turns on the disruption of her idyll when her cabin is invaded by a fugitive who takes her hostage.
A lifetime earlier, I had seen The Collector with Terrence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, an excellent if disturbing film about captivity. I can't say that I had it consciously in mind as I created this story though there are similarities. What similarities there were disappeared in the second half of the second act--at the mid-point as Syd Field would say. Here, I told the tale of a woman who is able to neutralize the threat to her with a calm acceptance of her tormentor giving him nothing against which to attack. This curious void and lack of resistance threw off her captor's equilibrium disconcerting him. He became curious about her rather than certain, gradually putting aside the hatred that his mania had dictated to him. In the end, he surrenders himself to her and, subsequently, to the authorities. He finds himself in prison under a life sentence. It is then that the two marry each other.
Virginia told me that she was intrigued by the story as a film in which she could play the woman's role. She thought her brother (Michael), also an actor, would be perfect for the role of the captor. She requested that I send a cassette to the woman who was her manager at the time which I did. Subsequent phone conversations with the manager were, in stark contrast to my conversation with Virginia, disagreeable to say the least.
Another close encounter. Another lesson learned.
As a post script, the actress who played the book's author in the segment that caught Virginia Madsen's attention was Katherine James. She, too, had called me one day after having seen an (Interview) program on cable and wanted to talk to me about the series--she had seen other episodes. I invited her to come on the show and when she agreed, I created the story described above for her to play as I felt it resonated with who she was--at least, with whom I perceived her to be.
As I became better acquainted with Katherine, I learned she had been offered the title role in the movie Candy--a send up of Voltaire's Candide--that featured Charles Aznavour, Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, James Coburn, John Huston, Walter Matthau and Ringo Starr amongst others. It was directed by Christian Marquand with a screenplay by Buck Henry from the novel by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg. She declined the role and, instead, went off to London with Ginger Baker.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
Click to buy on Amazon
Click to view on Amazon
Examples of Responsive Reactions
Click photo to see example clips from Stephen's movies
Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
Ferrari GTO 3987 at speed by Yan denes
Ray D. Shosay's Journal
Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris
Ray D. Shosay's Journal (excerpt)
"Saturday, January 27, 2007
They say you can fool some of the people all of the time. Accordingly, I think we should concentrate on this group initially. We can move on to the people you can only fool some of the time at a later date if we deem it necessary. I hope to hear back from my agent about this as soon as he's out of rehab, as I don't think my messages have been getting through."
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
Kindle or Paperback versions
Exerpt from Ignorance is Bliss
"Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Martha shift in her seat. She leaned forward, as though something was about to be decided. This caused her breasts to push up against the neckline of her dress in a way that couldn't be fully appreciated out of the corner of one’s eye. So, Martin turned his head to look directly into the abyss of her cleavage. He was vaguely aware that Murray was talking again."
Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)
Click on poster to buy the poster and DVD
Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
Click photo to watch on Amazon Direct Video
“You ought to meet Steve. The two of you have the same kind of Ferrari.”
Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
One evening, I was enjoying a John le Carré novel and a glass of Bordeaux...
L'art de l'automobile
My first Lusso prior to restoration
It was only after Sinatra was gone...
Once upon a time...
Meeting Enzo Ferrari
I came across this on a late night stroll in Paris near the Louvre.
I bought Bentleys in England and Ferraris & Maseratis in Italy to re-sell in Los Angeles as a teenager. I met Enzo Ferrari, Juan Fangio and Steve McQueen. I 'grew up' on the set of Mission: Impossible and other episodic TV series of the era. For a few years, I owned a Ferrari GTO that is owned by Ralph Lauren today and valued at approximately $52M. I began my film career by writing, producing and directing Montmartre in Paris in French. I founded and ran a repertory company for film & TV for 20 years in Los Angeles. I created a TV series which had fans that included Marlon Brando. I authored the first new acting technique--Action/ReAction--that was not based on Stanislavski's Method. I am currently writing my third novel and shooting my spy thriller Exigence. If you can't make movies, live your life as though you were in one...