Albuquerque Journal, March 1974,
[Here is an interview with Dean Stockwell, from
Newspaper, March 1974]
There is one facial
feature that saves the face from the Pretty Boy blandness afflicting
actors like the other Dean (Jones) and John Davidson. Dean Stockwell
has EYEBROWS --- bushy Hugh Griffith eyebrows that impart to the remainder
of the delicate, finely-chiselled features a robust life. With multi-points
ascending heavenward, the eyebrows are like two natural fibre toothbrushes
on a visage that would otherwise appear Hollywood synthetic.
Dean Stockwell, who will be starring at the Little
Theater in RELATIVELY SPEAKING from March 8-21, is probably more often
recognized than identified. That aforementioned face is familiar to
the general public from countless television shows but the name may
Dean Stockwell has made at least one film that
is a classic – the Sidney Lumet LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (with
Sir Ralph Richardson, Katherine Hepburn and Jason Robards -- "That
was a heavy cast," Stockwell says), and another film that may be
a classic -- the Joseph Losey THE BOY WITH GREEN HAIR. It was completed
in 1949 before the McCarthy madness led Losey to take residence in England
where he has directed a series of extraordinary films from scripts by
And he has made a good number of films that are
not and never will be classics: THE DUNWICH HORROR, WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON
It was perhaps COMPULSION that resulted in the
typecasting of Stockwell as a tormented, intense neurotic, sometimes
with leanings toward the poetic and lyrical. In LONG DAY'S JOURNEY he
was the Eugene O'Neill character.
It is a type from which he has yet to escape:
"I favor anything that is unique, that stands out on its own.
As far as roles
are concerned, I much prefer to exclude neurotics. I'd like to do a
movie with Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder and that crew.
"It's a bit of fluff," he says of RELATIVELY
SPEAKING, and that is the one reason he wants to do it. Too many years
of milling killers (Stockwell would assuredly work constantly were it
not for Tony Perkins, who fits into the same shtick in the minds of
producers) have left the actor with the desire to make people laugh.
"But even if I am funny and brilliant and
all of that ____, none of the people who give me jobs will see it."
Sigh. Producers may not give Dean Stockwell the
jobs he wants because producers know that he is superb at playing intense
neurotics and they want to take no chances.
Producers want to make money. "That's the
studio psychology. The producers still think they are the only ones
who know how it should be done."
And they still, Stockwell believes, control the
film industry far more than the post-EASY RIDER optimists will admit.
"The men who run the major studios are businessmen
who at times consider themselves artists. And they are not necessarily
successful as businessmen. But if you throw them out, the creative people
would be incapable of taking their place. They'd go crazy. There's no
way to change that.
"But it would be better, if, once the producer
has chosen his creative people he would let them alone." Does that
ever happen? "Hardly ever." Producers have a capacity for
rationalization held by all humans, but heightened, Stockwell laments.
"They think when the movie is successful, it's their work; when
it's a mess, they blame it on the shooting schedule or something else."
A case in point is William Friedkin's THE EXORCIST,
which went on longer than scheduled and cost, in the end, about $11
Had that movie failed, Stockwell is convinced
the production company would have blamed Friedkin; since it is a howling
success the members of the production company bask in glory, even though
the achievement may have had nothing to do with them other than the
fact that they financed it.
And that, maybe, is what it means to be an actor
in 1974 -- you are typecast by producers who have cash register minds,
you come to Albuquerque to get away from it and do something you enjoy,
even though it will make no difference, and you are slightly bitter.
The eyebrows elevate with a little resignation,
a lot of determination. Dean Stockwell is not quitting. "It's my
profession. I enjoy it. I can't imagine any other profession I would
want to go into."