Excerpts from The Quantum Leap Book,by
Louis Chunovic 1993.

 

 

Interviewer: Why did you want to do a series? As I remember it, you were flying high in movies, coming off Blue Velvet and all that. A lot of people in the business were surprised that an actor of you stature would take any part in series television.

Dean Stockwell: I wasn't flying that high. I was on an ascendant, there's no question, but I had spent virtually countless years of anxiety wondering whether I was going to get another job all the time, so I wanted a long run at something. I never thought there was anything wrong with doing a television series. I thought it was a wonderful thing to do, especially since this particular one had what I felt was so much to offer in the way of quality, uniqueness and a wonderful part.

Interviewer: What did you bring to the Part?

Dean Stockwell: Well, I brought my talent, whatever that is. I'm not going to describe that. That's what I brought to it.

Interviewer: What about insights into the character: Is the character as originally written who you're playing now, or did you
bring in little bits of business, little insights of your own?

Dean Stockwell: Both. It's a combination of both. There was a very interesting character to start with. He was, um, very colorful, and he was, um-how shall I put it? If anything he had an expanded appreciation of the opposite gender. And there was humor in it. I have expanded the humor and expanded the appreciation of the feminine gender, and the writing has gone along with me. I've added a lot of little things and schticks, mostly on the comedic side, the light side. The shows that have dealt with more emotional things, I feel fortunate that they've been few and far between, because I prefer doing the comedy. But those more serious shows have been good ones and well-written, so I have been able to achieve a balance in the performances.

Interviewer: Al seems to me to be a man who's had a real hard life that's tempered him. Is that part of what you brought to
the character?

Dean Stockwell: Oh, I wouldn't say that. I don't know that my life has been as hard as his, or maybe it's been more hard. I don't know. When the situation calls for serious drama...I draw all these things from my imagination: I never research, I never search my soul for experiences that I've had that fit the thing that I'm going to act out. I don't work that way. I work mostly with my mind and then I'm able to tap into emotions when I actually do it.

Interviewer: You were in the business since you were a kid. You were in one of my favorite movies.

Dean Stockwell: Really? Which one is that?

Interviewer: The Boy With Green Hair. Tell me, how has the business changed since then?

Dean Stockwell: It's truly the same business. It's the business of entertainment; and hopefully at its best, a provocative and stimulating business, above and beyond the basic entertainment value. I think entertainment is essential to the human condition, so it is an important endeavour. The studio system that existed when I was a child fell apart; it doesn't exist anymore. That was a growth in the business. I think independent filmmakers brought a great deal to the art form and were freed of the fetters of studio control. More stimulating ideas were brought to the screen. Fewer B-movies as a staple of the studios (weremade). And (there was) just as high a quality of stars. So you can't say that the studio system fostered all these stars, and everything was better because of that. It just simply isn't true. Television came into the picture. HA! That's funny! I like that. Get it? Television came into the picture! That's become its own growth industry; a wonderful thing for actors. Unfortunately, the quality across the board isn't consistently very high; it's very commercial.

 

Interviewer: Do you have a favorite movie from you career?

Dean Stockwell: Yeah, I have several. Green hair is one of them; it still holds up as a very unique little classic. It says something very important; it's an antiwar film. There was picture called Down to the Sea in ships that I did with Richard Widmark and Lionel Barrymore that, for performance, I felt very good about. A couple of comedies that I did as a kid. Then, later on, Long Day's Journey Into Night, with Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, and Jason Robards. And the film of Compulsion. Then, later on, I would say Married To The Mob, I'd put that up as the favorite part I've ever had.

Interviewer: You seem to like word play. Do you write?

Dean Stockwell: No

Interviewer: Direct?

Dean Stockwell: No. Well, I have. I directed some little theater stuff.

Interviewer: No ambitions in those directions?

Dean Stockwell: Uh-uh

Interviewer: If you had your choice, is there a Quantum you'd like to do that you haven't done?

Dean Stockwell: I've been attempting, over the three and a half years we've been doing this show, to get the production office to do an environmental show. It hasn't happened. It seems a natural, but...it's a very difficult show to write scripts for...it's tough to do. No one yet has been able to come up with an environmental script that works. I feel there is a definite perspective advantage that we have-because we deal with times in the past-to show the origins of the environmental mistakes that have been made and now to see the consequences.

Interviewer: You're a Married man with kids. Is this kind of work pace brutal on a family life?

Dean Stockwell: It's a little tough. I see them mostly on the weekends because they're not near and it's a long working day minimum twelve-hour days, but when I'm there it's high quality time. They come and visit the set from time to time. It's as good a situation as you could have, given what I'm doing, and I'm doing what I'm doing to provide for their future.

 

Interviewer: Do your children (aged six and eight) watch the show?

Dean Stockwell: They don't watch it live; it's too late (at night).There are some episodes that I'd rather they don't see, so we pick and choose the episodes.

Interviewer: What's it like for a six-year old to see daddy on screen?

Dean Stockwell: They seem to accept it very readily. They see films from when I was a kid, too. They get right into the stories...That's the way pure minds work. They both adore Scott, both personally and on the show.

Interviewer: What do you do between calls on the set?

Dean Stockwell: Quite frequently I have mundane matters to handle here in this dressing room, my motor home here. Paperwork and stuff. I enjoy reading. I have a television (with a VCR) here; I watch dailies-dailies, of course, are the rushes that were shot the day before. I have some weights. something that I enjoy greatly is a chess computer. I play chess against it. I like that a lot.

Interviewer: Someone said to me I shouldn't leave without asking you about Golf.

Dean Stockwell: What about it?

Interviewer: Personally, I don't know anything about it.

Dean Stockwell: Well, I am a Golfer. I'm addicted to golf. I think it's the most difficult sport I've ever tried to do. Itís the hardest to do but it's also the most addictive. It's incredibly enjoyable and incredibly frustrating. I do want to say something (on another topic).

Interviewer: Sure. What's that?

Dean Stockwell: I do want to say that I want to do at least another season on the show, because-and I'm being very honest here-I've been very deeply affected by what I've felt coming back to me from the fans of this show. I've been very deeply affected by their demeanor, their sincerity, the warmth and affection that they show to the show and to Scott and me. It's real and I think it's very unique, and I've never experienced that before in my life. I want them to have twenty-two or forty-four more episodes.

Crew member: If you want to get on Dean's good side, ask him about Golf. He's a golf maniac.

THE END

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