Mel Brooks wanted no one other than the late Orson Welles to narrate his 1981 comedy History of the World, Part I, but said he made a mistake in the amount of money he paid to have it done. Wednesday marked Welles’ birthday; he was born in 1915.
In a 2015 interview, Brooks said he paid the legendary actor and filmmaker $25,000 to narrate his anthology comedy, believing it would take a week for the recording to be completed. He was wrong.
“He was supposed to do five days of work, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., narrating scenes,” Brooks explained. “He started to test his voice out about 10 [minutes] to 9 a.m. By 11:30 a.m., 12 o’clock, he had done all the narration. It was all perfect. He said, ‘I’ll do any changes, anything you want, Mel.’ And I said, ‘It’s flat-out perfect. Oh my God. I could have paid you $5,000.”
Brooks joked it was too late to renegotiate the fee. “I got so angry that I paid him so much and he did it in ten minutes.”
When asked what he would be spending his cool $25,000 on, Welles responded, “Cuban cigars and Sevruga caviar. I would have included women, but I’m getting just a little too heavy for that kind of athletic endeavor.”
Welles died Oct. 10, 1985. He was 70.
Watch the entire segment below.