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Ahead of 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s release on Friday across U.K. cinemas, Keir Dullea, who played the film’s iconic astronaut David “Dave” Bowman, answered questions via a Reddit AMA, hosted by the British Film Institute, discussing what it was like to work on the film.
Although much of the focus was on Stanley Kubrick‘s 1968 masterpiece, the 78-year-old Dullea was also asked about his time on the 1965 drama Bunny Lake Is Missing, and he wasn’t shy about describing his issues with the director.
“[I have] very few good memories due to the fact that Otto Preminger was a horror to work for,” he said. “If you ever saw a film called Stalag 17, you will see Otto Preminger playing the Nazi commandant of the prisoner-of-war camp. Perfect typecasting. However, I have to say, that the high point for me, and perhaps the only high point, was working with Laurence Olivier.”
Dullea added that “due to the stress of working with Preminger,” he was constantly forgetting his lines. “Laurence Olivier took great pains to run lines with me over and over again,” he said. “Someone overheard him approach Preminger privately and say: ‘Otto, dear boy, I wish you wouldn’t scream at the children,’ and Preminger responded with: ‘Och, I’m too old to change!’ “
Working with Kubrick on 2001 was, however, not so traumatic, although Dullea did recall the director’s notorious attention to detail.
“On the first day of shooting, Stanley noticed my shoes and felt they weren’t right,” he said. “We stopped shooting for the rest of the day until they found the right pair. Let’s face it, feet don’t play a huge role in films.”
Dullea’s favorite part of the film, he claimed, was the scene in which he dismantled HAL’s brain, something he likened to a scene in the famous adaptation of John Steinbeck‘s 1937 novella Of Mice and Men after Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife and meets George.
“There’s a posse that is looking for him intending possibly to string him up,” he said. “This discussion of their plans to start a farm has been heard throughout the film, and so with some love and compassion, with a hidden pistol behind his back, George reviews their plans with Lennie, and halfway through their discussion, he shoots him behind his back to avoid him being killed. In some way, emotionally, that scene from Of Mice and Men affected the way I played the scene with HAL.”
A digitally restored version of 2001: A Space Odyssey is being re-released in the U.K. as part of the BFI’s current sci-fi series.
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