So what has prompted me to finally pull my finger out and do another blog? Simple, it’s time for another Superman and I cannot let the opportunity pass by without commenting on past/present and general Super/related incidents!
This month saw my reunion with Terence Stamp at the British Film Institute. I haven’t seen him for easily 25 years and it has always been a regret of mine because I adored working with him and indeed had the biggest school girl crush on him which remains to this day. I was delighted that he told the audience about his experiences in India and how he came back to acting and Superman after a long, long break. On our initial meeting I had rather expected to meet the dashing soldier from Far from the Madding Crowd and had been somewhat taken aback to meet a spiritual guru dressed in orange but wearing handmade shoes. At the BFI he talked of those days in a gently self-deprecating manner which made me love him even more. He was calm and meditative on the set. I was like a crazy colt. I was pleased to be able to thank him personally at the BFI for helping me ‘find’ Ursa. Without his calm goodness knows how she would have turned out!
Thanks to the BFI and Terence we were able to enjoy an evening watching the Donner cut of Superman 2 and what a treat that was. I feel very privileged to have worked on these timeless classics and especially to have worked with two of the greatest actors of our time, Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman.
Christopher Reeve took my breath away once again. He was, he IS Superman.
This brings me neatly to the arrival of the latest Superman, Henry Cavill. Who can dismiss him having seen his brooding performance in The Tudors? What shoes he has to step in. He looks fantastic though and totally believable as our Man of Steel. The short clips I have seen show a somewhat darker version of Superman but it nevertheless looks like it is going to be a blockbuster and I think we are all going to fall in love with Henry!
I have watched with interest the campaign that Henry’s people have launched via social networking. Obviously he has a fantastic following already. His team are really whipping up his profile before MoS opens and they are doing a brilliant job.
A far cry from my day when there really wasn’t anything but your own good self and the power of the press. I didn’t have a PR back then and it was almost consider bad form to court publicity. I happily sold the Movie around the world and Warner Brothers made a great show of thanking me. Superman 2 was clouded in mystery because of the removal of Richard Donner etc. but no one actually knew that. It really wasn’t discussed or acknowledged but the loyal cast were certainly not going to miss an opportunity to complain bitterly about the situation. I, however, seemed to be oblivious to all the back chat. I think it was mainly because every night I went home to my husband and the majority of the cast were visitors to London and therefore all hung out together all the time. Great bonding with their director that I sadly missed.
I was chosen to go out and spend the next 9 months travelling the world and spreading the news about Superman the movie and not the scandal. That is just what I did and have been rewarded with lots of kind words and accolades from Warner Brothers who I now realise were mighty nervous that their superhero was going to be tarnished. The only regret for me now is that I didn’t understand how to sell myself.
I happily went around with most people not recognising me and certainly not getting to know the real me. I can only imagine what might have happened to my career if I had a team like Henry’s blogging and tweeting my every move!
Back to today though and lots of opportunity to make up for lost time. At the moment the fans seem to be most interested in how I feel about having Ursa replaced by Faora…Honestly…she is not MY Ursa and therefore the only comparison would be her relationship with Zod and maybe her superpowers and short black hair.
Good luck to Antje Trau as Faora. I hope she GRABS her moment.
Times have changed in the last thirty years and somehow I don’t imagine that Faora had a mink lined bra to keep her warm on those cold, icy nights on the back lot. With the Ursa costume there wasn’t much opportunity to wear anything to keep you warm under that organza costume with all those slits revealing skin everywhere. Many will have heard me proclaim that I had the ‘ hottest pair in the business’ and did she have her own personal nose wiper with a forty foot pole with a tissue on the end? I don’t think so! Supervillains don’t carry tissues and I can tell you that hanging upside down all day on the end of a wire was often a miserable experience, especially with a cold. But this was a big budget movie and so I got my own nose wiper. It didn’t stop there though. Bert just dealt with nasal passages but a lovely lady called Sara dealt with the delicate problem of my toilet. Long, false Ursa nails were a big problem when it came to trying to get out of my costume to go to the loo. Too many false nails were falling down the toilet and holding up production whilst they were replaced. Sara had the thankless task of pulling my knickers down whenever I asked…that’s actually poetic licence, Sara just undid my costume for me…Ursa didn’t wear underwear!
So Ursa lives on and I have finally accepted her as part of my own makeup…people still ask for autographs and photos, they still want to tell me where they were the first time they saw the movie etc. and through Twitter and Facebook and the internet generally I have tried to answer for her.
This year I will visit Texas and Cardiff and Birmingham and Long Island for conventions and although there are many other roles on my C.V. it is Ursa they really want to connect with.
In America it is almost a daily occurrence that someone somewhere recognises me. Goodness knows how. Often I struggle to determine whether that strange look in a person’s eye is because they think they know me, they recognise me, think I might be ‘someone’ or maybe they are just plain strange people. It’s difficult to decipher.
Two anecdotes form these last few months illustrate my point.
Walking down Broadway I noticed a man of about 30 watching me carefully. He was black and had dreadlocks and was talking into his cell phone. I crossed the street. He followed. I walked faster. He sped up. A few steps behind me I tightened my grip on my bag and clutched it to my chest. I dove into Starbucks and watched as he settled against the wall outside eyeing me with a shifty eye. Finally he made his move and burst through the doors and straight towards me (again poetic licence please) I took a deep breath and waited to be accosted. But no. ‘Are you the Bitch from Superman? ‘he demanded , yes says I . A BIG smile spread across his face as he furiously pumped my hand, the other was still hanging onto my bag, and this dear young man drew up a chair and told me just where HE had been when he first saw Superman etc…. There is a final note to this, having had a good chat and a coffee together ( I was consumed with guilt at thinking such negative stereotypical thoughts and felt we had to at least have a coffee together to absolve me of bad thoughts). Anyway, just as he was leaving he asked me if I was seeing anyone. I quickly said ‘Oh yes and I have a wonderful partner of many, many years ‘ (again poetic licence ) he smiled and just said he had just wondered if I had needed a little COMFORTING. That was all. Is THAT what they call it nowadays?
Rehearsing for a play in London’s West End I dashed out for a morning coffee. Dressed in typical rehearsal gear i.e. scruffy as hell and no makeup, I lined up behind a young, camp gay guy. Believe me I got this right this time. As he turned to leave I saw he was wearing a t shirt with the words ‘KNEEL BEFORE URSA’ For those not familiar with Superman there was a great line from Zod ( Mr Stamp ) where he demanded of the US President that he should ‘KNEEL BEFORE ZOD’. This line has become one of those famous movie quotes and Terry told me that there is barely a day when someone doesn’t shout it out to him, anyway I digress . So there are t shirts made up with this quote but to my delight some people have changed the wording to kneel before Ursa. So this guy turns around and catches my eye. He gave me one of THOSE looks of recognition as I smiled at his t shirt and its slogan. ‘Go On then’ I said provocatively, thinking I was giving a fan a real treat. The young man recoiled but not before spitting out the words ‘PERV’ and rushing out the door.
Deflated ego. Dejected me. But everyone I have told has enjoyed the story and so I remain careful and cautious when trying to read those ‘strange’ looks. I don’t want to get it wrong again I might be arrested!
So here we are up to date. I am off to the US in a couple of weeks and look forward to a visit to Texas Comicon and also to more work on my latest project ‘Displacement’ I am loving the involvement on this feature and it is a completely different way of working for me. I have a week or so more to do and just love the energy of the young star, Courtney Hope and if I didn’t adore the director and totally believe in his vision and commitment I can assure you I would be in my garden or on the beach.
Let’s see what we all make of Man of Steel and meanwhile it’s on/on for me…