Copyright thedigitalcinema.info SMB 8/8/2001

LYNN-HOLLY JOHNSON

December 7, 2017

 

NOTE:  SPOILERS - Read only after watching the film.

 

 

 

 

 

SB - Your first feature film was ICE CASTLES. WATCHER was your second film.

Then you went on to do the 007 film, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

 

LH - Right.

 

SB - So what was it Iike working with Bette Davis in your second film?

 

LH - It's become more exciting as time has gone by. At the time I was so wrapped up in the work itself, and as a kid you don't think, “Oh wow, what I'm doing, and who I'm working with" Having grown up as a skater and training all those hours I didn't have the time to sit at home and watch TV. I barely knew who Bette Davis was. I knew

her name. But don't remember seeing a movie of hers. Except maybe some bits and pieces here and there. But now I sit back and think what an honor. At times I wish I had realized at the time because I would have asked her more things. At the time I didn't, I was determined to be more of a professional. In fact there was

really nice article that appeared during the time we were shooting in which she was just raving how professional I was - owing it up to my athletic background and training.

 

SB - Your first feature film was ICE CASTLES. WATCHER was your second film - then you went on to do the 007 film, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

 

LH - Right.  Bette Davis said I was very business-like, a joy to work with. All these neat things. I remember thinking wow, she's talking about me! I was really stunned because for me I had just treated her, working on the set,  like I had treated my skating for the past 15 years.

 

SB - That's a terrific complement from her.

 

LH - I remember hearing people from the studio telling me that. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "What am I doing that's so unusual?!" You know, when you're handed your first film because you're a skater you don't see the struggle that you and the SAG members are going through. I mean I did ICE CASTLES then a year later worked with Bette Davis, and it just seemed like well gosh, if you go to

Hollywood and try hard this is probably what you get to do. Well, that's not how the business works! And I found that out. I was really, really lucky to just walk into those movies. I started taking all these acting classes at the same time I was about do FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and I'm thinking, "Here I am, about to work with Roger Moore and I'm studying with people, very talented people, who haven't worked, or haven't got agents." This business is like being in

Vegas.

 

SB - What was your favorite scene in the film?

 

LH - I remember every scene I worked with Bette Davis - not to diminish any of the scenes with Carol Baker or anyone else - but those scenes with Bette Davis always had, an intensity. True, the scenes called for it. But then again when it was her turn I think the atmosphere was different. I think everybody were nervous.

I remember at the stages at Pinewood Studios when a scene began a bell would sound and the doors would lock, and a light would go on and we were ready to shoot. Then when we would cut the AD would say something then the bell would ring and doors would unlock,  and red light would go off.  Well, when they were doing Bette Davis' close-up they thought she was done with her scene so they yelled cut. The bell rang, the light went off.  They opened the

doors... Then Bette Davis yelled, "I'll tell you when I'm finished!" Well, there was a silence on that stage that was so thick. She had everybody on edge. I thought the AD was just going to melt. But she turned to him and said, "It's all right, it's all right.", then she smiled and his face was so full of relief it was overwhelming. They were going to go for another take and she just didn't want that kind of distraction.

 

SB - So she never really got mad?

 

LH - She was making a point. But she was smart enough to know she's not going to get anywhere if she had the crew too nervous. In fact one of the best things I ever learned in the business was when she said to me your best friend on the set should be your cinematographer and the AD because you want them to

take the time to light you properly, to make you look the best you can for that scene. And the AD is your pal, the one that should be on your side. Another neat thing about her is as old and experienced as she was when it came time for her close-up she would stand there for them to light her until the cows came

home. At the beginning, the AD called for her stand-in but she told him I never let the stand-in light my close-up. That's how she made friends with the cinematographer. Another thing, a scene is shot in different ways - a master shot, then two-shot and the close-ups. Well, she demanded that her close-ups were done last because she knew watching how everybody else's close-up came out just

the right way to make the scene come together when they came around to her. She would change her performance based on what she saw. This was from all her years of experience. I took all that she told me to heart even though I offended a lot of stand-ins, but in the long run I did what was right for the movie.

 

SB How was it working with your other cast members?

 

LH - David McCallum I knew from watching his program, (THE MAN FROM UNCLE) although I was always supposed to be going to bed. I remember my dad and my brother always watching it. Carol Baker I didn't know but I remember my mom telling me about her. Then in the middle of all these famous people is little Kyle Richards. On the first day we met, at the hotel, she comes up to me and says, "So

how many shows have you done?' There she is with her hand on her hip and I'm thinking, "OH! my God! Who is this little girl? I was confident because I had previously done commercials growing up so I was involved in the business. But to have this 9 year-old come up to me with her, “So how many shows have you done?' Latter I found out she had done a string of films for the same studio.

 

SB - Things did warm up after that though?

 

LH - Oh yeah absolutely. Probably because she felt sorry for me! (Laughs) She probably was trying to make me feel comfortable.

 

SB Was it a difficult shoot working in the woods?

 

LH - No. After having done ICE CASTLES nothing was hard. When you're hired because you're a skater and you have to do all this wonderful skating on a pond, all covered with snow and whatever, there was nothing harder than that. Which is why that film was so rewarding, because it was so difficult for me. So going to England and shooting in the woods was easy. We started out in a very old

typical English Hotel way out in the countryside with all the grounds. However we were the only ones there and it was way too spooky for Kyle and I. So her mom and my mom decided we better get back to the city. It was pretty frightening.

 

SB - Was it a long shoot?

 

LH - 3 months.

 

SB - One of my favorite scenes is with you and Carol Baker at the window where she has to shake you to calm you down. It was pretty intense for the studio which known for making lighter toned films.

 

LH - Yeah, that was. So was the scene on the bridge. One scene I was really disappointed in the way it came out was the one in Tom Colley's shack in the woods. I remember when we first got there that place it was so frightening. I was definitely afraid. Richard Pasco who played Tom Colley was so frightening.  As you recall in that Tom Colley scene I go into his shack and he comes up behind

me and I turn around and he unexpectedly comes towards me. Well, he came at me and really scared me so bad that I fell right into this mirror. It came crashing down, I screamed. It was totally unplanned and terrific. But it was thought too intense so it was never used. The head of the studio said no, right then and there.

 

SB - Didn't the head of the studio complain about the dead animals - the ones Tom couldn't save, hanging around the shack?

 

LH - Well I always thought that scene was lit too dark - come to

think about it.

 

SB - I know at the time the head of the studio wanted the film to follow the pattern of past family, oriented films where Tom Leetch (Associate Producer) wanted to try something different.

 

LH - Yeah, the head of the studio really wanted to be more traditional while Tom was just trying out what the studio has now successfully become.

 

SB - Even the dialog went further ...

 

LH - Oh right. Like where David McCallum said, “I have a light touch at night.", I mean oooh!

 

SB - I surprised they left that in.

 

LH - It was almost an "R" right there. (Laughs)

 

SB - What was it like filming the scene when you fall into the water and get tangled in the submerged branches?

 

LH - They wanted me to fall in completely and do it all in one take because it was one of those freezing London days. They told me to stay submerged for one minute so from that camera's angle

you could see that I went completely under water. Which was kinda scary.  They shot underwater in a tank at Pinewood. I'm not sure which, but it was either used in the Superman movies or the Bond films. That was really scary. This big tank was surrounded with all these lights shining into the water. I was thinking, "I must be nuts going in there with all this electrical stuff all around." I was scared to death doing that.

 

SB - How deep was that tank?

 

LH - Oh, probably 10ft. It was filled up with all these branches and everything. They told me to go down there with the stunt coordinator, who very nice guy, who help me through it. He showed me how to use the oxygen mask, passing it back and forth. I had to go down, get tangled up in the branches, and then give the

life line away to the stunt coordinator; and then act like I'm really drowning. But I kept thinking,"... but if I AM!"  Who's going to know if I'm really stuck? And how am I going to get the stunt coordinator to know I'm NOT acting and really drowning. I mean, you want to do your best for the shot, but my theory with acting was the more real you can make it the better. Sure enough -being the determined athlete I go in there and got as stuck as I could in those branches. It was the longest day of my life. After each take they'd say, "That was good, but we couldn't see your face. Or it wasn't in focus..." So we had to do it all over again.

 

SB - You're lucky you didn't get sick.

 

LH - Another thing, they're quite different over there (England). Whenever we did a scene with water, like on the bridge, and I got wet and cold - well, either the wardrobe gal, make-up or the AD (Assistant Director) would come running over with a shot of whiskey. It was a common thing "Here's some whiskey!"

They would say "You'll warm up! It'll kill the germs!"

 

SB - So there wasn't any mishaps?

 

LH - Well not with that. But there was something else that was funny. Well not funny really...just that I lived to tell about it. When we weren't filming I was practicing riding with the stunt coordinator who had me riding pretty well. So we went to shoot the scene where we're riding along and the horses get spooked and my

horse bolts. There was a thin row of trees and the camera was on a truck going down a street running parallel to the path the horse was running on. I begged Vic (Vic Armstrong, Stunt Supervisor) please let me do this shot. I know I can do this. It'll be so much better for the scene if it's not the stunt girl. So they said yes.

But what I had never practiced on a horse was screaming. So when they said action I went for it and starting screaming, totally into the scene - well the horse went totally out of her mind. She took off faster than I had ever gone off before.  Which means the truck with the camera had to go faster to keep up with her. Then before we knew it we had come to the end of the path. The horse just stopped and I went flying head over heels. Did a somersault and just lucky, lucky lucky - landed in a pile of leaves. Then they all came running and I thought Vic was just about to have a heart attack They couldn't even use it because I just went flying out of frame.

 

SB - How did you first get involved with the project?

 

LH - I went on an audition and met John Hough. Then I was called to London for a screen test. That was pretty cool because mom and I flew over to Heathrow and I remember going to the restaurant and watching the Concord take-off and land.  At the time is was a really big deal. I also remember the actress Diane Lane was

there at the same time.

 

SB - Lets talk about the director, John Hough.

 

LH - Oh he was tremendous. Real neat. We all felt the tension on the set between the producers but with John - he handled it so nicely.

 

SB - Because he was directing a suspense film did he have a technique ...

 

LH - I think the real suspense was how we were going to end it.

 

SB - You mean you didn't know the ending?

 

LH - Well, I think that was still being discussed between the two producers.

 

SB - After you had gotten the part and had received the script, did it have an ending?

 

LH - Yes, and I remember in the script a large paragraph explaining the ending and some dialog I was worried how I was going to say it. But I kept thinking they'll show me something they'll do with special effects and make it all come clear.  As many actors will tell you when they're dealing with special effects a lot of it comes together after the shoot. But they did have a specific ending.

 

SB - There are two versions, have you seen both?

 

LH - I assume I must've at some point otherwise I'd always be wondering.

 

SB - It gets really confusing which version people saw.

 

LH - Well, yes. You see we shot one ending when we were all there in England, then we came back here (L.A.) and shot more stuff that had to do with the alien - with the blue screen and all that. And then a year later we were all back in Los Angles shooting another ending. So when you talk about an original ending, I don't know what's the original ending.

 

SB - Well the first one ran 20 minutes longer. And of course it has the creature.

 

LH - …where I'm lifted up by this monster? Right? ... and enveloped in its wings.

 

SB - Yes.

 

LH - Okay, that was all done here (L.A.). That's the one where after I'm lifted up there are all these special effects - with a spaceship and this whole outer space trip.

 

SB - Most of what you're talking about is part of the *Other World" sequence that never made it in the finished film.  Disney rushed the film out to coincide with Bette Davis' 50-year anniversary in the business. There was a mention of that sequence in the press notes and the original end credits but it never made it into the film. It was conceived by Sam Nicholson and, as far as he's told me, the elements were only partly completed. You're saying that in England, for the ending, everything was filmed minus the creature?

 

LH - Well they filmed some stuff like in the church. Then I remember doing this shot were Bette Davis and the girl Karen are running across the front lawn, then come together and embracing and I'm in the background crying - in joy.

 

SB - I remember seeing that in the original.

 

LH - REALLY!

 

SB - I also remember a walk by scene where you're explaining to your sister, Kyle what the Watcher was.

 

LH - Oh, oh, yeah. I remember. All that dialog. It was such a mouth full. And I was saying stuff about being transported and all this bizarre stuff that I had know idea what I was saying.

 

SB - That was the explanation the critics disliked. You have to remember this was the studio's second PG film and a lot of people were uncomfortable about that…  When I saw the original version the entire film held the critics - until the end. It was the lack of a solid explanation that people didn't like. Kinda like in THE BLACK HOLE. What do you remember about filming the "Other World" sequence?

 

LH - Nothing because it was all effects. I wasn't really in it. It was my point of view, so it was all effects. All I know, I was picked up by this creature and that's as far as I was used. I do remember doing something with mirrors and lights.  It wasn't like I was ever in a spaceship. I remember doing flying sequences on the "Superman" set. We did that for days and days where I was flying on wires.

 

SB With the creature?

 

LH - Alone. The creature was probably going to be added later. It was all done on orange screen. It used to be called "BLUE SCREEN" but around that time, the top of the 80's they had an new way of doing it.

 

SB - What was your reaction when they told you to come back a year later to re-shoot the ending?

 

LH - I couldn't believe it. At the time I guessed this is the way the business works. If somebody has the money to spend and they want to fix this or fix that, fine. Good timing too I flew back two weeks before starting FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

 

SB - During this conversation I can't help to notice how much you keep referring to things connected with the shoot as being creepy or scary. It seems the film's atmosphere was created even before the cameras began to roll. Now after so much time has passed, what was your reaction seeing the film again?

 

LH - I started watching it alone, before my husband had come home, and was thinking, Oh, this scary!" I was pleasantly surprised.

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