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Carol Baker - Interview - The Watcher In The Woods

Conducted on 4/28/99

Original Press Transparancy

SMB - What are your thoughts when someone brings up, WATCHER IN TI{E WOODS?

CB - I loved making the film. I thought Lynn-Holly was absolutely lovely. But of course it was the older people I identified with. I became very good friends with David McCallum - who is just so terrific? We had a lot of scenes driving through the woods and those car shots take forever to do, and you're just stuck in the car.

He was just so amusing. He would play chess moves in his head, and I'm not nearly so good as him but that was great fun. He also told me about wonderful books to read; he's such an intelligent guy. I don't see him all that often but we've become very good friends since then. I absolutely adore him, he's great.

SMB - Of course there was Bette Davis.

CB - Of course... I mean I just wanted so much to be around her. I was in such awe of her. But I wasn't sure how I should treat her, so I thought, "Well look Carol you'll be very polite and you'll just sit there say "Hello" and "Good Morning" and all that, and just leave it up to her to decide how much she wants to say to you, or

how friendly she wants to be and so forth"

Of course after I had decided to do that I kind of regretted it. I'm mean, they're are so many stories I wanted to ask her. So much about Hollywood and her hey day that I wanted to know about. She surprised me enormously because I was just sitting there in my chair and began saying to me, "You were under contract to Warner Brothers too, weren't you?" And I said yes. Then she started and told me without my asking everything I wanted to know. It was great. One thing though, she would not gossip. Which I wouldn't have minded - because when I was under contract to Warner Brothers, that was for GIANT and BABY DOLL and another film called, THE MIRACLE. I bought myself out of the contract because I just couldn't stand being a contract player. It was sort of at the end of the contract player days, I was one of the last people signed up in Hollywood in 1955. So I was considered quite a rebel. People on the Warner's Lot were saying, "Oh boy, we've got another Bette Davis.", because of the way she's acting up. These are the things I wanted to know from her. You know, her fights with Errol Flynn and all of that. So I got the courage to ask her all of that but she was very good about it. She would tell you stories about the business and so forth but she wouldn't tell you anything that tended to be gossip in anyway.

SMB - So you didn't get the juicy stuff.

CB - Well I got a lot of stuff but not some of the "real stuff' I'd like to have known. Also, my ex-husband had worked with Gary. So she remembered that very well.

SMB - Gary Merril, Bette Davis' husband.

CB - Yes, my husband directed him in a play and she was there during the play. I wasn't there, I didn't meet her at that time.

SMB - What attracted you to WATCHER after reading the script?

CB - First of all I was living in London at the time and there weren't that many pictures to do there. Certainly it was the studio that would be making the film. Working with Bette Davis and rest of the cast was so good as well. I liked the script, the mystery part of it. My part, really everything, attracted me.

SMB - Since you were living in England it wasn't much a treat as it was for the other American cast members.

CB - Well this was done at Pinewood. I had worked at Shepperton. Oh Shepperton was the most beautiful studio ever. It was so gorgeous. You went up an old mahogany staircase to the dressing rooms. It was polished to the ninth-degree... it was gorgeous. I was very happy to work at Pinewood too. ...and I'm always

so sad to see movies studios go.

SMB - You had never worked with the director John Hough before.

CB- No l haven't.

SMB - How was it working with him?

CB - He was working under a awful lot of pressure. I didn't quite understand what or why. He sometimes lost his patience and I never quite understood it. But he was very nice to me and the other actors.

SMB - Was he able to convey the right mood needed for this mystery/suspense/thriller?

CB - Oh yeah, in that he was wonderful to me. It was also my first experience with that hand held camera ... the Steadicam. Now they use it all the time but that was a real early use of it, certainly in my experience. I remember the guy with it, the way he ran backwards in the woods with this Steadicam, which was heavier then. It was kind of amazing to me. I thought what a great effect that is ... The WATCHER IN THE WOODS being represented by the camera. There were things which I did at the time which were very strenuous. For instants, in the first version, after Bette Davis tells me that my daughter is in the old church and in danger I start to run through the woods .... I mean, I ran, and ran through the woods. When I think about it, I could have run a marathon. I'm amazed at what I did. I wish I could do that today.

SMB - So you felt it was a strenuous shoot.

CB - It wasn't easy. And when we got into the church we had Ian Banon, Richard Pasco and Frances Cuka. They taught me such a lesson ... We're in this church and these amazing special effects, that are dangerous and frightening; are suppose to be taking place. But all we're looking at is a guy waving a broom! (Laughs) So at the time I thought, "This is just ridiculous! I can't react to a broom!" Then I looked at Pasco's face and Ian Bannon's face.

I was so ashamed of myself because they were really so into it. They were taking the whole thing so seriously and really visualizing what was going on, even though it was only a broom. That really helped me a lot. And I realized that I wasn't going to be a smart' aleck about something like that again.

SMB - Had they told you what you were suppose to be seeing? Were you shown pictures or drawings?

CB - No. I didn't know what it was suppose to be. It was something horrendous. That's all they said. So you had to make-it-up yourself. You didn't know what it was and you were just watching a broom.

SMB - Lets talk about the bridge scene when it's struck by lightening.

CB - I don't remember that at all.

SMB - It's raining, you're trying to escape. You and your two daughters.

CB - Oh that's right.... yeah, yeah, I remember that now.

SMB - Were you there when they destroyed the bridge and the car falls?

CB - No. That was all done later. That's why I didn't remember it.

SMB - What was your first reaction seeing the film for the first time with the creature in the chapel?

CB - I never saw it.

SMB - You've never seen the film completed?

CB - Only the second version. That's why I was so disappointed. When I first accepted the role I had a large and wonderful part. Then the in the version I saw suddenly I had a very small part. That's why I'm very anxious to see it completed.

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