SHOCK CINEMA
HOME PAGE
SUBSCRIPTIONS
AND BACK ISSUES
FILM REVIEW
ARCHIVE
Hundreds of Reviews from Past Issues!
AD RATES
MAGAZINE
REVIEW INDEX

An A-Z list of SC's
Print Reviews
SHOCKING
LINKS

Our Favorite Sites for Cinematic Dementia and Fringe Culture
SHOCK CINEMA
FACEBOOK PAGE
'Chirashi'
MOVIE POSTERS

A Gallery of Japanese Film Posters
SHOCK CINEMA
BLOG
MISTER KEYES
At the Flicks and Shit
SHOCK CINEMA
Film Favorites
SHOCK CINEMA
MySpace PAGE

"Some of the best
bizarre film commentary
going... with sharp, no-nonsense verdicts."
-
Manohla Dargis,
The Village Voice
 
"One of the few
review zines you
can actually read
and learn from...
You need this."
-
Joe Bob Briggs 
 
"Shock Cinema is like riding the A train in the summer from the George Washington Bridge to the Deuce to see "Bucktown."
This is the only
magazine I can
totally relate to."
-
William Lustig, director of MANIAC,
UNCLE SAM 
 

 Need additional
 information?
 E-mail us at:

 ShockCin@aol.com















by Anthony Petkovich
 
[An extended version of this interview appeared in SHOCK CINEMA #38]
 
 
Ed Lauter is one very recognizable face.
 
In the movies and, consequently, in-person.
 
"Recognizable," notes Lauter with laughter, "but sometimes people don't know my name. They'll say, 'Oh, yeah! There's that guy! You were in... Jesus Christ... you were in... in...' So, in a way it's good -- and in a way it's bad."
 
Cast in engaging roles for nearly 40 years now, Lauter (pronounced "Law-ter") is, nevertheless, one of America's finest character actors, still regularly working at a time when US cinema is in dire need of such distinctive supporting/non-lead performers.
 
With respect to his unique, stand-out on-screen portrayals, Lauter, in fact, refers to himself as a "turn actor," or a figure who suddenly appears in a story and manages to quickly turn the plot in a totally different direction. Due to Lauter's extreme talent, it's always a turn for the better, especially in terms of adding flavor to the story and accelerating its action. But from the perspective of the story's other characters, it's usually a turn for the worse, seeing as Lauter consistently wreaks sheer havoc as an antagonist. Examples of his many memorable nasty "turn" performances are as the sleazy gas station owner Joseph Maloney in Hitchcock's FAMILY PLOT (1976), bringing murder most foul to the forefront of the proceedings; as well as the blackmailing Police Inspector Shriker in DEATH WISH 3 (1985) who -- once Bronson's badass vigilante Paul Kersey is reestablished -- factors in as an even bigger badass, coercing Kersey into liquidating criminals specifically for him. Certainly Lauter's most famous turn role is as the sadistic head prison guard Captain Knauer in THE LONGEST YARD (1974), doing his best -- and worst! -- to make inmate Paul Crewe's (i.e. Burt Reynolds') stay behind bars a living hell.
 
Born and raised in Long Beach, Long Island, New York, Ed says that he was blessed with growing up in a geographical location positively brimming with interesting personalities (or characters, if you will), from which he could draw for his own provocative roles years later.

"I once read that Brando used to go into city telephone booths built with clear glass which looked out into the streets, and he'd pretend he was on the phone talking to somebody. What he was really doing, however, was watching all of the characters on the street. And I did the same thing: watching how certain characters walked, their gestures, their nuances, their mannerisms."
 
Although Lauter wanted to be an actor since a very early age, after graduating from high school he studied English literature in college, receiving his B.A. in 1961. He then volunteered for the Army but was soon released after only 90 days due to a serious foot injury sustained as a child. At this point Lauter focused completely on the performance arts. He studied under the tutelage of (another great character actor) the late Bill Hickey, after which Lauter spent the next nine years assiduously applying himself to such venues as stand-up comedy, summer stock, winter stock, television commercials and various Broadway plays. It was, in fact, his Broadway performance in THE GREAT WHITE HOPE in the very early '70s which caught the eye of legendary Hollywood casting director Lynn Stalmaster, who immediately gave the up-and-coming Lauter an open invitation to call him if ever he was in Hollywood.
 
Which is exactly what Lauter did.
 
After finishing his first film -- the Michael J. Pollard vehicle DIRTY LITTLE BILLY (1972) -- Lauter drove from the Tucson, Arizona filming locale to Hollywood and touched bases with Stalmaster, who promptly cast him in Joseph Wambaugh's THE NEW CENTURIONS (1972); since then, Lauter has been working non-stop, appearing in over 100 movies and countless television shows. Some of his other better-known dramatic roles are in MAGIC (1978), DEATH HUNT (1981), CUJO (1983), and BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY (1989). Ed has also applied his multi-faceted talents to lighter parts; namely in such comedies as GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (1985) and WAGONS EAST (1994). Some of Lauter's more recent titles include appearances in the Liam Neeson/Pierce Brosnan western SERAPHIM FALLS (2006) and the horror flick NUMBER 23 (2007). And, just for the record, Lauter has worked three times, separately, with George C. Scott and Robert Ryan, four times with Charles Bronson and seven times with his good friend Jeff Bridges, including roles alongside Bridges in BAD COMPANY (1972), KING KONG (1976) and SEABISCUIT (2003).
 
This past winter, I interviewed the friendly -- and funny! -- Lauter at a West Hollywood joint called Cravings which, despite its yuppie-sounding name and snooty location on Sunset Boulevard, has great, reasonably-priced Italo-Mediterranean cuisine (there's a plug for ya!). While there, Ed and I even spotted Jackie Cooper and HOGAN'S HEROES co-star Robert Clary (and, no, he wasn't sampling the strudel). Lauter is one of those personable, easy-going, gregarious fellows whom, after meeting for the first time, you honestly feel as if you've known an entire lifetime. And as we spoke, the actor would occasionally break into impeccable celebrity impersonations which kept yours truly in stitches.

Hey, if the acting didn't pan out so successfully, this guy could have easily had a brilliant career as a comedian.
 
 
SHOCK CINEMA: Over the years, Ed, you've played your fair share of villains, but you've also played some pretty unsavory authority figures: cynical cops, hardened prison guards... Do you enjoy playing those parts?

Ed Lauter: Yeah. I like those roles. Lee Marvin once told me, "When you play a heavy, every once in a while make the audience like you a little bit." Then they'll think, 'Wait a minute, he's not such a bad guy. Did you see the way he petted that dog?'

SC: How did you get involved in THE LONGEST YARD?

Lauter: I forget who the casting lady was in that... I think it was Joyce Selznick. See, in those days you would actually go in, meet with the director and just talk with him. "You want me to read something?" you'd ask him, and he'd say, "No, you don't have to read anything. I know your work. We're going to do this movie, and we want you to be in it." And you'd get the part. That was it.

SC: So you basically got the role of Capt. Knauer in THE LONGEST YARD from just meeting with director Robert Aldrich?

Lauter: Yeah. He was a real straight shooter. Aldrich told me, "You don't have to read. We're just going to go down to the park to throw the football around." I was going to play a quarterback, so he wanted to know if I could throw a football. So this guy named Pat Studstill and one of Aldrich's associate producers on the movie joined us, and the four of us got into Aldrich's car, drove off of the Paramount lot and down to this little park... We get out of the car, and Aldrich gives me the football. And Pat goes out, and he does a little buttonhook (i.e., when a receiver runs straight upfield a certain distance, digs his cleats in hard to stop, then runs straight back towards the quarterback). So I take the football and -- boom! -- I hit him right in the letters. Aldrich says [slaps hands together], "That's it. Get in the car. You got the part." Again, Aldrich just wanted to make sure I could throw the ball and know that I'd be believable in the part of an athlete.

Anyhow, on the first day of shooting in Reidsville Prison -- big prison in Georgia where we actually built a football field because they didn't have one -- a crewmember comes over to me and says, "Eddie, we got a little problem with the dressing rooms." See, Michael Conrad had a dressing room, and I had a dressing room, and Burt [Reynolds] had a dressing room. So they just had three dressing rooms for us three guys. But Michael Conrad didn't want to share his dressing room. "We got Ray Nitschke and Joe Kapp," the crew guy told me, "and we were wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing your dressing room with them." I was like, "Are you kiddin'? Bring 'em in, man! Ray Nitschke and Joe Kapp?!" -- because I knew all about these two guys and their football careers. So the three of us were there in the dressing room trying to put our shoulder guards on. [laughs] You know, we didn't have that much room inside. But they never forgot that I shared my dressing room with them.

And Aldrich never forgot that Michael Conrad didn't want to share his dressing room with Ray and Joe. In fact, Aldrich used to call Michael Conrad the Polish Princess. [laughs] And at the end of the movie Bob ratted him out to everybody. Ratted him out, man. Aldrich said to the entire crew, "This is Michael Conrad's last scene in the movie, and now I'm going to tell him what I think of him." And if you got ratted out by Robert Aldrich, watch out. He was a very smart guy... went to the University of Virginia... his family is intertwined with the Rockefellers... So Bob had a lot of history, sophistication, knew what he wanted, knew what he was going to do with the people whom he hired and knew how to size 'em up. And he had no problem whatsoever letting Conrad know how he felt about him.

SC: Did you do your own stunts on THE LONGEST YARD?

Lauter: Yeah, but we couldn't run through the line because you might break your arm, and then you'd be out of the picture. But I kicked the football, got hit a couple of times... It wasn't that rough of a shoot. Great film. One of a kind.

SC: Absolutely. As an actor who got started in movies in the very early '70s, what was it like working with a major player like George C. Scott on, what, your second movie?

Lauter: Oh, Scott was one of my favorites. I remember one of the first days we worked together on THE NEW CENTURIONS, we were in the squad room, and I'm sitting there at this table, George is sitting in the middle between Clifton James and me, because we're the old timers in the movie. Anyhow, I knew that George liked to take a drink now and then, and I knew where he liked to hang out in the New York bars. I even knew this one particular bar he liked to frequent. So I'm looking at the three of us, and there's a lull in the action, and we're not shooting at the moment, and I say, "Jesus Christ, this looks like a lineup at the Theater Bar." George just starts laughing and says [in gruff, gravelly voice], "Cliff, did you hear that? Like a lineup at the Theater Bar." And that got me into his good graces -- or whatever graces.

But when I did THE NEW CENTURIONS, my agent Pat Amaral told me at the end of my run, "You know, George has got another movie which he's going to do. It's called RAGE (1972). But they don't know who you are in his office." I said, "Geez, I already left the set [of THE NEW CENTURIONS]. I've already done my three weeks." But I didn't see George when I left, meaning I didn't say goodbye to him. So I told Pat, "You know what I'll do, I'll go back to the set tomorrow and say goodbye to George and tell him that it was great working with him -- and then I'll ask him about his new film RAGE."

So I went back to the set the next day, and I remember we were standing on an outdoor set, and George said, "Eddie, good working with ya. Do it again another time." So I said, "Good, George." And he started walking away, and I said, "George, by the way, my agent is trying to get me in this movie you're casting called RAGE. And there's a part in there for a character named Simpson. She can't get me in and -- " "I'll look into it for you," he said. Next day my agent calls me and says, "You got the part."

SC: What was Scott like as a director on RAGE?

Lauter: He was good. In the movie I was playing a hospital attendant who was actually a spy for the CIA, and there was this one scene where I'm talking to a nurse, and I asked George, "Well, George, how do you want me to play this?" and he said, "Just like coffee, tea or milk, Eddie." [laughs] He knew what you could do, and that's why he picked you; so he'd let you do your thing... And then, you know, you go off and do other things.

So about six or seven years passed, and one day I was at MGM, and I saw Cliff James, and he said, "Hey, Eddie! You know George is in town. Why don't you go see him?" I said, "Oh geez, I don't know. I don't wanna bother him." "No, you won't bother him. He's staying over at the Hotel Bel Air." So I give him a call. I say, "George? Ed Lauter. I just called to -- " [In Scott's voice] "Eddie, how are ya? How can I help ya?" I said, "George, you don't have to help me. I just want to say hello." "What are you doin' tomorrow? At about one o'clock. Come on by."

So I come by at one o'clock. He had a bungalow, and he came to the door in a white terrycloth robe. "Come on in, Ed. What're you gonna have to drink?" "Well, George, the last time we drank" -- this was when we did RAGE -- "we had vodka tonics with beer chasers at the bar." "You got it!" So he goes over to the refrigerator, opens it up and says, "Ah, that white label there is 80 proof... but that blue label, that'll knock you on yer ass; it's about 100 proof." So I say, "I'll take the blue label." I don't why I said that, I never tried it before. But we were there for five hours, just the two of us. Talking and drinking. We talked baseball. We talked fishing. We talked acting. You name it. And in the course of the conversation, he said to me, "I'm going to do a sequel to PATTON. I want you to be in it... I'll let you know when we're going to do it."

Now, I'm over in London a few years later... funny how these things turn out... doing DEATH WISH 3 with Charlie Bronson. And I'm standing on the set, and this guy says, "Yeah... George C. Scott." And I say, "What about George C. Scott?" "He's in town. He's doin' PATTON." Well, at that time I was fortunate enough to not only have an American agent but an English agent, as well, who was handling the stuff coming through Britain. His name was Richard Hatton, and he used to handle Sean Connery when Sean started out. He also handled Ringo Starr and just really knew what was going on. Anyhow, I call Richard and say, "Here's the story with George and myself..." So I tell him the story, then I ask him, "So what do you think we can do?" "I'll see what I can do," he tells me. So he calls me back later that day and says, "Son of a gun -- George put you in the movie." It was actually a two- or three-hour show on NBC called THE LAST DAYS OF PATTON (1986). Basically it was the sequel to PATTON: how he got injured, how he died -- and I played his doctor in that.

SC: How did you get involved in Hitchcock's last film, FAMILY PLOT?

Lauter: I'd done THE LONGEST YARD, right? Now my agent was trying to get me in to see Hitchcock to do FAMILY PLOT. But, see, there was a point in Hitchcock's career where he wouldn't interview actors personally, because if he didn't give them the part and he liked them, he felt bad. He didn't want to get into that. So Hitchcock would just look at films when he wanted to cast his movies. And Burt Reynolds wanted to play the lead in this FAMILY PLOT, so the studio sent over THE LONGEST YARD for Hitchcock to view.

Now, the reason I know this story is through Peggy Robertson, who was one of Hitchcock's main executive secretaries; she was with him for something like 30 years, and, like him, she was English. Anyhow, she told me this story. She said, "Hitch came up to me one day and said, 'You know, we're not going to do this film until I get Maloney cast. We gotta get Maloney.'" So Burt's agent sent over THE LONGEST YARD on Burt's behalf. My agent didn't even bother.

Anyway, Hitchcock gets the movie and goes in to watch it -- again, for Burt. And Peggy said, "Usually he would sit there for maybe 15 minutes. Instead, he was in there for 45 minutes." And afterwards he comes out, walks into his office and says, "He's very good, isn't he?" And Pat thinks he's talking about Burt Reynolds. And she says, "Yes." And Hitch says, "What's his name again?" Well, now she's confused. Everybody knows Burt Reynolds. I mean, c'mon! So Hitch went, "Ed... Ed..." And Peggy went, "Law-tuh." He says, "We've got our Maloney." So my reason for gettin' into that freakin' movie was not because of my agent but because some other agent sent THE LONGEST YARD for Hitch to check out Burt Reynolds. And Hitch winds up saying, "Wait a minute. There's Maloney!"

So I got the part. And it was definitely a nice part. And on the first day of shooting it's a scene between me and Bruce Dern, another great guy, great actor. So I come over to sit next to Hitchcock after we rehearsed the scene, and I ask him, "What do you think, Mr. Hitchcock?" And he says [with English accent], "Good. But I think it has a few too many dogs feet in it." I said, "Dogs feet? What do you mean?" He says, "Too many pauses." [laughs] In other words, "Tighten it up a little bit. Pick up the cues." Any other director would have just said that. But Hitchcock wanted to be a little clever -- which he was.

SC: There's a wonderful moment during your scene in William Devane's office, when his back is turned, where you reach over and pocket a handful of cigarettes sitting in an open canister. Was it your idea to add that particular accent to the scene?

Lauter: You know about that story?

SC: No, I just thought it was an effective touch, showing what a sleazy character Joseph Maloney was.

Lauter: Well, what happened is... See, in the scene Devane is saying, "What is it now, Joseph? You need money or something?" And I say, "Nyahh. I'm just coming in to talk to you about something." And Devane's playing it way low. Anyhow, when we were rehearsing it, Devane kept using the word "stupid," which wasn't in the script. Like, when I take out my switchblade and say, "I'm gonna do something with this," and Devane's character is supposed to say, "Put that thing away." Well, he kept saying, "Put that stupid thing away," almost like he was saying, "Hey, stupid, put that thing away." You know what I mean?

SC: Condescending.

Lauter: Condescending. Exactly! So we rehearsed that line twice. Now we're getting ready to shoot it, and I go up to him -- and Charlie Durning told me, he said, "Watch out for Devane... he's tricky..." -- and I said, "Bill, are you going to read that line the way it's written?" And he goes, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, it's written, 'Put that thing away,' and you keep saying, 'Put that stupid thing away.'" "Oh... Oh! You want me to read it the way it's... No problem." "Good." So now I got him straightened out. [laughs]

Now, his back is turned, right? And there's a canister with cigarettes just sitting there on his desk. And I go over to Hitchcock, to the man, and I ask him, while Devane happened to be out of earshot, "Mr. Hitchcock, when his back is turned, what do you think of the idea if I grab his cigarettes, stick 'em in my pocket, and then my next line is, 'What do you think? -- I'm some kind of sponger?'" Hitchcock says [in characteristic deep voice], "Good. Good. Do it." And that shows the kind of character I was in the movie. I was a sponger. But the great thing is, Devane never knew I did it when his back was turned -- until he went and saw the movie in the theater.

SC: Just desserts.

Lauter: Yeah, just desserts... So I do the film. Now, about six months later, they have a tribute to Hitchcock, and my wife and I are at a table with a few other people. And not that far away from us, maybe two tables away, is Hitchcock's table! And he's with his wife and family. So I go over, and I bring my wife and say, "Mr. Hitchcock, I'd like you to meet my wife Jennifer." And he says, "Oh, this is my wife Alma." Then he looks up and says, "Ed, I want you for my next film." [Slaps hands together] Right then I was hired. It was called THE SHORT NIGHT, and it was about a guy in prison who's married to the female lead, and he escapes from prison and is gonna come after her and do her dirty. So Hitchcock had three people cast: He had me for the guy who gets out of prison; Sean Connery playing the hero -- like the guy who was going to protect her; and Liv Ullmann as the wife.

Hitch said, "We're going to shoot in Norway and New York, and we'll be getting the script to your house." So right then -- boom! -- I would have had two in a row with Hitchcock. Two in a row! Unfortunately, after FAMILY PLOT, he never made another movie. And later Peggy said, "You know what he said to me? He said you're the best character actor he's ever worked with." And then another guy, Lenny South, who was Hitchcock's cameraman on something like 14 of his pictures -- I saw him one day, and I told him the story which Peggy told me, and then I asked him, "Did Hitch really like me that much, Lenny?" And he said, "Oh man. You would have been in his next 14 movies." For some reason Hitchcock just zeroed in on me.

SC: What's your definition of a character actor?

Lauter: Someone who's most usually not an 8x10 glossy. You know, not a Steve Stunning. They're characters. Actually, one afternoon I was sitting with an older writer at the famous Algonquin Hotel in New York, and he said, "You know what you are? -- you're a turn actor." "A turn actor?" I said. Whaddya mean?" And he said, "Well, the movie starts out, and it's running along, and the story gets going, and all of a sudden your character is introduced -- that's when the story takes a turn. Your character is important to the plotline because he gives it an important turn or twist, making it go into a completely different direction." Then, of course, you also have character actors who play leads. They call 'em "character leads"; like Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, George C. Scott. They're not Tyrone Powers, and a lot of times they don't get the girl.

You know, another movie I loved doing was MAGIC, with Anthony Hopkins. Ann-Margaret and Burgess Meredith. In fact, my first on-screen kiss was with Burgess Meredith. [laughs] I had to give him mouth-to-mouth in MAGIC. Don Rickles used to tell me, "Jesus, you're the guy who gave Burgess Meredith mouth-to-mouth." I said, "Yeah." He said, "That's why he's so nice to you." Burgess was nice to me, though. Terrific guy.

Actually, I never kissed a girl on-screen; I did on television, though. I did a TV-movie about the Civil War with Jennifer O'Neill where I kissed her for about eight minutes. Oh man... And I got paid for it, too! [laughs] That was LOVE'S SAVAGE FURY (1979), which Aaron Spelling produced.

SC: Other than great talent and good agents, what would you say is the secret to your longevity?

Lauter: Well, I love what I do. I chose the right career... You know, I'd like to tell you about a couple of relatively new actors I've worked with whom I really like.

SC: Please do.

Lauter: First of all, we did a western together, and he's one of my dear friends now: Liam Neeson. And he's such a good person and, of course, such a great actor. We did SERAPHIM FALLS together and got really close on that. Of course, the tragedy with his wife was horrible. He's dealing with it. We might, I hope, do something else down the line together. The other guy whom I worked with on SERAPHIM FALLS, Pierce Brosnan, he's another fantastic person. And both Pierce and Liam are laddies -- from Ireland.

While I was doing SERAPHIM FALLS, I'm up there in Santa Fe, in-between marriages, and I went down to where they were going to have dinner at this hotel -- one of the best hotels in Santa Fe apparently -- and I thought, 'Well, I'll go to the bar beforehand and have a couple of drinks.' And Pierce saw me at the bar, and he said, "Hey, what are you doing?" "Just having a drink." "You doing anything for Thanksgiving?" I said, "No." "C'mon and join us." And it was really sweet of him.

His first wife died of cancer, and my first wife also died of cancer. So we had a connection there -- a tragic connection, but a connection, nonetheless. He's a really terrific guy. But I got to see a lot more of Liam, whom I met later in New York, and my wife Mia and I spent a good time with him. He's a pal. A real buddy. And let's not forget John Candy, with whom I worked on WAGONS EAST, his very last film before he passed away.

SC: What was Candy like to work with?

Lauter: First of all, I knew we were going to do the movie. Hadn't met John yet, though. Flew down to Mexico, got called onto the set one day to work a scene. So I get in my costume -- the movie is set in something like 1880 -- and I'm directed to go over to some trailer, where they're going to pick us up and take us to another location. So I walk over there -- and there's John in his cowboy outfit. I said, "First off John, great working with you. You're a funny guy. Where are you from? -- Toronto, John?" He said, "Yeah." "That's what I read about you. I also read that you played football." He said, "Yeah. I played some football. I was an altar boy and -- " "John, you were an altar boy?" "Yeah." "I was an altar boy. C'mon, John, let me hear your Suscipiats. Let me hear your Latin prayers." So we started trading Latin prayers. [laughs] "Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis..." That kind of stuff.

So now we get to work, and we have a few nice scenes together. Then I get a break in the shooting, like five days off. And we're down in some inland part of Mexico -- Zacatecas, I think -- and I said, "I'm going home for about five days." So I figured I'd say goodbye to some people. We're out in location, out in the desert, mountains and everything -- all of a sudden I hear [shouting], "Heeeeeeey, Eddie!" And I look up, and there's John up on a mountain on his horse -- he had a big horse, because John was a big man -- and he's going, "Hey, Eddie! Kirea lassen! Kirea lassen!" And I call back to him, "John! -- Christea lassen! Christea lassen!" The priest says that to the altar boy in Latin, and the altar boy is supposed to answer him back in Latin. And I called up to him, "John, I'll see you when I get back!"

So I'm home for about two days when I get a phone call from a crewmember who tells me that John is dead. "What?!" I just couldn't believe it. "Yeah," he said, "He had a heart attack in the morning, and that's when we found him." "Oh, shit!" 'Cause I was just starting to get into John's little group, and when John worked, I was going to work. And he was such a nice guy John.

SC: How about telling us something about working on Nicolas Roeg's EUREKA (1983)?

Lauter: Oh, Gene [Hackman] was such a sweet guy. He's a bit claustrophobic I found out. Gene had to be in a bed in that scene in EUREKA where he gets murdered and burned, and there was something about doing that scene which made him a bit claustrophobic. But he's so good, so professional... knows exactly what he wants.

I'll tell you a tie-in with George C. Scott and Gene Hackman. Years ago, George went in to read for something in New York, and he didn't feel as if he did a good job, and he said, "There's an actor down in Greenwich Village who you oughta see for this role -- his name is Gene Hackman." And that's George helping Gene. And Gene mentioned my name in a lot of movies, too, trying to get me work. Fine guy and a good old pal... We did FRENCH CONNECTION II together. We went to Marseilles, and we did that one scene where his character Popeye Doyle is on the Boardwalk in the background while I have my scene in the restaurant with Charnier, the drug lord in the movie. "Boy this wine really travels well," was one of my lines. It was a low-key role. He [Fernando Rey] tried to put a make on my wife, that guy. But Frankenheimer was terrific. He knew his stuff. He knew actors, editing, was very learned... You know, the best lunch that I ever had in my entire history of working in the movies was on a John Frankenheimer film. He studied at the Cordon Bleu School of Cooking in France -- and he could also speak fluent French. So when he was directing us in THE FRENCH CONNECTION II, he would talk to the French crew... in French! He died too young. He should have done so much more work.

SC: What's one of your favorite roles? And why?

Lauter: I've got a bunch of 'em, actually. Certainly THE LONGEST YARD put me on the map. And then working with Hitchcock. Just to work with him was great -- and just to have him as a friend. And then... I mean, THE MIDNIGHT MAN wasn't a great screenplay, but working with Burt Lancaster and having him direct me was great. Having people come up to you... It blind-sided me one time when Warren Beatty gave me a hug; I'd never met him before that. [laughs] So I must be doing something right when people like that come up to me. Sidney Poitier is another one whose fraternity I'm in. He respects me. I also liked working with John Candy, of course. I mean, when some actors are asked the question, "What's your favorite part?" they'll understandably answer, "The next one I get."



© 2010 by Anthony Petkovich.