Here Joe Utichi sits down with actor Julian Glover to discuss cult classic Hammer sci-fi 'Quatermass and the Pit'.
Check out the link to more MADE IN BRITAIN info at the bottom of the page too, after the film clip!
What follows is an exclusive interview by Joe Utichi – www.joeutichi.com – from May 2012 kindly offered to us via Studio Canal:
The film was released in 1967, a good few years after the initial QUATERMASS explosion of the 50s. Was there a hesitation to go back?
I remember the serials being very successful, and I remember watching them and loving them. We thought that this one couldn't possibly work, because we had the memory of André Morell, who played Quatermass in the BBC serial of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. But Roy Baker was a very good director and they made a very good job of it. We were rather sceptical about it because of how successful they'd been before on TV and in the first two Hammer films. Once I started working on it, and got to know Andrew Kier, James Donald and Barbara Shelley, I started to get a sense that it was going to work. By the standards of the time, the modelling was terribly good. There were no special effects or anything; there the bloody thing was and we had to drill into it – or not as the case may be. We were all absolutely delighted when it was such a success, though I think I've only seen it a couple of times. I was too young for it, I think, but I didn't mind that. You don't mind how old you are once you've got the part! [laughs]
The film did recast the role of Quatermass. They couldn't have done much better than Andrew Kier.
Exactly, he was remarkable. He was such a strong actor. That dour, Scottish thing, which won't be defeated and won't go down; that was the great strength of him. It always was; everything he did was wonderful, and he was a beautiful actor. It was a very sad loss when he went. In the serial, André Morell was a completely different animal. He was much more intellectual. He was more professorial, perhaps, than Andrew. That said, Andrew had a very good head on his shoulders – he was a smart bloke – but his approach was more about not giving in and not letting the authorities overwhelm him.
He certainly doesn't give in to Breen, who's quite aggressive, isn't he?
Colonel Breen, my character, is one of my many examples of being the idiot who doesn't know what's going on! Yes, he's quite aggressive. He doesn't like being told what to do! He takes an instant dislike of Quatermass. It's the sort of part I usually play! [laughs]
You have developed quite a specialty in bad guys. Is there more meat in those roles?
The parts got better and better as they went on. I've had some damn good ones. I've always been an actor who has accepted the work he's offered. It was never a case of picking and choosing; I got offered a lot of these sorts of roles, and so I did them. Indeed, there is a great deal of meat, and hopefully you consume the meat, and it shows. The parts I played in the Bond film, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, and then INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, they were out of Colonel Breen, but much more interesting because you knew that to the face of the world they were frightfully nice people, and would have been good company to have around, when they weren't up to no good. With Colonel Breen, you knew nothing about his private life or any of that. He was just that figure; that authoritative figure who always gets in the way of people who've got the right idea.
It was your only Hammer film. It was a company with a tremendous reputation for horror.
Yes, though you could say that QUATERMASS was outside their normal brief. It was not a horror film. It was frightening, and dealt with things we don't know about, but it wasn't a horror film in that people didn't suck anybody's blood. Though I think Colonel Breen might have done had he been pushed! I'd like to have done one of Hammer's vampire ones, I must say, but I wasn't. You can't be in everything!
Was it a special company to work for?
Not especially – it was a film company. It was a successful film company and they were very nice to us, though they didn't pay us very well. No change there. They treated us properly and they were quite firm on time. They had the right director in Roy Baker, who was very, very good on timing. They were strict on that because they obviously didn't want to spend too much money on it. They were spending a hell of a lot of money on the locusts, and those sets, which were really very good. Genuinely, the feeling of London at night at the beginning of the film was terribly good. It was very atmospheric and well done.
Was it a little grim to be spending your days in a muddy pit – albeit a fabricated one?
It was horrible. We didn't enjoy it at all. But we got by because we got on so well as a cast. Working with James Donald was such a privilege. He was a stunningly good actor. I bought a car off him! A beautiful, silver Mercedes. I used to see him drive into Elstree Studios ahead of me every morning and I thought, “Wow, I'd love to have that car.” I told him one day and he said, “Oh, well I'm selling it, do you want it?” In many ways I was glad he did that, but in many ways I wasn't; it was a pig of a car. [laughs]
Could you have imagined the film would have endured for this long?
Absolutely not. That is rather unexpected and delightful; that they went to the trouble of Blu-raying it and everything was something, and I can't wait to see it on the big screen. I've only seen bits and bobs, when I've come in to do a bit of re-dubbing, but I haven't seen the whole film in years, and I'm hoping next month to do that.
This has been restored and re-released into UK cinemas for a limited engagement as part of Studio Canal's Made in Britain film season.
To find out more info and what other unique, forgotten British classics you can expect from the season check out our feature that contains a link to the showtimes and participating cinemas right HERE.
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