I found out was, by the rhythm of my chewing, how I chewed fast, slow or what have you, I could tell the audience what my character was thinking and feeling.
Anyway, so what he did was, he spread sheets for 100 yards and underneath them he’d put things so there were bumps and different levels and on top he’d put little bushes and if you didn’t look to close, it looked like snow!
I didn’t ever think of it as a social thing at the time. I took it as a good story. Maybe because I’ve always been kind of progressive so I never thought of it, you know.
I made a big mistake with him the first day I shot. We’re shooting the scene where I come back from the party, the dance, in the sleigh with Julie Christie and we turn the corner and go past the camera and the camera follows us just a little bit and we disappear.
And the reason I really appreciated this is because after the picture came out, I was invited by the American Psychiatric Association to give a lecture. I couldn’t believe it!
He saved the production a tremendous amount. Now they did the scene where Omar is on the horse and he’s in the deep snow, they went to Finland to do that. That scene they went to Finland for a week. I wasn’t around then.
I was very pleased you know, and I was afraid that I might stick out, but I didn’t. My happiest thing about that picture is that I proved that American actors can speak as well and also fit in with an ensemble like that.
‘The Mark’ I played a psychiatrist. And in the ’50’s everybody went to a psychiatrist because if you didn’t, you’d have nothing to talk about at cocktail parties.
I’m not so sure that younger people today really appreciate the enormous bravery that went into the creation and production of that film, or how important a film at the time it really was.
If you see the picture when things get exciting, he chews faster. When he really gets shocked, everything stops, including the chewing. So I worked it in for me.
I was pleased when the picture was over I fit in all right and I spoke well enough as I said before, cause I was scared to death there for a minute. I mean, you’re doing a scene with somebody like that or they’re watching you or something, you’d better come up with something.
We came around the corner, I kissed her and after I kissed her she relaxed. And then I grabbed her and kissed her again and she was shocked! And that was what we wanted.
I had read the novel and I had heard David Lean was going to direct it – and it came as a surprise to me because American actors, if given the chance, can do style as well as anybody and speak as well as anybody.
And I’m supposed to grab her and kiss her and she’s supposed to react. Well, what happened was, Julie was very nervous at that time, given this incredible part which she did beautifully.
I said ‘well, I’ll kiss her twice, you see? We’ll come around, I’ll kiss her, and if you put a little more track down for the camera, then I’ll put my tongue down her throat and you’ll get what you want’. He said ‘You think so?’
Well, one of the problems of working on a story with a character that sacred in the religions of the world or in a picture about that person, is that you have to forget about that and play it as real as you can because you can’t look at yourself and judge yourself.
If he didn’t fall in love he would have never come back near the end of the film. Because, what man is going to dishonor himself so that he comes back in front of the man that took a woman away from him… and warns her to save her life?
He got up and there were both of us in our underwear and this kid goes through the whole thing again, all the closets, the bathroom, everything else and then he left.
Now that was one thing, but from an actor’s point of view, this poor young man, crying from the moment I opened the door to the moment he left. Now if an actor did that they would say he’s over-acting.