Hello friends…think it’s time to address the “Me Too” movement and its implications. This from over 50 years of my own experience in the business.
Firstly it goes without saying that I do not support nor endorse the abuse nor exploitation of anyone in any business by anyone in power or control for their own gratification. That being said, ours is a peculiarly seductive industry, where people will often do anything to promote themselves and their career. The “casting couch” was a well known joke in my early days in the business and it was just that…. a joke. We all knew that there were Producers/Directors/Financiers who might try to persuade actors onto the “casting couch” with the promise of a part in an upcoming production. Most of us also knew that such a promise was a false one and unlikely to lead to a job or a part, unless it was a very tiny one. So the idea of “sleeping around” to get a part was a bad idea, unlikely to get you the part and very likely to get you a bad reputation.
Apart from careers being destroyed by these accusations coming out years later, it is putting a constraint on the working environment in film. The team work you want and strive for when making a film will be hampered if crews feel nervous or uncomfortable engaging with the actors and the division on set will not make for good work. In particular for an actor, apart from your necessary rapport with your fellow actors, the camera crew is your immediate audience. If you feel isolated or disengaged on set, you will lose the confidence and relaxation needed and the performance may not go as deep. I see that already from watching some new films compared with old films. One of the great pleasures for me working on film has always been the relaxed interaction between actors and crew…the jokes, the teasing, the fun. It all made for good work.
Katharine Hepburn would visit the set on The Lion in Winter, bring sweets and other treats for the crew, when she was not called. Peter O’Toole got a game of cricket going, while we spent long hours waiting for complex lighting setups etc. I have always had a good rapport with the Director of Photography and Camera Operator on a set and wanted them as much on side as the Director, who is often occupied with the larger scope of making the film. Brendan Stafford, DP for The Saint, Danger Man and The Prisoner, would insist that we leading actors stand in for the lighting on our close-ups “you want to look good, don’t you?” Would such familiarity be accepted today? I hope so. After a take, when doing The System, I would always look at Alex Thompson the operator for a reassuring nod after a take. Ditto Chic Waterson on The Lion in Winter. Theirs are the eyes on the lens on the other side of the camera. Will the intimacy of these working relationships still happen today after the “Me Too” movement? Will they be open to misinterpretation? I would hope not…it is this kind of engagement between crew and actors that makes it all work.
I love to work, to act and part of the joy is the team work needed on set to make a good film/TV film. Hope it lasts always.