Gavin Schmitt Interviews Actor Art Hindle
A brief chat with Art Hindle, star of some great 1970s horror and sci-fi, including The Brood (1979).
Q: When did you first see “Black Christmas” (1974)?
AH: It was a little while. I grew up in Toronto, but by the time it came out I had moved to Los Angeles. I worked with a young actress in that movie named Margot Kidder. She was surprised I was living and working in Toronto, so she’s the one who told me I had to move to Los Angeles. She was right, so I have to give her a lot of credit. And working with Bob Clark on “Black Christmas” got me working with him again for “Porky’s”. Bob was a film genius. He knew every aspect of film-making. I was rehearsing with Olivia Hussey and she was nervous, because she hadn’t worked since “Romeo and Juliet” (1968). Bob and her and I were rehearsing in the house. Bob seemed to know more about cinematography than the cinematographer and more about special effects than the crew. If you’re going to be a director, learn how to work with actors. They’re the gold of the film.
Q: Did you like your role?
AH: I liked it. It’s hard when you work on a project, and then see it out there… you react to it on many levels. The level you react the least on is as an audience member. You already know the story, you know how it unfolds. Most of the time when I was a young actor, I would wander around the set even when I wasn’t working because I wanted to learn the craft. I wanted to direct some day, and I wanted to know how to do it. You sit there and watch it, and you might remember a joke that happened that day on set. I remember with “Porky’s” we didn’t really know what we had. Then the first time I watched it in a theater, and the audience went crazy over it, it was kind of a shock. I don’t know if that answered the question.
Q: How did you feel about the remake?
AH: Well, ultimately my opinion doesn’t matter, it’s the opinion of the audience. But the most disappointing thing for me about that particular remake was that Bob Clark was involved in it at an executive level. Bob Clark had a very disappointing end to his otherwise incredible career. He was blacklisted for a time, for no other reason than that he was very opinionated. I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other if someone wants to do something, but I’m sorry he got mixed up in that debacle. I’d be a hypocrite to criticize remakes after doing When I was a kid, that first one was stunning. I couldn’t look at a watermelon for three years.
Q: When you were cast for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978), how was it working with Kevin McCarthy, the star of the original?
AH: Kevin was great. He had the one sequence in the 1978 version where he jumps on the windshield yelling, “You’re next! You’re next! They’re coming!” I wasn’t in that part of the film. Phil Kaufman, the director, I love. We were shooting in what’s called the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. A bum walks up and asks us, “What’s going on? What you doing?” He’s all dirty. Phil says, “We’re shooting a movie.” “Oh yeah, what movie?” “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” “Oh, they did that one already.” “Well, this is the second one.” “Oh, fuck, the first one was better.” I may seem biased saying I love the second one better than the first one, but I do, for a lot of reasons. I think there’s more humor in it. I like my horror and sci-fi films where there’s some humor in the characters. And such a fantastic cast: Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright.
Leonard and myself and the makeup guy decided to take a break and go have dinner. The owner said, “We don’t have any tables ready. Go to the bar and have a drink.” It was one of those after work bars, with fifty people squeezed in having a drink. The word spread very quickly and everyone turned around to look at Leonard. One hundred eyes bugged out looking at him — he was not just a star, but an icon. I asked him if we should leave, and he said yes. We started to run out, but the maitre’d grabbed us and said, “Don’t leave. We have a table for you.” So the makeup guy is like, “See what happens when you’re a star? You can get a table any time.” But then we had to wait in the hallways by the dishwasher waiting for the table to be ready. So there’s an upside and a down side of being Leonard Nimoy.
Q: How did you meet David Cronenberg for “The Brood” (1979)?
AH: My brother was a world-class motorcycle racer. David said, “I don’t know you, but I know your brother.” And he hired me because of that. This was the highest-budget film David had done at that point. He had done “Scanners” and “Rabid”, he did those for less than $100,000. For a feature film, that’s nothing. Very low budget. But it holds up. If asked if I would change anything I did, sure I would, but I think it works well.
Q: What did you think when you saw the script?
AH: I thought that I could really use the $10,000. I was a young guy, but already had four kids. I didn’t care what was growing out of people, I looked at it as a job. When you’re an actor, it’s like you’re constantly holding up a sign saying “will work for food”. It was just the next job. If anyone checks out IMDb and sees some of what I’ve done, you’ll see what I mean. For a long time, “no” was not in my vocabulary. But I’ve been lucky in a way, because very, very few of my scenes I’ve ever done wound up on the cutting room floor. So all my crap is out there. Sometimes I get lucky, and a movie becomes a classic or a show becomes a classic. I did a season of “Dallas”. Larry Hagman is one of the nicest people in the world, nothing like J.R.
Q: What was Cronenberg like on the set?
AH: I remember one night we were particularly tired of being covered with corn syrup. Just tired in general, of doing the horror thing for eight weeks. You go home and have nightmares. But David is a hilarious guy and he always has a joke. So I told him the next time we make a movie, it’s going to be a comedy. As you know, David I never worked together again, because he’s never done a comedy.
Q: You worked with the legendary Oliver Reed on “The Brood”…
AH: It was two days into the shoot. Before I worked with him, I sat down with someone in a bar, and they told me Oliver had just walked back to his hotel room naked. At night, in the winter, in Canada. And he did. That was in the newspaper. I know there’s a lot of crazy stories. I got David to hire a guy named Edward Bolshur [sp?] as my stand-in. In Toronto, all of us are sitting there, and he’s sitting there playing with some scissors. So he grabs Edward’s jeans and pulls then towards him, and then he gets him with the scissors. Edward’s like, “Oh geez! What are you doing!?” “Oh, I’m sorry.” He then proceeded to cut his own jeans. Later, at the wrap party, I’m there with my girlfriend’s mother. He’s outside smoking, and I say, “Hey, I want you to meet my girlfriend’s mother.” So he turned with his lit cigarette, suddenly didn’t know what to do with it, so he ate it.