Tuesday, June 10, 2014

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY INTERVIEW SERIES: Part One - Jill Caras



Jill Caras: Widow of Kubrick publicity man Roger Caras talks about Stanley Kubrick and the making of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968).  

Roger Caras
Roger Caras, a publicity man for Columbia Pictures first met and began working with Stanley Kubrick during the post production of DR. STRANGELOVE (1964).   There are those that suggest that 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY may not have come to fruition had it not been for a conversation Kubrick and Caras shared over a lunch one afternoon in New York City about telescopes.

On behalf of Stanley Kubrick, Caras traveled the globe throughout 1966 conducting interviews with the worlds leading experts across all scientific and religious fields.  Kubrick had originally intended to use select moments from these filmed interviews in a brief prologue at the start of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.  Kubrick felt strongly that he needed such a prologue to open his film initially as a means to validate what the audience was about to see in the film. However, Kubrick was convinced to cut the sequence shortly before the release of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY at the behest of friend and New York writer Jeremy Bernstein.  

Although the transcripts of these interviews have been published over the years, the film footage of the interviews and the edited 10 minute prologue originally to open Kubrick's masterwork are now considered to be lost.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Thanks for speaking with me today...

CARAS:   Oh, it's no problem...

TV STORE ONLINE:   Where does all of this 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY stuff start for you?

CARAS:   Well, I believe it started in 1965 if I recall.   Roger was the one who introduced Stanley Kubrick to Arthur C. Clarke.    Roger had first met Stanley when he was still a young press agent for Columbia Pictures, and when Stanley decided that he wanted to make 2001, he made Roger the head of his company and Roger and I and our kids went over to live in London for a year.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you yourself spend much time with Stanley during the shooting of 2001?

CARAS:  Yes I did.  Roger and Stanley were great friends, and we would go out to Stanley and Christiane's house for dinner often.  We spent a lot of time with them over in London but also here in New York when they came back during the promotion of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Many may not be familiar with Rogers' post film work and his dedication to animals, and the books he wrote about animals...There must have been a kinship there between Roger and Stanley with their mutual love for animals...

CARAS:  Yes, there was.  When we were over in London...Stanley had gotten a new dog.  It was a West Highland White Terrier.   His girls were very young at the time and the dog had bitten every one of them and they were all just terrified of it.   Roger said, "Stanley you can't keep him..."   So Stanley sent the dog to the Jimmy Chipperfield Circus to get trained, but it didn't help.  So Roger said, "Stanley you have to give him up..."  So Roger helped Stanley find a new dog and he ended up with a Labrador Retriever, and I think they had quite of few of them by the end.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What do you think made Roger so passionate about animals? 

CARAS:   When he was  boy, he worked on the MSPCA  farm in Massachusetts.   He grew up not far from there.  He worked there and he always had a passion for animals, even though he had a degree in cinema from U.S.C. I think he regretted that he didn't pursue his passion right from the start.  He worked on CBS radio and had his own show called "Pets & Wildlife"  He was on NBC for a while, then he signed a contract with ABC and was on Good Morning America for 17 years.   Someone told me recently that there are pictures of our children playing on the set of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY still hanging in a office at Borehamwood Studios.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you visit any of the 2001 sets while you were living in England?

CARAS: Yes I did.     The sets were remarkable.  There was one -- The Centrifuge Set.  If you walked on it, you would start to feel nauseous. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  What did you yourself think of the film 2001 once you saw it finished?

CARAS:  I thought it was remarkable.  There had never been anything like it before, and nothing truly like it since.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you go to the premiere of the film here in the US?

CARAS:   Roger and I went to the New York Premiere of the film.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Backtracking a bit....Roger went off for Stanley to shoot a series of interviews that were intended to be a prologue for the film...

CARAS:
   He did.  They have transcriptions of the interviews yet, but the film footage is missing.   However, I have spoken to Rogers' former assistant recently and he seems to think that the movie footage might be in the archives at ABC Television because of Rogers' work at ABC on Good Morning America.   We don't know for sure but Roger may have made copies of the footage for himself.  His assistant says that he remembers seeing some of the footage after 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY was released.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How long was Roger gone for to do those interviews?

CARAS:  Not long.  He would go off and do one interview and then he'd come back for a while, then he'd leave again.   I think that the ones done here in The United States, in particular an interview he did with Father Heyden was done at Georgetown University after we had moved back from London.

TV STORE ONLINE:  The interview questions were crafted by Stanley...These were his questions that Roger was asking...Do you think Roger was interested in the same ideas that Stanley was interested in exploring?

CARAS: Absolutely.  As you mentioned before, Roger wrote many books on animals, and when we came back from London, ABC's Good Morning America had expressed an interest in working with Roger.   He knew that when 2001 was complete that he was going to focus on writing more books. Roger and Stanley stayed in touch until Stanley passed.  In fact, Stanley would send Roger letters and he would write them on the old stationary that was printed up during 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and on them at the top was Rogers' name and his official title with the company and at the very bottom Stanley would always write - Are you ready to come back yet?

TV STORE ONLINE:  It sounds like they had a great rapport and relationship...

CARAS:  I think they did.  When Stanley and Christiane came back to The United States when 2001 was set to be released they rented a house on Sands Point, Long Island.    I remember one day Christiane called me and said, "Here I am. I feel like Scarlett O'Hara, I have no help here.  The girls are driving me just crazy.  I'm trying to get everything settled here."   Roger said to me, "Well, why don't we take the girls for the weekend?"   We had a house out on East Hampton at the time.  Christiane said, "Well if you can take our two little ones...It would be such a help to me."  Their eldest Katharina got upset that she couldn't come so we offered to take her with us as well.   Stanley was quite neurotic when it came to his daughters.  He had been gone and when he got home and found out that his daughters were gone for the weekend he got quite upset.  (Laughing)   So, he kept calling us in East Hampton.   He'd call our house every-hour-on-the-hour. Finally at 1 O'clock in the morning Roger picked up the phone and said, "Don't call again.  They're all dead!" (Laughing)

This interview was conducted in the Spring of 2011 by Justin Bozung