Thursday, December 11, 2014

I beat Stanley Kubrick at chess! Actor Tony Burton on working with Stanley Kubrick on The Shining (1980).

 Actor Tony Burton (Rocky) talks with TV STORE ONLINE about working with Stanley Kubrick on the 1980 film THE SHINING.

TV STORE ONLINE:   How did you come to work with Stanley Kubrick in THE SHINING (1980)?
  Stanley Kubrick had seen me in a film I had done with John Carpenter called ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.   He saw that and someone who worked for him called my agent.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you shoot your scenes in the film in England?

BURTON:  Yes, I did.  I was originally scheduled to work over there for just one week but I ended up staying around for several.

TV STORE ONLINE:   In my research,  I've read how you became one of Kubrick's favorite people to play chess with during the shooting of the film...

BURTON:  Yes.  We played a few games together.    They were good too.    I hadn't been playing chess for as long as Kubrick had--in fact, the game was something that I had picked up only early on when I first started acting.  I picked it up when I was living down on the beach in Santa Monica in those early days.    It was in my very early 20's.  I went on to study chess a bit after I got the hang of it.    When Stanley and I played--I beat him!   When we got going, and really got into our first game--he decided to shut the set down because I had opened up the game with what is called the "King's Indian" opening and he didn't anticipate that. It really shook him up.    No one gave up in the game and it went right down to the checkmate each and every time we played each other during the shooting of the movie.   In that first game, we both ended up with only pawns on our sides of the board.   I just happened to make it to the other side first--got my queen back, and then, was able to finish him off.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What kind of director was he for you?   How did he direct you in scenes that you appear in?

BURTON:  He said, "Let me see what you got."    Before he would tell you or instruct you in any way, he'd allow you to run through the scene and then after that, he would talk to you.  I was only in a couple scenes in THE SHINING so he really didn't mess with me much. I just thought that I was giving him what he wanted.   But that's how he approached the other actors that I saw him work with while I was over there in England.

Did you prepare or give that "Larry Derkin" character any sort of back story?

BURTON:  Well, I really didn't do that much.  I did rehearse my lines a lot though. I would practice them by reading them into a tape recorder and then I'd listen back.    He did a lot of takes with some of the actors, but we did just a few for the scenes that I worked in.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you spend any time off-camera with any of the other actors from THE SHINING?

BURTON:  Sure, I spent some time with Scatman.  Nicholson had already finished and he had left back for home by the time I arrived in England.  I never met him.  Scatman--he was always "on".   He's always joking and life was a stage to him.    It was a thrill to meet him because I had grown up with him and I had read so much about him.  

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung