PART ONE: NASA consultant and 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) technical advisor Frederick Ordway III on the inspiration behind Stanley Kubrick's landmark science fiction masterpiece.
ORDWAY: I knew Arthur Clarke for a long time. I first met him in either 1950 or 1951. It was at the first International Astronautical Congress in Paris. I was the only American attendee. I met him and a lot of other people that I'd maintain friendships with until this very day. Arthur persuaded me to join the British Interplanetary Society, which I believe, he was Executive Secretary of at that time. In the middle '60s I was working at the Huntsville, Alabama Army Ballistic Missile Agency which eventually became the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center of NASA. I was in New York City.
It was a routine trip for me. I was there doing a presentation of some materials that I had put together for a book that I was writing at that time. I was in the habit or writing books then. I've written 35 books in my lifetime. I ran into an old friend and he said, "I heard your friend Arthur Clarke is in town..." I didn't know that. Arthur had no reason to let me know that he was going to be in New York providing he knew that I was living in Huntsville, Alabama. I knew that he always stayed at the Chelsea Hotel when he was in New York City. So I rang him up and we agreed to meet at the Harvard Club. I was with a colleague named Harry Lange. He came over and we caught up. I said, "Arthur, what brought you to New York?" He said that he come to New York to promote his new book, but also because he was meeting with a guy, Stanley Kubrick, who was interested in writing a screen-novel with him.
It was to be called "Journey Beyond The Stars." Arthur said,"What are you doing in town?" I told him about the presentation that I gave which was based around my latest book Intelligence In The Universe. He said, "That sounds like what I'm working on..." We continued to talk for another couple hours and then parted ways because I had a dinner engagement that evening over on Park Avenue.
|Ordway (Far Left) walks with Kubrick and Clarke at MGM England|
TV STORE ONLINE: What were your first impressions of Stanley Kubrick when you met him?
|Kubrick (L) with actress and Ordway (R) on set of 2001|
When we went over to England: my wife and my kids and I were one of the last to join the production. I brought over all the research documentation via the Queen Mary ship out of New York. I brought over 26-cartons of documentation on the trip. I was concerned about going because I was worried that I'd lose my job in Huntsville. I knew that I might be over there for a while, but they told me not to worry because of the high profile nature of the project.
TV STORE ONLINE: Going back.....Your book Intelligence In The Universe was of interest to Kubrick. Going back to that initial meeting with Kubrick and Clarke at his apartment...What were some of the topics of discussion that day?
|Ordway (L) with 2001 technical advisor Harry Lange (R)|
TV STORE ONLINE: Kubrick was particularly fascinated by the Drake equation wasn't he?
|Kubrick (L) with Arthur C. Clarke (R) at his apartment in NYC|
TV STORE ONLINE: In culling together the research for the film...Did you encounter any opposition against what you were trying to do? Did you come across a company that wasn't willing to participate in your questioning?
|Ordway, Clarke, and Kubrick on 2001 set|
TV STORE ONLINE: Kubrick gave you a massive list of questions that he hoped that you could answer or find answers to when it came to the research for realism or speculation....
ORDWAY: Certainly. We would met regularly in his office to talk. One of the ideas that he had for the film, and it's something we just had to say no to was his idea to change the mission objective in the film from Jupiter to Saturn. The rings were just too difficult to achieve with the special effects and I just didn't think it was logical for the mission to go to Saturn instead so we convinced him that it wasn't a good idea. He was even concerned with the pajamas that the astronauts would wear on the mission. The same with the stewardesses on the space station. I got into those questions to a certain extent, but eventually, we got people from the fashion industry involved. It was the era of the mini-skirt and so the goal was to keep it fashionable but also scientific. The others, on the Aries and Orion ships in the film, were in pants suits. He wanted them to wear those white hard hats because of the possibility of them being thrown around. They had to have protective head wear as a precaution but those designs were out of my field of expertise.
This interview with Frederick Ordway was conducted in January 2012.
Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung
COMING SOON: In PART TWO of this interview with Frederick Ordway he discusses specifics of production on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.