Orson Welles meets Jack Nicholson, circa 1976, courtesy of Will McCrabb.
In 1971, director Henry Jaglom was in hot pursuit of the legendary Orson Welles. Jaglom desperately wanted Welles to star in his feature debut, A Safe Place, opposite Jack Nicholson, and flew to the Plaza Hotel in New York to make his pitch. Welles agreed — the prospect of getting to wear a magician’s cape was the selling point — and a most unexpected friendship blossomed. —My Lunches with Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles
Peter Biskind records the exchange in his introduction to My Lunches with Orson. Welles came to Jaglom during a break:
“You’re the arrogant kid who pushed me into this. How’s your arrogance doing?”
“Not very well. The crew hates me. They’re totally negative. Everything I tell them to shoot, they say, ‘It won’t cut,’ or ‘it’s not in the script.’ I have to fight to get every single shot. I’m exhausted.”
“Oh my God, I should have prepared you. Tell ‘em it’s a dream sequence.”
“Just do as I tell you. Trust me. You trusted me enough to hire me. Do it.”
Jaglom took Welles’ advice and got results. He went back to Welles:
“What the fuck is this? Everything I want to do, I say, ‘Dream sequence,’ and they’re pussycats.”
“You have to understand, these are people who work hard for a living. They have tough lives. Structured lives. They work all day, then they have dinner, put their kids to bed, go to sleep, and get back to the set at five o’clock the next morning. Everything else in life except for dreams has rules.” —Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles, On Screen: A Safe Place and Someone to Love
Here’s a rarity: A Safe Place outtakes with Orson Welles; never-before-seen footage of Henry Jaglom’s feature debut featuring Tuesday Weld, Orson Welles and Jack Nicholson.
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