REBEL :: GARY LOCKWOOD ONLINE
The actor remembers his “Star Trek” into godhood “Where No ivian Has Cone Before” & his ultimate trip with Stanley Kubrick into the year “2001.”
Actor Gary Lockwood has played significant roles in two milestones in science fiction. In 1965, he poryed crewman Gary Mitchell who was tansformed into a god-like being in Star Trek’s second pilot, “Where No Man Has one Before” the one that sold the series, three years later, he reached movie screens astronaut Frank Poole in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This pair of roles has secured him a place in the science-fiction universe. “It’s kind of what life is all about,” laughs Lockwood. “If you didn’t have some that [recognition] between now and the me you die, it wouldn’t be a hell of a lot of recogntion being here. But I’ve been blessed roughout my life to have those kinds of acolades. I’ve just been lucky.”
The actor remembers his “Star Trek” into godhood “Where No ivian Has Cone Before” & his ultimate trip with Stanley Kubrick into the year “2001.” The actor explains that he had been “something of a hero” as a kid, succeeding in virtually everything he attempted. And he found himself drawn to the entertainment world.
“I was one of those weird combinations of people who are split between sports and acting,” he says. “When I went off to UCLA on a football scholarship, 1 was an Art-English major. I started in the motion picture business doubling actors, riding horses and doing extra work. Then, Joshua Logan put me in a film called Tall Story, and that really kicked it off..
“Funny,” Lockwood muses, “but I never looked at Tall Story as my big break. My reaction was more like, ‘Oh my, this is terrific. I’m making some money and I’m
The Star Trek pilot came next, with Lockwood in the role of Gary Mitchell, an Enterprise crew member whose encounter with an energy barrier turned his eyes silver and endowed him with psychic powers.
“To tell you the truth,” Lockwood relates sincerely, “it was a little bizarre. It was embarrassing, and I hoped it would work because everyone was excited about it. I did like science fiction and I still do, so that side of me was hoping the Star Trek pilot would come out OK. It was a very hard job. 1 couldn’t see the other actors because of the silver contact lenses. They didn’t blind me initially, but after a few days, my eyes swelled up and got sore. Afterwards, to have them on for just two or three minutes was agonizing.
“Another thing about the Star Trek pilot is that people always thought I was egotistical, so when I got to play that part, many people laughed and said, ‘He has finally found his niche.” That has been a joke among my friends.
“Gary Mitchell was a tough character to reach,” he elaborates, “because there’s no prototype character to look at. So, you create a mental image and tr>’ to fill that slot. All I tried to do was downplay the mechanics and not be too dramatic. It’s the same thing I did in 2001—try to play the part very quietly and very realistically, and later on, people don’t think you’re pushing. That’s the way to sustain it. That must be thought out.
“One thing that I can say about American actors I don’t like, and who don’t like me, is that you have to apply a certain amount of intelligence to your role first and then you can apply the emotions. Too many young actors are trying to figure how to make the line comfortable. In Europe, they’re trying to bend to the line. Here, they try to bend the line to them. It’s a different approach. With Gary Mitchell, the idea was to go to the character, and not make the character comfortable to me. I’m not Gary Mitchell.”
Although satsified with the episode, Lockwood admits that he isn’t as pleased with it as Trek fans are for the simple reason that there was too much dialogue and not
“But that’s mainly because there’s no other way to do it,” he explains. “You have to commend William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy because they pulled it off. The greater part of the time they were telling you the story. There wasn’t the money on TV to go out there and spend lots on special effects, so I commend both of those actors for being skilled enough to make people buy what was happening. They did a good job and deserve any wealth they’ve obtained.
“I guess the pilot is effective because it sold the series,” Lockwood continues. “You have to keep in mind that the Star Trek pilot was made in those days on a very, very tight budget. This was the second pilot, so there was a great deal of pressure from the network on Gene Roddenberry. They came up with this idea of two characters getting ESP, it seemed, to make up for not having many special effects by just creating interesting characters. It was a good creative decision on Roddenberry’s part.”
Lockwood, however, is quick to disagree with those who would claim that “Where No Man Has Gone Before” has spawned a science-fiction phenomenon that is still
“I don’t look at it that way,” he insists. “When I did Star Trek, I was on the way to do 2001 which was already in the planning stage. Star Trek got out there well before it, but 2001 was having sets built before Star Trek. Everybody thinks Star Trek came first, but it didn’t. It was Arthur C. Clarke who paved the way for what was to come.
“A few months after I made the Trek pilot, 2001 started shooting on sets that had been built over a two-year period. Star Trek may not have even been conceived when the first sets for 2001 were being put together, so how could Trek be the forerunner if something else had been developing for two years? 2001 took 23 months to make. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Clarke had started working on it in 1955.
“Stanley and Arthur walked through Central Park sometimes, kicking around the idea of a great science-fiction story for the screen,” Lockwood maintains. “That was in ’55. Ten years later, it was in production. In ’63, it was filming and in ’65, it was filming, and it was on the street in ’68. Thirteen years! Needless to say, if you watch 2001, you see why it look 13 years. I don’t think there’s anything that can come near it.”
2001: A Space Odyssey has been critically applauded throughout the years for its sheer scope of imagination and relevant themes, Stanley Kubrick, already heralded as a film genius, solidified his reputation. If any fault as noted by critics in their reviews, it was at in 2001, the human element seemed to like a secondary position. Lockwood bristles at this point.
“I hear that now,” he says, “but when I see the performance years later, I don’t agree. That’s for the media to write. Today, ook at the way I played 2001 and / made oices to be calm and play it as 1 did with very little reaction. After all, the kind of guy no would be given that assignment in the year 2001 had to be cool. The idea was to ::ay it that way. The critics compared us to shots and things of that nature. I think we played it the right way. I still do, and I guess always will. Maybe you can walk out of 2001 and say I didn’t cry or do those things at get you Academy Awards, but on the other hand, I can look back when I’m an old man and talking to my kid, and say, ‘Well, the old man did it properly.’ Once in while, you have to have that.” While Lockwood has successfully moved from one medium to another, and acted in a wide variety of roles, it is 2001, and the op?rtunity to work with Stanley Kubrick, that serves as the highlight of his career.
“There are sides to his personality that you might say are difficult, but he’s by far the most talented man with whom I’ve ever worked. He possesses a high degree of intelligence, and that’s one of the reasons he’s much better than everybody else. If you really study all of his product, even though is a strange character with a hermit-type nature, he has dedicated his entire life to making films. When he makes a choice, there are so many elements that come to play. He plays the game at a higher intellectual level, which doesn’t mean that his films nessarily make the most money.
‘When I got the opportunity ta work with Stanley Kubrick,” Lockwood adds. “I said, ‘Before I die, I’ll be able to say that 1 did work with the best.’ That’s not something many people can claim.”
Nine Years Later
Lockwood’s 2001 co-star, Keir Duilea, reprised his role as David Bowman in the Peter Hyams sequel, 2010, but Lockwood didn’t reappear as the late Frank Poole,
“I thought the sequel was real homey,” the actor laughs. “I enjoyed 2010 more than some fihns, but I felt that there was no edge on anybody. I couldn’t get into it. I enjoyed parts of it—seeing Keir Duilea [STARLOG #88] and hearing the voice of HAL, and I very much enjoyed the actor who played Dr. Chandra [Bob Balaban]. But it’s a little difficult to follow an original case like 2001. In 2001, you get this idea of what you think things ought to be, and it’s difficult to start accepting them another way.”
The actor’s only other foray into the genre was the TV movie Earth II, which dealt with an orbiting space station, and the people who populated it. The film wasn’t a pleasant working experience.
“Out of loyalty to the people who hired me,” Lockwood explains, “I can’t go into great detail, because they may have hired me with the wrong thing in mind. If they had hired me to give an extension of what I had done in 2001, they didn’t give me the tools with which to do that. I didn’t get along very well with the director, and about a week after we started, I said to him, ‘This is all very confusing. I don’t understand what’s going on. We have to find some way to go with it, because I don’t get it.’ Of course, he tried to lay it off on me, but they’re always trying to lay it out on actors. When I told him I was having trouble giving the character some credibility, he told me to play it like I did 2001. That was a pretty stupid comment. We weren ‘t making 2001, we were doing a whole other story.”
Lockwood may re-enter the genre with a film he has been developing for several years. Hi Tech. It’s something of a dream project for him, and financing is currently underway. “My commitment when I was younger was not to my career,” he relates.
“My commitment was to living life on Earth. I saw it all. I was not a dedicated actor who lived in Greenwich Village for years and ate spider soup. To me, that’s wonderful, but I had been around the world three times by the time I was 30. Now, after looking at all of it, after going around the world again five years ago, I started writing this story, doing the research and I’ve completed it. It has some science fiction in it. It’s an electronic musical taking place some 10 years in the future. We have to wait for me to raise $15 million, but I’m confident. I’m a very bulldog type when I want something. I’m a person who doesn’t believe you get a raw deal. If you have the health and strength to get out of your car, then there’s no excuse for being a loser.”
While Lockwood has enjoyed his various excursions in science fiction, he refuses to credit one effort as revolutionizing the genre over another. “When I, was traveling around the world selling 2001, 1 could tell you that everybody over age 35 probably didn’t like the film or didn’t understand it,” Lockwood says. “They were upset that HAL didn’t get the girl. When I was traveling around, and not just in America, and talking to kids in colleges, I realized that they were ripe for it. They had been ripe for it for years. There was a need in this society for Star Trek on one level or another, whether it was that particular show or something else.
“Somebody had to come along to fill that need,” states Gary Lockwood. “Star Trek was one of the only things on television at the time that allowed you to get into a storyline that wasn’t a man having trouble with his wife. It makes you wonder why there isn’t something like it again. If you turn on Star Trek, something of interest will cross your mind that night, something that’s a little more fun than just watching any television. And that alone is enough.”