I was working as a location sound recordist on my third feature film called Brainwaves. Because I had the nicest car of anyone in the crew, I was also given the job of picking up Kier Dullea in the mornings from Gregory Peck’s old house, where he was staying at the time. A lot of people today won’t remember Kier as this was 1982, but he was a major star back then as he played the lead role of David Bowman in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, the one who asked HAL, the spaceship’s rogue computer, to open the pod bay doors. Anyone studying film at university at the time would have considered this film to be iconic. The mere thought of being responsible for bringing Kier to a filming location each morning was daunting enough for a 24-year-old newbie like me. But after a few days, the task seemed to become less formidable. Kier was so relaxed and easy to talk to, I suppose I became complacent, like I was going over for daily visits… until one day when I overslept. Okay, we were working until 10 or 11pm each night, but early starts weren’t optional on low budget films.
It wasn’t easy sticking to the speed limit that morning or being an overly considerate driver, like I normally was, of course. Getting through Hollywood wasn’t a problem, until I got to the canyon road leading to Kier’s house, which wasn’t busy normally, even that day. But I’d entered a new realm, something well beyond gridlock frustration and far more treacherous, hence the title of this rant. I wound up getting stuck behind a gardener on that quiet, canyon road, where I was already very late. The driver obviously didn’t have a care in the world and should have been arrested for going too slow, but it was my destiny to be later still. All I could think about was my career ending, being the sole person responsible for holding everything up on a film shoot. The equipment rental charges for everything on any shoot is astronomical, plus the wages for the cast and crew, which had to be well over a thousand dollars or more per hour. When I finally arrived at Kier’s house I was in meltdown, like the HAL 9000 in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, thinking my life was over before I turned 25. With anyone other than Kier, it might have been.
‘Come on in, Ed,’ he said. ‘I can see you’re troubled, relax. What’s the problem?’ He was so incredibly nice, I told him about the gardener. ‘Ah yes,’ he said. ‘I understand completely. They’re very different from us, connected to the earth, operating on a different wavelength. They don’t understand the notion of being in a hurry. Don’t worry about the film shoot, they’ll be fine. Can I get you a drink?’
He was right. I don’t think anyone noticed I was late. It was one of those days where they spent ages laying dolly track. Please forgive me for paraphrasing Kier’s lines above, but that was more or less what he said. He’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.