giovedì 17 dicembre 2015

The first day of production of '2001', fifty years ago

It was Friday, December 17th, 1965: Fifty years ago today, at nine o' clock in the morning, a young woman entered stage 1 of the MGM Borehamwood studios, near London.

Judy Keirn was a young american actress that had moved to London a few years earlier; in Brodway she had taken part in a few musicals, the most famous being Bye Bye, Birdie (1960). While in London she went through a few auditions, and one was for the small role of a 'passport girl' in an ambitious sci-fi flick that was already causing a sensation in the local actors' community: produced and directed by the young and ambitious Stanley Kubrick, it was set in outer space, and a shroud of mystery had engulfed its production ever since.

On that fateful Friday Judy, who possessed the right american accent that allowed her to beat the competion of Maggie London (later chosen for the 'elevator hostess' role), showed up at half past seven for make-up and costume fitting. Kubrick appeared a bit later, never an early riser, busy with other things to attend; Judy delivered the few lines she was given with no particular issues, but she could never imagine that she had just appeared in the first day of production of '2001: A Space Odyssey'.

A recent picture of Judy Keirn with a photo of herself as Linda in Bye Bye, Birdie

It was usually thought that the first actual shooting of '2001' happened on December 29 for the TMA-1 excavation site, as Arthur C. Clarke famousy recalled in his book "The Lost Worlds of 2001". But if you look close at the call sheet he enclosed in the book, you'll see No.4 (a) up on the right:

Additionally, the Stanley Kubrick Archive catalogue states very clearly that the production started on December 17 with call sheet n.1, that also appeared in the DVD extras of the book "2001: The Lost Science". Also, some of the sequences that appeared in the "stargate" section of the movie had been shot as early as 1964, in an abandoned corset factory in Manhattan on the corner of Broadway and 72nd street in New York, while Kubrick and his team were experimenting with some early special effects tecniques.

Judy Keirn completed her shooting session on Saturday, December 18th; a bit of her lines were cut from the final scene that appeared in the movie but surfaced on the book by Arthur C. Clarke.