By ERIC SCHELKOPF
David Hedison was still a budding movie actor when he decided to take the role of research scientist Andre Delambre in the 1958 movie "The Fly."
But it was a role that continues to draw interest. On Friday, Hedison made an appearance at the Hollywood Palms movie theatre in Naperville for a screening of the movie, and on Saturday and Sunday he will be at the Hollywood Celebrities and Memorabilia Show, www.hollywoodcelebritiesshow.com, at the HiltonRosemont, 5550 N. River Road, Rosemont.
I had the chance to talk to the 83-year-old Hedison at the Hollywood Palms about his work on "The Fly" and what drew him to the role in the first place.
Q - Why do you think "The Fly" continues to hold so much interest?
First of all, it was a good story. There was a story there. I thought the "Fly" I did in 1958 had a believable premise and that's why I liked it.
Q - That's why you wanted to be part of the film?
First of all, the part was originally assigned to another actor at the studio at 20th Century Fox. He didn't like the fact that he had to wear the mask. He turned the part down, so they gave it to me and I read the script. I was mesmerized. I thought it was going to be a very good film and make a lot of money. And sure enough, it did.
Q - What did you think of the 1986 version with Jeff Goldblum?
I thought he was terrific. He's a wonderful actor. It's the kind of science fiction performance that deserves an Academy award. I thought it was that good. He was terrific. But I didn't like his story. They went off in a different direction.
David Cronenberg did a brilliant job directing it. It was different. Maybe it was because I so familiar with the original one, it was hard for me to accept the new version.
Q - They made an opera based on the 1986 movie.
I saw the opera. I thought the opera was quite good. I just missed that there was no big aria for the man who played the fly. That was not there, and it should have been.
It was a painful experience he was going through. There should have been the most magnificent aria, but it was never there.
Q - You've played so many characters over the years. Was being in "The Fly" was one of your more memorable movie experiences?
Yes. The year before, I did a lovely film called "The Enemy Below" with Robert Mitchum. It was just a great film. And shortly after that came "The Fly." That was really one of the highlights for me at 20th Century Fox.
Then a few years later came the "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" TV series and that did very well. That was a favorite of mine because I loved working with RichardBasehart, who played the admiral.
Q - It seems that your name is associated with several fantasy or science fiction projects. Do you think people feel you are a good fit for those projects?
Maybe they do, because I think that for most of the people who see me, the parts are very sober. What audiences don't know is that I am best at comedy. And nobody has really seen it, which is unfortunate.
Q - Are you glad you didn't go into the jewelry business like your father?
Of course. I thought I had found greener fields. I went to Hollywood to see what I could do. I got my basic training in New York. I worked there for quite a few years, and worked with wonderful actors and directors.
Q - You were really mesmerized by people like John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart. What do you they brought to the table?
They had a charisma. They had a masculinity. Every woman who would see their films wanted to get into bed with them, you know. Male sexuality. You never know who has it, and it's always something on the screen. It's there.
Q - What projects are you working on now?
Nothing right now. I was supposed to do something with Bill Shatner and Patrick Stewart. It was called "Free Enterprise 2."
I was supposed to be in it. I was supposed to go into wardrobe. I was all set. I knew my lines. The next thing I knew, the producer ran away with the money. And nobody that first week was paid. So the whole project just sunk to the ground, went to the bottom of the sea.
Q - What do you like best about going to conventions?
I like seeing some of the actors that I haven't seen for a long time. I look forward to seeing them again, and talking about old times.
Q - Do you see different generations of fans when you go to conventions and make appearances?
Yes, particularly with "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." Parents show their children, and the children go gaga the way the parents were originally. So that's held up very well.
Q - What do you think of television and movies today?
There's some wonderful television today on PBS. And all the stuff that so many wonderful directors bring to the screen. It's great stuff. And then on the other side, there's a lot of crap. In these reality shows, there's people who have no talent at all and are on the screen wanting their five minutes of fame.
It's painful for me to look at the screen to see these people who are quite idiotic and awful to watch. Then I think, well they'll have maybe a year or two and then they are down the drain.
To me, as an actor, you really must work as an actor. You have to do repertory, you have to work with all kinds of groups. You have to have training, like MerylStreep.
She was doing it all through Yale drama school. She was working with the best, and she did lots of theater before she went into the movies.
And that's the way to do it. The kids today, they want instant fame. There's no so such thing. They'll last six minutes. You can't do it.
You have to get your training like a doctor, or piano player. You have to do your exercises on the piano. You can't do a Beethoven piano concerto overnight. You've got to do your practice, practice, practice. Then one day you can do it.