Quote of the Week

This is from the extras (Film Noir Web, disc 2) on the Reservoir Dogs (1992) tenth anniversary special edition DVD 2-disc set. The Kazan and Brando stories are apocryphal; Timothy always denied they took place. Also, Tim passed away not on his own birthday (March 11), but on the birthday of one of his heroes, Salvador Dali.

TIMOTHY (William) CAREY (1929-1994)

A lanky, saturnine character actor most famous for his work with Stanley Kubrick in PATHS OF GLORY… and most infamous for being the only man director Elia Kazan ever physically attacked on-set. Marlon Brando stabbed Carey with a pen on the set of ONE-EYED JACKS. John Cassavetes, who cast Carey in THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, declared that the actor had “the brilliance of Eisenstein” – after Carey put Cassavetes in a padded suit and turned an attack dog loose on him, during the actor/director’s first visit to his home.

Carey’s six-foot-five stature and laconic demeanor served him well in a number of tough-guy and character bits, and he later become a television regular on such shows as MANNIX, BARETTA, ELLERY QUEEN and CHiPS. He was apprehended scaling the fence at 20th Century-Fox in full armor, just to audition for PRINCE VALIANT, and later faked his own kidnapping while in Germany, during the shooting of PATHS OF GLORY.

His magnum opus was THE WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER (1962) – made nearly single-handedly over three years and released in 1962. Carey wrote the story of an insurance salesman who goes into politics and develops a God complex, then directed and starred. It featured a score by iconoclastic genius Frank Zappa. A second feature, TWEET’S LADIES OF PASADENA, remained in production from 1972 onward (Carey turned down a role in THE GODFATHER to work on it), but was never completed.

Carey also appeared in Kubrick’s THE KILLING, EAST OF EDEN, CRIME WAVE, and THE OUTFIT.

He died of a stroke on his own birthday, May 11, 1994.

Cassavetes directing Tim in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

Quote of the Week

GL: I’m still trying to digest the fact that you passed up a role in The Godfather.

TC: I was offered a spot in both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. To play Luca Brasi in the first one, and the Mafioso boss who gets killed on the stairs at the opening of the second one. But I didn’t do either show, because if I had, I woulda been just like any other actor – out for the money. Francis [Ford Coppola] wanted me on the show, but I kept saying no. To get out of going to New York, I kept saying I wanted more money, and they got tired of it, I guess…

GL: What kept you out of Godfather Part II?

TC: I went to talk to Francis at Paramount. I already had the part, but I still wanted to do a scene. Francis and his pals were sitting around his office and I brought a box of cannolis and Italian pastries as gifts. I said, “I brought you this gift to pay respect to my friends,” and I reached down into those dripping cannolis and pulled out a gun – boom boom! – and blew the hell out of all of them. And then I shot myself and staggered over and fell on [producer Fred] Roos’s desk – all the contracts went flying. And Coppola grabbed my blank gun and shot me back – bang bang! – like a kid. It was byootiful – I took ’em completely by surprise. Francis was stunned, “How much do you want?” But Roos didn’t like it, so he went to work and influenced Coppola against me.

One guy, a little guy, was sitting there watching everything. A young kid with a camera, but he wasn’t filming. He just sat there with a mean, kind of  miserly . . . I could tell he was afraid by the lines on his face. Like he needed two inches of Chinese tonic. It was Martin Scorsese, somebody said.

– “Cracked Actor,” Film Comment Jan/Feb 2004; interview conducted in 1992 by Grover Lewis

Quote of the Week

“[Francis Ford] Coppola wanted me so much to be in The Godfather. But the stage wasn’t right. I just would have made a lot of money, and when you make a lot of money, it doesn’t help an artist because the more money you have, the more trouble you have. Except to make a film, that’s different, of course, but [John] Cassavetes, it would never affect him… Coppola didn’t have the sensitivity that Cassavetes had. He’s a good director, a nice fella, but he’s no John. Nobody’s a John Cassavetes. Nobody!”

– “Rebels With a Cause: The Timothy Carey-John Cassavetes Partnership,” Filmfax #56 (May/June 1996), article and interview by Ara Corbett

Quote of the Week

Our quote for this week is once again not by Timothy, but about him. It’s from an unpublished interview with his younger brother, George Carey:

Timmy’s big mistake of all time was not taking the part of Luca Brasi in The Godfather. He had the part, no question about it, but then decided he didn’t want to get involved. I was taking calls from Paramount and Francis Ford Coppola definitely wanted Timmy in the film as Luca Brasi. Basically, Timmy was replaced (by Lenny Montana, a former wrestler). That part was Timmy’s. All he had to say was he wanted it. But – that was Timmy. He passed that up and it was a big mistake. One of Hollywood’s top agents (Walter Kohner) personally told me that if Timmy would only cooperate by playing the game, he could be one of the big stars. He told me this personally right in his office. He was Timmy’s agent for a while, and it’s really remarkable, when you think of it, that Timmy had this guy as his agent. I think Timmy’s biggest problem was that he had hostility with certain directors. Maybe they thought his acting methods were too outlandish. Once the cameras were rolling, Timmy might do a scene in a totally different way than it was rehearsed. Sometimes, the directors retaliated by taking his name off the credits.

Filmfax article (not published) by Harvey Chartrand, 2003