Director Stanley Kubrick is known for being a taskmaster on his sets. Many actors have recounted horror stories about the director’s dedication to details and how they had to endure as much as a hundred takes due to Kubrick’s penchant for perfectionism.
Scatman Crothers, the actor who played Dick Hallorann in Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining also recounted memories of going on multiple takes for simple shots. In fact, Crothers was affected so strongly by Kubrick’s style that when he next worked with director Clint Eastwood, he broke into tears as he was satisfied with a single take.
Scatman Crothers On Stanley Kubrick’s Style Of Filmmaking
Actor and musician Scatman Crothers got to work on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining after being recommended by his frequent collaborator Jack Nicholson. Nicholson and Crothers had featured in three movies before and while shooting for the classic One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Nicholson told him that there was a role waiting for him.
Crothers was cast after he met Stanley Kubrick in the role of Dick Hallorann, the chef of the Overlook Hotel and a man who also possesses the power to ‘shine’ like Danny Torrance. Crothers was reportedly amused by Kubrick’s insane dedication to perfection and the number of takes he filmed to get what he wanted.
Talking to Scraps From the Loft, Crothers spoke about Stanley Kubrick’s directing style,
“Stanley shot 87 takes of the scene in the ballroom with all of the cast. Even the part where I get out of the Sno-Cat and walk to the hotel door—a scene that has no dialogue—took 40 takes. Around the 39th take, I asked Stanley, ‘How do you want me to do it?’ He answered. ‘Walk a little bit to your left.’ So I said. ‘Look, show me how you want me to walk, give me the rhythm,’ and then we got the shot.”
Crothers reportedly also performed the stunts in the film on his own, in the scene where he gets struck with an axe by Jack Nicholson. The scene reportedly took twenty-five takes to get right.
Scatman Crothers Broke Down In Tears While Working With Clint Eastwood
After his grueling stint on The Shining with director Stanley Kubrick, Scatman Crothers went on to work with director Clint Eastwood on the Western-comedy Bronco Billy. The director is known for being extremely efficient and reportedly often films only one take for every shot. This was a polar opposite experience for Crothers, who had by then become used to Kubrick’s intense style.
The actor reportedly broke down in tears after his performance was given the thumbs up by Eastwood after one take. Crotehrs spoke about the directors’ differing working styles,
“Clint’s much more of an easy-going director Clint would do a shot once or twice and I’d ask him, ‘Is that alright?’…Clint would answer, ‘Well sure. Scat.’ I’d say. ‘Okay, man!’ because after working with Stanley [Kubrick] for so long, I was used to doing anywhere from 15 to 30 takes.”
The actor would years later be in tears yet again after being asked how it was to work with such legendary directors. Crothers assured that they were tears of joy.