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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Legendary actor Jon Voight on his controversial new movie September Dawn, his career, and his politics, which might surprise you.

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HH: Special couple of hours coming up on the Hugh Hewitt Show, a conversation with one of America’s great actors. Jon Voight is with me in studio. He has a new movie coming out, September Dawn, I think it debuts on June 22nd, and we’re going to talk a lot about that, we’re going to talk a lot about the war and politics as well. But we’re going to start with the movie. Jon Voight, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

JV: It’s a pleasure to be here, Hugh.

HH: The movie is about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. To set this up, I went to the PBS website. They did a documentary in 1996 called The West. I wanted to give a little narrative, so that we could give a backbone for the audience to listen.

JV: Sure.

HH: In the summer of 1857, 2,500 troops headed towards Utah to reassert federal control. At the same time the army slowly made its way west, a lone wagon train entered the southern part of Mormon territory. They were settlers, mostly, families traveling with small children, on their way to California and a better life. But riding with them were a band of men who called themselves the “Missouri Wildcats,” and they were bent on causing trouble for the Latter-day Saints. On September 7th, 1857, the wagons reached a grassy area called Mountain Meadows. There, some 200 Paiute warriors, encouraged by the Mormons, attacked. The emigrants drove them back. The Indians settled in for a siege, then asked the Mormons to join them in destroying the common enemy. Elders sent a message to Salt Lake City asking Brigham Young what they should do. But before his message arrived, the Mormons back at the Mountain Meadows resolved to wipe out the wagon train, and blame it on the Paiutes. One of the men ordered to lead the fighting was John D. Lee, who I believe you play. Do you play John D. Lee?

JV: No, I do not.

HH: Who do you play? You play the bishop?

JV: I play a bishop. He’s a character that’s an amalgam of several people from that time.

HH: John D. Lee, a Mormon so loyal that Brigham Young himself had adopted him as a spiritual son. Lee was used to following church orders. He was, as he said, “as clay in the hands of the potter,” when it came to carrying out the wishes of his elders. But even he was stunned at what he was now being asked to do. In the end, he decided to follow orders. On the morning of September 11th, he rode out to the besieged wagon train under a flag of truce. The Mormons opened fire, each man assigned to shoot the emigrant walking next to him. Lee’s task was to kill the sick and the wounded riding in a wagon in front of the others. Then the Paiutes swept in and finished off the rest. In less than half an hour, 120 had been butchered at Mountain Meadows. Only seventeen children were spared, thought too young ever to tell the horrible story. The dead were stripped of their clothing and belongings. They were sold at auction. They were hastily buried. Two days after the Massacre, Brigham Young’s messenger finally arrived at Mountain Meadows with the orders to let the wagon train pass. John D. Lee was chosen to ride to Salt Lake City and tell Brigham Young what had happened. Precisely how much the Mormon leader was told of his people’s role in the slaughter is unclear. Publicly, Young blamed it on the Paiutes. Jon Voight, why make this movie? Why were you intrigued by this movie?

JV: Interesting, obviously, that piece was…when we look at the reportage on this piece, there’s a tremendous amount of documentation, Hugh. I can see that this piece that you just read is geared a certain way. I’ve read an awful lot of stuff on it, and I was very, very….and I was drawn to it, because I read this piece that was sent to me by Chris Cain, this director that I’ve been friendly with. And he sent it to me, and I read it cover to cover in a very short time, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. And then I…it was a page turner, and it was very disturbing, but I thought well, if this is the truth, I’ve certainly never heard about it, and it should be probably brought to light. So I did go do my due diligence, and I read everything I could read on the subject matter. And I must say that I could give you recommendations. There are several books on the subject that are available to us in the bookstores, and there’s stuff that was written about that time that is very, very powerful, one of the things being the confession of John D. Lee.

HH: Right.

JV: And if one reads the confession, you will get a slightly different picture than the one you read. But still, you know, very stirring, and to me, it pulled me in the same way that I was drawn to do Rosewood, the picture Rosewood, which was about a black town in the South in Florida, which went on a rampage and destroyed…the white folks from a neighboring destroyed this black town, killed everybody in it. And I feel that it’s important to bring the truth to every chapter of history. This is our history. And certainly, it’s interesting, it’s important to see the madness of men, regardless of their faith, so that we will not recreate these horrors in the future.

HH: Now when September Dawn comes out, I will see it. I was sent a screener. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, or at least I can’t make it work, and that could very well be the case, and I appreciate your staff getting it to me. And what I was really curious about, and you tell me, the Mormon history prior to the Mountain Meadow Massacre was one of itself being persecuted, the assassination of Joseph Smith, the Haun Mill Massacre, the persecution from Missouri, the order of extermination. Is that context in the film? Did that color your understanding of what happened in Utah 150 years ago?

JV: It is suggested in the film. The death, one of the aspects of my character is that he’s an amalgam of several characters, and it allows you to see several things through the eyes of this one character. And he was, this character, witnesses the death of Joseph Smith in Hiram, the murder of Joseph Smith in Hiram. Now the ingredients for the rampage against the Mormons at that time is not gotten into, and…but you see certain aspects of this past sketched into it. I must tell you this, Hugh, I, as I say, I did all this reading, and it’s a documented true event.

HH: Oh, yeah.

JV: And there’s a tremendous amount of work that’s been done on it, even recently. There’s a wonderful book by Will Bagley called The Blood of the Prophets. And people can read this stuff, and hopefully they will. They will see the film and they will go and do their own work on it. But every word that is spoken by Brigham Young in the film was spoken by Brigham Young at the time around the Massacre. And that itself is quite shocking if you, having been introduced to this story, in the way that you have, you will be able to see how he responded to the questioning of the government people who came to check it out, and the sermons that were around that event. So it’s very interesting stuff.

HH: Yeah, there is quite a controversy about the role of Brigham Young in the Mountain Meadows Massacre…

JV: Yeah.

HH: …with some saying he is innocent, that the letter was sent, others saying the letter was a carefully orchestrated cover up. Oxford University Press has a new book coming out in time for the 150th anniversary. What’s your opinion? Do you think Brigham Young knew? Do you think Brigham Young sent the order to kill these people?

JV: You know, according to John D. Lee, he was set up, and he suggests that there were superiors. And if there were superiors, they were superiors far above him. It was an autocracy, Hugh. If anything, if there was any religion that was autocratic at that time, or even in the history of religions, it was the Mormon religion at that time under Brigham Young. So he would have had to have known, otherwise people’s heads would roll, you know what I mean, as they say.

HH: Do you think, because we’re going to talk about terrorism.

JV: That’s the thing that gets…should he have known, would he have known? If they didn’t tell him, they would have been in tremendous trouble.

HH: What I want to get into today in the wider terrorism subject is whether or not violence breeds violence, or whether or not it’s sua sponte, because you do have the Haun’s Mill Massacre, which is, you know, in 1838, 18 to 24 Mormons are massacred by the Missouri fundamentalists. You’ve got Missourians riding with this wagon train. They’re very afraid, they’re paranoid. What do you think? Does atrocity beget atrocity? Or is it sua sponte? Does it just come out of nowhere?

JV: Well, I would say, I would say the legacy of blood that was shed at that time, and the…contributed to this aspect. Certainly there was a revenge motive here. And that’s expressed in the film as well. One must see the film, you’ve got to see it and see for yourself. I think it’s a story that must be told, and it’s a film that I believe must be seen.

HH: Do you know Mormons, Jon Voight?

JV: Yes, I do.

HH: And do they like your work in this film? How have they reacted? I’m not a Mormon, never have been. I’ve done a lot of work on the Mormons, but I’m just curious.

JV: There has been some positive thought about the film, and its depiction of Mormons in the film. Now let me just jump, make a big jump, guys. The Mormon Church is not the same Mormon Church that it was in 1857. It’s changed dramatically, much perhaps because of this event. But when we made this film, when we started this film, we had no concept of the idea of a Mormon running for president, and Mitt Romney…

HH: When did you film it?

JV: We filmed it two years ago.

HH: Okay.

JV: And so Mitt wasn’t on the program, and so it certainly isn’t against the Mormon Church, and it isn’t against Mitt Romney specifically.

HH: Now we’re taping this on May 10th. Mitt Romney is on the cover of Time Magazine tomorrow.

JV: Uh-huh.

HH: And the question is, do the people who own the film, I know you don’t own the film, you’re just in the film, are they using his candidacy to promote it?

JV: No, it just happens that they’re having a film come out. And of course, everybody asks it, when you talk about the event of it, they’re saying well, what does this have to do with Mitt? And I say well, you know, it really was not made with the purpose of getting Mitt Romney’s name forth, or getting our film forth on Mitt Romney’s coattails.

– – – –

HH: The music you hear is from Glory Road, the score from the 2006 film in which you played Adolph Rupp. You are no stranger to historical roles. I mean, I was writing them down as I did my research here. You’ve played Adolph Rupp, John Paul II, Major General Jurgen Stroop, who was the man who annihilated the Warsaw ghetto, and FDR. I once asked Charlton Heston if he enjoyed being a walking encyclopedia, and he reveled in it, actually, but he also had great concern that he get it right. In your historical roles, do you think you’ve gotten it right, looking backwards?

JV: Yeah, I’ve done pretty well, I think. I have to say that I’m known for doing an awful lot of research, and you know, in any role that you can mention, like if you talk about Adolph Rupp, the big controversy about Adolph Rupp, was he or was he not a bigoted fellow, you know…

HH: Right.

JV: And I say he’s a man of his time, but not a bigot. And I can prove that with statements to do with how he supported black players from his first job as a high school coach. And there’s certain quirks of personality about Adolph Rupp, a very interesting kind of character. He was a person who was tremendously superstitious. If you wore a suit, and that’s…as he did, he wore a brown suit. He was the man in the brown suit. And then he wore a blue suit, and his team was defeated by 35 points, and he never wore a blue suit again.

HH: You know, I just got in the mail a new biography of FDR by Jean Edward Smith. It’s going to be great. You got to play America’s greatest modern president in Pearl Harbor. Now I didn’t particularly like Pearl Harbor, and Medal of Honor recipient Bill Barber, a friend of mine, said he wouldn’t go, because he wasn’t going to see any movie in which Jimmy Doolittle was portrayed by Alec Baldwin. But having played FDR, do you think Mitt Romney has what it takes to be a wartime president? Because this is connecting back to your movie and the segment we just had.

JV: That’s a big question. I do believe that it’s a very, very important question. That’s the question that’s on my mind. I think that this president is…he knows what to do against terror. I really believe that George Bush knows the terrain, and he’s been fighting very hard to protect the American people. I have to say that statement just blanket…straight out. And I hope the next president can be strong enough for what’s to come. We’re making those decisions daily, and I’m watching Congress, and I’m very concerned, and I think Mitt Romney, from what…the one thing we haven’t talked about is getting into the enemy that we have today. And one of the reasons why I did the film September Dawn was because it’s about religious fanaticism, and how it uses a religion to justify murder. And when you see the film, you get a very good idea of this architecture. And when I see the film today, I am reminded continuously of the things that are going on in the front page. And of the many people who are eloquent, more eloquent than I in terms of defining this enemy, and for the general public, I think Mitt Romney’s very clear about it.

HH: Let me go back and ask you about that. When we went to break, we were talking about the promoters of September Dawn, the makers are coming out the same time Romney’s on the cover of Time Magazine. And Robert Novak wrote a column just a couple of weeks ago, and he said this September Dawn movie, Mitt Romney’s got to answer for the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Do you think that’s true? Do you think Mitt Romney has to discuss the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

JV: Well, it’s a very dark part of the history of the Mormon Church, and it’s a very controversial part of the history, or how much was hidden and kept from the public for such a long time. Those questions have to be asked.

HH: But of him?

JV: Here’s the thing. It’s the way Mitt chooses to deal with it. Now he wants to stand apart from questions about religion.

HH: And theology, right.

JV: And I think you’ve written a book on it, so you’re as good an expert on this subject as anyone. The question should be asked of you, do you think.

HH: Absolutely not. I think for example, Rudy Giuliani…you and I are both Catholic kids who went to Catholic school.

JV: That’s right.

HH: And you’re German Catholic, I’m Irish Catholic, though my grandfather’s a German Catholic, too. And so we grew up Catholic in a time when Vatican II was a distant in the future…

JV: Right.

HH: …and hits me in the third grade. You grew up in the Latin Mass. Were you an altar boy, by the way, Jon Voight?

JV: No, I didn’t get into it. I was on the edge.

HH: Because you were in an all-boy Catholic school, right?

JV: I was one of those guys that said Jon, you do it, and I’d say well, I’ll try it, yeah, but you know, they’d have to instruct me through everything, but I wasn’t a very good altar boy.

HH: I’ve had Rudy Giuliani on this program, and as I was preparing for this, you and Rudy have like the same background in some respects. He’s Brooklyn and you’re Yonkers, but it’s all-boy Catholic high school, Catholic college.

JV: Uh-huh.

HH: …coming out in the early 60’s. And so it’s very similar. And if someone came up to Giuliani and said to him, hey, tell him why Urban VIII imprisoned Galileo. I’d laugh at the question, because Giuliani’s not responsible for the historical stupidities of the Catholic Church.

JV: Well, let me say this. I do believe that every religion should, before it goes forward with new people in the religion, and new young generations, they should come forth with everything they’ve said or done, good or bad. And if they have blood on their hands, I think they have to address it, and wipe it clean. This is my thought…

HH: But the Church, but not individuals…

JV: The Church, the Church, yeah. So that in the future, that all religions, Mormon, Catholics, Jews, can come together, worshipping without stepping on each other’s toes, and worship the God of good. I think that is the part of the process, learning lessons, admitting lessons. Now we’ve had a Pope who I have happened to play, John Paul II.

HH: Right.

JV: And he was, in my estimation, a very great man.

HH: Yes.

JV: And he did his best to apologize for all the bloodshed in the name of Christ. And as a matter of fact, can I…

HH: And for sins of omission, as well as commission.

JV: Yes, and it did…what did it do for the Church? It raised the character of the Church in the eyes of most people. Can I give you a little piece of John Paul II, a speech that I never did in the film?

HH: Please.

JV: Just an idea of his presence, and something that stirred me. He said this. He gathered all the leaders from all the religions, including the indigenous religions, to Assisi. And at that gathering, he said, he addressed them, and he said, [with Polish accent] “I am ready to acknowledge that Catholics have not always been faithful to this affirmation of faith. We have not always been peacemakers. For ourselves, therefore, but also perhaps in a sense for all, this encounter at Assisi is an act of penance. Either we learn to work together in peace and harmony, or we ruin ourselves and others.” It was a beautiful statement, opening himself up and saying listen, we’ve made mistakes, we have to acknowledge those mistakes, you guys have made mistakes. Let’s come together.

HH: When Benedict came out and quoted a 14th Century emperor about the threat from Islam, was he right to do that, Jon Voight. Unfortunately, I’ve got 30 seconds to the break.

JV: Boy oh boy. Well, that’s a big one. Was he right to do that? I mean, I think he made the statement trying to compare religions in a certain time. Did he tell the truth? I think he did.

– – – –

HH: We’ll do you movies later in the interview. I want to get back to Benedict. You know, you’ve done this movie September Dawn about an atrocity 150 years ago in a mountain meadow in Utah. And from that, you’re drawing a lot of lessons. You’ve been out there a lot talking a lot about this. How does the movie depict Brigham Young’s letter let them pass, the letter that many of his defenders say exonerates him from complicity? How does the movie treat it?

JV: You know something? The movie does not get into that. The movie…it is not a court session, you know, and I don’t really want to get into a court session about it. In a sense, that’s for others to do. What we’ve depicted in the movie, I think is very accurate from all that I have read. And of course, when we’re dealing with a film, we’re dealing with a metaphor of some sort, or you know, poetry of some sort, where you have to condense things down to another form. And then you have to determine, if you’re an artist, you have to determine whether that represents the truth. And in my judgment, it does represent the truth, this film under two hours, represents the events as they happened.

HH: There is one concern, a friend of mine who runs Article VI blog, suggested a woman by the name of Sandra Tanner was an adviser to the movie. She runs Utah Light Ministry. Are you familiar with Ms. Tanner?

JV: I don’t…no.

HH: Okay, well then, I’ll leave it. He’s afraid that there was some anti-Mormon agenda here. Do you think that’s a concern that ought to be legitimized?

JV: I don’t think…no, I don’t think that that’s a fair description of the…perhaps some of her pals might have been, I don’t know, but it wasn’t…in the film, we were trying to be accurate. And I think if you talk to Chris Cain, who is the co-writer, and really, and the director of the film, so a writer in many more ways, you will find a very fair guy, and someone who really isn’t out to do anything, bring shame to the Mormon faith or the Mormon people.

HH: Have you run into the sort of Mormon…and I do, I’ve been covering the Mormons for ten years, and so I know they’re a little reflexive when I did it for PBS, I’ve done it for Mitt Romney. They do get hit with a lot of brick bats out there. I mean, Al Sharpton just this week said you know, the real believers in God will defeat Mitt Romney. Do you think ani-Mormon bigotry is real in this country in 2007?

JV: Boy, these questions. I don’t…here’s the deal. We know very little…generally speaking, people know very little about the Mormons. I mean, you have to really go to work to find out anything about them, so I would say of the people who go to work and they have a fair estimation, and people who have friends who are Mormons, you know, we have respect for many Mormon people in our Congress. There are about 14 people…

HH: Harry Reid.

JV: Very…yeah, and there are good guys, too.

HH: (laughing)

JV: (laughing) I don’t want to take a slap at anybody, really, here. I just…but there are very hard working servants of our country, very patriotic people. Mitt Romney’s certainly one of those.

HH: Now in your assessment of whose going to be the next president, and we’re going to now transition to the war and come back to your career and come back to the film, what do you most want in a commander in chief?

JV: Well, I think you have to have many things. One is someone who is able to look beyond partisanship and see what’s right for the country, and understand what’s really happening. In this day and age, you really have to know who the enemy is, and not be distracted from that, because we’re facing an enemy, in my estimation, that is similar to…I mean, this is more akin to 1938 than anything else, in we’re dealing with a totalitarian aspect that is very, very pernicious. And as we can see, it has no borders. I mean, this incident that just happened a couple of days ago…

HH: The Fort Dix six.

JV: These kids were from Kosovo, who we went to defend against the Serbs to protect these people, do you see? And they have no allegiance to our country, or any gratitude. They’re coming to do as much damage, and to destroy our democracy.

– – – –

HH: Jon Voight, not only fun movies like this one [Mission Impossible] and Anaconda, Camp Fun, but great movies, and Coming Home was what your Oscar was for. It’s an anti-war movie. It’s understood as an anti-war movie. In fact, I was with my brother-in-law this morning, retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, said to say hi, but not to your co-star in that movie, for whom he has no use. And the question is, were you anti-war at the time that Coming Home was? And what’s the difference between Vietnam and the war that we currently find ourselves in?

JV: Well, there’s a big difference, isn’t there? A big difference between Vietnam and this war. We’ve been attacked on our own soil here, and we have…and the enemy might be our own neighbor, as was brought forth in a very vivid example by the attack on Fort Dix. This is a very different situation, and so…and I think we’ve learned things. I’ve learned things from the 60’s, and that time, and where my head was at that time, and I can see things in a different perspective.

HH: You’ve just…

JV: I think 9/11 really changed it for me.

HH: You’re a 9/11 person, as opposed to a 9/10 person. I read in your Radar interview that you’d just been to Walter Reed. Now I have the young men from the Semper Fi Fund up here, coming in a couple of weeks. They were here in December. They’re rehabbing at Camp Pendleton, been seriously wounded, but they’re making their way back. I have extraordinary, as do you, extraordinary respect for these people. Did they have confidence, the kids you met at Walter Reed, the kids you dined out with, we were at the same Marine Corps, dining out in Newport Beach a few months ago. Do they have confidence the war can be won?

JV: Yes, they do, and it was said repeatedly when I visited the troops, the wounded warriors at Walter Reed. And I must say, I wish, I wish I could have carried the entire United States with me to see these fellows’ faces, and to hear their words. These guys are really, these guys are top of the line. They are way beyond their peer group, in terms of strength of character, and understanding of what’s going on in the world, and their commitment to helping the United States. They’re just extraordinary people. And in the wake of their disabilities, which were happening by going to one room, and I said when did your injury happen? And I think because of Coming Home, and working with all the vets there, and the paraplegics and the quadriplegics, I know not to be shy to talk about everything. So where’s your injury? When did it happen? You know what I mean? And we get into it. Well, it happened two and a half weeks ago, Jon. I shouldn’t be here, says one of the guys, most of the guys. I shouldn’t be here. If that helicopter hadn’t shown up and the medics took me out five minutes after we went down in our humvee, we were, we had two bombs blow us up, or it would have blown up a city building, and you know, these guys came. And I was looking around for the guys who were moving on my team, and see if anybody made it, and they got me out of there, and they got here. So I’m a miracle. You’re looking at a miracle. And this is a guy with you know, half a leg on one side, and none on the other, and multiple injuries.

HH: Jon Voight, when I asked you that question, for a moment there, grief crossed your face, and not only because of the suffering, but something else. Why is that? Now you’re an actor. You could shine me on, but you’re not. Why does that touch you so much?

JV: Well, I mean, to see courage in any way is…it’s humbling, isn’t it? I mean, I go in there, these guys are great people, and I’m telling you door after door I go in, and they’re not looking for any kind of pity. And by the way, I would say pity will kill them. Don’t make them a case for pity. These guys are heroes. Let’s call them what they are. And they have great…and I say well, how’s it going? Well, I’m having a pretty rough day today, but it’ll get better tomorrow. You know, I mean, always with a positive. And when I came out of there, I felt great to be an American, and I felt very humbled, as I say, and moved, and I felt so great about the young generation.

HH: Now do enough of your colleagues in a business on which you are at the pinnacle, do enough of this? I know some do. I mean, Denzel Washington has done this, I know that a number of guys go over and tour, and a number of girls do. But does the industry as a whole make themselves available to the war effort, and know these young men and women?

JV: I think not enough, of course. I think that there are only a scattered few, but boy, the ones that do, you know, get tremendous, get something. They say you get what you give, but you get much more than you give here.

HH: And we’ll come back to this next hour. But briefly, why is your industry fundamentally clueless about the war. Hostile to Bush, I understand. They’re just Democrats. They’re just lefties. They don’t like Republicans. But what about the war? They don’t seem to get it.

JV: Well, there’s a…I have a lot of thoughts about that. Let me just say that there’s…and I don’t agree with the Bush bashing as being just a Democratic phenomenon. I think there’s something else afoot. Let me say this. My understanding of what it means to be an American is not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about a United States of America. And that means we’re all united to protect our great democracy without bashing our president, or our country in any way. And if you take a close look at the people who defend terrorists as if they are abused people, these people are usually abused people themselves in some form or another.

HH: And is that part of the Hollywood cluelessness, that they are…it’s a tough system to get lucky in. It’s a tough system to succeed in.

JV: It’s a tough system, but there’s a lot of things that go on. I mean, we’re very fortunate. Here, we get a tremendous amount of attention, and a tremendous amount of money for play acting, you know, and then when I go, it’s like going from one world to another, and then I see these guys who have come back, and I say holy smokes.

HH: I’d pay cash money to see you debate Sean Penn. Now he might be a friend of yours, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as fundamentally clueless about the world. And I don’t know if you want to comment about his statements. I know he might be a friend of yours. But how can you be that out of touch?

JV: Well, unfortunately, I’ve read a couple of his statements, and I find them disturbing.

– – – –

HH: This hour, I’m going to talk about his career and his politics. Some bio, German Catholic kid in Yonkers and White Plains, I mentioned that. You graduated from Catholic University, off to New York to act. You know, I interviewed Julie Andrews last week, and I saw in your bio you actually were a substitute Rolfe on Broadway. Were you opposite Julie Andrews at all?

JV: No, she never was on Broadway, Hugh. I was, I played opposite Mary Martin.

HH: Oh, of course, of course.

JV: And she was so great. When I…I mean, these great people, and she was the greatest musical talent, you know, and I was just a young actor, was just learning to act, and thinking that I knew the Stanislavski method, and this must have put me way ahead of these cornballs that were walking around the stages of New York. Well, I got up opposite Mary Martin that first night, and I tell you, she was amazing. I would…wherever I was on the stage, she would turn and look me in the eye, and she’d done the performance for two and a half years or whatever, and she was as fresh and clear as possible, and very, really engaged me, you know? And the only note I got after the performance…and I was very good that night because of Mary, and because of the other people, and because I was so damned nervous, I couldn’t make a mistake. But she was sensational. And the note that I got for the next night said please don’t upstage Mary, because in my need to have the stage, I was backing, and she was following me with her eyes. She turned her back to the audience, and followed me wherever I was. But anyway, I got a good lesson.

HH: Now was the Naked City before or after your debut as Rolfe, the young Nazi in waiting?

JV: I don’t know.

HH: Okay.

JV: The Naked City was a…that was an interesting thing, the Naked City, because I thought I had done very quite badly at that, as a matter of fact, not that we should go through the list of the things I think I’ve failed with, but that person who cast me in that Naked City was Marian Doherty, and she was the gal who continued to believe in me, even after that performance, and was the one responsible for me getting Midnight Cowboy finally.

HH: Now I want to talk about four films for which you were nominated, one for which you won the Oscar. Midnight Cowboy, very controversial in its time, the first X rated movie. I saw that you said nowadays, you and Rizzo would have to had been lovers if it was going to be cast in this period of time.

JV: No, I don’t…I never said that, but maybe Dusty…Dusty always like to stir the pot a little bit. Probably a Dustin quote.


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