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Barry Lyndon: location scouting

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Barry Lyndon: working with Kubrick again
Ken Adam Artist
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[Q] Okay, now having said that you weren't going to... you thought you wouldn't... weren't going to work with Stanley Kubrick again, that turned out not to be right.

No, it... it turned out not to be right, and also I've got some letters of Stanley, in which he said – because I managed to, you know, get out of the other films – and he said, 'You're behaving like a star but a star can go...' It's quoted in one of these books here. And, but if Stanley wanted you he always found you, and I was working on a picture in the South of France and suddenly there's a phone call from Stanley. That he's doing this picture, Barry Lyndon, 'Very economically', he said, you know. 'I'm shooting it all on location and I think it would be just right for you, because you've done too many studio pictures', and so on. But, he said, 'I can't pay you your money'. And I wasn't making a lot of money, at the time. So I said, 'Stanley, be my guest', you know, and he said, 'Well, I'm... I'm afraid I'll have to take the next best production designer', you know, and I said, 'Okay'.

I went back to where we were staying in the South of France and said to Letitzia, 'My God, thank God I got out of this', you know, because I was really frightened. And then four weeks or five weeks passed, another phone call from Stanley, and now it's a quite different Stanley. He could... could be like a little boy, on the phone, you see, and he said, 'Ken, for some reason or another, the second best production designer didn't seem to know what I want and you really have to do this picture, and your fee is no problem', and all this and all this and all this, and all that. And then in the end, he talked me into it, you know.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: South of France, Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick, Letizia

Duration: 2 minutes, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 11 November 2011