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I was hoping that William Gray’s answers to my questions would go up yesterday, the actual The Day The Earth Stood Still To Watch The Original Movie Day – but a mistaken read of his original email response led me to believe that he wasn’t interested in answering questions. My fault. I thought I had things covered in the comprehension department, but I guess not.
Anyway. Who is Wiliam Gray and why does what he have to say about The Day The Earth Stood Still have any importance?
Because William Gray is Billy Gray – the actor who starred alongside Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal in the movie, playing Bobby Benson, that’s why!
I haven’t done extensive research, but I believe that Mr. Gray is the last surviving member of the original movies’ cast.
I was therefore kind of surprised that no one had bothered to get in touch with Mr. Gray regarding the remake. I waited to see if anyone would – but such never materialized, so I decided to give it a go myself. A brief search revealed his website – www.billygray.com – and this picture right up front:
Given his caption, I figured there was a decent chance he’d be willing to answer questions – and he was.
COF: You display the above picture on your website and caption it as your favorite. What was it about that photo/scene that makes it your favorite?
Billy Gray: The acting
(I gather that Billy is referring to the sense of awe and wonder that Bobby is displaying – the same expression we all had when watching the movie for the first time.)
COF: Were you eager for the role, or was it ‘just another job’?
BG: The Latter
COF: Who among the cast and crew stood out, and why?
BG: Robert Wise, because he was so nice.
(Robert Wise was the director)
COF: When you read the script, did you get its ‘message’? Did you think of it as a ‘red scare’ film at the time?
BG: I didn’t get ‘the message’. I don’t think it was a ‘red scare’ film.
COF: Did you think the GORT mock up was ‘creepy’ or ‘keen’?
BG: It was just a prop to me
COF: Were you a science fiction fan at the time the movie was made?
BG: Not then and not now.
(Oh well…can’t have everything)
COF: What did you take away from the experience of making this movie that has stayed with you?
BG: The ‘diamonds’. But somehow I lost them
COF: How many times have you watched the original version of the movie?
BG: About two dozen times and it still holds up, but I don’t remember seeing it when it first came out.
COF: What are your thoughts about the remake?
BG: What balls! or it might be just mindless cashing in on the movie’s good rep. We’ll see.
COF: Do you plan on seeing the remake?
Mr. Gray also urged me to encourage everyone to visit www.nti.org by saying -
People should support the Nuclear Threat Initiative: What with all the mad men in the world: 57 years later – it is still the most important movie ever made and should be required to be viewed and discussed, in school, by all, by the seventh grade!
Mr. Gray closed with this post script: All the press the title is getting will mean that the first one will be REVISITED on DVD and that is GOOD! SO IT DOSN’T MATTER IF THE NEW ONE IS JUST FOR GREED OR NOT.
I think Mr. Gray has a bit of a sense of humor (what did you take away from the film – the diamonds: lol) but I think it is also pretty obvious that despite the distance of 57 years, the experience has stayed with him.
Mr. Gray continued acting for a number of years, appearing (according to IMDB) in The Vampyre Wars as recently as 1996. He is probably best known for his portrayal of ‘Bud’ in the 50s classic television series ‘Father Knows Best’.
He is also the inventor of the ‘F1′ guitar pick and spent a number of years as a Class A motorcycle racer. Given the other links on his website and the invention of the pick, I’m going to guess that he also has a thing for surf music…
I really appreciated William giving me the time to answer a few questions regarding TDTESS. I hope to follow-up after he’s had a chance to see the remake.
And – Klaatu? Bobby lost his diamonds. Do you think you could give him a couple more?
Tomorrow, the remake hits the theaters. I’ll be going and will be doing a review. I’m going to try my best to deliver an unbiased take on it – and I hope the rest of you all chime in and let me know whether I did or not.