Eyes Wide Shut…

SIV ASIV DSIV BSIV CSUPERMANIA delivers not one, but two amazing exclusives in the same post with this double whammy of unpublished photos and the site’s FIRST ever interview with a member of the Superman IV production team!!

These incredible premiere location shots come courtesy of longtime Superfan and valued associate Alexei Lambley-Steel, (of A Tribute To Christopher Reeve) who obtained these from an anonymous press photographer whose only recollection of shooting them was being reprimanded for distracting Christopher Reeve (even though the star was happy to pose for him, top) during rehearsals for flying scenes (second pic) and horsing around with fellow cast members (third pic with Margot Kidder and Marc McClure).

These portraits are the perfect accompaniment to the recollections of Superman IV’s Production Accountant Jenny Robson, who was kind enough to answer some of SUPERMANIA’s questions recently below in this short interview…

So Jenny can you tell us how you got the job on the movie and what exactly your role was?

I was offered the job as Assistant Production Accountant after working on ‘Aliens’ at  Pinewood Studios the previous year. It was the same Production Controller and Accountant for both movies and they asked me to come and work for them again. The Assistant Accountant does all the ‘boring’ work such as being sent to the set when required by the cast & crew so I hated every minute!!

Had you worked on any other films at Elstree before Superman IV?

This was the first film & unfortunately the last film I did at Elstree.

What are your recollections of the time of shooting?  Are there any scenes in the movie you remember watching being filmed?

I remember more than anything being totally overawed by the whole production. I hadn’t worked on many large movies and whilst everyone else seemed to be very ‘cool’ and not at all impressed by what was going on, I would walk around absolutely thrilled and impressed by the whole thing. I think the ‘flying’ scenes, shot against the blue screen, where the most impressive and of course watching the stunt team at work.

And did you have any interaction with the cast?  Are there any insights you can share about the actors?

I met Gene Hackman, very charming but we didn’t really have a conversation as such, he always spoke to the Production Controller rather than me. I also met Margot Kidder who I must say I found rather aloof and not very friendly. She acted like a ‘star’! The one person I found very friendly and kind was Superman’s Stunt Double, but I cannot remember his name (Mark Stewart).  He would come over to our office and sit opposite me, usually when I had loads to do and chat away. He looked so similar to Chris Reeve it was uncanny.

What were your memories of Christopher Reeve and what interaction did you have with him?

Yes, I was sent to the set to give him some money. In those days the cast were paid a daily allowance for everyday expenses and it was always paid in cash. So, off I went to see Mr. Reeve (so excited!). When I got on to the set I was told to go right over and speak to him.  He was sitting away off from everyone else on a high stool and seemed to be asleep. I found out later that he always rested between takes with his eyes shut.  He was dressed ready for action in his fantastic Superman costume, make up done, the works. He looked amazing but, I thought, definitely asleep. So, I stood in front and said, very politely “excuse me, Mr. Reeve”. On that, he opened his eyes, smiled widely and said “Oh, just call me Christopher”.

Well, I was in the presence of this great man, I could hardly speak! Eventually, I told him that I had some money for him, so he kindly signed for it and then we both laughed when he realised that he had no pockets! At that time his personal assistant wasn’t around but she arrived soon after and took the cash from him.  What a moment – me & Christopher Reeve laughing on set together. I will never forget how charming he was to a lowly crew member and how blue his eyes were!!

Were you aware of the budgetary/production problems faced during shooting?  Were people noticeably concerned?

To be honest, No, I wasn’t aware of any problems but the Finance Team were always very conscientious and thorough about all of the accounting.

Did you see any of the flying scenes/special effects taking place and were they interesting to watch?

As I mentioned I saw Chris Reeve in one flying scene. It was almost impossible to know which one it was as it was all set against a blue screen. When I saw the finished movie I had no idea which scene I had watched being made.

Did you keep anything from the set and were you studio based or on location?

I was studio based and didn’t go on any location unfortunately.

What did you think of the finished film?  Did it reflect your experiences or did it live up to your expectations? 

At the time I thought it was a marvellous film, though how this would stand up to modern movie making is a difficult question to answer…

SUPERMANIA thanks both Jenny and Alexei for their time and incredible contributions…

7 Replies to “Eyes Wide Shut…”

  1. Margot had a very unstable past from what I understand. She had many emotional issues, and I think there was some tension between her and Chris on this movie. She seems very together today and has overcome her previous issues. This film was really a dissgrace. It hurts to watch because Reeve is one of my favorite actors and the best to play Superman ever. He deserved a much better send off than this botched project.

    1. I spent some time with Margot the week before Chris died and she was utterly engaging and had bucket loads of time for my babbling about Superman (although we mostly talked about Reeve’s accident – an unfortunate subject given the events that followed days later).

  2. The accountant chap comes across as terribly star struck and obsequious when it comes to Reeve, but those are some great photos to start the interview off nonetheless.

  3. Thanks for all your comments guys –

    I think its fair to say Jenny was suitably starstruck when meeting Chris in costume but overall I think you’ll agree her replies are honest and disarming and as she witnessed them. For me, it was a joy to read her recollections and did the job of taking us back in time and on the set admirably. Incidentally I met Margot too some years ago and she was simply a joy to behold – she just loves the fans and whatever troubles she may have endured throughout her life only serve as experience going forward. For however she was perceived back in the day she is an genuine ambassador for the Superman Movie series today…

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