Monday, July 26, 2010

Luciana Paluzzi discusses The Green Slime (1968)

Brett Homenick and Luciana Paluzzi in July 2010. Brett interviewed Ms. Paluzzi in 2007 about her appearance in the enduring cult classic The Green Slime.

(Originally published in G-FAN #81, fall 2007)

Luciana Paluzzi is an Italian actress who has worked all over the world in many notable films. She’s best known as the villainess Fiona Volpe in the James Bond film Thunderball (1965), in which she starred opposite Sean Connery. She’s also appeared in the original Hercules (1958), with Steve Reeves, and the 1964 film Muscle Beach Party, with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. When it comes to television, she starred in the series Five Fingers for 20th Century Fox and appeared in more than 25 TV movies and series, including Hawaii Five-O and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. G-FAN readers, however, will know her as Dr. Lisa Benson in The Green Slime. Ms. Paluzzi spoke with Brett Homenick about her starring role in that popular cult film.

Brett Homenick: How’d you get involved with The Green Slime?
Luciana Paluzzi: It was an MGM picture, and it was originally called Battle Beyond the Stars. I was asked to do the role. I went to Japan, and I did it. That’s how I was involved.

BH: When you were in Japan, what were your living arrangements like?
LP: I was in a beautiful hotel, and it was very, very plush.

BH: Do you remember anything that went on in the preproduction meetings?
LP: No, because we went to work immediately. I arrived there, and two days later, we did the costumes, and we started to work. You know, it’s (a) long time ago, so I don’t remember exactly what happened. I only know that there was a translator on the set because the director (Kinji Fukasaku) was an adorable man, but he didn’t speak a word of English, nor did the crew, nobody. So everything had to be translated from English to Japanese and from Japanese to English.

BH: You mentioned him a little bit, but just say a few more words about working with Mr. Kinji Fukasaku, the director.
LP: He knew what he was doing. (He) was very skilled, having directed this genre before, and that is why they chose him, because of his work and his reputation. He knew exactly what he had to do, and he was used to direct(ing) these kind of pictures. There were no delays, he came very prepared on the set, and everything went very smooth and very fast. But at the same time, he was just so nice and so nice to the crew, and he was really a very nice man. I heard that he died not long ago.

BH: That’s right.
LP: Which year did he die?

BH: I think he died in early 2003.
LP: Too bad. I remember him with great affection. He was very efficient, and a very good director. I don’t know why they decided to change the title after. I never knew the story behind that because, of course, the other title was a little bit nicer! But it doesn’t matter; it’s still much like a cult picture because recently -- not recently, but last year, I participated in a signing where the stars sign photographs and autographs, and the second-most requested photo, after the James Bond movie that I did, was The Green Slime. It’s very strange because I’ve done so many more interesting films in France, in Italy, in Spain, in the United States, all over the world, and The Green Slime was the second one. The fans came with posters that they wanted to have signed. So I guess it’s a cult picture.

BH: It is. A lot of people have grown up with it, and it remains very popular to this day among people who saw it when they were children.
LP: That is wonderful, especially when you think that much more important films and actors have been forgotten by the younger generation. Not long ago, we were having dinner in a restaurant, and our waitress had no idea who Grace Kelly was, and The Green Slime still survives. Go figure!

BH: Another question that I had regarded Robert Horton. What was it like to work with him?
LP: He was very professional. I have worked with actors that were great actors, but at the time, were going through crises in their life like Richard Burton and Lee Marvin. I did a picture with them (The Klansman, 1974), and it was a period where they were drinking, they wouldn’t show up in the morning, and Terence Young, the director, had terrible, terrible crises on the set because of their behavior. But Mr. Horton was absolutely professional and very, very good at what he was doing. You know, in reality, none of our roles were very demanding! But I never had any kind of friendship with him. I used to talk a lot to everybody else but him.

BH: What was it like to work with Richard Jaeckel?
LP: As I said, adorable, nice.

BH: Well, what about some of the local actors? I don’t know if you would remember any of their names, but Robert Dunham and Kathy Horan were some of the local actors who appeared in the film. Do you have any memories of working with them?
LP: No! The only memory that I have, it was my first picture in Japan, and I did an interview with a lot of journalists present. Somehow, I’m trying to remember how it went, but I know that it provoked a little bit of -- not a scandal, but they asked me a question which led me to answer, “Well, if I were born here, I would rather be a geisha girl than a wife,” and everybody was shocked. They were translating it into Japanese, and I still remember the faces of the people, they looked at me in a bewildered way. I think it was a little bit of a revolutionary answer, so I said, “Well, the wife has to stay home, and they are not allowed to say anything, and they just have to raise the kids, clean the house, and the geisha girls have all the fun. They go out, they talk to the men, discuss politics, world events, laugh with them.” So I remember that there was a long silence in the room, and finally everybody started to chuckle. I wished I knew what they were saying! It came out in all the papers the next day: “Luciana wants to be a geisha girl”! Which I meant in a nice way, but at the same time I meant to be a little provocative because I was feeling sorry for the wives! Of course, things have changed a lot since then. Many years have passed.

BH: Wow, that’s very interesting! (laughs) Well, what I’ve heard is that the aliens in the film were actually played by children wearing suits. Is that your memory of it?
LP: Yes, you’re right.

Ms. Paluzzi holds a copy of G-FAN magazine. Photo courtesy Luciana Paluzzi.

BH: Were there any accidents that happened on the set, anything involving special effects, or just anything?
LP: No, not that I recall.

BH: Do you have any other interesting stories from the set?
LP: No, I’m terribly sorry. I know that things all went very smooth because, as I said, the director was so well-prepared, and there were no delays. It was like a general came on the set, and everything was going scene after scene after scene. I don’t think we were a day late. I’m sorry, I have many more things to tell you about other movies including Thunderball, but The Green Slime was pretty smooth!

BH: What did you think of the film when you saw it?
LP: You know, for the time that they did it, I thought that it was well-made. Today, of course, it’s so passe, it’s so old-fashioned, but at the time, I thought that it was a fun movie. I mean, it’s not my kind of movie, I don’t like science fiction in general. I did the movie because I thought it would be fun to go work in Japan , because it was a different culture, because it was something different from what I’ve done before, and I never did it again. But I had a great time, and I liked the movie when I saw it because I thought, you know, for what it was at the time, it was well-done. And I guess it was because, as you say, at the time the kids were interested in it. But today, it looks really (like) what it was, (a) 40-year-old picture.

For more information about Ms. Paluzzi, please visit her official Web site: http://lucianapaluzzi.com.

3 comments:

  1. Brett, what a great interview with a neat and classy lady! Of course I've seen her in Thunderball but never really knew the whole backstory of her fascinating career and c.v.
    Thanks for sharing this!
    best,
    r/e

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  2. You're quite welcome, Jay. It was certainly my pleasure to interview Ms. Paluzzi, a truly classy lady!

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  3. So cool you got to meet her. To me she's one of the ultimate cult actresses like Laurie Zimmer etc.

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