Monday, February 29, 2016

Remembering George Kennedy

I woke up this morning and found out that George Kennedy, an Academy Award-winning actor whose presence in a movie always took it to the next level, has passed away at age 91. For many years, I was fascinated by Mr. Kennedy's appearance in the Japanese end-of-the-world tale Virus (1980), and for a long time I tried to arrange an interview with him. My persistence eventually paid off, and in late 2011, we finally began communication.

I had just woken up early in the morning in Nakatsugawa, Gifu, to prepare a long trip to Tokyo to take part in a special Mechagodzilla event at the long-gone Cine Pathos Theater in Ginza in November 2011. Before leaving, I checked my e-mail and was floored to find one from Mr. George Kennedy himself, accepting my request for an interview.

We set up the date not long after that, and I called him up to ask my questions. Unfortunately, Mr. Kennedy was rather hard of hearing at this point, and his wife had to assist us with the questions. Just before Mr. Kennedy asked his wife to help, he said in passing that this interview was important to him, so he wanted to make sure he understood my questions. Suffice it to say, I was amazed that a man I grew up watching in countless films would say that about an interview with me, but Mr. Kennedy was truly an amazing man.

Japan was very special to him, and I think my interview gave him a chance to talk about it. He was interested in my life and experiences there, so we ended up swapping stories. After the interview, we stayed in contact, and I was very honored that he accepted my Facebook friend request.

I have posted my interview with George Kennedy on Vantage Point Interviews, so I'd encourage anyone interested in his life and career to read it. I'd also strongly recommend picking up a copy of his autobiography Trust Me, which is a great read.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kennedy. I'll always remember and appreciate the kindness you showed me.

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