The acting and directing choices and abilities of the artists bringing UFO to us and how they influence the characters we get to see are quite intriguing. Especially when you compare them to what the very same actors do in other movies.
Having just now a discussion about what is in character, what the actors put there and what we – as writers – ought to at least notice, quite regardless of any decisions we make, I have given this some thought. Here I have something which may be intriguing to those among you who wish to have a closer look at the creative process of these characters, in this case that of Straker.
These here are screen shots of Ed Bishop in another role (not long after UFO) displaying emotions and expressions which he, in this form, never ever once used for Ed Straker.
If you click on them, there should be a larger version coming up (just use the back button to come back here or use the rightclick right away).
In case anyone wonders, no this character (Vincent Stackman) isn’t a nice guy, not even within a few miles of being one. He is a sadistic kidnapper of women, who he breaks via incarceration and whippings to being his lovers. In the line of that he cheats, lies, manipulates, charms and generally behaves in a rather unhinged manner. Really not nice.
What I personally find so very fascinating (and I went over all of my UFO DVDs and a couple of Bishop’s other movies) is that these precise emotions we get to see here are not repeated anywhere else I watched. Yes, his Mr. Smith undeniably was a scheming, cold killer, and Tom Siegler quite clearly smarmy at times. But neither showed the exact same emotions and characteristics as Vincent Stackman.
Certainly not Straker. The way Vincent seduces girls is really lightyears away from how Straker comes on to (or rather backpaddles from) Jo Fraser. Vincent is sassy, lies, is charming, suave and utterly sensual when faced with an object of desire. And it obviously doesn’t need even the full blast of Bishop’s acting to arrive there, that comes rather lightly, offhandedly.
By which it gets pretty clear that what we do not see from or in Straker is not missing because of any lack of acting capacity or knowledge in Bishop. The man really knew what he was doing. No, he and the directors obviously decided to not put it there in the first place. Which again gels with how Bishop saw Straker, namely a man without many relationships, and none of those few he had romantic or sexual. Bishop is known to say that Straker was basically asexual and this comparison shows that he did it to boot, he played him that way alright.
To me, as a writer, that means that I have to place trust into what these actors and the producers/directors did, and not fill in what I think should be filled in because I dislike what is there or would like what isn’t there.
Food for thought.
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Yes, I was lucky enough to be on set for that movie, PETS. What fun watching Ed go through all those emotions, but then come back to sit with Dale and myself as his real, loveable self. Only wish they’d let me take my camera on set and grab a bunch of pix as was my wont. But have a few candids from it that Ed gave me. A lovely time that summer (1973).