Stanley Kubrick: A director who didn’t care how many takes it took

The key to working with Stanley Kubrick, who died this week, was not to be frightened of him, says actor Philip Stone

The Shining was my third film with Stanley Kubrick. Back in the 1960s he'd seen me on the London stage, in a David Storey play called The Contractor. He told me I acted like an American actor, in that I didn't really do much acting as such. He liked the way I listened.

So I turned up at Brunel University in Uxbridge, west London, where he was on location, and was given a part in A Clockwork Orange, not knowing it would turn into this cult movie. He told me, "We could do some great work together." He worked you incredibly hard. I'd be on the set from 6 in the morning until 6 in the evening, and then it was back into London to go on stage.

A few years later I was in a production of An Inspector Calls in the West End, and Stanley's people contacted me again. He wanted me to go out to Ireland for Barry Lyndon. I couldn't just walk out on the production I was in, so I had to decline. Months later, he was still working on Barry Lyndon, and he tried me again. So I went off on location in Wiltshire. "It's good see you again, Phil," he said. "Stick around." I was supposed to be there for six weeks. It took 18. Once I spent a week in my caravan, made up and in costume, and he never used me.

Stanley simply went on and on. There seemed to be no limit on how much time he could spend on anything. He was rather quiet, with an utter dedication. He spent a lot of time looking at scenes through his spyglass. He was such a perfectionist, and so on the ball, though he never seemed to say very much. He had this tremendous authority, and a slightly wicked sense of humour

You didn't mess with Stanley. I saw him get upset and swear, and at least one famous actor fell foul of him. The thing was not be frightened of him. I was never frightened of him, which was why we got on so well. For The Shining I spent two weeks on the set in Elstree. My scene with Jack Nicholson lasted about eight minutes. We shot it 50 or 60 times, I should think - always in one take. Then Jack Nicholson, Stanley and I would sit down and look at each take on a video. Jack would say, 'That was pretty good, wasn't it, Stanley?' And Stanley would say, 'Yes it was. Now let's do it again'.

It took a long time to get the confidence to do it right. Stanley wanted the sense of me as a ghost. "Don't go too quickly," he told me. "Slow it down, slow it down." I never minded how long anything took with Stanley. I was an actor. It was my job to do it if that was what was wanted. I remember Jack Nicholson turning to me and saying, "I'm told you've been in three Stanley Kubrick films. That must be some kind of a record."

In the book the encounter takes place in the ballroom, surrounded by people. Stanley felt that wouldn't work. He wanted somewhere quieter. So it was his idea that Delbert accidentally spills his drink on to Jack Torrance, to give him an excuse to take him to the gentlemen's room to clean him up. One time I somehow managed to get the drink to lodge in the crook of Jack Nicholson's arm without it spilling. Stanley said, "I bet you can't do that again, Phil." And of course I did.

Stanley was only really interested in whether you could do a job well. In that sense it was as if one was just a plumber. He wasn't like, say, Lindsay Anderson, with whom I'd worked on O Lucky Man! But then Lindsay had a background in theatre, he had sympathy with actors. You couldn't expect Stanley, who'd only ever worked in film, to understand what strange people actors were.

Still, you had to have a tremendous amount of patience. If you did a film with Stanley, you were married to him. There was nothing else in your life.

Philip Stone was talking to Jon Gee

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable