Academy Award Winning Special Effects Supervisor Brian Johnson (Alien, The Empire Strikes Back, The Never Ending Story) talks with TV Store Online about his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, working with Stanley Kubrick and why Kubrick refused to fly. A special thanks to Will McCrabb for the photo above.
We were working on the blacked-out sound stage shooting one of the models and we were chatting and somehow the conversation turned to flying. I was quite keen on lite aircraft flying and Stanley said, “You know, I’ve given up flying and you should too…” Shortly after this, issues of the big glossy American magazine Flying would appear on my desk at the studio ever month from Stanley and he would put notes throughout the issue for me to review. He would comment on various things about flying lite aircraft. Months passed and while we were waiting for some film to develop or something or other, he said, “How is the flying going?” I said, “I’m flying Gliders and some power engines now…” Then he responded with, “You know, I learned how to fly.” I said, “Did you?” I had no idea about this when he mentioned it to me. He then went on to tell me about how when he had learned to fly and how when he had went up on his first or second solo flight about how he had frozen at the controls. He said that he got scared but that he had managed to land the aircraft and that after that he decided that he would never fly again even with a professional pilot at the controls.
He also would talk to me about the film he wanted to make after 2001. He said, “I’ve got a couple things that I’m working on. One I can’t talk about now, but the other is a film about Napoleon.” I said, “Brilliant.” He said, “I just have one problem… I’m gonna play Napoleon!” (Laughing) I thought that he was joking with me because he would do that sometimes, but then again, how many times over the years since 2001 has that been speculated on? (Laughing) I said to him, “I don’t know if I like the idea of that!” He said, “Well, no one does…” (Laughing) —2001: A Space Odyssey interview series: Brian Johnson
Also, recommended reading: Stanley Kubrick on mortality, the fear of flying, and the purpose of existence; 1968 Playboy Interview.
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