McDowell said it was true the director was terrified of accidents, though Kubrick bristled at reports in the press that he wore a football helmet when riding in a car. “It’s a crash helmet!” McDowell recalled him clarifying.
Kubrick was also afraid to fly. “I remember once going into his study and he had his earphones on,” McDowell recalled. “He shushed me. I wanted to ask him something, and I thought, ‘What on Earth is he listening to? … Oh I know, he’s listening to the latest Herbert von Karajan recording of Beethoven’s 9th.’ And this went on for 20 minutes. Eventually he took them off and said, ‘Another near miss at Heathrow.’”
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