Stanley Kubrick: Five legendary stories of the filmmaker 'with the black eyes'

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“You’re never going to say one word against Kubrick because you worship the guy. See, I am totally irreverent about it!” McDowell taunted Full Metal Jacket star Matthew Modine, who actually nodded agreement.

Kubrick was such an iconic, mysterious, and fearsome presence in life that many who worked with him for the first time went to great lengths to ingratiate themselves.

When  Modine was hired for the lead in Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam war saga Full Metal Jacket, he thought he had the perfect way to win Kubrick’s affection.

“A friend of mine told me about Stanley Kubrick’s photography background. He gave me an old Rolleiflex camera. He said, ‘You should learn how to use it, and show up on the set with it and it’ll break the ice. You can become friends with Stanley Kubrick!’

“I started teaching myself to use this beautiful old twin-lens reflex camera. It’s beautiful, and I showed up on set with it around my neck – wanting Stanley to say something about my camera. Finally he got really annoyed and said, ‘What are you doing with that old piece of s–t camera?’”

Kubrick tried to get him to pick up a state-of-the-art Minolta, but Modine stuck with his Rolleiflex, and recently published a book with his photos and memories from that long-ago set.

“He becomes like the Great and Powerful Oz,” Modine said of the filmmaker. “This image of Stanley Kubrick is projected onto our consciousness, but he was just a menschy Jewish kid from the Bronx who was hiding behind a curtain.”

The Academy event was coordinated in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Stanley Kubrick exhibit, which runs through next June. Another exhibit, Stanley Kubrick: The Ultimate Trip, can be seen by the public at the Academy’s headquarters through March 3.

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