Actress Candy Clark was the driving force behind the release of the director’s cut of the seminal ’70s sci-fi flick “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” which will screen at the Plaza Classic Fest this Saturday, Aug. 13. The actress will sign autographs from 2-3 p.m. in the El Paso Community Foundation Room.
Clark embodied the character of Mary Lou, the love interest of star David Bowie, who portrayed the beleaguered extraterrestrial Thomas Jerome Newton. He crash landed on Earth in search of a method to ship water to his home planet.
Clark led a campaign to launch the director’s cut of the Nic Roeg film, which had been edited down to two hours for cinema play. She will appear with the film’s screening at 9 p.m. for a question and answer session.
We recently spoke to the actress about her fight to get the director’s edition back in theatres and her various journeys to the Southwest.
Q. I know this isn’t your first venture to El Paso. You filmed another movie here, “When Ya Comin’ Back Red Ryder?”
(Laughs) Exactly! El Paso was really tiny then; that was way back in the ’70s. I’m sure it’s really blossomed and gotten a heck of a lot bigger.
Q. You were the major force in getting the director’s cut of “The Man Who Fell To Earth” released in the ’90s.
I just never gave up on that film. I was so crushed when the U.S. distributor mangled it. The original director’s cut is two hours and 23 minutes and the distributor, Cinema 5, had cut out 23 minutes. It destroyed the film; it became so incomprehensible. They had hired this guy who edits commercials. He didn’t know anything about the film; he was just trying to edit it down to less than two hours.
He butchered it and the director, Nic Roeg, and his editor had spent over a year editing it, and it was chopped up in less than a week. It was totally heartbreaking. I was supposed to go on a tour to promote and [the distributor] wanted me to lie and say that was the director’s vision. There was just no way I could do that … because I knew what was there prior to the chop job.
Q. Was Nic Roeg devastated?
Totally! He put a lot of work into it. I think it’s one of his best films.
Q. From the time it was released in 1976 until the release of the director’s cut, were you steadily working on it?
I was lying in wait for the owner of Cinema 5 to retire. He left, and that’s when I got on the phone with new management. I pitched hard and it all turned out great. I told them I’d go on tour with it and I told them, ‘You’ll have lines around the block.’
Q. Was that the case?
Yeah. There were people wanting to see it. David Bowie has a big fan base.
Q. You all shot in Santa Fe, right?
We were based in Albuquerque. We shot in Santa Fe, in Alamogordo. The other planet is White Sands and Alamogordo. David and I played the husband and wife on the other planet.
Q. Tell me about Mary Lou.
She’s a lonely character who works at a hotel as a housekeeper. I instantly fall for David’s character. We lived together. I turned him on to alcohol. We have a real long relationship.
Q. What was the chemistry like between you and David?
He was very easy to work with – a real pro, happy, upbeat, contributing. When the day was over we weren’t socializing. He had his entourage like a rock star would.
Q. Were you star struck?
I hadn’t seen him onstage before we started working; I only saw him onstage after, and then I became very star struck. Before that, he was just an actor who wanted to be a musician. I was really happy I hadn’t seen him onstage before because I would’ve been too gaga!