Director of photography Mark Irwin reminisces about shooting ‘The Dead Zone’

The curse of being a director of images is you all the time get cropped out of images. “That’s how most cameramen are handled,” jokes Mark Irwin, whose left arm is pictured right here subsequent to director David Cronenberg in 1983, as they filmed Christopher Walken for ‘The Useless Zone,’ the big-screen adaptation of the Stephen King novel, at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Screaming Tunnel.

Toronto-born Irwin’s spectacular oeuvre contains such in style horror fare as ‘The Fly’ and the unique ‘Scream,’ in addition to the comedy classics ‘There’s One thing About Mary’ and ‘Dumb and Dumber.’ However after graduating from York College’s movie faculty in 1973, he needed to accept much less auspicious tasks. “I began capturing within the X-rated movie business in Toronto,” Irwin says, reminiscing in regards to the metropolis’s eclectic downtown artwork cinemas: the Pussycat, the Lumiere and the New Yorker. “These had been locations the place you’ll go to see the newest Bergman or Fellini movie, however which additionally had a hand in these rather more worthwhile [X-rated] movies.”

Cronenberg and Irwin labored collectively usually, however Irwin noticed ‘The Useless Zone’ as their collaborative peak. “Stephen King stated of all of the movie variations of his work, this was one of the best,” Irwin says. “These actors made the distinction, Chris Walken and that nice supporting forged.”

Irwin remembers the primary time he met Walken, whose character, Johnny Smith, wakes from a coma to find he possesses psychic talents: “We had been in Ajax, lighting the primary scene. My crew and I had been goofing round, doing [Dan Akroyd and Steve Martin’s characters] the Festrunk brothers from ‘Saturday Evening Stay.’ ‘We’re wild and loopy guys, placing a loopy mild right here!’ I flip round and Walken is standing within the doorway, and he has this look on his face of sheer terror. All of us froze, then all of a sudden Chris breaks the silence. ‘I, too. Am a wild. And loopy. Man.’ I noticed everybody was a complete stranger to him on set, and he was not comfy till he grew to become anyone else.”

Walken was not solely shy, however he was additionally nonetheless coming into his distinctive look. “Again then, Chris all the time wore … heavy eyeliner and mascara,” says Irwin. Walken later revealed this was to compensate for the “weak eyes” a director informed him he had when Walken was an impressionable teen auditioning on Broadway. “On that first day, David got here in to shoot the primary scene, and we tried to rearrange the lighting to take the main focus off of Walken’s eyes. The dailies had been despatched to the producer, Dino De Laurentiis, in New York. Halfway by the following day of capturing, there’s a telephone name from Dino. David goes right into a closet within the subsequent room and closes the door. We had been all lifeless silent, and we might hear Dino screaming by the telephone, ‘What the f–k!’

“The third day of capturing,” Irwin continues, “it was chilly and snowy, and a limousine pulls up. It’s Dino and he’s obtained that slick look, with a camel hair coat slung over his shoulders, and he goes to the make-up trailer. Dino’s yelling, in Italian, in fact, ‘If you happen to’ve been in a coma for 5 years, you don’t appear like Catherine Deneuve! Get that s–t off your face!’

“Then Walken steps again onto the set, and it appears like Dino shoved his face within the snow. He has no make-up on in any respect, not even fundamental movie powder, and that’s how they saved it the remainder of the film.”

Later, Walken informed Irwin, “Dino satisfied me I don’t want it.” Irwin agreed. “Chris wasn’t struggling to search out Johnny Smith, he was struggling to search out Christopher Walken. And he did. And that film was phenomenal due to his efficiency.”



Conversations are opinions of our readers and are topic to the Code of Conduct. The Star doesn’t endorse these opinions.


Leave a Reply