After Ray Bradbury passed away, many pundits said it was the quality of his writing that helped elevate science fiction beyond its pulp novel reputation.
And without a doubt, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 was a big step forward for science fiction on the big screen. 2001 proved sci-fi wasn’t just Buck Rogers / Flash Gordon stuff, and that the genre could also be poetic and beautiful.
In Shock Cinema magazine, Gary Lockwood spoke at length about co-starring in the film with Keir Dullea, and he remembered the experience quite fondly. Lockwood recalled that initially Kubrick wanted Paul Newman to play the role of either astronaut, but he demanded a million dollars and ten percent of the gross. When Lockwood was offered the role, he said, “Boy, that’s great. How much do we have to pay [Kubrick]?”
Lockwood knew Kurbicks’s work well, “He was the director,” and instead of auditioning, they played chess together at a bar in Manhattan. Lockwood lived in London while the film was being made, and one night in his apartment, he heard what sounded like a guitar blasting out of nowhere. It would last about a minute, then he wouldn’t hear it again for some time. Then coming home one day, Lockwood saw where the sound was coming from, when he spotted his upstairs neighbor, Jimi Hendrix.
The bright white space station set, which was located at Pinewood Studios “was incredible,” Lockwood recalled. “It was solid white and it was bright as hell. You had to wear dark sunglasses on that set. I was in awe of it.”
When 2001 first came out, there was endless debate as to what the movie really meant, and the reviews weren’t all kind, but the movie’s influence is very clear on all genres of films. Many directors used source music like Kubrick did post-2001 instead of hiring a composer to write a score, and in the late sixties and seventies it was a clear nod to Stanley.
In recent times, you can look at the first fifteen minutes of There Will Be Blood that have no dialogue as a tribute to 2001, which has no dialogue in the first 15-20 minutes with the apes.
And even if you’ve only seen 2001 once, there’s scenes and shots in the film you’ll never forget. “I have countless stories that I’ve heard over the years from fans of the film that can still remember the first time they saw 2001,” Lockwood tells Shock Cinema.
“ Where they saw it, and the impact it had on them and still continues to have. The film even changed people’s major in college for god’s sake. Keir Dullea and I were once interviewed at a screening of the film and the interviewer asked Keir if he knew, when he was working on the film, that it would turn out to be something so special. Now Keir is a very honest guy, he’s not a hustler like I am. And Keir said, ‘No I really didn’t, but Gary did.’ While we were filming 2001, I’d look at Keir and say, ‘Can you believe this?’ It is the greatest film ever made.”