Keir Dullea is best known for his role as Dave in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which returns to UK cinemas this Friday 28 November:

Keir will be answering your questions about Kubrick, life, the universe and everything from 2PM GMT (9AM EST).


Keir's AMA is being hosted by the British Film Institute, whose team is helping him today.

UPDATE: I'd like to take this time to thank all you people who asked such interesting questions and have shown such an interest in 2001!

Comments: 333 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

Edoardocan111 karma

What is something people misunderstand or misinterpret about Kubrick?

KeirDullea170 karma

I’m often asked: was Kubrick a task master. The answer is no; anything but. He never raised his voice, he had a quiet droll sense of humor and was a man with great curiosity.

DeadChick110 karma

So what are you doing these days?

KeirDullea161 karma

Most of my work is in live theatre. I’ve done a few films in the last 10 years one being a film that Robert De Niro directed called The Good Shepherd. I also appear in a recent release:Space Station 76 and coming up in December in New York and Los Angeles is my most recent film: Isn’t It Delicious. However, the peek experience of my acting life took place a year ago at the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, when I was asked to portray the role of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I played the son (the Paul Newman role in the film) in the first Broadway revival of that play. To be asked 40 years later to come around full circle was a remarkable experience. I channeled the actor Fred Gwynne, famous for playing Herman Munster.

charlieoliver396 karma

Hi Keir, what is your secret to ageing so well?

KeirDullea150 karma

Thank you. I’m 18 months from 80. I think to some extend having great genes. Both my parents lived to 95. People were always commenting to and about my father and the fact that he always looked at least 10 years younger than his actual age. Also, I think the fact that, for the most part, I’ve been fulfilled in my life both personally and professionally and that kind of fulfillment keeps you young.

Zombiesnacks91 karma

Hi Keir, what is your favorite sci-fi movie?

KeirDullea249 karma

2001: A Space Odyssey

calcio162 karma

APART FROM 2001 ... what is your favourite sci-fi movie?

Do you enjoy the genre apart from being one of its greatest exponents?

KeirDullea146 karma

Yes, I enjoy sci-fi and Blade Runner is my other favorite of the genre.

OgGorrilaKing89 karma

Kubrick was a notorious perfectionist. Do you have any interesting anecdotes about that?

KeirDullea203 karma

On the first day of shooting, Stanley noticed my shoes and felt they weren’t right. We stopped shooting for the rest of the day until they found the right pair. Let’s face it, feet don’t play a huge role in films.

kerj74 karma

Have you (or anyone close to you) ever set your morning alarm to Also sprach Zarathustra, the iconic 2001 A Space Odyssey music?

KeirDullea86 karma

No, I hadn’t thought of that, but maybe I should!

KingOfCruel72 karma

What was your favorite scene you participated in?

KeirDullea250 karma

I think my favorite scene was where I’m dismantling HAL’s brain. It reminded me a bit of a famous movie and also play called Of Mice and Men when Lenny is speaking with George regarding their plans to start a farm. This is a scene that comes at the end of the film after Lenny has indadvertedly caused the death of a young woman. Now there’s a posse that is looking for him intending possibly to string him up. This discussion of their plans to start a farm has been heard throughout the film, and so with some love and compassion, with a hidden pistol behind his back George reviews their plans with Lenny and half-way through their discussion he shoots him behind his back to avoid him being killed by a posse of men. In some way, emotionally, that scene from Of Mice and Men affected the way I played the scene with HAL.

michelledeidre62 karma

What preparation or research did you do before filming 2001? Did Kubrick give you any insight into how the character should be portrayed, or did he give you freedom to explore that?

KeirDullea116 karma

Not a lot. Don’t forget, Arthur C Clarke, who, aside from being the great writer that he was, was a scientist in his own right and was able to portray the future in such a specific way that the script in itself gave us everything we needed.

The only suggestion Kubrick gave overall was that he did not want us to portrayal scientists in the way they had been portrayed in grade B science fiction movies of the past, that is, men with goatees and outlandish clothes, speaking in some kind of pseudo babble.

One of the definitions I think of a great director is that they cast greatly. If you cast very well, and Stanley being the genius that he was did that in all his films, you don’t need to do a lot of direction, just give the actors the relaxation and space that they need and they will come through.

Marukustra60 karma

How did you get selected to play David Bowman in 2001?

KeirDullea91 karma

I don’t know for sure, but for some reason I seem to remember having been told that Stanley screened three of my films. One was a film for which I received a Golden Globe called David and Lisa. The second was the black and white version of Thin Red Line and the third were outtakes that Otto Preminger sent him from Bunny Lake Is Missing.

Dinger_dude54 karma

Have you seen Christopher Nolan's latest space film, Interstellar? What do you make of it?

KeirDullea78 karma

I haven’t seen it, but Gary Lockwood saw it and he enjoyed it a lot. His only criticism was related to the opening scene, but he found it visually enticing and he mentioned a scene in white which he understands was filmed in Iceland.

carbondry51 karma

Thanks for the AMA, Keir!. When working on 2001, did you think the film would become as popular as it did? Especially as a lot of the scenes were quite 'out there' for the time?

KeirDullea83 karma

Gary Lockwood tells me that he sensed it was going to become the iconic film that it is/ I knew we were in a film that was going to get a lot of attention when it was released. It was the largest budget that any science fiction film had ever had, plus the fact that Stanley Kubrick was directing it, and MGM was going to exploit it. However, I don’t think any artist, unless you’re a genius like Kubrick, can guess what the outcome of their work is going to be that far in the future. I don’t think the actors in Citizen Kane could have possibly known that the film would be studied in film schools 70 years later. Also, when 2001 was released it got terribly mixed reviews. Some were great, some were downright awful. In three premieres of the film, many people walked out. It is only through the passage of many years that it has become the iconic film that it is.

eldritch-princess48 karma

Have you read the Space Odyssey books? Which one is your favorite?

KeirDullea83 karma

I read Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was written simultaneously as he was working with Stanley Kubrick on the film.

Dr-Strangelove9541 karma

Hi Keir. What are your memories of shooting the stargate sequence and your reaction of the scene when you saw the finished film for the first time?

KeirDullea94 karma

The visual effects of my journey through time and space were created well after I had finished the film. Stanley filmed me mostly in close-up reacting to something that I actually wasn’t seeing. He created an old silent movie trick: he played some extraordinary music to put me in the mood. Specifically, a movement from Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia Antartica. If you’re interested, look it up and wait for a very mysterioso section of the piece. That’s what helped me react to something I wasn’t seeing.

ghornett35 karma

Keir, if you could have worked on another Kubrick film which one would it have been?

KeirDullea84 karma

Barry Lyndon

baxtermulligan28 karma

What's your favorite Beatles album?

KeirDullea67 karma

Abbey Road!

kdk12k2k1223 karma

Mr. Dullea, it is an honor to be able to correspond with you. Thank you for doing this AMA.

2001: A Space Odyssey will no doubt remain one of the greatest films of all time and your performance as Dr. Dave Bowman is a legacy that will enthrall audiences for as long as human beings (or any form of beings) exist. You should be beyond proud of the work you have done.

Stanley has been gone for fifteen years now but his works are as revered as ever - and I suspect they will continue to be. Any artist that produces a work that reveals failings, successes or progression in a species or in oneself has a chance to withstand time and possibly have their own immortality.

My question(s) to you is:

When you were making the film, do you think that you, Arthur C. Clarke or Stanley felt you were creating something that was pushing humankind to greater understandings? Of our nature or of life itself? Did Stanley ever discuss how he felt about what he was creating?

Do you think Stanley had any idea of the impact his life and his work have had on the world? If so, did he ever acknowledge it?

KeirDullea38 karma

I don’t think Stanley dwelled that much in the future other than his detailed perfectionism in creating the film. I think Stanley, in a zen kind of way, was in the moment. The moment being, whatever film he was working on at the time.

electricsugar23 karma

Dear Keir. Thanks for doing this AMA.

What's the most interesting interpretation of the end of 2001 you've ever come across?

KeirDullea84 karma

My own. I’ve always looked at the scene in that strange 16th century decorated hotel room as being a metaphor. Just as when we capture an animal, let’s say a polar bear, and we build an artificial cave in a pond for said polar bear in a zoo, the alien presence (which wisely Kubrick never decided to show) was able, after that journey through the stargate to play my mind as if it were a recording. So perhaps one day I walk through the Louvre museum through a 16th century room, in the eyes of the advanced alien presence that translates into a habitat. Being as advanced as they were, they didn’t have to build that room literally, but visually it was a metaphor for that transformation.

bostonbruins92222 karma

You worked with one of the greatest film makers of all time on 2001. What modern filmmaker would you most want to make a movie with? Do you see this filmmaker as having traits similar to Kubrick? Also what is your favorite color?

KeirDullea39 karma

Polanksi would be a filmmaker that I’d very much like to work with. Having met him, I think his personality is very different from Stanley’s, but I think he has some of the same genius. My favorite color is blue.

braidonbuck20 karma

First may I just say I love your work and as Bunny Lake is Missing is one of my favorites. So my question is what is your favorite memory from the film?

KeirDullea44 karma

Very few good memories due to the fact that Otto Preminger was a horror to work for. If you ever saw a film called Stalag 17 you will see Otto Preminger playing the Nazi commandant of the prisoner of war camp. Perfect typecasting. However, I have to say, that the high point for me, and perhaps the only high point, was working with Laurence Olivier.

calcio114 karma

Keir can you elaborate on why Preminger was such a prick and why Olivier was such a joy - also why was that THE ONLY high point of your career?

KeirDullea40 karma

It wasn’t the high point of my career; working with Olivier was the only positive experience about making the film (Bunny Lake Is Missing). Due to the stress of working with Preminger I was constantly forgetting my lines (I have never studied lines so hard in my life). Laurence Olivier took great pains to run lines with me over and over again. Someone overheard him approach Preminger privately and say: ‘Otto, dear boy, I wish you wouldn’t scream at the children’ and Preminger responded with: ‘Och, I’m too old to change!”

billybob99819 karma

What was the last movie you saw at the cinema, and are there any forthcoming ones you are particularly looking forward to?

KeirDullea49 karma

I saw a wonderful Swedish film a few weeks ago entitled Force majeure, which I enjoyed immensely. The acting was brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing Interstellar.

tge9013 karma

Did like sweet tea or hot tea?

KeirDullea39 karma

I don’t drink much tea, but when I do it’s usually rooibos tea. But normally I drink unsweetened black coffee.

smallstone8 karma

Hello! Lots of questions about 2001, but you did many more things in your career. Here are my questions:

  1. You once played Marquis de Sade. How did you prepare yourself for such a role?

  2. Any good stories about the filming of "Black Christmas"?

  3. You were in "The Good Sheperd". How was it to do a movie with Robert de Niro?

KeirDullea25 karma

I have no great memories of my own from Black Christmas, but after a series of murders of sorority women, the actress Margot Kidder was in a scene being questioned by the police. Realizing that the policeman interviewing her was not a rocket scientist, when he asked for her telephone number, she paused for a minute and said: felatio30917.

I enjoyed working with Robert De Niro - very quiet and easygoing man.