What happened to it? The manager, Malcolm McLaren, really overextended himself. We had the sets built and we had it cast.
We shot three days and then they folded the show. I guess Johnny Rotten and I have joined forces. No, but I did a lot of rehearsing with them. Two of them are very intelligent, levelheaded guys—Jones and Cook.
Both had an intense hatred for McLaren. They would call me up at two in the morning to say unspeakable horrors about him. Rotten definitely had a charisma.
Vicious, reputedly and in the script, was fucking his mother. Marianne Faithful was cast for the part. Vicious embraced the sex scenes with his mother, but he objected to us showing them shooting up. Was McLaren in the film?
He wanted to be. He wanted to play the huckster. We had a man who was emulating Mick Jagger. And we had Darth Vader, who was Little John, the chauffeur.
Instead of four girls, I had four boys. He was dressed in livery and had a convertible Rolls Royce. This Mick Jagger character used a crossbow. We went out to a game reserve and were permitted to kill a small deer, because they multiply so. Anyway, they strap the deer to the hood of the Rolls, and it careens through the countryside.
It looks like those folks over there could stand a square meal. Probably Vicious would still be living. What kind of budget did you have on the film? They never really knew, because McLaren had no conception of what it would cost. We did some eight versions of the script. This is too complicated. And I have to include myself in that. Originally McLaren had committed no more than , pounds, with no expense for the Sex Pistols, who wanted a big salary, of course. Everyone was pulling their hair.
And then, I understand, Princess Grace got involved in it. She was going to pull out all support of Fox in Europe. Anyway we cast the picture. We literally built every set on stages, shot three days, and then McLaren blew the whistle. He was really a zealot. He had fire in his eyes.
But instead he determined that he would bring them over and that the young people in the States would assume the same attitude that the young people in England had.
It played fifty-four weeks in Aurora, Illinois, and that town has a population of around 17, people. They saw it many times. Why did it take off like it did? Well I suppose that in a sense it was so frank for its time. And a lot of it had to be attributed to Erica Gavin. She had a quality that also appealed to women. And women came in great numbers. Where did you find Erica Gavin? She was a stripper. But Erica had a curious quality about her. Where is she now? She did very well.
It was an excellent film. So far the numbers are good. If you make it for a price, you can make a lot of money. You waste your time and your money in pumping too much into exploitation. Ebert was out of it when he put that down on paper. She had a couple of Pomeranians, and she would lock them inside all day, and they would just devastate the room. We had to really reach for another ending.
She went and you just never saw her again. The picture is the most successful film I have on cable television—or hotel-vision—because you never have to come in at the beginning. It could be a loop. What does it all mean? No problems at all. We had one sequence which would have been good. It dealt with a man named Mr. Fructman, who was supposedly the head of Ajax Studio, in which he chased and then assaulted a young lady in a suite of offices—one of the girls.
Maybe it struck too close to home. Glad to see your red Cadillac on the lot on Sunday. Was it a surprise to you that it took off as well as it did? They just stopped distribution. It could have been a much bigger hit if I had distributed it. It was still one of the biggest moneymakers of the year. But it could have made twice or three times that much money. It could do it now.
This film needs word of mouth. All my films need word of mouth. We have to play in one theater on the boulevard. The potential that exists for that film, even in mid- night shows, is phenomenal. Nothing will happen with that film because they will not make any more prints. The prints you have to look at now are in shit condition. I thought I would cut it to an R. But I will not cut any more films to an R.
And they wanted sixty percent. It just was not feasible. I wanted to use Erica Gavin in a small part, and I had to approach the casting department of 20th Century-Fox. Every studio boss had his group of yes-men. Zanuck certainly had his, though some of them I admired very much.
There were two executive vice-presidents—Zanuck and [John] Calley—both in charge of production. And what happened was a major conflict. It looked for a while like Zanuck was gonna make it. Disney supposedly liked that: John Carradine is the jailer. But the experiment is to go further. They take all parts of the body and give them to Vietnam veterans. But the brain controls the members, and all these guys commit suicide. They get the doctor there by holding his daughter for ransom and he reassembles the evil Belmondo, who then murders him.
The tumor is really making him freak out at this point. The intern is the hero. Zanuck and [David] Brown just left.