STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: It seems to be an unlikely pairing: Klaus Kinski, the German actor who has appeared in more than 175 foreign films, most notably as a variety of bizarre, possessed Old World characters; and Roger Corman, the producer at the helm of New World Pictures and a longtime master of quick, cheap and sometimes purposefully tawdry moneymaking films. But Corman and Kinski are now working together on an upcoming project, a science fiction film titled "Android," set on an isolated space station 50 years in the future. Kinski, who's played his share of monsters (including a ravaged Dracula in Werner Herzog's "Nosferatu"), isn't playing the title character this time--instead, he's the mad scientist responsible for the Android.
"I always watched space things on television. I like this," said Kinski in dented--if not totally broken--English on a day off from the fast four-week shooting schedule. "And I tell you, I liked it most when I saw an American space thing--I don't remember the name, but it was with, how you say, not real people. With dolls. Not animation or drawing, but with dolls, no actors. I liked this most of all. It gave more space for your fantasy. But that doesn't mean I took it into my head to do a space movie next time, because if that had been so I could have done it before now.
"People always ask me why why why, why do I sign to do this movie? I don't know why most of the time. I just do it. People always think you have to deliver the answers. And directors . . . in the old school, a director explains to you for an hour what he wants you to do. I say, don't explain it in so many words, just tell me what you think and I'll do it. I don't need so much explanation. They explain to themselves, but I don't need them to explain to me a thousand times. And most of the times they explain things you cannot see on the screen anyhow. It does not make any sense. I say, 'Look, why don't you go into all the theaters the movie will open in and talk to the audience and explain these things to them, because they will not see it on the screen.'
"So when they ask me why I pick movies, I do not know. I refuse to deliver answers. If everything's okay with the dates and the money, okay. Maybe the only reason is that I haven't been to a country yet. They offered me a job in Peru, I said, 'Peru, Peru . . . I haven't been there yet, Peru seems to have to do with very strange things, so let's go. I'll do this movie.' That is how I decided to sign."
The film in Peru, of course, is Werner Herzog's notorious "Fittzcaraldo," an epic biography set in the South American jungle that reportedly involved one of the most grueling production schedules of recent years; Jason Robards and Mick Jagger both dropped out of the film, and all their footage had to be scrapped. The film recently opened in Cannes to mixed reception, but Kinski is still fuming over what he calls the "lying" accounts of the reported difficulties on the set.
"People overdid it so much. Tough? Of course it's tough. That's what you're paid for. But it was one of the most fantastic times I had in nature in my life. Wild nature is great to be in, though when I see it filmed on the screen I think it's a sacrilege, but all that talk of poisonous snakes . . . of course, there are millions of them, but you hardly see them most of the time. They are not coming to you in the morning saying, 'Hello, I am a poisonous snake, can I talk to you?' We saw them maybe three, four times. In five months. It's just like you do a film in Los Angeles and complain about how terrible the traffic. Everybody knows how terrible it is. You just don't cross the street at the wrong moment, that's all."
Here's another curious collaboration: Directors Steven Spielberg ("E.T.," "Close Encounters") and John Landis ("Animal House," "The Blues Brothers Movie"), Joe Dante ("The Howling") and George Miller (the acclaimed new action film "The Road Warrior"). Apparently, all four like things that go bump in the night, because they're independently producing 20-minute episodes of the "Twilight Zone" for the big screen this Christmas. At Spielberg's urging, the four directors will make their segments--two original episodes and two remakes of all the television shows--on small budgets and tight schedules, then compile the four into a full-length "Twilight Zone" movie.