The following is the unedited transcript of an interview with Paul Koslo conducted on February 23, 2001 for the unreleased book The Last Man on Film: Adaptations of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. © Copyright 2001 by David Brown and John Scoleri, and cannot be used or reprinted without our written permission.
Paul Koslo: Boy, you got a couple of minutes?
IAL Archive: Sure.
PK: I was born in Germany in 1944. When I was about four years old, the tanks used to go by our house and the whole block used to shake. It was such a big form of power. The GIs the English, used to, when the tanks rolled by, throw out Wrigleys Spearmint Gum and Hershey Chocolate Bars for the kids. I thought this was incredible and they became such mythical figures and gods to us, all power and things. Our parents, you know, their country has just been destroyed and they werent hanging around us that much. They were more trying to figure out what was going to happen to their country and they were hanging out in the Beer Gardens; all the neighbors, talking, wondering what they were going to do. When we found out there were Americans, we found out there were cowboys and Indians and our parents used to tell us stories about America, about cowboys and Indians. These Americans became like giants among men and all us kids started to fantasize, me especially because I knew I was a person; I could walk and talk like other people, but I only went up their knees. So, instead of having one-on-one relationship with our parents, we would usually go out and play, mostly cowboys and Indians. When I immigrated to Canada when I was six, I was fantasizing a lot, I saw my first film at the age of seven, about a year later, I saw Gordon Scott in Tarzan, King of the Apes. There was this fantasy in what I thought was real life like what I was thinking inside my head. And from that moment on, I knew I wanted to be an actor.
IAL Archive: Well, you finally did get to play cowboys and Indians on the screen. Youve appeared in several westerns-Joe Kidd, Conagher and Heaven's Gate.
PK: Yes, actually quite a few. Early on with like Gunsmoke and The Daughters of Joshua Cabe, with people like Leif Erickson, Karen Valentine, Don Stroud, Jack Elam, some of the old-timers. And, of course, things like with John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, Sam Elliot and Ben Johnson in The Sacketts, which was a big Louis Lamour western for me at that time, in probably 1976, I think it was.
IAL Archive: The earliest film role of yours we know of is The Losers. Was that your first movie?
PK: No. My first movie, since Im Canadian, I played Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, with Genevieve Bujold playing the little prostitute girl Sonia.
IAL Archive: The Losers was a strange hybrid of biker and Vietnam War flicks. Your character, Limpy, had a touching relationship with a Vietnamese prostitute and her black baby, fathered by the Army Captain leading the rescue mission.
PK: That was my first movie in America. Actually, my second movie. The first movie I did was never released. It was called The Zodiac Killer, which was also directed by Jack Starrett, who directed The Losers.
IAL Archive: What part did you play in The Zodiac Killer?
PK: I played the Zodiac Killer.
IAL Archive: So, you had the lead role and the film didnt get released.
PK: Yeah. It was done on a bet. Actually, Jack Starrett made a met with some people in Vegas that he could make a full-length 35-mm feature for fifteen thousand dollars. I think it took another twenty thousand to do the postproduction.
IAL Archive: That is going pretty cheap, even for back then.
PK: Exactly. He won the bet, needless to say.
IAL Archive: Like The Omega Man and Vanishing Point, The Losers has become somewhat of a cult movie. How do you feel about this?
PK: I feel great about it. Ive been very fortunate in my career to be a part of some movies that, maybe arent household names, but in the cinematheque history of films they have stood the test of time and are called cult movies. I feel very fortunate about that.
IAL Archive: How did you become involved in The Omega Man? Did you have to audition for the role of Dutch?
PK: I didI auditionedI think Walter Seltzer was the producer, if Im not mistaken.
IAL Archive: Yes he was.
PK: And Boris Sagal, god bless him, was the director. He liked me right off the bat and I think Charlton came for the second reading, and he liked me also. And I got the part.
IAL Archive: So, you pretty much were their first choice.
PK: Yes. I think they liked my zaniness of the character and it was a zany kind of film for its genre of that time. The characters were pretty far out, if you remember.
IAL Archive: Did you ever read I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, which was the inspiration for the film?
PK: You know, I did. Ive done some other films where I was fortunate to be able to read the novels, although the films dont always turn out to be the same as the books. I think its a big advantage for actors to be able to do that because one can draw from things not obvious in the film as far as character is concerned. Its a big help.
IAL Archive: So, what did you think of the novel and how The Omega Man was only very loosely based upon it?
PK: Well, at that time, I didnt think that much of it because I read the script (then I Am Legend) and figured if that was what they wanted to do, thats fine. I think it would have been a lot bigger undertaking to do the book. Thats my feeling.
IAL Archive: Coincidentally, Richard Matheson co-wrote the film Loose Cannons with his son, which you played in.
PK: Loose Cannons was a very good experience for me as far as getting to work with the people I got to work with. Wasnt Bob Clark a co-writer on that?
IAL Archive: Yes. We suspect that he did some rewriting on the script.
PK: I think thats what killed it, to tell you the truth.
IAL Archive: Yeah, it had humor similar to Bob Clarks Porky's.
PK: My experience at the time Gene Hackman, especially Im not so sure about the other one
IAL Archive: Dan Aykroyd.
PK: He [Gene Hackman] was not happy with what was going on. We had to do retakes and then after the principal photography was finished, we had to go back and re-shoot scenes in New York, so you could tell that the film had some problems. Being that German was my first language, I had more of an insight into behaviorisms and things, and Bob was going totally the wrong way. Right at the beginning that film had a problem becauseI was a second choicethe actor, who since died, that was originally cast was a friend of Bobs and Dan had him fired after the first or second day because he was in a film that there was a big controversy about John Belushi. Im trying to think of the actors name, a wonderful actor.
IAL Archive: Was it Michael Chiklis? Probably not, Im sure hes still alive.
PK: No, he had initials. God, you would know it right away. Hes been in a million things. Ill think of it.
IAL Archive: Ive always suspected that Loose Cannons was a lot more of Bob Clark instead of Matheson because of the type of humor.
PK: Matheson is a wonderful writer. You can tell by how varied and versatile he is.
IAL Archive: Exactly.
PK: I thought that the scriptthe concept of it was brilliant. I thought the execution of it left a lot to be desired.
IAL Archive: Which is a shame because earlier in his career Bob Clark made some really good films that also have become cult movies, like Children Shouldnt Play with Dead Things and Black Christmas.
PK: I liked him as a personality. Im just wondering if maybe he wasnt focused right, or over focused. Its easy to be an armchair director, you know.
IAL Archive: Right. Maybe after the success of Porky's, he thought he needed to give the audience more of that.
PK: You know, I think thats more of it because it had that sort of fluff and no real substance. I think youre right. Porky's was probably his biggest thing. I feel that there was a lot of politics involved, too.
IAL Archive: There usually is with filmmaking. Did you ever watch The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price, which The Omega Man was a remake of?
PK: No, I didnt see Last Man on Earth. I heard about it. At the time, I think I was so elated and so busy trying to figure out what I was going to do with the character that I never did get a chance to see that. I asked about it, but maybe, even then, it was hard to get a copy of it.
IAL Archive: It just recently became available on videocassette.
PK: And that was before videos took off. I dont even know if there were videos then, were there?
IAL Archive: No, videos were still a few years away.
PK: I remember trying to see it or something and I just never had the time or there was something about trying to get a hold of it, to get a screening of it.
IAL Archive: It was hard to difficult to get a hold of it up until a few years ago.
PK: Was the remake of it pretty close?
IAL Archive: Last Man on Earth was a lot closer to the novel I Am Legend than The Omega Man. They are vampires in Last Man on Earth, but it was done very poorly by A.I.P. on the cheap in Italy. Basically, Matheson had a script that was going to be done by Hammer Films and the British censor said, No way. We will ban it. So, A.I.P. got a hold of it and changed it enough that Matheson had a penname substituted. There were good moments in it, but it was a flawed film, mainly because of budget.
PK: Well, you know, if Hammer would have gotten hold of it, Im sure it would have been a quality product.
IAL Archive: They were even talking about Fritz Lang directing it.
IAL Archive: It probably could have been done very well. Although, I think Vincent Price, who was a great actor, was miscast in the title role.
PK: Also, it was A.I.P. The name of the company gives an indication of the end result. Where Hammer, I think, would have taken a different approach.
IAL Archive: Do you have any snecdotes or stories you can remember from shooting The Omega Man?
PK: Yes. I dont know if I want to tell them. No, I will. You know, Charlton - Ive worked with him since
IAL Archive: In Solar Crisis.
PK: Yes, in Solar Crisis. He invited me to take part in his celebrity shoot with the NRA, where celebrities would go and learn firearm safety; it would be a big get together. Actually, it went for quite a few years. He was a very gracious guy and after The Omega Man I spent some time at his house as a guest. When I first started on the movie - do you remember the scene in Dodger Stadium where I rescue him from being burned at the stake?
IAL Archive: Certainly.
PK: Well, Im wearing these pearl-handled Colt 45s and I run and try to cut him offit was almost like a cross or a stake or something.
IAL Archive: Hes tied to some kind of backboard or something.
PK: Yeah, like a pole or something. Of course, the goons are out there and Ive got the guns in my hands and Im trying to cut him loose, and inadvertently I crack him in the forehead with one of the pistols.
IAL Archive: He didnt mention that in the interview.
PK: Either he was being nice, or maybe he forgot. But I did draw blood and I felt so bad. I mean, here I am, I hit Moses, you know, in the forehead.
IAL Archive: You thought you were going to burn for that for sure.
PK: Absolutely. I was profusely apologetic and he was very good about it. At first, he was stunned and he was shocked and maybe a little perturbed. I felt bad about that for a few days, actually. But everybody was so supportive. Boris Sagal was such a wonderful man, and Roz Cash was such a wonderful lady. Apparently, either she wasnt living in townor she lost her house, or it burned down - I cant remember the exact story, but he was so gracious he got a place for her in his apartment building, or his condo, and let her stay there. She was always telling me that he kind of saved her life.
IAL Archive: Thats good to hear because its not a side of Boris Sagal we usually hear about. Ive always heard how temperamental he was. In fact, his death while filming World War Three, the TV movie, is an example. He was in a rage and he turned right smack into the rotor blades of a helicopter.
PK: Well, what happened was - the story as far as I heard it - they were up in the air trying to get this shot and something happened and they didnt get the shot. He [Sagal] got out of the helicopter and he was going to chew this guy out; needless to say, I wont use the word. And he was in such a rage, not thinking at all, he walked to the back of the helicopter and into the rotor blade and got decapitated. You know, I found him nothing but a prince of a man, very charming and very, very funny, but he was so passionate about film, about what he was doing, extremely passionate. He didnt mean anything by it. He couldnt control himself because he was trying to get the best product that he could.
IAL Archive: Heston said he really had no problems with him either.
PK: He was a wonderful person. He really was. You know, at that time, Chuck was so bigI think he was probably the biggest, in stature, one of the biggest actors in stature at that time. Being that he had been the head of the Screen Actors Guild, as Ronald Reagan was, and at that time when we were making The Omega Man, I think Reagan was Governor. Do you remember the cell phones, David, they used to be like a big battery pack? That was like the new phones.
IAL Archive: Almost like a version of a walkie-talkie
PK: Yeah, it had a big battery pack underneath it was like maybe four inches wide, eight inches long and eight inches high. And the phone set on top of it. That was like a remote phone and that was the new craze. Anybody who had one of those was like God; you know what I mean. And he [Heston] would be on the phone. He would have a Limo standing by, or an executive Caddy, a Cadillac or Lincoln or one of those big black things; mostly I remember a Limo. And he would always be on the phone when he wasnt working. So, when it came to my close- ups, this was about ninety percent of my part - maybe I shouldnt say this - I will though because I was coming from the Canadian Theater and the National Theater School, and him being a theater actor, I found it very strange. When it came time for my close-ups, the script girl would hold a mop upside down, the mop part would be up in the air, and I would do all my close-ups talking to the mop.
IAL Archive: The Last Mop on Earth.
PK: You know, it was important for me. My first really big film. I think it was from Warner Brothers, wasnt it?
IAL Archive: Yes, it was.
PK: Of course, I told my mom and dad. They came down from Canada to visit. Theyre from the old country, the old sensibilities. You do exactly what they tell you to do they would say when I told them how disappointed I was. And I want to meet Charlton, hes my favorite! Of course, hes been around since the 40s and 50s. He was gigantic to my parents, too. My mom and dad got to meet him. That made their year.
IAL Archive: What about Rosalind Cash. Do you recall anything regarding her?
PK: She was an incredible, incredible lady. Again, just a class act. I was very sad when I heard she passed on.
IAL Archive: Yes, of Cancer in 1995.
IAL Archive: I think she was a regular on General Hospital at that time.
PK: There was that whole thing about being African-American. I think it was one of the firsts, at least that I can remember, that they had a Caucasian with an African-American, at least not in a big film with a big lead actor. At that time, there wasnt as much made of it as one might think.
IAL Archive: I know Heston said that the studio didnt even blink at the idea. I dont think there was another film that did this, at least not where that it wasnt a function of the plot, having a white man and a black woman. The Omega Man had this interracial romance, but it was not a key aspect of the plot, more of just another element.
PK: It wasnt a key aspect of the plot. I think everybody kind of lifted an eyebrow, but in a nice way. The race card was not brought out, it was like a natural thing, and that was very rewarding, to be a part of that. The ambiance on the set - you know, having starred in Roots: The Next Generation, there was more of that because it was about racial issues, so that was always kind of prevalent on the set. Not in a bad way, but in an intellectual and maybe emotional way, you know.
IAL Archive: Right.
PK: With Roz and Chuck, it had nothing to do with it. It was more like the actual reality of what would happen if you were the last man.
IAL Archive: Exactly. It really was a very bold move. America had just emerged from the Civil Rights era.
PK: It was very surprising. When I knew it was Roz, I went Wow, isnt that Interesting? And it surprised me, to tell you the truth. I thought it was a great move. I dont know how the film did financially, do you?
IAL Archive: It was one of Charlton Hestons biggest box office successes for a good long time. He says he still gets checks from The Omega Man.
PK: Really? Where's my checks?
IAL Archive: They're in the mail.
PK: Now, youre writing a book with Richard?
IAL Archive: No. The book is called The Last Man on Film: Adaptations of Richard Mathesons I Am Legend. Richard Matheson is being interviewed for this. Basically, we are covering the novel, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, Night of the Living Dead - which was inspired by the book, and the remake of The Omega Man, which is in production at Warner Brothers.
PK: Is that with Heston?
IAL Archive: Supposedly Arnold Schwarzenegger.
PK: Theyve been trying to do that for a while, havent they?
IAL Archive: Yes, its in development hell over at Warner Brothers. Ridley Scott was going to direct it. He was, Im told, even out at one point scouting locations. Apparently, the budget was going to be 108 million, with 43 million going to Arnold. Warner Brothers, so it goes, got kind of antsy because Schwarenegger's last real hit was True Lies, which ironically Heston appeared in. They are wary of paying that kind of money for this kind of film, a post-apocalyptic thriller where its basically a one-man show for a good part of the film. There's been talk of toning it down. Rob Bowman, who directed the X-Files movie, is supposedly attached, and theres talk of Schwarzenegger or Kurt Russell. At this point it is hard to tell. We've called Warner Brothers and theyre supposed to get back to me about the films current status.
PK: Are they still in pre-production, or they dont know whether its a go yet?
IAL Archive: Exactly. Theyre waiting for a green light from the studio. And theyre supposedly retooling the script, trying to get the budget down to something Warner Brothers can live with.
PK: Would Chuck be involved?
IAL Archive: No, not in this one. He will be involved in Tim Burtons remake of Planet of the Apes, which is due out this summer, but he has not been approached to be involved in the The Omega Man remake.
PK: I see.
IAL Archive: Do you recall any scenes that were shot for The Omega Man that were not used for the final cut, and did you rehearse beforehand?
PK: We had a table read. We did not have a rehearsal schedule, but Boris was very generous with the time while we were setting up. We did get a chance to rehearse it quite thoroughly. You know, were talking thirty years ago, but I do remember Boris being very generous with rehearsals. I remember because Charlton wasnt there a lot of the time, and he made sure we felt comfortable with everything. A lot of this stuff, David, you know, was downtown and on the freeways. We had those big vistas and large, long shots where there was nobody in downtown LA. So we did have a lot more time because there was a lot of logistics involved in trying to make sure these streets were cleared.
IAL Archive: I did notice that there is a shot where Heston is driving his car that you see man walking under an awning, carrying a package. But its really hot to detect. I must have seen the film a dozen times before I noticed it.
PK: You know, somebody told me about that. I havent seen the film since it was premiered. A girl, who was in it, who played one of my kids, one of the older ones, said, I saw a guy there. I said, Where? Then it was gone.
IAL Archive: I know youre going to be screening it at the Egyptian Theater next month with Heston. Pay close attention. Its right after he sticks the eight-track tape and the music starts. The very next shot is a cut to him driving and on the left-hand side of the street, under this awning
PK: You mean from his apartment?
IAL Archive: No, the opening scene from the film where he is driving through LA.
PK: And he puts the cassette in
IAL Archive: He puts the cassette in, the music starts and the very next cut it shows him driving down the street. Off to the left, youll see an awning and youll see man; it looks like hes carrying a package. Otherwise, they did a really good job. LA is a big town.
PK: Especially in 1970. You know, logistics were harder - communication was not as good as it is now. Maybe something fell through the cracks, you know. I remember it was a big deal at the time, to be able to do that, to clear downtown Los Angeles and then some of the freeways. So, everybody was pretty excited to be a part of that, to really get rid of society, as it were.
IAL Archive: Although you shared no scenes with Anthony Zerbe in The Omega Man, you would appear later in the films The Laughing Policeman and Rooster Cogburn, which Zerbe also played in. Are the two of you friends?
PK: Yes. Absolutely. He is a wonderful guy. Hes had a great career also. Hes a very interesting and intelligent guy. Hes always been very supportive. Hes really a great guy. You know, Ive got to say, Ive done maybe 135 movies and television shows. I dont think I've ever met, except one or two times, a bad egg in the whole system. And I think thats actually astounding when you think of how many people you work with.
IAL Archive: Oh, yes. In Hollywood, egos run rampant sometimes.
PK: Its amazing. Either people have incredible self-control or theyre better actors than they think they are.
IAL Archive: How did you feel about his performance as Matthias?
PK: You know, I think Anthony did a great job. Anthony's sort of an offbeat guy physically. Hes not a leading man; hes a character actor. His face is very urchin-like and chameleon-like and I thought he did a wonderful job in a very tough part to play. It could be kind of goofy, you know.
IAL Archive: He has such a distinctive voice, too.
PK: Yes. I think that helped the character. I think it helped him a lot. He is a wonderful guy. Like I said, Ive had one or two incidents that I can remember where people were just total idiots since I started in 1966. But its been a wonderful life. The skys the limit. Nothing is impossible. Im really fortunate, like I said before, to have worked with the people Ive worked with.
IAL Archive: Right. Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman
PK: I did a picture called Voyage of the Damned. I dont know if you remember that.
IAL Archive: Oh, yes.
PK: That was probably one of my greatest experiences because I got to work with people like James Mason, Malcolm McDowell, Maria Schell, an international cast.
IAL Archive: Now, at the time, Heaven's Gate, some in it werent very big stars then, but they have become pretty big afterwards.
PK: A great experience, kind of like working with Orson Welles, for instance, in Voyage of the Damned. Of course, Kris Kristofferson was no slouch in Heaven's Gate. Again, just an incredible guy. You Know, I think hes doing Planet of the Apes.
IAL Archive: Oh, really? I didnt know that.
PK: With Mark Wallberg.
IAL Archive: I knew Mark Wallberg was in the remake, but I didnt know that Kris Kristofferson was in it.
PK: Just an incredible guy...an incredible human being. Of course, Chris Walken was in that, and Isabelle Hubert, a French actress. That was an incredible experience, too.
IAL Archive: I thought it got an undeserved reputation as the bomb that it was. Of course, it ruined the career of Michael Cimino and United Artists pretty much went to the brink of disaster with it. Given today's films, I think they ended up spending 36 million on it, which is tame compared to today.
PK: But in 1976 or 1977 when we shot that, that was a lot of money. And it wound up costing 55 million when everything was said and done. You know, with postproduction and all the advertising they did on it. That was huge for 1977.
IAL Archive: I think they dumped it too soon.
PK: I think Cimino - I think it was basically his doing that the film got such a bad rep because he had such a bad rep. You know, when we shot that, he was killing live animals, cattle, right on camera.
IAL Archive: I did not know that.
PK: We had a lot of problems with the Humane Society. It was just so self-indulgent and over-indulgent. Kris Kristofferson and I did a scenewe did 58 takes with seven cameras rolling.
IAL Archive: Thats a lot of footage on the floor, isnt it?
PK: I think they shot a million and a half feet of film. You could make like twenty movies out of that. He had just won the Academy Award, and when you have 1,100 extras and you do makeup on everyone of them every morning for six and a half months, you know something has got to be off. I mean, you dont even see them, you know.
IAL Archive: Now, you know where the money went. Cimino had just won for Deer Hunter and it sounds like he got too big of a head.
PK: Yes, which is too bad because I thought it could have been a great movie. There were like something 70 principal parts in that movie. He had a good idea. But isnt that what happens, making movies is like having a baby, you never know what its going to turn out like, you know.
IAL Archive: Right. It could be the next President or Jeffrey Dauhmer.
PK: Exactly right.
IAL Archive: What are your feelings on the religious symbolism of The Omega Man, especially the ending? Do you have any personal thoughts about where Dutch was going with the kids at the end of the film? Do you think that they would live on to start over, as in the Garden of Eden? Do you see the ending as optimistic or pessimistic?
PK: I see it as very optimistic. If you remember us travelling down the road, were singing, arent we?
IAL Archive: On your way to Neville's place, they were singing Old Macdonald. But at the end it doesnt show them drive away. They start for the car and the camera cuts to Heston and thats the end of the film.
PK: Right. Do you think it might have been part of Charlton's makeup of the historical figures that he plays?
IAL Archive: Absolutely. Undeniably, hes in the Christ-like position.
PK: You know, if you had to put a spin on itits not a spin because it actually happened - but if you had to eulogize on it, I think that's where that came from. I think it has a deeper meaning, not the ending, but the film itself. And that is were a heartbeat away from that. Even now, with these third world countries, in Egypt
IAL Archive: The Middle East.
PK: Right. In places like that, or Japan, with some of those crazy guys with their chemicals. Who knows? The message is deeper and much more personal than just being draped over a fountain at the end in a Christ-like position. I think it goes back to can we and do we respect life itself. Thats where the future comes in at the ending of the film in order to be about the future of the kids and what was going to happen to them. I, myself, always thought it was kind of vague, like you said. For me then the upbeat singingI wished they could have shown us driving into the sunset.
IAL Archive: Right. Instead of the last image of Heston, but an actual image of the future of mankind.
PK: It also had this multi-racial, futuristic aspect of Roz and myself, basically starting all over, starting a new life and maybe a new society, where one day well all be inter-related and have one color. If we all live that long, you know. Were all supposed to be descendants of the ape and look where we are now. Who knows, with black people, white people, red people and yellow people. Maybe in two hundred thousand years, futuristic man will be of a one color, one world society of Homo Saphien. From our knowledge, why do all those aliens look the same, having those big eyes and are an off-white color? Can you tell me that?
IAL Archive: No, not really.
PK: I mean, somebody must have come up with something. Maybe somebody just drew it sometime and they picked up on it and thats what stuck. It's an universally accepted thing and I think at some time, if we live that long, two hundred thousand years, we might have a homo sapien that is one representative of Earth.
IAL Archive: Do you have any recollections of seeing the finished film for the first time. Did you get to screen it?
PK: We screened it and went to Chasens afterwards. I was very proud of the film. I thought that Boris captured the loneliness of it.
IAL Archive: Oh, yes, especially in the scene where Neville is playing chess by himself, just after the Family gave up on their attempt to kill him for the night. The camera pulls back from Heston, out the window and far away so that the light in Nevilles living room is surrounded by the pitch-blackness of LA.
PK: Right. He really captured the loneliness and it was very haunting. It was very sad, too, I remember. I think the film served that. I think Boris did an excellent job, serving that aspect of what it must be like to be the last man on Earth.
IAL Archive: Youve appeared in three films with Charles Bronson: The Stone Killer, Mr. Majestyk, and Love and Bullets. Was this just a coincidence, or did you and Charles Bronson set out to work together?
PK: Charles Bronson and I really never got along. It was sort of a love/hate relationship. On our first movie, we had a couple of run-ins. Actually Michael Winner directed that first movie. The second one, I think, was a coincidence, Richard Fleischer directing Mr. Majestyk. And we had a really big run-in on that one. Actually, Jill Ireland, god bless her, she was such a lovely lady - you know, my heritage is Polish and so is Charles Bronson's, so I took more liberty. When he came down on me real hard because he's such a dickhead - excuse my French - you know, in a lot of areas of people skills, dealing with people, treating them properly - that was my problem with him. Richard Fleischer let me live in this movie. I was supposed to get killed like all the rest. He told Charlie that he wanted me to live and Charlie threw a fit. He said, I'm not here to make a star out of Paul Koslo. Thats when it started and Jill came to my aid and, of course, Richard Fleischer, whos the sweetest guy - did you ever meet him?
IAL Archive: No.
PK: You know, his dad was Max Fleischer. He did Betty Boop.
IAL Archive: Right. And, of course, Richard Fleischer worked with Heston also, on Soylent Green.
PK: Exactly. Again, its been such a great experience for me to work with these guys and be supportive and things. But what happened was Charlie, unbeknownst to me, he found it kind of charming and he liked me for standing up for myself, and maybe standing up to him. And on the third film - it's a whole other interview, Charles Bronson. But on our third film
IAL Archive: Love and Bullets.
PK: Love and Bullets. Charlie - we kind of found each other in a strange kind of way, and weve seen each other afterwards a few times. He's been hospitable. He's a very strange guy: a very strange man. I guess his upbringing - where hes come from - I guess he's had a hard time, but so have a lot of people. He's had some family problems and things. I dont know - he's a character. He's one of a kind. But I did do three pictures with him almost back to back, within three years of each other. It's something I'll never forget because I was kind of drawn into it because I've spent a lot of time with his sons, who are actually Jill's sons from her marriage to David McCallum. So, I was really close to his sons, although he and I never got along, he did talk to me afterwards in a sort of off-handed, slanted kind of way. He's a bizarre guy. One of his statements was, after our second film, the Richard Fleischer film, he said, Next to me, youre the best actor in this movie. Weird stuff, you know. But a lot of people can things can say things about Charlton Heston or Charlie Bronson, but they stick by their guns, if youll pardon the pun.
IAL Archive: Although you don't play a villain in The Omega Man, you were often cast as the heavy. Do you feel that you were typecast and this limited the types of roles you would be offered throughout your 30-year career in the film industry?
PK: You know, I think so. In those days in was kind of different, the studio system was up and on its way out. I did have a contract with Fox as a sort of leading mankind of guy, but then Fox went by the wayside. Zanuck got out of Fox and that's when my contract went. If my contract had been honored, I think my career would have been different. But I do think so. You know, get this guy, he's really a great villain, hes interesting, he can be funny, blah, blah. I think that had a lot to do with it.
IAL Archive: Of all your films, which is your favorite, and why?
PK: I have a few favorites. Obviously I love The Omega Man; it was my first big movie. I like it because it's different, totally different from any other film Ive ever made. And being it was with Charlton Heston. He was a phenomenon and he still is. I loved that movie. I love the fact that it catapulted me into - not stardom, but I could go anywhere in the world and people would say, I know you, you're
IAL Archive: You're Dutch.
PK: I'm really impressed when they know my name. Voyage of the Damned is another one of my favorite movies because of the experience. Again, its a tragic story.
IAL Archive: Yeah, they were turned back.
PK: Right. Even America didnt except the Jews, which is unbelievable. I got to say Rooster Cogburn, working with the Duke and with Katherine Hepburn was just an unbelievable experience. Again, I have wonderful stories from all these movies, and I will take them with me to my grave. Ive been very, very blessed.
IAL Archive: Maybe you should write a book. Thats what everyone else is doing these days. Youve certainly been enough films with the leading stars of the times to tell your story.
PK: Maybe. I dont know, Ive never thought about that. Definitely, having a personal relationship on set - and I'm not the kind that follows - I'm kind of a loner. I live out in the desert. I like people dont get me wrong. I'm very interested by them. But do I want to live next to them in a big city, no. I've been fortunate to have a daughter now later on in my life, in my mature adulthood and I feel very blessed. I have two wonderful ladies in my life. You know, having been with these guys, true legends in the American cinema, gives me a very strong foundation in life because theyre from the old school.
IAL Archive: You're now the proprietor of the Lake Hughes Trading Post and Rock Hotel. How did you get started in the hotel business?
PK: It was just by accident. I've had the Trading Post and Rock Hotel since 1975, before it was even fashionable to have a place. I can definitely say I had the Hard Rock Cafe before it came out because it is made out of rock. It's a historical landmark. A lot of things about my career, about definitely being fortunate to do a lot of different work, but, David, if I had concentrated totally on my career, I think my career would have been different also. Not that I have any regrets whatsoever. Years ago, after The Omega Man, somebody asked me - it was a syndicated college show - asked me if I wanted to be a star. I said, I wouldn't want to be a star unless I could be the biggest star that ever lived, making twenty million a week or something. It totally blew them away, and they thought I was being crazy or conceited or something. I said, No, I can see it. I can see these stars like Heston. Its got to be lonely at the top. They have to be compensated some how. Thats why guys like Schwarzenegger and Carrey - they have to be compensated some how.
IAL Archive: Are you currently active in filmmaking?
PK: Oh, yeah. Right now, Im producing a film on teen suicide. We start shooting March 14th. Its called YMI (the letter Y, the letter M, the letter I), which stands for Youth Means Innocence. I just finished a show - do you know Stargate on Showtime?
IAL Archive: Yes.
PK: I just finished that last summer. I think I'll be going back up. They want me to come back. Ive been doing movies, maybe two or so a year. With the Hotel, the farms and my new family, five years now, Ive been busier than ever.
IAL Archive: On March 23, you will appear at a screening of The Omega Man at the Egyptian Theater in LA, along with Charlton Heston. Do you often get asked to make appearances or to speak out on The Omega Man?
PK: This will be the first time on The Omega Man, other than years ago when the film first came out. I hadnt seen much publicity or even screenings on television, is that right?
IAL Archive: Well, it plays on American Movie Classics a lot.
PK: Oh, does it?
IAL Archive: Yes. It really has become a cult film. If you go on auction sites like ebay and look at some of the prices some of the memorabilia goes for. I shocked Heston by telling him how much the press book and set of lobby cards went for $540.00, which is a lot of money for that kind of stuff.
PK: That is a lot of money.
IAL Archive: The poster for The Omega Man often goes pretty high, as compared to other posters of the same era. Its one of the films of Heston's that the fans keep coming back to. You know, a lot of the critics will say, Ten Commandments, Ben Hur, Touch of Evil. But if you ask the fans, its usually Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man and Soylent Green. Those are the three, when youre talking to Heston fans; they seem to mention more often than anything else.
PK: Well, hes definitely done some monumental work. The six films youve mentioned, thats a mouthful right there. You know, I have been a guest of American Cinematheque with other films of mine. I am looking forward to being with Charlton at the Egyptian in March. It will be nice to see him again, also.
IAL Archive: Be sure to tell the audience about bashing him in the head.
PK: I will. I will definitely do that. I dont know if I should tell them the story about the mop, but I think I will, too.
IAL Archive: Yes, its always interesting to hear those kinds of things.
PK: Especially when youre as busy as he was, you know. Who was he talking to? The President of the United States - none of your business. And I'm wondering why he was on the phone and couldnt do those close-ups with me. Thats showbiz, but it sure helped me because I had to be a lot better; you know what I mean?
IAL Archive: Oh, yes, you dont want to get shown up in the scene.
IAL Archive: Well thats all the questions we have for you.
PK: Well, thank you for taking time and including me.
IAL Archive: It's our pleasure.