‘Clash of the Titans’ at 40: Harry Hamlin reveals the story behind his on-set romance with Ursula Andress


Harry Hamlin as Perseus within the 1981 motion film, Conflict of the Titans. (Photograph: Courtesy Everett Assortment)

To listen to Harry Hamlin inform it, Conflict of the Titans precisely describes what occurred onscreen and on the set of the special-effects heavy fantasy movie, which opened in theaters 40 years in the past, on June 12, 1981. 

Talking with Yahoo Entertainment, the actor — who performed demigod hero Perseus — recollects various “contentious moments” wherein he discovered himself at odds with the movie’s director, Desmond Davis, and its legendary visual-effects artist, Ray Harryhausen. “I mentioned on the time, ‘That is by no means going to work,'” Hamlin remembers with a chuckle. “‘This can be a paycheck for me. I am going to go residence, and the film won’t ever see the sunshine of day.'” 

However in opposition to the chances, Conflict of the Titans clicked with younger moviegoers, in addition to the young-at-heart audiences who grew up throughout Harryhausen’s heyday within the 1950s and 1960s. To at the present time, the film stays a nostalgic favourite exactly due to its dated particular results and campy dialogue. And it is a private film for Hamlin, as a result of he discovered love amid these behind-the-scenes clashes, kindling a romance along with his co-star — and worldwide intercourse image — Ursula Andress. Their high-profile relationship lasted for 4 years and produced a son, Dimitri Hamlin. 

American actor Harry Hamlin and Swiss actress and a sex symbol Ursula Andress attend the 1979 Deauville American Film Festival. (Photo by © Caterine Milinaire/Sygma via Getty Images)

Harry Hamlin and Ursula Andress attend the 1979 Deauville American Movie Pageant. (Photograph by © Caterine Milinaire/Sygma through Getty Photos)

Whereas Hamlin hadn’t met Andress previous to Conflict of the Titans, in a means he’d already identified her for years. Born in 1951, the actor was 12 years previous when he noticed her breakout efficiency in Dr. No, the inaugural entry within the James Bond franchise. The then-26 yr previous Andress made an impressionable entrance because the first-ever Bond Woman, Honey Ryder. Roles in standard films like What’s New Pussycat?, As soon as Earlier than I Die and the 1967 Bond spoof, On line casino Royale, quickly adopted. Andress was 43 — 15 years older than Hamlin — when she arrived on the Conflict of the Titans in 1979, appropriately forged as Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

“Not solely had I seen Dr. No, however for some unknown cause my dad and mom gave me a five-year subscription to Playboy for Christmas after I was 12,” Hamlin says now. “I by no means knew why they did that. Now that I’ve youngsters, I believe, ‘That is an odd factor to do!’ However Ursula was featured in a kind of Playboys, and I do not forget that very effectively. I do not suppose I might advised her that once we first met. I am undecided I mentioned, ‘By the best way, Ursula, I cherished your format in Playboy after I was 13!'” 

Hamlin notably does not share any scenes with Andress in Conflict of the Titans. Whereas Perseus is combating all method of mythological creatures on Earth, Aphrodite stays in Olympus alongside a bevy of different well-known European performing icons, together with Laurence Olivier as Zeus and Maggie Smith as Thetis. “I believe they appreciated the paycheck,” Hamlin says of how these titans of the British stage and display ended up in Conflict. “Laurence Olivier wrote me a letter, which I nonetheless have framed upstairs, the place he apologized for being within the film! He knew I revered him and principally mentioned, ‘You could perceive — I’ve so many mouths to feed.'” 

Hamlin and Andress’s fateful first assembly occurred at a forged dinner in London organized by the film’s producer, Charles Schneer. “Everybody got here, and so they sat me subsequent to Ursula,” he recollects. “I did not know what to say to her precisely, however in some way the topic of flea markets got here up, and I mentioned that I might been to a flea market the week earlier than I flew over to London. Once we obtained to Rome to start out filming there, she known as me on the resort sooner or later and mentioned, “I am solely 5 homes down from the resort, and there is a flea market tomorrow on the Porta Portese. Do you need to go?’ In order that’s how that occurred!” 

Ursula Andress and Harry Hamlin at the 54th Academy Awards in 1982. The couple met on the set of the 1981 film 'Clash of the Titans' (Photo by Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Ursula Andress and Harry Hamlin on the 54th Academy Awards in 1982. The couple met on the set of the 1981 movie Conflict of the Titans. (Photograph by Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Photos)

Hamlin and Andress did not attempt to preserve their love connection a secret from the Conflict crew. However the actor remembers that Davis got here to consider he was carrying on multiple on-set affair. “He thought I used to be having it off with somebody from the make-up division, and he was additionally enamored with that particular person,” Hamlin says. “He was completely jealous of me the entire time! He would keep on the identical flooring as me within the resort to maintain his door open and see whether or not or not I used to be operating off into the make-up lady’s room. I might say to him, ‘Desmond, I do not know her. She simply does my make-up!’ However he was fixated on that the entire time; it was very odd.” 

Andress gave beginning to Dimitri in 1980, one yr earlier than Conflict of the Titans lastly arrived in theaters. She and Hamlin ultimately parted methods in 1983, and the break-up made worldwide headlines. (Hamlin has since been married thrice, wedding ceremony his present spouse, Lisa Rinna, in 1997.) However the two stay shut, reuniting for Andress’s 70th birthday in 2006 alongside their grown son. And like numerous ’80s youngsters, Hamlin says that Dimitri watched Conflict of the Titans time and again rising up. “Perseus loses his magic helmet in a swamp within the movie, so each time we might drive by something that seemed like a swamp, he would say, ‘Dad, possibly the helmet is in there. Cease the automobile!” 

Edinburgh, UNITED KINGDOM:  Swiss Hollywood film star Ursula Andress (C) arrives with her son Dimitri Hamlin (L) and former partner Harry Hamlin at The Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh, Scotland, 18th May 2006, to take part in a special party to celebrate her 70th birthday. Andress was the original 'Bond Girl' having become famous for her role as Honey Rider in the James Bond film, Dr. No.  AFP PHOTO/GORDON JACK  (Photo credit should read GORDON JACK/AFP via Getty Images)

From left to proper: Dimitri Hamlin, Ursula Andress and Harry Hamlin have a good time her 70th birthday in 2006. (Photograph credit score ought to learn GORDON JACK/AFP through Getty Photos)

For the 40th anniversary of Conflict of the Titans, we spoke with Hamlin about his personal background in mythology, his emotions concerning the 2010 remake and Harryhausen’s distinctive working strategies. 

Yahoo Entertainment: I perceive that you simply studied mythology in faculty, so that you really knew loads concerning the Greek myths that impressed Conflict of Titans.

Harry Hamlin: Sure, I studied mythology at Yale and obtained my diploma in Jungian mythology. So after I learn the script, I believed it was fairly skinny. It was this sort of hybrid Greek mythology: you understand, Bellerophon had really flown Pegasus, not Perseus. They usually felt they needed to get a love story in there, in order that they invented the one between Perseus and Andromeda [played by Judi Bowker]. So it wasn’t the precise myths, however the story nonetheless made sense in a means. I believe the love story is definitely one of many issues that made the primary one work, and it was the factor that did not actually work within the remake. In that one, Perseus [played by Sam Worthington] was in love with a goddess who was going to dwell ceaselessly. And I used to be like, “How does that work?” 

Do you bear in mind should you had been up in opposition to every other actors for the position?

I used to be really in one other film at the very same time known as Tristan and Isolde with Kate Mulgrew and Richard Burton. Kate and I labored on that for a few weeks, after which I used to be known as into MGM to satisfy on Conflict of the Titans. It was a case the place I used to be like, “Do I do a film with Laurence Olivier the place the script is not superb, or do I do a film with Richard Burton?” And I made a decision that I actually needed to satisfy Laurence Olivier! It later turned out that Nicholas Clay, the actor who ended up enjoying Tristan, had additionally been up for Conflict and actually needed the position. [Tristan and Isolde was released in December 1981 under the title Lovespell.]

Hamlin, Sian Phillips and Judi Bowker in 'Clash of the Titans' (Photo: MGM/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.)

Hamlin, Sian Phillips and Judi Bowker in Conflict of the Titans. (Photograph: MGM/ Courtesy: Everett Assortment.)

The movie opened the identical weekend as Raiders of the Misplaced Ark, which appears unbelievable to suppose now.

Sure, and neither Charles Schneer nor Ray Harryhausen spoke to me for years after the film got here out as a result of they thought we might have killed Raiders on the field workplace if I had gone together with the world publicity tour that they had arrange. The tour was underwritten by the town of Johannesburg, and I used to be on an apartheid committee in Los Angeles. They got here to me, and mentioned: “We will go to 20 nations, and it will make this movie the largest hit of the summer season.” 

I mentioned, “I can do each different nation however South Africa.” They usually mentioned, “Nicely, South Africa is underwriting the entire tour, so if you cannot go, we won’t do the tour.” We ended up not doing the tour and so they believed they misplaced thousands and thousands of {dollars} from that. Charles by no means spoke to me once more, however Ray known as me up 25 years later and requested me to affix him for a retrospective he was doing in L.A. [Schneer died in 2009; Harryhausen died in 2013.]

You’ve got talked about earlier than that Harryhausen wasn’t the simplest particular person to work with.

He had his mounted methods of doing issues. There’s that scene within the film the place I am combating with the large scorpions. I mentioned to him, “Hey, Ray, why do not I think about that the scorpion’s tail is coming all the way down to sting me, after which I am going to put my left hand up and catch the tail after which the lower it off with my sword?” And he mentioned, “Completely not. I do not need that to be within the film.” 

Nicely, he rolled the digicam, and I did it anyway. I figured he might lower it out of the film if he does not prefer it. He was so mad at me. He mentioned, “Lower, lower — I advised you not to try this.” However should you have a look at the film, he ended up utilizing it!

The Medusa sequence nonetheless holds up superbly. I believe that is up there with the perfect of Harryhausen’s work.

Nicely, in fact, Medusa was not there once we shot it! [Laughs] I do not forget that I used to be locked in my trailer for many of that day, as a result of they would not acquiesce to my calls for to let me lower her head off with my sword. They had been afraid of getting an X-rating, in order that was a tense day. They’d all these digicam angles labored out for the killing of Medusa, however since we solely had an hour left to shoot, they simply put the digicam down and shot some footage, then saved shifting it nearer, and that is the best way they construct the strain. It’s extremely streamlined, and I believe the scene works as a result of they needed to shoot it so quick. If we might had all day, there would have been extra angles and fewer pressure.  

Since there was no Medusa on set, what had been you interacting with?

My thoughts’s eye! [Laughs]. I did not even know what Medusa was going to appear to be, or how huge she was going to be. Ray’s course of was that you’d do the efficiency, after which he would construct the monsters in keeping with what I might completed on set. So he constructed Medusa after principal pictures. I bear in mind visiting him at Pinewood Studios in England when he was doing the stop-motion, and that was fascinating as a result of it was simply Ray alone on this huge soundstage. He’d have a chair and a little bit stool subsequent to the chair, with a bottle of Cynar, and a small glass. 

Ray Harryhausen working on the Medusa monster seen in 'Clash of the Titans' (Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection)

Ray Harryhausen engaged on the Medusa monster seen in Conflict of the Titans. (Photograph: Courtesy Everett Assortment)

He had this wire that got here from the digicam, and he would push a button to take a body. Then he would stand up stroll over to the monster, manipulate it and transfer the lens only a fraction of an inch in all instructions. Then he would stroll again to his chair, have a drink of Cynar and push the button once more. He would repeat the method all day lengthy. He was in all probability tanked by the tip of the day! 

I perceive that you simply weren’t a fan of Perseus’s sidekick within the film — the mechanical owl, Bubo.

I had learn The Plague by Albert Camus, so I knew what a “bubo” was. I advised the producers, “You possibly can’t title the owl Bubo, as a result of that is a bleeding pustule!” They usually mentioned, “Solely medical doctors will know that, and that is not our viewers.” In order that they named the owl Bubo! [Laughs] It is good to have a little bit sidekick, I suppose. That is the one reference to the unique that is within the remake. Sam Worthington walks by a shelf, sees the owl and throws it within the trash! 

They needed Bubo to have movement on set, however they may by no means get it to work. I bear in mind we might need to cease filming, so somebody would futz with it and attempt to get the eyes to maneuver. So a lot of the movement was put in after the very fact. In addition they had a hell of a time attempting to get the snakes to maneuver on the pinnacle of Medusa! They really had two heads: one which had all of the mechanics stuff in it so it weighed about possibly 30 kilos, and one which was simply rubber that hardly weighed something in any respect. 

In the course of the huge climax, once we needed to throw the pinnacle on the Kraken, we had been taking pictures in these huge water tanks in Malta. The water in there was so horrible; if I fell in, they’d need to spray me down immediately with noxious compounds that might kill all of the bugs. So I used to be throwing the rubber head, and so they misplaced it! It was on the backside of the tank someplace. 

Lastly, they mentioned, “You are going to need to throw the one which has all of the mechanics in it.” The dang factor weighed as a lot as a bowling ball! Within the movie, I believe I am throwing it with my left arm, as a result of I threw my proper arm out. After which they misplaced that head, too, so each heads had been lacking on the backside of the tank, and so they could not discover a diver who was prepared to enter that noxious water. Ultimately they lower the 2 takes collectively, and that is what’s within the film.  

I respect the best way you are each baffled and happy by the enduring reputation of Conflict of the Titans. What is the legacy of the film for you?

Such as you mentioned, I am sort of baffled by it! [Laughs] I believe it is primarily luck. Definitely, the script did not have numerous depth to it, the dialogue is not precisely fluid and the results are completely dated. However there’s one thing concerning the chemistry of the love story, and the creepiness of Harryhausen’s particular results that make it work. It is way more creepy, oddly sufficient, than watching these computer-generated monsters that they had within the remake. When you can have a look at the film as a bouillabaisse, there’s in some way simply the correct quantity of shellfish, the correct quantity of fish inventory, the correct quantity of saffron, and the correct quantity of rice. It simply labored. 

Conflict of the Titans is out there to lease or buy on most VOD platforms together with Amazon and Vudu.

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