Article 136

Richard Chamberlain - Beaten and Bruised

The Place Vendome in Paris, tonight, Napoleon is upstaged by a couple of Americans almost as famous as he - Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith - shooting a scene from "The Bourne Identity." In the scene, Chamberlain calls Smith from a public phone, after which they meet in the street and embrace. The Place Vendome has no telephone booths so the prop department has borrowed a one from the Paris phone company and placed it not far from Napoleon's statue. Richard makes the call then rushes out into the cold, moist air for the big smooch. But instead of quiet on the street there is cursing. A Parisian woman, having spotted the booth but not the camera and lights, has stepped inside to place a call and is angrily pushing down on the phone's metal bar.

Filming is getting tougher all the time especially in foreign locations. The producion company, having spent eight exhausting days in Zurich where they filmed outdoors, mostly at night, in often freezing weather, had arrived in Paris two days earlier. The first scheduled scene was to feature Richard in a tense meeting with a woman onboard a Bateau-Mouche, one of the many boats that take tourists up and down the Seine. The night before arrival they were informed that a long period of heavy rainfall had caused the river to rise so high that the roofs of the Bateau-Mouches couldn't clear the bridges that connect right and left banks. All boat trips had been cancelled. What to do about the scene? The location manager searched and found one boat low enough to clear a few of the bridges near the Eiffel Tower, and the scene was saved.

Just in time for another crisis. When the company was on the Riviera, Jaclyn Smith was filmed driving a rented Renault. A matching car was shipped from London to Paris but a big detail had been overlooked. The one Jaclyn had driven was an automatic and the car they now have has a gear stick, which she doesn't know how to drive. In Paris they found many look-a-like Renault’s but none automatic. They offered to give Jaclyn lessons in driving a stick shift and she declined, afraid that she would look awkward. Where will they get a car? Luckily one day a member of the production company spotted one in traffic and bought it for $8000 US dollars.

Getting police permits are another problem for the production company. "The film business is not looked on with favour as far as the authorities are concerned." Says Frederick Muller, the producer of "The Bourne Identify." Anxiety about terrorists is one factor and as a result of which plain-clothes security people are on the set at all times. "And we don't make our lives easy," he adds. "We go around with an enormous amount of equipment including these huge motor homes that the stars are expected to have and we have to block off miles of parking. You go to the police and say, 'We'd like to shoot for two hours around the Champs Elysess.' And then you tell them you have got twenty-four trucks, nineteen cars and five trailers, and they say, ‘You're out of your mind!'" Also security rules in Europe don't help. The show involves many different kinds of guns but weapons can't be shipped fast enough from one location to another. So they have had to use guns that can be duplicated by armourers in Nice, London, Zurich and Paris.

"The Bourne Identify" opens with Jason Bourne (Richard Chamberlain) washed ashore on a Mediterranean beach, riddled with bullets and having no memory of who he is. The search for his identity leads him to Zurich, where he discovers he has a bank account in the millions and an army of assassins trying to kill him. To provide cover for himself he abducts a Canadian economist, Dr. Marie St. Jacque (Jaclyn Smith) and forces her to go to Paris, where he continues his search which reveals that he may have been an international hitman. As the chase progresses, accompanied by beatings, killings and a near rape, Jason and Marie fall in love.

Executive producer Alan Shayne said, "The whole interest for me is that this is about a man wrestling with his identity and his past, you know, all the things that Richard Chamberlain does brilliantly. What changed it from being an ordinary action adventure was first Richard and then Jaclyn." Jaclyn was his first choice to play Marie, but she was still filming another project. So the part was offered to Lesley-Anne Down. "Lesley agreed to do it but at the last minute she didn't want to be separated from her husband, and she insisted that he be the camera operator. And you cannot take an American camera operator on a European location. We had to delay production, and then Jaclyn became available. This will be a Jaclyn Smith not seen before. She is kicked around, gets battered and bruised, gets her hair messed up, wears little makeup and not one ball gown. Her clothes here run from the plain to drab.

Sitting at a cafe one afternoon, at a rare moment when it isn't raining in Paris, Jaclyn says, "I'm happy about the wardrobe, because I get slammed so many times for my clothes and how I look. There's one scene where I'm hit and they had a piece made for my mouth that changes my whole face. Then people come up to me when I'm full of cuts and bedraggled and unlike myself and they'll say, "Oh, you look so real." I find it a bit irritating that they would make a remark like that, because I'm doing what the script calls for. People love to see a person with a glamorous image beat up, torn up. I think it's stupid."

Richard says, "I was watching Jaclyn in makeup the other day and every feature is perfect. I'm crazy about her. She has a quality that's so touching and vulnerable and sweet, that's even more beautiful than her beauty." No slouch in the looks department himself, Richard, at 53, seems not too different from his “Dr. Kildare” days, his leonine features having taken on a vaguely Mount Rushmore air (relieved regularly by outbursts of an antic sense of humour).

Richard gets even more beaten and bruised than Jaclyn, including a bullet wound in the head and a car door slammed on his hand. "Poor Bourne gets the shit beat out of him, pardon the expression." He says. On occasion he hasn't needed fake scars. "The first day of shooting, I was doing underwater stuff in a tank in Nice and got a big hole in my forehead, which has healed miraculously. Also in a scene in a car where a guy is attempting to rape Jaclyn and I try to save her, he kicks out the window. It was sugar glass, but real thick, and a piece came out and hit me in the head." Curiously the violence never obscures the love story, and the stars reveal a screen chemistry one doesn't expect from two such essentially wholesome people.

Fans follow the stars constantly taking pictures, calling, "Richard!" and "Jaclyn!" and keep a vigil outside the Hotel de la Tremoille where they're staying.

One morning, the production is filming at the Trocadero gardens, facing directly onto the Eiffel Tower. Against a background of cascading water from cannon-shaped fountains, Richard, in a taxi, passes another car, calls out the name of its occupant and pumps five bullets at him. On the terrace above, the crowd cheers as though he's just scored a 5.9 and he rewards them with his "king of the mini-series" smile.

On another day the show is filming under ground at the station of the Paris Metro. Richard chases actor James Faulkner up the steps, grabs him and keeps ramming him against the wall, holding a gun at his throat, while down below trains pull in. Most male passengers leaving the station ignore the melee as though they see it every day. But the women seem to have homing devices where Richard Chamberlain is concerned. At one break, he’s perspiring heavily and runs up the steps toward his makeup woman, saying, in a commercial announcer’s voice "Better than glycerin, better than Evian - real sweat!" Then he sings "Sweat gets in your eyes." Nearby, a mob of teenage girls giggle and one calls out "Such beautiful eyes, Richard!"

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