It’s Gillian Anderson’s birthday today. She was every nerdy guys pin-up throughout the 90’s, well, maybe her and Buffy… Armstrong is far classier than her stake wielding junior though. Happy birthday.
Robert Archibald Shaw (9 August 1927 – 28 August 1978) was an English stage and film actor and novelist, remembered for his performances in ‘From Russia with Love’ (1963), ‘Battle of the Bulge’ (1965), ‘A Man for All Seasons’ (1966), ‘The Golden Voyage of Sinbad’ (1974), the original ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’ (1974), ‘Black Sunday’ (1977), ‘The Deep’ (1977), ‘Force 10 From Navarone’ (1978) and most famously ‘The Sting’ (1973), and ‘Jaws’ (1976), where he played the iconic shark hunter Quint.
In The Sting, Shaw played Chicago crime boss Doyle Lonnegan who is the target of a swindle by the characters played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Doyle Lonnegan’s limp in the film, used to great effect by Shaw, was in fact completely authentic as Shaw had slipped on a wet handball court at the Beverly Hills Hotel just a week before filming began and had split all the ligaments in his knee. He had to wear a leg brace during production which was kept hidden under the wide 1930s style trousers he wore. This incident was revealed by producer Julia Philips in her 1991 autobiography ‘You’ll Never Eat Lunch in this Town Again’. She said that Shaw saved The Sting since no other actor would accept the part, that Paul Newman hand delivered the script to Shaw in London in order to ensure his participation, and that he had to be paid an extremely high salary. Philips’ book also asserts that he was not nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award because he demanded that his name follow those of Newman and Redford before the film’s opening title.
The role of Quint was originally offered to actors Lee Marvin and Sterling Hayden, both of whom passed. Producers Zanuck and Brown had just finished working with Robert Shaw on The Sting, and suggested him to Spielberg as a possible Quint. thank God it played out that way. As much as I love Lee Marvin, Robert Shaw will always be Quint. As captain of the Orca, he’s exceptional in the role, a perfect mix brashness, bravado, sarcasm and melancholy. He has a few memorable scenes in a movie crammed full of them; his entrance, at the town meeting, dragging his fingernails down the blackboard; his pitch perfect delivery of his experience on the USS Indianapolis to Brody (Roy Scheider) and Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss); and his death, as he slides down the deck of the sinking Orca, into the sharks mouth and is eaten alive, fighting to the very end. Although filming was scheduled to take 55 days, it eventually ended on October 6, 1974 after 159 days. Spielberg, reflecting on the extended delay, stated: “I thought my career as a filmmaker was over. I heard rumors … that I would never work again because no one had ever taken a film 100 days over schedule.” Spielberg himself was not present for the shooting of the final scene in which the shark explodes. He believed that the crew were planning to throw him in the water when this scene was complete. It has since become a tradition for Spielberg to be absent when the final scene of a film he directs is being filmed.