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Why an actor faked his own kidnapping on the set of a classic Stanley Kubrick film

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Whilst Stanley Kubrick is known as one of the finest filmmakers of all time, standing alongside the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Andrei Tarkovsky, Alfred Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, he was also known as a maverick creative and difficult personality on set. Often, this resulted in on-set clashes, such as with Shelley Duvall during the production of The Shining, who has frequently discussed the distress she experienced. 

More recently, Duvall recalled her experience working with Stanley Kubrick to The Hollywood Reporter, becoming emotional as she rewatched old footage. Explaining her reaction, the actor stated: “Because we filmed that for about three weeks. Every day. It was very hard. Jack was so good – so damn scary. I can only imagine how many women go through this kind of thing”. Despite the emotionally draining scene, Duvall later added: “It was a difficult scene, but it turned out to be one of the best in the film”. 

Duvall wasn’t the only actor unhappy with her treatment from Stanley Kubrick however, with Timothy Carey also annoyed on the set of Paths of Glory, albeit for a more tame reason. The director’s 1957 war movie stars Kirk Douglas as a Colonel ordered to court-martial three alleged deserting soldiers in WWI, whilst their innocence is questioned and pleaded. 

One of the three ‘deserting’ soldiers was depicted by American actor, Timothy Carey, who would later be known for The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and One-Eyed Jacks, and who would cause significant issues on the set of Kubrick’s film. In an attempt to draw more attention to his character, Carey was reportedly very disruptive, illustrated by a scene that depicted the soldiers’ final meal taking 57 takes to complete. Bizarrely, Carey then faked his own kidnapping in an attempt to generate personal publicity, a decision that led Kubrick and producer James B. Harris to fire him. 

The film Stanley Kubrick hated so much he tried to burn the negatives

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As a consequence of this many planned scenes involving Carey had to be cut, they were simply too far into production to recast the character. This included one scene showing the three soldiers during the battle itself whilst a body double was used during a moment in which a priest hears Carey’s character’s confession. 

It’s no surprise that Carey was fired, however, with the production of Paths of Glory already experiencing difficulty without the interference of the actor. The battle scene was particularly arduous with Kubrick hiring over 600 German police officers to act as extras for soldiers, whilst the director hired 5,000 square yards of land from a local farmer to act as the battlefield. In the process of arranging props and tearing up the farmland, it took Kubrick a month just to set up the filming of the assault.

Take a look at the trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s iconic war movie below.

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