Interview: James Keach and Jane Seymour from “Blind Dating”
Interview: James Keach and Jane Seymour from “Blind Dating”

The Massie Twins recently got a one-on-one interview with director, actor, and producer James Keach, and his wife, actress Jane Seymour, who were out promoting their new film “Blind Dating.”

 

The Massie Twins: Which do you prefer more, Mr. Keach: Acting or directing?

James Keach: I love acting, but I hate auditioning. So if you said to me, “here’s the part,” I’d probably say “I like acting more”, but that isn’t the way it works. I love directing; I love working with actors. In a way, you vicariously act when you direct; you can play parts in your head when you direct that you could obviously never play. In my head I envision how it would be. I love getting great performances out of actors.

MT: How did you, Jane Seymour, get the role, and what attracted you to it? Was it written specifically for you?

JK: (cuts in) She slept with the director! (laughs all around)

Jane Seymour: My agent sent both of us the script and said that Theta Films, who made it, wanted James to direct and they wanted me to play Dr. Evans. We both read it, and we both loved the project. James did an enormous amount of work, in terms of rewrites, and really tuned it up and I thought this was a gem. This was one of those wonderful little movies that when the audience sees it, they all love it, and I loved the character of Dr. Evans. She’s not the largest role, but definitely an important role.

MT: How much research went into this project in terms of the main character’s blindness?

JK: Tom Sullivan, who’s blind, was one of the first guys I called when we decided we were going to do the movie. At one point Tom was a broadcast journalist and he’s a big spokesperson for the blind. He went to Harvard; he’s a filmmaker, writer, a musician – he’s a brilliant guy. He read the script and we spent several days talking over several different things. Things like “I love the sound of her smile.” I would ask Tom questions like “When you meet a woman, what do you ‘look’ for?” And I felt awkward saying that at first, but he would say things like “I saw a movie last night.” He sees things in a totally different way. But I embraced the different things he’d say to me. He can tell the length of a woman’s hair because of the sound of it. “I can hear it swishing.”

Tom worked with Chris (Pine) on how to walk and how to look away when he was talking to you, and he did things that Chris did in the movie. All of that is stuff he shared with us that he’d done in his life. I asked him about the plausibility of this operation. There was a Wired Magazine article that came out several years ago, and on the cover, there had been 15 [similar] surgeries recently, as recently as last week. Jane was in a screening of the movie in Connecticut and a woman came over to her and said “my daughter was blind, and just had an operation and has 75% sight now.” This isn’t science fiction. This is the real deal. It was really important for Chris, for the credibility of the film. I think Chris is a great young actor and I think he’s going to have a huge career, but it was really important to him that this wasn’t any bullshit and that he do this the right way. We had endless conversations about this surgery and how that would work.

MT: It looks very realistic. I’m glad to learn that it’s based on real current technology.

JS: It’s actually so accurate that we had technicians from the hospital doing all the shots with the medical equipment.

JK: We have a friend in L.A. and I went and watched eye surgeries, and then went to the University of Utah (it’s ironic that that is the center for all the major blind operations in America), and I talked to the top professors there. There are several different ways to do this cortex operation. This was one of the first types of operations. We don’t see with our eyes, we see with our brains. It’s just like a camera. The lenses that we have, it’s the same basic thing. The science of it was really cool, but it’s the entertainment of the movie that really counts.

MT: Was the whole film shot in Utah?

JK: Yes. It was serendipity that we went there. We chose Utah, because there’s a little town called Ogden that had trains. We didn’t have a lot of money to make this movie so when you’re doing a movie with a budget consideration, the one thing you don’t want to do is move your trucks a lot. We were able to almost take over the town, and keep our trucks in one spot. We built a restaurant and then had a stage and built his bedroom. We used practical offices for Jane.

MT: Are the scenes shown from Chris’ point of view after the initial operation close to what might actually be seen from a blind person with this operation?

JK: With all the reports that we read on it, the only way it would work is you wouldn’t see in color, you’d see in black and white.

MT: Where there any wild or crazy things that happened on the set? Any behind-the-scenes things you can share with us?

JS: I think the neatest thing was right before we started, James suggested that Eddie and Chris should travel to Utah on a road trip and they stopped off in Las Vegas for three days, and Chris pretended to be blind the entire time. They discovered very quickly that people didn’t talk to Chris. They’d ask Eddie what his friend wants. People would just leave him standing there, and walk away from him because he was blind!

MT: What were the main advantages or disadvantages between TV and film?

JK: I started in film as did Jane, and as a director and producer, one of the great advantages you have with television is that you learn to do things within a certain amount of time. Television is the best place to fail. And you have to fail in order to succeed. You have to make mistakes in order to achieve something. There’s an old saying, “Cecil B. DeMille in the morning, and Starsky and Hutch in the afternoon”, which means you come in with all these great visions and then…One of the problems with television is that you stay in what’s familiar, and you don’t push the envelope.

JS: It’s not so much the case these days. The boundaries have been crossed and film and television actors are working in both mediums all the time. You have to be a more seasoned actor to survive television than in film because there’s more time in film. If I don’t bring it all to the table, there’s not time to do 20 takes. When you make a movie of the week, it’s basically a mini-feature and you make it in 21 days. It’s a great training ground.

MT: How many days did it take to film Blind Dating?

JK: 30.

MT: Had the script been written for a PG-13 rating? Had you thought of going the R-rated route?

JK: The script had a lot of f-words in it, and I didn’t think that was appropriate. Why turn off so many people to the movie? I like movies that have some edge to them, some irreverence, but I don’t like movies that are disrespectful.

MT: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

JK: We’re casting a movie called “Waiting For Forever” and “Knuckleball” which is a baseball movie about a young woman who makes it to the major leagues.

MT: Will Jane be involved?

JK: She’s the young woman who makes it to the major leagues.

JS: (laughs)

JK: I’m going to produce both of them. We’ve got a lot of movies in development in various stages.