This interview is in English. Do not use translation software... Toujours aussi sympathique, John Putch a accepté de s’ étendre quelques instants sur sa carrière d’ acteur et réalisateur. Je vous laisse en profiter:
1/ You had 14 years to the release of the first Jaws. Were you a fan of the franchise when you were hired on Jaws 3D? Have you seen the two films before the shooting to help you interpret the character of Sean Brody?
I was a total Jaws fan and I re-watched the prior two on VHS before going in to audition. I was blinded at the possibility of being in a Jaws movie, so I did not care about the script. And what would i know about quality, I was only 20. The only thing I really had to go on from the first 2 movies were that Sean Brody was afraid of the water. The rest was brother stuff which was in the script.
2/ Do you remember your audition? Did you know that you would have to perform some stunts and spend much time in the water (and into the arms of Lea Thompson)?
My auditions were intense. I went several times. I was paired up with different girls. I remember going to one of the auditions and seeing Jennifer Jason Lee studying her lines to audition. I was completely intimidated by her beauty and talent. She was also just off the success of ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’ co-staring with a buddy of mine Robert Romanus. (bob has been in a lot of the films I direct)
I was paired up with Lea in the final auditions. We read the scenes many times and acted them out in the production office at Alan Landsburg’s building in west LA. I remember being very relaxed and comfortable with the role, so I had a good time riffing on the material and coming off realistic. Lea was so sweet and new. I think it was her first feature film. She was fresh out of Pittsburgh or PHilidelphia. She hooked up with Dennis Quaid pretty quick. Next thing we knew they were engaged. A funny Lea story: I remember how they kept hinting that for the international version they wanted Lea to do a topless scene. She was rightfully mortified and declined. She mentioned that if they forced her to do it, she would draw giant black X’s on her boobs so they couldn’t use the shots, or clean it off. I thought wow, this girl is right and she’s got a good game plan to avoid being nude in the movie. Less than a year later she is completely nude opposite Tom Cruise in ‘All the Right Moves’.
Over the years I’ve run into Lea here and there. She also did some directing at a TV movie house I was working at were I directed Poseidon Adventure. Everytime I see her I wait to see if she recognizes me before saying hello. Once I stood next to her talking for 5 minutes before she figured out it was me. She’s a talented director, I hope she keeps it up.
3/ Can you say something about the strange game of STAND-OFF? Is this a pure invention of the production or a popular game in the early 80′s?
It must have been one of the big bar games of the times. It was in the script. I remember i had to defeat my buddy Carl Mazzocone (location manager) in the scene before Lea came up and took me on. Mazz is the bearded dude who I beat. He happens to be producing the new ‘Leatherface 3D’ franchise in Shreveport, LA right now. I think I put you in touch with him a few years ago. He is a great behind the scenes anecdote resource for you. Let me know if you need his email again.
4/ History tells you became intimate with the water skier Jackie Kuntarich during filming. Can you confirm?
Where did you hear that obscure bit of trivia? That’s a good one. And yes, I flipped my lid for Jackie and we had a wonderful love affair over the course of that shooting. Then spent Christmas together in ’83. What a gorgeous and delightful person. All of the skiers were fun and nice folks. There was a boat driver/manager named Sharkey Schwartz who we hung out with a lot. He was fun and worked the movie boats for us in the lagoon.
5/ I have most of your movies on DVD (Fugitive Mind, Tycus, spoiler, American Pie 7, the wave, the Poseidon …). Are you proud of all of your work as well as an actor and director? How to locate Jaws 3D in your career (high or low?)
I love all the B movies that I’ve acted in and now directed. I was so serious as a young director on movies like Tycus and Intrepid (Deep Water) that I had no time to laugh and enjoy how outrageous they were. But now I can reflect on them with great humor and I love remembering all the crazy shit we did as low budget film makers back then. If i ever write a book, I’ve got a whole chapter just for the great Dennis Hopper. My good director friend Jeff Burr put me in Spoiler after we directed together at Saban. (Big Bad Beetleborgs).
Jeff is just finishing Alien Tornado. Jeff is sort of a legend in the horror fantasy world. Step Father 2 put him on the map.
When Bess Armstrong and I sat through a screening of Jaws 3D at universal one day before its release, we both looked at each other when it was over and said…. »let’s get drunk » cause we knew our careers might be over. So I was very defensive about it when it came out. Although it was a box office hit, I was not too proud of it. But now! I’m so glad to have been apart of cinematic history no matter the quality of the film. I love that it is so B like. I am proud of it. Fun. Nothing but fun.
The best films I’ve made are my own Indie movies. . Like Mojave PHone Booth and Route 30 . The latter being so sucessful in the state of Pennsylvania, that I have decided to make it a trilogy. The 2nd film is due out next fall (2012). Its called Route 30, Too! and will have many B elements in it. Spaceships and ghosts duke it out in south central, PA. Route 30 Too. Those are my best work as a writer and in many ways a director. And the total budget combined of all three mentioned above is under 200K. So you could definitely put them in the non A category.
Thank you for everything, John.
Thanks, Romain. Remember if you come to California ever, let us know. I’ll assemble the Jaws 3D alumni for a visit with you.