A more serious conflict arose when it came to Perseus’ climactic confrontation with the Gorgon Medusa. The actor, who did his thesis on mythology at Yale University, had been impressed by the bronze statue “Perseus With the Head of Medusa” by Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, which depicts the sword-wielding hero holding up the snake-haired noggin. Hamlin wanted to recreate this indelible image, but the filmmakers had other ideas. “When I first got the script, it contained pages of storyboards,” he says. “I got to the scene with Medusa, and it had me throwing a shield, and then the shield bounces off a rock and cuts off her head. I said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not cutting off Medusa’s head with my sword?’ I went to them the day they wanted me to sign to do the movie, and said, ‘I’m all for this, guys. This is great, Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, but…I gotta cut her head off with my sword!’ [Laughs] And they said, ‘Oh yeah, don’t worry about it, when we get to that scene, we’ll do that, it’s not a problem.’
“So we were in Malta, and the day we were going to shoot that scene, the director and Ray came up to me and said, ‘Harry, here’s the thing. We were really going to have you cut her head off with the sword, but we got a telex last night from London, and they said we can’t do it. We’ve got to go back to the storyboard.’ I was like, ‘What? Wait a minute, you promised me,’ and they said, ‘We know, but they just determined that if you cut her head off with the sword, the movie’s going to get an X rating for violence in England, and all these kids aren’t going to be able to see the movie.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s really too bad, guys, because you’re going to have to find another guy to play Perseus!’ And I went into my trailer and locked the door.
“They were all freaking out, and they unplugged all the electricity to the trailer to try to smoke me out