Saturday, November 24, 2018

The time when Ricky Jay almost blinded Pierce Brosnan

AVClub interview from 2009:

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)—“Henry Gupta”

RJ: Yeah, the father of techno-terrorism. A part that was originally cast for a 25-year-old Indian man, so I’m not quite sure how I convinced Roger Spottiswoode that that would be a good role for me, but I did somehow.

AVC: Did they change the part after you came onboard?

RJ: They did. At one point, they wanted me to throw cards as weapons to attack Bond, but the first time they asked me to do it in rehearsal, I was an enormously long distance away from Pierce Brosnan, and I warned them that the cards went very, very hard and fast, and they said no no, they had someone in front of it to block the shot, and I again said, “I don’t think you should do that,” they said, “No, no, it’ll be okay.” And Pierce seemed to be fine with it. So I whaled a card, I don’t know how, 50 or 75 feet away, and they said, “Just throw it at his face,” and I hit him right above the eye, and realized that I almost ruined the most lucrative franchise in the history of film. Suddenly that scene was no longer in the movie. [Laughs.] So in a way that was horribly disappointing, but the rest of it was fun.
Also, "The Decaying Dice of Ricky Jay":
It was cost-effective to manufacture and could be produced in a variety of attractive colors. Heated until soft and molded into shapes, it became a substitute for products fashioned out of ivory, tortoiseshell, and horn. Perhaps it is best known for its use in motion-picture film, where its volatility has resulted in the destruction of a vast percentage of early footage. But it was also used to fashion removable collars, collar stays, knife handles, guitar picks, piano keys, billiard balls, and, of course, dice.

These cellulose nitrate dice, the industry standard until the middle of the twentieth century (when they were replaced with less flammable cellulose acetate), typically remain stable for decades. Then, in a flash, they can dramatically decompose. The crystallization begins on the corners and then spreads to the edges. Nitric acid is released in a process called outgassing. The dice cleave, crumble, and then implode. Unpaired electrons or free radicals can abet the deterioration. The light and smog of Los Angeles, where my dice have resided for many years, are likely accomplices.

To record the death of my dice I called Rosamond Purcell, doyenne of decaying objects, photographer of taxidermological specimens
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