L'Europeo August 21, 1969
My meeting with Sharon Tate
by Adriano Botta
Continued from yesterday...
The contract she signed was for seven years. Sharon exacted a million pounds a week without shooting a meter of film. Martin was creating his character, he made her look like a diva, mobilized around her make-up experts, dietetics, riding, fencing, and tennis. They came up with slogans like these: "Nothing is more exhilarating for a 'tete-a-Tate'", "It's not the one you are admiring Sharon Tate, but the Tate Gallery: Only in the famous British Museum there is such beauty."
"I had great confidence in my own producer," Sharon says. "I loved him. And I put up all his nonsense. Practically lived in a prison. I was forbidden to go out at night, forbidden to go to the movies, forbidden to go to the theater, forbidden to be photographed. Forbidden everything. Martin said that the public should not see me before I was ready. I become the puppet that he wanted. Trained for three years. I recommended to him that I wanted to take acting seriously. He said didn't like the idea of acting! I asked him to let me take a course at the Actors Studio in New York and you know what he answered? 'Wretch! You're just an accident! You have not yet realized that you're a force of nature. Acting as understood at the Actor's Studio will kill your beauty, take away any flavor.' Instead I realized that he had decided to make me a 'dumb blonde.' And one day I had a screen test. I was in the anteroom of the principal. The door of his office was still open. Martin spoke on the phone. 'In a couple of months I can give you something great,' he said, 'now it is not yet possible. She needs to gain some weight, at least a couple of pounds: even her teeth need a little work and it will be necessary, but then how can you complain? She is a niave and an inferior airhead and will do fine. She will be a hit, you'll see. We will make plenty of money on her.' Yes, this is the way he saw me. I loved him. I believed in him as a second father. In order not to disappoint him I had been made up to look like a prostitute who does tricks in Soho: layers of foundation, lipstick, big hair. It made me feel dirty. I had agreed to wear ostentatious clothing, like corsets squeezed to show my breasts and jewelry that looked ridiculous. I would puff up my hair, and stick out my bottom lip and say invented idiotic jokes for advertising as an example of the Tate Gallery. I was good, obedient. He always told me so. And he was still smiling when I felt like crying. Sure, I was paid handsomely. But money is not everything. I have my pride."
After she heard the call Ransohoff had made Sharon exploded. She told Martin "No, I will never be a whore moron!" To appease Sharon, Martin pulled in the reins and he sent her to study at the Actor's Studio for a while. Sharon had to turn a blind eye on her romance with the prince of Hollywood hairdressering, Jay Sebring, and she was inserted into a movie with grim tones. The Eye of the Devil with David Niven and Deborah Kerr. It was a film about witches. The farmers are at a feud in the French Bordeaux region where they are mesmerized by a medium and try to kill the husband of the Marquise to remove the curse that weighs curse to their fields. Kerr played the Marchioness, Niven portrayed the Marquis, Sharon Tate was the visionary girl who unleashes fear and hatred from peasants, a modern witch who is mysterious, with a devilish charm. The film was not a particularly warm welcome to the film world but Sharon was pleased. It pleased her body, if not its soul.
More coming tomorrow....
For Brosnan, the reason for doing the film was simple: Polanski. Brosnan met Polanski in Paris over lunch during Mamma Mia!'s European promotional tour two years ago.
"We talked about this and that, lives, life lost, movies," Brosnan says. "We didn't talk about the motivation of my character or any of the politics."
For more on Brosnan and the rest of this interview: