The cast of Jesus Christ Superstar during
it's 4+-year tour.
Photo courtesy of Debbie Spykerman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
THE 1973 NORMAN JEWISON FILM
I can't say enough about Norman Jewison's BEAUTIFUL 1973 film of Jesus Christ Superstar. It brought Ted and Company to our attention, and has left a lasting statement to what ALW's material can be at its' best. On these pages you will find publicity articles and shots, film stills, and, on this page, a few things of interest having to do with the film itself. ENJOY!!!
You can find specific pages for the media shots and film stills at the following links:
SPECIAL SCREENING OF THE NEWLY REMASTERED DIGITAL WIDESCREEN VERSION OF JCS ON TCM!!!
UPDATE 6/27/16 (From Ted Neeley.com and Ted's Facebook Page)
CLICK ON TH E VIDEO/PICTURE LINK ABOVE TO CONNECT TO TED'S VIDEO!!!
CLICK ON THE PICTURE/LIN K BELOW TO GO TO THE TCM OVERVIEW PAGE!!!
NEW DOCUMENTARY ON THE MAKING OF THE JCS FILM AND CAST REUNION AVAILABLE!!!
UPDATE 1/8/16 (From Ted Neeley.com and Ted's Facebook Page)
UPDATE 12/11/15 (From Ted Neeley.com and Ted's Facebook Page)
In a Facebook and tedneeley.com update on 9/18/15, Ted has announced that there is a new documentary on the making of Norman Jewison's BRILLIANT 1973 film of Jesus Christ Superstar, and the cast/director reunion that happened this past April 27-28 at The Beekman Theatre in NYC. It is due to ship December 1, and the cost is only $25! See details below! ENJOY!
Pre-order at this link:
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR SPECIAL EDITION WIDESCREEN DVD AVAILABLE!!!
Norman Jewison's BRILLIANT 1973 film of Jesus Christ Superstar has now been
released in a special edition widescreen DVD with commentary by Ted and
is a shot
some links to purchase it for lower prices and the commentary
Laura Dacosta (email@example.com) from DaGirLS) found this info - thanks Laura:
Audio commentaries* with Director Norman Jewison and actor Ted Neeley (EEEE-HAH!)
2.35; 1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Track
Courtesy of (firstname.lastname@example.org), the latest info on this Special Edition DVD that we've been waiting for!
This DVD includes an interview/commentary with Ted and Norman Jewison. Here's the Amazon UR to order:
Courtesy of Helena (email@example.com),
here is another link to order the new Special Edition
FROM UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO $14.95
CLICK HERE http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=4295
(Joblo's Movie Emporium) Coolness #3
Mianne (firstname.lastname@example.org) found the DVD at Empire for $8.99+ S&H:
Lynne Freels (a.k.a. Moose) (email@example.com) found the best deal on the DVD so far"
$9.35 - WITH FREE SHIPPING at Deep DiscountDVD.com:
Susan (Beachie) Kern (firstname.lastname@example.org)
found a great review of the new DVD here:
Lynne Freels (a.k.a. Moose) (email@example.com) has graciously allowed me to post her DVD Spoilers e-mail here, for anyone for has not seen it on the list, and/or has not heard the DVD yet. Thanks Lynne:
I dislike surprises; so, for those of you who are unsure of whether or not you should purchase this special edition, here are my thoughts.
Firstly, and this comment is not a spoiler, there is a photos section that contains some magnificent stills from the productions of shots and angles I've never seen before. Just beautiful.
Next, Ted and Norman (Jewison, the Director) comment together. They are both genuine in the expression of their memories regarding the making of this film.
> WARNING!!! SPOILERS BELOW!!!
I was surprised at Ted's speaking voice. It's not quite what I imagined, but it's very pleasant to listen to. He speaks very softly, and his Texas accent emerges more when he's emotionally moved by something (whether it's a sad or humorous reminiscence). This accent is in contrast to Norman's Toronto, Canada accent ('aboot', and other slight Irish sounding words. No quintessential "eh", though).
It's interesting to note that, in addition to directing "Fiddler on the Roof", Norman had prior experience directing musical television (such as "The Judy Garland Show", amongst others. I love her voice, too).
Ted states that, when he heard that Norman was casting for the movie, he asked Norman to come see him perform in "Tommy". Norman obliged, driving from Los Angeles to someplace in Arizona (like driving from Edinburgh to Inverness in Scotland), only to discover that Ted wasn't performing that night. Ted explained that he had had a small accident that afternoon, and wasn't informed that Norman was enroute to see him.
There's been a lot of speculation by critics regarding the casting of Carl, an African-American, in the role of Judas. In Canada, especially during the time of the casting, there was no racial conflict; however, we were aware - via the media - of that problem in the States. Thus, Norman expressed to Carl his concern about racial condemnation by Americans. Carl asked him why he was chosen as Judas. When Norman replied, "Because of your talent", then Carl told the Director not to worry about how Americans would perceive his casting choice.
Relative to this, Ted recalled that, after a day of shooting the film, he and Carl would wind down by analyzing their characters. They were both raised in a Southern Baptist type of atmosphere; so, they knew the Bible backward and forward. However, they recognized the need (according to the libretto) to get away from these characters' divinity. They did that by pouring over the book "The Last Temptation of Christ": a still controversial story that also portrayed a deep friendship between Jesus and Judas. Remember, the humanity of Biblical characters had never been dealt with in film before; so, there was not much from which to cull inspiration. "Last Temptation ..." wasn't made into a film until 1988.
Their efforts were successful, judging by Ted's pleased comments regarding the fanbase and what he's heard from people like us. He pointed out that it was specifically Norman Jewison's vision that had a similar profound impact on his life as that of some of the fans with whom he's had the "pleasure of discussion".
Norman states that he constantly worried about people injuring themselves as they crawled around ruins and hills without any safety device. For instance, Ted was sitting in front of the camera during the filming of Judas' suicide when the rope broke. Happily, Ted moved fast and caught Carl before he fell over the edge of the tall cliff that you see in the pan-back shot (before it lowers to the setting of the Trial Before Pilate).
The worst accident occurred during the Trial scene, when one of choreographers fell off of the top of the amphitheatre. While he missed a large piece of equipment by inches, he broke his pelvis, collar bone, and leg.
Norman also had to hire extras for a few scenes. Ted related how he was almost truly crucified when the non-English speaking extra, who was playing the part of a Roman soldier, placed the nail on Ted's palm and was about to hammer it through skin and bone when Norman frantically yelled at the Arab to stop.
Regarding the crucifixion scene, they both elaborated a bit more on the coincidental weather change. That region had not had rain for years. When the cross was erected with Ted on it, a storm came upon the place very suddenly. Everyone ran for cover, and Ted was stuck there.
There was a curious silence from both of them during the death of Jesus scene (after he says, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit", and then his head lolls slowly forward as he dies). Norman asked Ted what he was feeling at this point. Ted responded that he was trying to hold back tears. He reiterated again, how grateful he was to Norman for allowing him to be a part of a truly life-changing experience; but, this is where the impact of Carl's death hit him hard. You can hear the profound sorrow and loss in his voice. You don't have to see him to witness the impact of what he's feeling. He states three times in the commentary, "I miss you, Carl". The third time he utters it, he's not saying it to us.
Upon first listening to how Ted expresses himself, the jaded audience member will wonder if anyone could truly be that humble with, what would seem in today's overly-cynical world, that much philanthropy. As you listen more and more to his exchange with Norman, you come to understand that this is not a persona - a defensive mask. This is a rare honest display of self. Thus, Ted can tell Norman that he's "holding back sobs"; whereas, most actors would lie disingenuously.
Most actors? Most people, especially men. In patriarchal societies, men are expected to control, hide, or deny their emotions (except anger). Now, everyone is not the same; but, the simple societal expectation has a huge impact on self-conduct/definition. As a result, they act most of the time, rarely acknowledging that part of themselves that defines them as human. No offense intended, guys. Women, too, end up acting in ways they think is expected of them. What results is an unhealthy, unfulfilled bunch of individuals.
I really admire Ted for such a courageous display of honesty.
Our Tedhead Family is a really amazing group of people. Recently, we've had a few new members join from Spain and Peru, who don't read or speak English as well as they would like, so some of our list members got out the DVD and decided to help make things easier for them. The result was a complete transcription of Ted and Norman's Commentary on the new JCS DVD. I did a little fine-tuning on the transcription, but the initial work was initially done by: DaSusan (Horlick), Lynne (Freels), Mark (Ellison) and especially Von (Thompson) and Maria (Grazia), who, I believe, did the bulk of the work. FABULOUS JOB GUYS!!!:
Ted Neeley (T):
Hello, hello, hello. That’s me and I’m proud to say that I love the idea
that I’m sitting here with
N.: This film was made from a
two-record album, an L.P., because in those days, in 1972, when the film was
made, 32 years ago, there were no video-cassettes. It was made from a
long-playing album and it was an opera that was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber
and Tim Rice, in
N.: This is Yvonne Elliman, who plays Mary.
T.: Oh, my goodness! Ha!
N. That’s Joshua, Joshua Mostel
T.: Oh, Carl.
N.: And there's Carl. Anderson
T.: You found that.
N.: We built very little. Richard McDonald was the Producer Designer, who was just sensational,
T.: Yes, he was.
and he decided that the film should be shot with existing locations, and we
would add things to it.
N. And, there you are, Ted! See,
that was 32 years ago, you looked a lot more---
N.: How old were you there?
T.: I think I was 28.
N.: Oh, my God.
T.: And, look at these guys
climbing up that scaffolding, you know, that's why I said that to begin with.
This scaffolding was so incredible that...
HEAVEN ON THEIR MINDS
N.: Gosh! Look at what they put on now!
T.: (Laughs) I think the key word in that is sack!
N.: I must say Carl Anderson is -
probably gave the performance of his life here, and, of course, the film has
become a classic. But, unfortunately, we lost Carl only a month ago. He died
very young, at the age of 58.
T.: To come to see Tommy, yes.
N.: To see you in it, yeah. And,
you remember when I came?
WHAT’S THE BUZZ
N. Larry Marshall , he’s playing Simon the Zealot.
T. These, these, these were so
incredible to be - that the atmosphere, within these caves was so incredible and
having that single source of light coming from above, and how you were so
careful about time of day to make sure we were certain...
T. Oh, my God.
N. Here's Yvonne Elliman.
T.: There's Yvonne.
N.: She comes from
T. Olympic Studios.
Strange Thing Mystifying
T: Oh, Absolutely it's Judas all the way down the line. It's from Judas's point of view, he's the narrator; he keeps us connected with every single character. And the whole idea is that he's telling us from his point of view what he observed though the whole thing and it is called "Jesus Christ Superstar" The story is about Jesus, but it is Judas' concept of it.
N: Concept of him being a superstar.
T: Yes, Absolutely, and his whole philosophy is you letting your superstardom, so to speak, what you have accomplished, you're more concerned with that then what you are saying, you see.
N: I love this dramatic conflict between Judas and Christ. I mean, this is what makes the relationship work in this film. Because good films are all about dramatic confrontation. And it's your performance with Carl that really is at the heart of the artistry of this film, in my opinion.
T: Well, Thank you for allowing us to do that.
N: I remember when I when I flew you both over to London for your screen test.
T: That's right.
N: Cause I told you I'd pretty well made up my mind about other people. But I wanted to see the both of you together.
T: Yes and we were in the process of rehearsing for the Universal Amphitheater production of superstar here in L.A. When you flew us over for our screen test.
N: Right, right.
T: And uh, Carl and I had all that time on the plane to, shall we say, prepare for what we were going to do. 'Cause we both knew that you had someone else in mind for both roles. So, we were just going to go over there and have a great time and spend time with you and your crew. Great group of guys in the crew, just made us feel so welcome on the sound stage.
T: In what was there.
N: In what was there, even the throne that's sitting there was real.
T: Isn't this the ruin of Herod the Great's Castle.
N: Yes, this was Herod's Castle. But, I can't remember where in Israel where we where.
T: Well, we where way out in the middle of the country. Because I know that one point that you came up to me and said this particular sequence you were doing right here was going to take a while that day and if you want to go off for a while and just have some time, so I did. And I walked up at the top part of this ruin and I sat down and literally you could see all the way back to California. It was just desert no matter how far you looked. There was nothing. And I sit down there for a few minutes, Norman, just closed my eyes and thought: "Okay I'd better get myself focus for the next sequence" and when I opened my eyes, keep in mind I could see forever, when I opened my eyes there was a brunch of little kids, brunch of little local kids setting right in front of me looking at me. I thought I was hallucinating, I honestly did. There were a brunch of local kids who were part of this group of people that were coming though to look at the palace that day. The ruins that day.
N: Well, the tourists, yeah, Yeah we even hired some of the tourists to be in the film I think, for some of the crowd scenes.
T: Oh yeah, after a while there we became part of the .................
N: Now he was in, wasn't Bingham in the - , who plays Caiaphas...
T: Yeah, Bob Bingham and Kurt Yaghijan there.
N: Yeah, Bob Bingham, with that Bass that wonderful Bass voice
N: Was he American or British?
N: He was American.
T. Yes, both of these gentlemen were American.
N: They were both American, but were they from the New York production?
T: They were in the New York Company together. (Commenting on the scene) Oh, I love that.
N: (commenting on Kurt Yaghijan's performance) He's wonderful isn't He? He is just wonderful. (about Bob Bingham) I love his face with kind of blue eyes it just - everyone said to me that well he supposed to be a high priest but he's got blue eyes. I said this is not biblically correct this is an opera. We have to go with the talent, with the voices.
N. Here was probably the prettiest melodic lines. And it's all acapella. Sweet voice.
How great it was once again to be in these caves, just surrounded by that
The lady was so beautiful.
It's good to be the King.
There was a lovely warmth and relationship between the two of you.
She's such a sweetheart.
And there it is: the Good, the Bad and the Beautiful, all in one shot!
T. And listen to that voice.
N. And I
was so worried with Carl, and Carl and I were very concerned when he was cast,
because he was black, and I didn't want people attacking the film from that
a racial standpoint. He said, 'But why are you casting me?'. I said, 'I'm
casting you because of your talent, not because of your color'. And he said,
'Then, I'm gonna do it man, and don't you worry yourself over it', and you know,
I've made 'In The Heat Of The Night' and I was very concerned about racial
problems in films and how they can be misconstrued by people.
T. Look at that face! (Carl's face) There's so much innocence there.
N. And he was innocent,
I love this shot with the two hands. It was really fascinating to be able to
shoot a film with no dialogue, with just nothing to work with except the music,
and the lyrics and this wonderful, extraordinary cast of dancer-singers, and I
think what was exciting about it also was that the audience, the cinema
audience, had no idea of what they were gonna see. And, as you said, it was like
the first hour and a half rock-video.
Exactly right, and the fact that Tim Rice so brilliantly put those lyrics
together in such a manner that it was story-telling for us, that we could have
conversations in those songs. You see, c-o-n-v-e-r-s-a-t-i-o-n-s.
And we could choreograph with film, we could choreograph with our editing, you
know what I mean? That's what's extraordinary with this film, because of the
work of Tony Gibbs and the tremendous dissolves and superimpositions and....
Look at this one. Look at that, is that magnificent?!
at those eyes! (Ted's eyes at the end of
Everything Is Alright)
T. (Ted reacts to birds) Ah!
...to those magnificent birds, and these were vultures.
And everyone of them were on a Screen Actor's Guild contract! Ha ha!
N. Ha ha ha! Yeah, it cost us a lot of money to arrange that shot.
THIS JESUS MUST DIE
actually went from the black vultures against the sky to the black costumes of
the priests on their scaffolding, so everything tied in. Some of the transitions
are just, I think, quite brilliant. But they were there because of what
happened. In other words ...
It was all organic.
N. It was all organic, yeah. We just took the camera, and ...
And I remember so many times when we've be in the middle of something, you know,
and you'd call 'Cut!' and we'd break for a moment, and in an instant (Ted
clicks his fingers) you'd have the camera crew grabbing the birds, or
grabbing this, or shooting this thing ...
Grabbing this, or grabbing that, you know!
Shadows coming through trees, and lights, and golden hours you would be shooting
into the sunset. All of this wonderful transition stuff that you had in your
mind already, that you knew what you we're gonna use.
Don't you remember of how hot it was? I mean, it was 120 degrees.
And as you can see there're no trees out there anywhere.
Right. And all we did was drink water. Remember, the Israeli Army told us
we had to drink
And you never went to the bathroom, the Sun just sucked it right out of you!
T. Exactly right. And you remember that little guy that was always bringing water around...
N. The little Arab kid.
we called him "Drinking", 'cause that's all he could say (in English):
"Drinking? Drinking? Drinking?".
We hired a lot of Bedouins, we hired a lot of the local Arab people. The cast is
a mixture of Christian, Hebrew, Jewish, Muslim, all three religions, and we even
had two Buddhists. So it was remarkably integrated religiously ...
It might have been the one of the only films ever made that the word got out the
country that if you're in the area, 'Come on, you got a job' .if you walk around
the set, we'll put you into costume! Ha!
We hired so many of the cast, like most of the people in this scene are Israeli.
Except for Caiaphas and Annas, everybody else is Israeli.
Everybody else is Israeli. Israeli actors that we cast. And the only requisite I
had was you had to speak English, simply
because I didn't have any Hebrew and we were working with a British crew, but
all of our crew, of course, were Israeli except for our lead people.
Yes, all the key people were your guys from your wonderful crew, and everyone
else was local. All those times when you would yell 'Action!', how many
different languages did they repeat that in?
That's right. But you know the camera work on this film ... we had the
largest crane, the great big Atlas crane that came from
This is the wonderful entrance of Jesus into
T. And there's a moment coming up here, in this, toward the end of this scene...
Is that your wife there?
Almost. We'll find her here in a minute.
When you get a good picture a good shot here...
Of Leeyan ...
Of Leeyan, I want you to tell them the story about you and Leeyan. Very simple
props with the palm leaves, and the - look at how effective it is! And I like
the innocence of it. I like the simplicity of it: that it wasn't done with 3,000
extras. That it never stopped being an opera, a theatrical performance.
And every person there, whether they could speak our language with each other or
not, was completely...
Look at the dust in your hair here! Look at how dusty it was - you see? And that
And it's not something you put dust in there. Ha ha!
And you didn't have to worry about the continuity, 'cause it was gonna be the
same way every day!
Your hair is still almost as long, you know that, Ted?
Yeah, yeah. I can't seem to cut it, you know? Until then it was short, but once
we were there it just keeps growing long.
How many different versions of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' have you performed
Oh, there had been several to say the least. Well, for example that, the last
tour that I did from '92 to '97. There were over 2000 performances just on that
So I've done a couple...
So I've done a couple...
How did your voice hold up?
I have nothing to do with it, it's an electrical thing, I just plug in, you see, there's this box there. Ha ha! I have no idea.
Because it's a strenuous vocal chore, this opera ... look at these little
Arab kids, these little Israeli kids ...
This is that little moment. You got these little boys, you picked these little
guys, that particular day to be sitting with me. And this magical
moment that you captured in the face of this child. Oh!
N. And look at this setting ... I mean, this is, it reminded me of John Ford's films in Moab, Utah, and William Wyler's films, where the architecture of the cliffs themselves, almost create a brilliant setting. Look at that! Just sitting out there...
T. There it was.
N....and that's all
that remains with
those Roman columns. And this was very close to the
T. Jeffrey Hyslop.
N. Jeffrey Hyslop! He was the Assistant Choreographer, wasn't he?
Where's your wife?
On the left.
N. Oh! There she is. She wasn't your wife then. She was your girlfriend, right? I think it's wonderful you met your -- you met someone and fell in love...
Well, you say she's my girlfriend. We met there, and we didn't become, we didn't
start dating until after it was all done. I had that robe on, you see, and I was
You had the robe on! And I wouldn't allow you any fraternization with
anybody. I kept you alone.
Exactly right. I was guarded from the beginning.
And I kept Judas in his group.
And what was remarkable ... There, see? On the right.
N. There she is, there's your wife!
T. Right there on the right. In the brown.
The girl on the
right, right there, the pretty one!
There, she's on the left now. But that whole thing you did from the very
beginning, of putting us in our groups, you know, and it
automatically created our different factions with Judas and his group, and my
group, over here with the Apostles, you know, and, then of course the Priests. I
factions were created instantly, and you kept it that way.
Oh look at Larry! Larry, isn't he wonderful? And there's little Bayork Lee, the
T. Hy Douglas.
N. In this (scene) I used a lot of different little television tricks here, where I slowed the camera down and yet stayed in total rhythm.
T. Vera, Leeyan, Robert, Jeff, Leeyan.
And these kids (the
dancers) came from
All over the place. That wonderful group that came in from
All over the place. That wonderful group that came in from
Well, Rob Iscove was a Canadian choreographer I knew.
And there's Wendy, his wife, Right there on the left, that's his wife, Wendy.
And there's magical Carl.
N. And this is where Judas is just looking at this adulation.
T. Ha ha! Larry!
N. Larry Marshal! He plays the Zealot. The religious Zealot. I love the Roman soldiers, just kind of ... there in the background watching all of this.
Yeah, in the purple.
You know, and how we mixed oozy machine guns and still kept the spears. And so there's a
slight, slight mixture of modern and biblical. Actually gives it this kind of theatrical feeling
and these kids (the dancers) were
working at probably 110-115 degrees.
At least that, absolutely!
N. They could work for about 30 seconds, 40 seconds and then we'd have to cut.
T. And, hopefully, you
would have something left to...
Look at that framework! It's just wonderful! It's just a fabulous camera ...
T. Thank God for water, I'm tell ya, in that sequence. Kathryn, Yvonne, Vera, Larry.
Now, that gives a good shot of his dental work (when
Larry finally screams out with his mouth wide-open)
, I'll tell ya!
, I'll tell ya!
Ha ha ha!
You'll notice how all the camera work is choreographed and it was stuff I used to do
back in live Television when I was doing the Hit Parade, and Belafonte and Judy
Garland, and I was shooting all the musical work in New York, in the early
days, of CBS, NBC and Television America, and so a lot of that is here and I
think that's why it feels at times like a modern rock-video, you know.
T. Because you cut to the music. Your dissolves...
Yeah. Because the music dictated everything and your performance ... , look at
that!, the composition, the camera operator was a man called Chick Waterston, who
has done some brilliant films. He did Rollerball with me also. But, his compositions
are spectacular. You can see him framing trying to hold in
the background, figures.
Look at the movements.
Right. And look at the size of the screen., I mean this was all done in
widescreen. I have to compliment you, Ted (
T. It's all your fault.
It was so much to ask of you.
Out there in the middle of that desert.
It was an absolutely remarkable experience for me,
N. And here is Barry Dennen. Isn't he, uh, he's still performing?
T. Yes, he is actually. In fact he's on tour of Superstar as we speak, and he's actually, I believe, playing Herod.
N. He's now playing Herod?
T. I think so.
Interesting. For the fun of it. I remember Barry when we
were doing the rehearsals in
N. Yeah, well he was a, he was a talented British actor.
T. Yes. And he, being, other than Yvonne, the only person in the company that had done the original album.
N. That's right, that's right.
He played Pilate on that very first brown
album, and Yvonne was Mary.
Yeah, yeah. I just fell in love with his, his interpretation of it from the album, and I just didn't
want anyone else to play this role.
He was wonderful. Still is.
And here we go to when you throw the thieves and the sellers, and the people
selling arms and everything else. Remember? This was your big moment, here.
What a motley crew we got here.
Yeah. We had them selling dope, which there was a lot of around, as I remember,
And this was where Peter McDonald, and we tried to set this up, with so many
references that were modern, and with currency dealers. This was our little
at the materialistic world that we were living in at that time.
But it still didn't pull it away from the biblical setting.
No. We tried to keep it partially biblical ... and here he comes! Here comes the
Lone Ranger here!
Just upset because he didn't get invited to the party.
Ha ha! This is a great scene. This is a great scene. I love what you do here.
I sure had fun tearing that stuff up.
Right, and we could do it only twice, remember? Because we were worried about
the props, because all the props were being broken... you broke everything! But I tried to make these tables
easy for you to handle ... Oh, geeze! (
N. It must be a real, remember the mirror thing? I said, 'Oh my God, if he breaks all those mirrors, I can't do it again!'.
T. We're doomed.
We were in the middle of the
T. I think you learned from this you just don't tell a Texas Boy to go tear something up.
I was so afraid you were gonna hurt yourself ... 'cause you were really, you really
looked like you were out of control there, but you weren't ...
What a mess!
We were on (ran) a five hundred millimeter lens to get that hawk. And a lot of
our transitions are quite, quite interesting, and thank goodness, of course, we had a score
to work from, so we had the inspiration of Andrew Lloyd Webber's score.
T. And I remember specifically this. I remember after shooting that sequence of tearing down the Temple, and all that, well, when we were there doing all of that, we had that set for awhile, and what was overwhelming to me was: every day, as we were coming to the close of the day, and getting ready to get back in our transportation, and go back, off set to the hotel, every day I had to walk past the building of the crucifixion sequence. So, these moments, there was always that reminder that that was going to happen, no matter what's going on here, you're gonna hang on that thing before it's over with. That was so foreboding for me every day, to see them out there.
It must have been kind of frightening for you to see where we were going to put the
It was, it was. But what food for thought! It just was constantly a reminder of
important things to come.
N. It was probably, maybe, what Jesus went through.
T. It's remarkable.
This was an interesting concept for
this song in the opera,
which is, of course, representing the lepers and the ill
and the deformed and the sick, coming to Jesus to be cured. And so we staged it in a wadi,
what they call a wadi, which is really a valley, but I think
Rob Iscove's idea of having people emerge out of crevices and cracks and
caves, it gives it an interesting, creepy kind of feeling. I love the costuming
here Yvonne Blake came up with.
Oh, absolutely marvelous.
Didn't cost us too much for the Cyclops.
Ha ha, you're right! And the thing for me, this representing the fact of overwhelming
responsibility that had now been cast upon this single man to cure all the ills of the
world. And he couldn't any possibly do it alone. And all this screaming out is
crying for help. One man, one man alone. Look at that sunset. I remember you talking
about golden hour, the importance of the golden hour.
Yeah, golden hours, right, because on the desert you see, it's only from four-thirty or five
until the sun goes down that you really can shoot, or you get any kind of
Or any kind of interesting look, because otherwise it's just so bright.
Yeah. And it's so fleeting. It lasted such a short amount of time.
And the morning is even shorter. Dawn is even shorter on the desert. This was
probably the most... the biggest song, wasn't it, out of the...?
Oh yes, this was the major hit from the album.
Yeah, this was, as I remember this was the song that everybody was, in
And there were several cover versions of it as well: established artists picked it and did it.
DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM
But it really was Yvonne Elliman's song.
It was her song.
She sang it on that brown album, and nobody can touch that sweetness.
We had problems with the wind, I remember, that night. Remember?
Yes I do.
We had no control over the wind, and yet the kind of the movement of the tents
and the fabric.
It's all natural.
Yeah. It really made something, I mean, you got to remember none of this was
ever ... there
wasn't one scene in the film that was shot on a stage. The entire film was shot
That wasn't wind machines. That was the wind.
That's right. Everybody's often talked to me about this film, saying that it
has such a spectacular look to it, and a great design and a great simplicity. How did I
get it, and I must have spent hours on the stage in
We were basically a
tribe of entertainers to the maximum coming over there to do what we did, just like you
set it up in
the beginning: a group of people who arrived and this is what we did, and you
covered every moment of it. And I was so happy that you chose here to shoot
night, as opposed to day for night: I just think it's the real thing.
It's so beautiful this way.
Yeah. We shot it all at night. There's something about her natural kind of
beauty. There's very little make-up in the film. Now, is Yvonne still
Yes, absolutely. She goes out and tours a lot with a lot of artists, she's done
a lot of...
I remember on this musical bridge. I didn't know what to do and I was starting to
Ha ha ha! You see, look how you combined the shadow on the rock to this silhouette.
Yes it was a gorgeous silhouette, and
it's not easy to get either when you're working outside at
night like that. And all of the colors are kind of faded tones. There are very
few primary colors in the film.
I also remember that this was one of the few moments in the entire shoot the
whole time were were in
Right, there was just her and you.
That's right. And the wonderful crew.
Just the two of you.
T. I think that was not
too long after we spent that wonderful break. In, what was it, Elat?
DAMNED FOR ALL TIME
Yeah, Elat. We went down to Elat and that was on the Jewish High Holy Days, and this is the scene that
really caused us a lot of controversy. When I talk to people about the film, this
idea of going to Judas alone on the desert, and in this extraordinary shot that's
about to happen, and how it's tied in with the music and choreographed.
And out of nowhere come these tanks...
And out of nowhere come these tanks...
fact that flutes are playing against those tanks.
Yeah. the Flutes playing against these five Patton tanks. And these were
American tanks that the Israeli Army used in the Six-Days War.
And what a magnificent way to show the force behind Judas making his decision,
driving him to do what he decided to do.
And I got to make my camera operator's debut on that moment there, the boys
put a built on me and I was down in that hole when the guys ran over holding
that camera. I thought for sure I was going to get a nomination for that one shot.
You'll notice that there's no safety belts on anybody.
Not a chance.
And I was holding my breath on this whole scene, because I was so terrified that
somebody was going to slip, because we were actually working live, on
three or four stories above the ground.
Yes. See, all of us had done these sorts of things on sets, and so on, I mean,
this was such a thrill for us to be able to do these kinds of things, and Carl couldn't wait to get
up on that
scaffolding. It wasn't a question of "I'm gonna hurt myself", as
you think I'm not gettin' up there, you're nuts!" and all the guys playing
priests, certainly Caiaphas and Annas, just loved it .
And here comes Caiaphas and the scribes.
And, once again, the
use of the
ruins as if it's really there. ...were there doing what they do...it
just worked so well.
...were there doing what they do...it just worked so well.
Yes. There is this continuous tie-in, isn't there, between the reality of the biblical setting
and yet the theatricality of modern music and contemporary acting. I think this
is part of the success of the film, that it wasn't trying to be a deeply religious
N. That was
it was really an opera.
it was really an opera.
Yes, it's about...
It's using the New Testament, of course, as an inspiration...
Absolutely, no question, based upon the fact, but the fact is: it's looking at it from a
whole another point of view. The internal elements that went on between the
relationships, the personal relationships, between Judas and Jesus and Mary, and
the Apostles. They were all friends, they all did something together, you see,
as supposed to make it with pomp & circumstance, it's friends going
through life, like my children are going through life right now. They're making
decisions, on a daily basis about what is right for them. And now we see how
they're affected by
Right. What is right or wrong or good or bad.
This was the major decision right here. "Do I take this? Do I throw it in their faces?
Is Jesus doing the right thing? Do I know he's doing the right thing? I've
watched him do the right thing, and now it's falling apart. I don't want to
turn him in. But we could all use that money to feed the people who are starving
in our village." Even while he's saying it, he's questioning, should
And this moment of betrayal is so theatrical! Look at the fly!
And now he's just hearing the voices of "What he's done, what is
N. And here it is, the betrayal.
T. I remember! God!
The betrayal of the principles of Jesus and this is the
punctuation. And just to have those two jets come in, just at that moment.
And having those jets, and I remember talking to the guys who were on that crew and they
were talking about: "Yeah, at dawn we bombed the Syrian border at
10AM, we do
Jesus Christ Superstar at noon we bomb... Ha!"
THE LAST SUPPER
The inspiration for this whole scene was this Arab shepherd that I watched come up
this valley with his flock to the well. And that was about a year and a half, or
least a year before this scene. And when I chose it, I said, "If we planted
grass in this, among these olive trees, close to this well, how long would it
take?' And they assured me, the agronomist in
T. And, boy they did it, didn't they?
And this is the only
verdant pasture scene in all
And thank God you did. And I remember the crew, the guys who were in the crew were always
so helpful with everything. And they told me that day, they said: "Ted, we
gonna be doing bread and wine today, but we couldn't get you a rainforest, but we do have some
sausage over here in the back. So, if you want your
sausage, just give us a little heads up.". And of course we had flies
constantly, we were always having to swat flies.
Oh, yeah, the flies that were hanging around that day, but you can see the wind,
And we had a big discussion about the Arab bread. Did it ever occur to
you, Ted, when you were playing this remarkable spiritual leader, Jesus of Nazareth,
and having to do this... that it
would affect your life? The rest of your life?
No. And I must tell you that just the opportunity to step into those shoes was not
something I pursued, 'cause I initially went out to do the role of Judas. I
was afraid of what you're talking about. But, once you made that decision, and you
had faith in my ability to maybe deliver something, I was so committed to it,
telling you, talk about an effect on my life, my life completely changed
as a result of that. Not only in my spiritual element, but also having met Leeyan as
a result of it. Everything in my life was different from that moment on.
And it's true.
And the people who are wonderful fans of this film, and who have come to see the
performances subsequent to this film, constantly tell me how this affected their lives, how this
brought them to a more spiritual acknowledgement of actual spirituality in their
lives. More so than any going to church, or even reading the Bible, seeing this
wonderful film, and how you made the reality of human beings, that Jesus was in fact
embodied as a man. All of the people who surrounded him influenced their
thought process and brought them closer to a spiritual understanding in their
Well it's remarkable, I think, of all the films I've made, this
has affected people more than any other film.
This moment here established something for Carl and myself that we did for the
next 30 years. Performing, off and on, because of this moment, because you set this stage for us
to feel like it was all natural. And we already had the
relationship between the two of us. But to be able to do this right there, with
that intensity, and have ourselves surrounded by that olive grove, the
authenticity of that created such a magnificent experience for us, and it lasted
Well, I think this is that part of the excitement of the film, because the
actors... we can put the actors in such a realistic setting that the
realism of the moment is, has got nothing to do with theatre or anything else.
It's got everything to do with what is totally real, like when Carl runs into
that flock of sheep and they stampede. I mean, it, symbolically it's incredible.
remember asking him to run as fast as he could, and you can see how difficult
it is, because he was running in sandals, and the stones were sharp and they were
hurting his feet. But those kind of moments, when they're captured on film, are
there forever and that's what's important to me about film: because film is
T. Yes. This is...
N. Like books are forever.
T. This is as fresh for me right now. As the first time I sat and saw the very first screening.
N. I haven't screened the film for over 8 or 10 years.
T. I've not seen the film in quite a long time
I screened it
at a film
festival, about eight or ten years ago, and I'm finding it very powerful. And...
It still works, doesn't it?
Yeah, it works because of the strength of the music and the brilliance of the
lyrics, but it's also in the performances, but it also goes much deeper than
that because what we're dealing here with is a religious aspect of the
film, which keeps creeping in and grabbing the a hold of your heart.
And that's what has made it work for me, for all these years that I've had the
opportunity to perform. Because all the people who come to see it, bring their
own interpretation of this story with them, and they project that as a result of
this film up on us on the stage. It's such a magnificent interchange of energy
from the audience to the stage back to the audience to the stage. It's just cyclical
and it's overwhelmingly powerful.
This is to me the most exciting moment in the film. This song that takes place in
I remember you being so concerned about me falling from the moments of
climbing. Anytime you had me climb up something, you were afraid I was gonna fall and break
Well, look where we got you! We got you standing out on the edge of rocks. There's no
safety belts here or anything, and you're walking around in those darn sandals, and climbing
around. And I'm asking you to go from ... I'm giving you a path, but the
choreography is natural with the song.
Yes, but see: you were worried about me. And my concern was with that magnificent
group of crew guys who were carrying those A7 speakers up the hill, so I
could hear the soundtrack on either side of the camera, for me to be able to
hear, because, you know, for me to be able to lip-sync I had to have them blasting
like a full rock and roll revival.
I know, we had those big speakers blasting at you.
And here's five guys on camera left and camera right with a speaker on
either side. Those huge A7s. And they're carrying them up the mountainside.
Oh yeah. We dragged all the equipment up that mountain. And I remember we were
also fighting light here.
Oh God, yes, 'cause you had a moment and you wanted that golden hour to work.
Can you still hit those notes, Ted? What a remarkable voice you have!
just did it on 9th (of April)... I don't have any idea.
I heard you sang this at...
At Carl Anderson's memorial service, at his funeral.
T. Yes, and ... I've obviously done it many times since this moment in the film, but that was the first moment, that even anywhere nearly touched this experience. I wish you could feel from within me what you helped me achieve in these moments. It's all those conversations that you ...
N. Well, maybe you got a little help from upstairs too.
T. But you always said:
"Look up here, look at Topol's God, he's right up here, and he's the same
one Topol was looking at!"
Then, this moment of realization of what was going to happen to you. And what you
were going to have to go through. What I did was I tried to gather
together some of the greatest paintings in the world, of artists. And tried to capture the agony and loneliness of
this extraordinary moment of pain and sacrifice that the character has to go
through. And it was the only time in the opera that I used something that was
outside of the realistic location. And it was simply, because I felt that could
be used in that incredible orchestral build to give you an idea of what was in his mind in
Absolutely. It was so on my mind, that the complete spiritual connection at this
moment: one man representing all of humanity and his conversation with God.
And here's, in this moment, at this climax of this remarkable piece, here's where
you feel also the strength of the London Symphony with André Previn. You know, I mean, this is an
extraordinary soundtrack here. It'll never be repeated again.
No wind machine.
N. That was the - look at the wind blowing on you. And that was what we were heading for
T. That Golden Hour (Moment).
...that moment and the sun
just went behind this cloud.
And we were...oh my God, look at that dissolve right through to Judas. And the
You know, Carl and I would to get together at night, after we would wrap, and just
sit and discuss the next day and the emotional power that we experienced as a
result of this, every day was remarkable. The tears that he and I shed together
during the location of this picture were just remarkable, because we were
experiencing every day something that people dream of experiencing in a
relationship: man, woman, child, it doesn't matter. What was going on with us
emotionally was overwhelming, and you created that for us.
N. Well, I mean, this is also there in those two characters and I think also being on location and not being part of a totally secular world - this wasn't a ... when we were making this film people weren't going home to their homes at night and talking to their agents and watching the nightly news or watching their local television, there was none of that. We were out on the desert, alone, in a foreign country, and unless you spoke Hebrew, and there wasn't too many people to talk to. And we certainly weren't watching television and it was this isolation, I think, which pulled everyone very closely together and made the experience in the film almost became ... took over our lives...
T. It did
...and we were all experiencing
So many times when I would sit and try to communicate with the local guys
I see a lot of unpretentious, rather simple work here, with the staging, the
restraint, there's a restraint here which, for me, makes the experience more
authentic. There's no doubt about it, we did come under, because of scenes like
this, where the scribes and the high priests at that time and the mob turns
against Jesus, there's no doubt about it that we also came under the same
controversy that I think all religious films or films that deal with major religious stories,
you know, they ignite this kind of ...
T. You can't possibly deal with this subject matter, no matter from which point of view you approach it, without touching some fire in somebody's spirit. Someone's gonna take issue with that and, I think that's great. If everybody agreed with you, you wouldn't have anything to do but just talk about agreeing with each other. The fact that this did create controversy, just like as you said, all other projects that have been done on this subject matter created controversy, helped the success of the film in a lot of ways. In a lot of ways it didn't help it, but they're gonna to talk about it 'cause as you're dealing with that which is so personal to every human being in the world. Their religion.
That was my voice that we just heard!
(The 3rd man saying: "...but I saw you too...")
(The 3rd man saying: "...but I saw you too...")
I lip-synched that actually, because, you remember? I just heard my own voice in the film, but you know what
is interesting is that Martin Scorsese's film ...
N. "Last Temptation of Christ" also came under tremendous criticism from certain people, certain - directs in certain areas. I think when this film was finished, "Jesus Christ Superstar", because there was so much controversy about it from the very beginning, simply because of the nature of it - the fact that was a rock video ... rock video - that it was a rock album.
T. Opera. Yes.
The rock music and so on, I think that kind of led the BBC in
T. And the fact that Jesus was actually singing?
Jesus is portrayed singing? They couldn't accept that. And, I mean, who else would have more
reason to sing, I would think, then someone, you know? And then you mentioned
the Scorsese's piece "Last Temptation":
Carl and I were constantly referring to that book while we were doing this. And both
of us grew up in the South in Southern Baptist experiences as children. So we knew the Bible like the back of our hand. "The Last Temptation of
Christ" gave us the other point of view. So that we could look at it as human
beings as opposed to just the God elements, and then when Scorsese made
that film, the same thing happened again, and the same thing is happening with Mel's
With Mel Gibson's picture "The Passion", yeah.
And I remember back in my childhood, seeing films like "The King of
Kings", you know, and "The Ten Commandments". There were people
who complained about those as well.
Oh Yes, I don't think there's ever been a film that has dealt with a religious
figure, whether it's a ...
"The Greatest Story Ever Told", also. Same thing there.
N. Yes. Whether it's Christian or Mohammed or Buddhist or whatever, that it doesn't create problems for - especially for people who are totally fundamentalist in their beliefs.
I was more concerned,
I think, that - on the release of the film - that everyone
would turn on it, and, of course, when the
They were. And I remember specifically...
One of them said: "Not since Leonardo da Vinci!" and they were just
overwhelmed with the affect that it had on them. And I think they took that back to the
Oh absolutely. And, I remember specifically, because one thing that was said so amazingly was about my
involvement - the quote was: "That boy that plays Jesus should be canonized!".
N. So sweet, isn't it?
KING HEROD'S SONG
And here's Josh Mostel playing the camp, King Herod. And this is where Andrew Lloyd Webber
and Tim Rice, of course, wrote this whole number as a kind of a musical
It's the only moment of levity in the entire piece.
And it's the only moment of fun kind of - and ...
And that's the lovely the
There is the
T. Hy Douglas, and Tommy Walsh, Robert Lupone, Jeff Hyslop, Leeyan, Vera, Wendy, Cliff, and Joshua.
Iscove is, he had a lot of fun staging this number because we did all the - a
lot of wonderful...
and here it's interesting at this point when he turns angry, at the end of
Nice moat he has there. Nice little place to hang out with his friends.
Yeah, just floating around the
COULD WE START AGAIN, PLEASE?
I remember the moment here, whenever you had the soldiers do that - taking me
away or bringing me into whatever, I remember once you ... you were ... I'm walking
soldiers and they're pushing me and throwing me. Now, this is exactly the
moment that that happened. I heard, I heard: "Cut!" Ok. So you walked up to me
and very gently put your hand on my shoulder and said, you said: "Ted, I
don't think the
world would believe that Jesus was bow-legged, so could you keep that in mind
walking, you know.
Don't think about getting off the horse, just think that...".
N. That's terrible!
No, but I was doing
the typical whatever,
Yeah, you were doin' that weird
Yeah, you were doin' that weird
T. I'll never forget that!
N. You were born with it.
T. Is she gorgeous or what?
Well, I can't believe sitting here 32 years later, having this conversation,
but here we are in
We just did it yesterday. I don't know if you've had the pleasure as I have many
times, of sitting and talking with people who are life-long fans of this film
and who share some of those magnificent experiences as a result of that.
And their parents introduced them to it.
And now they're introducing their
children to it. When you can stand and perform live for people and you got three or four
generations of the same family coming to see what you're doing, because this
film introduced them to what they believe.
You know, you are the only person who ... that explained that to me so eloquently, because you've
continued to perform in this play, in this musical, through the years, live, and
you've been able to (keep in) contact with people who saw you on the screen.
The only other
person is Topol
from "The Fiddler on the Roof", because he
often says the same thing, he's performing "Fiddler on the Roof" in
Australia, or in England or some other country, or America, some place, and all
of a sudden people will say they first saw that film, it meant so much to them,
and now they're
bringing their children, and now they bring their children's children and so
kind of a wonderful continuity.
I get letters even from ... constantly. They say exactly that.
N. And that can only happen because they're both musicals and they are continued to live and be performed live in some part of the world. Just like this film continues to play. I've never had a film that plays as much as "Jesus Christ Superstar" in some part of the world, whether it's on television, or whether it's live, or - in a cinema, but it just continues to be shown.
I just remembered something. Do you remember what happened right after
When you were put into the cave?
T. Yes, remember what happened right after you finished this moment? You backed off, you pulled away with that magnificent shot - you see back there all the way to the wall?
Suddenly I heard
sounds coming out of that cave (he
makes these sounds)
and five minutes later out comes about twenty-five little
children and a teacher, they were on a field-trip from a school.
And they were studying back in the cave.
That's exactly right. They were back in there - under - they'd entered from the from the other side and
were coming through there. I thought we were gonna be attacked by bats or
something. And it was children. It was wonderful.
N. It was a great shot of you down there, wasn't it?
It was wonderful. And that sand. Powder. Just pure powdered sand.
Like flour - just like cooking flour.
Like flour - just like cooking flour.
N. It was almost like Fuller's Earth.
Exactly - like Fuller's Earth. (Singing with Annas: "...You backed
the right horse.") Just before we shot this sequence, we had had a volley-ball
challenge on a day off,
on a weekend off at the hotel.
Yeah. Judas and his gang against Jesus and his gang. Look at that! I miss you,
Yes, this is pretty hard for you to watch this. This moment, especially since we've
lost Carl so recently.
I just got to see him perform last July, in
Well, he said he got better. He told me ...
Yes, if you can believe that, if you think it's possible.
Well, he said he got better and better, because he felt that he got closer to understanding
what the torment of the character - and what the character was going through and
the motivation and all of those things.
As a result of this, to be able to have that experience, and my friend Michael
McKyle and I went to see him, and he was as vibrant and alive and as magnificent ever.
And here we are, a year later, and he's no longer with us ...
Yeah. This is where I - in this soliloquy I decided go into voiceover - a voiceover
and just let the camera go with Carl as he runs towards his own demise
I remember that handheld camera. Just following him.
Just a lot of handheld work here. This is also before the days of steady cam. We had
a little to literally handheld. We didn't take advantage of the smooth steady cam.
it's all literally handheld.
And you remember when we first did this? And the rope broke.
The rope broke! Yeah.
T. And that was right near the edge of a cliff, and I was there that day just watching, 'cause I wasn't part of it. And, in retrospect, thank God, because he grabbed my hand when he was falling. You let me sit right in front of the camera, remember
N. It's one of the scenes that I, it's one of the few scenes that I had sketched out in my mind; so it's really pretty theatrical in its concept.
it goes physically Judas' death to Pilate. And this was done in the
T. Was that Caesaria?
And this is also the amphitheatre where we almost lost our choreographer.
... where Carl enters on the big crane...
T. It was night shooting...
N. And that the night that Rob was standing behind me on the top of the amphitheatre,
N. and he stepped back, and I saw him going.
N. And I grabbed the front of his shirt, and it went right through my hands. And, I couldn't hang onto him...
T. Oh boy.
and he fell probably 30 - 40 feet.
N. His wife.
... who was also his lead dancer. But, God, we were lucky! We were lucky that uh
- we had (a) few bad accidents on this film..
T. (Laughs) Yes.
N. And they were using it like a set, you know?
But, at night, we should have had barriers up there, and fences. This is, of
course, the lashes.
N.. What's interesting is we don't use than much blood.
I don't think it's necessary. I think images like this, and sound are enough,
and, of course, your acting. And I think we feel every stroke.
... how they were moved, spiritually, by this.
N. But - uh...
Post-mortem leap years....
Some Israeli soldier gave me to keep the sun off my head.
N. I tell you, when we showed this film at the Taormina Film Festival in Italy, about eight years ago, in a amphitheatre, a Roman amphitheatre that was built over 2000 years ago, and we showed this film in 8-track stereo, these huge big speakers, on the outdoor screen at night, on the edge of the Mediterranean...
T Oh, God!
... for about, for over 1000 people. Oh, God it was an experience. And everybody
was dancing and jumping around, then, all of a sudden, we came to this scene,
and everybody went silent ... just, absolutely silent..
N. He was gonna put it right through your hand.
You were stopping - you were on that squawk box: "No! No! Not in the
T. ...and these two gentlemen...
You can se these two.....
T ... it hadn't rained in that country....
T ... forever, in that spot? And all of a sudden, it was gale-force winds, and overwhelming rain storms and you on the squawk box telling everybody to get out of here, because we didn't know what was gonna happen. And I'm stuck up - I'm up there on the cross! And then, I remember you tellin' - I hear - I hear you on that box, "Get him off of there! Get him down off of there!" And, you know, I never cried so much in my life, out of the emotional experience of this piece. And how, once we finally finished the crucifixion, how nurturing, and warm, and wonderfully supportive you were for me when I was falling apart after that.
T. Thank you.
It's been a great experience.
Mianne Tripp (firstname.lastname@example.org), one of our newest Tedheads, has found a VERY INTERESTING interview here:
done with Lynn Neary on the Highbeam show "Talk of the Nation" on 2/12/04. The interviewees include, among
others, Norman Jewison. The interview is VERY LENGTHY, and I will not post it all here. There are a few parts
mentioning Ted, which I have posted below. You can buy the entire interview at the link above:
We've been talking about the fact that the various images of Jesus have emerged
over time as sort of both products and reflections of the times that these
images are created in. What do you think the Jesus of "Jesus Christ
Superstar" said about the time in which that film was being made? How did
it reflect that time? What did it say about that time?
Mr. JEWISON: Well, I think it captured the imagination of millions of people all
over the world. I think of all the films I've made it probably had the most--the
strongest reaction, especially in Latin America and certain strongly Catholic
countries. I think the film, because it was a musical and because it was a very
strong, strong score and extremely popular throughout the world--I think it
carried with it a kind of a modern identification for Jesus, for the character.
I think Christ, the character played by--Ted Neeley was the actor, and for the
rest of his life, Ted Neeley has played this role, in a way. He has literally
become that character and has, I think, performed in the stage version of
"Jesus Christ Superstar" almost continually for the past 30 years or
very strange. I think it was young--I think Ted Neeley was very attractive and
very--he was a rock star. And this kind of interpretation of the young, dynamic,
angry at times character--because, you know, he was anti-weapons, he was
anti-guns, he was anti-money. He was--there was enormous scenes where he was
smashing everything from American Express cards to travel posters simply because
of the materialism of the secular world, almost.
NEARY: He was very much a product of the '70s.
Mr. JEWISON: Yeah.
JEWISON: And it's such a young person's--you know, you must remember Tim Rice
was only 25, 26 years old when he wrote this.
Mr. JEWISON: I mean, they were young men. And they defended it brilliantly. I went to many debates. The archbishop of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, he had a tremendous debate with a representative from the Anti-Defamation League in New York. And it was really astounding, the amount of controversy that eventually started to rise up in such a way that the film was not nominated for an Academy Award and all of those things. And it won awards all over the world.
Producer, director and writer Norman Jewison is a veteran of many films,
including the 1973 film "Jesus Christ Superstar." His latest movie is
called "The Statement." He joined us from his home in Los Angeles.
FOX: I think I would've told Norman Jewison this if I'd had a chance. I just
think his film is magnificent in this particular way, that it does a new job on
celebrity itself. It helps us as Americans understand what celebrity is because
he gives us in Ted Neeley's Jesus a Christ who is actually destroyed by his own
celebrity. So we get, in a sense, a depiction of the downside of fame. This
Jesus is destroyed by his own followers in a sense. The crowd more or less
consumes this Jesus and he's driven to a kind of despair by the very popularity
he engenders. And the Gethsemane scene in "Jesus Christ Superstar" is,
in my mind, the greatest Gethsemane scene we've ever had on film because it's
this wrenching anguish on the part of Ted Neeley trying to understand how he can
possibly take another step forward in life, given the forces that have
WHERE ARE THEY NOW
From time to time I am asked where the film cast of JCS is now, and what projects they are currently involved in. With the latest in those requests coming yesterday (4/4/04) from Alex, I have decided to add a section addressing the question to this page. Check out the latest with the most notable cast members below:
||Check anywhere on this site for all of Ted's projects, and his bio.|
Carl Anderson (Judas)
|Well, we all know of Carl's unfortunate passing, covered elsewhere on this site. Here is his bio, from his website, for those who wish to know more about his other projects: http://www.cstone.net/~dgarlock/carl/index2.html|
Yvonne Elliman (Mary)
|Yvonne is basically out of the business, but here is
her bio on her other projects: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0254118/
And her website:
Barry Dennen (Pilate)
|Barry's bio, from his website: http://www.barrydennen.com/bio_credits/bio_credits.htm
UPDATE 6/11/05: Mianne (email@example.com)
found this link, about the new/lost Rock Opera Barry is doing with
Murray Head (the original Judas on the Brown album). It's called:
"Diminishing Perspective". The album is due out this month
(June, 2005), followed by a Broadway production later in the year. Take
Bob Bingham (Caiaphas)
|Bob's bio includes a 1993 movie: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0082922/
Here are a few more sites - although I'm not totally certain that this is the same Bob Bingham:
Kurt Yaghijan (Annas)
|Kurt's bio: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0944894/
Mikey (Michaelene Greathouse) has also found these
links on Kurt:
Kurt "Frenchy" Yahjian plays with the
There is a short 2002 bio at this site:http://www.planotones.com/pl2f.htm
Josh Mostel (Herod)
|Josh, being the son of Zero Mostel, certainly wouldn't disappear anytime soon! Here's his bio: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0609215/|
Larry T. Marshall (Simon)
|Here is Larry's bio: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0551004/
and his website:
(one of the Women/dancers)
For anyone who doesn't know (and if you're reading this, that is very unlikely), there is an actress in the film, who,
at the time, went under the name of Leeyan Granger. She became the Resident Choreographer for the Houston Repertoire Ballet, and works with the Studio of Dance. She also, perhaps more notably, became Ted's wife, and is now becoming famous for "Granger's Cookies"! Here's the Ballet Company website: http://www.hrbdance.org/index.htm
These last 2 masterpieces that Maribel sent have got to rank as my all-time favorite shots of Ted from the JCS film. I've tried to get this image on film for years, unsuccessfully, I might add. I've asked Maribel to see if she can get this shot off the regular VHS, as widescreen cuts off a lot of heads (my one pet peeve with that particular version of JCS - or any other film, for that matter), but here are the gorgeous shots she did send me now: