Adam West And The Best ADR Session Ever
Adam West, who passed away on Friday, will forever be remembered by fans worldwide as TV’s Batman, and by the current generation as Mayor Adam West from Family Guy. Director Jack Perez, however, will always recall the actor best from the time they spent together on his TV movie Monster Island, and here shares his recollections and a wonderful bit of West’s audio work.
Perez, whose credits include Some Guy Who Kills People and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (and who told us here about the Deep Blue Sea 2 he almost made), co-wrote and directed Monster Island for MTV in 2004, casting West amongst an ensemble also including Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Carmen Electra. “I wrote the part of affable mad scientist Dr. Harryhausen for Adam, never allowing myself to believe that he would actually accept the role,” Perez says. “But he did. And similar to my experience with Karen Black several years later on Some Guy Who Kills People, it was one of those unbelievably rare and wonderful instances in filmmaking when you find yourself working with a childhood hero.
“He was every bit as lovable as he appeared,” Perez continues. “The first day on set, he practically danced into my trailer, threw his arms around me and immediately addressed me as ‘JP,’ which was so Old Hollywood and totally endearing. He thanked for me all the great dialogue he had, in particular a huge monologue in which his character rambles on for three pages in a Frankenstein-like lab. But he quickly added, ‘You know what helped immensely in the Batcave, JP? Teleprompter!’ Then he grinned and dashed off. I didn’t want to tell him we had no teleprompter, and eventually prepared Brando-style poster boards with all his lines and had them strategically placed all over the set. Of course, on the day, he knocked out the whole scene in one take.
“The man was a pro. Our Vancouver sets, both exteriors and interiors, were often freezing; the science-lab floor sat in an inch of ice water from a recent flood that he gladly stood in all day long. When we repeatedly rammed a giant mechanical ant at him for his big death scene, he chuckled, ‘We never did anything like this in the Batcave,’ drawing roars from the crew, who couldn’t believe they were actually there, in the flesh, working with their hero. Often, after a long shoot day, he would repair to the bar at the Sutton Place Hotel, surrounded by admiring cast members, raise a glass of Scotch and toast, ‘Fuck it.’ That wasn’t at all cynical, but his way of putting the day’s work to bed, i.e., ‘It’s over, don’t worry about it.’ ”
For Perez, a highlight of the West experience occurred after Monster Island had wrapped and he was putting together the sound mix. The director needed him to rerecord one line of ADR dialogue, “Come on, let’s go!” and the actor obliged far beyond what he could have imagined. “He recorded it at his home in Idaho and sent it to me, and the last thing I expected was a genuine piece of audio art [which you can experience below]. I’ll never know whether it was planned or not, but Adam had a way of making the most out of every moment. What could have been a perfunctory bit of post business—a couple of quick variations on a line and then out the door—became an opportunity to do something totally unexpected and wonderful.
“Working with the great man is an experience I will forever cherish. I miss him terribly, as we all do.”