The GTO was Orbit Orange and had the eyebrow stripes and rear spoiler that were normally f
HPP: Was your approach to Warren different than with the others because of his experience, or that you knew him?
MH: I don't think so. The only problem was that typically when you have an experienced actor with some actors who are doing it for the first time, it's difficult to make it look like they're all in the same movie. With Warren in the role of G.T.O., the character was so much bigger than life, while the others were really just life. So there wasn't a big problem with trying to integrate them; they had that relationship to each other already.
HPP: You worked with Warren Oates before and after Two-Lane Blacktop. What did you like so much about him?
MH: He had mystery about him. He's someone who doesn't reveal everything the first minute you meet him. There was always something more than he was letting out. The character of G.T.O. is a lot like that and I think he was naturally able to give off those vibrations.
HPP: Was that the mystery of it for all the characters? Is that the reason why there is so little dialogue?
MH: No. I think he has mystery because you feel there is something deeper there, something more that you can discover. The others are what they appear to be. They're very simple characters; they're very simple people-particularly in the case of James' character. He wants certain things from life that he's unable to get because he wants other things that are interfering with it. That's his conflict.
HPP: For this movie, you filmed in sequence. That's not really common today is it?
MH: It's usually uncommon because it's inefficient. That's because the studio hires a really expensive actor so the director has to shoot all his scenes at once, or you shoot everything at one location at one time and everything at another location at another time. In this movie, we were obligated to shoot it in sequence because we were moving from one part of the country to the other, so we had to shoot the scenes as they came up.
HPP: How did location shooting affect the demeanor of the cast and crew?
MH: They felt like they were actually living the movie. We were doing the exact same things the characters were doing: traveling across country. James felt it stimulated his imagination and made him get into the character better.
HPP: The original edit was about three-and-a-half hours long. Were any great scenes cut from the movie that you wish weren't?
MH: Lots and lots. There was a terrific scene of a ferry crossing a river and there was a wonderful scene where the guys are chased by cops so they stop and pull into a driveway and look through the window of a house to see a family eating dinner. It evoked feelings of nostalgia for home. There were many terrific scenes. Ultimately, a movie has to have a certain rhythm in order for it to work, however. Even though there were some good scenes, I couldn't use them because they threw the rhythm off.
HPP: Is there any chance of a release of the three-and-a-half-hour cut?
MH: No. I think all that material is long gone.
HPP: Are there any funny anecdotes or strange stories from shooting the movie?
MH: Yes. James had to do a launch in the '55, which was shot from behind. What he didn't know was that the transmission was mistakenly put into Reverse by whoever was in charge of the car. He was told to pop the clutch [at 6,500 rpm] and when he did, the '55 started going backwards instead of forwards. Happily, he stopped it before running over the crew and the cameras.
HPP: How were the cars chosen?
MH: The '55 Chevy was written as a '55 Chevy in the original Will Corry screenplay, so we just kept that. The Pontiac GTO was selected by Rudy Wurlitzer, who wrote the second screenplay. The character of G.T.O. was also created by him.
HPP: You had two GTOs, right?
MH: Yeah, we had two GTOs and three Chevys.