Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sergio Leone directs Woody Strode

by Woody Strode and Sam Young

When we shot the part where I'm standing under the water tower, it was hot, and I took my hat off to wipe my forehead. When I did, a drop of water fell and hit me. Sergio was standing behind the camera not more than five or six feet away. He had an interpreter with him, because Sergio never tried to completely speak English on the set. As the translator was telling me what Sergio wanted, water from the tower kept dripping, and the camera was picking it up, so Sergio decided to use it.
He directed the scene just like real-life. I took my hat off, the water dripped and hit me; I wiped and looked up. I put my big, black cowboy hat back on. The camera stayed with it and after a few minutes the brim was full. Then Sergio said, "Woody, drink the water off your hat." I took the hat off, I lifted it, and drank. He said, "Now slowly, put it back on."
Well, that became quite a famous scene, and it was never in the script. It was just an accident because the water happened to drip onto my hat.
Now, at the conclusion of the opening scene - when I get shot and killed - they put a squib under my shirt. That's a bag of blood with a small, explosive charge. Charlie, Jack, and I all pulled out guns and cranked at the same time. When the bullet hit me, I had to fall over backwards. Because of my wrestling experience, I was able to go straight backwards and land on my shoulders. And the blood just burst out.
They had to cut that part for the American version. Just like in SPARTACUS, when Olivier sticks me with a knife like a bull. They had a special effects guy crouched behind the railing who shot the blood out of a squirt gun. That was too graphic for the American censors so they cut it out. But SPARTACUS was really graphic, they showed cold turkey what happened; the Italians were the same way.


  1. I'm loving reading Woody's comments but he doesn't seem to have been impressed (or even noticed) Al Mulock as the third gunman, Knuckles. You'd think Al's suicide would have registered as it occurred during filming of this sequence. Maybe he'll get to it later. Or maybe not.

  2. He doesn't mention Mulock or the suicide at all. I've now copied everything he wrote about ONCE.