Earlier this week, Richard Dreyfuss and Bruce Dern spoke to journalists at a press day in Los Angeles about their new film The Lightkeepers, which was helmed by writer-director Daniel Adams. During his discussion of Adams approach, Dern offered a few reflections about his work with directors Hal Ashby and Alfred Hitchcock, both of whom he collaborated with in the 1970s. Comparing their imagination to Adams, Dern remembered his experiences on the films Coming Home and Family Plot, and offered the following anecdotes.
Describing the way in which Adams evoked his illustrious predecessors on The Lightkeepers, Dern said, "It's definitely a return toward Hal Ashby, with an emphasis on a hundred years earlier. I mean, I would have loved to see Hal tackle 1905 – I don't care where it is. Because he just had a magical look at things; he looked at things totally differently." Switching gears to offer memories of an experience he shared with Hitchcock, he observed, "his imagination runs wild. People forget that me made silent movies, 25 of them, before he ever came here, and he looked at things funny."
"One day when I went to do Family Plot, I made up my mind that I was going to sit right next to him every day for ten weeks, and I wasn't going to miss that opportunity," he remembered. "I didn't care whether he looked at me or not, and he never looked at the side to talk to anybody because it was too hard for him; he was very big. And he said, 'are you going to sit there every day, Bruce?' and I said, yeah, Hitch, I'm going to sit here every day, whether you like it or not, so get used to it or get over it. He said, 'that's why I hired you for the movie – because you're unpredictable. I've never had an unpredictable actor."
"'My frame is perfect,'" he quoted Hitchcock as saying. "He says, 'I have 297 of them on my wall in my office, but I've never known to have anyone unpredictable in the frame. So just entertain me.' We got along great from the beginning, but he was totally different than Hal."
Bringing the conversation full circle, Dern said simply, "If there's a genius, it starts with Hitch. What Dan has that's similar to both is that he likes magic, and he writes formulas that can produce magic because he gets people's conflict where he dares the people to do this [laces his fingers together]. They start butting heads, and then they come this way and they end up being rootable, and that's the charm of what he writes."
The Lightkeepers is being released this weekend in a number of theaters in California, with plans to expand distribution from there. But Dern indicated that Adams would soon find the recognition he thinks the young filmmaker deserves. "He's on the threshold of becoming an extremely interesting commodity in this business because he's really old-school - he's an old-school filmmaker. It's going to take audiences another film to catch up to who Dan Adams is, and what he's after."