On Saturday night, I watched Piranha, which featured the great character actor Kevin McCarthy in a supporting role. This led to me remembering McCarthy’s iconic performance in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (as well as his cameo in the 70s version). And that led to me remembering a book that I found at Half-Price Books a few years ago.
First published in 1999, They’re Here is a tribute to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, featuring essays about the films and interviews with some of the people involved. For instance, Stephen King and Dean Koontz both write about how seeing the original film influenced their later approach to horror. Jon L. Breen, James Combs, and Fred Blosser write about Jack Finney, the author of the book that served as the basis for the film. Other essays take a look at the remakes that were directed by Philip L. Kaufman and Abel Ferrara. Ferrara is himself interviewed and is as outspoken as ever. Also interviewed is Dana Wynter, who co-starred in the original.
However, the majority of the book is taken up with a terrifically entertaining and informative interview with Kevin McCarthy himself. McCarthy not only talks about filming the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers but also his entire career, his friendship with Montgomery Clift, and his status as pop cultural icon. Sometimes it can be disillusioning to read or listen to an interview in which an icon turns out to be kind of boring (call it the Steven Soderbergh syndrome) but, fortunately, McCarthy comes across as being just as eccentric, intelligent, interesting, and downright lovable as you would hope he would be. Kevin McCarthy, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 96, was one of the great character actors and this interview shows that he was …. wait for it …. quite the character! (Sorry.) The interview is a great tribute not only to McCarthy’s most famous film but also the man himself.
Seriously, if you’re a Body Snatchers fan but just appreciate great character acting, order a copy of this book!