Joe Turkel is known best for his role of Lloyd the Bartender in “The Shining”. Joe also played the iconic role of Dr. Eldon Tyrell in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. Media Mikes had a rare chance to chat with this amazing actor, courtesy of C & V Promotions, to discuss his iconic roles and tell some great stories.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you originally get invovled with Stanley Kubrick on “The Shining”?
Joe Turkel: That was the third picture I did with Stanley Kubrick. He first saw me in a little picture I did called “Man Crazy”. He liked the work I did and said he would like to use me in a picture he did called “The Killing” in 1956. He said it was a little role but he had something better coming up. Little did I know then but he was talking about “Paths of Glory”. He changed my life.
MG: Having worked twice before with Kubrick; did his style change over 20 years later on “The Shining”?
JT: He took a lot of time then but a lot of time on “The Shining”. He had a lot of attority and he wasn’t afraid to use that attority. Like with “Eyes Wide Shut”, he had a rule that anyone like producers or related to the film will not be permitted on the set. He just had this attority.
MG: How did you prepare for this unique role of Lloyd the Bartender in “The Shining”?
JT: It was just another part for me. I approached it like I would any other and that was it.
MG: How was it working with Jack Nicholson?
JT: Jack Nicholson is just the greatest. I’ll tell you a story about Jack. I am responisble for his career. In 1961 he has just come out from the East Coast and I had been there for ten years. He was broke most of the time. One day I was at the race track with a friend of mine and I hit a daily double for $4,400 dollars. Now that is a lot of money in those days. As I was getting the money settled, my friend saw Jack and I told him what just happened. Kenny, my friend, told me he owed Jack $800 bucks. So I told him to pay him and I gave him the money. Jack said to me “You know something Turkel, I was going to go back to New York but it is too fucking cold. I will take this money and it will get me through the winter.” But during the winter, he got lucky got a role and the rest is history.
MG: With a role that is consists of two scenes, how can you reflect on the impact they had on the film?
JT: I was suprised they had such an impact. Stanley and I were talking on set about how good it was and I told him “Stanley, thanks but I don’t want to wait 25 years between pictures”. We were both New Yorkers so we had this special bond. He told me we would work together again but that was the last time I saw him.
MG: Since the films are so different; did the productions of “The Shining” and “Blade Runner” differ much?
JT: Ridley Scott three times during my filming and asked me how I thought Stanley Kubrick would approach certain scenes. He was completely enamored with his work. Steven Spielberg said he was “the grandmaster of filmmaking”. So for Ridley Scott to come over and ask me for suggestion it was amazing.
MG: How did you prepare for the such an iconic character, Dr. Eldon Tyrell?
JT: Well I mad it that way [laughs]. I played it that way. It was a nice role and I did well. I have had better roles. I have had worse roles. Everything I have done has been unique from the fucking ruler of the world to a bartender. They were all crazy. I also like to do
comedy, which I have done over years in television.
MG: What do you like most about meeting your fans at conventions?
JT: It’s amazing. Just amazing. They are so gratitous. They are so happy to meet me. When I did a Q&A, the house was completely packed. They were asking questions about Kubrick and “Blade Runner”. I was taking pictures at the bar in full costume as Lloyd The Bartender from “The Shining”, so that was really cool as well.