The Tarrytown Diaries of Professor Stokes




Terry was asked how she had enjoyed working with Robert De Niro in The Swap, and she softly admitted, “I didn’t.”  When pressed as to why, she confessed, “I was a ‘method actor,’ and with method acting, you have to center yourself on your character and find something to inspire you in every scene."  She'd had to draw upon such inspiration while playing a romantic scene with De Niro. "I didn’t find him attractive, but I had to play the scene as if I did, and it worked—too well.  He thought I was serious.”  Lara had had a similar experience—with Robert Blake! 

While guest starring on “Baretta,” she’d had to play a love scene with Blake, and he’d thought she was honestly interested in him.  “If he didn’t like you, he’d have you fired right away so I had to stay on his good side.  He’d ask me if I was attracted to him, and I’d say, ‘Oh, sure, I’m attracted to you, but, ah, I’m…busy tonight…’”  Diana had worked with Blake on “Baretta” too, for a short time.  “He kept trying to tell me how to play the scene.  He said ‘You’re going to do it this way,’ and I finally said, ‘No, I’m not; I’m going home.’  Dead silence in the studio.  One of the producers said to me, ‘You’ve said the wrong thing.  Why don’t you go to the ladies’ room for a moment.’  ‘OK!’  I left to call my agent to tell him what had happened, and he assured me that these things happen all the time and I wasn’t going to be kicked out of the Screen Actors’ Guild because of it.”

Lara was asked about her guest appearance on “Kolchak, the Night Stalker.”  Apparently, it wasn’t a very good experience.  Darren McGavin wasn’t very courteous, and complained that, ‘nobody knows how a show like this is supposed to be played.’  Lara asked him if he’d ever heard of Dark Shadows.  ‘Dark what?’  During her death scene as the ancient, disfigured crone, Lara had more difficulties with him.  “Normally,” she explained, “when the camera isn’t on you, you’re supposed to help the other actor out by prompting him with his lines.  He (McGavin) didn’t want me to do that.  He yelled at me that I was distracting him.” 

Grayson Hall as Natalie DuPres

Grayson Hall as Natalie DuPres


Another person requested that the ladies share their memories of Grayson Hall.  “Grayson was the center of camp,” Lara recalled.  “Her acting was always so stiff and unconvincing but it was really interesting to watch.”  Marie conceded that it was mainly Grayson’s own personality and presence coming through the characters that made them stand out.  Terry shared a cute story.  “When I played Beth, I often had to cry.  Beth was always worried about Quentin, and after taping one episode where she had run crying to Magda, Grayson asked me, ‘How do you cry those real tears?  You were really crying in that scene.’  When she cried, she just dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief, and so she was very curious.  I explained how I would prepare by trying to remember times from my childhood that had made me sad so that by the time I had to do my crying scenes, I was ready.  Some time after that, later in the story line, Magda had a crying scene and Grayson cried a single real tear.  She was so excited.  Did you see it?  Did you see it?’ she kept asking.  ‘I did it!’”  Diana had worked with Sam Hall before DS when he had written the teleplay for The Secrets of Stella Crozier and had visited the Halls' apartment one day.  While there, she’d met Grayson, and been impressed by her.  “I didn’t even know she was an actress, but I thought she was a fascinating person.”  Everybody seemed to hold a high opinion of her.  Lara told of how Grayson had gathered all of the actors around her during the filming of the movie and given them tips on acting for the screen.  “‘You can’t emote the way you do on television,’ she said.  ‘When your face is on the big screen, every little thing you do is magnified.’  We had to stop what we’d been doing up to then and re-train ourselves.  Grayson helped us because she’d had the experience of being in Night of the Iguana.  She would find movies for us to watch, and give us tips based on them.  We were watching a scene with Deborah Kerr and Grayson told us, ‘Look at her face.  See how she’s always moving, even though she’s standing still.’  She was wonderful.  Even though her style was so over-the-top on the show, she was able to tone it down for the movie.  It’s just that she was trained differently.  She was from another age, like Joan Bennett.” This prompted the ladies to recall their memories of Joan.