unforeseen problems and accidents. Fortunately
no-one was ever seriously injured. Nobody lost
their lives. About 50 people got sick, though,
with gangrene and other things, and had to go
home. When I came home I had contracted
malaria. I had malaria for a few months and
had to take a series of medications. It wasn’t
originally diagnosed properly because my
doctors had never seen malaria.
You spoke to Steve McQueen about playing
the lead, but that didn’t work out. Why did
you ultimately go with Roy Scheider?
I had a great experience with Roy on
The French Connection. He was pitch-perfect,
he never blew a take, he had a terriic screen
presence. And when I cast him in that, he’d
only done one other ilm that I was aware of,
Klute, which hadn’t even come out at the
time. I cast him when I met him. Then, when
I couldn’t get McQueen, I started to think of
Roy for that because he had achieved terriic
success with another action movie,Jaws,
and I loved working with him again. But
my irst choice was McQueen. I do think
that Roy is terriic in the ilm. When I think
of all that is involved in that performance,
I think that he probably is a better choice,
though he was not a big movie star. At
that time it helped to have big movie stars.
Today it doesn’t mean a damn thing.
The four lead characters inSorcererare
not only lawed but completely desperate.
Yes. It really is about that as well. What people
will do when their backs are against the wall.
And the will to survive — that’s another obvious
theme of the ilm. Whether you like these guys,
they are desperate to survive — as are we all in
some way. We’re not all driving a truck across
a rope-bridge. But allegorically, we are. The
grander theme ofSorcereris that. Whether you
take that as disease or family problems or things
that come out of nowhere like hurricanes and
earthquakes and ires, that as we speak are
making us think about the apocalypse again.
You know what’s going on in the world.
It’s hard to understand for a lot of people,
but not for, say, the UK, because they have
Brexit! At the moment, Brexit is the UK’s
rope-bridge to cross.
The ending of the ilm is fascinating. You
don’t know what happens to Scheider’s
character, although it doesn’t look good.
I like that, you see. A lot of the ilms
I’ve made, I leave the meaning of the ending
to the audience. As a viewer I don’t want to
be dictated to about what this all means.
If there is a common theme in most of
the ilms I’ve made, it’s the thin line
between good and evil. Especially in
Sorcerer. Does he survive? Does
he not survive? It’s really what the
viewer brings to it. And that’s what
I strive for.
Clockwise from left:
Friedkin (left) on set;
Monster truck; The
lead cast and truck
on location in South
Nitroglycerin isn’t the
element on their risky