About the Production
... Roddy McDowall was the first to be signed. "When I think of Mr. Murray, I think of Roddy," says co-producer and co-writer Marc Shmuger. "I find them inseparable. In addition, Roddy is one of the most knowledgeable movie buffs in the world, and that kind of experience is simply invaluable."
"From the moment Roddy read the script, he was enthusiastic," says [co-producer John] Bloomgarden. "He instantly understood it in the same terms the writers had conceived it."
About the Performers
RODDY McDOWALL plays Thomas Franklin Murray, a sinister figure who lures an innocent actress into a deadly game of blackmail and deceit. An impeccably dressed man with an unnaturally subservient manner, Mr. Murray desperately wants to be thought of as normal -- and yet ...
"It was a wonderful part and an intriguing project -- I loved it," smiles the veteran actor. "It's a gothic melodrama in classic terms. Films like this aren't made very often anymore."
"It's very rare to find a role that offers interchanges on as many levels as this piece does, particularly with Mary [Steenburgen] playing three different characters. 'Dead of Winter' is in the genre of such marvelous films as 'The Spiral Staircase,' 'Wait Until Dark' and 'Notorious' -- very gothic, very spare and not overly expressionistic. There's a lot not said," he observes, "in contrast to many of today's films, in which too much often is."
McDowall continues, "You don't see the blood, you feel the blood! 'Dead of Winter' is fun and it's diabolical -- it has a wonderful, larger than life realism, and both Dr. Lewis and Mr. Murray are absolutely dreadful people," he adds with a mischievous grin.
"Arthur Penn and I worked together about thirty years ago in live television," McDowall explains. "I've always enjoyed working with him -- he's imaginative, fun, and has a wonderful sense of humor." McDowall also credits Mary Steenburgen with a lovely sense of humor. "Fun" crops up a lot in conversation as he discusses working with her. "Mary is a wonderful actress. She's so truthful and easy to work with. Besides, that, she's an absolutely delicious person."
Remarks Steenburgen, "One of the things that Roddy and I have in common is a love affair with films, particularly those of the Forties and Fifties. As a child, he worked with so many of the people I've always admired. He's got all these great stories, so I pumped him all the time," she smiles. "There's a lot to be learned from people who pioneered those films, because they made movies a fine art."
As one of the few child stars to have made the transition to adult actor successfully, McDowall has become part of society's collective film memory. Born in England, McDowall had already begun to carve a niche for himself as a child actor in British films in the late Thirties. During the London Blitz of 1940 he was evacuated to the U.S., where he won immense popularity with audiences. The sad-eyed boy with the grown up demeanor imprinted himself on film history with such classics as "My Friend Flicka," "Lassie Come Home" and "How Green Was My Valley."
In the Fifties, McDowall shed his image as a juvenile, expanding his reach to Broadway in such successful stageplays as "Misalliance," "No Time for Sergeants," "Compulsion," and "Camelot.". On live television, he was provided "with opportunities and roles in a variety that existed nowhere else." In 1960, McDowall crowned his transitional decade in New York with both a Tony Award, for his role in Jean Anouilh's "The Fighting Cock," and an Emmy, for his role in NBC's "Night Without Honor."
While living in New York during the Sixties McDowall pursued a parallel career as a highly-respected still photographer, working for such magazines as Life, Look, Bazaar and Vogue. In 1966 he published a photo collection titled Double Exposure, and is the owner of a renowned collection of old motion pictures. "I don't do as much photography today," says McDowall, "because the whole business has changed."
After a maturation period on the Broadway stage and in television, he returned to the screen in a broad range of adult roles. Known for his consistency and professionalism during the past twenty years, McDowall has worked continually in all three mediums. He has guest-starred in almost every major television series, as well as dozens of television movies. Most recently, he has been seen in the CBS mini-series, "Bridges to Cross," starring Suzanne Pleshette.
McDowall has appeared in well over one hundred motion pictures, including "Midnight Lace," "The Longest Day," "Cleopatra," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "The Loved One," "Inside Daisy Clover," four of the "Planet of the Apes" films, "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," "Funny Lady," "Class of 1984," and most recently, "Fright Night."