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River and Sidney Lumet
on location in New Jersey
filming Running on Empty.
Director of Running on Empty, Sidney Lumet was keen to cast River in the role of Danny Pope. "The talent is original," said Lumet. "River doesn't know how to do anything falsely. Give him a false direction and he'll look up helplessly. He has a surprising technique that he has developed on his own - he has never studied acting. He couldn't be ordinary if he tried."
Speaking of the director, River said, "I really enjoyed his work on films like Dog Day Afternoon and Prince of the City."
Of River's future, Sidney Lumet said during the filming of Running On Empty, "He's one of those people who's so talented I don't know where he's going to go. The world is open to him. He's a superb actor with real technique, despite his years. He's never studied formally, but boy, does he know how to reach inside himself. I don't know what combination of things make a 'star'. You have to have a very strong, clear persona and you have to be a very good actor. He is both, so he ought to have a brilliant career." This prediction would of course prove to be tragically wrong.
See also the Making Movies book in Phoenix Bookshelf.
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