Working With David Carradine

FMR’s James AE Fuentez on working with David Carradine.

“One actor I liked working with was the late, great, David Carradine. He had so many great, informative and funny stories to share with cast, crew and even the extras that were on the set. David was his own man, and right or wrong he said what he thought and knew who he was.

I was lucky enough to first work with him when he took over the hosting job on Wild West Tech on the History Channel from his brother Keith Carradine, when Keith was leaving to star in a new television series, Complete Savages.

My son Matt and I got to sit in on a card game with both brothers for a scene in which David won the hosting job away from Keith for the season pilot of the series. I even got to be the card dealer for their game. Sitting and talking with the brothers for hours while filming is one of my fondest memories of the two seasons I worked on that series. David was always quick with a joke to keep things light on the set to make the shoot fun.

Once he was telling a story to some of the crew and extras while the rest of the crew were setting up the next shot, a producer came up and said “We are ready for you Mr. Carradine?” David said “Hold on” and kept talking, some time went by and the producer again said “They are ready for you, Sir”, David said, “Just a minute” and finished his story, everyone laughed at the story and David said to the producer “Okay, where do you need me?” and they walked off to the set. I could tell the producer was not happy about the wait, but said nothing. Some would see this as David flexing his power on the set, but David did it to show that the crew, cast and extras were people too, and were just as important to him as the department heads and producers.

A friend of mine I have talked with told me they knew someone who had told them David was a jerk to them. I never saw this on all the sets I worked with him, not just Wild West Tech but I worked with him on Brothers in Arms also. Who knows, he might have been having a bad day, or the person may have been a jerk, those people tend to make it on sets too. But I never saw him be mean to anyone.

A story I must tell about David is this. Once we were filming a scene where David was to swing a bullwhip over his head a few times and crack it. He practiced some and got it down. So when they went to film it and cameras were rolling, it was a little tougher with lines to say. After a few takes he went to do it again and the bullwhip wrapped around his head 3 times, the director, producers all gasped and ran to David. David was cool and said “Its OK, stay back, I have it”. David unwrapped the bullwhip off his head, put his hat back on and said,”If I don’t get hurt at least one on a show, then I am doing it wrong”. Everyone laughed but not the producers!

They filmed it again and the whip kind of cracked and the producers said ” OK that’s enough, that’s good, we got it”. I know David wanted to do it again, but the producers said they would put a better crack of the whip sound in Post.

So as stars go David was a man’s man.

Was he perfect? NO. Are any of us? No. We are all just people trying to do what we love to do, make the best movies we can, with the budget we have to work with. But David was always cool to me and everyone that I saw talked to him or bummed a smoke from him. So was David this or that? David Carradine was just a man who will be missed.”


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