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Rosemary’s Baby – The Wild Facts
Paul Kyriazi - Feature Film Director Paul Kyriazi - Feature Film Director
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Los Angeles, CA
Sunday, March 5, 2023


Photo: William Castle on left. Studio Head Robert Evans on the right.

Producer/director William Castle (House on Haunted Hill) said: “When my gimic horror movies began to have dwindling profits, I was ready to throw in the towel. Desperately I searched for a miracle that would save my career. Then from heaven a miracle appeared. Or was if from hell?” 

He bought the movie rights to the novel Rosemary’s Baby for $150,000 and 5% of the net profits. Castle intended to direct. However, studio head, Robert Evans, pushed him to meet with Roman Polanski about directing.

Castle said: “I tested Polanski by saying, ‘We’ll make changes in the novel, right?.’ Polanski said, ‘No, the book is perfect.’ Point one for Polanski. ‘We need lots of weird camera angels, right?’ ‘No, Polanski replied, ‘No camera tricks. Let the actors tell the story.’ Point two for Polanski. ‘Who will write the script?’ ‘I will,’ Polanski said. ‘Why?’ ‘Because I’ll stick to the book.’ So, I let Polanski direct.” 

Both Castle and Polanski wanted Robert Redford for the husband as he would be the handsome, all-American boy that got corrupted for the sake of fame. Redford wanted to do it, but with his lawsuit against the studio, he was out.

Castle wanted Tuesday Weld for Rosemary. But Polanski said, “Weld is too strong and healthy looking.” He wanted the frail persona of Mia Farrow.

For the part of the husband, Paul Newman, Tony Curtis, Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner were considered. Three days before filming John Cassavetes was hired as the husband, though it was felt he already looked like a villain and would give away the plot.

Polanski wanted to play the part of Dr. Sapirstein, but Castle was against it, knowing he’d have enough trouble keep Polanski on schedule without him being in the movie. Ralph Bellamy was hired.

After three days of filming, Polanski’s attention to details put the company two weeks behind schedule. “I could have finished that first night, street scene of the suicide in one night, not three,” Castle said. The studio kept pushing Castle to go faster. Castle gently pushed Polanski, but Polanski kept his same slow pace.

Running into director Otto Preminger, Polanski confident in him about the studio pushing to go faster. “How do the dailies look?” Preminger asked. “Great.” “Then don’t worry about the studio.”

The book becoming a best seller gave both Polanski and Castle the confidence to know they wouldn’t be pulled off the movie.

An unknown actor with devil claws and make-up laid on top of Mia Farrow for hours to get the impregnation scene. Mia said, “When we were done, he moved off me and said, ‘It was great working with you Miss Farrow’. I thought that was so funny.”

Polanski had Mia J-walking across the New York’s Fifth Avenue at its busiest time with no traffic control. She had to do it twice with Polanski assuring her, “Don’t worry. No on is going to hit a pregnant woman.”

To make up for lost time, Polanski filmed the 8-page first dinner scene at Roman and Minnie’s apartment in one day, getting the studio temporarily off Castles back for being behind schedule.

Frank Sinatra told Castle to let Mia go to film his movie The Detective. “But Frank, they’ll shut down my movie.” “I don’t care Sinatra,” said. “Just do it.”

“I love Frank. I have to leave,’ Mia told studio head Robert Evans. Evans said, “I showed Mia a one-hour rough-cut of the movie saying ‘Mia, you’re a shoe-in for an Academy Award.’ Suddenly, it was ‘Frank who?’”

After being served divorce papers from Sinatra on the set by his lawyer, Charles Grodin, who played Dr. Hill, comically asked her, “So, are you seeing anyone?” Which caused Mia to laugh.

Castle and Polanski debated about whether to show the baby. “At least show some cat’s eyes,” Castle said. “I disagree,” Polanski said. “I’ll film it so people think that saw the baby.” Sure enough, many claim to this day they saw the baby. There is a quick super-imposed shot of Cassavetes as the devil in that scene that might have made that impression.

“You have unleased evil on the world. You will not live long enough to reap your rewards” It was just one of hundreds of hate mail that Castle received as the movie became popular.

Mia was nominated for Best Actress, but didn’t win. Ruth Gordin won Best Supporting Actress. Polanski was nominated for Best Screenplay.

Castle went on to produce a few more movies. He always emulated Alfred Hitchcock by appearing in trailers of his movies, making cameo appearances in his films, and creating a trademark silhouette of him in the director’s chair. When Hitchcock saw the big grosses of Castle’s House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler, he emulated Castle by making his own low-budget, black and white thriller, Psycho.  

I was in the William Castle Fan Club. He told his fans to repeat, three times a day, every day: “William Castle is the master of movie magic.” I still do, occasionally.

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Name: Paul Kyriazi
Group: Feature Film Director
Dateline: Los Angeles, CA United States
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