Michael and I became friends at the pilot tavern about 65 or 66 just before he became a hollywood star. We were friends for many years and even made a movie together 'Double Negative' We got together any times. My favourite memory might be when he was dating Jacqueline Bisset he brought her to Toronto for Robert Markle's huge birthday party at the masonic hall. They got into a fight and as one of the few people she knew I got to dance with her most of the night stoned on acid.
I had no idea he was friends with Nick
Nick had a membership in my booze can and often came to Toronto for the weekend.
Nick Auf der Maur (April 10, 1942 – April 7, 1998) was a journalist, politician and "man about town" boulevardier in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was also the father of rock musician Melissa Auf der Maur, through his marriage to Linda Gaboriau.
The youngest of four children of Swiss immigrants J. Severn and Theresa Auf der Maur, he was a regular at various downtown Montreal bars, and often transacted official and unofficial business there, entertaining visitors to the city, telling stories, and meeting with a wide range of Montrealers from all walks of life.
Mordecai Richler claimed that Auf der Maur once went bar-hopping with Conrad Black and when they accidentally wandered into a gay bar and were asked to leave, Black indignantly insisted it was his democratic right to stay, so they did
In 1974, he was elected as a city councillor for Montreal for the Rassemblement des citoyens de Montréal (Montreal Citizens' Movement). In 1976, he formed the Alliance démocratique(Democratic Alliance) party and ran as a candidate in the 1976 provincial election; the party soon disbanded. In 1978 and 1982, he was again elected city councillor under the "Municipal Action Group" banner, and in 1986 was re-elected as an independent candidate. In the 1984 federal election, he ran as a Progressive Conservative candidate in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, and although the Conservatives won that election in a landslide including many Quebec seats, Auf der Maur failed to win a seat.
I found this delightful article with both of them
Nick Auf Der Maur...meet Michael Sarrazin
Sometime around 1994 me and my brother JD organized a meeting of Michael Sarrazin and his equally famous lifelong buddy Nick Auf der Maur at Grumpy’s Bar on Bishop. We videotaped the interview for our Montreal TV show Behind the Scenes, but never got around to airing it. One day I'll go through the old pile and find the video and pop it on the net, until then here's a transcript of the interview.
Nick: When kids say they want to be a race car driver, or a pilot you don't really quite take it seriously. Michael Sarrazin always said that he wanted to be an actor. You really had it in your head that is you wanted to do?
Sarrazin: Almost from the very beginning. Well we were in a high school play together, weren't we?
Nick: Yeah that's right, but I didn't take it seriously.
Sarrazin: Yeah. But there was a period of time I went to art school for a year, but basically that was my focus,
Nick: But there is one thing to want to be it and another to actually do it, how did you get to do it? And the actual fact, I remember it was the drudgery and work and an awful lot of not working?
Sarrazin: Yes the first test you go to is the test of your commitment and whether or not you can stick with it. At the beginning was very tough and spare as you know my early days in Montreal were virtually nothing. But suddenly things got momentum.
Nick: Do you remember your first paying job?
Sarrazin: Yeah the National Film Board was doing a historical series. I was 17 they were doing the Fathers of Confederation. I was hired as a stand-in for Robert Christie because I was the only guy tall enough. He was playing Sir John A. MacDonald.
Nick: You were a stand-in for Sir John A?
Sarrazin: As played by Robert Christie.
Nick: You were 17 years old.
Sarrazin: Yes the pay was $15 a day and I was actually on a movie set. I think everyone know what a stand in is, except for you Nick. In order to give the principal actors a rest during the lighting set ups they have people with their size and shapes to stand there so the actors won't be tired to perform, so I did that and it took all of one summer.
Nick: How did you get the job?
Sarrazin: You just hear things, like: "The National Film Board needs stands in." I think I initially applied initially as an extra and then they singled me out because I was the right height for Bob Christie. So that meant I had a regular job and would be working through the series and then the next thing that evolved out of that is we went out and did crowd scenes, I started doing work as an extra with business. I was singled out like a crowd scene... simulating a riot. I made a little extra money, the reason I remember that is that I used that money to join the union. And I became a professional actor at 17.
Nick: And then that went on a little bit work, but you did some studying too.
Sarrazin: Yes I joined up with a group in Montreal who worked with the Actors Studio and they formed a workshop on St. Lawrence Street. And a lot of actors from the studio flew up to give seminars 4 or 5 days at a time then. I filled that up with up work with some of the semi-professional theatre companies here in Montreal that we had at that time, the Trinity Players and Studio Club
Nick: Yes I remember The Studio Club. I was the assistant stage manager.
Sarrazin: I think I was your assistant (laughs)..
Nick: Well then at one point you decided you couldn't do it in Montreal then you decided to go to New York and then Toronto.
Sarrazin: New York I went to primarily to study because I was given through the teachers here, who were connected to the actors studio and I was introduced to Lee Strasberg and he accepted me into his private classes so I went down there for not quite a full year to study with him and roam around New York and support myself whichever way I could. I couldn't work, I just studied, I couldn't work because I didn't have the proper documentation.
Nick: Then you went to Toronto.
Sarrazin: Then I came back briefly to Montreal and did a play here which got some notice and somebody wrote me a letter of recommendation to producers at the CBC and I went up to Toronto. So I joined a workshop in Toronto with George Luscombe and with this letter I went to see the casting people at CBC TV.
Nick: We're talking what year here?
Sarrazin: About (19)63, 64,
Nick: And then you got the Hollywood contract and you became a studio actor?
Sarrazin: Yeah they had contacts in Toronto, they still had those talent programs then, where they signed people to seven year deals and they would also make a trip up to Toronto on scouting missions they'd go to Stratford and Toronto ....and they called me one day. I was living in this rooming house in Toronto and they called me from New York told me they wanted to talk to me first thing. I thought it was some friends playing a joke on me so I hung up on them and then I called back and the next thing you know I was in New York having a meeting with Universal studios and then they subsequently flew me to Los Angeles to look around at the studios and eventually I signed for 7 years.
Nick: That system doesn't work anymore.. where the studio signs an actor to a seven year deal and then they stick you into as many movies as they want, or can. What was your first Hollywood movie then?
Sarrazin: The first year, once they have you under contract you visit all the TV shows that they make you do a guest star. Of course your big fear is that they put you in a TV series.
Nick: Why? Is there a fear you get stuck in a series?
Sarrazin: Yeah you get stuck in a series, in those days it was all those Western and things like that.. yeah so I did a year, I guested on the Virginians there was show called Bob Hope Chrysler theatre, which was a dramatic show and a lot of Westerns in those days very popular, Universal Studios did B Westerns, I did a ton of those well maybe not a ton about 5 or 6 the first of which was called "Gunfight in Abeline" with Bobby Darin, remember the singer, he's a wonderful guy.
Nick: And did you get to like.. pull a gun and stuff?
Sarrazin: Yeah, yeah. It was done in 14 days. I think it was just an atrocious Western, it was a rehash of an old Western from the 1930s and I was afraid of horses, the usual story. It was just a disaster but I remember that as being my first feature.
Nick: You mentioned horses which oddly enough the film which brought you to prominence was They Shoot Horses Don't They in which you starred with Jane Fonda. How long after did you do that film?
Sarrazin: Well I signed with Universal in 1965. There was one big movie before it called "The Flim Flam Man" which I tested for and I won the role...and that got very good public response.
Nick: That was with George C. Scott, I recall you mention that working with George C. you learned a lot. He was a father figure of some sort?
Sarrazin: Yeah he's an extraordinary actor, he's still one of my favourites. He was exceptionally generous with me. I had heard rumours that he could be very temperamental, that he didn't suffer fools and stuff like that, but for some reason he took me under his wing and we got along really well and it played well for the film because it the story about a relationship between an older man and a young boy.
Nick: It was also comedy too, and you haven't done much comedy.
Sarrazin: Yes it was a comedy and it was very well received, I got very good critiques and that subsequently led to They Shoot Horses...
Nick: That was a depressing film, I mean you went from a comedy to this, you're talking about going from white to black. It was a pretty bleak picture about a bleak era, what was it like working on that film..bleak?
Sarrazin: Yes it was in fact. It was an intense, moving story. I think everyone involved in it was totally committed to it. It was almost as though we were living the parts and I have nothing but good memories of it, but we didn't party much. All of the cast was into the t in the dance marathons as a teenager and she wrote a good book about it, there is a great amount ofresearch material, plus, a lot of the cast, most of the principal players started a week early in rehearsal of experiencing staying up 24 hours a day, with a 10 minute break on the hour.
Nick: You weren't partying?
Sarrazin: Hah no! We actually went to the stage where the set was built, at Warner Brothers and played music and danced for 15 minutes and lay down for 10 and then danced for 15, and got used to all the sirens and the bells, all of the stuff that was in the movie, it was actually completely accurate.
Nick: You mean you lived it before you shot it.
Sarrazin: Yeah just to get the sense we went home at night, we didn't stay up for three months, but it was just to get a sense of what these people went through.
Nick: Then The Pursuit of Happiness which you didn't get with telling of that story.
Nick: A film like that seems depressing, actors read histories and biographies to get a feel for it, did you?
Sarrazin: Yeah we saw a lot of actual documentary footage about the dance marathons that did occur. We read some books on the subject, Olivia de Havilland, oddly enough washey shoot horses..
Sarrazin: No they only thing I remember about that was it was the first film I made after my contract with Universal ended, so I was making real money (laughs) as opposed to the little salary when you're under contract, the studio makes the money and you get a salary, so The Pursuit of Happiness with Barbara Hershey and Richard Mulligan, a very very good director, I didn't think the story was so good and it came and went, the public didn't catch on to it, it had a great title song by Randy Newman, that's all I remember about it..
Nick: We have some clippings of you from the Montreal Gazette and there is a photo of you in a bathtub with Barbra Streisand in For Pete's Sake. I mean not many of us get in a bathtub with her. What was it like working with a super vedette ?
Sarrazin: Great. Great we got along well, I liked her, I admired her tremendously, it was a lot of fun, it wasn't too demanding, because it was a nice light comedy. She is an extraordinary person, a lot of fun, a great sense of humour, we shot it on the lot because you can't go on the street with Barbra Streiseand, it starts a riot. So, it was a kind of light weight kinda movie, but the film
experience and meeting her it was a happy time.
Nick: She collects antiques..
Nick: My mom has an antique coat racks, and every time you get to Montreal my mom asks me to get you to ask Barbra for a coat rack but it hasn't worked out. You get the impression that alot of the stars are bitchy in private.
Sarrazin: I can't measure that, I'm sure they are, and I've run into a few temperaments in my time and I suppose I have a temper in my own right, but generally speaking, they're nice people professional people, if you catch me on a bad day I won't be as agreeable as on a nice day
Nick: I also saw you in Playboy nude with Raquel Welch?
Sarrazin: No I don't think so..
Nick: Who was it?
Sarrazin: I didn't pose specifically for Playboy.
Nick: Yeah but who was it?
Sarrazin: I really don't remember.
Nick: It was kind of like a Tarzan thing.
Sarrazin: In those days there were obligatory nude scenes with the actress at which time all of the stills were either pirated or sold by the studio to Playboy and went around the world so everybody thinks I was having I mean they were just still photos taken during the course of your working day they always had a market value, Playboy ran that every year, "Sex in the cinema", I was in a number of years, with whom I can't recall.
Nick: You can't recall? Photographed in the nude with Racquel Welch and you can't remember?
Sarrazin: It couldn't have been her, I haven't worked with her.
Nick: Who was it? I would be able to remember!
Sarrazin: I'm getting old now and I have a girlfriend, I don't want to brag about these things.
Nick: I used to call you up to speak French with your old girlfriend Jacqueline Bisset.
Sarrazin: We made two films together.
Nick: What films?
Sarrazin: Some terrible bikini beach ball thing, called The Sweet Ride, it was kind of fun to make though it had a Canadian director Harvey Hart and then a few years later we made a serious film called Believe in Me about drug addiction.
Nick: There are a lot of Canadians working in Hollywood, writers and stuff and even reporters on TV, Peter Jennings, and others and as I recall in the American TV if you had a background at the CBC it was regarded as a big plus as well as the NFB, did being Canadian help
Sarrazin: It helped the way I got my contract was the studios would actively recruit in plays and watch Canadian TV shows and they also had contacts in the industry, so when asked about anybody was interesting, they'd come up and look at your stuff. I thought the reason was because we were already acting, and working. Because once you're down in Hollywood, you're not there to train, you're there to do photographs and meet new agents and producers, there's
not much time to develop a background, whereas the time Universal spoke to me, I had been a professional actor for 8 years.
Nick: So your advice is if you want to become an actor, don't run away to Hollywood or New York become an actor where you are.
Sarrazin: Get a foundation. Form a commitment to it, experience the theatre. I think I did just about everything before I went exclusively into film. I had a taste of a little bit of everything, it gives you a background.
Nick: You did documentaries, radio, schlock stuff ?
Sarrazin: That's not schlock.
Nick: I know.. I know...but…
Sarrazin: Background, you don't know it at the time, but it's like a layer of experience, another coat of varnish to harden you, once you're down there the focus shifts, you go into a commercial high gear.
Nick: I remember meeting you doing Caravans in Iran a year before the Iranian revolution.
Sarrazin: Four months before!
Nick: Here you are with a big huge Hollywood production with the Western culture and values that the Iranian revolution was rejecting.
Sarrazin: We couldn't put our finger on it but we knew they didn't like us! Or a certain segment of the population didn't like us. It was hellish. It was a desert epic, and we were really out there in the desert, it difficult physically to work in film under those conditions, but it left a great impression on me, the culture, we were there five months, started in June and got out in December 77 and the real guns and firing began in February, March the following year, so 3, 4 months.
Nick: Who was that with?
Sarrazin: It was Anthony Quinn and Jennifer (O'Neill)... oh she'll kill me! She's a famous actress.
Nick: The one you were with in Playboy.
Sarrazin: Yes. yes! (laughs)
Nick: How we forget.
Sarrazin: Jennifer O'Neill! Sorry Jennifer!
Nick: You're talking George C. Scott and Anthony Quinn, two guys you've worked with, monuments of filmdom, you just go up and shake their hands and call him Tony?
Sarrazin: You just be yourself I guess, Quinn and I got along fine, I can't remember any film l've been in who had a big personality problem with somebody. It's not my style.
Nick: Do you remain friends and see them afterwards?
Sarrazin: That's one of the sad things about films. The relationships are longish, 3, 4, 5 months they're very intense, because you're performing together, living together, sharing hardship together, plus you all have the same focus, trying to accomplish and make the best movie possible, you're very close, then suddenly someone says, "It's a wrap" and you're gone and you very rarely reconnect unless it's on another project and its never the same dynamic.
Nick: So in the wrap party you say you'll stay in touch and then you don't?
Sarrazin: Yeah I have drawers full of addresses. Well you do run into some of the people again and it's always warm but the specialness of the event that brought you together is gone.
Nick: Train Killer.
Sarrazin: Train killer?
Nick: The Reincarnation of Peter Proud.
Sarrazin: I saw that!
Nick: That's one of those films that plays on late night TV again.
Sarrazin: It's very popular. I get stopped about it a lot. I did it with Margot Kidder and Jennifer O'Neill that's two films I did with her, it's all about reincarnation, contrary to those notes you have, it was a big hit at the time of its release, in proportion I mean, it wasn't Jurassic Park, but it made a good sum of money and it continues to be a favourite now in TV and video rentals.
Nick: Ever find yourself in a hotel room late at night and you turn on the TV and see yourself ?
Sarrazin: Yeah, my big fear is to be trapped on the airplane with one of my movies, because airplane movies are not very good and to be stuck 35,000 feet with some not-very-good movie that you're in it hasn't happened though.
Nick: Yeah I was in Florida last year it was about 3 in the morning I came in and turned on the TV and there you were.
Sarrazin: Well that's a sign of how old I'm getting because 10, 15 years ago I was like the Saturday 9 o'clock movie and I was like "Wow Hey" and now I get up in the middle of the night to do whatever and I'm on the 3 AM late show!
Nick: Well that makes you ubiquitous. Your face remains familiar continuously with all that stuff, do people recognize you wherever you are?
Sarrazin: Just about anywhere, or else people do a double take because you are out, and in their consciousness, don't forget these films play worldwide. I have a friend who just came back from Italy and saw me on the late show. I don't think about it, but you're face is slowly being burned in, you're part of the loop.
Nick: Right and you can't even remember who you are in Playboy nude with!
Nick: You did a great film, it was an interesting story, which never came out, shot worked in Hungary over several months and it never came out.
Sarrazin: It's out on video.
Nick: In Hungary?
Sarrazin: (laughs) They changed the name to the Train Killer. To be perfectly honest with you, it just wasn't a very good film, it was a wonderful story, great director, done in 1982.
Nick: In Hungarian. How is your Hungarian?
Sarrazin: That was the funny part, it was the drawback, I was the only English-speaking person in the film everybody else was Hungarian
Nick: So they spoke their lines in Hungarian and what did you say?
Sarrazin: I said some English dialogue, it was kind of excruciating but I think the reason it didn't make the theatres was because it wasn't up to it. But now a lot of films are made these days and they don't really mind that it doesn't get a theatrical opening, they just go direct to video and there are a lot of sales there.
Nick: So now you are living in Beverly Hills on one of those canyon roads and you return here and the first thing you want isCote St. Luc barbecue chicken or smoked meat.
Sarrazin: Well if you're a Montrealer what else are you going to want? Yeah. I always come back 2, 3 times a year and curiously it's always for the stuff of my childhood
Nick: Michael Sarrazin is a product of Darcy McGee High School in downtown Montreal and take that Baron Byng High!