The Witches of Eastwick
“THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK”
– Production Information –
Take care with What you dream, for your dreams may come true.
For three of its unmarried women residents, the present ‘day New England town of Eastwick has become a dreadful bore.
Steeped in staid colonial tradition, the quaint, picturesque hamlet is, in the minds of these strongly independent women, totally devoid of a single Mr. Right.
Alexandra Medford, Jane Spofford and Sukie Ridgemont gather ritually over cocktails -every Thursday avening. Well into their third drink on one such occasion, theft conversation gives vent to their mutual frustration.
The women each express an overpowering need for just one dynamic male capable of challenging their own liberated spirits, a man who could become their inspiration, their joy, their… everything. So consumed are the women with the notion, that their fantasies rapidly evolve into a frenzy of focused intent.
The sudden arrival in Eastwick of one Daryl Van Horne might, therefore, come as little surprise to the three. The wealthy, eccentric and charismatic stranger, who takes up residence in one of Eastwick’s historic mansions, fits their desires in every sense. But is his timely arrival sheer coincidence? Or, do Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie possess some extraordinary “gift” that has actually conjured him up? Who is this powerful, enigmatic individual who has arrived from nowhere more than willing to fulfill their wildest dreams?
Famous for his leading ladies and boudoir mien, Jack Nicholson stars as Daryl Van Horne in “The Witches of Eastwick” and faces three intriguing and stunning actresses upon whom he casts his devilish spell.
Cher, nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in “Silkwood” and then widely hailed in “Mask,” portrays Alexandra Medford, an earthy young widow and mother who sculpts curious little dolls. Susan Sarandon, Oscar-nominated as Best Actress in Louis Malle’s “Atlantic City,” Plays Jane Spofford, a soft-spoken and unassuming elementary-school music teacher who finds herself newly divorced after a childless marriage.
And Michelle Pfeiffer, the versatile young actress who portrayed Al Pacino’s icy bride in “Scarface,” is Sukie Ridgemont.
Gifted with fertility, and the mother of six little girls, she is a reporter for the Eastwick town paper.
Based on the best-selling book by John Updike, “The Witches of Eastwick” is a supernatural thriller set in the 1980s that is also a comic battle of the sexes. It has a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Cristofer, was directed by George Miller and was produced by Neil Canton, Peter Guber and Jon Peters. The director of photography is Academy Award-winner Vilmos Zsigmond, and John Williams, the Oscar-winning composer and conductor of the Boston Pops orchestra, has scored the picture.
For Australian director George Miller, “The Witches of Eastwick” is the latest in what is emerging as a body of work that can best be described as modern mythology. “We’re always striving to explain it all, and quite often the only way is through metaphors and symbols–and those are our stories,” he notes. “You like to think, ‘Ah, I want to be a filmmaker because I love making films.’ But as storytellers you’re really the servants of the collective subconscious.
It’s not your story ultimately; if it has any resonance, it’s everybody’s story.”
An Immediate Choice
Producers Peter Guber and Jon Peters, whose successes include such films as “The Color Purple,” “Flashdance,” “Missing,” “Caddyshack,” “The Deep,” and “A Star is Born,” were intrigued by Updike’s light-hearted, risqu‘ tome of small-town witchcraft before it arrived on the bestseller list in 1984.
“The Updike book, like some of his others, is a fascinating exploration of the battle between the sexes,” said producer Peters. “The battle is classic but it was the sexy background of witchcraft that made it so appealing.”
Guber and Peters called up the enormous talent of Michael Cristofer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “The Shadow Box,” to adapt the book.
To round out the producing team, they also called upon Neil Canton, fresh from his smash success “Back to the Future,” to join them in producing “The Witches of Eastwick.”
Miller’s Segue From Down Under
With the success of he “Mad Max” triloway to a rewarding relationship between director George Miller and Warner Bros.., the studio was eager to find a project that would appeal to the creative, sensibilities of the Australian filmmaker.
Producers Peter Guber and Jon Peters already had in hand a draft of the screenplay for “The Witches of Eastwick” from Michael Cristofer.- For Miller, the material represented a bold departure from his action-oriented”Mad Max” films.
“After reading-Cristofer’s screenplay,” Miller recalled, “I started to read the book in Germany and, as i traveled through Europe, the story haunted me; it intrigued me; it stimulated me. I hadn’t really considered the subject before and now I couldn’t-stop-thinking about it.”
Miller set up temporary quarters in Holltwood, conducting his business affairs in his native Sydney vialong distance, while starting the lengthy process of pre-production in America.
Accustomed as he was to the familiar atmospher of film-making in Australia, he found a ready professionalism amongst his new American crew. “Film making is more casual in Australia,” says Miller. “But there, each member of the crew has a specific
job which he or she does very well. . It is a different way Of making the same thing, but once you understand the system, you see how’ wonderfully it can work.”
Looking for Eastwick
The search for Eastwick was no easy task. Polly Platt, the production designer nominated for an Academy Award for “Terms of Endearment,” and Location manager Sam Mercer logged over 20,000 miles traveling extensively throughout the north- eastern United States and northern California in search of the story’s quintessential New England town. Two elements–a simple white church and a compact business district–became key to their search.
They found them in Cohasset, Massachusetts, a town of 7,700 located, coincidentally, next door to Platt’s hometown of Hingham and a short drive from Mercer’s birthplace in Weston. The centerpiece of the town is the historic First Parish meeting house, built in 1746 and situated on the picturesque town common. Cohasset also features a V-shaped business district ideally suited to the story. Aggressive effort by the Massachusetts Film Office helped to focus the filmmakers’ attention on the possibilities of making the movie there.
The people of Cohasset welcomed the filmmakers with huge crowds and open arms. Over 2,000 people showed up One Saturday morning to sign up for roles as extras in the movie.
And local businesses reported a livelier-than-usual tourist trade throughout the summer.
Platt and her art department literally transformed this tranquil, wealthy community into the New England town of John Updike’s description. The work was so good, in fact, that more than one passing motorist was convinced that they had taken a mistaken turn when they couldn’t find Eastwick anywhere on their road maps.
Cohasset has since returned to normal. In fact, the film-makers restored the town to its former self and said thank you by providing funds to aid the restoration of the First Parish Meeting House and to improve the expansive town common. Still, residents find an occasional feather mixed in with last year’s leaves …a souvenir that locals appreciate from a summer past. -Principal photography for “The Witches of Eastwick” began on location in Scituate, Mass., and continued in the Bay State cities of Norwell, Milton, Cohasset, Marblehead, Ipswich, and Boston .- When the company .shot at Milton Academy, it was very much a homecoming for Production designer Platt, who had realized at her 30-year reunion that her alma meter would be ideal as the location for the script’s Lenox School.
Production returned to California and the soundstages of The Burbank Studios, The Burbank Studios Ranch, and local sites. The special visual effects artists at Industrial Light and Magic, the Oscar-winning effects company in San Rafael, California, were responsible for realizing some of the script’s magical moments. Rob Bottin, who received an Oscar nomination for his special make-up effects for “The Legend,” performed the same function for “The Witches of Eastwick.” Among Bottin’s other film credits are “The Howling,” “The Thing,” and “Gremlins.”
About the Cast…
JACK NICHOLSON (Daryl Van Horne) has been nominated eight times for the Academy Award, which he won twice. He is also the recipient of six New York Film Critics Awards, a Cannes Film Festival Award as Best Actor, and two British Academy Awards,
among others. Combining the timing and technique of a skilled actor with the charisma and presence of a-great movie star, Nicholson Is known for his eagerness to experiment with different types of characters and his ability to change his appearance
With Nicholson, one expects the unexpected.
He was born in Neptune, New Jersey, and raised on the Jersey shore before moving to Hollywood at the age of 17.
After supporting himself with odd jobs, including a-stint in the cartoon department at MGM, he made his debut as an actor in the Hollywood stage production of “Tea and Sympathy.’ He studied acting with Jeff Corey and worked with Theatre West.
Nicholson’s feature film debut in 1958, as a teenage who thinks he is a murderer in “Cry Baby Killer,” began a decade of collaboration with producer-director Roger Corman, with whom he made a string of 20 “B” pictures before 1969.
Although not taken seriously .at the time, some of these films are today considered minor classics–“Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Raven” and “The Trip,” this last from a screenplay
Nicholson authored. Among other films from this period were Bob Rafelson’s surrealistic “Head,” which Nicholson wrote, and two with Monte Hellman: “The Shooting,” which Nicholson co-produced, And “Ride The Whirlwind,” which the actor co- produced and co-scripted.
After ten years in the business, Nicholson finally achieved “overnight success” with a New York Film Critics Awardand an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporing Actor as the boozy ACLUlawyer in Dennis Hopper’s “Easy:Rider.” He made his. directorial debut on “Drive, He Said,” before giving some of the most memorable performances of the ’70s: two more films directed by Bob Rafelson, “Five Easy Pieces” and “The King of Marvin Gardens”; Hal Ashby’s “The Last Detail,” for which he received both a New YorkFilm Critics Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Actor; Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown,” again winning a New York Film Critics Award and an Oscar nomination;_ -Michelangelo Antonioni’s “The Passenger”; Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” for which he won the New York Film Critics- Award and the Oscar as Best Actor; Mike Nichols’ “Carnal Knowledge” and “The Fortune”; Arthur Penn’s “The Missouri Breaks”; Vincente Minnelli’s “On A Clear Day You Can See Forever”; Henry Jaglom’s “A Safe Place”; Ken Russell’s “Tommy”; and Ella Kazan’s “The Last Tycoon.” He returned to directing with the comic Western “Coin’ South,”in which he also starred.
In the ’80s, Nicholson continued to make audacious choices, both in his roles and his methods of portraying them. In,1980, he turned loose his trademark “killer smile” as a murderous father running amok in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and workeda fourth time with director Bob Rafelson on a steamy version of James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice.”
Nicholson won an Oscar nomination and the British Oscar for his supporting performance as Eugene O’Neill in WarrenBeatty’s “Reds.” – Tony Richardson’s “The Border” followed, but it was Nicholson’s Portrayal of a-former astronaut in James L., Brooks’ “Terms of Endearment” that clinched yet Another New York Film Critics Award and his second Oscar statuette, these for Best Supporting Actor. He received his sixth New York Film Critics Award and his eighth nomination from the Academy- as the none-too-bright hitman in John Huston’s “Prizzi’s Honor.” Last year he starred in “Heartburn” with Meryl Streep and is working again with Streep in Hector Babenco’s screen adaptation of William Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Ironweed.
Few artists have taken bigger career risks and met with greater success than CHER (Alexandra Medford) when she made her stage debut in the Broadway production of Ed Graczyk’s “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.” She won thunderous praise and went on to reprise her role in Robert Altmam’s screen version, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Supporting Actress.
Her performance in the play inspired director Mike Nichols to cast her in “Silkwood,” and she promptly received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her work.
Next, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich tapped her talents to star in “Mask” as Rusty, the tough, unconventional, but loving mother in the poignant movie based on a true story.
Following “The Witches of Eastwick,” Cher went into two new film projects, Norman Zewison’s “Moonstruck” and Peter Yates’ “Suspect.” Her success in film reflects the superstar status she achieved in music 20 years ago. While still a teenager, she gained national attention in the ’60s as half of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. They had met as background vocalists at several of Phil Spector’s Hollywood recording sessions and initially began performing as Caesar and Cleo. By 1965 they had their first Top 10 hit with their first recording, “Baby Don’t Go.” Their second single, “I Got You Babe,” certified them as recording stars and has, to date, sold more than 3 million copies worldwide.
Since then, Cher has recorded “What Now My Love,” “Little Man,” “The Beat Goes On,” and the solo hits, “All I Really Want to Do,” “Bang, Bang,” “You Better Sit Down, Kids,” “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and “Half Breed ” In all, she has recorded 11 gold and three platinum records. On television, Cher starred with Sonny on CBS’s “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” and then had her own weekly variety series. In 1979 she displayed her comic talent in sketches with Lucille Ball, Shelley Winters and Elliott Gould on an NBC-TV special.
SUSAN.SARANDON.(Jane Spofford) was born in New York, raised in Edison, New Jersey and educated at Catholic University it Washington, D.C. She joined the Garrick Players before moving back to New York and, after only five days in the city, was offered her first part, a major role in the motion picture “Joe.” She described her next role, on the ABC-TV daytime drama “A World Apart,” as a “technical apprenticeship” and then landed more film work including “Lady Liberty” (1972) with Sophia Loren, “The Front Page” (1974) with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and “The Great Waldo Pepper” (1975) with Robert Redford._
The -actress co-produced and appeared in “The Last of the Cowboys,” starring Henry Fonda and Eileen Brennan; sang as Janet in the cult movie classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975); and. played the lead in Sidney Sheldon’s “The Other Side of
Midnight” (1977). In 1978 she appeared in both- “King of the Gypsies” and Louis Malle’s–“Pretty Baby,” which also starred Keith Carradine and Brooke Shields and, in 1979, was voted Star of the Year by the Motion Picture Bookers’ Association.
In 1980 Sarandon starred with Shirley MacLaine and James Coburn in “Loving Couples” and, in 1981, again for Louis Malle in “Atlantic City” (for which she received an .Academy Award nomination as Best Actress and won the Canadian Genie Award as Best Actress in a foreign film).
Sarandon also starred for -director Paul_Mazursky in “Tempest” (1982), with David Bowie and Catherine Deneuvg in “The Hunger” (1983), and for director Frank Perry in “Compromising Positions” (1985).
In the theatre, she was widely acclaimed for her performances in the Off-Broadway productions of “Extremities” and “A Couple -White- Chicks Sitting Around Talking.” On Broadway, she has performed in the highly praised ensemble piece, “An Evening with Richard Nixon.”
Sarandons distinguished television credits include “Women of Valor,” the HBO presentation of “Mussolini, The Decline and Fall of II Duce,” the PBS American Playhouse production of “Who Am I This Time?” and the role of Zelda in “F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Last of the Belles.”
MICHELLE PFEIFFER (Sukie Ridgemont), the daughter of a businessman, was born and raised in Orange County, California.
At Fountain Valley High School she took theatre mainly to avoid English but soon discovered that theatre people were “funny and refreshing.” After a stint as a supermarket checker, she started commuting to acting classes in Los Angeles and soon
landed her first professional role on the television series. “Delta House.” A month later, she made her feature film debut in “Falling In Love Again.”
Pfeiffer then co-starred as Suzy-Q, the carhop, in “Hollywood Knights” and played a debutante in “Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen.” Major attention came her way with “Grease 2” and important roles in television movies followed, including a floozie haunted by her past in “Callie and Son,” a foster parent to nine kids in “The Children Nobody Wanted” and Jenny, the wild sister, in “Splendor in the Grass.”
Between film assignments, Pfeiffer polished her craft in the Los Angeles theatre production of”Playground in the Fall,” portraying a feminist student.
Then came the starring role in Brian DePalma’s “Scarface,” followed by Richard Donner’s “Ladyhawke,” John Landis’s “Into the Night,” and the dual role of.Faith Healy, an actress on-the-rise, and patriot Mary Slocum, the character Faith plays in “Sweet Liberty,” directed by and starring Alan Alda.
VERONICA CARTWRIGHT portrays. the prophetic Felicia Gabriel. The demanding role demonstrates the maturity of this English-born actress who appeared before the camera as a child in William Wyler’s prestigious “The Children’s Hour”:and in episodes of the popular series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Leave it to Beaver.”
She won a regional Emmy for her work in “Tell Me Not in Mournful Numbers” and followed with a regular stint as Fess Parker’s daughter_on the “Daniel Boone” series. She has since alternated between film, theatre, and television, appearing in such important feature films as Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” “Inserts,” the re-make of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Goin’ South,” “Alien,” “The Right Stuff,” and most recently “The Flight of theNavigator.”
RICHARD JENKINS, a leading member of the prestigious East Coast Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, plays Cartwright’s dutiful husband Clyde, the editor of the town newspaper. Trinity colleague KEITH JOAKUM appears as Raymond Neff, the bombastic school principal, and seven-foot, three-inch actor/filmmaker CAREL STRUYCKER is Daryl Van Home’s (Jack Nicholson) unusual manservant, Fidel.