When Warner Brothers’ remake of “Clash of the Titans” opens in all its 3-D and special effects glory Friday at theaters around the country, Harry Hamlin will have a special interest in the film.
Hamlin played the hero Perseus in the original “Clash of the Titans,” which was released by MGM in 1981. Sam Worthington portrays the character in the 2010 version.
“I don’t think you can make a comparison between the two movies,” Hamlin said during a recent telephone interview. “The new one uses CGI effects and the other one used stop-motion animation.”
The stop-motion effects were done by the legendary Ray Harryhaussen, who during his career brought to life dinosaurs, a giant octopus, a creature from Venus and a variety of mythological figures.
“I had seen all of his movies and was a big fan,” Hamlin said. “It was really interesting to work on one of his films because there were a lot of times when you were alone against the green screen background. They would tell you what the scene was, what you were fighting and then you had to use your imagination.”
Later, Harryhaussen would add the figure that was supposed to be battling Hamlin.
Medusa, the snake-haired being whose eyes can turn onlookers into stone, was one of the most challenging to fight for Hamlin.
“We had a disagreement on the set about the scene,” Hamlin said. “I was supposed to cut off Medusa’s head with my sword but they (the director and producer) were against it for fear of getting an X rating in England. I locked myself in my dressing room and finally won the battle.”
The Medusa sequence remains one of the most memorable in what turned out to be Harryhaussen’s final film.
Harryhaussen, though, wasn’t the only reason Hamlin wanted to be in the film. It also gave him a chance to work with Laurence Olivier, who played the god Zeus (Liam Neesen in the new version).
“Who wouldn’t want to meet and work with Olivier?” Hamlin said. “We became good pals. I received a very nice letter from him at the end of the experience.”
Hamlin, who played Michael Kuzak on “L.A. Law” and has appeared in dozens of theatrical and made-for-TV movies, is amazed at the lasting power of “Clash of the Titans.”
“You know, films come and go but this one has had a special following. It’s been 30 years and people still ask me about it.”