Hard Choices


1h 30m 1984

Film Details

Release Date
1984
Distribution Company
Lorimar Productions
Location
Dade County, Florida, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Synopsis

Film Details

Release Date
1984
Distribution Company
Lorimar Productions
Location
Dade County, Florida, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m

Articles

Spalding Gray (1941-2004)


Spalding Gray, the self-effacing monologist and actor, whose best work offered a sublime mix of personal confessions and politically charged insights, was confirmed dead on March 8 one day after his body was found in New York City's East River. He had been missing for two months and family members had feared he had committed suicide. He was 62.

Gray was born in Barrington, Rhode Island on June 5, 1941, one of three sons born to Rockwell and Elizabeth Gray. He began pursuing an acting career at Emerson College in Boston. After graduation, he relocated to New York, where he acted in several plays in the late '60s and early '70s. He scored a breakthrough when he landed the lead role of Hoss in Sam Shepard's Off-Broadway hit Tooth of Crime in its 1973 New York premiere. Three years later he co-founded the avant-garde theatrical troupe, The Wooster Group with Willem Dafoe.

It was this period in the late '70s, when he was performing in Manhattan's underground theater circles, did Gray carve out his niche as a skilled monologist. His first formal monologue was about his childhood Sex and Death to the Age 14, performed at the Performing Garage in Manhattan in 1979; next came his adventures as a young university student Booze, Cars and College Girls in 1980; and the following year, he dealt with his chronicles as a struggling actor, A Personal History of the American Theater. These productions were all critical successes, and Gray soon became the darling of a small cult as his harrowing but funny takes on revealing the emotional and psychological cracks in his life brought some fresh air to the genre of performance art.

Although acting in small parts in film since the '70s, it wasn't until he garnered a role in The Killing Fields (1984), that he began to gain more prominent exposure. His experiences making The Killing Fields formed the basis of his one-man stage show Swimming to Cambodia which premiered on Off-Broadway in 1985. Both haunting and humorous, the plainsong sincerity of his performance exuded a raw immediacy and fragile power. Gray managed to relate his personal turmoil to larger issues of morality throughout the play, including absurdities in filmmaking, prostitution in Bangkok (where the movie was shot), and the genocidal reign of the Pol Pot. Gray won an Obie Award - the Off-Broadway's equivalent to the Tony Award - for his performance and two years later, his play was adapted by Jonathan Demme onto film, further broadening his acceptance as a unique and vital artistic talent.

After the success of Swimming to Cambodia, Gray found some work in the mainstream: Bette Midler's fiance in Beaches (1988), a regular part for one season as Fran Drescher's therapist in the CBS sitcom The Nanny (1989-90), a sardonic editor in Ron Howard's underrated comedy The Paper (1994), and a recent appearance as a doctor in Meg Ryan's romantic farce Kate & Leopold (2001). He also had two more of his monologues adapted to film: Monster in a Box (1992) and Gray's Anatomy (1996). Both films were further meditations on life and death done with the kind of biting personal wit that was the charming trademark of Gray.

His life took a sudden downturn when he suffered a frightening head-on car crash during a 2001 vacation in Ireland to celebrate his 60th birthday. He suffered a cracked skull, a broken hip and nerve damage to one foot and although he recovered physically, the incident left him traumatized. He tried jumping from a bridge near his Long Island home in October 2002. Family members, fearing for his safety, and well aware of his family history of mental illness (his mother committed suicide in 1967) convinced him to seek treatment in a Connecticut psychiatric hospital the following month.

Sadly, despite his release, Gary's mental outlook did not improve. He was last seen leaving his Manhattan apartment on January 10, and witnesses had reported a man fitting Gray's description look despondent and upset on the Staten Island Ferry that evening. He is survived by his spouse Kathleen Russo; two sons, Forrest and Theo; Russo's daughter from a previous relationship, Marissa; and two brothers, Rockwell and Channing.

by Michael T. Toole
Spalding Gray (1941-2004)

Spalding Gray (1941-2004)

Spalding Gray, the self-effacing monologist and actor, whose best work offered a sublime mix of personal confessions and politically charged insights, was confirmed dead on March 8 one day after his body was found in New York City's East River. He had been missing for two months and family members had feared he had committed suicide. He was 62. Gray was born in Barrington, Rhode Island on June 5, 1941, one of three sons born to Rockwell and Elizabeth Gray. He began pursuing an acting career at Emerson College in Boston. After graduation, he relocated to New York, where he acted in several plays in the late '60s and early '70s. He scored a breakthrough when he landed the lead role of Hoss in Sam Shepard's Off-Broadway hit Tooth of Crime in its 1973 New York premiere. Three years later he co-founded the avant-garde theatrical troupe, The Wooster Group with Willem Dafoe. It was this period in the late '70s, when he was performing in Manhattan's underground theater circles, did Gray carve out his niche as a skilled monologist. His first formal monologue was about his childhood Sex and Death to the Age 14, performed at the Performing Garage in Manhattan in 1979; next came his adventures as a young university student Booze, Cars and College Girls in 1980; and the following year, he dealt with his chronicles as a struggling actor, A Personal History of the American Theater. These productions were all critical successes, and Gray soon became the darling of a small cult as his harrowing but funny takes on revealing the emotional and psychological cracks in his life brought some fresh air to the genre of performance art. Although acting in small parts in film since the '70s, it wasn't until he garnered a role in The Killing Fields (1984), that he began to gain more prominent exposure. His experiences making The Killing Fields formed the basis of his one-man stage show Swimming to Cambodia which premiered on Off-Broadway in 1985. Both haunting and humorous, the plainsong sincerity of his performance exuded a raw immediacy and fragile power. Gray managed to relate his personal turmoil to larger issues of morality throughout the play, including absurdities in filmmaking, prostitution in Bangkok (where the movie was shot), and the genocidal reign of the Pol Pot. Gray won an Obie Award - the Off-Broadway's equivalent to the Tony Award - for his performance and two years later, his play was adapted by Jonathan Demme onto film, further broadening his acceptance as a unique and vital artistic talent. After the success of Swimming to Cambodia, Gray found some work in the mainstream: Bette Midler's fiance in Beaches (1988), a regular part for one season as Fran Drescher's therapist in the CBS sitcom The Nanny (1989-90), a sardonic editor in Ron Howard's underrated comedy The Paper (1994), and a recent appearance as a doctor in Meg Ryan's romantic farce Kate & Leopold (2001). He also had two more of his monologues adapted to film: Monster in a Box (1992) and Gray's Anatomy (1996). Both films were further meditations on life and death done with the kind of biting personal wit that was the charming trademark of Gray. His life took a sudden downturn when he suffered a frightening head-on car crash during a 2001 vacation in Ireland to celebrate his 60th birthday. He suffered a cracked skull, a broken hip and nerve damage to one foot and although he recovered physically, the incident left him traumatized. He tried jumping from a bridge near his Long Island home in October 2002. Family members, fearing for his safety, and well aware of his family history of mental illness (his mother committed suicide in 1967) convinced him to seek treatment in a Connecticut psychiatric hospital the following month. Sadly, despite his release, Gary's mental outlook did not improve. He was last seen leaving his Manhattan apartment on January 10, and witnesses had reported a man fitting Gray's description look despondent and upset on the Staten Island Ferry that evening. He is survived by his spouse Kathleen Russo; two sons, Forrest and Theo; Russo's daughter from a previous relationship, Marissa; and two brothers, Rockwell and Channing. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States May 16, 1986

Released in United States Spring May 16, 1986

Released in United States May 16, 1986 (World premiere May 16, 1986.)

Released in United States July 1984

Released in United States Spring May 16, 1986

Released in United States July 1984 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (American Independents) July 5-20, 1984.)