Interview de Nick Nicholson
To start with, could you tell us about yourself and your background? Where were you born? What was the chain of events that made you come to live and work in the Philippines? In a few words, how did you start working in movies, and what are your memories of these first experiences?
I Was born and raised in Redford Township Michigan. I attended High School at Lee M. Thurston. I quit school when I was 17 and joined the Navy. I had spent time in the Mediterranean as well as Vietnam. I used to come to the Philippines to have fun when I was in the Navy. I ended up in Manila after my Discharge, and worked with a guy who's uncle was a Still Photographer for Motion Pictures and Television Commercials as well as Print Ads. He got me into my first acting job with Kinavesa.
Apparently, the first film you acted in was a 1973 Chinese kung fu flick shot in Manila, in which you had a small part as a Western bad guy. As the Hong Kong movie industry was sometimes shooting its productions in the Philippines (notably for its low prices and nice settings) did you act in a lot of HK pictures?
No, we didn't do that many films for HK outfits. These were more of the once in a blue moon deals. They preferred to shoot in Hong Kong or Taiwan.
Max Thayer and you come from the same place in Michigan, are about the same age, did the war in Viêt-Nam before meeting on the set of Kinavesa films. You played the bad guys opposite to Max's character in "Deadringer" and "No Dead Heroes". Max said in an interview he granted our webzine he visited you in the Philippines when he was on his way to Bangkok for "No Retreat No Surrender 2". You two seem to have been very good pals, right? Would you have some anecdotes about the films you played with Max?
Yes, Max and I both come from Redford Township. We went to rival High Schools. I was in Vietnam, and Max I believe was in France at a NATO Base. Yes, Max did stop over to see me with a bottle of 12 year old scotch and a hit of acid! (hahahahahaha) I wrote "No dead Heroes" and recommended Max for the part. I loved working with Max as he is a very likeable guy, and a real pro when it comes to acting. He really knows his craft very well!
The one incident that will remain in my mind forever was while we were shooting "Deadringer" We were at the entrance of the Mt. Makiling rain forest, and we were shooting a scene where Max was inside a small building with the cops outside. They SFX guys were supposed to have a smoke grenade to simulate tear gas. I was studying my script when fellow actor Willie Williams asked me if I saw the grenade that the SFX guys were getting ready to use. I told him no, and he said I should take a look. I went over and had a look, and saw that it was what we called a Willie Peter or White Phosphorous, a very deadly weapon. I asked the SFX guy if he really planned on using it, he said no, they would just throw it in thru the window, and use a smoke machine. I told him that I hoped that was all he would do as the grenade could kill everybody in the small building. I went back to where I had been sitting, reading my script. Willie and I just sat reading while the lead SFX guy was digging holes to put blast mortars in for our respective death scenes. All of a sudden there was a loud snap bang! Anybody who has been in combat knows the sound I mean. Willie and I looked at each other, then we saw a greenish white glow coming from inside the building, and white smoke billowing out of a window. Max and others came out. Max was wearing my jungle floppy hat, and burning phosphorous had hit the brim and burned thru, and burned his face and neck. Christine Lassiter had her hands burnt. Our stillman Jun Agravante got it worse than anybody else. His whole back and the calves of his legs had third degree burns. I went inside the building, surprised that everybody had survived and saw the reason why. The grenade had just cooked off and blew in half. The top portion was stuck in the ceiling, and the bottom half was laying on the concrete floor sizziling with burning phosphorous. Had it exploded they way it had been designed to do, everybody would have been dead!