Charles Martin Smith
|CHARLES MARTIN SMITH, the young actor who received rave reviews in the acclaimed Never Cry Wolf, says "Ive always wanted to do a picture that had at lest some elements of science fiction. Even though Starman is a romantic-adventure, there are some aspects of the film that are sci-fi. Ive always wanted to get in there with the special effects and the space ships coming down. It looked like a lot of fun to me, and I had a great time doing it."
Smith, who plays the role of Mark Shermin in Columbia Pictures Starman, directed by John Carpenter and also starring Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen, describes his character as "a young scientist whos very bright, very well educated, who works for SETI (The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). His only dream has been to find an alien on this planet, and his problem is to convince people that this alien is actually here, because no one believes him or is able to see the importance of it. Shermin doesnt bother with the bureaucratic red tape, which is one of the best things about his character."
Smith played a scientist in Never Cry Wolf as well. He was a naïve biologist who struggled to survive in the arctic wilderness. The actor, who is best remembered for his performance as Terry in American Graffiti, devoted almost three years to Never Cry Wolf. "I was much more closely involved in that picture than I had been in any other film," Smith said. "Not only acting, but writing and the whole creative process."
The role was especially difficult since it required a great deal of physical exertion and little dialogue. "During much of the two-year shooting schedule in Canadas Yukon and in Nome Alaska, I was the only actor present. It was the loneliest film Ive ever worked on."
Smith was born in Van Nuys, California, the son of a film cartoonist and animator. He spent three years of his youth in Paris, where his father managed the English-language branch of a French animation studio. His professional career began when an agent saw him in a high school performance of Man of La Mancha.
Smith made his film debut in 1972 in The Culpepper Cattle Company, followed by a role in Fuzz and then American Graffiti. By the time he was a senior in college, Smith had appeared in four features and countless television series.
By carefully selecting his roles, Smith was able to demonstrate his diverse skills in such films as Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, The Buddy Holly Story and More American Graffiti. The latter film imbued the character of Terry with a newfound maturity.
In addition to his considerable skills as an actor, he is also an accomplished musician/songwriter, director of stage productions and screenwriter. As testament to his writing ability, Carroll Ballard, director of Never Cry Wolf, asked Smith to write much of the narration for the film.
Director John Carpenter has, for years, wanted to direct Charles Martin Smith in a film. The feeling is reciprocated. "I think John is one of the easiest directors to work with. Hes very gentle and good- humored, and I think a lot of the humor in the film comes out of Johns own niceness. I had great fun on Starman."