"Maybe I need to acquire the screenplay rights and do it myself!"
Sam J. Jones was chosen for the reincarnation ot the 1930s comic icon flash gordon on the big screen. A film that happend 1980. It was a giant leap for Sams career and it accompanies him until today - and it is for sure a reason why he was at the Vienna Comic Com 2023.
Flash! Aaaa-aaaah! I wanted to say that for a long time [laughs]. Does everybody do that to you?It’s very nice to be here!
Everybody does that! I love it! It’s a great compliment. They don’t just say “He’s Sam Jones, he’s Flash Gordon!” They just sing it.
It’s very interesting, because Flash was one of the first movies with a Rock band doing the score.
Queen, yeah. Did you know when the filming started if they would do it? Are you a Rock fan?
We didn’t know in the beginning. Dino De Laurentiis [the producer], when they recommended Queen said “No, Queen is not the right band for my movie.” Until he screened the movie and the fans heard the music, then they loved it. So he used it. As a matter of fact, if you ask a lot of people, especially Queen, Brian May, they tell you that Flash Gordon, the soundtrack, is the first rock opera soundtrack of a major motion picture ... It’s wonderful.
Did you meet Queen?
I didn’t get to meet Queen, but everybody [from the movie] did. I wish I had. Queen not only comprehended Flash Gordon, but it brought great value to the movie.
It made it very memorable. How did you land the role? Before the movie you were nowhere to be seen in film, correct?
I did film a couple of years before. My first movie was with Bo Derek and Blake Edwards, the movie ‘10’ [‘Zehn’, 1979] and I did a few TV shows, but yeah, it was my first lead role. Back then, the audition process started in 1978 and went on in 1979. Interview, audition, interview … it went on and on for many months. And finally Dino De Laurentiis flew me to London for 30 days of screen testing. We didn’t have video. So when you wanted to put an actor on film, you had to have an entire film crew. So for 30 days we did screen testing and I got the part.
I think the filming was quite unique, because the crew came from different countries. USA, there were many British actors, there were also Italian actors. Was it more like an European style of movie or a Hollywood one?
You see the Italian style, because Dino De Laurentiis produced it, and he hired the production designer Danilo Donati. He was the guy who did all the Fellini movies. It’s a visual masterpiece in my opinion. Because of the production values, the costumes … really wonderful.
The movie spawned a lot of heritage – a lot was influenced by it, years later. I heard that George Lucas wanted to make Flash Gordon initially? How would it have been if George Lucas did Flash Gordon?
I’m sure he would have done an incredible job.
He tried. He wanted to do it for years. He tried to buy the screenplay rights but he couldn’t do it, I don’t know why. This is fate. Look what happened. He couldn’t do Flash Gordon, but he did a multi-billion franchise with Star Wars. So you see how it turned out for him? I think he got very blessed.
He got very lucky. He got the template but it went very differently than Flash Gordon. So a final easy question as we are short on time. There will be a Flash Gordon reboot sooner or later?
I hope so!
Will you be in it, would you like to be involved?
I would and I think I should be. Disney bought the screenplay rights. They bought Fox who had it until now. Disney hired [Taika] Waititi who did Thor. Right now for the last two years to develop Flash Gordon. So. I don’t know what’s going on, there’s not much talk of it. They’ve been trying for 35 years to do a sequel or reboot and for some reason it did not happen. And if it continues, maybe I need to acquire the screenplay rights and do it myself!
That’s right! Thanks for the interview!
You are very welcome.