Late, great character actor discusses the making of a horror fantasy classic
In 1971, late actor Paul Koslo starred in director Richard Sarafian’s existential 1971 automobile thriller VANISHING POINT. But that same year, Koslo also starred in the second adaptation of Richard Matheson’s influential novella I AM LEGEND, THE OMEGA MAN, whose magnificent Ron Grainer score we discussed here last week.
In THE OMEGA MAN, Koslo plays the laid back Dutch, a motorcycle riding refugee of a dead world inherited by a legion of deranged, hooded mutants intent on destroying any trace of humanity left on the planet, chiefly two-fisted survivor Robert Neville (Charlton Heston).
And though Koslo would also star in many other notable ‘70s film, including the TRUE GRIT sequel ROOSTER COGBURN, the Charles Bronson vehicle MR. MAJESTYK, Jack Starret’s THE LOSERS and Michael Cimino’s HEAVEN’S GATE, it’s his tales of fighting side by side with the larger than life Heston in Boris Sagal s brilliant THE OMEGA MAN that concerns us today.
Here’s some words I once had (excerpted from a longer chat I published in the pages of FANGORIA) with Koslo, who we lost in 2019 and who remains one of the greatest character actors of 1970’s cult cinema.
ALEXANDER: Can you tell us about your humble beginnings?
KOSLO: Well, I was born in Germany during the end of the war and, you know, the whole country was decimated, totally destroyed; so all of our parents were like disoriented, like, what the hell happened? and the kids, well, we were running amok. I was 4 or 5 and there was tanks rumbling down the street and the Brits and Americans were throwing out Wrigley’s spearmint gum and Hershey bars and the kids were going crazy. We had no supervision. We started to fantasize about America, about cowboys and Indians, or what we thought were cowboy and Indians. Then, when I was 7 we immigrated to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. This is in 1951. We couldn’t speak any English so in school they would say stuff like Germs are bad I thought they were saying Germans. I ended up fighting with people a lot. We were like aliens. We were always in trouble.
ALEXANDER: Did your parents embrace your decision to become an actor?
KOSLO: Actually, my dad was a career soldier and so was my grandfather and my great grandfather. He was a hard guy to get to know. So I up and left home when I was 13 and never looked back. See, to him, I was never an actor. It didn’t matter that I had been in over 100 TV shows and movies. He wouldn’t hear it.
ALEXANDER: Let’s talk about how you ended up as the other last man on earth in one of my favorite films, THE OMEGA MAN. Tell me about Charlton Heston; what did you learn from him?Continue reading “Interview: Paul Koslo on THE OMEGA MAN”