Trail Tales Cast Chat with David Dunard

 
*David is the gentleman in the center of this photo, with the striped lining of his jacket*

"Wesley" in the Episode The Kid

I caught David walking in the door and we settled right into the interview... Since he said he remembered a few moments, I asked him just to jump into his memories and go from there.


DD: There was a scene, when the Riders had captured us after the volley gun shoot out and Stephen Baldwin was supposed to say something to me, us. He decided, being the young hot
Hollywood actor, that he'd *really* spit on me. Well, I wasn't havin' any of it and I'd duck when he'd try. Again and again... and Stephen was gettin' a bit upset, well... so was *I*.  I just didn't think he really needed to do it. It didn't make anyone happy especially the director.

DD:Well, right before that came to a head, the director was gettin' pissed off because he couldn't get the shot, it just let loose on us in terms of rain. It just starts pouring down on us.. and at some point we were feeling like the outlaws out there. We're out there in the middle of this huge field, in the middle of nowhere... mud everywhere... the rain pouring on us.  Finally, someone yells "Cut and Scatter!" and we just jumped on horses and wagons... anything we had available and we were down in this gully and everyone was tryin' to get out of this rain as quickly as we could. We looked like a bunch of outlaws that had been run off by Custer or somebody. It was just hysterical. Finally we got back to where the trailers were and everything. I remember there was a young man there whose name was Grant... something Grant. He played guitar and sang. So he picked up his guitar while we all crammed into the trailer to get warm and he started playing guitar and singing. A couple of other guys had guitars and they joined in. We just had a great time that day. Couldn't work, but we felt like a bunch of bloody cowboys. We were all dressed for it.  They fed us a great steak lunch. I remember that time.

DD:They had stunt horses, because they did a lot of stunt tricks there. One of the tricks they did was to have the horse stumble and fall and that was the painted one, that the young rider, was riding all the time. So I was there and got to watch that event. Watching that horse come down like that, and throw his rider and they did it like two or three times. 

*David, had lost function of his kidney before filming and was on dialysis to help him keep his health. Included in his journal entries below are notes on how this affected his time with the show.*

DD:I remember filming at the main house with Anthony Zerbe. He was talking with the gang, giving them fatherly advice, and the girl that came in to do... to take the place of the girl who was originally in it... her name is Clare Wren. She was a good friend of mine. She got to come in and replace someone in the second season. She had originally been told that she wasn't right for the role... then a year later they had her replace the other gal. So she ended up getting that role anyway.. that was exciting. A big breakthrough kind of role for her. She had originally been up for the role and someone had told her she wasn't right for it. In the second season, the show kind of changed hands and there were some new directors in there... then she came in again and they said, "You're perfect for this." It's just funny how casting works sometimes.

TT: How were you cast in all of this?

DD:Well a friend of mine, Rick Pagano, was a casting director on it. It was either Rick or Sharon Bialy, they were partners and one of them brought me in. Both still friends of mine. They brought me in to read and the director liked me. That was my connection. I had been working a lot in those days. I've got over 200 film and TV credits. That was at the height of my career at that point. I was reading for a lot of stuff and they brought me in. This was one of the big roles for me... when I get to go two weeks on something, that's a big deal for me. And it was also a western. One of the reasons that I became and actor was because I wanted to do Westerns. So this was close to my heart to get to do this. I mean, we're out there, almost playing the role, cause these guys who were taking care of the horses, they didn't have fancy places to keep them and stuff like that, cause this wasn't a big budget situation. We were out there in the wilds. It was forest kind of situation, not like in an empty meadow by a city it was out in a woodsy area.

DD:So, hit me with some questions.

TT: Comparatively, as westerns go, where does the Young Riders fit in?

DD:It was the most authentic. This felt like we were really there. In terms of the way, the costuming... the performances of the actors, the production values. Very, very period. And in the place we were shooting it, it didn't feel like we were very near to civilization. There was a little town that we were housed out of, but we would drive and hour or two every morning, up into the mountains for shooting. Even the town itself was kind of small-townish and not a very modern looking town at all.

TT: And the crew? I've heard that they were very professional... very laid back... what do you think?

DD:I think they were both. They were laid back and professional. I found that they were professional under strenuous circumstances. I'm tellin' you, it just rained all the time. Everywhere you went it was muddy, it was cold, wet and that would turn anybody's day into a tough one. I always felt like everyone treated me good. Ate good. Like I said.. when I got sick, people really came to my aid.

TT: As far as the main cast members go... did you get to interact with the rest of the cast besides Stephen?

DD:Not too much. I was just one of the bad guys.. not even the lead bad guy... but I did get to sit and watch Anthony Zerbe work, and I've seen him work before. I was a USC student and had come there once and done a performance and talked with us afterwards. I had always been a fan of his. To get to watch him work and be very fatherly towards these young guys was really interesting. I think the casting was interesting in that I think they cast kids who were similar to these kids... these young hotshots, kind of full of themselves... who kind of had to be.. to do something like this. On the cast we had the
Baldwin kid, we got the... Who’s the guy that just married Barbara Streisand a few years ago?

TT: James Brolin, but Josh is his son.

DD: Yeah, Josh Brolin. These were the young, tough, coming up
Hollywood Hot.. the new Brat Pack. They were all good looking and rich and gonna be Hollywood actors.. a bit full of themselves, but that doesn't mean they weren't nice kids, they were just a bit cocky. I think the casting was perfect for these kids. Let's face it... none of the riders were angels.. they had to be rough and tough kids ready to fight and give a little attitude.. a little ego in order to pull off a job like this. That was inherent in the casting.

DD: I did just remember one other event. There was this moment, when we had just waylaid one of these express stations and stolen their horses. We were getting ready to leave the scene of the crime, we had kind of hung out for awhile and I was actually leading them out. [laughs] And so, we were all... we had a big wagon full of furs and everything... about 10 riders and when they said, "Action," I just said "Heeeeyaaaaaaaahhhhhh!" and galloped out of there. Everyone followed right after me. It was a fiasco. Horses when everywhere... people were getting bucked off their horses. We were out a half hour, forty-five minutes... just rounding up horses, patching up riders.

DD:When we were ready to do it again, the director came over and said. "Dave (hushed voice), let's not make this quite as dramatic a get-away. Just kind of slowly ride... away..."


David Dunard's Journal

*notes: David faxed me the 9 pages of his journal with his comments and memories of the show,
but some of the words were difficult to read...
if neither of us could figure it out.. I popped in a [?]... other than that.... enjoy!*

3/6/89  The Kid

I'm not suppose to be here until the 10th, but production called last night, said they needed me here today. So, this morning I reorganized my life (including canceling a reading at the Globe Theater for Phil Killian and Bart Berlinger), loaded up the truck and headed for Sonora, California. It took six hours to come the 358 miles. The last fifty-eight were absolutely gorgeous, different from any California terrain I've seen before.  Rolling green hills lightly forested with rivers and lakes and gullies, really beautiful country to ride in.  And that's why we're here folks, to ride horses, shoot guns and play cowboys.  Arrived in Sonora at 6:00, easily found the Sonora Inn and the production office.  Everyone was very nice and helpful and very organized.  I was given my room, filled out my paperwork, got per diem money ($294), and unloaded the truck by 9:00.  The hotel manager is a girl named Janice, she's cute.  Went for a walk thru town, then found Francis (wardrobe) and got my costume fitted.  It's great. Loved my sheepskin jacket.  Also, bumped into Brigetta, a lady I met at [Darendo's] one night. And now it's getting ready for tomorrow.  Although, after getting me up here, now they're not working tomorrow.  The shooting schedule is amok because of the constant rain. I love it, maybe I'll get some more days.


3/7/89

Director - Rob Lieberman     Head Wrangler - Richard Lundin - Rusty Hendrich
Producer - Harvey Frand
Writer/Pro - Ed Spielman
Wardrobe - Brigetta, Frances or  Zora
Cast Members: Scarface - David Marshall
Teaspoon - Anthony Zerbe
Executive Producers: Michael Ogiens & Josh Kane

Great day today.  Got up, ran some errands, had breakfast then drove to the set around
10:00. Met the director and the writer (Ed) and one of the producers (Harvey) and everybody was very pleasant and very complimentary of my audition.

Also met a nice young lady (Lillian) who's acting as a stand in. Talked with her a lot today. Met the rest of cast and crew through the day. We were shooting at this ranch. The head wrangler is Richard Lundin. He's been doing this all his life and is a bit of a Hollywood Legend.

After lunch
Harvey invited David Marshall *the guy with the guitar* and myself to go out riding, to get comfortable with it all.  Richard set us up and Rusty (who just did 20 wks on Lonesome Dove wrangling) took us out. Rode for a good 1 1/2 hr. What a way to earn a living.  After that I came back to the hotel and David and I went out for dinner.  Tomorrow's call is 7:30.


3/8/89

Whew! Tough day yesterday. We had a seven-thirty call which wasn't too bad but it was raining and cold and dismal all day.  We drove out about a half hour into the hills and woods. A beautiful location, desolate and wild with a raging river for our background.  We did the prospector scene and the "bushwack." It was very difficult to act under these conditions.  I could not hear my fellow actors speaking, so, my "dialogue" had to be visually cued by Craig the 1st AD.  I was literally acting in a vacuum.  I could not play off the other actors and give an appropriate response in terms of subtext, tempo-rhythm or tone.  It will be very interesting to see those dailies.

The rest of the day (which was 12 hrs long), most of it, I stood around waiting for something to do.  I was tired, wet, cold and bored.  Finally, I could take it no more, I went back to my dressing room and actually slept a couple of hours till we wrapped.  We get back around
7:00 and did that shower feel good.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I lay in my dressing room, in the middle of these woods, how vulnerable I am now.  If I had suddenly began to feel the pains of peritonitis out there, I would have been in a world of hurt.  Not so much because I was in any danger of not getting to a hospital in time but because of what it would cost me and the production company, to get me there.  I would first have to deal with "confessing" everything to First Aid or to an AD who would in turn tell the Director/Producers. If I was needed to continue shooting, work would stop while I was rushed off to a hospital.  If I lived, they would then have their "turn" I'm sure.  Even if I was lucky enough not to be needed for the shoot, my future career would certainly be jeopardized as I would be stamped unhealthy and therefore undependable.  What should I do?  Be responsible and give up my career now, or try to get away with this for as long as I can and hope that I don’t cause too much damage to some production down the road?


3/9/89 - 3/13/89 HOLD

What a boring time this has been.  Been doing a lot of fishing and catching no fish.  There’s only so much beautiful scenery and clean air that I can stand.  I’m starting to fall back into bad habits. I’m eating badly and sleeping later and later.  It’s necessary for me to work or to get home again where I can better control my bad habits (I hate the way I write sometimes). It just goes to show, however how even my thinking process is deteriorating.  And I’m told that I am off still again tomorrow. Well at least it looks as though I’m going to get two full weeks out of this if not more.


3/14/89 Still on Hold. Working Wednesday.

3/15/89

<>6:00 call this morning. We went out to this beautiful ranch land out by don Pedro’s West bank.  Set up the Scarface Gang’s campsite and got fired upon by the Kid’s gang from a ridge overlooking our camp. It was the volley gun scene.  I worked just three or four hours and sat around till they released me at 5:15. Got back to the hotel at 6:00.  Another 12 hr. day.

The director, Rob Lieberman, started yelling at me today. I yelled back and then we were nice to each other the rest of the day. I must say that I am still amazed and dismayed at how much I sit around and have nothing to do on the set.  This must change.  It's tiring [unable to read word] and not the kinds of parts I want to do.

3/16/89

6am call. It's raining and we are probably not going to be able to match yesterday's footage. But, we had to [?]. So we all got dressed, into makeup and we all go down to location set.  And we stood in the rain for awhile but we were doomed from the start....

Rob and the crew (the power elite) have been good about it even though I'm sure it concerns them deeply.  They have deadlines and budget constraints and the pressures must be mounting.  On the other hand, what they're getting looks great and everybody loves a winner.  I  [?] [?] [?] realizes at the same time that the same circumstances are a financial boon to me. I get more money and more time to live with my character.

So we all came back to the hotel on a  W/N[?] until one, at which time a Wrap was called. Once back, I slept until
3pm. Once I got up, I was full of energy to go out. So, I got dinner, then came back to the pool table in the bar.  Steve Baldwin,  [?], [?] and his brother were shooting pool so I joined them. Got back around 6pm and started rehearsing for tomorrow....

*When working on a character you must "be" a bit of a mathematician.  You must add up all of the circumstantial elements and that particular situation and divide it all by the dialogue and actions of your script.  In other words, does you character story (that you create) fit with the author's dialogue and action.  "Does it work" is defined both by plausibility of choices and of power over the audience.  Are we compelled to watch?

*Story elements are composed of many parts (the parts you add up) and they came from many places, the primary place being from the author.  What does the dialogue and [?] diction suggest.  Who? What? Where? How? and Why? What does the "ploy" suggest? How does the author's mind work. Then ask of your imagination to fill in the [?] between, the generalized facts then ask of you heart to understand how you would feel about you characters situation from your character's point of view.

*Then again, from your imagination, ask what your character's life statement would be. Then add that to  the (action) scene and dialogue.  Add and Divide - Add in Divide.

*Let me also suggest using social or political issues of the day. Preferably ones you have a personal affinitive to a philosophical view of and would like to state.  In "the Kid" I used child abuse as an element of Wesley's life.  It gives the character sympathy and is a valid [?] as to why he behaves the way he does.

<>*Always choose from personal experience when possible unless you can't control the provoked emotions.  They are of no use if they control you. You can also use personal readings or viewings of interesting answers to the five W's. 

3/17/89

What a day! What a day! What a day! Whew! My worst nightmare happened today.  I got peritonitis on location in the middle of shooting.  It all started typically enough. 5:45 am call. We drove out to the location past Tulloch lake and Copperpoles (isn't that a great a funny name for a city), into the same meadows where "The Charge of the Light Brigade" was filmed. Beautiful spot.

After lunch the pain started. Cramping in my stomach and they continued right through the day.  It was roughest when I had to ride.  But I dealt with it and got thru the day without incident.  We got back here about
5:45 pm and I went into the hotel lobby to check for mail and got an unpleasant surprise.  My new shipment of dialysis supplies were left in production rather than put in my room as requested. By now, I'm sure the entire company knows I'm on dialysis.  I fear I may never work for them again.

Well, I got back to my room, still cramping painfully and started an exchange.  I immediately noticed my bag was cloudy, meaning I have peritonitis and that's why I'm in pain.  So, after a quick phone call to my dialysis center in LA to get some information, off to the hospital I go.

The emergency staff people were wonderful, they were not only professional and obviously competent but also very warm and friendly (small town as opposed to big city I suppose). After a couple hours there, I was given the necessary antibiotics to begin therapy and that's what I've been doing since last night.  Things feel pretty much the same this morning but hopefully the pain should begin to [?] by tonight.  If not, I'll have to try a different antibiotic. Fortunately, I don't work again till Monday which gives me two full days to recuperate. The truth is, however, that if I had to, I could work today.  That's the upside to all of this. My worst possible scenario has developed and nobody knows and I will not be disrupting anything.  The pain is manageable and that's good enough for me.


I believe this is the MOST detailed memories so far... thanks to Mr. Dunard's extraordinary habit of journaling his work in the arts! Thanks David!! You are a JOY to talk to.... my thanks!