Capturing The Screaming Man on the Bridge

Tom Farrell recalls a memorable scene with Harry Dean Stanton

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Harry Dean Stanton with Nastassja Kinski and Wim Wenders
Harry Dean Stanton with Nastassja Kinski and Wim Wenders Photo: Tom Farrell

Tom Farrell, who started out studying with Nicholas Ray, also has a long history with Sam Shepard and Wim Wenders, who co-directed Ray's final film Lightning Over Water. Tom appeared in Wim's Until the End of the World, Faraway, So Close!, Don't Come Knocking, and had a very memorable scene with Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas, written by Sam Shepard.

Tom Farrell with Harry Dean Stanton on the bridge in Paris, Texas
Tom Farrell with Harry Dean Stanton on the bridge in Paris, Texas

After hearing of Harry Dean Stanton's passing on September 15, 2017 from natural causes at the age of 91 in Los Angeles, Tom sent a remembrance of what is now famously called "The Screaming Man on the Bridge with Harry Dean Stanton" that was shot by Robby Müller in December of 1983, cued by assistant director Claire Denis.

"The film crew drove north of Los Angeles for about an hour before dawn to the location of the bridge over Interstate 5. Wim wanted to film the scene as dawn was breaking, so there was no time to lose. Harry asked me what I thought he said as, “Do you want me to kill you?” I told him, “If you want to.” But what Harry really asked was, “Do you want me to cue you?” There was no need because Wim’s assistant director, Claire Denis, cued me by walkie-talkie when to begin my lunatic rant written by Sam Shepard. We filmed the long tracking scene of Harry walking across the bridge in two takes. Then the whole crew went out for breakfast. I was gratified to read a film review describing my scene as one Harry would [have] played when he was younger." - Tom Farrell

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