And so people have talked for thirty-seven years about how Robert Shaw was solely mimicking Craig Kingsbury when portraying Quint. But Robert and Lynn Murphy spent a lot of time together out on the water during the shooting of the third act, which I was getting lots of stories about through my interviews with Lynn. Just about every time I’d be at the Murphy’s house for an interview, I’d hear Lynn say multiple things that were just very reflective of Shaw’s portrayal of Quint: namely when he’d do something like yell at the dog to stop barking when I’d show up.
There was something very familiar about that yell. But the way Lynn speaks even when he’s not heated is also undeniably similar to Quint—particularly the down east vernacular that Lynn uses and just his overall mannerisms—all things a seasoned actor like Robert Shaw would definitely have picked up on.
It was something I began thinking about in the back of my mind during my interviews with Lynn, but never had a chance to bring up because I didn’t want to interrupt the conversation. But then, Lo and behold, during one of our interviews in the Murphys living room, Susan said to me, “I have an interesting story that I’m not sure we should put in the book because I wouldn’t want to diminish the influence that Craig Kingsbury had on Robert Shaw.” I said, “I don’t think you have to tell me because I already know from listening closely to Lynn the past few weeks. Robert mimicked Lynn didn’t he?” And she said, “Yes!” It’s remarkable you picked up on that. We haven’t told anybody for thirty-five years!”
This did, of course, make its way into the book. As the story goes, shortly after they began filming out on the water, Robert Shaw was uncertain about how to deliver his lines. As he was speaking to Spielberg about this, Lynn began hollering quite explosively at somebody on the crew. Steven stopped Robert and said, “You hear that? From now on, Lynn is Quint. I want you to yell the way he yells.”
According to Susan, from that moment on, Shaw, as well as the people in charge of the script, kept a close watch on Lynn and began observing his mannerisms and working them into the character of Quint.
Has Steven Spielberg seen the book?
Steven Spielberg has contributed a wonderful foreword. He and the folks at Dream Works were great to interact with and very helpful and supportive of our book—right from the very first time we began communicating with them several years ago. I’m extremely grateful for all they’ve done for us.
How many times have you watched the movie?
Before working on the book I’d watch the third act maybe several times per year. Once I began interviewing people, though, I’d have to look at various scenes every day in order to watch for things they had told me. I always loved the movie, but wouldn’t ever have considered myself a fanatic. Music’s more my thing. Music and history. I began work on the Jaws material mostly out of a love for New England history.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Yes. I had been shooting a documentary film on the history of agriculture on Martha’s Vineyard when the Jaws book came along. I will be completing that in the coming months. I’m aiming for a PBS release, so we’ll see what happens.
Photographs used with permission © 1974 Jackie Baer, Lynn and Susan Murphy, Edith Blake
Personally I think this book is a real labour of love and a must for film nuts. The limited edition hardback copy of this book is rather special and contains an actual 1”x1” piece of the fiberglass hull of the Orca II boat used in the movie. How cool is that?
For more information on what is a fascinating and unique insight to one the most memorable films ever made visit www.mvremembersjaws.com