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What Scares an Actor

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 27, 2005

More than 20 years ago, Cotter Smith played Robert Kennedy opposite Robert Blake's Jimmy Hoffa in the movie ''Blood Feud.'' Now Smith is co-starring in ''Night Stalker,'' ABC's updating of the old horror movies and series.

So, how could I not ask Smith what was scarier -- ''Night Stalker'' or Blake?

Working with Blake ''was scary,'' Smith said after a ''Night Stalker'' press conference. ''He was wonderful with me, but I was afraid of him. And he admitted it,  he was a troubled man. He hadn't worked in a long time when we did 'Blood Feud' -- hadn't worked in years because he was such a loose cannon.''

It was also scary because the movie was Smith's first, and among his earliest TV appearances after working in theater.

''I was in with some big guys,'' he said. ''I got the job three days before we started shooting, and I didn't even know how to hit a mark. ... It was a huge change. ... And working with not only Robert Blake but Danny Aiello and Brian Dennehy and Jose Ferrer and Ernest Borgnine -- that was an extraordinary cast, and I had scenes with all of them. I was a greenhorn; Blake used to call me 'kid.' It was very daunting but extremely exciting. ... (Director) Mike Newell said to me when it was over, 'You realize you just got spoiled? And it'll be 10 years before you ever have this kind of experience again?' And he was right.''

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