Actors reject second-banana billing in films

December 20, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- Raul Julia has a sizable supporting role in "Havana," but you'd never know it from the on-screen credits -- his name isn't there. Ditto for Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham ("Amadeus"), who opted for anonymity in "The Bonfire of the Vanities."

"Our usual above-the-title credit wasn't available," says Julia's agent, Jeff Hunter, referring to the fact that stars Robert Redford and Lena Olin had already secured top billing. "So we decided not to take any credit at all."

"Havana" producer-director Sydney Pollack says a dilemma dTC arises when there is "an actor on the ascendancy, like Julia, and you ask the actor to do a role that's somewhat smaller [than usual]."

With Redford and Olin contractually bound for the only credit over the title, and the first credit after the title committed to Alan Arkin, says Pollack, "the only billing left for Julia was to be stacked with the rest of the names . . . his agent felt that would be a step backward."

In Abraham's case, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith were the top names, with Morgan Freeman firm on the fourth rung.

"The credit they [Warner Bros.] suggested was not suitable," says Abraham's agent, Clifford Stevens. "So we decided to take none at all."

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