Actor Darren McGavin reportedly had been looking for a role similar to the one he played in Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Carl Kolchak would go out and investigate some of the wildest and weirdest paranormal activity. McGavin filled Kolchak’s shoes wonderfully. That did please producer Dan Curtis a whole lot, too.
Curtis had made a name for himself by producing the ahead-of-its-time soap opera Dark Shadows. But he got a chance at producing the Kolchak movie through then-ABC leader Barry Diller.
“He [Diller] tells me about this vampire story and I’m listening to him and thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m going to do this,’” Curtis said in a story relayed through a book, Produced and Directed By Dan Curtis. “I almost didn’t do it. You know what I did? I told him I was a great big movie director now, so I wasn’t interested in doing television. Can you believe it?”
ABC Boss Wanted Diller On ‘Kolchak’ Project
Diller, according to MeTV, remained persistent in his desire to have Curtis on the project. It almost appeared to be imperative for Curtis to do this. “Barry says to just sit tight,” Curtis said. “He wants to send me the story. That did it…What a great story — so traditional yet so modern. And it had a sense of humor. It was a great premise waiting to be made into a great movie.”
Meanwhile, when Curtis agrees to produce this movie, at the time there is no leading actor lined up. What Curtis did not know was that McGavin was looking for a role like Kolchak for a period of time.”We are surrounded by mysteries that we don’t know how to combat or deal with,” McGavin said. “Kolchak is the seeker of truth who will break that veil of secrecy. That’s the initial springboard of the character, and that’s what I always wanted to play.”
Additionally, would this be a good match between Curtis and McGavin? Reportedly, when Curtis saw McGavin, he came to the realization that no one else could play Carl.
“The minute I saw him, I knew he was the only actor to play Carl Kolchak,” Curtis said. “Darren McGavin was a big reason that The Night Stalker worked so well. Nobody can deny that. And nobody should have been surprised by that. He was one of the most underrated actors in show business.”
Kolchak: The Night Stalker appeared on TV back in 1972. As for the TV series, it ran for one season back in 1974. But modern-day movie fans might recognize McGavin for his incredibly funny take as the father figure in A Christmas Story.
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