The Truth About Lying (a.k.a. Loss of Faith) was a low budget film shot in Montreal, circa 1996, with Roddy in a fairly small but not-insignificant role. John Ritter, Samantha Eggar, Daphne Zuniga and Michele Scarabelli were the other "name" actors in the film. I was the unit publicist and, though I was not on set often, I did have the opportunity to meet the actors and interview them for my production notes.
The one thing I can recall is that what I expected most, to meet a happy, funny John Ritter, did not come to pass. He was rather sombre the few times I encountered him, though the production did make one of his wishes come true; To throw out the ball during the pre-game ceremonies at a Montreal Expos home game. Ritter's goal was to do this at every stadium in professional baseball and he managed to do so at Olympic Stadium during the shoot. I never did learn if he met his goal before his death. If anyone knows this, please drop me a line.
On the other hand, my meeting with Roddy McDowall not only made up for John's lack of zaniness, it far surpassed any expectation I possibly had. I was already an admirer of his work, but I had no idea what a pure "mensch" he actually was.
We met in Roddy's room at the Intercontinental Hotel in Old Montreal and chatted there for 15-20 minutes before taking our meeting down to the bar. There, over drinks, he granted me about two more hours of stimulating and delightful conversation, where he shared his thoughts on the film and the industry in general. It was then that I learned about his work as a set photographer and the vast body of his work published in the four Double Exposure volumes. A photography buff, it pleased me to no end to discover his considerable talents in this arena and I have since acquired two volumes, including one signed by Roddy.
When we parted company, Roddy jotted down his address and contact numbers, told me to call him anytime, and even invited me to visit if I found myself heading to California. This was the only time an actor of his stellar reputation has ever done this. Today's unit publicists rarely, if ever, mingle with actors socially and Roddy confided that he missed the days when professionals in my field would be hired well in advance of the start of principal photography, so that the actors could get to know them and vice versa. I sensed he really enjoyed our conversation, which was most refreshing for me, as well.
I never did get the opportunity to speak with Roddy again, although I sent him a note when I heard he was terminally ill and close to death. He was without a doubt one of the finest members of his trade I have ever had the pleasure to meet and I have filed those brief hours in my cache of finest film memories.
Writer and publicist