Steve Martin saw THE PLAYBOYS and invited me to direct a film he had written – A SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE, based upon the novel Silas Marner. This was a great opportunity, not only to work with Steve, but to make a Hollywood movie, with Touchstone Films.
British voices warned me they would make mince meat of me out there and I went into it with my guard up. In fact, they treated me very generously and it was a great experience. The bigger budget allowed a sixty five day shoot. I will never forget my first day on location. The ‘Circus’ (the trailers and trucks) was enormous. I seemed to drive past them for five minutes.
One scene I will never forget was shot under tons of freezing ice and plastic snow, everyone miserable, tired, and caked white. We heard about the death of River Phoenix, a young actor I had always hoped to work with, and somehow life seemed unbelievably stupid and senseless that night. Not long before I had managed to get him to sign photographs of himself addressed to my two children, which had got me into their good books for a while. He had signed them “Love and peace, River Phoenix”.
We cut the film in London, then test screened it around the States. That test screening process seemed endless. I started to commute back to the UK every weekend. In an intense state of jet lag my hair turned grey within two months.
I enjoyed the Hollywood life for a while, but my children were young and I began to suffer intense homesickness. By a swimming pool, I read endless screenplays which had nothing uniquely to do with me – several hundred other directors might make these films. I decided to return and make the film set in Glasgow which my brother and I had been writing together – SMALL FACES.