The past year has been busy for Jacqueline Bisset. The actress was in a few new movies and celebrated the 50th anniversary of “Bullitt,” a classic crime movie with Steve McQueen that came out 50 years ago last October. The British actress Winifred Jacqueline Fraser Bisset was born on September 13, 1944.
In 1968, she rose to fame thanks to her performances in films including The Detective, Bullitt, and The Sweet Ride, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Promising Newcomer. Bisset went to Germany to film a part of Warner’s “Honey in the Head,” which is an English version of the famous German movie “Head Full of Honey,” which came out in 2014.
The Alzheimer’s theme of the movie, which also starred Nick Nolte and Matt Dillon, was essential to Bisset. “My mother was diagnosed with dementia when she was in her early 50s and lived with it for 35 years, so I knew a lot about it,” said Bisset, who turned 75 on Sept. 13.
“The movie takes a funny approach to the subject because that can sometimes help families who are going through it. It is wicked humor, but it can make things easier to deal with.” Bisset and Nolte also work together again in this movie. They were treasure hunters in the underwater film “The Deep,” which came out in 1977.
“It was nice to see Nick again, even though I worked on an episode of his TV show “Graves” in 2017,” she said. Even though the movie was known for its beautiful underwater scenes and Bisset’s memorable wet T-shirt scenes, the actress still has mixed feelings about it more than 40 years later.
“When I was a kid, some dumb kids tried to dunk me, and ever since then I have been afraid of water and swimming with other people,” she said. “But the diving crew on ‘The Deep’ was terrific, and even though I was still afraid of drowning every day, it was a beautiful experience.”
“For some underwater scenes, I had a stunt double, but she did not look anything like me, so I had to do more stunts than I would have liked.
When you are 90 feet underwater, you can not just shoot up to the surface to solve a problem.” After meeting a moray eel in one scene, her character tries to do just that. The moray eel scene, done by her stunt double, is especially memorable.
“It was hard to film and scared the hell out of me. I thought I was going to drown. The other people did not know if I was acting or really in trouble, which is what was happening. I got through it, but now my throat gets tight when I talk about it.
Co-star Robert Shaw was also easy to remember. “He was a character, but he was also cute. He was naughty, playful, brilliant, and funny. We almost seemed like little kids playing.” She also has fond memories of working with Steve McQueen on “Bullitt” a decade ago, when she was starting the movie business.
“Steve was a big star at the time, but he was very patient with me, and when we had a break for lunch, we would go out to eat with the director and producer,” she said. “But he did not like being in crowds, so he would often just hop on his bike and leave.”
Bisset was not in any of the action scenes in the movie, but she was there to see some of the famous driving scenes that McQueen, a big race car fan, often did. She said, “It was amazing to see those cars jump in the air on the streets of San Francisco.”
“There were also some scenes where I had to drive Steve around in a yellow convertible, and I remember thinking, Good God, I do not want to mess this up with a race car driver next to me!” Bisset’s other recent movies are “Asher,” which was shot in New York with Ron Perlman, and “Here and Now,” which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Renée Zellweger.
Bisset said, “I did not have any scenes with Renée, but Sarah was great to work with. She was charming, friendly, and had a strong work ethic.” She was also in Venice when “Magic Lantern.” opened.
“That is a lovely short film by Iranian director Amir Naderi that we made back in Los Angeles “she told me. “So I have been on a lot of trips.” Bisset worked with many famous actors throughout her career. Now that she is a big name in Hollywood, do young filmmakers look up to her?
She said, “I hate the idea of being treated that way. I just like to bring what I have learned over the years to a project and feel like I am the same age as everyone else I am working with.”