The following is part of the production notes for Zabriskie Point featured in its press kit during its original USA release. This production note goes into detail on Daria Halprin’s casting in the film, her character and shooting of the harrowing sequence where she is buzzed by a plane.
DARIA HALPRIN ACCCEPS STARRING ROLE IN ANTONIONI FILM WITH CUSTOMARY COOL
The plane swept down from the clear sky and buzzed the girl running across the desert, barely missing her head. Nineteen year-old Dara Halprin was scared but sure of herself as the cameras caught the sequence from Michelangelo Antonioni’s new MGM film “Zabriskie Point” in which newcomer Daria stars with Mark Frechette (another Antonioni discovery) and Rod Taylor.
Over and over the plane dived, once scraping the radio antenna of the car Daria was driving, another time smashing the car’s roof — only seconds before Daria was to get behind the wheel. But Daria remained professionally and innately cool — the key to her character.
Having seen Daria dance briefly in a film with other members of a San Francisco dance group run by her mother, Antonioni was sure she was the girl for his film. An interview and screen test bore out his intuitions.
“She was extraordinary in the test,” he says. “She has the best qualities for an actress. She is so sincere, she can communicate anything, everything.”
In “Zabriskie Point” Daria plays a girl called “Daria,” a prototype of herself.
“There is a close relationship between the character in this picture and myself,” she states. “I found that many things which Daria, the character, says in the film are things which I have actually said to friends. And some of the things that she does, I have done. I felt that I could relate to the boy named ‘Mark’ in the story pretty much as I related to the actual Mark Frechette when we were not before the cameras. I don’t know why this is. I imagine partly because Michelangelo, once he got to know us, did some revisions on the script, and also because Mark and I are both young and are involved in some of the things highlighted in the drama, such as our challenging the Establishment.”
Daria is a girl of simple tastes and almost austerely simple dress except for omnipresent beads which make her a part of the generation of the moment. Having been a part of show business in her work as a member of a dancing troupe which toured Europe as well as the United States she understands the dictates of the profession.
“I wasn’t nervous,” she says of her first day’s work in “Zabriskie Point.” “I figured that if I did anything Michelangelo didn’t like, he would help me with the scene, which he did several times. He was very impressive in his attitude toward me. He let me do what I would instinctively do. When he had any suggestions, he himself made them in an intuitive way. He didn’t have any preconceived idea of what he wanted me to do until he saw my first reaction to a scene.”
A native of Kentfield, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, Daria was a first-year-student at the University of California Berkeley when she was cast in “Zabriskie Point.”
With the film now in the past, Daria says of the experience, “I had a lot of choices thrown at me all at once, met new people, traveled — yeah, I’d recommend it.” As to the future, she’ll just let it happen with her customary coolness.
From the press kit used for the original USA release of the film.
Tags: Archive: Promotion, Country: USA, Decade: 1970s, Document, Film: Zabriskie Point (1970), Genre: America, Genre: Drama, Genre: Landscape, Genre: Politics, Genre: Rebellion, Genre: Revolution, Genre: Romance, People: Daria Halprin, People: Mark Frechette, People: Michelangelo Antonioni, Production Notes, Year: 1970