The Sentinel Star Admits the Filming Experience Nearly Caused Him to Quit Acting

Actor Chris Sarandon has given audiences a number of beloved genre performances, from Fright Night [...]

Actor Chris Sarandon has given audiences a number of beloved genre performances, from Fright Night to Child's Play, though the actor recently revealed that his experience shooting the 1977 horror film The Sentinel was so devastating, it caused him to not only nearly leave the genre behind, but his entire acting career. The film, which was based on the novel of the same name, saw a woman moving into an apartment and beginning to experience a variety of unsettling visions, with Sarandon playing the woman's boyfriend. The actor noted that it was his experience with director Michael Winner that resulted in a major reevaluation of the entire industry.

"It was not a good experience. It was an on-set situation with the director, Michael Winner, who was not a nice man," Sarandon recently shared with of his time on the film.

The film is famous and controversial in the horror community as the film's finale featured a sequence with demons, with Winner having hired actors with amputations and other physical disabilities to portray residents of the underworld.

"It was definitely unconventional," the actor shared of the situation. "The problem was that, in the hands of a more, how should I put it? A more artistically-inclined and evolved human being, it might have been a revelatory experience. But in the hands of Michael Winner, it was a nightmare. He would make fun of [those actors] on the set, in front of people."

He continued, "It was unbearable to be around. He had a caustic, if you would call it that, wit. He was not an unintelligent man, but he had a malevolent nature. And I guess for that kind of movie, maybe that works. Maybe that's what came through on screen, is that malevolence, which is part of the spirit of the movie, but it was not fun to do."

Over the next few decades, Sarandon never had a negative experience like he had on The Sentinel, admitting, "I'm just relaying my experience of making the movie, which was not a pleasant one. By the way, the only thing in my entire career that I've worked on where I can say that."

To cope with the emotional impact of the experience, Sarandon went to Africa to cleanse himself of the experience.

"[I literally] almost quit acting. I went on a walkabout. I went to Africa for three weeks, just to get it out of my system," the actor pointed out. "Took a single-man safari. I drove around for three weeks, just looking at animals and sleeping in huts and game reserves all over East Africa, for three weeks, just to flush it out of my system. Then, came back kind of renewed."

It wasn't until eight years later that Sarandon returned to the genre with Fright Night in 1985. The actor is currently working on his memoir, which fans can keep their eyes out for in the future.

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