2013 interview with Ken Adam on his decades-long relationship with Stanley Kubrick. On the Dr. Strangelove War Room set:
“We had big rows because on other films I’d been used to telling
the director where to do his establishing shot from. But Stanley
said the hell with you I’m not putting my camera there — and
you’ll thank me in the end.”
The war room is an acknowledged classic of movie design and Sir
Ken can’t resist quoting the biggest compliment he ever received.
“I was in the States giving a lecture to the Directors Guild when
Steven Spielberg came up to me. He said ‘Ken, that War Room set
for Strangelove is the best set you ever designed’. Five minutes
later he came back and said ‘No it’s the best set that’s ever been
In 1977, designing the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, Sir Ken
had built a vast set at Pinewood studios. It included a
supertanker which was proving hard to light.
“So I called Stanley up and asked him down to Pinewood to give me
ideas. At first he said I was out of my mind but eventually he
agreed to come on a Sunday when only security were around.
“He spent three or four hours with me telling me how he would
light the stage. And of course the whole thing being in secret
appealed to Stanley’s sense of drama. But I knew we would never
work together again. And Stanley didn’t ask — he’d been so scared
when he saw what happened to me half way through Barry Lyndon.”