Film fest brings Kentucky movie star Sean Young home to remember Harry Dean Stanton

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Sean Young is quick to remind you that she started her movie career in the late, late 1970s, before you could have almost instant access to information about your co-stars before filming began.

Her third movie, the soap opera spoof “Young Doctors in Love,” placed her in several key scenes with fellow native Kentuckian Harry Dean Stanton, but “it wasn’t like I walked into ‘Young Doctors in Love’ terribly aware of Harry. But he’s impossible to miss once you meet him.”

Young, whose resume includes signature roles in “Blade Runner” (1982) and “No Way Out” (1987) will be in Lexington Saturday night at the 11th Harry Dean Stanton Fest to share her memories of working with Stanton.

The weekend long festival will include a screening of Stanton’s final film, “Lucky” (2017), at his final resting place in Bluegrass Memorial Gardens off Harrodsburg Road. Stanton, who died in 2017, is buried next to an open field in the cemetery where the film will be screened. People who come to the event are welcome to bring folding chairs, blankets and picnics.

Harry Dean Stanton has a cigarette prior to a screening of “Dillinger” as part of the Harry Dean Stanton Fest at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington in 2014. It was Stanton’s only appearance at his namesake festival.
Harry Dean Stanton has a cigarette prior to a screening of “Dillinger” as part of the Harry Dean Stanton Fest at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington in 2014. It was Stanton’s only appearance at his namesake festival.

It will also include a tribute to another native Kentuckian, Warren Oates, a native of Depoy, who was in several films with Stanton, a West Irvine native who graduated from Lafayette High School and the University of Kentucky. Oates’ “Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971) and “92 in the Shade” (1975), both featuring Stanton, will be screened at the downtown Central Library’s Farish Theatre, and Susan Compo, author of “Warren Oates: A Wild Life” will participate in a question-and-answer session between the movies.

“From the beginning, a surprising amount of synchronicity has played into programming the festival,” festival founder and director Lucy Jones says. “I continue to attribute that to the magic of Harry Dean Stanton. We didn’t consciously set out to honor three different Kentucky-born actors who all worked together at different points in their careers yet, delightfully, that’s how it came together this year!”

The third is Young, who was born in Louisville, though her parents moved away when she was 2, and she was raised in Cleveland, feeding a young obsession with MGM movies at a theater at Case Western Reserve University. She did frequently visit family in Kentucky and her burgeoning movie career brought her back to the Bluegrass State with her second film, “Stripes” (1981), which was filmed at Fort Knox, “where my dad ran away to join the Army at age 14 and lied about his age.”

When she was back in Kentucky to film, Young frequently visited her grandparents, but that wasn’t the surreal part.

“Having a part in a big Hollywood movie — that was surreal,” says Young, who turned 20 the first day of filming. “I was really happy that I had my own hotel room and was being paid.”

Not much later she went to work on “Young Doctors,” a film which has an eye-popping cast today, though like Young, many were just getting started in the early 1980s, including Michael Richards, Ted McGinley, Hector Elizondo, and Young’s co-star Michael McKean. It was the first feature film for director Garry Marshall who went on to features such as “Pretty Woman” (1990) and “A League of Their Own” (1992).

Stanton was one of the veterans in the cast.

“I remember being a newbie ... so I observed a lot,” Young remembers. “And Harry was one of the people that we definitely wanted to observe.”

A vintage press photo for “Young Doctors in Love” shows Sean Young with Michael McKean. They starred in the comedy, which spoofed hospital soap operas, along with Harry Dean Stanton. The film will be part of the annual Harry Dean Stanton Festival and Young will reminisce about working with fellow Kentucky actor Stanton.
A vintage press photo for “Young Doctors in Love” shows Sean Young with Michael McKean. They starred in the comedy, which spoofed hospital soap operas, along with Harry Dean Stanton. The film will be part of the annual Harry Dean Stanton Festival and Young will reminisce about working with fellow Kentucky actor Stanton.

She recalls that working with comedians on “Stripes” and “Young Doctors” a lot of what ended up in the film was not in the script, but the result of a lot of improvisation. While she felt like she was just trying to keep up, including in a famous petri dish scene, she got a zinger off on Stanton that she says may have been improvised — we can’t say much more about that scene in a family newspaper.

Young says a lot of that observation and on-set training paid off a decade later when she was the femme fatale in “Fatal Instinct,” a send-up of late 20th century noir flicks. For people wanting to catch up on more Young films, she also points to “The Amati Girls,” a 2000 drama with Cloris Leachman and Mercedes Ruehl.

Revisiting “Young Doctors” does take Young back to a heady time in her career. She recalls a 1982 Kodachrome photo of herself in Times Square with the “Blade Runner” and “Young Doctors” billboards behind her.

Young says, “I can’t even believe that much time has passed.” This weekend will be a time to remember when these native Kentuckians met for a moment on film.

Actor Harry Dean Stanton was a cult favorite who appeared in several unforgettable films over the years, including “Cool Hand Luke,” “Alien,” “Paris, Texas,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Twin Peaks” and “Big Love.”
Actor Harry Dean Stanton was a cult favorite who appeared in several unforgettable films over the years, including “Cool Hand Luke,” “Alien,” “Paris, Texas,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Twin Peaks” and “Big Love.”

Harry Dean Stanton Festival

When: July 14-16

Where: Several locations in Lexington

Online: harrydeanstantonfest.org

Schedule:

Dusk July 14: Screening of “Lucky” at Bluegrass Memorial Gardens

Noon July 15: Warren Oates double feature of “Two Lane Blacktop” and “92 in the Shade” (3 p.m.) along with a discussion of “Warren Oates: A Wild Life” with author Susan Compo (2 p.m.) Farish Theatre, Central Library

7 p.m. July 15: “Young Doctors in Love” followed by a Q&A with star Sean Young. Kentucky Theatre

10 p.m. July 15: VHS screening of “Dream a Little Dream.” Green Lantern Bar.

1 p.m. July 16: “The Fourth War” Farish Theatre

3 p.m. July 16: “One from the Heart” Farish Theatre