Harvard-educated actor Tommy Lee Jones
has a confession to make ? he's a cheater! The actor tells TV Guide Online that he used crib sheets during filming of Space Cowboys
to help him remember all the astronaut jargon.
"The camera is usually looking over the top of the [spacecraft's] instrument panel, so it's very seldom that the camera will both see you and the instrument panel," he says. "You can then rip out a page from the script, tape it on the instrument panel, pretend to be looking at a dial or twisting a knob, and you just read it."
"You cheat, basically," he adds. "You also write on the back of your hand, because a lot of time your hand is not in the lens."
Jones's Space Cowboys co-star Clint Eastwood had a slightly easier time picking up the language, much of which was supplied by NASA officials right on the set. "That's part of the process ? you're an actor, you memorize things," says Eastwood, who also directed the hit film. "Sometimes if you're memorizing a scene it isn't difficult because you're memorizing more objectives and attitudes and stuff. But technical jargon is difficult because you want to get it as accurate as possible."
Eastwood says the late actor Broderick Crawford, with whom he co-starred on an episode of the 1960s TV show Highway Patrol, was a genius at using crib sheets on the set. "He was doing two and three episodes at the same time," he recalls, "and he would cut the script out and put a little piece in the drawer or a little piece on the wall. And you never knew how he did it. And he'd have another gin and tonic and go ahead and do the next scene."