Gary Lockwood: Space Cowboy

Lockwood, who played Frank Poole in "2001", recalls thirty years of acting adventures

By Steve Isenberg

      Thirty years after "2001: A Space Odyssey" thrilled audiences for the first time, one of the astronauts that matched wits with HAL has moved on.
      In 1968, Gary Lockwood become known as Frank Poole from "2001." It was a huge hit, and the futuristic nature of the film made for an intriguing scene at the box office. It was an event that Lockwood was a part of, and he got to be a part of the hysteria that was "2001."
      "In the aftermath, there's all kinds of ways to think about it. Critics in the East didn't like the film, but people still lined up around the block to see it anyway. It was an interesting picture. There are so many versions of what they think it's all about. The first thing that you have to realize is that it's a movie. It's designed to make you think, and in that I think it was successful."
      One of the main reasons why this film was so extraordinary was the work of director Stanley Kubrick. Lockwood gives a lot of credit and very high praise to one of the greatest filmmakers in history.
      "It was very enjoyable. He is the most intelligent guy I've ever worked with, very interesting. I think he's the best movie maker by a large margin. I don't even know who comes close to him."
      But "2001" was not the only phenomenon that Lockwood was a part of during his acting career. He appeared in the "Star Trek" pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before," the show that started it all for television's most popular science fiction series. But such achievements don't overwhelm the 60-year-old actor.
      "For the most part I think I've been a very fortunate person, but I wasn't born without accolades. I was an athlete, and I was an artist. My life's been chock full of nuts. I don't really get overwhelmed in that sense."
      For now, Lockwood is going around the country to "Star Trek" conventions and Cyberfest '97. But before then it was an entirely different line of work that was taking up his time.
      "I'd been an architect for a while, but there are too many environmental laws, too many problems that I don't feel like dealing with. I'm just doing these shows now and I'm not dealing with anything."
      Lockwood has not been obscure from television audiences for long though. He has been a guest star on a number of different TV series, most recently in an episode of NBC's new Saturday night series "Dark Skies." And there may be more where that came from.
      "I think I'm going to do some more acting down the road. We'll have to find out how I'm received because it's a different story now. It's the young people running the show these days."
      From the big screen to the theater, Gary Lockwood has done it all. He has appeared in a dozen movies, a handful of made-for-TV movies, and a lot of TV shows. He has made multiple appearances on "Murder, She Wrote" and "Barnaby Jones", as well as being on such series as "Hawaii Five-O," "Charlie's Angels" and "Hart to Hart." But he is an actor after all, and he has made a living going from show to show.
      "Well, I'm an actor. I've done a little bit of everything. An actor is kind of like a cowboy. The show's over on Sunday and then you ride off to the next gig. Basically that's what show business is all about."

Gary Lockwood in 1968.

Gary Lockwood now.