“Those chairs (in agent’s offices) are made scientifically so that in exactly 11 minutes your backside begins to hurt. But I beat the average. First I sit on one half of my fanny, then on the other. They don’t get rid of me until my 22 minutes are up. But I’m beginning to take the shape of those chairs. Maybe that’s the shape of my destiny. ” – James Dean
James Dean didn’t make a lot of friends in Hollywood, due to his need to “test” people by behaving just as badly as possible around them. Director Elia Kazan, however became something of a father figure to him. He wasn’t blind to Jimmy’s faults, however, and even nicknamed him “Creep”.
In “East of Eden”, Dean’s first film, he played a rebellious character named Cal. The similarities between James and Cal amazed Kazan, who was the film’s director.
“I can’t divert into being a social human being when I’m working on a hero like Cal, who’s essentially demonic.” – James Dean
His co-stars were Julie Harris, and Raymond Massey. Julie, an actress who was known for her sweet nature, knew (better than most) how to deal with the difficult young actor. Raymond Massey (who played James’ father), however hadn’t a clue what to make of him.
“You never know what he’s going to do!” – Raymond Massey (about Dean)
Even though the majority of the cast and crew shared Massey’s sentiments rather than those of Julie Harris or Elia Kazan, the time spent filming East of Eden was probably the happiest of James Dean’s life. He must have felt, for the first time, that he was part of a large family.
After filming was finished, Julie Harris went to his dressing room to say good-bye. She found him on the floor crying and saying, “It’s all over. It’s all over.”
Ironically, when the film opened in New York, with Marilyn Monroe, no less, handing out programs, he stayed away.
“I don’t even want to be just the best. I want to grow so tall that nobody can reach me.” – James Dean
When James Dean died at the unbelievably young age of 24, only one of his films had ever been seen by the public (East of Eden). His second film, Rebel Without a Cause, was released within days of his death.