Julie Harris on James Dean: So Terribly Afraid

James Dean, shaving in his trailer on the set of East of Eden.

Interview with Julie Harris
Conducted by James Grissom
Hotel Wyndham
New York City

I loved him [James Dean] so much. I was not in love with him--I never felt a romantic attraction toward him--but I loved him terribly: He was so sweet, even when he was frightened, which was when he could be ill-tempered. He was so terribly afraid--of everyone, really. He was most afraid of not being true in his work, and so he worried and fretted and over-analyzed things. I felt that one of my goals in that film [East of Eden] was to calm him down, to let him know how good he was.

He was a beautiful but small man, and he seemed always to make himself smaller: He would hunch his shoulders and squeeze into tight places--like a cat--to avoid detection. I think he was spying on us, and I think he liked to be invisible.

I wish now we had become closer. I would have liked to have been one of those friends who was with him--in person and in spirit--as he took on all of the challenges that were ahead of him, and which he so wanted.

© 2014 James Grissom


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