Utahn Harry Reems is anxiously looking forward to this week’s Sundance Film Festival premiere of “Lovelace,” the biopic of controversial porn star Linda Lovelace.
Reems, a retired Park City real-estate agent, co-starred with Lovelace in the 1972 classic X-rated movie “Deep Throat,” as well as other adult films. Lovelace later claimed in two autobiographies that she was drugged and beaten while filming “Deep Throat,” and that her husband and manager, Chuck Traynor, was abusive and controlling throughout her life.
“I’m hoping it will be very accurate,” Reems said of “Lovelace” the movie. “There’s enough people alive who know if she was beat[en] on the set. She was never beat[en] on the set. She was not. That’s not true. I was there for the 12 days [of the film’s shoot].”
While Reems said he is curious to see how this movie tells the story of his co-star, he’s also angry that no one, including the filmmakers behind “Lovelace,” contacted him for research.
“I knew her and worked with her a lot,” Reems said. “When you sit there naked waiting for a shot, you talk intimately. I would hear a lot, especially from angry girls about their dads and how they were abused.”
While the now-65-year-old Reems said he didn’t see Lovelace harmed on the set of the film, he remembers Traynor’s alleged abuse. “I thought she was sweet and wonderful and quiet,” Reems said of Lovelace. “But she was just stuck with the wrong guy. He basically controlled her life. He was a total a-hole. He was not a friendly guy. He was a hustler.”
“Lovelace,” which premiered Tuesday in Park City, chronicles the ultimately tragic life of a woman who would become a symbol for sexual freedom through “Deep Throat.” Lovelace died in a Colorado car crash in 2002 at age 53.
Directed by documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (who were last at Sundance with 2010’s “Howl”), “Lovelace” stars Amanda Seyfried (“Big Love”) as Linda Lovelace and Peter Sarsgaard as Traynor.
“We didn’t know much about Linda and about ‘Deep Throat,’ ” Friedman said. “Then we got really interested in Linda as someone who exemplified what was going on in the culture at the time. She spanned the period from what we think of as the sexual revolution. Her story is an illustration of some of the darker truths of what was going on at the time.”
Born Linda Boreman, Lovelace was discovered by Traynor before she was hired to star in “Deep Throat,” mostly because of her skill for oral sex. In addition to Traynor, who Lovelace claimed held her at gunpoint while filming “Deep Throat,” her life was tainted by prostitution and drugs.
Before the movie debuted, adult films were relegated to back-alley theaters and talked about in hushed tones. But “Deep Throat,” which was released at the onset of the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism in the 1970s, brought porn into the mainstream and was seen by such notables as Spiro Agnew, Shirley MacLaine and Sammy Davis Jr.
Lovelace and Reems would be paid just $1,200 each for their work on the film, which some claim has made more than $600 million.
After the film’s release, Reems would continue his career in porn until drugs and alcohol began to overtake his life. (At one point, he said, he woke up in a jail cell in a pool of his own vomit, not knowing how he got there.) In the late 1980s, he made his way to Park City, began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings thanks to an invitation from a Park City police officer, and found religion. Reems married and became a successful real-estate agent until his retirement four years ago.
Since Lovelace’s death, there have been a documentary (“Inside Deep Throat”), a Los Angeles play (“Lovelace: A Rock Musical”) and two films about the actress and the making of the infamous adult film. Another biopic, “Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story,” is in pre-production and slated to star Malin Ackerman (“Watchmen”) as Lovelace.
Co-director Epstein said he and Friedman read everything available, including past interviews with Reems, as well as talked to Lovelace’s family members and her attorney.
“I want [audiences] to understand that in all of her complexities and contradictions, she was a human being,” Epstein said. “That she is someone that lived her life and felt like she wasn’t fully understood.”
Screenings • Wednesday, Jan. 23, 9 a.m., Eccles Theater, Park City; Thursday, Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City; Saturday, Jan. 26, 11:30 p.m., Prospector Square Theatre, Park City.