The Sound of Norman Mailer Punching Himself

At one point, Leslie Shatz, the sound designer, described Mailer's perfectionist quest to capture the sound of a punch in the face. “Norman said, ‘The sounds of punches in movies are all phony,’ ” Shatz recalled. “He wanted me to record his own punches. He was a boxer, of course. So we were in my cutting room with a portable digital recorder, and I remember thinking at the time, I'm watching Norman Mailer hit himself and I'm not stopping him. He hit himself at least twenty times—in the face and the chest—until we finally got it right. I saved that sound effect, and I've used it in about twenty movies since. I always tell other directors, ‘You hear that? That's Norman Mailer punching himself. He's in your movie.’ ”

Mark Singer, “Tough Guy”, in The New Yorker, 21 May 2007.