John Malkovich is opening up about his 40-year friendship with actor Julian Sands — and what he thinks may have happened to the A Room with a View star, who was reported missing last month after going hiking on California’s Mt. Baldy. Last week the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced that search efforts to locate Sands would be delayed “for some time” due to a winter storm in the area.
The Mt. Baldy area was also beset by storms around the time of. the 65-year-old Sands’s disappearance on Jan. 13. Speaking to the Guardian, his longtime friend Malkovich speculated that the weather conditions may have contributed to the British star making an “irreversible” mistake, despite his substantial hiking appearance.
“I haven’t really talked about what happened with Jules,” Malkovich, 69, told the British newspaper. “But, in a way, it’s a choice, because he was an inveterate mountain climber/hiker. He was always tramping off to Kilimanjaro, or Antartica, or the Andes, or the Alps — a very experienced climber who’d been through very hairy experiences.
“I suppose the particular conditions on the ground that day on Mt. Baldy must have led to some sort of catastrophic and immediate error that was irreversible,” he added. “That was my instinct upon hearing it. But he knew what the conditions were, and that’s what he loved to do. He found great solace in the solitude of that.”
The actors were frequent co-stars — most recently teaming up for Seneca — On the Creation of Earthquakes, which just premiered at the Berlinale film festival — who first met while filming The Killing Fields in 1983. Malkovich went on to become godfather to Sands’s son from his first marriage to journalist Sarah Sands.
“I love Jules,” he shared. “He was someone who was very, very clever. I know his ex-wife, Sarah terribly well and their son, Henry, is my godson. And I introduced Jules to [second wife] Evgenia, who’s an old, old friend. I know their daughters well.”
Calling Sands, who also starred in Warlock and Leaving Las Vegas, his “closest friend,” Malkovich reflected on the actor’s passion for outdoor adventures, including solo hikes, “which is quite wild in itself.” He added, “but he’s a boy who grew up wild on the moors and — despite being someone who could be incredibly erudite and polished — had always kept that wild part of himself.”
Now a grandfather, the Oscar-nominated actor is also thinking about his own final days.
“I’ll be 70 in December,” he told the magazine. “Do I have a day, a month, a year, 10 years? No idea. Time seems even more capricious than when I had my own children. You miss so much; it goes so fast.”
Sand’s disappearance is a “great loss,” he said.
“He was such a terrific storyteller, Jules, and so, so funny,” the Of Mice and Men star noted. “Since the day we met, I could talk to him about anything, and he could talk to me about anything …”
“But that’s the thing — you can’t do anything about it,” he added after a brief pause. “Could I have envisaged Jules at 80? … I don’t know.”
Both actors discussed their friendship in a 2018 Guardian article, in which Malkovich called his pal a “physical entity of a physical force” and “Tarzan.” It was also revealed that after Sands and his first wife split up, the British actor moved in with Malkovich, who served as his godson Henry’s nanny for about six weeks. The pair also reflected on their first encounter on the Killing Fields set.
“I remember the director giving me a long speech, basically telling me that Jules was too sensitive for the likes of me to hang around with,” Malkovich shared, adding that during his first meeting with his fellow cast members over lunch, everyone got up to shake hands, while Sands grabbed their croissants and stuffed them into his mouth. “Oh, this is the person who’s too sensitive for me?” Malkovich remembered thinking. “We’ve been great friends ever since — that’s now 35 years.”