Been a while since I put pen to paper ……just got back from good trips to Ventura, California (friends, sailing, meeting interesting new people) and Sun Valley…snow, old friend and the Film Festival. And now waiting for the final cut of About Andy (new short). Yesterday we did pick up shots for the film. The equipment used now is just amazing, where it took a crew of many, just for the camera , now two people can do almost everything!
Very early still with Michael Williams from Moonstrike (BBC)
I was lucky enough to enter adult life and my career during a truly Golden age…the sixties. I was living in an amazing City, working with and meeting some of the wonderful talents of that age….so this a bit about my contemporaries. One of the delights of YouTube and Facebook to some extent has brought all this about. So…..here are a few thoughts of some of the exceptional people met and people worked with.
This came about by watching Dudley Moore at his best playing the piano and clowning…his two great talents. He lit upon the scene with three other talented men, Alan Bennett….now revered writer, Jonathan Miller, Director and the late great Peter Cook, regarded as one of our finest comedians. I met them all after a performance of their ‘entry onto the scene’ signature evening stage performance Beyond the Fringe an evening of satire and brilliant silliness poking fun at life, particularly political …in line with the current Saturday Night Live, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIFzbLE6bHU. We all take life far too seriously now and humour brings us back to earth.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCtzkaL2t_Y Met the Beatles on the set oh “A Hard Day’s Night’ with then best b/f David Hemmings ….they recognized him not me, which put my nose somewhat out of joint, as I was a bigger name than he was at the time…loved them they were fun and funny, just as they were on stage.
I had a string of wonderful parts on the BBC in the sixties and recently met up again (online) thanks to Facebook with Tony Garnett, a wonderful talent….. actor, producer writer.
We did a television play together The Birth of A Private Man by talented David Mercer, a very politically driven play, much of which I did not really understand. …….. Tony patiently explained much of it to me. I have strong memories of this work and felt privileged to be working with such talent -writer, actors, director ……and have very strong memories of filming all day in a Yorkshire cemetery with very thin shoes and freezing feet….sometimes sensations are easier memories.
Tony produced Kes and Cathy Comes Home, two of the most iconic productions of the age, both directed by the great Ken Loach. Cathy Comes Home resonates today, as it is a film largely about homelessness. I also played in David Mercer’s original A Suitable Case for Treatment for BBC, later turned into the film. I was incredibly lucky to have appeared in work like these, including Orwell’s 1984….seen here….it was the basis and foundation for all my work, many actors don’t have the opportunity to work with such great writing and outstanding talent, so many actors don’t have that kind of good fortune.
Thanks Jane, always read your writings and often spot you on “talking pictures” Seems to me a wonderful balance comes through around how you blend your past and your present and how it forms a continuous thread for you without much regret or rancour or “living in the past” I suspect many of us suffer on this front and cant find your peace with it, anyway thanks, good luck, Paul McAweney
Hard not to live in the past, but it’s not always useful and this business is not very forgiving, so we have move on and do new work if we want to stay fresh and interested! I want to keep going while I am able! Thanks for writing…..Jane
Thanks, Jane. There were so many great film made in the 60s and it gives me great hope to know that, as you say, movies, webseries, etc can now be made with a minimum of expense giving artists more opportunities.
Thanks Vincent for writing….still much talent about, so we have to move on and make new and different productions! Jane
The amazing people you’ve had the opportunity to work with and meet is enviable! It sounds like a magical time to look back on, but probably not quite as magical when you were in that very moment, as it often seems to be with life.
I realize that, as you mention in your latest post, good fortune has much to do with an artists career. In the acting profession, I have noticed many British actors hired to play American characters, in American productions, even with the glut of American actors around. This is in film as well as television. Some friends I’ve spoken with don’t even know these actors are from the UK. Laura Fraser in Breaking Bad, Damien Lewis (and nearly everyone else) in Homeland, Jason Isaacs in Brotherhood and Awake, etc.. What in your opinion makes these actors so good as to be hired for roles of American characters when there are so many American actors around?
Thanks for writing….yes I have been lucky to work with so many good people. I think we have better training in the UK and the opportunity to work on stage so much more, very important part of the job. Many of the young actors just want to make money and be famous, so they don’t always bother to get the training and opten don’t know how to go about getting here in the US. So ….many Brits get the parts!
I agree with you one hundred percent. The training is different in the UK and so is the mindset. Another challenge in the US is that there are On Camera Technique classes by the hundreds. The same with Meisner classes, various Scene Study classes and others that one can drop in and out of. Students come out of several months in classes like this and feel they are ready to be a movie star. We do of course have Julliard and other excellent colleges with full programs but I rarely see anyone with these on their CV/Resume. In the US stage acting isn’t as respected as elsewhere and is sometimes seen as a drawback. The thinking is that years of performing on stage will create overacting for the camera. A silly notion entirely when one watches such amazing stage actors as Judi Dench, Janet McTeer, Vanessa Redgrave, Anthony Hopkins, Peter O’Toole and yourself perform in film and television. Thank you for your insight. I very much appreciate it.
I couldn’t agree more…the stage work gives you all the confidence, experience and under pinnings you need for screen work. And the idea that mumbling is acting is nonsense…. still on we go! I think real stage acting by real professionals is respected in the US, but some of the “amateurs” are afraid of it, haven’t done it and so deal with it by putting it down…more fools them!
Thanks for writing!
Jane, fascinating documentary on Ingrid Bergman on the BBC last night. I don’t know if you can get it before it expires on Iplayer. It documents her start in Swedish films, Hollywood, European films and then her stage performances before her death at age 67. Some really good stuff about European films in the 60’s and 70’s.
Interesting….wish I had seen it..admired her as an actress very much…the camera loved her!
Hi Jane, here in Australia on Saturday morning one of the free to air channels has The Baron on at 10am and often I like to look at the credits and have a look at the supporting cast members. Really enjoyed your episode with the 2 door 1957 Chevrolet Coupe and the horsemen antiques, I wonder where it was filmed. Can you tell us anything about Steve Forrest? Back in the day I liked The Saint and the Avengers (which also still plays here). A big fan of Patrick MacNee. But of all 3 The Baron seems to capture 1960s continental Europe so well. Steve carried himself so well in this series.
Antiques, his Jensen sportscar, beautiful women and lots of villians. What’s not to like!!
Steve was fun and nice to work with…well grounded for a Hollywood man. As you say what’s not to like!