Part II: Q&A with acting legend Terence Stamp - Answers

Posted by Richard "RB" Botto

Before we get to Part II of Terence's three-part responses to this month's Q&A With Terence Stamp, I would just like to take a moment to thank all of you who left a word of encouragement in the comments area of yesterday's blog post. I'm humbled and awed by the outpouring of support and generosity of spirit. Words are powerful, and yours knocked me off my feet. Thank you.

Now, on to Part II of Terence's responses. Remember, all questions were submitted by Stage 32 members.

Please feel free to leave Terence remarks in the comments section below. He will see them all.



Guy Goldstein: Hello Mr. Stamp, What an honor to have an actor of your caliber here. Thank you so much. I would like to ask you about the importance of read-through rehearsals. I know every actor has to practice lines, etc., but how much of that is actual out loud practice, and is it better to read-through a script with other actors who are reading the other parts? How much time should actors devote to this? I'm looking forward to reading your book.

TS: The learning of lines is something not frequently discussed. However, it is crucial the lines become automatic (in order to create space in the mind for whatever may present itself). I have always considered the read-throughs a luxury when filming. Sadly lacking these days. An essential when preparing for a play, obviously. Familiarity aids the craft if inspiration doesn't strike.

Zachary Rouse: Thank you for looking at these questions, Mr. Stamp: How does a professional actor reconcile the need for work with the need for artistic fulfillment? I have moved away from LA because it's an ugly environment. But it is where the work is. I am working as much as I can in the town I am in, but it makes little money. Yet, I have no desire to work for huge entertainment conglomerates that use massive amounts of natural resources and produce "lowest common denominator" work. How do you, as an accomplished actor, find a balance or a reason to take that work? Do you supplement it with more fulfilling projects? Thanks again for doing this! Zachary Rouse, Portland Oregon

TS: I know a woman who's leaving her husband to find herself. His personality she finds overwhelming. There is another method I go by. It's in a book called The Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna is advised by Krishna to find himself in the heat of battle. As I am weaker than Krishna (born on the 15th of August, 5000 BC) I always hope work to be fun. However, I don't always have the rent and, as beggars can't be choosers, I follow Krishna's guidance.

Art D'Alessandro: So difficult to find funding for smaller films without having a name attached. When you contact a manager/agent to attach a "name" they want you to make a "pay or play" offer. Any tips on getting around the old "Catch 22" for indie filmmakers? Big fan.

TS: Check out Kickstarter.

Jacqueline Drury: Mr Stamp, Your sympathetic and sensitive performance in Priscilla Queen of th Desert was a revelation. How much background preparation do you do into a role like that?

TS: More than usual, the fear factor was unfamiliarly unforgiving. This was brought to my attention by a wonderful person, actress Caroline Bliss (now Seacombe), who called my attention to the fear. I do talk about these moments in Rare Stamps but, basically, once you become aware of thought as fear it diminishes its stature and you become aware of the actual possibilities around you. This was the very beginning of the transformation into Bernadette. I took an unusual amount of preparation. I did seminars about opening the heart because I felt that somebody who was a woman inside would relate more to her emotions than her mind. I paid great attention to how women sat and moved. I did put a lot of work into Priscilla; I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

Eilis Mernagh: Hi Mr Stamp, I was wondering what the first thing is that you look for in a script? How do you decide that this is a project you want to work on? And what draws you to a role (or puts you off a role)? With very best wishes, Eilis Mernagh

TS: Nowadays, I assess if a screenplay is any good by the first few pages. I read a script much like choosing a book in a library. I was always adept at this. As soon as I could read my mother sent me to our local library in Prince Regents Lane, Plaistow to choose books for her. Obviously, I get a 'feel' for the role-if I haven't played it before (too many times), if it has the possibility to stretch me. Predominantly, I rely on my intuition.

Joey Aliano: Hello Mr. Stamp. my question is on acting advice if you had any tips for striving actors on a few ways on making a character in a script your own uniqueness and interesting, stepping out of the box, bringing it completely to life (like you can do). from being just a character of emotion. Thank you for any Help and the time for answering our questions, completely admire your work along side with the other professionals and friends here.

TS: This will probably sound silly, but it is mostly how I work-and the adage everything you need is in the moment. Reading a script on a bus or train, the person seated opposite you may be presenting you with an insight. A snatch of overheard conversation or a fragment flashes across your mind. Focus your awareness on previously unobserved (on auto) thoughts. Encourage yourself to be aware of the inside as well as the outside screen of life.

James Le Lacheur: With specific reference to your performance in William Wyler's 'The Collector' what was your preparation for the role of Clegg? How much (if any) stock did you place on the source novel, and did his psychology present any challenges?

TS: When I read John Fowles' novel, I felt I would be completely miscast. It was only when William Wyler took me into his confidence and explained he wasn't going to make the book but "a love story-modern," (his words) that I began to study. I reread the novel, reread the screenplay, located the great butterfly collector in Kent and studied with him-and him, actually. It is always a help to be adept at the functional stuff. It often supplies a frame for the emotional arisings on the day.

Christina Cartwright: Thank you so much for allowing us to ask you these questions. I wish to ask..what advice would you give to an old gal like me who would love to take part in a major film?

TS: Christina, you don't look so old to me-a young thing, actually. Yours is a difficult yet pertinent question. Without sounding too camp, I no longer even consider that I can affect the world around me other than switching on the electromagnet that is myself. Spend a little time on waking or going to sleep to be sure of what you want for your life to be full and peaceful. Your spontaneous nature is always with you. Stand on me on this one.

Edward Solis: What advice could you give an actor to help them "stand-out" in a very crowded industry?

TS: If I had known then what I know now I would have investigated myself, my true self, much earlier. I was fortunate that my career crashed when I was 31. I also lost the first big love of my life. There was naught in the world of appearances I could turn to. It took me a while to realize the increase in suffering meant a decrease in awareness and vice versa. Before I thought, I was. Stay close on this. True spontaneity will arise. Your path will be-is-lit.

Jeremy Reed: Mr. Stamp, I've loved your work and now cannot wait to read your book. You've performed an incredible range of characters and my question stems from that. Out of the incredible, crazy, fantastic characters, do you have any favorites? Is there a type you prefer to play?

TS: What I haven't done before is what I prefer to play. The favorites I drop into eras. Billy Budd, The Collector, Sergeant Troy, Blue, Toby Dammit: the Sixties. Superman II (Director's cut), The Hit: the Eighties. Wall Street (James Goldsmith - I met him in a restaurant - he had heard I based Sir Larry on him and congratulated me): the Nineties. Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert, The Limey, Yes Man, Song for Marion: the modern era.

John Conley: Mr. Stamp, What role do you regret passing up the most?

TS: King Arthur in the musical Camelot. Josh Logan begged me to do it, publicly, in a restaurant. I turned it down because I believed I wasn't equipped vocally to sing the score and the studio would dub me. I lost a great opportunity because of fear. Ironically, in Song for Marion, I sing and the character is also called Arthur!

Elizabeth Chavez: Mr Stamp, What inspired you in your writting, and do you listen to music while creating and what do you like?

TS: I only began actually scribbling when my mom, Ethyl, died. I was shooting Legal Eagles in Manhattan and couldn't get home for the funeral. I just sat down and began on the back of my script, between setups. You can wait a long time for Bob and Debra. I confess I have an iPod which I travel with, and do often play, with pencil in hand. I am subject to phases. The Best of Desert Island discs from the BBC. Early Dave Brubeck when Paul Desmond was his sideman. As I answer you, Sir Edward Elgar, Enigma Variations is playing.

Public Different Records: What music do you listen? Favorite music period, genre, artist? Merci!

TS: As above. But it does change. If I have another reincarnation I'd settle for a voice like Mario Lanza's or to be able to play the alto sax like Paul Desmond.

Paul J. Dove: My question is, I would like to work in the USA do you think it matters if your agent/manager is based in the UK or is it preferable to have agent/managers both sides of the pond.

TS: Most good agents and managers have colleagues they link up with across the pond. Choose representation who split commission 50/50, which gives both a real incentive. Fifty-fifty could also be 75/25 or 25/75 if it's geographic. It is better to increase the 10% to ensure positivity.

James Finn: Mr. Stamp, Do you have any interesting moments you can share with us about your experience while filming "The Collector"?

TS: My initial meeting with Wyler was unforgettable. During the shoot he rarely directed me but was always right under the camera (with me as close as possible). However, during the scene where the Collector returns to the bank where he worked before winning the lottery, Willie lined up a close-up of me watching the present clerk who is doing the job I used to do-putting stamps on envelopes. Wyler said, "Give me something, as I am using this setup to flash back to you doing it." I actually couldn't think of anything. But on 'Turnover' immediately before 'Action,' Wyler whispered into my ear, "Taste the stamps."

Shayne Metcalfe: What would it take to get you to have a look at my script (or any script)? Do you prefer filmmakers start with a simple description of the character you fit? or the synopsis of the story? How does one get the material in front of you?

TS: As life involves a lot of travel, I'm an actual 'stroller player,' it is best to get them direct to Untitled Entertainment in Beverly Hills. Finished screenplays the preferable format.

Matthew Dunn: You spent some years in India, re-examining the role of the artist according to your site. How do you think your career changed as a result? What do you think might have happened had you not done that?

TS: I can't speculate on what didn't happen. The truth is I met Jiddu Krishnamurti while shooting with Fellini in Rome. I was pretty unconscious at this time, yet the perfume of the little guy's personality stayed with me. As I was intellectually unequipped to fathom his lectures, I felt I could step on a lower rung and become less coarse in the process. That's what I did in India. Catch Song for Marion and you tell me.

Nikola Matisic: Dear Mr Stamp, how much work goes into the voice and the vocal sound when acting with a microphone and camera, in comparison to acting on stage? This question from a professional opera singer.

TS: I have never stopped working on my voice. I have always worked as if I were playing in the theatre. Every time I practice (breath and voice) I consider it capital in the bank. You can always use less voice when miked. Yet increasing depth and compass is a work of love on the voyage to Original Voice. I heard Billy Budd recently and the change impressed even me.

Part III: Q&A with acting legend Terence Stamp - Answers
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