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

Posted by Richard "RB" Botto

This is the final installment of Terence's answers to this month's exclusive Q&A With Terence Stamp. Don't forget to also check out the original Q&A and Part I and Part II of Terence's answers.

My sincere thanks to Terence for his time and his thoughtful responses. Your nuggets of wisdom were priceless. I am in your debt.

My deepest appreciation also to Stage 32 member Roy Street and Richard La Plante for making all of this possible. You are both true gentlemen.

Finally, my thanks to you, 32'ers. Your questions were well realized and substantive. I'm not at all surprised.

Enjoy this last series of questions and answers. When you are done, I ask that you leave Terence a note of thanks in the comments section. He truly enjoyed the experience. And he loves reading the responses.

Please remember to check out Terence's incredible new book Rare Stamps: Reflections on Living, Breathing & Acting. It's a truly wonderful memoir, chock full of acting and life lessons.

Rare Stamps: Reflections on Living, Breathing & Acting


Emily Shaules: Congratulations on a wonderful career and thank you so much for answering our questions. What is the one piece of advice you would give yourself if you could go back to the beginning of your career?

TS: I guess at the outset I mistook the lock for the key; mistaking fame for craft. Having said that, when I began meeting masters of the art like Ustinov, Wyler, and Fellini I realized the real nature of the jewel. Unsatisfied with red glass, I focused on the star ruby.

Valerie Michele Oliver: First let me say THANK YOU Roy. Next, Mr. Stamp, I loved your memorable performance in the indie film Priscilla Queen of the Dessert! Question: What would you like to leave as your legacy in this world? I don't want to assume that it's acting, or even acting related, although it could be. I interview celebrity and indie performers on internet radio about their humanitarian and spiritual interests, hence the question. Thank you.

TS: Moments when the interconnectedness of life becomes apparent I consider a great privilege. When these happen and are caught on film, I guess that is a legacy of sorts.

Anne-Marie O'Connor: Aren't you related to Bernhard Altmann, who helped his family and dozens of others escape from Nazi Vienna?

TS: I'm afraid not.

Marshall Terrill: What's the difference between working on British and American film productions? Say The Limey as opposed to Wall Street?

TS: I can't say I feel any difference, geographically, that is. The important difference is between a "crew" and a "troupe." A troupe usually occurs when shooting is tough and the bonding of energy enables the sum to become greater than the parts.

William Allen: Regarding the business side, how has the industry evolved over the last 60 years? Where do you see the industry going?

TS: I see artists coming together, raising money themselves and doing work where they share the input and the output, without the popcorn constrictions.

Ray Sinclair: A comment: just to say congratulations on your career. A question: must you know your type and always look for auditions that play to type as its your strength?

TS: Ray, with the passing of time, it seems to me the projects that have shouted to me have my weak areas written on them. Nowadays, I don't see them as weaknesses but unexplored dimensions.

Wesley Coll: How was the experience working with Pier Paolo Pasolini, in Teorema, and what do you think it really happened with him? What other contemporary directors would you compare to his brand of moviemaking? Thanks.

TS: It's difficult to assess Pasolini because apart from coming to London with his Producer, Franco Rossellini (who translated for him), he told me the story, my part: "There is a petit bourgeois family-mother, father, son, daughter, and a maid. You seduce all of them. This is your part." He never spoke to me again. Usually telling Laura Betti, the maid, "Tell Terence I would like him to play this scene with an erection."

Mark Edward: My Question: 1) How would you sum up your experience in working with Fellini on Toby Dammit? 2) How would you sum up your experience working with Monica Viti? 3) What do you think about psychics and the paranormal craze? 4) Were you happy with the film The Collector?

TS: I fell in love with Fellini. Fortunately for me, it was mutual. It was one of those great passages in my life! I liked Monica but she was basically miscast by Joe Janni, the producer, because she closely resembled the drawn cartoon of Modesty Blaise. I do know wonderful psychics and healers but you have to really trust your own intuition when choosing. If you're not certain, don't! I am still happy with The Collector - I wouldn't change a frame.

Tom Waters: What single bit of advice would you give an actor so he could have the most successful auditions?

TS: Don't prepare. Don't think about it. When you get there, don't let your thoughts distract you from the moment. Be present in the present. If your director doesn't pick up on it, you're better off not getting the part.

Tony Treloar: Your body of work is incredible, Mr. Stamp. Is there any thing that you haven't done be it in film or on the stage that you'd like to?

TS: I've just written a screenplay called Waterloo Sunset, which I'm hoping to direct. It's basically a great love story but it's supported by a vendetta that's based on revenge. I might ask you to contribute.

Richard McKenzie: Even great actors have valleys. How do you manage times when work is scarce? What preparations do you make for the inevitable climb out? Thank you.

TS: I just renew my efforts on myself. I practice more - yoga, breathing, swimming. I write, I cook. I try new nutritional regimes. I travel (if I have the bread). I regard being out of work as the in-breath of my life.

Matthew Skala: What is the longest time you went without work and was it by choice or not?

TS: I was out of work - no proper major films - from 1969 to 1977. It was the last thing in the world I would have chosen. I was 30, in my prime. When my comeback came, the Superman films, I was no longer a leading man but a character actor. However, nothing went to waste. You know me.

Mark Wilson Seymour: While I'm sure it's ancient history for you, I still remember, so, was it fun doing Modesty Blaise?

TS: It was fun; yet, against all odds. Joe Janni, a rare 'creative' producer, hired the wrong director, a solemn man. Monica Vitti not an action actress. Dirk Bogarde who viewed it as a vehicle to announce his campiness. I loved the art direction, the costumes, Sicily. Oh, and yes, I was very much in love at the time.

Dina Arsenault: As an actor what is it you require from your director in order for you to give your best performance possible?

TS: It's best if they love you, but I'll settle for if they see the best in you.

Lisa Di Capa: Good afternoon. When working on a project, what do you find is the most challenging and or rewarding part when taking on a role?

TS: If a prospect is truly challenging I often experience fear, out of all proportion to the possible consequences. The reward is to be able to ignore the thoughts and progress the project.

Cash Anthony: Mr. Stamp, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. What kind of role sets a screenplay apart and inspires you to want to play it? What gives you the better reason for reading it - a recommendation from someone in the industry, or a referral from an agent?

TS: Usually my agent gets to read the script first (a great luxury). But if it is recommended, I give it my full attention because I really respect my team.

Artan Telqiu: Dear Mr. Stamp, I work two jobs to feed and shelter myself and my family, a Doorman and a DJ. Then I have to find the time and the energy to turn what I love into a career, and hopefully the only source of income for my home. While doing all of this my energy is draining, and I was wondering what tips you can give me to advance my career better and faster. My plan has been to work hard and get enough footage for a reel. After that to contact well known agents and managers. After finding an agent, I will work even harder since the projects should be of more quality and value to advance my career. I am sure there are flaws on my plan, and that is way I am asking for your advice and help. Wishing you all the best!

TS: We all have an extra reservoir of energy which we access when threatened. Love and awareness also give access. I look at it as my real self, my being. Being is always there but rarely noticed, yet inescapable from. You can't see it, yet you cannot not be it. You cannot look for it because it is what is looking. A great man once told me "be aware when you are unaware."

Joël Colburn: Sir, thank you for taking the time to participate in our little community. -- Question: When acting in film, do you prefer detailed preparation in rehearsal or do you respond better in a more spontaneous environment?

TS: Spontaneity is the name of my game. I just learn the wordies. Check out Song for Marion.

Marcel Serraillier: I could never figure out if you are a good guy or a bad guy due to your strange look... You?

TS: I am all things to all people. If I'm not, I wish to be.

Happy Birthday Stage 32
Part II: Q&A with acting legend Terence Stamp - Answers
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