|Monty having a laugh!|
One question that directors in particular always ask me is ‘did you actually go to drama school?’ It was a long time ago now of course, but I’m glad to say I did and to any young person thinking of entering the profession I cannot recommend it highly enough. Drama school is invaluable for picking up all those little hints and tips that will help you no end when you first arrive on a film set. For example, when the director says ‘action’ you must start acting straight away.
A while later, probably after you’ve got one of the lines wrong or called one of your co-stars by their real name and not that of the part of whom they are playing, the director will say ‘cut’ and you are free to go off and do the crossword.
The only exception to this rule is what we call ‘method acting’.
It’s a lot easier than it sounds, you just have to remember to carry on acting after the director says ‘cut’. This is what’s known as ‘staying in character’, but why on earth you’d want to do that once you’ve been told to stop doing it I’ll never know.
Dear old Montgomery Clift was one of these method acting fellows and he took it all very seriously. I had the joy of working with him when he starred as a troubled priest in that delightful little comedy More Tea Vicar?On day one of shooting I rolled up on set, grabbed the nearest Bible, and was ready to go, but there was no sign of Monty. We didn’t see him all day long. We didn’t see him the next day either. When he hadn’t turned up by the end of the week people were getting fed up with waiting…
It turned out that he’d decided to prepare for his role by training for the priesthood! It was another seven years before he arrived on set ready to shoot, but by then they’d rewritten the script and it was now set in a commercial kitchen with Monty playing a troubled sous chef. Luckily this only required 18 months of training, so we were finished in no time at all really.
Despite his funny little ways we were the best of friends. He did threaten to stab me with a potato peeler that time he was tying up his shoelace and I mistook him for Hope Lange, but that’s another story…
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