Over the years that I’ve spent doing this acting lark I’ve picked up all sorts of hints and tips which have proved absolutely invaluable when rolling up on set two hours late and slightly hung over without having even looked at the script yet. I’m still waiting to hear back about my offer to do a stint on In The Actor’s Studio, but in the meantime here are some pointers to get you going.

3 Katherine Hepburn

Sometimes you’ll be on set acting away when you’ll notice a woman staring at you.  She’s called Katherine Hepburn, and although she’s a darling once you get to know her the initial reception can be a bit frosty. She once pulled a knife on Clark Gable and we had to wrestle her to the ground. All I’ll say is never borrow money from her.

4 Horses

When I look back at some of my early cowboy pictures now I can’t help but laugh. Even to the untrained eye it’s quite obvious that I’m sat on the horse the wrong way ‘round! In those days the studios didn’t have time for a second take so we just muddled through and hoped no-one would notice, but the results were sometimes less than perfect. It was John Wayne who put me right. I’ve watched hundreds of his films and you never see him sitting backwards on his horse so he knew what he was talking about: ‘Neddy,’ he said, ‘the tail goes at the back!’ And do you know what? He was right! If you’re stuck out in the desert with Cecil B. DeMille doing one of those Biblical epics the same rule also applies to Deborah Kerr and camels. But that’s another story…


Many of the better actors I’ve worked with over the years have what one can only describe as a love/hate relationship with journalists, but not me: I love them! Not the ones who say nasty things of course, they’re a bunch of untalented, lazy, useless shits, but the rest of them are jolly good chaps. 

Journalists are always quite easy to spot because when you’re at an interview or a press conference, they’re the ones who tend to ask an awful lot of questions. I met one once who had a job writing articles for the newspapers, and he was fascinating. Apparently everything they come up with is actually based on a true story, so it’s not that different to being in the movies really. I’ll tell you who didn’t like journalists though, and that was Clark Gable

If he saw one coming toward him in the street he’d hide in a doorway to avoid them. If that didn’t work he’d just punch them in the face and run off, but when he twisted his ankle teaching Edward G. Robinson the rhumba he had to get a bus instead. It wasn’t the same. 
Playing a journalist in a picture isn’t too difficult, you just need to wear your shirt sleeves rolled up and undo your tie a bit. Dustin Hoffman once told me that he played one in All The President’s Men, but I don’t remember them being that small. Not one of the Munchkins ever played a journalist, so maybe he was pulling my leg. I’m not saying all journalists are giants, in fact most of the ones I’ve stopped to have a drink with have been what I’d call an average height, but you never ever see a short one. Apart from Danny DeVito in LA Confidential. And Tintin. 
There was one occasion when a journalist treated me very shabbily indeed, and that’s when he misquoted me when I said Elizabeth Taylor was a witch. But that’s another story…