Tom [Courtenay] and Albert Finney met Ron Harwood on the dresser, so that's how it started. It's a wonderful documentary. It's called Tosca's Kiss and Mr Hardwood told me about it when I asked him what the genesis was. It was made in 1983 and Verdi, who was rich and successful, toward the end of his life decided to build a mansion for himself in Milan, where he lived, and he stipulated that when he died opera singers and musicians - because he knew so many who were no longer playing at the Scala and some were poor - could live there.
tom quotescourtenay quotesalbert quotesfinney quotesmet quotesron quotesharwood quotesdresser quotesstarted quoteswonderful quotesdocumentary quotescalled quotestoscas quoteskiss quotesmr quoteshardwood quotestold quotesasked quotesgenesis quotesmade quotes1983 quotesverdi quotesrich quotessuccessful quotesend quoteslife quotesdecided quotesbuild quotesmansion quotesmilan quoteslived quotesstipulated quotesdied quotesopera quotessingers quotesmusicians quotesknew quoteslonger quotesplaying quotesscala quotespoor quoteslive quotes
So, most of it was done over the phone. But one of the first things I did as a director, because it's one of the first things you should do, even though most don't, is to ask good actors who they think is right for the part. They know better than anybody. But without missing a beat Maggie said Pauline Collins. I didn't know Pauline because I hadn't seen Shirley Valentine, but then I saw this thing that she did with Woody Allen [You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger], in which she was wonderful as a psychic, and I said to her on the phone: "The dialogue seemed improvised."
phone quotesthings quotesdirector quotesgood quotesactors quotespart quotesmissing quotesbeat quotesmaggie quotespauline quotescollins quotesshirley quotesvalentine quotesthing quoteswoody quotesallen quotesmeet quotestall quotesdark quotesstranger quoteswonderful quotespsychic quotesphone quotesdialogue quotesimprovised quotes
You're always in a tunnel that you can't see the end of. But there's something that took place on this movie that I don't think we expected and that was that once we decided that the entire cast would be real retired opera singers and retired musicians... and these people the phone hadn't rung for them for 20 or 40 years even though they can deliver.
The trumpet player, Ronnie Hughes, has still got his chops today but for some strange reason the culture doesn't call him because he's 83-years-old. And these people are in their 70s and 80s and 90s and came with such verve every day and would still be shooting these 10 and 12 hour days. So, that in itself made this an extraordinarily special occasion for all of us. It wasn't a job for the crew after a few days, it took on another tone.
trumpet quotesplayer quotesronnie quoteshughes quoteschops quotestoday quotesstrange quotesreason quotesculture quotescall quotes83yearsold quotespeople quotes70s quotes80s quotes90s quotesverve quotesday quotesshooting quotes10 quotes12 quoteshour quotesdays quotesmade quotesextraordinarily quotesspecial quotesoccasion quotesjob quotescrew quotesdays quotestone quotes
The truth is, the older you get, the less variety of parts you are offered. If you're a star and you've spent most of your career being able to take your pick of the litter, you notice when the offers start to diminish. You're too old to play leads, so you're offered the supporting role - but many stars don't want to make that transition. They see it as a sign of symbolic impotence. And that the audience will no longer regard them as a star. I love acting, and I'm not going to determine what I do based on what I fear other people might think. I do what I want to do.
truth quotesolder quotesvariety quotesparts quotesoffered quotesstar quotesspent quotescareer quotespick quoteslitter quotesnotice quotesoffers quotesstart quotesdiminish quotesplay quotesleads quotesoffered quotessupporting quotesrole quotesstars quotesmake quotestransition quotessign quotessymbolic quotesimpotence quotesaudience quoteslonger quotesregard quotesstar quoteslove quotesacting quotesdetermine quotesbased quotesfear quotespeople quotes
You go to the cinema and you realize you're watching the third act. There is no first or second act. There is this massive film-making where you spend this incredible amount of money and play right to the demographic. You can tell how much money the film is going to make by how it does on the first weekend. The whole culture is in the crap house. It's not just true in the movies, it's also true in the theater.
We're not allowed in the cutting room - and that's extraordinary. So, when a director is asking for certain nuances and colours and we feel that they're phoney, but we do it because the director asks for it, that's the one that they pick in the cutting room. And I contend that when you see a movie with bad acting, don't blame the actor... blame those guys in the cutting room because they like that take.
I came in on this movie after there had been a director and I came in after Tom Courtenay had talked to Ron Harwood about making a movie. So, you know Tom and Albert Finney had been friends since the beginning of their career as they became stars around the same time - Tom always reminds me that Albert was first with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and then Tom with The Long Distance Runner.
movie quotesdirector quotestom quotescourtenay quotestalked quotesron quotesharwood quotesmaking quotesmovie quotesalbert quotesfinney quotesfriends quotesbeginning quotescareer quotesstars quotestime quotesreminds quotessaturday quotesnight quotessunday quotesmorning quoteslong quotesdistance quotesrunner quotes
In terms of the stars, the only ones I cast were Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins. I was in Los Angeles working and a lot of this took place on the telephone. I'd met Maggie [Smith] once and I'd come back-stage, which I'm usually loathe to do because as an actor you don't want people coming back because you want to get home [laughs].
terms quotesstars quotescast quotesbilly quotesconnolly quotespauline quotescollins quoteslos quotesangeles quotesworking quoteslot quotesplace quotestelephone quotesmet quotesmaggie quotessmith quotesbackstage quotesloathe quotesactor quotespeople quotescoming quotesback quoteshome quoteslaughs quotes
I wanted to be a jazz pianist, but I wasn't good enough. I got into city college because I didn't have the grades to get into university. I took acting because it was a way to get three credits. I just needed three credits and my friend told me to take acting because it was like gym - nobody fails you. I took it and that's literally how I got involved in acting.
I think one of the things you have to be aware of as an actor is that if you come on the set and see the director standing there mouthing all the words while a scene is going on, that's usually a very bad sign because it means the director has already shot the scene in his head. He knows exactly the rhythm and the nuances that he wants delivered in the line and you're not going to dissuade him.
Usually, those people don't even like actors and they can't wait until they get in the cutting room. They kind of break down in categories: directors who like to be surprised and some of them abhor being surprised. As far as directing, we all direct when we're acting in movies... every single one of us.
Stories? We all spend our lives telling them, about this, about that, about people ... But some? Some stories are so good we wish they'd never end. They're so gripping that we'll go without sleep just to see a little bit more. Some stories bring us laughter and sometimes they bring us tears ... but isn't that what a great story does? Makes you feel? Stories that are so powerful ... they really are with us forever.