The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on September 25, 1966 · 619
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 619

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 25, 1966
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Movies Why Johnson GotJIntp Act BY DON ALBERT There are lots of reasons why people go Into acting but Richard Johnson's was probably as good as any: he was 6hy. Now, after 10 years' on the stage and in movies, , he can sign , an autograph with the rest of them, sit down and talk with a stranger, act in public. He has grown from a shy, retiring English schoolboy to an actor of heroic proportions In "Khartoum" (as Charlton Heston's- aide) and the unreleased -Deadlier Than the. Male" in which he plays Bulldog Drummond, a detective. "I've come to like sports and physical activities," Johnson said. "I used to hate them in school. Any sort of physical competition, "I feel I am living so much more openly, now in my 30s than in my 20s. That may be the kind of therapy that theater has given me. It's given me confidence and released many Inhibitions. So the treatment worked. I feel much more a person sitting here talking and working in movies than I would have 10 years ago." 1 Since he's received so much from actr ing, what has he given in return? . ;; " ' . "I did have a reasonable and lucky theater career," he said. "1 never had wide experience in just the commercial run-of-the-mill theater. I was lucky in that way, but whether I contributed at all is a good question. Whe- . , ther actors contribute anything is a good question. . . ' "On the negative ' side, - actors don't do any harm to anybody. I don't think , we harm the morals of children or anybody. I don't think I've ever hurt anybody by acting, and perhaps I've contributed something. Certainly, I've " contributed to myself and that's not to , be sniffed at." . V Johnson, soft-spoken and with an English accent that takes unaccu-' stomed ears some minutes to get used " to, is not as positive about what, he " hopes to achieve. - - , "That implies one has achieved something," Johnson said. "You can't divorce that from your life. I honestly . feel at this moment I have not made up my mind about my life and the direction I would like it to take, except I ; love my work and I want to pursue it and get in on the creative end of making movies, -t . ... ,; ' , "But I haven't come to a conclusion about oneself. I can't divorce myself from being an Englishman and fronv the culture of my country, which is in a tremendous state of flux. The old order is changing but it hasn't changed yet. I feel that about myself. .. r "Our time is one of immense change. It seems to me there are only two decisions one can make. One, resign; or, one commits oneself completely to chang-. ing mankind, I suppose. We' are at a ' point where we must unite as human . " beings or become completely separat- , ed. . " .. ;"" - "It's ho use getting up on a hill and throwing rocks at others. I don't want .' to throw rocks and I don't want any- -! body to throw rocks at me. I am in opposition. Again, I think that's a typically British attitude." Johnson, who was married briefly to RICHARD JOHNSON EcjJflnstlrsi'Cfnujj calendar, Sunday, September 25, 96S Kim Novak, and who has two children by his first wife, British actress Sheila Sweet, returned to Hollywood essentially because of Miss Novak's recent accident. ;';Y--::;'-;.;:;: '. "Kim had an accident and I was" concerned about that," he said. HCoinciden-tally, I would like to work here very much. I've been pursuing negotiations. Also, I've been having a hell of a lot of . fun here. ' ' - .' "The thing about being a film actor is you get a lot of money for the job and one can have a lot of fun spending it. I do, anyway, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm a tremendous leaper on planes at three-quarters of an hour notice. And if you haven't got anywhere, really, to lay your head, it's just as well traveling."..; But Johnson realizes, like most successful actors, that it's also necessary to come down to earth. . ' . "When I was working in the theater," he said, "I was never recognized. Which, I suppose, means there is an untapped part one only uses under the circumstances of act ing. What eventually happens to film stars, in particular, there is a recognized part of them which ' : eventually becomes- their complete being, r "Gary Cooper eventually became capital G capital C Gary Coop-i er. This could be very limiting. I don't want I to limit myself as an actor or anything else. ' "In the Drummond ''.'thing I consciously ! tried to use more of myself than in any--, ' I thing else I've done. ' But it's not me as I'm sitting here now. i It was an entirely new creation that;, was not in the Drummond books. ' "I couldn't respect the man. He was bigoted and .brutal. A Nazi character. I didn't attempt to make myself into that character. We started - with a fresh ' page. I said, all right,' if you want me .you'll get me, but this is a braver, more , , physical version of me." , Besides "Deadlier Than the Male," , Johnson also recently made "A Witch In Love" in Italy for Alfredo Bini. , "It is the kind of far out film you can still make in Italy," Johnson said. "It was made only because the producer liked it and didn't care if anyone else did or not, .Which, is very nice.. But whether or not it will be shown In America or England te highly doubtful.; It just isn't" a commercial film. It's sur- realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed it" Somewhere between the shy schoolboy and outgoing actor lies the real Richard Johnson. To find out where, he -suggests: , . - ' - "The best way to find out about ;an actor is to watch him act. It's an exposure of the person. It Is the nature of his talent to expose himself through his , art. That's what art schools do, isn't it? ... '"; And that's jolly difficult to do. - "I personally don't like to see films ' I've done. I find going to watch my own films insufferably dull. I know how it's going to end. And , maybe it's been ' fouled up afterwards. There isn't anything you can do about it, Is there? So on with the next one." . And, rather unoriginally, on with the snow. t el - - -: .... t ::: . y: - FRANCO NERO AS SIR LANCELOT IN WARNER BROS.' 'CAMEL077 Long Walk for a 'Came lot' Cxclutlv to Th TimM - MADRID The castles of Sir Lancelot's Quest, being his recruitment of reluctant knights for King Arthur's. Round Table, are scattered over Spain . like raisins in a bun, " j. ; ... , '; . They , range from Manzanares El Real near Madrid to Penafiel outside" Valladolid, and they are being attacked in castle-to-castle combat by a Warner Bros, unit which in six weeks will have filmed , the .Quest . in Technicolor and Panavisiorf for Camelot," Jack L. Warner's presentation of the musical play t by Alan Jay Lerner, and Frederick Loewe. ' '.'' ' ; ; ; ' '' It is an enterprise : involving the transport and quartering of 100 people, almost that many horses, and enough pre-medieval costumes and accessories to outfit the Goths and Saxons. . Additionally, there is a completely equipped mobile kitchen to feed and water the ravening workers at Medina del Campo, where the temperature soared recently to an officially record-ed 131 degrees, and where Sir Lancelot, in the figure of Franco Nero, burdened with armor and carrying lance and shield, battled , Mellion and his warri- - Nobody, least of all Nero, knows why he didn't faint. His squire Dap, played by Pierre Olaf . of La Plume de Ma Tante" fame, is only partially armored, but he suffers the itchy discomfort of a daily applied beard and mustache. . Chief of the unit is Joshua Logan, the director, who, besides being charged with the responsibility of -Warner's $10 million picture, is undertaking to establish young Nero (who is a cowboy star in Italy and played Abel in "The Bible") as a star of international dimensions. - r - An actor of more renown is Richard "Harris who- portrays King Arthur "and who will have several scenes in Spain as soon as Lancelot's Quest is completed. Queen Guenevere is Vanessa Redgrave, the English actress who will start her role in November when the company is back at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, where "Camelot" will be In production until March, 1967. Although the site of King Arthur's 6th century castle of Camelot is being given 20th century attention by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the British archaeologist who believes he may have found it in the South of England, the makers of the motion picture are, engaged in a calculated effort to create their own "Camelot" period tone which draws from the pre-medieval past but is styled from their own resources of invention and imagination. Since it is patently impossible to recreate with any accuracy the period from Arthur's legendary past," Logan explained, "the whole picture will have the aspect of a period no one has ever . known, but which may be identified in the onlooker's eyes and mind as something surely out of a colorful past." ; ' The Spanish exteriors now under way will embrace at least seven different castles, all antiquities, all historical and all different, including the famous Alcazar at Segovia and the castle of Medina del Campo. In order to match the cobblestones of the Camelot castle being constructed on the Warner Bros, lot, 500 square feet of them (or about 1,500 pounds) were shipped to Spain for use in sequences at Coca. Bringing cobblestones to Spain is somewhat in the coal-to-Newcastle tradition, but, explained Joshua Logan, "it was absolutely necessary since we expect to do everything right in this picture-rneven to matching Spanish and Hollywoocr cobblestones." ' !, JS1N1

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