Stephen’s Outrageous Patter
Boyd, the Actor and the Lover
Stephen Boyd, of ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ fame, will be seen on Detroit screens this week as Jamuga, the hated enemy of ‘Genghis Khan’, opening Wednesday at neighborhoods and drive-ins. Boyd was lined up for the Mark Anthony role in ‘Cleopatra,’ but that was aborted during production troubles and the part finally was filled by a man named Burton.
By Susan Hopper, Detroit Free Press August 26, 1965
Special to the Free Press
HOLLYWOOD — What kind of fellow is this Stephen Boyd? Listen to him talking:
Why he won’t look at his own movies:
“I’m not the kind of actor I want to watch.”
On Doris Day, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot”
“The only difference between them is their hair style.”
One who are the greatest lovers”
“I doubt that Latins or Frenchman are the greatest lovers. Their women are all right: they’re pliable. But I’d rather have an Anglo- Saxon.”
On this marriage, which quickly ended in divorce:
“I was in love with the girl I married. I’d been with her four months. We married and stayed together 19 days, which was too long. We were fine before marriage, but immediately you sign that little paper marking it legal…I’m not altar shy, but I’m not making it legal again.”
Why he became an American citizen:
“I wanted to say thank you for a way of life. I want to give something back to America, and you can only do it if you’re a citizen and can vote and take part in community affairs.”
Some of the things Ulster-born Boyd has done in recent years include going to Hollywood in order to make his fortune and making it—and setting some sort of record in the brevity-of-marriage stakes.
“When I left Britain in 1956, “ he said, “they were making the kind of pictures which were surface. I’m not a surface actor. Cary Grant is and a brilliant one. David Niven is.”
“I’m a naturalistic actor of the Irish and French schools. In a film, if I go up to someone and say something to her, she either slaps my face or we have an affair. In English films, actors go up to a girl and say these same things and she’s supposed to laugh. I can’t say it that way. I can never stop being myself when I’m acting.”
Boyd explained what he meant by himself.
“I can only play a man who’s between 25-45. He’s got to be physically sort of—well he’s got to look strong. Don’t you think?”
Boyd leaned across the restaurant table and lifted his sunburned brows high over his round, blue eyes—somehow managing to look quizzical and good-natured and leering all at the same time.
“There’s a limit to what I can play. No matter what I do, I’m gonna look like me. You know?”
When he feels like it, Boyd speads in an accent which 99 percent of the Enlgish assume is a typical American accent; ‘going’ becomes ‘gonna’, ‘something’ becomes ‘sumpin,’ etc.
“Since I’ve been back in Britain, I keep being told I sound American. But when I go home to Northern Ireland, my mother says, ‘I see you haven’t lost your accent,’ And she’s right. The American accent is based on the Irish one.”
Another theory of Boyd’s concerns British actresses and why they often lament being underrated internationally;
“I think there are quite a few girls in Britain who could make international stars. I met Samantha Eggar the other day. She looks beautifully sexy and alive. You know? But the awful thing about it is the majority of the girls in Britain really have got to do something about their accents if they want to be in international films. They all sound so national….so terribly, terribly, terribly. You know what I mean? They’ve got to learn to speak English—which is a beautiful language—not English that is only understood in one little community like Oxford. You know, I’ve never liked a lot of make-up on women. You don’t know how to break through. It’s almost like being in prison. You know? Let-me-know-when-I-touch-skin. What do they put so much on for? Huhh? It takes longer to take off. And time is a very important thing.”
Boyd did not waste a minute of it in his marriage to film agent Mariella di Sarzana.
“When you legalize something, it becomes a great big fight to hold the romance. Almost the biggest problem in life becomes this damn search for the romance you had—just five minutes before you signed the register. To hell with that lark. Marriage is a very strange thing. I don’t like organizations.”
I asked Mr. Boyd if he ever grew irked at being organized by agents and producers and directors. He looked at me in astonishment.
“Hell, no,” he said simply, “They’re running around trying to organize themselves. While they’re trying to do that, I do my work and walk away with the money.”