“I’m a completely practical actor” – Stephen Boyd interview from 1973

This is a fascinating article that really makes you realize what a working, adaptable actor Stephen Boyd was – and a survivor!

“I’m not Laurence Olivier. I’m a completely practical actor. I have a commodity value and sometimes I get close to the limit of my value, sometimes not. But I don’t overprice myself. Even if I won an Oscar, I wouldn’t change my price.”

Stephen Boyd Likes U.S. Best

By Bob Thomas, Associated Press Writer

Mar 1, 1973

Hollywood (AP) – “No matter what it says on my passport, I consider this my home. I’d like to stay here all the time, but how can I, when all the film-making is elsewhere?”

Irish born Stephen Boyd admits that is he “one of those rare birds among actors.” Whenever he has time between films abroad, he returns to his house in nearby Tarzana.

The last seven years of Boyd’s career comprise a case study in a film star’s survival, one which other actors might profit from studying. Particularly those who are sitting beside their swimming pools, waiting for their agents to call.

Stephen Boyd, now 44, became a star with his powerful performance as Messala in “Ben-Hur.” He finished a nine-year contract with 20th Century Fox with “Fantastic Voyage,” then played the lead in “The Oscar.” That proved to be his last Hollywood film.

“It was in 1966 and the studios were shutting down,” he recalled. “I decided I didn’t want to wait for my agent to telephone. I saw what independent producers were doing, especially abroad, and I made up my mind to join them.”

Boyd formed a partnership with English producer Euan Lloyd, and they worked for 18 months on projects that never reached fruition. Then he decided to avail himself of the lush field of film making in Europe.

“During the past two and a half years,” he said, “I have made nine films – for Italian, English, French, Australian, American companies and two co-productions of Italy and Spain.

Stephen Boyd (R) during the filming of ‘Kill’, directed by Roman Gary, 1971, Madrid, Spain. (Photo Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)

“Some, Like ‘Kill, Kill, Kill,’ will be released in this country, some may not. The Italian-Spanish films were aimed strictly at the Latin market – they’re more emotional, overdone, theatrical.

“The Italian producers don’t even concern themselves with the American market any more: they’ve been cheated too many times by American producers. They can do all right on their own. One of my Italian-Spanish films, ‘Marta,’ made $780,000 in its first seven weeks.”

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Stephen Boyd mingles at a “Marta” event in Madrid, 1971

Some American stars have despaired of entering the jungle of European independent production, but Boyd said he had encountered no real problems. He goes over each contract with care and retains the English speaking rights for his own company.

“Language is no problem,” he said, ”I make all of the films in English, and the foreign languages can be dubbed in later. I understand Italian and French, and I’ve found that you can get along with any language if you know your own language well.

“There’s no problem with budgets, either. Most of them run around $750,000, which represents more than a million- dollar film made in Hollywood. The reason is that union and overhead charges are such that a million-dollar picture in Hollywood only provides $630,000 of entertainment on the screen.”

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Maria Mahor, Stephen Boyd and Analia Gade at “A Million For a Blonde” premiere event in Madrid (1971?)

Boyd declined to discuss his earnings from European films, but he obviously earns more than when he was a contract actor. He is realistic about his position:

“I’m not Laurence Olivier. I’m a completely practical actor. I have a commodity value and sometimes I get close to the limit of my value, sometimes not. But I don’t overprice myself. Even if I won an Oscar, I wouldn’t change my price.”

Boyd recently finished a two-hour movie for television, “Key West,” and Warner Brothers hopes that it will become a series.

“So do I,” said the actor, “I’d like anything that will keep me in the United States of America.”

Stephen Boyd at Madrid Airport, 1973 – www.lafototeca.com
Stephen Boyd arrives in Madrid in 1973 – www.lafototeca.com

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