In early 1963 Stephen Boyd, a man who loved his automobiles, became the proud owner of a brand new Rolls-Royce, which apparently was delivered to him while he was filming “The Fall of the Roman Empire” in Spain. The two humorous anecdotes below about Boyd’s new car are from the Los Angeles Times.
“Chariot Race Champ Drives Rolls-Royce”
Feb 17, 1963 Los Angeles Times
Stephen Boyd has become the unchallenged modern chariot champion. Because of his work in “Ben-Hur” and the currently shooting “Fall of the Roman Empire,” Boyd qualifies as the Sterling Moss of the chariot set and the Donald Campbell of the Roman racers. “Five years ago I made ‘Ben-Hur’ and people still call me ‘Messala,'” the actor said. “It makes you wonder how far you can go in life without a chariot. I figure they have taken me farther than a conscientious Roman Red Arrow messenger.” A Rolls-Royce owner off the set, Steve says chariots compare favorably to modern vehicles as far as safety is concerned. “The auto driver forgets he has a hundred times more horses in his hands than the charioteer, but he isn’t one-tenth as careful.”
May 19, 1963 Los Angeles Times
Hardy passers-by braving a rugged location of Samuel Bronston’s “Fall of the Roman Empire” in the Guadarrama mountains of Spain, witnessed the arrival of a brand new Rolls-Royce from which alighted two royal Romans in full regalia and a man in a red snow suit. They were actors Stephen Boyd, owner of the car, Christopher Plummer and director Anthony Mann. En route, Boyd had extolled the virtues of his new auto, not even sparing that bit about hearing only the clock. As he and Plummer mounted their chariots, Mann growled to Boyd : “This AD 180, two horsepower, no stand-up top sports coupe is hardly as smooth running as your Rolls. But if you don’t give me a more exciting ride in it than you just did in that gold-plated hearse, I’ll let you lose this one too…just as you did in ‘Ben-Hur.'”
Stephen Boyd can be seen in this collection of very interesting photos taken on the set of “The Fall of Roman Empire.” One photo shows Stephen admiring his chariot horses, with his stunt double looking on. The towering Roman Camp set in the Guadarrama Mountains looks especially impressive. Photos include Alec Guiness, Mel Ferrer, James Mason, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Boyd and Sophia Loren.
See also this previous blog post where Christopher Plummer tells a hilarious story about Stephen Boyd when they were filming “The Fall of the Roman Empire” https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/christopher-plummer-tells-a-story-about-filming-the-fall-of-the-roman-empire/
Movie Director John Landis loves this movie (like me!), and his review of the somewhat clunky trailer is hilarious. Enjoy!
Here is the short version of The Making of the Fall of the Roman Empire, “Rome in Madrid”, 1964
Samuel Bronston and Stephen Boyd on the set of “The Fall of the Roman Empire”