“Stephen Boyd, Since that Chariot Race” Detroit Free Press Interview, 1969 (50 Years Ago!)

Stephen Boyd Talks about “Slaves” , Civil Rights, Scientology and Cleopatra!

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August 1, 1969, Detroit Free Press by Bruce Vilanch

For a man who made his name getting dragged through the mud, Stephen Boyd is surprisingly clean.

His teeth really sparkle, his eyes shine bright, he appears to have full power in all his four limbs- he’s in great shape.

This will assure the thousands who became concerned when Boyd spent the better part of 15 minutes under the hoofs of eight galloping stallions pulling his chariot to oblivion in “Ben-Hur.”

A sizeable portion of skin and bone was sliced off the Boyd body during that scene, all so Charlton Heston could go on to victory in Rome and and Oscar in California.

Undaunted, Boyd picked up his pieces and headed for Hollywood, and Irish heartthrob-in-a-toga, to star in such treasures as “The Fall of the Roman Empire,” “Caper of the Golden Bulls” and America’s trash classic, “The Oscar.”

He married (a whirlwind union of 23 days), divorced and was quoted as proclaiming “the only difference between Doris Day, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot is their hair styles.”

He walked out of “Cleopatra” and into “Jumbo” (in which he shared billing with an elephant) and “Fantastic Voyage” (in which he plunged lymph gland rapids with Raquel Welch).

He even played the heavy in “Genghis Khan.”

It has not been a dull life for Stephen Boyd.

The new Boyd, minus the blue eyes (they were contact lenses) and the massive shoulders (that was padding), stands over six feet tall and is dashingly handsome, but in a decidedly un-Hollywood, non-glamour-boy way. He is finished with Biblical pictures, gladiator spectacles and other trappings of imperial majesty and, in his latest film, plays an enigmatic, yet evil plantation owner in Mississippi circa 1850.

The picture, “Slaves” and was shot on what in movies they call “a shoestring” (small fortune.) Boyd says no one would back “Slaves” until he signed on as its star. “That helped them raise at least some of the money,” he says.

“No one would back ‘Slaves’ because it is about an explosive situation which is explosive only because no one understands it.”

The picture tries to make a statement all about Now and how voices in the black community clamor alternatively for blood and quiet. Stephen Boyd thinks this is the value of “Slaves.”

“Civil rights 100 years from now should not be discussed. Civil rights of today is what is important. I joined the civil rights movement years ago,” the former British subject, now American citizen says. “I gave my word years ago to help. Now I want to find out if their programs are getting to the people they’re supposed to be getting to.”

“I feel a picture like ‘Slaves,’ which addresses itself to some of America’s current problems, is something of a moral obligation for me. As soon as I have fulfilled some of my moral obligations, I can begin making money doing other things so I can have time to fulfill some more.”

The whole idea of moral obligation and responsibility for one’s fellow man, as well as responsibility to oneself, fills up a great deal of Boyd’s conversation. He speaks of co-workers as if they were close relatives, not just contractual partners.

“I was a guest on one of those New York radio panel shows and they were talking about Judy Garland,” he says, “one fellow, I won’t mention his name its so sickening, was carrying on about how she was a no-talent, a faggot hero. It’s disgusting what some people will say in public.”

In an attempt to find his own  mind amidst such goings-on, Boyd has turned to scientology,  a voguish new faith whose speakers turn up regularly on college campuses to lecture for $2.50 a throw.

“I don’t think anything should be suspect because it costs money,” he says. He calls scientology “a process used to make you capable of learning.”

“Scientology is nothing. It means only what you want it to. It is not a church you go to to pray, but a church that you go to to learn. It is no good unless you apply it. It is the application.”

Basically, scientologists meditate, usually in the presence of a spiritual supervisor, teaching themselves to be open in order to learn. One who has truly opened himself can be elevated to the position of Clear. Stephen Boyd has elevated himself to OC 6, a position beneath that of Clear. It took him nine months.

“Slaves” did not take him quite so long to accomplish, and, hopefully, it will give him equal peace-of-mind. What it certainly will not do is anything big for Stephen Boyd’s career. This he knows and accepts, as he has accepted everything since he walked away from the most expensive movie of all time.

“It was in the original version of ‘Cleopatra,’ the one to be shot in London. I was to play Marc Antony opposite Elizabeth Taylor, with Rouben Mamoulian directing, but Elizabeth got sick and everything stopped.

““I was outside the hospital door that day with Eddie (Miss Taylor’s fourth husband, singer Eddie Fisher) when the doctors came out and told us her had one hour to live. It was one of the saddest, most pathetic moments I can recall. But somehow she pulled through – nothing ever stops her when she wants something.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait around until they decided to shoot. The script was being rewritten, there was a new director, the whole Shaw and Shakespeare concept of a personal drama was being thrown out in favor or spectacle. So I left. They gave my part to a fellow named Richard Burton. They even gave him my costume, and to this day every time he sees me, he says ‘Jesus, you’ve got big feet!”

“He doesn’t even mention my chest,” Stephen Boyd says, with that serene scientologist’s smile.
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More rare Stephen Boyd Stock Footage Clips!

Be sure to check out the two below links for more rare Stephen Boyd clips and snippets, including a fantastic interview of Stephen at the Paramount Movie Studios set talking about The Oscar and his sexy co-star Elke Sommer! Below are some of the highlights.

http://www.producerslibrary.com

*A video of Stephen Boyd and Hope Lange attending “The King and I” charity/benefit premiere at Graumans Chinese Theater in May of 1961. (event presented by Eight Ball foundation of L.A. Press Club – Grandeaur 70 premiere)

*Stephen Boyd receiving his “Golden Globe” award in 1960. Ceremonies took place at Cocoanut Grove Nightclub inside the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, Stephen won for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Ben-Hur”! I love the satisfied , dimpled grin he can’t hide. Bravo Stephen!

https://www.gettyimages.com/videos/stephen–boyd?autocorrect=none&offlinecontent=include&phrase=stephen%20%20boyd&sort=best#license

*Getty Images videos showing Stephen arriving and enjoying the party for Tony Bennett in Las Vegas, Nevada, specifically for “The Oscar”, 1966

*Stephen attending the “Fantastic Voyage” premiere in Hollywood, and signing lots of autographs ala Frankie Fane! Boyd ON TOP OF THE WORLD here!

*Stephen Boyd on the Paramount Movie Set talking about co-star Elke Sommer (he REALLY likes Elke!) and his role in “The Oscar”.  I had never seen this interview before – it’s amazing!

“Boyd Should Have Purchased Suitcase” – Stephen Boyd Interview, 1961

“Boyd Should Have Purchased Suitcase” by Vernon Scott, September 14, 1961

AMSTERDAM — Actor Steve Boyd recently bought a new home in Hollywood, but he should have invested in a new suitcase.

The handsome young Irishman has made six movies since he established himself in Hollywood– and four of them have been made in foreign countries.marielladivorce

Currently starring in 20th Century Fox-s “The Inspector” here, he also lived in Rome for “Ben-Hur,” Mexico for “The Bravados,” Paris for “The Big Gamble” and Canada for “Woman Obsessed.”

Additionally, he has worked in Africa, Spain, England and Scotland.

As far as Boyd is concerned, locations are for the ‘boids.”

‘IT’S HARDSHIP’

“It’s a hardship for actors to work in foreign countries,” Steve complained. “You lose the professional atmosphere of Hollywood.

“Hollywood is the only picture center where circumstances are normal and professional. Studio crews and technicians are completely efficient in every respect.”

Steve downed a martini in a colorful Dutch restaurant alongside one of the city’s many canals. It was a picture postcard setting, but Steve was unimpressed.

“I don’t like living in hotels and other problems on location,” he said.

“There is always the language barrier with the crews. And foreign directors and crewman are interested in making a picture that will make their country look good. In Hollywood all pictures are made with the world market in mind.

DON’T LOOK UP

“Another thing, when a plane flies overhead in Hollywood you don’t bother to look up. Over here it’s liable to be a Russian bomber loaded for business.

“There are the distractions. Most countries have interesting customs, landmarks and characters who take your mind off your work.

“Take the canals here in Amsterdam. In the middle of a scene you begin watching a boat of a windmill and the next thing you know you’ve forgotten your lines. Sometimes it is impossible to concentrate on what you’re doing.”

Boyd, a bachelor, also finds foreign beauties distracting. But he has the same problems back home.

“Most American films can and should be made in Hollywood,” he continued. “Southern California has ocean, mountains, deserts and a big city that can absorb most American backgrounds.

“But I guess it is impossible to capture the feeling of Holland or England out there, so it’s a matter of living out of a suitcase in different parts of the world. BE ACTOR–SEE WORLD.”

On Location! Below, Stephen Boyd and Dolores Hart among the charming canals of Amsterdam during the filming of “The Inspector”

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Stephen Boyd interviewed by John Neal – “The Man Who Never Wants to Pour Another Coffee”

What a great photo! Stephen looks like he’d ready to take on the world here. This is a fascinating read from very early on in Stephen’s budding career, or what the author dubs as “the greatest find since James Mason.” It also mentions the Clair Tree Major Stock company which Boyd toured America with in 1950 when he performed as Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire”,  a performance which later Stephen would recall as his best.

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Stephen Boyd is asked : “What Makes a Woman Seductive?”

During a very difficult stretch in his career in early 1961, while Stephen Boyd was waiting for “Cleopatra” to get started, he gave an interview with Screenland magazine. “Even in my early and grimmest London period I was never this long without acting assignments,” Stephen bemoaned. His luck was about to change and “Lisa” (The Inspector) with Dolores Hart was coming around the corner to save him. Unfortunately for Elizabeth Taylor, she contracted double pneumonia around this time and almost died! The “Cleopatra” project was postponed once again. 

The title of the article was “What Makes a Woman Seductive?”  Stephen describes some of his favorite female movie stars and their sex appeal. It’s a fascinating account!

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“What makes a woman seductive?” he repeats my question and mulls it over. “I’m only a mere man and so I’m afraid I can’t define this mysterious substance. But every man knows it when he meets it. In  my opinion Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are two of the most seductive women on the screen. Miss Monroe accentuates femininity by daring aggressiveness through exposure; Miss Taylor’s seductiveness is more diffused but the effect is just as alluring. Brigitte Bardot (who has the most animal in her of any woman I’ve ever known) would be third on my list and Sophia Loren fourth. And Kim Novak has an incredible pull that few men can ignore.”

“I’m certain if you asked ten men you’d get different answers, for the question of seductiveness is a highly personal one. A woman may be a packaged Cleopatra or Helen of Troy to one man and lacking in seductiveness to another. Personally, the way a woman walks–that little undulation seen from the rear– is seductive. But when it’s overdone, it’s ludicrous. How she wears her clothes adds to detracts from her ability to captivate a man. For me, petite women are more provocative than tall ones but whether they’re blonde, brunette or redheads doesn’t matter.”

“Sex appeal in a woman isn’t only a physical quality but is mental and emotional as well. A beautiful woman evokes merely admiration from men while sex appeal evokes excitement. Beauty and sex appeal don’t always go together. A plain woman can suddenly become attractive in response to a man’s unexpected attention. It changes her conception of herself, adds a feeling of power, a sense of confidence and so awakens her sex appeal. The same holds true of a man.”

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Stephen Boyd’s top five most seductive actresses: Monroe, Taylor, Bardot, Loren and Novak

Particular Praise for BB

“…when I was in Paris, I renewed my acquaintance with Brigitte Bardot. Immediately the press nominated me as the next Mr. Bardot. It was ridiculous; I don’t go around breaking up marriages. Brigitte and I had made “The Night Heaven Fell” (which I’d like to forget) and of course I wanted to see her again. Around BB you feel more alive than you normally do. She has intelligence and humor and best of all, she knows how to listen. So many women really don’t, you know. Brigitte is a remarkable woman, at times a bit exhausting, but there’s no romance between us.”

To read the entire interview, please see https://stephenboydblog.com/archives/https://stephenboydblog.com/archives/

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Stephen Boyd ‘gets his Irish up’ about stripping down for “Imperial Venus”

FOREIGN PICTURES PRODUCERS A ‘BUNCH OF AMATEURS’

Los Angeles Times, October 28, 1962

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On the set of Imperial Venus in Rome

So you think movies have gone about as far as they can go. Rape, incest, young girls with old men, abortion, dope, sadism. After low-cut necklines, came no necklines. What’s left? Reluctantly, Stephen Boyd supplies the answer – nude males.

Boyd, whose first halting stab at this was with Brigitte Bardot in “The Night Heaven Fell,” goes all the way—as they say—in “Imperial Venus” with Gina Lollobrigida. In between, he’s managed to sandwich in more wholesome roles – the memorable Messala in “Ben-Hur” and the upcoming MGM release, “Billy Rose’ Jumbo.” Also, he starts work in December in Samuel Bronston’s “Fall of the Roman Empire.”

As for being nude, Boyd does not approve. In fact he considers that he’s made the same mistake twice, the second mistake being the worst, the Italian-made “Imperial Venus.” Said Boyd:

It Was Simple

“I think it’s crude. But we were in the middle of production and I don’t think it’s professional to hold up production right in the middle of it. I knew the scene existed but from the point of view of shooting it was so simple. I’m lying in bed and I had a sheet over me. I figure when you look nude you look nude, but you don’t have to be nude. But it didn’t turn out that way.

“I haven’t seen the picture. In fact, I haven’t seen the scene. I don’t look at rushes, but those who have tell me it’s really something. Anyhow, the scene will not be shown in America. And in my opinion that makes it worse. I mean I do not believe it is necessary for me to be nude in any version, no matter where it is shown. I don’t believe this is entertainment.”

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Why, then, over Boyd’s objections, was the scene filmed?

‘Bunch of Amateurs’

“Because,” said Boyd, “they are Italians, let’s say, and they don’t know any better. The producers are the worst bunch of amateurs I’ve ever had the misfortune to work under. The producer is amateurish rather than an amateur. He’s unreasonable.

“He thinks, I believe, that this will help sell tickets. But I wonder where he will sell them. If my memory serves me right, he can’t show it in France. I did a scene with Bardot where she was nude and I was pretty much so and they wouldn’t pass that. What Frenchman wants to look at an Irish body?

“Apart from the physical contempt for the type of operation I was subjected to, I hope I never again find it necessary to make a picture for any foreign organization that is not supported by Americans. I exclude from this the English, for the English too are professionals.

“Being a professional, one forgets there are amateurs in the field. For all I know they could be perversionists. You get involved in the picture and you get to the scene and they say, ‘All right, take your clothes off.’

Foreigners Copyists

“There’s all this talk about how great the foreign pictures are. But they’re all copyists. I believe all of the great talent is in Hollywood and New York. I don’t believe there’s anybody in the world that can touch them.”

From his words, it’s easy to see that Stephen Boyd had his Irish up. He is, in fact, and Irishman, the youngest of nine children. He was born in Belfast and while he had no trace of accent, he has the Irish gift for language.

And while Boyd deplored his part in “Imperial Venus,” he was quick to praise “Jumbo.” An opposite kind of entertainment. Said Boyd at the Hollywood Brown Derby.

“In my opinion ‘Jumbo’ is the type of entertainment that has been successful since the beginning of entertainment. It is family entertainment. I believe there are more close-knit families in this world than there are individualists.

Our Worst ‘Better’

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“I honestly believe – it depends on how you view this business – that motion pictures are a form of entertainment developed for the masses. I don’t believe there is one single picture made here that doesn’t do better than pictures made in Europe – than anyplace else, for that matter. Forget the cost or anything else, the worst picture here makes at least as much as the best picture made in Europe.

“I hate like hell leaving this town. I really hate to. But at the moment pictures are being made abroad. If it looks like it’s be good entertainment, you just have to go.”

Add a personal footnote to aspiring young actors. Learn from Stephen Boyd’s experiences. Go slow, take your time and keep your pants on.

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Another scene which was snipped from even the European version of Lollobrigida and Boyd in bed together.

Boyd Likes Rough and Tumble Roles

LOOKING AT HOLLYWOOD

By Florabel Muir

Boyd Likes Rough and Tumble Roles

Stephen Boyd is one actor who is satisfied to play rough and tough characters rather than romantic leads. “Give me a part with guts in it, and I’ll be happy no matter how big an SOB the character is,” he explains.

The actor gets his wish in spades in the role of “Bosky Fulton,” villainous guide to a group of stranded European aristocrats in “Shalako,” the multi-million dollar western recently shot in Almeria, Spain. The Cinerama release, set in the America Southwest, also stars Brigitte Bardot and Sean Connery, which makes it an odd sort of western.

The fact is, Boyd has played the “bad guy” during the greater part of his career, which means that he usually is playing second fiddle to the “good guy,” the star of the film.

He essayed the role of the charming but deadly Nazi counter espionage agent in “The Man Who Never Was.” Clifton Webb starred. Boyd was prominent in the casts, but not quite starred in , “The Fall of the Roman Empire,” “Genghis Khan,” and “The Bible,” as well as “Island in the Sun,” “The Bravados,” “A Woman Possessed,” and “The Best of Everything.” He did star as the greatest heel of all time in “The Oscar,” a film that didn’t quite reach the expectations of the critics.

Then, of course, there was “Ben Hur.” Boyd’s performance was great. You may also remember, however, that Charlton Heston won the Academy Award for this work in title role.

“Shalako,” a Dimitri de Grunwald production directed by Edward Dmytryk, is Boyd’s first western. The actor, who was born in Ireland but who became an American citizen in 1963, has been eager to do a western since he began in films 15 years ago. “I know it’s strange for an Irishman to want to play in a western, but so I always did.”

The ruggedly built Boyd is delighted with learning the tricks of the cowboy acting profession. For the film he had to learn to ride horses bareback and western style.

He underwent intensive training in how to wield a trusty six-shooter. Gun coach Rod Redwing notes, “Boyd is close to the fastest pupil I’ve ever coached.”

“Shalako” also provides Boyd with the opportunity to practice his Judo and Karate techniques in several sequences. “I studied Judo and Karate several years ago because I know they would come in handy. It’s really why I worked at it. I always know I’d use the training for a part in a western if I ever got to play in one and so I am,” he says with apparent pride.

As for his personal life, Boyd has had a rough- and- tumble difficult life. He had had to push ahead with sheer will power. He had nine older brothers and sisters and that alone was enough to give him determination.

Actually, the wildly gregarious actor is half Irish and half Canadian. Interestingly enough, he was born on July 4, and now that he is am America citizen, he is quite happy about this coincidence.

Boyd, known as a swinging bachelor, had been linked romantically with a number of celebrated beauties. Indeed, the life of one great international star might have been quite different if one film had not been postponed. Because it was, Boyd was required to withdraw from the commitment “due to a conflict in schedules.”

The film was “Cleopatra.” Boyd was originally set to essay the role of Mark Anthony opposite Elizabeth Taylor, but because of her protracted illness the picture was halted for six weeks of shooting. Boyd was forced to exit the film, and was, as you remember, replaced by Richard Burton. The rest is history.

Does Stephen Boyd have any second thoughts? Hardly. “I’m an Irishman. I could hardly get my Irish up over a situation like that.”

Boyd credits Sir Michael Redgrave with his biggest boost as an actor. Steve was a doorman at a theatre in London when he was asked to assist in helping stars onto the stage at the British Film Academy Awards. Sir Michael, who was presenting the awards, noticed the professional bearing and dignity of the young doorman.

Sir Michael says,”It was just intuition. After inquiring about Stephen’s acting background, I merely gave him a letter of introduction to the Windsor Rep. He carried his success from there.”

At one time Boyd was under a long term contract to Twentieth Century Fox which gave him his first ‘starring’ role in “The Man Who Never Was.” Now older and more experienced, Stephen considers actors unwise to sign themselves to companies for long periods. “It’s a bloody bore! You lose all control of your own career and become a ‘Property.’ You can have no free will about the parts you play and this way you run the danger of becoming typed.”

Ten years after he met Brigitte Bardot for the first time, Stephen Boyd and the world’s foremost sex kitten were reunited at the same site where they made their first picture together.

But what a difference a decade made.

When B&B first traded kissed in Almeria, Spain, Steve was just two years into an acting career, barely getting underway, and Miss Bardot, at that time, was already one of the most famous screen females in the world.

The movie filmed in 1957 was called “The Night Heaven Fell.” Almost exactly ten years later, in an Almeria transformed from a sleepy vacation spa on Spain’s southern Costa Del Sol to the most popular movie location site in the world, B&B became a team again- this time in a multi-million dollar western, “Shalako.” The picture, the setting, a lot of things had changed. But some qualities remain always the same. Bardot – and Boyd.

(Copyright, 1968. By News Syndicate Co, INC.)