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.)