Interview with Julian Glover
By Ralph van den Broeck
You have played in movies like Star Wars, James Bond and Indiana Jones. Which movie do you prefer and why? (Question Submitted by Atilla the Professor)
Well, good movies you know you like for different reasons. You could say that my very first movie was my favorite. It was a film called Tom Jones starring Albert Finney, which was filled with the most wonderful actors from the London Theatre, and it was an 18th century story, rollicking story of a country boy, and that was my first part of the film and wonderful enjoyable. And now I made 29 films. I suppose 6 or 7 of them which has been released were good, and those good ones have been enjoyable for different reasons. I loved making the Star Wars except for the one day when I was in that machine that looked like a giraffe, and I couldn't remember the words (in the Q&A session Glover said it took 17 takes when Glover was supposed to say 'Target the main reactor, because he kept forgetting those words), I couldn't get the words right, they were rubbish and didn't have to do with anything. They were invented technical things, so objectionable they were invented we don't know what life would be like. And I loved making for your Eyes Only, playing another villain of course, and a wonderful work with Roger Moore, the money was good, it was in Core Fu and Cortina, and it was a wonderful part, no one knew that I was the villain halfway the film. Actually the same as with the Star Wars movies.
Indiana Jones that's right and people didn't think about it, didn't realize halfway through. And I suppose on balance, the most satisfying role in film was Indiana Jones.
And why was that?
I thought he was a completely different rounded character. I could see were he was going, and when people say that he's a villain... When playing villains you have to find a reason to be someone. Hitler didn't think he was a villain. He was one of course. Saddam Hussein doesn't think that he's a villain, he knows when he's bad, but he doesn't think he's a villain. And so I have to find the man of Walter Donovan, and of course the thing that drives Walter Donovan, is finding the possibility of finding the secret of eternal youth, eternal life. I challenge everybody, all your questioners, Atilla the Professor and everyone, I challenge them, what would you do, if you had the chance of having eternal life. That's quite a question. Were would you draw the line. People say he was a Nazi, he wasn't a Nazi, he joined the Nazi Party in order to investigate it's property, and he bloody nearly got that. Only because he was greedy did he... This is an advice for you young man: Always choose the Pewter cup. It applies to everything. An allegory for life.
In The Last Crusade you turned from a good guy into a bad guy. How did you approached the role? (Question Submitted by Eric Fisk)
I think I already detailed with that one really. All roles have a center. And if you can find the center, and it sounds strange, there's a line running from the center in the middle of everybody and if you can find that line running thought the middle, other things happen, other things come in place, and I needed to read the whole part. I didn't imagine him outside the film, or what his work was. He was very successful, very rich, gorgeous wife. Do you have a question about my wife?
No, I don't think so, but I want to ask you a question about your wife if you really want too.
It's a very interesting question.
And he discovered the possibility how he could live forever, and why shouldn't he want to live forever because life is very good. He hasn't gone into the question if you would like to be 150 thousand years old, which is how you see him in the end. He hasn't gone into that question about eternal life, he hasn't thought about the downside of that, and so I have to find the man with the fixation. But I grew apart from that fixation and it was a perfectly nice comfortable man to be with, so he get on well with people, and he shows himself like that at the beginning of the film. He turns nasty when he's frustrated with thought, as you would have done, if I refused to do this interview. You would be furious and frustrated with thought. You'll knock my head off. And that's the way you approach everything, every part if the part is long enough. In Star Wars, it was nothing. He was called a functionary. And this is what you needed to do; You needed to make him as interesting as you could, with that little thing he had to do. He was a cog in a machine. He wasn't like Darth Vader or R2-D2, he had a function. In Indiana Jones and in 'For Your Eyes Only' and many parts I play on the stage, they have a life, and you have to try to find that life, and that's what I did really. And the question says he turned into a bad guy, he didn't turn into anything. He was always the same, but his objectives became different. If you think you’ve got the answer, you get the great expert to help you, which was Indiana Jones, you're in a very good mood and when it starts to go wrong, you get in a less good mood, and you find out that the man who you trusted the man who wanted to do it, is actually against you, then you start to behave in different ways, but you're still the same man. You still have your heart and your hands, and you still go to the lavatory every morning. Funny isn't that, you haven't thought about the Queen of England.
Never thought of that.
Think about Harrison Ford. (Laughs)
Spielberg and the script told you what to do, but did you also had any ideas. (Question Submitted by Eric Fisk)
It doesn't tell you what to do. It offers you the framework in which you need to represent the character. Spielberg never tells you what to do, because he's a very good director. He helps you to be more interesting. He talks with you about what you think about this or that and let's try that. Spielberg is one of the few good film directors and he adores actors, and he adores film and timing. But he adores actors, and trusts his actors. There were several occasions. All the acting was me although like with anybody else. But I didn't changed anything to the script. It was one wonderful time when Sean Connery changed the script, added something in it, which remains in the film. And he did it while we were doing when we were doing the first take of the scene. And we just all fell in laughter, and Spielberg said "We'll keep that in" and this is as follows: In the scene when it's being revealed that I'm the bad man, and the two men were standing together, tied together, back-to-back and they were talking about the girl. And Sean said 'Of course she's German', Harrison said 'How did you know?', and that was not in the script, and Sean said 'She talks in her sleep'. (Laughs) And you saw Harrison's face then, because that was the girl who he was sleeping with and it was his girlfriend, it was simply fantastic. We all died with laughter. And that's one of the reasons why Steven is so wonderful, and he said 'That's in the script'.
That was also one of my favorite moments of the film.
It sounds very funny in English, because of his strong Scottish Accent. "She talks in her Sleep."
What were your first thoughts when you were offered the role of Walter Donovan, who was, at that time, the latest foe in?
How did I feel about it?
When I was originally being approached of being in the film, I was approached to do the German Officer Sergeant, that nasty vicious one, and I failed to get it. And someone else in the theater organization that I joined, did get it, and I was terribly jealous. I really wanted to be in Indiana Jones. And the next day, they said 'Would you come and read for Donovan?' And I thought 'But he's an American.' I only had one day, and they said 'Don't think, just talk to us.' So I put on a thing with an American Accent that was specific. It was my attempt, and I just talked into the camera, for about half an hour, about nothing at all, and I got the part. I was so thrilled. I immediately went to a voice coach, a dialogue coach that taught me an accent that upper class American would have. I started to work on that, and I delighted it from the first moment I start working on it, and unusually for film, I started with my first scene. Normally you start into the middle to the last scene. So it was my first scene, with Indiana Jones, a long scene, dialogue, important stage setting scene, which I knew that couldn't be cut. It was absolutely plot, and working with Steven Spielberg, and all this money, and my wife, playing my wife.
So you heard about Indy before you even acted in this movie?
I've seen the first one and the second one. I was in the third right?
TIE.c: Yes you were in the third film [Last Crusade].
I thought that the second one, Temple of Doom, wasn't very good. I adored the first one, absolutely adored it. With the Star Wars, I think that Empire Strikes back is the best of the three. It was more sophisticated. But with Indiana Jones, I adored the first one. Disappointed in the second one, and I thought the script has the chance to be better then the other 2. Very well cast, don't mind me, and when I saw the premiere with my wife and my son, who was then. What year was it made?
The movie is 13 years old.
My son was 20, and I came out and said 'Wasn't that great! What is it with this film? What makes this film so good, apart from the money you see all there.’ and my son said 'Because it's a really good love story between two men, between father and son'. And the father and son theme is one of the themes I was very involved with in my theater work as well, and that's the reason for it, because it's a wonderful father and son story, because you know that they adore each other really, but they can't stand each other. And it's a film of getting together. And that's why it made it a better film then just an adventure film. And that's my opinion. And I think making a fourth one would be a terrible mistake. Always go out on high, you know, Leave it there Leave it there! The numbers of sequels I've seen where 'Oh no, not nearly as good, showing up the same old stuff'. It doesn't get the same inspiration as the beginning of it. And that's what happens with the Star Wars. It's not anymore about people but about machines and special effects. That's my opinion.
Ford said in an interview that he tries to get everything on the same level.
We hope so, but you can't tell. You see, you get infected with your own success and sort. Of course it's the most intellectual and intelligent actor Harrison. With Spielberg it stands a very good chance, but it won't have Sean Connery and it won't have Denholm Elliot, which were two fantastic, powerful things in the film.
I also heard that Sean Connery will play in Indiana Jones 4.
But it can't be the same story, can it, about finding the father by the son. If they start up being erasable with each other, like they were in The Last Crusade, it can't be seem thing, isn't it? If they start to like each other, it's different. It isn't the same thing anymore. They must be conscious on this one. Of course when writing the script, they must be planning this, there is no guarantee that this one is going to be better. I think it's greedy. Leave it were it is. It’s gone out on a high. Film people keep on doing this.
You did well to understate the role of Donovan, but did you researched the role in anyway, or did you conjure him out of your imagination? (Question Submitted by Blue Max)
Out of my imagination. I didn't research it. There's nothing to research. I had to find his center line, and I think I did. I thought about it. You think about things a lot. When you're riding on your motor bike or in a bus, you think when you have a major role like that. You think about it all the time. And a lot of that thinking comes on the set with you, and you bring it in. And when the scene represents it self, you play it in the way your mind is been going for the last few days or weeks. You've been planning a long time before. It has been three months before you accept the role and do 'That scene is difficult, and I'm not sure I'm going to do it, oh yes I think I'm doing it, and at the time you get there you usually do this and that'. So I didn't researched it, no. It's not a historical part. When I played Alexander Duscene, the first secretary of the communist party of Chech-Slowaky, then I researched. Because somebody needs to be researched, books, photographs, film. Walter Donovan, nobody knew about him. So I didn't researched, except here (points at his head).
Do you prefer roles in adventure films or more in science-fiction films? (Question Submitted by Shipwreck)
This is rather the first question. Any film, which is good, I prefer.
Because it makes money?
No, it's good for me, because it's a good film. I've been in many small films that didn't make money at all, which I think they were wonderful, wonderfully made. There was a black and white film, that didn't made an eye, and it was one of my happiest films in my life. A really good film, never gonna make any money. Never would. It seems a silly thing to say, because it seems that I'm avoiding the question. I'm not. I like anything that's good. I even like to make a film commercial, a television commercial if it's good. In our business we spend so much time doing rubbish, just doing on your living. And you have to do it. Because really good things don't come very often. When they do come, a pleasure. That's the same with theatre, which I do a lot of. But I'm doing much more theatre than I'm doing film, because the parts are running out. So I am afraid that's not satisfactory for him. I enjoy everything that's good.
Indiana Jones 4 is coming up in 2005. However you're dead in the Indy World.
And old. But what if you were still alive in the Indy World, and George Lucas would give you a call, and asked you if you like to play a role in Indy 4. Would you accept it?
I would kill for it. I would kill for it. I would love to do that. Absolutely love that. But it's not going to happen. It's like I'm wanting to do another Bond film too, dead. (Laughs)
So you would like to do more good guys?
Well funny enough, the older that I got, the more good guys I've played. In classical plays, you know, I'm trying to play good people. I think it's because I'm old. Most horrible people in drama, I killed before they reached my age. (Laughs) I do enjoy playing people who were nice, because I realize that they too have a center. They're not all nice. Nobody is all bad and all bad, and no one is nice and all nice. There are nasty secrets in the Woodsherter, and finding those are very rewarding indeed. I've been a very lucky actor because I played in so many films and so many stage plays as well and I'm quite well known. But I'm not a star. And so I don't have the downside of being a famous actor which has people coming at you, spitting at you, kicking or hitting you, and every day you can't go to a restaurant because people are talking to you. I used to be a very good friend of Charles Heston. His life was a nightmare in public. Absolutely a nightmare. He can't sit in a restaurant without someone asking him for an autograph. And I don't get that. I have a comfortable very, very good theatrical life, because I'm the sort of actor that I am. The luckiest things that happen to me, were playing in Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Bond. Out of those three, I'm very happy that I can be here today, and you want to interview, which is very valuable to me. So those are the luckiest thing in my life.
A very special thanks to Julian Glover for his time and to Ralph for conducting the interview!