• Golden Globe Awards

Tomorrow’s Stars Yesterday: Terence Stamp, 1963

Between 1948 and 1983 Golden Globes were awarded in a special category of “New Star of the Year” conceived to recognize young actors making a mark in their early roles. In this series, the HFPA’s Phil Berk highlights those that would follow their auspicious starts with distinguished careers.
The third New Star of 1963, Terence Stamp, never became a household name, but he worked with most of the great directors of his time and has never given a bad performance.
Still going strong today at 82, at his last HFPA press conference he was characteristically self-deprecating and good humored. His early success was meteoric. After being selected to play the title role in Peter Ustinov’sBilly Budd, which earned him an Oscar nomination, he was chosen by Hollywood’s great director William Wyler for the lead in The Collector, for which again he won Best Actor honors at the Cannes Film festival.
After that everyone wanted him, not just for his acting ability but because he was so dashingly handsome. Asked about that, specifically in regard to his third film in which he played a character women couldn’t resist, he told the HFPA, “It was a rough experience because (director John) Schlesinger didn’t want me, and I was hoisted in over his protest by the producer Joe Janni, who was a fan of mine. Janni wanted me for Far From the Madding Crowd, but the man Schlesinger was looking for, a blonde, muscly type, wasn’t at all like me, and he didn’t disguise his displeasure. He was very rough with me, the first director that I’d worked with who didn’t like me and didn’t want what I was, but fortunately the film was photographed by a great genius named Nick Roeg, and Nick Roeg saw what Schlesinger was doing to me, and he disapproved, and so he said to me, ‘I’ll just shoot stuff and when John gets into the cutting room he’s too good a director to not use it,’ So we shot all those amazing little sequences that made me look that good. I genuinely knew that I never looked that good, but I have to thank Nick for that.”
It was during the filming that he and Julie Christie became lovers; there were others equally famous, but he remained a bachelor until finally at 54 he married for the first time, but even that didn’t last. Ironically before working with Schlesinger he turned down the lead in Alfie, which eventually went to his roommate and best friend, Michael Caine, who urged him to take the role. Instead, he chose Joseph Losey’s high profile but ultimately disastrous Modesty Blaise. After that there was a run of art house movies, all under the guidance of Janni. He lent star power to Ken Loach’sPoor Cow(knowing that unknown Carol White would have the plum role.) He made an independent movie in Hollywood Blue that thankfully nobody saw, and then began his lifelong passion for working in Italy with directors he admired, again urged on by Italian born Janni. He made Spirits of the Dead for FelliniTeorema with Pasolini, but then struck out with Season in Hell and Hu Man. He salvaged his career in Hollywood in the well received The Mind of Mr. Sloane but then back to Europe for The Divine Nymph and Striptease which provided him with strong roles which sadly nobody saw.
Again Hollywood came to the rescue when he was cast in the American blockbuster Superman, which ended up being two movies, and which gave him the chance to work with Marlon Brando. Again he got strong reviews, this time for playing the film’s villain General Zod in both films.
After that Peter Brook used him in Meetings with Remarkable Men, he had a small role in Together, did another handful of European films that are best forgotten, until again it was a director, Stephen Frears, who resuscitated his career, by casting him alongside John Hurt and Tim Roth in The Hit, which was universally praised.
Following that he had a decent role in Richard Franklin’s Link and then Ivan Reitman brought him back to Hollywood for a supporting role in Legal Eagles, the Robert Redford, Debra Winger potential blockbuster that misfired. Things were looking pretty gloomy but then it fell to a new generation of Hollywood directors to rescue him. He was the standout in The Sicilian (Michael Cimino) and Wall StreetOliver Stone).
Relocating to Hollywood he had a small role in The Young Guns and a better one in James Caan’sAlien Nation.
He was effective in Genuine Risk, and even tried his hand directing Stranger in the House but with little success.
Russell Mulcahy used him as a foil for Kim Basinger and Val Kilmer in The Real McCoy, but it was his next film that reminded us what a superb actor he could be when given the right part. The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, made in Australia, was just that and playing a drag queen he won numerous Best Actor awards as well as a Best Actor in a Musical Golden Globe nomination. After that there was no shortage of roles, culminating in the lead in Steven Soderbergh’s, arguably his best performance, for which he received numerous Best Actor nominations.  He had scene-stealing roles in Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace and Bowfinger but had to wait another ten years for his last great role in Unfinished Song, for which he won the Best Actor award at the Beijing Film Festival. 
He had a small role in Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and an even smaller one in this year’s well received TV series His Dark Materials.
Undeterred now in his eighties, he is still working. An inconsistent career maybe, but one in which he can point to four memorable performances Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Limey, Teorema, and yes, Far from the Madding Crowd.