He squared off against Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade and he captained an AT-AT during the assault by the Empire on Hoth. He has appeared in a Bond film (For Your Eyes Only), a sword and sandals epic (Troy) and has been directed by Lord Attenborough (Cry Freedom). Truly a legend. I had the distinct pleasure of catching up with him recently to talk about the Hammer production Quatermass and the Pit, which gets a Blu-ray re-release this week and also to look at some of the rest of his hugely accomplished career.
I resisted the temptation to lay out my Indiana Jones nerd credentials (when I got married, we walked back down the aisle to the Indiana Jones theme, my daughter is named Indianna) and instead we got straight down to it. He was, as you would expect, a warm, kind and affable interview subject….
HeyUGuys:You already had a number of television and film credits to your name before Quatermass and the Pit – how did you come to be cast?
Julian Glover: In those days is was quite different. You rarely auditioned for roles, you might meet a director or casting director but this was a direct invite from Roy [director Roy Ward Baker] which I was very pleased to receive, he said “do you want to be in this film” and I said “well it sounds nice” and he said he would send me the script and it was as simple as that. That was how it used to be. Television as well, the director would have an idea who he wanted for a part and would ring them direct. There weren’t the men in suits or producers saying who they did or didn’t like, the director went on his own instincts and I think that’s one of the reasons for the excellence of a certain level of theatre and television of that period being so high. The directors knew what they were talking about.
HUG: I quote no higher an authority than IMDb, which says that you had to do your own stunts for Quatermass, is that correct and if so, how come?
JG: Well I don’t know what you call stunts, I did quite a lot of the heavy work, yes. I always say to people before the film starts, show me the stunt and if I think I can do it I’ll do it, unless you forbid me to do it, which is another matter. I remember when I was making the Bond film down in Italy [For Your Eyes Only] – they simply wouldn’t let me ski, go on a bobsleigh, anything. I think if I don’t want to do it then that’s my right. I think most actors are the same in that respect, unless you’re Steve McQueen, you see the body movement from a stuntman, no matter how hard he tries, I recently did an episode of Casualty and I had to drive into this thing and I was happy to do that myself.
HUG: You played a General in Quatermass, a Major in The Avengers, you’ve been a General, a Commander and even a King. Do you think directors and casting directors see you as having a military air about you?
JG: I’m assured by my wife that when I step out on stage I have some sort of air of authority about me and having done military service I have some experience of that, so I suppose I do have something of that air about me. Playing a King like King Henry IV on stage is of course very different to playing Richard the Lionheart in Ivanhoe. But you’re right to pick up on that.
HUG: Having worked extensively in television and film, what do you consider to be the different challenges of the two media?
JG: With television, you used to have 2-3 day rehearsal periods for TV work, maybe even a couple of weeks together before shooting but it is not like that anymore, but I’ve been lucky enough to have enjoyed a career in theatre, television and film, though it is theatre that remains my true love. Now it seems most television is shot like films, moving along quickly from one set up to the next.
HUG: Having worked with Richard Attenborough on Cry Freedom, Spielberg on Last Crusade and Wolfgang Peterson on Troy, did the scale of those films and the reputations of those directors fill you with trepidation, or were you able to relax and enjoy yourself?
JG: Well of course when you hear you are going to be working with Steven Spielberg you are absolutely terrified but then you arrive on set and you start working and you’re not terrified at all. They are all absolutely lovely people to work with and I’ve never had a negative experience making a film, I’m pleased to say. I think also I’m quite well-behaved and I do as I’m told, which I am sure helps.
HUG: Not many actors can claim to have appeared opposite Indiana Jones and piloted an AT-AT – were those films as much fun to make as they are to watch?
JG: My scenes for Empire Strikes Back were shot on a small set with a green screen behind me and I didn’t see what the AT-ATs looked like at all until I saw the finished film. The set would be moved and shaken around, so it wasn’t terribly exciting to shoot. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was an absolute delight to make and why wouldn’t it be appearing opposite those actors?
HUG: Moving onto your more recent work, our editor and founder Dave Sztypuljak recently visited the set of Airborne. Have you seen the film yet, or is it still in post-production?
JG: It has been edited and they are now doing the sound mixing. I’ve also made another film since that with the same director [UFO, with Sean Pertwee and Jean Claude Van Damme], which has a really interesting idea behind it.
HUG: And you’ve been reunited with Mark Hamill
JG: Well I met him on Empire Strikes Back but obviously we were never on screen together. I met him on the adjacent sound stage where he was shooting other scenes. For Airborne, we heard he was in the area and the director asked him to play this role and he was happy to do so. Of course the money being offered was not able to be much but he doesn’t need the money these days. So the role was changed slightly from a Northern flight controller to an American one.
Airborne is due out soon and you can catch all of our posts on it here. Quatermass and the Pit is out on DVD already and available for the first time on shiny, vibrant Bluray from 10th October 2011 and you can rent or buy it here.