Richard Harris Talking Pictures


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Richard Harris

A retrospective look at television appearances made over the years by Richard Harris, with interviews from the archive and classic clips. Narrated by Sylvia Syms.


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Actor, singer, poet and hell-raiser.

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Richard Harris was all these things and more.

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A man who grabbed life

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by the scruff of the neck.

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He became an international star in the 1960s with

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his Oscar-nominated performance in This Sporting Life.

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The 40-year career that followed had highs and lows

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but very few dull moments.

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Harris had the gift of the gab,

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loved to tell a story and adored an audience.

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Here he is in sparkling form on the Parkinson show

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talking, at first, about an audition to get into drama school.

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I remember so fondly, I was in Hyde Park

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and I was as nervous as anything.

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It was an afternoon, I had an audition at nine.

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No, I had an audition at four, four in the afternoon.

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And there I was in Hyde Park saying,

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"I must rehearse this piece now and do it correctly."

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And there was an old man sitting down on a bench reading a newspaper

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and Harris was going around the place going, you know,

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"Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this

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"son of York." Walking around the trees,

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"And all our yesterdays have lighted fools, the way to dusty death.

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"Out, out brief candle." And there was this little fella sitting

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down with his newspaper looking up like that.

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"Oh, this boy's crackers!"

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So after a couple of minutes, anyway, after a couple of minutes...

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my first intercourse... With who?

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LAUGHTER

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-We'll talk about that later.

-With... Yes! In the bar.

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My first intercourse with the police was then and I was going on,

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"And all our yesterdays have lighted fools, the way to dusty death,

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"Out, out brief candle." "You all right, lad?"

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LAUGHTER

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...there's a policeman going, "Are you all right?" I said, "Yes, thank you."

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"He doesn't sound too good, does he?"

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So I dashed back, I got into the Academy,

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and I saw a little man standing at the door with glasses

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and I dashed up and I was now an hour and a half late,

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that was it, I missed the time and the taxi

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and I finally got to the Academy.

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And there was a little man there with glasses

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and I said to him, "Oh, my God.

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"Quickly, take me to Michael MacOwen" who was the principal of the Academy.

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He said, "I am Michael MacOwen" and I said, "Good, you've discovered me."

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LAUGHTER

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So then he said the Academy was full.

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I said, "You must take me

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"because I have checked out the record of your Academy

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"and you haven't had one success. Not one success out of this Academy yet.

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"I am going to be the first success.

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"So if I were you I'd make a little place for me in there."

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So I went in and did my auditions and I got in.

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Years later, I met dear old Michael MacOwen again

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and we had a drink and I said,

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"What was that audition like I did?"

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He said, "Well, can I tell you,

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"truthfully," he said.

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"It was the worst audition that I have ever sat through."

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And I said, "Why did you take me in?"

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He said, "I took you in because any man with the gall

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"and the cheek to stand up in front of examiners

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"and to perform as badly as that has got to be a success!"

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LAUGHTER

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APPLAUSE

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Oh, dear.

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When you said that to him, when you blagged him on the stairs there,

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-did you really mean what you said?

-I did, I did.

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-I was certain.

-How can you be that certain, Richard?

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I think one has to think positively.

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You know, think thin.

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Or think young... It hasn't done me any good!

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But, however, if you think positively it will happen.

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I remember, I'll tell you, you know that tomorrow,

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you were mentioning when we were chatting before.

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It reminds me of a great story in the dressing room upstairs

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that tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of Joan Littlewood's theatre.

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-And you worked with her?

-And I worked with Joan for years.

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Everything I know, or whatever I'm supposed to know about acting,

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I learned it from this marvellous lady.

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I was in Macbeth and finally after being in the company for quite a bit

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and playing little parts, she said, "Well, you have a good part now in Macbeth.

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"You're going to play Ross in Macbeth."

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I said, "Oh, fabulous, wonderful. Wonderful." So, she said...

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So, anyway, "Shakespeare," I thought. "Me, Shakespeare, this is it!

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"This is really it, this is what I've been waiting for."

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So, I wrote to all my friends in Ireland. I said, "You must come.

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"Harris is doing Shakespeare. We're going to show the English

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"how Shakespeare should be performed. Right?

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"Come, come," I said. "Everybody, come, Mother, Father,

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"children, brothers, aunts, uncles, the rats from the farm,

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"anything, the mice, all come, be out there in the front."

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Indeed, those stones of Ireland opened up

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and relatives appeared from nowhere. LAUGHTER

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And they flocked and flocked to Ireland,

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to, erm, Theatre Workshop.

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And Harris, I was going home, I had only about four lines in it.

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Four or fives lines in the play.

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I had four weeks to rehearse four lines.

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That, without being a mathematical genius,

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is one line a week. Right?

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So, Harris is learning his four lines, going home on the train,

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going on the bus, going to Hyde Park, these four lines.

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I was going to be sensational!

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It came to the opening night and Harris had to stand back here

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and make an entrance with two other people.

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In between it I had to walk down, say these four lines,

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as best as I could, wave my arm, go off -

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it was a modern version of Macbeth and half the army go off stage right

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with Harris, you see.

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Harris is learning his lines and suddenly he's standing at the back

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and he's all dressed up in his uniform with his baton in his hand

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and he had to pull out a sword and do this to the audience.

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I stood back and I'm ready to go and I hear everybody doing their lines

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and I'm saying, "Everybody's watching me." We always think that, you see.

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Everybody's looking at that wonderful... "Who's that fella back there?"

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LAUGHTER

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"Nobody's watching Macbeth or Lady Macbeth, it was Harris

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"at the back, you see. Marvellous."

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Anyway, Harris goes on.

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Cue is about to arrive. Can you follow me with the cameras, it's a true story.

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The cue's about to arrive and I'm standing back like this,

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waiting with my sword and spear and I'm ready.

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Suddenly my cue comes and I take out the sword

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and I rush up to the front of the stage, stick out the sword like that.

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And I can't remember a line!

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LAUGHTER

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Not a bloody line!

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I can hear my mother out front say, "Isn't' he marvellous?"

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It's true, I swear.

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APPLAUSE

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I haven't gone off yet.

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So, how am I going to get off? How am I going to get off?

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How am I going to get off?

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So, I put up the sword like that, I look at all the audience

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and I went, "Argh!"

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And off!

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That's a real definition of mother love, that, isn't it?

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-Absolutely!

-Only a mother could love that.

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The film that I suppose you would look back on,

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-apart from one other with most regard, was This Sporting Life.

-Yes.

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-Did you enjoy making that movie?

-I loved it, it was tough.

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-It was a tough movie to make.

-Yeah?

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I really... I really enjoyed it because those fellas up there...

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I had to train. I take my work extremely seriously

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despite what my reputation in the press, or my private life is,

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which is kind of Rabelaisian and that.

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I take my career seriously and I went up to, er...

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I'd been up to Leeds, Wakefield,

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and I studied there with the players for about three or four weeks,

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you know, and all that and togged up with the second team.

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-Hard!

-They are hard.

-Oh, yeah.

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Absolutely, I remember once... Sorry, go on.

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Is that the kind of society that you like, that you admire?

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I find... I find that I don't, sort of...

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-I don't like actors very much.

-Don't you?

-No.

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The only actor ever to come into my house was Connery.

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I like Sean. I don't like them very much because...

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The usual cliche about actors, they speak about nothing else but themselves, you know, normally.

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What am I doing here all night? I'm talking about myself. LAUGHTER

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-Yeah, but you've been asked to.

-I've been asked to, yeah.

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You know, actors always say, I know it's an old cliche

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but it's quite true when they say, "Let's not talk about me, let's talk about you."

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"What did you think of my last movie?"

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It's true.

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That was an entirely different society

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-on a very masculine basis.

-I prefer that. I prefer...

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Most of my friends are either musicians, you know,

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and people who have worked extremely hard to get there.

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People who have come from different kind of backgrounds

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and I think you always get a better sort of,

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a better relationship with people when they have come from

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not the sort of... when it's tough.

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-When their family life was tough.

-Yes.

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And their parents had to work hard and they've had to work hard

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and they kind of respect, er... And the achievements

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are more palatable, I think, when things aren't made too easy.

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Did you know, though, Richard, when you did This Sporting Life

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that it was going to make you the kind of... It really made you,

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-critically, at least, made you into a big star?

-Yes.

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-Did you realise that when you were making it?

-I didn't.

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No, not really, at all.

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I remember the hardship making it and working with Lindsay Anderson,

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who was a fantastic director and Rachel Roberts.

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-She was marvellous in it.

-Marvellous.

-Let's remind ourselves of that in a sequence where you,

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Frank Machin, has just signed on for the club

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and you've got the cheque in your pocket and you go back to tell her about it.

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That Johnson called earlier on.

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That friend of yours.

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I've just seen him.

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Do you mean he's been waiting all this time, it was hours ago.

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He likes to get out and about a bit.

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-You should have friends your own age.

-I have.

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They've signed me on.

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Didn't you hear what I said?

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Yes... You'll be pleased.

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-So will you when you guess how much it is.

-Oh.

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-I don't know anything about it.

-Go on, have a guess.

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Just guess how much you think I'm worth.

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Thruppence?

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Careful, careful.

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You made a joke.

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You can't go on cracking jokes like that, you know, you might do yourself an injury.

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Well, come on, have a guess.

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Come on.

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No...

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Well, I better tell you since you're so keen.

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£1,000.

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Oh...

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-You're a great ape.

-You don't believe me.

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Look, I've got the cheque here in my pocket.

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£1,000 in letters and in numbers.

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Signed, sealed and delivered, Frank Machin.

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They drove me home in their car, a bloody Bentley!

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It's very good.

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You don't sound very excited about it.

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It's a bit more than I got when my husband died.

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Well, isn't that right bloody handsome of yer.

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You didn't have to do anything for it.

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You mean I didn't have to get killed for it!

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Some people have life made for them.

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That's right, Mrs Hammond, and some people make it for themselves!

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It's about time you took that tonne of rock off your shoulders.

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And don't wake me in the morning, I might be dead!

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APPLAUSE

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Machin, of course in that film, was essentially a sort of violent man,

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it's one way he sort of expressed himself.

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I mean, are you violent, Richard?

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Er, only when I'm picked on.

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HE CHUCKLES

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No, I don't... I...

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Well, yes...

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LAUGHTER

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Which is it to be, yes or no?

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Well, I suppose I try to avoid trouble, you know, as much as I can but when it comes...

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You know, I like to walk away from it a lot, not because I'm a coward

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-but, in fact, I am. I'm a converted coward.

-Mmm.

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That's it at this stage in my life but, I think, you know,

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one gets into these rows and, er...

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-And the press build them up, you know.

-Yes.

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But how do you get into them?

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I mean, does it always happen that people pick on you, or what?

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Well, either a friend's been insulted or, er, I'm being insulted.

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I remember sort of one row. What was it...?

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Oh, yes, the row...

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I was at the, er...

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-..at The Talk Of The Town.

-Oh, yes.

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The Sammy Davis row.

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We were there at a party and there was some fella sitting beside us

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and he took an instant dislike to Sammy

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and Davis was kind of a friend of mine.

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I just asked him would he keep quiet, we were enjoying the show

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and he kept on again and he kept on.

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I said, "Listen, honestly, we are enjoying this show."

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He kept on and he called Sammy some more things and I, erm,

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took the law into my own hands and hit him with it.

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HE LAUGHS

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APPLAUSE

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-Can we have a look at those bloopers of yours?

-All right.

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Erm, before we roll them,

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I should explain to people at home that in fact what Richard's

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-done and this, in fact, was part of your concert tour, as well?

-Yes.

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People seem to think they see the finished product at home of

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a movie that it's all been done first time and in effect many,

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many takes go into making a scene, creating a scene.

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What you've done in this is you've shown what can go wrong?

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Right. I collect them for my children, really,

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because I show a movie to my sons, or something, and they look up...

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I've got three boys and they look up and they think,

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"You're marvellous, Dad." This is a bad way to bring up kids

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having any kind of... I think any kind of...

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This aura about your father.

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I've seen too many actors' sons in motion pictures being destroyed by the image

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that Dad has, the success.

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I wanted to show the kids that your dad isn't all that bright, or good.

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So, every time I made a mistake in a movie, a genuine mistake,

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I collected them and I've put them together.

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When I've shown my sons that particular movie, they'd look up and say "Oh, you're marvellous, Dad."

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I'd say, "One second, I want to show you something else."

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I'd run them all the mistakes I'd made and the look was never

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so adoring when the lights went up.

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They'd say, "You're not so bright, Dad".

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Let's roll it now, then.

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And then...

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-You'll talk us through it, Richard?

-OK.

-Fine.

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I think the first one is A Man Called Horse.

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Did you see A Man Called Horse?

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The first one is A Man Called Horse

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and to get the part in the movie, the producer said,

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"Can you ride a horse?" I said, "Of course I can ride a horse!

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"All Irishmen can ride horses, for God's sake!"

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They thought how super, this is the first day's shooting,

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there's Harris in Horse, riding superbly.

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All the directors and producers are totally relieved at my...

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There we are! LAUGHTER

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That's marvellous that, isn't it?

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APPLAUSE

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The next one we're going to look at is

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-something from, er, Man...

-Yes, Man In The Wilderness.

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That's right.

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This is the correct version.

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This is the perfect version you saw on the screen

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and then we show you the mistake.

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This is towards the end of the movie and he finds this rabbit with

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a broken foot and he tries to make a splint.

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Look how the rabbit put up the broken foot to be mended.

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That's the perfect version, now here is Harris's improvisation here.

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This is the first take.

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I don't know what the hell I'm looking for in there for a start! LAUGHTER

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PARKINSON CHUCKLES

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It's beautiful, this.

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LAUGHTER

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APPLAUSE

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-What's the next one, Richard?

-The next one is also from Wilderness.

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This is the very beginning of the movie when, I don't know

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if you've seen it, you should see it if you haven't seen it, it's a marvellous movie.

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By the look of things, nobody saw it!

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Nobody. Here's the beginning when he was attacked by a bear, you see.

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On the day of shooting, the producer said to me,

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"Don't you think you ought to have a look at the bear?" I said, "No."

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I thought I was valuable and they wouldn't put a huge bear on me.

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This is the perfect sequence you see that happened in the movie.

0:16:180:16:21

BEAR ROARS

0:16:260:16:28

That was the good version.

0:16:340:16:37

You weren't supposed to laugh at that.

0:16:370:16:39

Now here's what happened when Harris didn't look at the bear

0:16:410:16:44

and they released him.

0:16:440:16:46

BEAR ROARS

0:16:510:16:53

APPLAUSE

0:16:590:17:01

They're better than the movie!

0:17:060:17:07

Some of them are better than the movies, aren't they?

0:17:070:17:11

As Harris said in that interview, despite the joking around,

0:17:110:17:14

anyone who thought he didn't take his acting seriously

0:17:140:17:17

would have been very mistaken.

0:17:170:17:19

He could be totally committed in his approach and preparations,

0:17:190:17:22

as he reveals here

0:17:220:17:24

talking about his title role in the 1970 film, Cromwell.

0:17:240:17:28

Richard Harris, Cromwell.

0:17:300:17:32

I see that in fact physically you're playing him warts and all

0:17:320:17:36

but are you in fact playing him warts and all?

0:17:360:17:38

-What does that mean?

-In other words, are you playing him as hero...?

0:17:380:17:42

That's the one thing I sort of strove to avoid in the script.

0:17:420:17:48

I think the audience at the end of the movie should be able to...

0:17:480:17:50

I think we should have a split audience at the end

0:17:500:17:52

if the movie is going to be successful.

0:17:520:17:54

We should have half the audience saying the King was right and half saying Cromwell was right.

0:17:540:17:58

The interesting thing about Cromwell was that how little the English really know of the true man.

0:17:580:18:02

Indeed, the Irish and the Catholics, as well.

0:18:020:18:05

But I think that he was a much maligned man in England history,

0:18:050:18:11

in English history and that over the past, I don't know, years, it's

0:18:110:18:15

been my ambition to play him since 1959, when I got this script first

0:18:150:18:21

and got Irving finally to do it.

0:18:210:18:24

I was studying his part for a couple of years, off and on.

0:18:240:18:29

I sort of discovered that the legend of Cromwell was built

0:18:290:18:33

out of Royalist propaganda and now people are beginning to uncover

0:18:330:18:39

the truth of the man, the greatness of the man, which is interesting.

0:18:390:18:42

I read that Prince Charles in fact in the newspaper some weeks ago

0:18:420:18:48

said that he was brought up to believe that Charles I

0:18:480:18:51

was a marvellous man and that Cromwell was an hypocritical monster

0:18:510:18:54

but now, on the studying of the parts and the period,

0:18:540:18:57

he reversed that opinion, which is interesting enough.

0:18:570:19:00

Talking about the way you're playing it,

0:19:000:19:03

in 1963 when you did Diary Of A Madman on stage,

0:19:030:19:06

you played very much larger-than-life,

0:19:060:19:08

you were not a little person playing a little part in little ways.

0:19:080:19:13

Are you playing Cromwell larger-than-life?

0:19:150:19:18

It's difficult to... It's difficult to...

0:19:180:19:20

It's difficult to answer that question.

0:19:200:19:23

I think that... I think that I've studied the part very carefully

0:19:230:19:28

and I have read the Carlyle book on his letters and his speeches

0:19:280:19:33

and they were quite dynamic and people's opinions of him,

0:19:330:19:36

which were quite extraordinary, that he had a tremendous power.

0:19:360:19:39

He also had a great gift of disappearing in company,

0:19:390:19:42

that for quite a while you wouldn't remember who he was but then

0:19:420:19:46

when he had a point of view to say, he said it with tremendous economy

0:19:460:19:49

of words, with great power and the ones that have remembered him after.

0:19:490:19:53

I'm trying to get that into the part.

0:19:530:19:55

Also, the man himself, he was a great family man.

0:19:550:19:57

He loved his family, he loved the farm, loved wine.

0:19:570:20:01

Looked good music, he was a locksmith by hobby

0:20:010:20:05

and all these things are interesting enough to get underneath the man.

0:20:050:20:08

I think it's very dangerous if one goes overboard.

0:20:080:20:10

Acting techniques are extraordinary.

0:20:100:20:12

The technique that one uses on the stage is far different

0:20:120:20:15

than one would have to use in cinema.

0:20:150:20:17

One has to keep back.

0:20:170:20:20

You have gone to considerable lengths with this part.

0:20:200:20:22

For example, I know that you have quite deliberately broken your voice.

0:20:220:20:26

Yes, I thought that my voice was too light for the part and also,

0:20:260:20:31

either that there are so many powerful speeches in it,

0:20:310:20:35

I didn't think my voice had that kind of strength, also it is

0:20:350:20:39

against Guinness's voice which is terribly light.

0:20:390:20:42

I thought the best thing I could do was to break it.

0:20:430:20:45

In Spain, the first day in Spain, I went to the top of a mountain

0:20:450:20:49

and screamed and roared for two hours

0:20:490:20:52

and then I do voice exercises to keep it like this,

0:20:520:20:56

which means I've ruined my recording career. There we are.

0:20:560:21:00

But isn't it in fact very dangerous to do this?

0:21:000:21:03

Isn't there a danger that you might lose your voice entirely?

0:21:030:21:06

I never think of the future.

0:21:060:21:08

I think of the present and right now for this part

0:21:080:21:11

-that's the most important thing to me.

-Can you afford to do that?

0:21:110:21:15

-You mean financially or physically?

-Financially and physically?

0:21:150:21:18

Well, financially, I suppose, I can't record again until October,

0:21:180:21:22

until this movie finishes. I'm hoping to get my voice back.

0:21:220:21:26

If I don't get it back, then I'll lose a certain amount

0:21:260:21:29

of revenue from the recording world,

0:21:290:21:31

but I won't miss it very much.

0:21:310:21:33

You could also lose certain types of part, couldn't you?

0:21:330:21:36

Well, yes, I suppose.

0:21:360:21:38

I'll have to go on playing Cromwell all my life!

0:21:380:21:41

True or false,

0:21:410:21:42

you've acquired the reputation of being something of a hell-raiser.

0:21:420:21:47

How much of that is a newspaper fabrication, would you say?

0:21:470:21:51

I'd be a terrible hypocrite if I said it was all...

0:21:510:21:54

I do live, I must say, a rather hectic, wild life.

0:21:540:21:59

I'm definitely restless if I'm in one place too long.

0:21:590:22:03

But a lot of it... Some of it has been overexaggerated, I think.

0:22:030:22:09

My God, I shouldn't have said that. I don't know, really.

0:22:090:22:12

For example, recently in a Sunday newspaper there was a report of

0:22:120:22:18

a continental jet plane binge that you took, which lasted several days.

0:22:180:22:23

It wasn't really because then again you see the story that was

0:22:230:22:27

finally printed was the story that was... that the readers

0:22:270:22:33

of that particular newspaper would only want to read.

0:22:330:22:36

In fact, it was a terrific trip.

0:22:360:22:39

Despite the fact there was a large variety

0:22:390:22:43

and a large scale of things that we did, they just took an aspect of it.

0:22:430:22:46

Wolf Mankowitz, who was very brilliant and very bright

0:22:460:22:49

and a marvellous guy, I think,

0:22:490:22:51

we had the most fantastic discussions about religion

0:22:510:22:54

and politics and poetry and sex and man's place in the world

0:22:540:22:58

and the woman's place in the world, the woman's place in the man's life and vice versa.

0:22:580:23:02

You know, had it been, maybe another newspaper,

0:23:020:23:05

it would have taken on a whole different thing.

0:23:050:23:08

That would have taken probably the primary aspects of the trip but

0:23:080:23:12

because that particular newspaper chose to take an aspect of it.

0:23:120:23:17

I can't deny that any of the reports in the newspaper were not true!

0:23:170:23:22

HE CHUCKLES

0:23:220:23:25

There are always stories too about your not getting on too well

0:23:250:23:28

-with some of your co-stars, people like Charlton Heston...

-Yes.

0:23:280:23:32

Marlon Brando, Kirk Douglas, although I believe he's supposed to be quite a good friend now?

0:23:320:23:36

Yes, he is. He is.

0:23:360:23:38

Are you difficult to get on with, do you think?

0:23:380:23:41

I think... I don't know.

0:23:410:23:43

You would have to ask, you would have to ask certain actors,

0:23:430:23:46

or certain directors.

0:23:460:23:48

I remember John Huston once said and wrote about me,

0:23:480:23:50

the next time he hears a director say that Harris is impossible,

0:23:500:23:54

he knows that director hasn't done his homework.

0:23:540:23:57

I can't stand people who don't do their homework.

0:23:570:23:59

I take it very seriously, you know, my profession,

0:23:590:24:02

the thing I'm in at that particular moment.

0:24:020:24:05

I can't stand any kind of incompetence or mediocrity,

0:24:050:24:09

I think, upsets me quite a bit.

0:24:090:24:10

When I find people don't really take it seriously, I get quite upset.

0:24:100:24:13

The intolerance expressed there didn't fade with age.

0:24:130:24:17

Years later, in 1999, Harris got so upset with one director's treatment

0:24:170:24:22

of his performance that it made national news

0:24:220:24:26

and became a major talking point at the Cannes Film Festival.

0:24:260:24:30

TV REPORT: The stars came out for Cannes' first night.

0:24:300:24:33

Guests at the opening ceremony included Claudia Schiffer,

0:24:330:24:37

along with Holly Hunter, director David Cronenberg

0:24:370:24:40

and Faye Dunaway.

0:24:400:24:41

Cannes is the one festival the celebs love attending,

0:24:410:24:45

but not for one star. According to the posters, The Barber of Siberia

0:24:450:24:50

stars Richard Harris and Julia Ormond.

0:24:500:24:53

After the opening celebrations, the photographers were all over Julia,

0:24:530:24:56

but Richard stayed away, in protest.

0:24:560:24:59

What was a headlining role, has, in his opinion,

0:24:590:25:02

"been savaged into a guest appearance".

0:25:020:25:06

I won the Cannes Film Festival, in 1963.

0:25:060:25:09

I won it for This Sporting Life.

0:25:090:25:11

And having won it and to go back yesterday,

0:25:120:25:18

to find that I'm starring in a picture with Julia Ormond

0:25:180:25:21

and I sit there in shock that I'm actually barely in it.

0:25:210:25:26

Directors here in Cannes were, however, less than charitable.

0:25:260:25:31

It's only human to be annoyed that you put so much work into something

0:25:310:25:35

and your part has been, you know, cut down.

0:25:350:25:37

Erm...on the other hand, I understand the film's now

0:25:370:25:40

three hours long, anyway, so, probably, the first cut

0:25:400:25:43

was four and a half hours, so someone should be cutting it.

0:25:430:25:47

If you are going to cut something, I should imagine a Richard Harris

0:25:470:25:50

performance might be the first place that you'd go, in my opinion!

0:25:500:25:53

It's very sad. I mean, it is a very long film, that goes on

0:25:530:25:57

for hours and hours and hours and you do sit there wondering

0:25:570:26:00

where Richard Harris is. He is, really, little more than a cameo.

0:26:000:26:03

At the time of the controversy, Richard Harris' wild days

0:26:030:26:07

were well behind him, with health problems diagnosed in the early '80s

0:26:070:26:12

forcing him, finally, to call time on the years of heavy drinking.

0:26:120:26:16

What can you now not drink?

0:26:160:26:19

Oh, I can't drink alcohol.

0:26:190:26:21

LAUGHTER

0:26:210:26:23

-What can you not eat?

-I can't eat

0:26:230:26:25

sugar or salt or oil - anything like that.

0:26:250:26:29

It's a terrible bore, isn't it? You drink, don't you, a little?

0:26:290:26:33

-I just had a wee nifty one, before I came on.

-Did you?

-Just a small one.

0:26:330:26:37

I wish I'd had that, too. I'm not allowed that.

0:26:370:26:39

I have got that hypoglycaemia thing. It rushes through you and you can

0:26:390:26:42

collapse and go into a state of shock and all that kind of thing,

0:26:420:26:45

-so I have to be careful.

-What have you had, for instance, today?

0:26:450:26:48

-What have you had to eat today?

-Oh, today, I had rice.

0:26:480:26:52

Every morning, I have oatmeal, a big, big bowl of oatmeal

0:26:520:26:55

and a banana. And, then...

0:26:550:26:57

LAUGHTER

0:26:570:26:58

Terrible. Then, for my lunch, I had rice and, today, I had nothing

0:26:580:27:03

for my dinner. I'll probably go back and have rice and oatmeal mixed.

0:27:030:27:07

It's terribly dull, isn't it? You're getting green even listening to me.

0:27:070:27:10

-It's awful.

-And you just can't bear it, that diet?

-Oh, I can, yes.

0:27:100:27:14

-How old are you? You're 49, aren't you?

-Yes, thank you(!)

0:27:140:27:17

LAUGHTER

0:27:170:27:19

-And you eat a lot of rice.

-Yes.

-And you do Camelot, 420 times so far,

0:27:190:27:26

and you're going to do it a lot more times. How do you get kicks?

0:27:260:27:28

Well, I...

0:27:280:27:30

LAUGHTER

0:27:300:27:32

Well, it's boring. I mean, it's very dull.

0:27:320:27:36

It is dull to go into a bar and ask, "What kind of water have you got?"

0:27:360:27:40

But how do you spark up your life now, at the age of 49?

0:27:400:27:45

I've said it three times now. "Peak of your career", it says here.

0:27:450:27:49

We have gone through... You are at the top of it

0:27:490:27:52

and you are doing your opening in three weeks' time,

0:27:520:27:55

when you go home at night, do you say to yourself,

0:27:550:27:58

"Goddammit, that's another day. What am I doing here?"

0:27:580:28:01

Yeah, you do. It is tiresome. I get a thrill out of doing the show,

0:28:010:28:06

of course, and you have got to find different kinds of means

0:28:060:28:10

to elevate yourself. It is just...it's getting used to doing

0:28:100:28:13

a different, sort of, thing. I don't smoke grass and I don't coke.

0:28:130:28:17

I don't do any of that, so I am really, sort of, very dull.

0:28:170:28:20

I have really found out that...

0:28:200:28:23

Richard Burton and I met two years ago

0:28:230:28:25

and we were talking about our lives when we drank so much.

0:28:250:28:28

We, sort of, sat back and we thought, you know, how boring people are.

0:28:280:28:32

"Now we don't drink, everyone who drinks around us, they're so dull."

0:28:320:28:35

We said, "Were we that dull?"

0:28:350:28:37

As he dried out in the 1980s, Richard Harris' cinema career

0:28:370:28:39

appeared to have dried up, too.

0:28:400:28:42

He stayed away from films for years and enjoyed several stage successes.

0:28:420:28:47

One of these was the 1990 production of Henry IV,

0:28:470:28:51

which coincided with a triumphant movie comeback, with The Field.

0:28:510:28:56

-It's lovely to see you again.

-Thank you.

-You have always been one

0:28:560:28:59

of my favourite screen actors and you have just completed a new movie

0:28:590:29:02

-with the team who were behind My Left Foot.

-Yeah.

0:29:020:29:05

Why has there been such a long absence? Why have you not...

0:29:050:29:08

I gave up making movies eight years ago.

0:29:080:29:10

I tell you why I gave up. Now, I know you are going to have

0:29:100:29:13

some good remarks about this. I can trust you to come back quickly.

0:29:130:29:16

-My last movie, with Bo Derek... Ready?

-I'm not going to

0:29:160:29:21

say a word, Richard. The stage is yours.

0:29:210:29:23

RICHARD LAUGHS

0:29:230:29:24

Well, it was called

0:29:240:29:25

-Tarzan, The Ape Man.

-I remember that.

-You remember that?

0:29:250:29:28

What a cracker.

0:29:280:29:29

LAUGHTER

0:29:290:29:33

What happened was, I found myself on the very first day of shooting -

0:29:330:29:37

It was a 44-day shooting schedule - and I found myself writing in

0:29:370:29:40

my diary, "43 days left". I thought, "What am I doing that for?

0:29:400:29:45

"Why am I wasting 43 days? Why am I wishing 43 days to pass?"

0:29:450:29:50

So, I said, "That's the end".

0:29:500:29:51

And I hadn't made a picture for eight years.

0:29:510:29:53

This script came, called The Field. Very impressively written

0:29:530:29:57

by Jim Sheridan and directed by Jim Sheridan, who did My Left Foot.

0:29:570:30:00

It was an astonishing script and they asked me to play a small part in it

0:30:000:30:05

and I said, no. They said, "Just let us use your name.

0:30:050:30:07

"if you can just play this three of four-day part."

0:30:070:30:10

So, I read the script and I said,

0:30:100:30:12

"Not only will I not play the small part, but I'll play the lead.

0:30:120:30:15

"I want to do the lead." They didn't want me, may I tell you,

0:30:150:30:19

because when they suggested me to Hollywood, they said,

0:30:190:30:22

"Richard Harris? Is he still alive?"

0:30:220:30:24

"Didn't you see him in Tarzan, The Ape Man?"

0:30:240:30:26

"With Bo Derek"! And, so, at the end of it, I got it.

0:30:260:30:31

And I've just seen it. I know there was a thing in the paper last week

0:30:310:30:35

about my being disappointed by it.

0:30:350:30:37

When I saw it, I was, kind of, a little disappointed, because I find

0:30:370:30:41

this interesting. Great... Like...great movies are made

0:30:410:30:45

by great men, right?

0:30:450:30:48

And Jim... It was Jim Sheridan's second picture,

0:30:480:30:52

so this great director made a great picture, but he listened to

0:30:520:30:57

ordinary people how to put it together and it became

0:30:570:31:00

an ordinary film. So, I persuaded him to go back - to trust himself -

0:31:000:31:03

to go back to the original structure. He's done that and it's massive.

0:31:030:31:07

When will that be out?

0:31:070:31:08

Do we...?

0:31:080:31:10

Well, it opens at the New York Film Festival at the end of October.

0:31:100:31:13

It will open here around November.

0:31:130:31:15

-But I will say this, honestly - and you know how I decry my work.

-I do.

0:31:150:31:19

I am the greatest decrier of my work. I say, "Good God, it's awful,

0:31:190:31:22

"don't go and see it."

0:31:220:31:24

I think it's one of the best 25 pictures ever made.

0:31:240:31:26

-I look forward to seeing it, as I'm sure...

-Have you seen Henry IV yet?

0:31:260:31:30

I haven't seen Henry IV yet. I will come. Tuesday night, perhaps.

0:31:300:31:33

I'll be there. I know you have to dash off now,

0:31:330:31:35

because you are appearing on stage this evening.

0:31:350:31:38

We've got... What time are you?

0:31:380:31:39

It doesn't matter, we've got to get rid of you. We've got other guests.

0:31:390:31:43

LAUGHTER

0:31:430:31:44

That was just me being polite, frankly.

0:31:440:31:47

APPLAUSE

0:31:470:31:49

As always, a pleasure. Mr Richard Harris, ladies and gentlemen!

0:31:520:31:55

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:31:550:31:57

His performance in The Field earned Richard Harris

0:31:590:32:01

a second Oscar nomination and gave his career a second wind.

0:32:010:32:06

The Unforgiven and Gladiator were just two huge hits he appeared in.

0:32:060:32:12

And, of course, there was his final role...

0:32:120:32:16

His granddaughter said she would never speak to him again

0:32:170:32:20

if he turned down the role of Albus Dumbledore,

0:32:200:32:22

in the Harry Potter films.

0:32:220:32:25

"I'll keep doing it as long as I enjoy it,

0:32:250:32:29

"my health holds out and they still want me,"

0:32:290:32:32

Harris said. "But," he added, "the chances of all three of those

0:32:320:32:36

"factors remaining constant are pretty slim."

0:32:360:32:39

Sadly, he was right.

0:32:410:32:43

His death, at the age of 72, came a fortnight before the premiere

0:32:430:32:47

of the second Potter movie.

0:32:470:32:50

Playing Dumbledore meant he had secured his place for ever

0:32:500:32:53

in the affections of a new generation of film-goers.

0:32:530:32:56

And to those who enjoyed him in his prime, he will always be

0:32:580:33:01

a true force of nature and an forgettable screen presence.

0:33:010:33:06

A retrospective look at television appearances made over the years by Richard Harris, with interviews from the archive and classic clips capturing the milestones and highlights of his life and career. Narrated by Sylvia Syms.