Transcript: John Neville | Nov 08, 1998

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting in a TV studio: “John Neville. Actor.”

Then, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray suit, lilac shirt, and checked gray tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
OH, THE IRONIES OF SHOW
BUSINESS: AFTER A LIFETIME
PLAYING THE GREAT
SHAKESPEAREAN LEADS
IN LONDON, NEW YORK,
AND IN CANADA,
OUR NEXT GUEST HAS BECOME
INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS
FOR BEING ON TELEVISION AND
THE STATE OF HIS FINGERNAILS.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH
X-FILES'
THE WELL-MANICURED
MAN, JOHN NEVILLE.

John laughs. He’s in his sixties, clean-shaven, with side-parted wavy white hair. He’s wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and a blue gingham tie.

Richard continues JOHN, I HAVE TO START
RIGHT IN WITH THAT.
DID YOU KNOW HOW BIG THE
X-FILES
WERE WHEN THEY ASKED
YOU TO BECOME A REGULAR?

John says NOT REALLY; I KIND OF
KNEW IT WAS SUCCESSFUL,
BUT I JOINED IT IN
THE THIRD SEASON,
AND IT'S NOW
IN THE FIFTH.
IT HAS BECOME EVEN BIGGER
THAN WHEN I JOINED IT.
I REMEMBER GOING TO ENGLAND
A COUPLE OF SUMMERS AGO
TO DO A PLAY WITH
PETER USTINOV
AND FOUND THAT IT
WAS A CULT THERE.
AND ONE OF THE IRONIES IS I
WENT A COUPLE SEASONS AGO
TO STRATFORD TO SEE A
PLAY AT THE THIRD STAGE,
AND WE WERE MINGLING IN THE
LOBBY; IT WAS QUITE FULL.
AND A YOUNG MAN CAME
UP TO ME AND HE SAID,
YOU'RE AN ACTOR,
AREN'T YOU?
AND I SAID, YES - THINKING
HE'D SEEN SHYLOCK
OR DON ARMADO IN
LOVE'S
LABOUR'S
OR SOMETHING.
HE SAID, YES -
X-FILES!

[laughing]

Richard says SO, IT'S AMAZING -
EVEN YOUR GRANDCHILDREN
ARE NOW HAPPY, RIGHT?

John says I TOLD CHRIS CARTER,
THE INVENTOR OF X-FILES,
I FIND THAT AFTER ALL THAT
I'VE DONE OVER THE YEARS,
I'VE FINALLY MADE IT
WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN.

Richard says RIGHT.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON
IN THE SERIES ALL THE TIME?
DO THEY EXPLAIN
THE SHOWS TO YOU?

John says NO, I DON'T.
YOU SHOULD CUT THIS PART
OF THE INTERVIEW, REALLY,
BECAUSE I DON'T REALLY
WATCH IT ALL THAT MUCH.

Richard says THAT HAPPENS TO
PEOPLE ALL THE TIME.

John says THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO
WATCH EVERY SINGLE MINUTE
OF EVERY EPISODE,
BUT I DON'T.
SO, SOMETIMES I DON'T
KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON,
BUT I DO KNOW WHAT'S
GOING ON LATELY,
BECAUSE I ALSO DID
THE MOVIE LAST SUMMER.
AND THIS FINAL EPISODE,
WHICH I DID A COUPLE
OF WEEKS AGO, IS
THE FINAL EPISODE
WHICH LEADS
INTO THE MOVIE.
SO, THOSE WHO ARE ADDICTS
HAVE TO SEE THE MOVIE.
IT'S GOOD MARKETING.

Richard says I DON'T KNOW IF
YOU'RE AWARE OF THIS,
BUT ON THE INTERNET,
THERE ARE, OF COURSE,
HUNDREDS OF
X-FILE
SITES,
BUT ONE OF THEM IS COMPOSED
OF SOMEBODY WHO HAS
TRANSCRIBED BY HAND EVERY
MINUTE OF EVERY EPISODE, AND
YOU CAN LOOK THROUGH THEM.
AT MY DAUGHTER'S SUGGESTION,
I WAS GOING THROUGH IT,
AND YOU HAD A WONDERFUL
LINE IN ONE OF YOUR FIRST
APPEARANCES WHERE YOU SAY
TO SCULLY AND MULDER:
ONE DAY, YOU'LL BE
WALKING DOWN THE STREET
AND SOMEONE WILL
KILL YOU.
AND IT'LL EITHER BE
SOMEONE YOU KNOW,
OR SOMEONE YOU
DON'T KNOW.

[laughing]

John says VERY GOOD LINE.

Richard says I THOUGHT IT WOULD
BE VERY APPROPRIATE
FOR YOUR CAREER IN THEATRE,
TOO, AT THE SAME TIME.

John says FOR THE CRITICS.

[laughing]

Richard says JOHN, I DON'T KNOW
WHERE TO BEGIN.
I'D LIKE TO GO BACK TO THE
VERY BEGINNING BECAUSE
I KNOW YOUR FAMILY WAS
SO IMPORTANT WITH YOU,
TO START IN ENGLAND.
COULD YOU TELL ME A
BIT ABOUT MOM AND DAD?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "John Neville. Actor."

John says MOM AND DAD WERE
WORKING CLASS, LONDON,
ENGLAND - VERY WORKING
CLASS, VERY POOR.
AND THEY COULDN'T AFFORD
TO SEND ME TO ANYTHING,
OTHER THAN THE
USUAL SCHOOLING.
AND I HELPED TO
FORM A YOUTH CLUB.
THIS WAS SORT OF
WARTIME, REALLY.
I WAS PASSIONATE TO
HAVE A DRAMA SECTION,
AND IN ORDER TO DO THAT, I
HAD TO JOIN OTHER SECTIONS
OF THIS YOUTH CLUB,
LIKE TABLE TENNIS,
AND EVEN BOXING -
WHICH I WASN'T KEEN ON.
BUT ANYWAY, WE WON A LOCAL
COMPETITION WITH THE DRAMA;
WE DID THE FIRST
ACT OF
HAMLET,
AND I WAS ASKED IF I
WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE
IT AS A CAREER.
I'M 17 AT THE TIME,
AND I SAID, YEAH,
I THINK I WOULD -
BECAUSE I'D BEEN TAKEN
BY THE CHURCH
WARDEN OF MY CHURCH
TO STRATFORD THREE
YEARS IN A ROW.
HE TOOK FIVE NIECES
THERE EVERY YEAR,
AND SO AS SOON AS I
HEARD THE WORD NIECES,
I SAID, THAT'S
FOR ME.
SO, FIVE YEARS I WENT
TO STRATFORD AND SAW
ALL THE PLAYS, SO I WAS
PASSIONATE TO DO IT.
MY MOTHER AND FATHER
COULDN'T AFFORD ANY OF THAT,
SO THE LOCAL COUNCIL SAID,
WE'LL GIVE YOU A GRANT
IF YOU GET INTO THE ROYAL
ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC ART.
I WENT TO THE ROYAL
ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC ART
AND I TOOK THE AUDITION
TEST AND I PASSED IT,
AND WAS IMMEDIATELY CALLED
UP INTO THE ROYAL NAVY.
BECAUSE THERE WAS WAR, SO
I WAS CALLED UP AT 17 and three quarters
AND I SPENT THE NEXT THREE OR
FOUR YEARS IN THE NAVY.
I WAS ABLE TO CLAIM AN
EX-SERVICEMAN'S GRANT
WHEN I CAME OUT.
I THINK THE AMERICANS CALL
IT THE G.I. BILL OF RIGHTS.
AND SO, THAT'S HOW I WAS
ABLE TO GO TO THE ROYAL ACADEMY
OF DRAMATIC ARTS WITHOUT
MY PARENTS SUFFERING
TOO MUCH, ALTHOUGH I HAD
LIVED AT HOME, WHICH HELPED.

Richard says FROM THE MINUTE
YOU LEFT, IT SEEMS
YOUR CAREER
WAS BLESSED.
YOU WERE PART OF THIS
GENERATION OF GREAT POST-WAR
ACTORS, AND YOU STARTED OUT,
YOU WERE DOING WONDERFUL
THINGS AT THE
BRISTOL OLD VIC,
AND THEN YOU GOT DISCOVERED
AND MOVED ONWARD.

John says YEAH, I WAS LUCKY.
I THINK THE FIRST JOB, THE
MINUTE I CAME OUT OF DRAMA
SCHOOL, WAS TO WORK IN THE
REGENT'S PARK OPEN-AIR
THEATRE, WHICH WAS
ALL SHAKESPEARE.
SO, I WAS VERY LUCKY, AND
THEN I WENT AWAY TO REPERTORY
AND I SPENT THREE YEARS
AT THE BRISTOL OLD VIC,
AND THEN SIX YEARS AT
THE LONDON OLD VIC,
WHERE I DID NOTHING BUT
SHAKESPEARE - SIX YEARS,
NOTHING BUT SHAKESPEARE.

Richard says DURING THAT SAME PERIOD,
THERE WAS A YOUNG CHAP
WHO ACTED IN A LOT OF THE
PLAYS WITH YOU, UM...
BURTON?

John says WELSH, WASN'T HE?

Richard says RICHARD OR SOMETHING?
AND THERE WAS ONE PRODUCTION
OF
OTHELLO, I BELIEVE,
WHERE YOU ALTERNATED
THE ROLES OF
OTHELLO.

John says WE DID A NUMBER
OF THINGS TOGETHER,
BUT ONE OF THE GREAT
THINGS - OF COURSE,
IT WAS PUBLICITY-CATCHING
AND WAS A REMARKABLE THING
TO DO - WAS TO ALTERNATE THE
ROLES OF OTHELLO AND IAGO.
AND WE HAD A
WONDERFUL BOSS CALLED
MICHAEL BENTHALL
THAT WE ADORED.
AND HE PHONED ME
ONE DAY AND SAID,
YOU'RE PLAYING IAGO
IN THIS NEXT PLAY.
I SAID, YEAH; AND HE SAID,
HOW ABOUT EXCHANGING
THE ROLES WITH RICHARD -
WHO WAS PLAYING OTHELLO.
I SAID, I
CAN'T DO THAT.
IAGO IS A LONG
PART TO LEARN.

Richard says THE LONGEST - NEXT
TO HAMLET, I THINK.

John says AND IT'S PROSE,
IT'S ALL PROSE.
I SAID, I CAN'T DO
THAT, I CAN'T DO THAT.
HE SAID, RICHARD'S
AGREED TO DO IT.
SO, THE NEXT DAY WE WERE
REHEARSING SOMETHING,
AND I WENT TO RICHARD AND I
SAID, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
HE SAID, WHAT
DO YOU MEAN?
I SAID, THIS OTHELLO
AND IAGO BUSINESS!
MICHAEL SAID THAT
YOU'D AGREED TO DO IT!
AND HE SAID, HE TOLD ME
YOU'D AGREED TO DO IT.
THAT'S HOW WE GOT
TRICKED INTO DOING IT.
BUT WE EXCHANGED ON
THE SECOND NIGHT,
WHICH HAD NEVER
BEEN DONE.
I THINK IRVING AND EDWIN
BOOTH HAD DONE IT,
BUT THEY LEFT
TWO OR THREE WEEKS
BEFORE THEY
CHANGED OVER.
WE DID IT ON THE
SECOND NIGHT,
AND IT WAS
VERY EXCITING.

Richard says I SEEM TO RECALL SOMETHING,
YOU TOLD ME YEARS AND YEARS
AGO, ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE
BOTH YOUNGER AND Mr. BURTON
HAS ALWAYS HAD A
REPUTATION FOR BEING,
IN HIS YOUNGER DAYS,
HE WAS A BIT OF
A STAY-UP-LATER
AND PARTIER.
AND YOU WOULD COME TO
REHEARSALS THE NEXT DAY,
AND DEPENDING ON WHO WAS
IN MORE, SHALL WE SAY,
FRAGILE STATE, YOU WOULD NOT
WANT TO PLAY OTHELLO THAT DAY.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE
STORY I'M THINKING OF?
IT HAD TO DO WITH THE
FAMOUS EPILEPTIC FITS?

John says OH, YES.
IT WAS A REHEARSAL,
ACTUALLY;
IT WAS A REHEARSAL.
AND WE CAME ONSTAGE
AND WE BOTH
WENT INTO THE
FIT TOGETHER.
AND OUR LOVELY DIRECTOR,
MICHAEL BENTHALL,
JUST HAD TO GO OUT OF
THE THEATRE LAUGHING,
BECAUSE IT MUST HAVE
BEEN AN INCREDIBLE SIGHT,
BOTH OF US GOING
INTO THE FIT SCENE.

Richard says AT THAT TIME, BURTON WENT
ON AND THE SIREN LIGHTS
OF HOLLYWOOD CALLED HIM AWAY,
AND YOU SOLDIERED ON
AND CONTINUED TO WORK IN
THE BRITISH THEATRE.
DID YOU EVER
REGRET THAT?

John says NEVER, NO, AND WE HAD A
LONG DISCUSSION ABOUT IT.
AND WHAT RICHARD SAID - THIS
WAS ONE OF THE MOST GENEROUS
PEOPLE THAT I'VE MET, AND WE
WERE LIKE BROTHERS, REALLY;
HE WAS SIX MONTHS
YOUNGER THAN ME,
JUST SIX MONTHS
YOUNGER THAN ME.
HE SAID, LOOK,
WE'LL JOIN FORCES
AND WE'LL SHARE
WHATEVER WE EARN.
I SAID, RICHARD, I'M GOING
TO STAY IN THE THEATRE,
I'M GOING TO GO
ON DOING THIS,
AND I KNOW YOU'VE
JUST DONE
THE ROBE,
THIS BIG MOVIE, AND
YOU'RE GOING TO GO ON DOING
MOVIES; IT WON'T BE FAIR.
HE SAID, I DON'T CARE.
LET'S JUST WORK TOGETHER
WHENEVER WE CAN
AND SHARE WHATEVER.
I SAID, NO, RICHARD, I
CANNOT, IN HONESTY, DO THAT.
AND HE WAS SHOCKED, BECAUSE
HE WAS VERY FOND OF ME,
AND I OF HIM.
SO, I DIDN'T DO THAT,
BUT I SAID TO RICHARD,
WHAT I WANT TO DO IS TO
BECOME THE BEST MAN
OF THE THEATRE THAT
I CAN POSSIBLY BE,
AND IT'S GOING TO TAKE ME
ALL THE TIME TO DO THAT.
SO, 90 PERCENT OF MY CAREER HAS
BASICALLY BEEN LIVE THEATRE,
WHICH I STILL LOVE.

Richard says IT'S INTERESTING, BECAUSE
YOU WERE GETTING CAST
IN GREAT LEADING ROLES
THAT EVERYONE WOULD LOVE,
LIKE HAMLET
AND HENRY V.
BUT THEN, I WAS
LOOKING OVER YOUR PAST,
AND YOU WOULD STEP DOWN TO...
NOT PLAY LESSER PARTS,
BUT TO BE PART OF A
COMPANY WITH GIELGUD,
OR WITH OLIVIER, THAT FIRST
SEASON AT CHICHESTER.

John says YES, THAT WAS ANOTHER
GREAT OPPORTUNITY AND
ENJOYABLE MOMENT IN A
CAREER, WHEN LARRY OLIVIER,
AFTER BEING YEARS
IN THE MOVIES,
BUT HAVING PREVIOUSLY
BEEN A MAN OF THE THEATRE,
CAME BACK TO THE THEATRE AND
WAS ASKED TO TAKE OVER
THE DIRECTION OF THIS BRAND
NEW THEATRE AT THE CHICHESTER
FESTIVAL, THE FIRST YEAR.
I WAS INVITED TO
BE IN THE COMPANY,
WHICH I WAS THRILLED
TO DO, OF COURSE.
IN FACT, I HAD TO LEAVE A
PRODUCTION OF THE SCHOOL
FOR SCANDAL IN THE WEST END,
WHICH HAD BEEN DIRECTED
BY JOHN GIELGUD IN
ORDER TO DO THAT.
SO, BINKIE BEAUMONT,
THE IMPRESARIO,
WASN'T EXACTLY THE BEST
PLEASED ABOUT THAT,
BUT ANYWAY, I WENT AND
WE HAD A WONDERFUL TIME.
I'M GODFATHER TO
LARRY'S SON, RICHARD,
WHO'S NOW A DIRECTOR.
AND WE HAD A
WONDERFUL TIME.
LARRY CHOSE THE MOST
EXTRAORDINARY THREE PLAYS,
THE CHANCES, BY BEAUMONT -
NOT FLETCHER BUT SOMEONE ELSE.

Richard says
THE BROKEN HEART,
WAS IT, BY FORD.

John says AND THEN THE LAST PLAY OF
THE SEASON WAS
UNCLE VANYA,
WHICH WAS A HUGE HIT.
THE FIRST TWO PLAYS, WHICH
I WAS IN, WERE GREAT TO DO,
BUT THEY WEREN'T HITS
BECAUSE THEY WERE UNKNOWN PLAYS.

Richard says AND PEOPLE WEREN'T USED TO THE
THRUST STAGE AT THAT POINT.

John says NO, IT WAS BRAND NEW, AND
IT WAS COPIED FROM ANOTHER
THEATRE NOT TOO
FAR FROM HERE.

Richard says YOU'LL GET
THERE IN A BIT.
THE NEXT INTERESTING
TURN IN YOUR CAREER,
I FIND YOU RUNNING THE
NOTTINGHAM PLAYHOUSE.
NOW, THIS IS VERY WELL ON
YOUR WAY TO BECOMING THE MAN
OF THE THEATRE THAT
WAS YOUR ASPIRATION.
BUT HOW DID YOU GET
FROM BEING STAR ACTOR
TO ARTISTIC DIRECTOR?

John says IT'S A BIT
FORTUITOUS, IN A SENSE.
I REMEMBER, AGAIN, MY
GREAT MENTOR AND BOSS,
MICHAEL BENTHALL, I WAS
ABOUT TO LEAVE THE OLD VIC,
HAVING DONE SIX YEARS
OF DOING NOTHING
BUT SHAKESPEARE - I
THINK I WAS KEEN TO WEAR
A PAIR OF PANTS,
YOU KNOW?
AND HE SAID, WHAT
DO YOU WANT TO DO?
I SAID, I THINK I REALLY
WOULD LIKE TO DIRECT.
IT'S AN OLD
CLICHÉD SAYING,
BUT I WAS A KID, REALLY.
HE SAID, DO YOU GO
TO ART GALLERIES?
I SAID, NOT VERY MUCH.
HE SAID, YOU'D BETTER
START DOING IT,
BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE YOU
LEARN HOW TO DIRECT.
THAT'LL HELP YOU; GO TO EVERY
ART GALLERY YOU CAN GO TO:
NATIONAL GALLERY, THE
TATE GALLERY, ALL OF THEM.
YOU'LL SEE PICTURES,
COMPOSITION,
COLOURS, EVERYTHING.
AND FROM THAT DAY TO THIS,
I GO TO ART GALLERIES
ANYWHERE I'M ON TOUR.
I DID A SIX-MONTH TOUR OF
THE UNITED STATES WITH
MY FAIR LADY
; I WENT TO
EVERY SINGLE ART GALLERY,
EVERYWHERE.
THAT'S HOW IT STARTED.
AND THEN I WAS IN A VERY
SUCCESSFUL RUN OF
ALFIE,
WHICH I CREATED, AT
THE MERMAID THEATRE.
IT TRANSFERRED TO THE
DUCHESS, A VERY POPULAR,
COMMERCIAL SUCCESS, AND I
LEFT IT AFTER SIX WEEKS,
HAVING BEEN INVITED
TO GO TO NOTTINGHAM
TO RUN THE THEATRE.
NEWSPAPERS SAID,
THIS GUY IS CRAZY,
HE'S ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.

Richard says AND IT WAS KIND OF AN
UP-AND-DOWN TIME THERE,
WASN'T IT - SOME
VERY GOOD TIMES,
BUT IN THE END NOT
PLEASANTNESS
WITH THE BOARD,
I BELIEVE.

John says YES, THAT'S RIGHT.
THERE WAS A NEW
LABOUR GOVERNMENT IN,
AND CONTRARY TO WHAT THEY'D
PROPHESIED, THE GRANTS...
THIS IS A VERY NEW STORY

Richard says THE GRANTS WERE CUT.

John says OH, DEAR.
NEVER HAPPENS
OVER HERE.

Richard says NEVER HAPPENS HERE.

John says ONLY IN CANADA YOU SAY?
[laughing]
SO, I CREATED HELL ABOUT
THIS, AND I WENT TO LONDON,
TO THE ARTS COUNCIL.
LORD GOODMAN WAS THE
HEAD OF THE ARTS COUNCIL.
I SAID, I'M GOING TO
RESIGN, AND HE SAID, NO,
YOU MUSTN'T DO THAT.
WE'VE GOT PETER
HALL AT STRATFORD
AND HE'S GOT SOME EYE
PROBLEM AND HE MAY
HAVE TO LEAVE, AND WE CAN'T
HAVE YOU LEAVING NOTTINGHAM.
HE SAID, I'LL SEE TO IT
YOU GET AN EXTRA GRANT.
SO, HE DID; WE GOT
AN EXTRA GRANT,
BECAUSE WE'D DONE SOME YEARS
OF GOOD WORK AT NOTTINGHAM.
AND THE BOARD WAS SO LIVID
THAT I'D MANAGED TO GET
THE GRANT INCREASED AND THEY
HADN'T THAT THEY WOULD
NOT ACCEPT MY WITHDRAWAL
OF THE RESIGNATION,
AND THAT'S WHEN THE
BIG FUSS HAPPENED,
BECAUSE THE PUBLIC
CAME OUT IN MY SUPPORT.

Richard says A FEW YEARS AFTER THAT, YOU
WERE CONTINUING TO WORK
IN ENGLAND, BUT THEN WE
FIND YOU, THE EARLY 1970s,
IN CANADA.
HOW DID THAT
JOURNEY BEGIN?

John says A WONDERFUL, GREAT LADY OF
THE THEATRE, JEAN ROBERTS
WHO WAS RUNNING THE
NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE THEATRE
WING AT THAT TIME - THEY
STILL HAD A THEATRE WING
AT THAT TIME - INVITED
ME FROM ENGLAND TO COME
AND DIRECT
THE
RIVALS, BY SHERIDAN.
WHAT WAS INTRIGUING ABOUT
IT WAS, AS YOU KNOW,
THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE
HAS A BIG OPERA HOUSE,
IT HAS A THEATRE, WHICH YOU
AND I HAVE PERFORMED IN,
AND IT HAS A STUDIO.
AND THEY WANTED TO DO
THE
RIVALS
IN THE STUDIO.
WELL, THE STUDIO IS
EXTREMELY - AGAIN,
AS YOU KNOW - A
PROSCENIUM PLAY.
SO, IT WAS A BIG CHALLENGE
TO DO IT IN THE STUDIO.
SO, I SAID,
YES, OF COURSE.
AGAIN, I WAS PRESENTED WITH
ONE OF THE GREAT CASTS
OF CANADA AT THAT TIME.
THEY WERE ALL NAME ACTORS,
AND WE HAD A WONDERFUL TIME
DOING IT, AND IT
WAS SUCCESSFUL.
I PHONED MY BELOVED CAROLINE
IN ENGLAND AND I SAID,
I THINK WE'RE MOVING.
SHE SAID, OH, NOT AGAIN -
BECAUSE WE'D MOVED
FROM LONDON TO
NOTTINGHAM.
SO, I FELL IN
LOVE WITH CANADA;
THAT'S THE
GIST OF IT.
AND WE SETTLED IN CANADA
IN 1972, 25 YEARS AGO.

Richard says I REMEMBER WHILE YOU WERE
STILL WORKING IN OTTAWA,
YOU GOT A CALL FROM A
PART OF THE COUNTRY
I DON'T THINK YOU'D EVER
BEEN TO, OUT IN ALBERTA.

John says THAT'S RIGHT.
A GREAT
FRIEND OF MINE, WHO WAS IN
THE RIVALS
IN
OTTAWA, GERRY PARKES -
WONDERFUL ACTOR, GOOD
FRIEND - HE WAS WORKING
IN EDMONTON AT
THE TIME,
AND THE ARTISTIC
DIRECTOR RESIGNED.
GERRY PARKES SAID
TO JOE SHOCTOR,
WHO IS THE FOUNDER
OF THE THEATRE,
YOU KNOW WHO YOU OUGHT
TO GET FOR THIS JOB?
JOE SAID, NO.
HE SAID, JOHN NEVILLE -
BECAUSE HE'D JUST
WORKED WITH ME
IN OTTAWA.
AND JOE HAD NEVER
HEARD OF ME, OF COURSE.
SO, I WAS, BY THIS TIME, IN
WINNIPEG DOING
HEDDA GABLER,
WITH ANOTHER WONDERFUL CAST:
MARTHA HENRY, DOUGLAS RAIN.
AND I GOT THE CALL
FROM JOE SHOCTOR:
WILL YOU COME
AND DO THIS?
SO, I SAID, YES.

Richard says NOWADAYS, EVEN PEOPLE IN
ONTARIO KNOW THE CITADEL
THEATRE IS ONE OF
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL,
LUXURIOUS COMPLEXES
IN THE COUNTRY.

John says PROBABLY THE BEST THEATRE
COMPLEX ON THIS CONTINENT.

Richard says IT'S GOT MASSIVE THEATRES;
IT'S REALLY GLORIOUS.
BUT WHEN YOU WENT
OUT THERE IN 1973,
IT WAS AN OLD
SALVATION ARMY HALL.

John says IT WAS A SALVATION
ARMY HALL;
I THINK IT HELD
ABOUT 200 SEATS.
AND I SPENT THREE
YEARS IN THAT THEATRE,
AND I NEEDED ALL THE
HELP I COULD GET.
AND I REMEMBER CALLING ON
A YOUNG MAN THAT I THOUGHT
COULD HELP ME, AND HIS NAME
WAS RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.

Richard says ALL THOSE
YEARS AGO, YES.
IT WAS AMAZING, THOUGH,
THAT PLACE WAS SO DECREPIT,
THE LATE ERIC
DUNCAN ONCE SAID,
MY DRESSING ROOM WAS
SO SMALL I HAD TO
GO OUT IN THE ALLEY
TO CHANGE MY MIND.
[laughing]
AND IT WAS A
TINY, TINY PLACE,
BUT YOU KNEW ALL ALONG
THERE WOULD BE
A BIGGER, BETTER HOME.

John says THERE WAS TALK, OFTEN
THERE IS TALK OF, OH,
WE'RE GOING TO
HAVE A NEW THEATRE,
OR WE'RE GOING TO HAVE
A NEW CONCERT HALL,
OR WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A
NEW OPERA HOUSE - REMEMBER?
AND SOMETIMES, THAT
JUST AMOUNTS TO TALK.
WELL, JOE SHOCTOR,
BEING THE MAN HE IS,
AND WITH THE AMOUNT OF
PERSUASION HE CAN GET GOING
IN THE COMMUNITY,
HE ACHIEVED IT,
AND WE GOT THAT
THEATRE BUILT.
I SPENT THREE YEARS
IN THE OLD THEATRE,
AND I REMEMBER CLEARLY WHILE
WE WERE STILL IN THE OLD
THEATRE, ON MONDAY MORNINGS,
PUTTING A HARD HAT ON AND
GOING TO THE SITE TO SEE
HOW THE BUILDING WAS GOING.

Richard says WHEN THE NEW ONE FINALLY
OPENED - I NEVER SAW THIS,
BUT I HEARD A DESCRIPTION
OF HOW YOU BEGAN -
YOU BEGAN WITH
ROMEO AND JULIET.
EVERYONE WENT, OH, YEAH,
SHAKESPEARE, JOHN NEVILLE,
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?
BUT THE WAY YOU
BEGAN IT...

John says ONE THING I THINK I SHOULD
SAY IS THAT THE PREVIEW -
I THINK THE FIRST PREVIEW, OR
A PREVIEW - I INSISTED THAT
EVERYONE WHO HAD A HAND
IN BUILDING THE THEATRE -
THE BUILDERS, THE CONTRACTORS,
THE BUILDERS WHO ACTUALLY
GOT THEIR HANDS DIRTY -
WERE AT THE FIRST PREVIEW.
BUT I THINK WHAT YOU'RE
THINKING OF IS THE CHOICE
OF
ROMEO AND JULIET, IN WHICH
OUR DEAR FRIEND BRENT WAS ROMEO.
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE FIRST
NIGHT - BECAUSE THERE ALWAYS
IS A QUESTION WITH A NEW
THEATRE WHETHER IT'S GOING
TO BE READY ON TIME -
THE CURTAIN WENT UP,
AND THERE WAS AN ELECTRICAL
BAR HANGING AT SLANT,
ABOUT MIDWAY UPSTAGE; THERE
WERE A FEW BUCKETS HANGING
AROUND, AND A TARPAULIN HAD
BEEN THROWN OVER THIS BAR.
THE CURTAIN WENT UP AND
THE AUDIENCE GASPED.
THEY THOUGHT,
IT ISN'T READY!
THAT'S ALL THAT
WAS ONSTAGE.
SO, THEN, AT THE
BACK OF THE STAGE,
THERE WAS A LITTLE DOOR, AND
I WALKED THROUGH THIS DOOR
WITH A BLACK TURTLENECK
SWEATER AND A PAIR OF PANTS ON,
SMOKING A CIGARETTE.
AND I PUT THE CIGARETTE OUT
ON THE BRAND NEW FLOOR,
AND SAID, TWO HOUSEHOLDS,
BOTH ALIKE...
THE FIRST CHORUS OF
ROMEO AND JULIET.
AND I TURNED ON MY
HEEL, WALKED UPSTAGE
AND PHILIP SILVER'S
SET CAME TUMBLING ON.
IT WAS A COUP.
IT WAS A COUP.
IT WAS JUST
WONDERFUL.

Richard says BUT AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
OF GETTING TO THAT POINT,
DID YOU ENJOY BEING
IN THE NEW THEATRE
AS MUCH AS THE
OLD ONE?

John says YES, I DID.
THE OLD ONE WAS
FUN AND PIONEERING,
AND WE ALL FELT THAT,
BUT THE NEW THEATRE
IS WONDERFUL.
THE WHOLE COMPLEX
IS, AS I SAY,
I THINK IT'S PROBABLY
THE BEST COMPLEX
ON THIS CONTINENT.

Richard says AFTER LEAVING THERE, WE'LL
FAST-FORWARD A BIT THROUGH
THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS,
BECAUSE YOU WENT
AND HAD A SIMILAR
EXPERIENCE PART OF THE WAY,
AT THE NEPTUNE
THEATRE IN HALIFAX.

John says ANOTHER SIX YEARS.
I SPENT SIX YEARS
IN EDMONTON,
WHICH WE CONSIDER
OUR HOMETOWN,
AND THEN SIX
YEARS IN HALIFAX.

Richard says AND AGAIN, IT WAS THE
OLDEST REGIONAL THEATRE
IN THE COUNTRY.

John says AND A DEFICIT.

Richard says AND A DEFICIT, AND IT WAS
FALLING APART, AND YOU SAID,
I WILL TAKE IT
AND FIX IT.

John says AND GUESS WHO I
CALLED ON AGAIN?

Richard says YES, I FOLLOWED
YOU LATER.
BUT I'M THINKING OF THE FACT
THAT THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK
ABOUT A NEW BUILDING
THERE, AND IT DIDN'T
MATERIALIZE IN YOUR TIME.
SOMEWHAT ACRIMONIOUS
RELATIONSHIP WITH SOME
OF THE PROVINCIAL
GOVERNMENT, WOULD YOU SAY?

John says YES, I WOULD THINK SO; I
THINK THAT'S A GOOD WORD.
I USED THE EXPRESSION
AT THE TIME,
I THINK WE SHOULD
RATTLE THEIR CAGES.

Richard says THERE WAS ONE CHAP WHO
STOOD UP IN THE LEGISLATURE...

John says THE EX-MAYOR.

Richard says THE EX-MAYOR...

John says EDMUND MORRIS.

Richard says AND SAID, I DON'T SEE THAT
WE SHOULD SPEND MILLIONS
OF DOLLARS SO THAT YOU CAN
SASHAY AROUND IN A PAIR
OF VELVET BLOOMERS - I
BELIEVE, WAS THAT THE LINE?

John says WEARING AN EARRING.
AND THAT CUTTING IS
HANGING IN MY LAVATORY.

[laughing]

Richard says THE EARRING - YOU'RE
EARRING-LESS AT THE MOMENT,
BUT YOU WERE SPORTING
AN EARRING...

John says WHEN I ARRIVED
IN THIS COUNTRY.

Richard says IN THE '70s WHEN
NO ONE ELSE DID IT.
I REMEMBER, WATCHING A
TELEVISION INTERVIEW
IN EDMONTON, A VERY
UPTIGHT INTERVIEWER,
FINALLY SUMMONING UP THE
COURAGE AFTER ABOUT
15 MINUTES, TO SAY,
Mr. NEVILLE,
WHY DO YOU WEAR
ONE EARRING?

John says AND I SAID, BECAUSE I THOUGHT
TWO WOULD BE EFFEMINATE.

[laughing]

Richard says SURVIVING ALL OF THAT,
SURVIVING POLITICS,
WE FIND YOU AT THE
STRATFORD FESTIVAL.
NOW, IT SEEMS LIKE A LOGICAL
PLACE FOR YOU TO HAVE BEEN
ALL ALONG, RUNNING THE
SHAKESPEAREAN THEATRE.

John says AND IT WAS A GREAT
EXPERIENCE; IN MANY WAYS,
I CAN'T SAY I DIDN'T
ENJOY IT, BECAUSE I DID.
I LIKE A CHALLENGE,
AND THE CHALLENGE
WAS A 4.5 MILLION-dollar DEFICIT.
WE GOT RID OF IT, AND
I SAY WE ADVISEDLY,
BECAUSE IT WAS A
GREAT TEAM OF PEOPLE.
AND I THINK OF,
FOR INSTANCE,
A WONDERFUL PERSON CALLED
MARGARET RYERSON,
WHO VOLUNTEERED TO COME
AND HELP ME WHEN
I WAS JUST BEING
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR.
AND I HAD A TEA CHEST
FULL OF LETTERS,
AND SHE VOLUNTEERED TO COME
AND STAY WITH ME TO DO THIS.
BUT SHE STAYED WITH ME FOR
THE WHOLE TIME I WAS THERE,
AND SHE WAS MY RIGHT HAND,
AND I WOULD FIND IT
VERY DIFFICULT TO HAVE
DONE WITHOUT HER.
MARGARET RYERSON

Richard says WONDERFUL.
IN THE YEARS
YOU WERE THERE,
YOU NOT ONLY TURNED THE
FINANCIAL SITUATION AROUND,
BUT YOU GOT PEOPLE COMING
BACK TO THE THEATRE.
YOU DID A LOT OF
DIFFERENT PLAYS?

John says WHAT IS USUAL AT STRATFORD
IS THAT THE AMERICAN
FRACTION OF THE AUDIENCE
IS ABOUT 40 PERCENT,
AND IT WAS BELOW 30
PERCENT WHEN I JOINED,
BUT I GOT IT UP TO OVER
THE 40 PERCENT AGAIN.
QUITE FRANKLY, WE WERE
DOING BETTER WORK,
BUT ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS
IN THE FIRST SEASON,
I DID SOME NEW PLAYS.
THEY WERE CALLED
PERICLES,
WINTER'S TALE,
AND
CYMBELINE, IN
THE MAIN THEATRE;
HENRY VIII
IN
THE AVON THEATRE.
AND PEOPLE CAME BACK
BECAUSE THEY HAD NOT SEEN
THESE PLAYS FOR 20 YEARS.
SO, IT WAS A VERY
THRILLING TIME,
AND THOSE PLAYS ARE ALL
ABOUT RECONCILIATION
AND FORGIVENESS, WHICH SEEMED
TO ME TO BE APPROPRIATE,
BECAUSE THERE'D BEEN A LOT
OF RANCOR BEFORE I JOINED.
AND THEY WERE APPROPRIATE,
AND THEN I ALSO
HAD A WONDERFUL TEAM
OF ACTORS AND DIRECTORS.
I INSTITUTED A POLICY OF HAVING
ALL CANADIAN DIRECTORS...
ALL CANADIAN DIRECTORS -
AND THE COMPANY
DIDN'T CHANGE FOR THE WHOLE
OF THE TIME I WAS THERE;
IT WAS REALLY A
PERMANENT COMPANY,
WHICH I LIKE TO
THINK IT SHOULD BE.
AND THEY KNEW THE SITUATION,
THEY KNEW THERE WAS A DEBT,
AND THEY ALL SAID, OKAY,
COME ON, LET'S DO IT.

Richard says HAVING GONE THROUGH ALL
THAT AND DONE ALL THAT
HARD WORK AND THAT GOOD WORK,
WHEN YOU STEP BACK NOW -
AND YOU LIVED IN STRATFORD STILL
FOR MANY YEARS AFTERWARDS -
DO YOU FIND IT AT ALL ODD TO
GO BACK TO THE PLACE THAT
YOU'RE NOT IN CHARGE
OF AND WATCH IT?
YOUR SON-IN-LAW WORKS THERE,
PEOPLE YOU KNOW WORK THERE.

John says I THINK THE ODD THING,
REALLY - AND I SHOULD HAVE
LEARNED THIS - WHEN
YOU LEAVE A JOB,
IT'S BEST TO MOVE.
AND I DIDN'T; I
STAYED LIVING THERE
BECAUSE IT WAS A VERY
PLEASANT PLACE TO LIVE,
THERE'S NO QUESTION
ABOUT THAT.
I THINK WHEN YOU LIVE
SO CLOSE TO A PLACE
AND A LOT OF DIFFERENT
THINGS ARE HAPPENING,
FROM WHAT YOU DID, NATURALLY
YOU CAN'T BE EXPECTED
TO APPROVE OF THEM
NATURALLY.

Richard says NOT YOU.

John says NOT ME, ANYWAY, NO.
THERE WERE MANY REASONS
FOR MOVING TO TORONTO
AFTER THAT LONG TIME - 13 YEARS
OR SO - OF LIVING THERE.
I EXPLAIN IT THIS
WAY: FIRST OF ALL,
NOT TOTALLY
IMPORTANT, BUT IT'S
TWO HOURS NEARER
THE AIRPORT.
AND ALSO, MY WIFE AND I GREW
UP IN A PLACE WHERE A LOT
OF THINGS WERE EASILY
AVAILABLE TO US: SEVERAL
BIG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRAS,
A LOT OF THEATRE,
GREAT ART GALLERIES - LIKE
THE NATIONAL GALLERY,
THE TATE GALLERY, AND MANY
OTHERS - AND ALL KINDS
OF GREAT THINGS GOING
ON IN THE THEATRE.
AND IN STRATFORD
IN THE WINTER,
YOU JUST DON'T
GET THAT.
SO, IT MADE SENSE TO MOVE TO
TORONTO FOR THOSE REASONS.
ALSO, THREE OF OUR SIX
CHILDREN LIVE IN TORONTO,
AS OPPOSED TO
THREE IN STRATFORD,
SO I THINK IT
WAS THEIR TURN.

Richard says YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT
YOUR FAMILY AND YOU'VE
MENTIONED YOUR WIFE.
FOR PEOPLE WHO'VE KNOWN YOU,
YOUR FAMILY IS INCREDIBLY
IMPORTANT TO YOU, AND YOUR
MARRIAGE IS INCREDIBLY
IMPORTANT TO YOU.
WOULD YOU GO AS FAR AS TO
SAY THAT YOU THINK
THAT'S WHAT'S KIND OF HELD
YOU TOGETHER IN ONE PIECE
ALL THESE YEARS?

John says THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT
IT - I'VE SAID THIS,
IT'S BEEN IN PRINT,
AND I'M NOT ASHAMED
TO MENTION IT AGAIN -
THAT WITHOUT MY WIFE,
I COULDN'T HAVE DONE MOST
OF THE THINGS I'VE DONE.
SHE HAS KEPT ME AND
THE FAMILY TOGETHER;
IT IS THE CEMENT, AND SHE
IS AN INCREDIBLE PERSON
AND MY BEST FRIEND AND
MY WIFE AND EVERYTHING.

Richard says DOES SHE EVER GET SICK OF
THE THOUGHT OF PACKING
THE SUITCASE ONE
MORE TIME THOUGH?

John says I PROMISED NOT
TO DO IT AGAIN.

Richard says SEE, BUT NOW YOU'RE SPENDING
SO MUCH TIME IN FILM.
EVERYWHERE I LOOK,
YOU KEEP POPPING UP,
DOING THESE
LITTLE VIGNETTES,
OR NOT-SO-LITTLE
VIGNETTES.

John says ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT
WHEN YOU STOP RUNNING
A THEATRE, PARTICULARLY A
BIG ONE LIKE STRATFORD, OR,
INDEED, ANY THEATRE, IT'S
VERY DIFFICULT TO EARN
A LIVING AS AN ACTOR IN
CANADA ONLY IN THE THEATRE.
ONE HAS GOT TO A STAGE OF
LIFE WHEN I DON'T WANT
TO GO INTO DIGS WITH THE
LANDLADY WHEN I GO ON TOUR.
ONE'S GOT TO A STAGE
OF LIVING REASONABLY
COMFORTABLY - NOT
EXTRAVAGANTLY, BY ANY MEANS;
WE DON'T DO THAT.
SO, YOU HAVE TO
EARN A LIVING,
SIMPLE AS THAT: YOU
HAVE TO EARN A LIVING.
AND THAT'S WHAT
I'VE BEEN DOING,
AND I STILL LOVE
THE THEATRE,
AND I'VE JUST
BEEN IN A PLAY.

Richard says IT'S INTERESTING, YOU
MENTIONED YOU WENT BACK
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, AND
WE ALL THOUGHT YOU WERE
MAYBE GOING TO MOVE BACK.
YOU WENT BACK TO ENGLAND,
HAD A TREMENDOUS TRIUMPH
AT THE NATIONAL THEATRE,
YOU WERE GIVEN AN OBIE,
EVERYBODY WAS
CRAZY ABOUT YOU.
A LOT OF US THOUGHT THAT YOU
MIGHT HAVE JUST STAYED
AND GONE BACK TO THE
THEATRE AND BECOME
A GRAND BRITISH KNIGHT.

John says I'D NEVER, SINCE THE DAY - I
BECAME A CANADIAN CITIZEN
AT THE VERY FIRST
OPPORTUNITY THAT I COULD
AFTER THIS LENGTH OF TIME
OF BEING IN CANADA -
IT HAPPENED IN EDMONTON, I
BECAME A CITIZEN IN EDMONTON.
I HAVE NEVER HAD
ANY INTENTION
OF GOING BACK
TO BRITAIN.
I DO GET INVITED
OCCASIONALLY TO WORK;
I WENT TO THE NATIONAL
THEATRE TO PLAY
SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, AND TWO
OR THREE MORE YEARS AGO,
I WENT TO THE ALMEIDA
THEATRE TO PLAY IN
STRINDBERG'S
DANCE OF DEATH.
LAST SUMMER, I WENT TO
THE CHICHESTER FESTIVAL,
AN OLD STAMPING GROUND,
TO PLAY OPPOSITE
PETER USTINOV, IN
A PLAY OF HIS.
SO, I DO GO BACK,
NOT THAT OFTEN,
FOR THINGS THAT INTRIGUE
ME, LIKE STRINDBERG.
BUT I HAVE NO INTENTION
OF GOING BACK;
I NEVER HAVE HAD, AND
I'VE LIVED IN CANADA,
AND THAT'S WHERE
I'M GOING TO STAY.

Richard says IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR
PROJECT YOU'VE ALWAYS
WANTED TO DO THAT YOU
HAVEN'T DONE YET,
AS YOU SEE THE HORIZON
LOOMING AHEAD?

John says SOME OF THE THINGS
THAT I WANT TO DO
I THINK I MAY BE
TOO OLD FOR NOW.
BUT I'VE ALWAYS
WANTED TO PLAY,
SINCE I WAS OLD ENOUGH,
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
IT'S ONE OF THE GREAT
ROMANTIC PLAYS,
AND I'D LIKE TO PLAY IT
WITH A WONDERFUL ACTRESS
THAT I ADMIRE CALLED
ANGELA BASSETT.

Richard says THAT WOULD BE VERY
INTERESTING INDEED.
I THINK YOU'D BE GOOD
PREP AFTER BALDWIN;
SHE JUST DID
MACBETH
WITH HIM.

John says I KNOW, IT WAS
NOT WELL RECEIVED,
BUT SHE'S A
WONDERFUL ACTRESS.
THE MOVIE SHE WAS IN
WHERE HER HUSBAND
HAD DESERTED HER...

Richard says
WHAT'S LOVE GOT
TO DO WITH IT?

John says NO, NO.
ANYWAY, IT'S A WONDERFUL
MOVIE WHERE SHE RIPS
ALL HIS CLOTHES OUT OF THE
HANGERS AND THROWS THEM
ONTO THE FRONT YARD AND
SETS FIRE TO THEM.
I THOUGHT, THAT GIRL
CAN PLAY CLEOPATRA.

Richard says SO,
ANTONY AND
CLEOPATRA; WHAT ELSE?

John says FALSTAFF, YES.

Richard says A GREAT ROLE; PEOPLE
NORMALLY THINK OF HIM
AS A ROTUND MAN, BUT YOU
THINK THAT'S NOT NECESSARY.

John says I THINK HE SHOULD
BE ROTUND, YES,
BUT THEN RALPH
RICHARDSON PLAYED HIM
THE GREATEST
I'VE SEEN, I THINK.
AND HE'S A THIN MAN,
OR WAS A THIN MAN,
BUT HE WAS PADDED, AND
HE LOOKED WONDERFUL
AS FALSTAFF.
HE SHOULD BE OF
SOME WEIGHT.

Richard says AS THEY SAY, INSIDE
EVERY FAT MAN
IS A THIN MAN SCREAMING
TO BE LET OUT.
THAT MIGHT BE
THE ANSWER.

John says I'M SCREAMING
TO GET IN.

[laughing]

Richard says JOHN, THERE IS SO
MUCH STILL AHEAD.
I LOOK FORWARD TO
EXPERIENCING IT AND SEEING
IT WITH YOU, AND THANK
YOU FOR EVERYTHING
YOU'VE GIVEN US
OVER THE YEARS.

John says IT'S BEEN A GREAT PLEASURE,
RICHARD, THANK YOU.

Richard says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

He faces the screen and says
FOR
DIALOGUE,
I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOODBYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1998, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: John Neville