Transcript: Brian Bedford | Dec 05, 1999

(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 talking in a television studio against a white screen: “Brian Bedford. 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 black suit, a gray shirt, and a patterned gray and black tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
WELL, WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN
YOU FINALLY GET TO SIT DOWN
OPPOSITE SOMEONE WHO HAS
GIVEN YOU SOME OF THE FINEST
PERFORMANCES YOU'VE SEEN
IN THE THREE DECADES OF
THEATRE GOING?
I THINK YOU CUT RIGHT
TO THE CHASE AND SAY,
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH BRIAN BEDFORD.

Brian is in his sixties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He’s wearing glasses, a beige vest over a pale blue shirt, and brown trousers.

Richard continues BRIAN, WELCOME.
GLAD TO HAVE YOU HERE.
YOU THOUGHT I WAS KIDDING,
BUT NO, I WAS TRYING TO THINK
BACK, I HAVE THIS BRIAN
BEDFORD SCRAPBOOK IN MY HEAD
OF GREAT ROLES.
I'LL GO BACK ABOUT
TWENTY-ODD YEARS.
RICHARD III, I WANT TO START
WITH THAT BECAUSE IT REMAINS
INCREDIBLY MEMORABLE TO ME.
STRATFORD FESTIVAL, 1977.
STILL, OVER TWO DECADES LATER,
PEOPLE ARE STILL TALKING
ABOUT THAT PRODUCTION.
WHEN YOU STARTED OUT ON IT,
DID YOU KNOW IT WAS GOING TO
BE AS MEMORABLE AS IT WAS?

Brian says NO, I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING
TO BE AN ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE.

Richard says YOU'RE KIDDING.
WHY?

Brian says UM...
I HAD ONE OF THE FEW KIND OF
CONTRETEMPS THAT I EVER HAD
WITH ROBIN AT THE VERY
BEGINNING OF
RICHARD III.
AND IT WAS OKAY, BUT IT JUST
CONSISTED OF ME SAYING TO
ROBIN, ROBIN, THIS WAS LIKE
THE SECOND REHEARSAL OR
SOMETHING, AND I SAID, I HAVE
TO DO MY OWN PERFORMANCE OF
RICHARD III.
AND HE WAS, BECAUSE HE WAS, HE
HAS SO MANY WONDERFUL IDEAS,
BUT HE STARTED VERY, VERY
EARLY, I THOUGHT, SORT OF,
YOU KNOW, SLIGHTLY
OVERBURDENING ME WITH THEM.
SO THAT'S HOW IT STARTED OFF,
WHICH WASN'T TOO PROMISING.
EXCEPT, HE DEALT WITH IT
ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFULLY, AND IT
WAS OVER AND DONE WITH.

Richard says SO DID HE LET YOU HAVE MORE --
FEEL YOUR WAY THROUGH IT?

Brian says YES, HE DID.
BUT THIS IS NOT TO SAY HE
DIDN'T KEEP A VERY, VERY
SHARP EYE ON WHAT I WAS DOING.
AND INCLUDING, I REMEMBER,
WHEN WE WERE IN PREVIEWS, IN
MY DRESSING ROOM, ROBIN TOLD
ME SOMETHING I WAS DOING
WAS 'CHEAP'.
AND I WAS ABSOLUTELY
HORRIFIED.
AND ALL I COULD DO WAS
GO INTO THE BATHROOM
AND TURN ON THE SHOWER.
I DIDN'T GET
INTO
THE SHOWER.
BUT I JUST HAD TO TURN IT ON.
WEIRD, YOU KNOW,
HOW ONE REACTS.
BECAUSE I WAS ABSOLUTELY, YOU
KNOW -- BUT HE WAS RIGHT.

Richard says DO YOU ALSO THINK HE HAD A
MOTIVATION FOR DOING THAT?
WAS THERE SOMETHING COMING
UP IN THE SECOND ACT?

Brian says PROBABLY.
ROBIN HAS A MOTIVATION
FOR EVERYTHING THAT HE DOES.

Richard says I'M CURIOUS.
NOT THAT THERE WERE TWO
DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED WAYS,
BUT THINGS THAT YOU WANTED
TO STRESS AND THINGS ROBIN
WANTED TO STRESS?

Brian says EVENTUALLY, THEY WERE
THE SAME RICHARD.
AND I DON'T THINK IT COULD
HAVE BEEN AS SUCCESSFUL IF
THAT HADN'T BEEN THE CASE.
I THINK, EVENTUALLY, WE
WERE ABSOLUTELY AS ONE
IN WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO DO.
AND HE STOPPED ME FROM DOING
A LOT OF THINGS WHICH WOULD
HAVE DILUTED THE PERFORMANCE,
AND REDUCED IT, YOU KNOW?
I THINK IT'S SOME OF HIS
ABSOLUTELY FINEST WORK
AT STRATFORD.
I THOUGHT THE PRODUCTION
WAS MAGNIFICENT.
AND THE CAST... I DON'T KNOW
THAT WE'VE EVER HAD A CAST
LIKE THAT AT STRATFORD.

Richard says THE AMAZING ASSORTMENT OF WOMEN
YOU GOT TO PLAY OPPOSITE.

Brian says MARTHA, MAGGIE
SMITH, MAGGIE TYZACK.
IT WAS, OF COURSE, ONE
FORGETS, IN
RICHARD III, ARE
SOME OF THE BEST WOMEN'S PARTS
THAT SHAKESPEARE EVER WROTE.
IT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY
EXPERIENCE.

Richard says NOW, IS
RICHARD III, I KNOW
IT'S CERTAINLY A FLASHY PART
TO PLAY, AND IT'S A PART THAT
PEOPLE GET A LOT OF CREDIT FOR.
BUT IS IT ALSO A BIT
OF A BUGGER TO PLAY?

Brian says WELL, NOT IN THE WAY THAT
ROBIN GUIDED ME TO DO IT.
BECAUSE -- AND WE WERE IN
AGREEMENT ON THIS RIGHT AT THE
VERY, VERY BEGINNING,
THAT IT
IS
A TRAGEDY.
THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD III.
AND IT'S SO OFTEN, WELL,
OLIVIER, FOR EXAMPLE,
HE DID IT AS A
SORT OF COMEDY.
AND IT WAS BRILLIANT.
BRILLIANTLY FUNNY.
BUT WE DIDN'T WANT
IT TO GO THAT WAY.
AND IT WAS THE
NIXON ERA, YOU KNOW?
AND I SLIGHTLY LOOKED A
BIT LIKE RICHARD NIXON.

Richard says WITHIN SPITTING
DISTANCE OF WATERGATE.

Brian says WHICH I DON'T LIKE
TO THINK ABOUT.

Richard says NO, BUT THERE WAS
THAT HANGING OVER IT.
THE MANIPULATION
QUALITY WAS AMAZING.

Brian says YES.
IT WAS A VERY, VERY
GOOD EXPERIENCE, THAT.

Richard says IS THAT ONE OF YOUR
FAVOURITES FROM ALL THE MANY
ONES YOU'VE DONE AT STRATFORD?
BECAUSE ANOTHER ONE THAT POPS
INTO MY MIND, OF COURSE, IS
THE
MUCH ADO.
NOW, YOU DID TWO.
YOU DID A VERY LOVELY ONE JUST
RECENTLY WITH MARTHA HENRY,
UNDER RICHARD MONETTE'S
DIRECTION, BUT YOU DID
THE KIND OF CAVALIER
PRODUCTION --

Brian says WITH MAGGIE.

Richard says WITH MAGGIE SMITH.

Brian says AND ROBIN.

Richard says AND ROBIN.
AND THAT ALSO IS VERY
BIG IN MY MEMORY BOOK.
AGAIN, WHAT DO YOU
CARRY AWAY FROM THAT?

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Brian Bedford. Actor.”

Brian says I CARRY AWAY FROM THAT
JUST HUGE ENJOYMENT.
IT WAS JUST THE
GREATEST FUN TO DO.
MAGGIE AND I, BY THAT
TIME, HAD DONE ABOUT
SIX OR EIGHT
PLAYS TOGETHER.
AND BY THAT TIME, WE HAD
EVOLVED A VERY LOVING SORT
OF LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP.
AND SO IT WORKED ABSOLUTE
BY BEAUTIFULLY FOR THAT.
LOVE-HATE, I THINK, IS
PUTTING IT A BIT TOO STRONG.
BUT IT WAS LOVE
AND SOMETHING ELSE.
NOT HATE, BUT...
I DON'T KNOW, SHE... SHE WAS
A VERY SCRUTINIZING PARTNER.
AND YOU WERE VERY AWARE THAT
THOSE EYES WERE ON YOU.
YOU KNOW?
AND I THINK, IN MY CASE, I
WAS LUCKY BECAUSE I THINK
IT MADE ME DO MY BEST.
WITH SOME OTHER PEOPLE,
IT KIND OF REDUCES YOU
TO BEING SELF-CONSCIOUS.

Richard says ALSO, I IMAGINE IT
WOULD WORK VERY WELL IN
BEATRICE AND BENEDICK,
WHERE THEY'RE ALWAYS --

Brian says SPARRING.

Richard says AND PLAYING WITH EACH OTHER,
AND TRYING TO SEE WHO CAN,
IN FACT, SOMEONE SAID, WHY
THE PLAY WORKS IS ULTIMATELY,
THEY DO BRING OUT THE
BEST IN EACH OTHER.

Brian says YES.

Richard says AND THEY BECOME FINER PEOPLE
BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY'VE
PRODDED EACH OTHER TO.

Brian says THAT'S RIGHT.

Richard says SO IT WOULD WORK
IN THAT CASE.
BUT I COULD ALSO SEE THERE
MIGHT BE TIMES YOU WOULDN'T
HAVE SUCH A WONDERFUL
TIME ACTING WITH HER.
DEPENDING ON THE PLAY.

Brian says WELL, IT WAS ALWAYS A
PRETTY WONDERFUL TIME.
BUT NOT NECESSARILY
ALL FUN AND GAMES.
SHE'S A VERY, VERY SERIOUS
PROFESSIONAL DEMANDER,
AS A PARTNER.
SHE'S ALSO A PERFECTIONIST.
WHICH IS ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT MAKES HER UNHAPPY
NOW AND AGAIN.

Richard says ARE YOU A
PERFECTIONIST THOUGH?

Brian says UM... I DON'T THINK I
AM A PERFECTIONIST.
BECAUSE DOESN'T A
PERFECTIONIST SUGGEST THAT
YOU'RE MISERABLE UNLESS
YOU ACHIEVE PERFECTION?

Richard says I GUESS.

Brian says BECAUSE THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE.
AND THAT'S WHY PERFECTIONISTS
ARE, ON THE WHOLE,
VERY UNHAPPY PEOPLE.
BECAUSE YOU NEVER
ACHIEVE THAT.
SHAKESPEARE, ESPECIALLY, WE
WERE TALKING BEFORE WE STARTED
THIS INTERVIEW, YOU PUT
EVERYTHING THAT YOU HAVE
INTO SHAKESPEARE.
YOUR IMAGINATION, YOUR
EXPERIENCE, EVERY OUNCE OF
YOUR TALENT, AND IT'S
NEVER QUITE ENOUGH.
THAT'S WHY YOU CAN DO IT
AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN
AND AGAIN.

Richard says BUT YOU'RE NOT UNHAPPY AS YOU
ARE TRYING TO RECREATE THESE
EXPERIENCES, OR GO ON
AND DO NEW ONES, RIGHT?
YOU ALWAYS WANT TO MAKE IT
BETTER, BUT YOU'RE NOT UNHAPPY
TRYING TO MAKE IT BETTER.

Brian says THAT'S RIGHT.
SO I THINK THERE'S A
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STRIVING
FOR PERFECTION AND BEING
A PERFECTIONIST, I THINK.

Richard says THAT'S A VERY GOOD
DISTINCTION, GOOD.

Brian says I CERTAINLY DO THE ABSOLUTE
BEST THAT I POSSIBLY CAN.
BECAUSE I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO
SLEEP IF I DIDN'T DO THAT.

Richard says LET ME ROLL THE FILM
BACK A LITTLE BIT.
I FIRST, WHEN I WAS GOING TO
SCHOOL IN NEW YORK, AND GOING
TO THE THEATRE, I STARTED
BECOMING AWARE OF YOU
IN THE 1960s.
WHAT WAS THE VERY FIRST SHOW
THAT BROUGHT YOU TO AMERICA?

Brian says IT WAS PETER SHAFFER'S FIRST
PLAY,
FIVE FINGER EXERCISE.
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, HUGELY
SUCCESSFUL PLAY OF HIS.
AND I PLAYED HIM.
AND ENDED UP DOING THAT
PLAY FOR THREE YEARS.
A YEAR IN ENGLAND, A YEAR ON
BROADWAY, THEN A YEAR ON TOUR
IN THE STATES AND CANADA.
THAT WAS THE FIRST PLAY
THAT BROUGHT ME TO TORONTO.

Richard says RIGHT.
THERE WAS THIS HIGHLY, BEFORE
ANYONE KNEW WHAT THE WORDS
DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY
MEANT, THERE WAS THIS
DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY.
AND YOU WERE THE
TORMENTED SON, RIGHT?

Brian says YES, YES, WITH
GAY UNDERTONES.

Richard says WITH A LOVE THAT DARE
NOT SPEAK ITS NAME.
WITH THE GERMAN TUTOR.

Brian says THAT'S RIGHT.
IT NEVER DID SPEAK ITS NAME.

Richard says NOW, CURIOUS.
AS THE YEARS HAVE GONE ON,
WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO, PETER
SHAFFER, IN PARTICULAR, HAS
BEEN ABLE TO SPEAK THINGS
A LITTLE MORE CLEARLY.
BUT
FIVE FINGER EXERCISE,
I REMEMBER IT BEING AN
EFFECTIVE PLAY, YET IT'S NOT
REVIVED THAT MUCH NOWADAYS.
WHY?

Brian says I SUSPECT, RICHARD, THAT IT'S
NOT QUITE SO EFFECTIVE NOW,
AS IT WAS.
I HAVEN'T READ IT
EVER SINCE WE DID IT.

Richard says AND THAT WAS 40 YEARS AGO.

Brian says WELL, YEAH.
ABSOLUTELY.
40 YEARS AGO.

Richard says I BLANCHED AS I SAID THAT.

Brian says 40 YEARS AGO, YEAH.
BUT AS I SAID, I DID THAT PLAY
FOR THREE YEARS, BUT THEY
WERE THREE VERY, VERY
INTERESTING AND WONDERFUL YEARS.
BECAUSE FOR ONE THING, THEY
BROUGHT ME TO NORTH AMERICA,
WHICH IS WHERE I
WAS DYING TO GET TO.
AND I HAD THIS EXTRAORDINARY
EXPERIENCE, WHEN I ARRIVED,
I WAS 23, I THINK, WHEN I CAME
HERE, FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND
I FELT AS IF I -- I REALLY DID
FEEL AS IF I WAS COMING HOME.

Richard says WHY?

Brian says I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T KNOW.

Richard says BECAUSE IT'S INTERESTING.
YOUR CAREER HAS ALWAYS BEEN
VERY CONTENTEDLY, AND HAPPILY,
MOSTLY ON THIS SIDE
OF THE ATLANTIC.

Brian says OH, YES.
OH, YES.
I MEAN, I THINK I'VE DONE,
LIKE, TWO PLAYS IN ENGLAND
SINCE
FIVE FINGER
EXERCISE,
MAYBE THREE.
BUT THAT'S ALL.

Richard says WHY DO YOU LIKE IT SO MUCH?
YOU SAID IT FELT
LIKE A HOMECOMING.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE NORTH
AMERICAN ATMOSPHERE?

Brian says WELL, I DON'T KNOW.
IT'S JUST THAT LIFE IS
THAT MUCH MORE POSITIVE
AN EXPERIENCE FOR ME HERE.
AND IT WAS IMMEDIATELY,
AND IT STILL IS.
I FEEL AS IF I'M
IN THE RIGHT PLACE.
AND I'VE BEEN INCREDIBLY LUCKY
BECAUSE, THANKS TO STRATFORD,
AND OTHER INSTANCES, I'VE HAD
AN ENGLISH ACTOR'S CAREER,
WHICH IS WHAT I WANTED.
I WANTED MY CAKE
AND TO EAT IT.
AND I'VE HAD THAT.
AND I CONSIDER THAT QUITE
EXTRAORDINARILY LUCKY.

Richard says IT'S FUNNY, IT WAS A SERIOUS
PLAY THAT BROUGHT YOU OVER,
BUT I GUESS, ALTHOUGH YOU'VE
DONE A LOT OF SERIOUS ACTING
OVER THE YEARS, PEOPLE TEND TO
THINK OF YOUR COMEDIC ROLES.
THEY SAY, OH, BRIAN BEDFORD HAS
SUCH BRILLIANT COMEDY TIMING.

Brian says YEAH, YEAH.

Richard says YOU STARTED TO GET INTO
THOSE INTO THE '60s, AS WELL,
IN NEW YORK.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER -- WHAT
FROM THAT PERIOD STICKS OUT IN
YOUR BRAIN OF THE BITTERSWEET
COMEDY OR THE COMEDY?

Brian says I THINK I'VE ALWAYS, I THINK,
FIVE FINGER EXERCISE,
WHICH
AS YOU SAY, WAS A SERIOUS
THING, I BROUGHT AS MUCH
COMEDY INTO IT AS
I POSSIBLY COULD.
AND THERE IS GOOD COMEDY
IN PETER SHAFFER'S STUFF.
HE'S GOT A GOOD
SENSE OF HUMOUR.
I THINK PROBABLY IN NEW YORK,
WELL, OF COURSE, THE REVIVAL
OF
PRIVATE LIVES, WHICH
WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL.
I REMEMBER THAT WITH
GREAT AFFECTION.
BUT I THINK PROBABLY THE THING
I WAS MOST PROUD OF WAS DOING
MOLIERE'S PLAY,
SCHOOL FOR WIVES.
AND MANAGING TO TURN A
CLASSICAL COMEDY, WRITTEN IN
THE 17th CENTURY IN FRANCE,
INTO A COMMERCIAL SUCCESS.
THAT WAS VERY GRATIFYING.

Richard says IT ALSO WAS, I THINK, ONE
OF THE FIRST, NOWADAYS IT'S
CONSIDERED MORE COMMON
COINAGE TO DO MOLIERE.
BUT OUTSIDE OF
TARTUFFE,
NO
ONE WAS DOING MOLIERE AT ALL.
AND I REMEMBER SEEING THAT
PRODUCTION, AND IT GOT ENORMOUS
ATTENTION, AND AWARDS AND
EVERYTHING HEAPED ON IT.
AND PEOPLE SUDDENLY DISCOVERED
THEY COULD FIND MOLIERE FUNNY.

Brian says YES.

Richard says NOW YOU'VE GONE BACK AND PLAYED
THAT CARD FREQUENTLY AGAIN.
AND OTHER PEOPLE HAVE
NOT BEEN AS SUCCESSFUL.
WHY DO YOU FEEL YOU
CAN GRASP MOLIERE
AND KNOW HOW TO PLAY HIM?

Brian says I DON'T KNOW.
BUT I DO HAVE A VERY STRONG,
INSTINCTIVE FEELING FOR IT.
A GREAT DEAL OF IT IS TO
DO WITH RICHARD WILBUR.

Richard says THOSE WONDERFUL TRANSLATIONS.

Brian says YEAH.
I THINK WILBUR'S CONTRIBUTION
IS AS GREAT AS MOLIERE'S.
AND HE MAKES GREAT OLD PLAYS
INTO MODERN, NORTH AMERICAN,
VERY EASILY ACCESSIBLE
EXPERIENCES.
AND WILBUR HAS, YOU KNOW,
WIT AND IRONY, AND A GREAT
POETIC SENSE.
AND HE'S -- HE MAKES THE
ACTOR'S JOB, WITH MOLIERE,
I THINK, PRETTY EASY.

Richard says SOMEBODY ALSO ARGUED, AND I
FOUND THIS INTERESTING, IS
THEY SAID THE KIND OF SEXUAL
DUPLICITY AND ROLE-PLAYING
THAT A LOT OF THE MOLIERE
PLAYS THRIVE ON, WOULD HAVE
BEEN UNTHINKABLE FOR AN
AMERICAN AUDIENCE IN THE 1950s
AND '60s, AND EVEN INTO
THE '70s TO ACCEPT OPENLY.
BUT IN KIND OF THE POST
BOB
AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE
ERA, THE FACT THAT A WIFE
MAYBE WANTED TO CARRY ON WITH
SOMEONE ELSE, OR THE HUSBAND
MIGHT HAVE ANOTHER YOUNG THING
AROUND, OR THIS OR THAT,
SOMEHOW BECAME MORE COMMON
GRIST FOR COMEDY.
AND I DON'T WANT TO
SAY MORE ACCEPTABLE,
BUT IT'S MORE LIVABLE.
DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT HAVE
SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT?

Brian says I DO.
I DO.
I THINK WHAT REALLY MAKES
MOLIERE FUNNY, THOUGH, IS THE
WAY HE DEALS WITH TOTALLY
OBSESSED, INSANE PEOPLE.
AND I THINK IT PROBABLY MADE
HIS OWN LIFE RATHER MISERABLE.
BECAUSE I THINK HE WAS USING
STUFF FROM HIS OWN LIFE.

Richard says BECAUSE THERE IS ALWAYS, I
NEVER THOUGHT OF IT UNTIL YOU
SAID IT, THERE IS AN OBSESSIVE
AT THE HEART OF EVERY PLAY.

Brian says ABSOLUTELY.
IT'S ALWAYS, YOU KNOW, A
MAN OBSESSED WITH A WOMAN
WHO HE CAN'T TRUST.
AND, OF COURSE, MOLIERE
EXPERIENCED THAT A GREAT DEAL
IN HIS OWN LIFE.
BUT THE SORT OF EGOMANIACAL
OBSESSIONS THAT THESE PEOPLE
EXPERIENCE, I FIND VERY
APPEALING TO PLAY.
DON'T KNOW WHAT
THAT SAYS ABOUT ME.

Richard says WELL, NO, BECAUSE THEY ARE
LARGER-THAN-LIFE CHARACTERS,
AND THEY BELONG
ON A STAGE THEN.

Brian says THEY'RE LARGER THAN LIFE,
BUT THEY'RE VERY MUCH TO DO
WITH LIFE.

Richard says WHAT ABOUT, YOU HIT ON A
PLAYWRIGHT WHO HAS A RECURRING
THEME, WITH MOLIERE.
I'VE OFTEN FELT THE SAME THING
HAPPENS WITH PETER SHAFFER,
WHOSE WORK YOU'VE
INTERPRETED FREQUENTLY.
AND YOU OFTEN WANT TO SHAKE
HIM AND GO, WILL YOU GET PAST
THE TWIN THING, ALL RIGHT?
YOUR BROTHER'S STRAIGHT
AND YOU'RE NOT.
GET PAST IT!
DO YOU FIND, HAVING DONE QUITE
A BIT OF HIS PLAYS, THAT ONE
PERSON NOT BEING WHAT THEY
WANT TO BE, AND BEING WHAT
ANOTHER PERSON IS, KEEPS
POPPING UP AND UP AND UP AGAIN?

Brian says ABSOLUTELY.

Richard says WHETHER IT'S
EQUUS, OR
IT'S
AMADEUS, EVEN IN
THE FUNNIER PLAYS.
IT'S IN THERE IN
BLACK COMEDY.
AND IT'S IN THERE IN
THE
AND NO MATTER WHERE
YOU TURN, THERE IT IS.

Brian says IT'S A SORT OF, YOU KNOW,
NOT EXACTLY CELEBRATION,
BUT CERTAINLY, INVESTIGATION
OF MEDIOCRITY.
AND I GUESS...
THIS MUST BE VERY
MEANINGFUL TO PETER.

Richard says HAVING SPENT A LOT OF TIME
WITH HIM AS RICHARD DYSART,
AND AS SALIERI, I DON'T WANT
TO MAKE YOU PLAY AMATEUR
PSYCHOLOGIST HERE, BUT WHAT DO
YOU THINK, I MEAN, HE SEEMS
TO BE GLORIFYING THE MEDIOCRE
PERSON WHO ENVIES THE GENIUS.
WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM?

Brian says WELL, WHERE DO YOU THINK?
I MEAN, ISN'T IT OBVIOUS?

Richard says FROM THE OTHER
BROTHER, RIGHT?

Brian says NO, NO, NOT THE OTHER BROTHER
BECAUSE I DON'T THINK HE
VIEWS TONY AS A GENIUS.
AND I DON'T SEE WHY HE SHOULD.
I MEAN, IF THERE'S A BRILLIANT
PLAYWRIGHT AMONGST THOSE TWO,
IT HAS TO BE PETER.

Richard says HE IS THE BETTER.

Brian says I MEAN,
SLEUTH
WAS A GOOD
SLEIGHT-OF-HAND PLAY, BUT PETER
HAS WRITTEN SOME SUBSTANTIALLY
THEATRICAL EXPERIENCES,
YOU KNOW, FOR PEOPLE.

Richard says BUT EVERY TIME I THINK OF A
PLAY, THERE IT IS AGAIN, WITH
THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN
WITH PIZARRO AND ATAHUALLPA,
THERE'S THE SAME CONFLICT.

Brian says WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS?

Richard says WELL, I THINK MY DEAR FRIEND
PETER SHAFFER IS NOT TOO
CONFIDENT ABOUT
HIS OWN ABILITY.
I THINK HE CONSIDERS
HIMSELF...
THE SALIERI TO SHAKESPEARE
OR MOLIERE'S MOZART.
DON'T YOU?

Brian says WELL, I WONDERED WHO IT WAS,
'COS OBVIOUSLY, IF YOU'RE
LABOURING ABOUT INFERIORITY
TO SHAKESPEARE, THAT'S ONE
THING, RIGHT?
BUT THE CURIOUS THING, AGAIN,
YOU'VE HIT ON NOW, IS THERE
AN ELEMENT OF GRANDIOSITY
MIXED IN WITH IT?

Richard says YES.
THERE IS.

Brian says OBVIOUSLY, FROM THOSE
THEMES, THERE IS.

Richard says HAVE YOU EVER POINTED
OUT TO HIM HE KEEPS
REWRITING THE SAME PLAY?

Brian says NO.

Richard says YOU WOULDN'T DARE.

Brian says NO.

Richard says WHAT WOULD HE DO?

Brian says I THINK HE'D TELL
ME THAT I WAS WRONG.

Richard says HE'D SAY, ONE PLAY IS ABOUT
A PSYCHIATRIST, ANOTHER IS
ABOUT A COMPOSER, ANOTHER
IS ABOUT AN EXPLORER.

Brian says YEAH.
I MEAN, THIS IS OBVIOUSLY
AN ACHILLES HEEL WITH HIM.
SO YOU DON'T...

Richard says YOU DON'T GO THERE.

Brian says NO.
I DON'T THINK YOU GO TO WHERE
PEOPLE ARE MOST VULNERABLE,
UNLESS YOU'RE THEIR
PSYCHIATRIST OR THEIR FATHER
OR SOMETHING.
PETER SHAFFER IS A FRIEND.
HE'S A VERY CLOSE FRIEND OF
MINE, AND HAS BEEN SINCE, YOU
KNOW, AS YOU JUST POINTED
OUT, FOR 40 YEARS.

Richard says I'M REALIZING AGAIN,
LISTENING TO YOU NOW, I THINK
PART OF THE REASON YOU'VE BEEN
SO SUCCESSFUL IN THESE PLAYS
IS THAT YOU DON'T TREAT DYSART
OR SALIERI AS MEDIOCRITIES,
EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY BE.
YOU PLAY THEM AS IF THEY
WERE THE GENIUS WANT-TO-BES
THAT THEY WERE.

Brian says AND I ALSO -- WE'RE BACK TO
SOMETHING WE WERE TALKING
ABOUT EARLIER ON.
I ALSO SQUEEZE EVERY DROP
OF HUMOUR OUT OF THEM
THAT I POSSIBLY CAN.
AND THERE IS A LOT IN
DYSART AND IN SALIERI.
AND THE OTHER THINGS.
BUT I'VE HAD A VERY, VERY
GOOD TIME DOING SHAFFER'S STUFF.
AND I'M PERFECTLY AWARE, AND
SYMPATHETIC TO A LOT OF THE
ANTI-PETER SHAFFER STUFF THAT
COMES OUT, ESPECIALLY IN THE
PRESS NOW BECAUSE HE'S NOT THE
FLAVOUR OF THE MONTH ANYMORE.
ALTHOUGH,
AMADEUS
IS GOING
VERY, VERY WELL IN ENGLAND.
IT'S JUST BEEN REVIVED.
AND I THINK IT'S DOING WELL.
BUT I'VE HAD A WONDERFUL TIME.
AND NOT JUST A FUN TIME.
I'VE HAD A
STIMULATING TIME.
THE YEAR THAT I DID
EQUUS,
NOT THE TIME I DID IT HERE,
BUT WHEN I DID IT
COMMERCIALLY, THE INTEREST
OF THAT PART SUSTAINED
ME FOR A FULL YEAR.
AND THAT'S QUITE AN
EXTRAORDINARY THING.

Richard says ABSOLUTELY.

Brian says AND SALIERI, THERE'S A
GREAT DEAL TO THAT MAN.

Richard says AGAIN, THEY ARE
OBSESSIVE PEOPLE.
WE TALKED ABOUT THIS.
THE OBSESSIVES.
ONE MORE OBSESSIVE THAT IS NOT
A TYPICAL BRIAN BEDFORD PART,
AND IT'S ONE OF THE
ONES I REMEMBER VIVIDLY
FROM A DECADE AGO IS SHYLOCK.

Brian says AH, YES.

Richard says ONE OF MY FAVOURITES AGAIN.
AND AGAIN, IF I HAD TO
REMEMBER ONE MOMENT, IT WAS
JUST BEFORE THE INTERMISSION
IN THIS VERSION,
WHERE YOU WERE TELLING TUBAL
WHERE YOU WANTED HIM TO MEET
YOU, AND YOU SAID,
“AT MY SYNAGOGUE.”
AND YOU REPEATED THE
LINE, “AT MY SYNAGOGUE.”
AND THE PASSION OF THIS MAN
BEING INVOLVED WITH HIS
RELIGION, AND THE POINT OF
WHAT HE WAS GOING TO DO, ALL
CAME UP, AND I WENT, I THINK
I UNDERSTAND SHYLOCK NOW.

Brian says THAT'S GREAT, RICHARD.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Richard says BUT WHAT BROUGHT YOU THERE?
I WANT TO KNOW WHAT
BROUGHT YOU THERE.
BECAUSE THAT'S SUCH AN --

Brian says TO THAT PARTICULAR MOMENT?

Richard says OR TO THAT PART.

Brian says THIS IS NEW TO ME,
WHAT YOU'RE SAYING.
AND IT'S VERY, VERY
INTERESTING AND GRATIFYING,
THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU'D HAVE
SUCH A LIVELY RECOLLECTION
OF IT, AND IT AFFECTED
YOU SO MUCH.
I DO NOT KNOW.
I DON'T EVEN
REMEMBER THAT MOMENT.

Richard says IT COMES OUT SPONTANEOUSLY.

Brian says I DON'T REMEMBER THAT MOMENT.
I REMEMBER THE MOMENT WHERE
THE KIDS BEFORE HE GOES INTO,
“HATH NOT A JEW EYES.”
THAT WAS MICHAEL LANGHAM'S
BRILLIANT IDEA, THAT THESE
KIDS WERE AROUND, AND THROWING
STONES AT SHYLOCK, AND HE
GRABS ONE OF THESE KIDS
AND GOES INTO THIS...
I'M SO GLAD YOU BROUGHT THAT
UP BECAUSE I FORGET ABOUT
THESE THINGS.
AND THAT WAS A WONDERFUL
EXPERIENCE FOR ME.
I FIND MY WAY INTO THESE
THINGS DIFFERENTLY.
ONE OF THE PROBLEMS, YOU KNOW,
SHAKESPEARE WASN'T JEWISH,
SO WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?
AND, OF COURSE, I REALIZED
THAT IT CAME FROM THE FACT
THAT HE WAS AN ACTOR.
AND THAT HE WAS
OSTRACIZED BY SOCIETY.
ALSO, THERE IS A SUGGESTION
THAT SHAKESPEARE'S SEXUALITY,
WHICH BECAME PUBLICIZED WHEN
THAT FELLOW CAME ACROSS TWO OF
SHAKESPEARE'S PRIVATE SONNETS,
WHICH WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE
PUBLISHED, HE GOT THESE.
AND ONE OF THE SONNETS WAS,
“TWO LOVES I HAVE, OF COMFORT
AND DESPAIR,” TELLING ABOUT
THE TWO LOVES IN HIS LIFE,
ONE WAS A WOMAN,
AND ONE WAS A MAN.
AND THIS WAS CIRCULATED AROUND
LONDON BY THIS MAN, JAGGARD.
SO I ASSUMED SHAKESPEARE WAS
USING, VERY POTENTLY, THE
JEWISH THING, ABOUT A JEWISH
MAN BEING OSTRACIZED FROM
SOCIETY, BUT OBVIOUSLY, IT IS
SO IMPASSIONED, THAT IT COMES
FROM SOMETHING WITHIN
SHAKESPEARE'S OWN EXPERIENCE.
AND I JUST ASSUMED THAT
IT WAS THE ACTOR THING
AND THE SEXUAL
AMBIGUITY THING.
THAT'S WHERE THE
FIRE CAME FROM.

Richard says AND IT'S YOUR JOB THEN, AS
AN ACTOR, TO FIND A FIRE TO
BRING WITHIN THAT FIRE AND
ILLUMINATE THE TEXT WITH IT.

Brian says WELL, YES.
HAVING EXPERIENCED BOTH THE
THEATRICAL THING, AND THE
SEXUAL AMBIGUITY THING, I KNOW
WHAT KIND OF A FIRE THAT CAN
START UNDERNEATH YOUR BOWELS.

Richard says SO YOU HAD TWO FOR THREE,
AND IT DIDN'T MATTER
YOU WEREN'T JEWISH.
THAT WAS ALL RIGHT.

Brian says YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE JEWISH.

Richard says AGAIN, WHEN I SAW THAT,
AND I THINK BACK, IT'S ONE
OF THE BEDFORD SIDES.
WE'VE SEEN YOU DO
GREAT INTELLECTUALLY
TORMENTED PERFORMANCES.
WE'VE SEEN YOU DO GREAT
HUMOUROUS PERFORMANCES,
MANY, MANY OF THEM.
BUT A PART LIKE SHYLOCK, THAT
SEEMED TO BE ROOTED ON A LOT
OF GUTS AND PASSION WHICH
WAS, AGAIN, TREMENDOUSLY
EFFECTIVE, DOESN'T
COME OUT AS OFTEN.
IS IT BECAUSE PEOPLE
DON'T ASK YOU?
WOULD YOU DO THEM
IF THEY ASKED YOU?

Brian says WELL, SURE.
I MEAN, I JUST MORE OR
LESS DO WHAT I'M ASKED,
YOU KNOW, LIKE MOST ACTORS.

Richard says OKAY, SOUNDS LIKE A DUMB
QUESTION, BUT I FEEL I CAN
ASK YOU THIS QUESTION.

Brian says YOU'RE ALLOWED
ONE DUMB QUESTION.
YOU'VE DONE SOME
VERY GOOD ONES.

Richard says WHAT SHAKESPEARE ROLE HAVEN'T
YOU BEEN OFFERED THAT YOU'D
WANT TO BE OFFERED?

Brian says WELL, I'D LIKE TO PLAY SIR
THOMAS MOORE IN
HENRY VIII.
AND I CAN'T SAY I HAVEN'T BEEN
OFFERED LEAR BECAUSE I HAVE
BEEN OFFERED LEAR, BUT
OBVIOUSLY, THAT'S A MOUNTAIN
THAT I'VE GOT TO SCALE
ONE OF THESE DAYS.
AND, OF COURSE,
I DREAD THAT,
AND I LOOK FORWARD
TO IT TREMENDOUSLY.

Richard says THE HYPOTHETICAL BEDFORD LEAR,
WHERE WOULD YOU START FROM?

Brian says I HAVE NO IDEA.

Richard says YOU HAVE NO IDEA?

Brian says I HAVE NO IDEA.
I DON'T KNOW.
I DO A BIT OF IT NOT TERRIBLY
WELL, I THINK, IN MY
ONE-MAN SHAKESPEARE SHOW.
BUT I'VE NEVER BEEN IN LEAR.
I'VE NEVER PLAYED ANYTHING.
I'M TAKING THE YEAR OFF
FROM STRATFORD NEXT YEAR.
I'M NOT COMING BACK NEXT YEAR.
I TOLD RICHARD LAST SEASON.
THE OTHER DAY, DURING
REHEARSAL, TYPICAL RICHARD, HE
SAID, YOU'RE NOT COMING BACK
NEXT YEAR, I HEARD THAT
PETER HALL IS DIRECTING
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER IN
LEAR
IN LOS ANGELES.
MAYBE YOU COULD GIVE YOUR
ALBANY, AND I SAID, I'M TOO
OLD FOR ALBANY.

Richard says I DO NOT PLAY NEW
YORK STATE CAPITALS.

Brian says THAT'S RIGHT.
I SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT.
I SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT
OF THAT, THANK YOU.

Richard says WELL, I HOPE THE ONE YEAR
HIATUS FROM STRATFORD IS
NOTHING BUT A ONE-YEAR HIATUS.
I CAN NOT THINK OF
THE PLACE WITHOUT YOU.
AND I CERTAINLY WILL QUEUE
UP TO SEE THAT LEAR
WHEN IT HAPPENS.
BRIAN BEDFORD,
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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

Richard says IT'S BEEN GREAT FOR ME.

Brian says THANK YOU.

Richard faces the screen and says FOR
DIALOGUE,
I'M
RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Special thanks to Stratford Festival. Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1999, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Brian Bedford